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CNN NEWSROOM

George Floyd Protests on Night 18 amid Worldwide Pandemic; Police Misconduct in the Spotlight; Coronavirus in the U.S.; Defiant Trump Stokes Racial Division; Fears of Violence in London; Protests Sway Voters in Battleground Arizona; George Floyd's Death Sparks Change in the U.S. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired June 13, 2020 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Live from CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Thank you for joining us. The United States is heading into the third straight weekend of protests demanding police reform and racial justice. It was 19 days ago that George Floyd was killed as a police officer kneeled on his neck.

Demonstrations, marches and rallies are a daily fixture in the U.S. and across cities ever since. President Trump has repeatedly focused on the situation in Seattle, Washington, recently. He described protesters there who now occupy several city blocks as, quote, "terrorists."

On Friday, he tweeted that the mayor must end the Seattle takeover now. The mayor, Jenny Durkan, says the president is seeing a problem where there isn't one and she says Seattle is fine.

President Trump has delayed the restart of his re-election campaign rallies by one day now. He was planning to hold an event next Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But that date, June 19th, is when African Americans celebrate the end of slavery in the U.S., a holiday known as Juneteenth.

Late Friday, the president announced on Twitter, and here it is, "Out of respect for this Holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents. I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th."

Earlier, CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein spoke with Michael Holmes about the change of heart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: It's just a sign of how tenuous he feels the ground to be under him at this point, how uncertain he is, how to react. The president's initial reaction always at any moment of crisis as we have seen over 3.5 years is to double down on trying to mobilize his base, without worrying much about the majority opinion in the country.

But here, he is in a moment where his natural instinct to defend the police, to insist to systemic racism doesn't exist, all arguments that do resonate with his base, the gap between that and what is very clearly a significant movement in public opinion toward concern about racism, toward acknowledgment of systemic bias in policing and criminal justice, I think that has left him a little bit at sea.

And you see him responding to somewhat more uncharacteristic and flexible way, although he is still going to Tulsa, the site of one of the worst race massacres in America in the 20th century. So it is within limits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Following the death of George Floyd, activists, lawmakers and police agencies are looking closer at videos of deadly encounters with police and African Americans. Many are very disturbing. We want to caution viewers: you are about to see some of them.

While some are open to interpretation, others vividly illustrate why so many Americans now say they have seen enough. Here is our Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, get on the ground!

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Oklahoma City, police pursue a suspect on foot after getting reports of a man drawing a gun on another man.

Within seconds, Derrick Scott is tackled and cries out a now familiar phrase.

DERRICK SCOTT, POLICE VICTIM: I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care.

Get your hands behind your back.

TODD: This police body cam video was released this week after protesters demanded it, but the incident occurred more than a year before George Floyd's killing.

Scott repeatedly tells officers --

SCOTT: I can't breathe, please.

TODD: As police pinned him down, at one, Derrick Scott appears unresponsive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay with us, man. TODD: Scott was taken to a medical center and later died. The medical examiner says Scott died of a collapsed lung, that there was no fatal trauma but physical restraint along with methamphetamine use, asthma, and heart disease were contributing factors. An investigation concluded the officers did not engage in misconduct.

But this case from Austin, Texas, last year is now under investigation.

JAVIER AMBLER, POLICE VICTIM: Sir, I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flat on your stomach.

TODD: Javier Ambler was apprehended after a traffic stop. He was unarmed and told sheriff's deputies he had congestive heart failure. Ambler died in custody, a death which was ruled a homicide. An investigation determined the officers acted in accordance with guidelines.

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TODD (voice-over): But these incidents, along with George Floyd's killing, come in years after Ferguson, after the Eric Garner and Freddie Gray cases, have law enforcement concerned about why these encounters keep happening.

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: The majority of police officers do their job well, but one rotten apple can spoil an entire barrel. And the reality is the few, the fine, the many. And we have to understand that and do everything we can to root corrupt officers, brutal officers, any officers that engage in misconduct or neglect their duties.

TODD: Neglect is what's being investigated in this case. Thirteen Chicago police officers seen in recent days on surveillance footage lounging in the office of Congressman Bobby Rush while heated protests and looting were going on outside.

REP. BOBBY RUSH (D-IL): These individuals need to apologize to the city of Chicago for their cowardice, inaction, for their withdrawal from the front line, for their retreat in the midst of these assaults.

TODD: And in Buffalo, New York, the lawyer for the 75-year-old man who was pushed to the ground by police now says his client's brain is injured.

RAMSEY: Change needs to happen, in some cases radical change in order to really make a difference depending on the particular department. Our profession right now is in crisis and we have to address it.

TODD: Charles Ramsey says there is training on officers on how to handle the incidents, training that never took place 20 years ago. He says it is obviously not enough. Police departments have to vet officers better when hiring and teach about police brutality -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

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ALLEN: The former Detroit police chief is sharing his own experience of police brutality. Isaiah McKinnon says, when he was 14 years old, he was walking home from school, when four white police officers jumped out of the car and threw him against the car and beat them. He said this about it. Here's the quote.

"The more I screamed, the more they beat me. That day I promise myself that I would become a Detroit police officer and change the Detroit police force from the inside."

He ended up running the force. He told our Erin Burnett earlier the racism did not stop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ISAIAH MCKINNON, FORMER DETROIT CHIEF OF POLICE: I joined the Detroit Police Department August second, 1965. My first day as a Detroit police officer I walked into the squad room and as they had roll call, I was the only person of color there.

But as they had roll call and they announced my assignment was a white officer, he said, I'm working with the -- and he said the "N" word.

And that was my indoctrination with the Detroit Police Department. This man rode with me for eight hours and I rode with him and he did not say a word. That appeared to be the norm.

There were some great people. In fact, an officer I met I'm still friends with, Frank Mitchell. He's a white officer. But that was the norm with me and other officers of color.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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ALLEN: I'm joined now by Cheryl Dorsey. She is a retired Los Angeles police sergeant and also the author of "Black and Blue."

Welcome. Good to see you.

CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD SERGEANT: Thank you for having me.

ALLEN: These videos that we just saw in the report are horrific to see. But they are there and they happened. I would like to start with the former Philadelphia police chief in the reports and get your response.

He said we must do everything to root out corrupt, brutal officers. Any officer that engages in misconduct and have officers applying to be closely vetted.

Are police departments doing that?

DORSEY: Of course they are not doing it. That's why we continue to see what we see. How do you get a Derek Chauvin with 18 personnel complaints over a 19- year career?

This is not anything new. This goes back many, many years and certainly I experienced this during my time on the Los Angeles Police Department, working with errant officers who were known to have animus to members of the black community yet were allowed to rain down on them with impunity.

I worked with a partner by the name of Douglas Iverson (ph) in 1992, who shot and killed a black man.

Why?

Well, just because he was a black man and he could. And nothing happened. And we heard in 2015, Eric Harris say he couldn't breathe. And deputies on the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sheriff's Department told him, eff your breath.

Can you imagine being a parent and know that the last thing your loved one heard was a police officer standing over them and saying, eff your breath?

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ALLEN: I absolutely cannot as a mother and I know you are one, too.

You said you had experience in the Los Angeles Police Department with these kinds of officers.

Why are they permitted to continue?

Is -- they are protected somehow by the police unions?

DORSEY: Well, the unions certainly have a role to play. Listen, understand they are a lobbying arm of the police department. They seemingly have not seen a murder of a black man, woman or child that doesn't excite them and they work feverishly to get officers on those rare instances when they are fired their jobs back.

But I believe police chiefs have a responsibility to the entity and in sheltering and making sure because civil liability often follows when there is a death or great bodily harm, officers benefit.

How do you allow someone to maintain their position as a police officer when obviously they don't have the temperament?

Something happened in the background check. They slipped through the cracks. Police departments are not psychologically evaluating officers periodically to make sure their head is in a good place.

And so you wind up with officers who haven't been deterred by their bad behavior to live to offend again.

ALLEN: Those are certainly examples of where there must be changes. As far as changing the makeup of police departments, that many people around the country are demanding, we would see perhaps first responders other than police making emergency calls, mental health experts or drug experts --- I know you worked in vice -- social workers.

Is that an idea that might work that you could support?

DORSEY: It is certainly helpful. When I was on the Los Angeles Police Department, we had a mental health evaluation unit where we had professionals responding in moments of crises with the police officers.

What about at a traffic stop and they have a mental episode and you don't have the benefit of a mental professional there?

Then you've got to use a little common sense. And of course if sense were common, everyone would have it.

So what do you do in those instances?

And what about folks who are leery of calling someone other than a law enforcement professional to handle that situation?

It is a slippery slope I think.

ALLEN: It is complicated. I also want to get your views on two changes we may be seeing. In Louisville, Kentucky, a new law passed to ban no- knock warrants named after Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in that situation. Also chokeholds are reevaluated and banned in some cities.

DORSEY: I think the banning of no-knock warrants is an important one. Certainly others have lost their lives. A couple of Houston, Texas, during the service of a no-knock warrant and many others killed or seriously injured because officers coming in with bombs and whatever else they use to blow up the front doors.

With regards to banning chokeholds, we saw Eric Garner die with a prohibited chokehold only to be told by authorities there, the union officials, that that wasn't a chokehold. That was a seatbelt upper body restraint.

What do you do when we see a thing, we know a thing and they say, that's not what we saw?

ALLEN: The egregious stories just seem to go on and on. We always appreciate your input and expertise, Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey. Thank you so much.

DORSEY: Thank you.

The coronavirus epidemic is not over in the United States. Far from it. Up next, how states are reckoning with the surge of new indication cases and the pressure to get back to business.

And some of the most famous statues are boarded up now over fears of violent confrontations with anti-racism protesters in the coming hours. We'll have a live report about it.

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ALLEN: The U.S. is struggling to contain the coronavirus epidemic. There is a huge influx of cases and hospitalizations in several states as governors rethink their reopening strategies, some at least. So far, more than 2 million cases have been confirmed in the country and nearly 115,000 deaths.

Health experts warn of more hard times to come. For more about it, here is Erica Hill in New York.

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ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Reopening now on pause in Oregon and Utah, as new cases mount.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As long as we give the virus an opportunity to jump from one host to another, that's what it will do.

HILL (voice-over): The governor of Texas, looking to July 4th, for a full reopening of his state, as Harris County, which includes Houston, reports some of its highest numbers to date for new cases and hospitalizations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to take action, now, so that we avoid a shutdown in the future.

HILL (voice-over): Houston's NRG Stadium, being prepped as a field hospital, just in case; 19 states are trending up in the past week, Texas, Florida and South Carolina, posting single day records as the CDC predicts 130,000 virus related deaths by July 4th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in the early days of the pandemic, if only 5 or 10 percent of the population has had this infection, we have a really long way to go.

HILL (voice-over): The agency recommended the best way to stay safe is to keep your distance, avoid travel and wear a mask.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know it's become politicized but put that aside. The virus knows no politics.

HILL (voice-over): Face coverings, required in L.A. County, which moved into phase 3 today, after reporting its highest single day increase this week. Gyms, day camps and TV and film production, among the businesses reopening. Missouri will fully reopen next week. Concerts and conventions resuming in Georgia July 1st.

In the meantime, anyone attending the president's campaign rally next week in Tulsa must sign a waiver.

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HILL: Promising not to sue if they contract the virus.

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: We know that the types of conditions that lead to the highest rate of COVID-19 transmission are crowded, indoor spaces, with a lot of people who were shouting and screaming.

I think it's almost certain that we will see superspreader events come from these rallies.

HILL: The CDC in its safety guidelines that it put out on Friday, did actually deem certain gatherings low, medium or high risk.

And high-risk gatherings are one that involve a lot of people, who cannot safely socially distance, cannot be 6 feet apart and also could that include attendees coming from other areas.

A reporter asked for clarification on a call with the CDC about whether political rallies are definitely in that higher risk category, could that be what they were referring to.

The CDC said simply they were referring to all large gatherings, anything larger than a backyard barbecue -- in New York, Erica Hill, CNN.

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ALLEN: Infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning that U.S. states should modify their reopening plan, especially if COVID hospitalizations go up. Numbers are going up in several states but Dr. Fauci also told CNN the U.S. might avoid a possible second wave if people follow safety guidelines like social distancing and wearing masks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It is not inevitable that you will have a so-called second wave in the fall or even a massive increase.

If you approach it in the proper way, where you do the kinds of fundamental things. So for example, there are some impression that when you open up, all bets are off. They are not off. You can improve on the economy.

You can get people back to work and still do the fundamental things, like wearing a mask all the time when you are outside, of having this physical distance, of avoiding the congregation in crowds.

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ALLEN: Let's talk about this further with Dr. Peter Drobac, a global health expert at the University of Oxford. Good morning, thank you.

DR. PETER DROBAC, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: Good morning, Natalie.

ALLEN: As you watched the U.S. response over the past few months, with states reopening, each state different from the other, is it a surprise to you that cases are going up in some 19 states?

DROBAC: It is concerning and, unfortunately, not really a surprise. We saw this coming when, a few weeks back many states started to reopen at the same time they were just starting to see increases of a number of cases. I think we were lulled a little bit.

The big wave initially was in a few places, New York, New Jersey, the West Coast. A lot of the rest of the country did not see a lot of cases. Early sheltering in place orders helped slowed the spread. But we started to reopen at the wrong time and now we are seeing some concerning increases in many parts of the country.

ALLEN: And yet, in at least one or two states seeing those increases, there are more steps to continue to open the state. Some people, depends on whom you ask, have indicated maybe it is because there's more testing. So that's more cases.

Is that legitimate reasoning?

DROBAC: It doesn't explain all of these increases at all. If you look at other indicators, test positivity rate, the number of all tests that are positive, they're very high in places which suggest we are not capturing all the tests.

We also are seeing hospitalization rates going up in places like Arizona. That shows this is truly an increase in spread and an increase in new cases.

One of the most important lessons we learned early on is that early action is critical. We know now that, had we moved faster in the U.S., we could have avoided most of the deaths we experienced. The lesson right now in those states, where they are starting to see increases, is to put the brakes on the reopening and to slow that down and try to get the outbreaks under control.

Because even though hospitalization rates are a lagging indicator. It means those places are already behind the curve.

ALLEN: We are looking at businesses that reopened in the United States, restaurants. The CDC issued new guidelines about staying safe during this time. Straightforward stuff for the most part about social distancing and wearing masks and also if you want to go to a restaurant, call ahead and see if the wait staff is wearing masks.

How important are the guidelines as people head out on vacations and may be feeling lax?

Well, if states are opening up, then maybe everything is a little more safe now when really, in reality, it's not. DROBAC: That's right. You know, this varies a lot from place to place.

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DROBAC: We can't think of the U.S. as all being the same when it comes to where we are with the pandemic. There are places where the risk is much higher than other places.

As Dr. Fauci said a few moments ago on the program, individual behaviors are very important. One of the reasons we see cases going up in some places reopening and not in other places may largely be how many people are being compliant with social distancing and face coverings.

It's absolutely important; it won't be enough on its own and we really also need states and counties and the federal government to have a stronger and safer plans for reopening.

ALLEN: I'm glad you say that. That leads to my next question. There is something ugly happening in the U.S.

We are seeing state and local health officials working to advise governments on dangers and risks and assess where the states should be getting fired for what they're saying or quitting because they are now being threatened by people that don't want infringement on their lives.

How concerning is that?

You have to wonder who might step in and do that job under such conditions.

DROBAC: It is extremely concerning and it's part of the troubling trend of politicization of this virus. We see that also with the idea of masks. Some people refuse to wear them and see it as an infringement on their freedom.

But actually my freedom ends where it harms other people. The reason we wear masks is to protect others. This is coming from the top with the administration. This is really going impair our ability to get this virus under control.

Nothing else can happen without that. Everyone is desperate to get back to work and to get out and get the economy going. We won't get the economy going until the virus is under control. To do that, we have to work together.

ALLEN: Thank you so much. We appreciate your expertise, Dr. Peter Drobac. Thank you.

DROBAC: Thank you.

ALLEN: Still to come here, many Americans are protesting injustice and demanding change. By the one thing that doesn't appear to be changing is the president's rhetoric. Also, it is one of the most iconic statues in the U.K. Now the

likeness of Winston Churchill is under wraps, literally, ahead of rival demonstrations in London. We will have a live report from London about this.

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ALLEN: Welcome back to viewers in the United States and around world. I'm Natalie Allen. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

The 18 days of outrage and protests and calls for reform after George Floyd's death is spreading across the United States. At least 20 cities or municipals are banning police chokeholds, including Minneapolis, where an officer had his knee on George Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes.

Several governors also are ordering police reforms.

How much is this reawakening about race and justice resonating with President Trump?

Our Jim Acosta reports from the White House.

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JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Defending his response to the protests following the death of George Floyd, President Trump is sounding like the divider in chief.

The president is praising his photo-op in Washington, after demonstrators were pummeled near the White House.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it was a beautiful picture.

HARRIS FAULKNER, FOX NEWS HOST: Why do you think that your.

TRUMP: And I'll tell you, Christians think it was a beautiful picture.

ACOSTA: Even as he's dismissing comments from Pentagon officials who now say they regret being a part of it.

TRUMP: No, I don't think so. No, I mean, if that's the way they feel, I think that's fine.

ACOSTA: Reacting to protests in Seattle, the president is threatening more harsh tactics, warning the city's leaders, "These liberal Dems don't have a clue. The terrorists burn and pillage our cities and they think it's just wonderful, even the death. Must end this Seattle takeover." As for Floyd, the president danced around the question of whether it's appropriate for officers to continue using chokeholds, saying they sometimes work, before adding, they may need to be banned.

TRUMP: I think the concept of chokeholds sounds so innocent, so perfect and then you realize, if it's one-on-one -- now, if it's two- on-one, that's a little bit of a different story.

With that being said, it would be, I think, a very good thing that, generally speaking, it should be ended.

ACOSTA: The president is standing by his campaign's plans for a rally next week in Tulsa, the scene of one of the worst massacres of African Americans in history, on the same day the end of slavery in the U.S. is celebrated.

FAULKNER: Is that on purpose?

TRUMP: No, but I know exactly what you're going to say. Think about it as a celebration. My rally is a celebration.

ACOSTA: Later this summer, the president is set to deliver his speech at the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, on the anniversary of an infamous attack on African Americans in that city.

The president told FOX he should be mentioned in the same sentence as Abraham Lincoln.

TRUMP: I think I have done more for the black community than any other president. And let's take a pass on Abraham Lincoln, because he did good, although it's always questionable, you know, in other words, the end result.

ACOSTA: But the president is hearing appeals to be a more unifying leader. Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz said during a podcast that his wife, Heidi, urged the president to address racism in the U.S.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I said, "Mr. President, Heidi is here. You mind if I put you on speaker?"

And so she -- he chatted with Heidi.

And she said, "Mr. President, it is really, really important for you to speak out to the racial injustice in this country and for you to speak for unity."

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump's rival, Joe Biden, just released a new ad insisting the president is incapable of uniting the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Where is Donald Trump?

Too scared to face the people.

ACOSTA: Also blasting the president's leadership, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who is offering a scathing account of his days at the White House, writing in a new book, "I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn't driven by reelection calculations."

The White House is counting on a recovering economy to bail out Mr. Trump come election time, with top advisers insisting there won't be a second wave of the coronavirus, contrary to what health experts are warning.

KUDLOW: I spoke to our health experts at some length last evening. They are saying there is no second spike. Let me repeat that. There is no second spike.

ACOSTA: The president was laying low at his golf club in New Jersey on Friday with no public events on his schedule, delivering the commencement speech at West Point on Saturday, an event that will include some social distancing, even though the White House has drifted away from those kinds of precautions -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Black Lives Matter rallies are taking place around the world Saturday, including in Australia, France and the United Kingdom. But there are fears of violence in London as police also have now imposed a 5:00 pm curfew on Saturday's protests.

Some monuments in the capital, such as this statue of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, are boarded up. Right-wing groups coming to London they will, quote, "protect statues and monuments" after some were defaced in previous demonstrations.

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ALLEN: London authorities say there are groups planning violent confrontations and they're asking people to stay home. Let's go now to London live, where our Salma Abdelaziz is standing by.

It looks to be a troublesome Saturday, Salma.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: That's right, Natalie. It did look to be a troublesome Saturday. But what we are looking at is the authorities, protesters, activists, organizers, and everyone involved trying to make sure it doesn't become a troublesome Saturday.

You see those statues boarded up. That's because some of them were defaced. That Churchill statue in particular had graffiti written on it. Then there was the incident in Bristol last week when a slave trader statue was toppled and thrown into the river.

It is not just the monuments authorities are worried about but counter demonstrations and this turning into a clash with rival groups. We heard from the Metropolitan Police commissioner earlier. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRESSIDA DICK, METROPOLITAN POLICE COMMISSIONER: We've certainly seen some people who are talking about coming to London, for example, to protect certain areas or certain buildings and monuments. We can anticipate that some of them, whatever their political

persuasion, are intent, some of them are intent on having a confrontation with people from the Black Lives Matter movement. So my message is, please, just stay away this weekend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABDELAZIZ: It is not just the police that are worried. The Black Lives Matter movement have canceled demonstrations this Saturday. They said on social media their top concern was the safety of protesters. They encouraged everyone to stay home and take up activities in their local communities but don't go out and don't cause trouble -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Salma Abdelaziz for us. We will watch to see and we hope that things do not get violent. Thanks, Salma.

The French government announced Monday police can no longer use chokeholds when making arrest. That caused some in the police union to march through the streets of Paris on Friday to protest the ban, saying it makes their job more dangerous, also that they feel insulted by claims they tolerate brutality and racism. They are calling on the interior minister, who announced the ban, to resign.

Independent voters are considered crucial to winning in November's U.S. presidential election. But recent polling suggests President Trump is in trouble with them. Just ahead, why some independents have turned against Mr. Trump in one key battleground state.

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ALLEN: The U.S. is now heading into the third straight weekend of protests demanding police reform and racial justice. It was 19 days ago that George Floyd was killed after a police officer kneeled on his neck. Demonstrations and marches and rallies are a daily fixture in American cities ever since.

As the United States deals with the latest coronavirus outbreak and Black Lives Matter protests fill the streets, President Trump's support is slipping among a key segment of American voters. Independents who do not identify as Democrat or Republican are a significant portion of the U.S. electorate and often are the deciding factor on Election Day.

As a recent CNN poll shows, barely one-third of independents, 37 percent, now approve of Mr. Trump's job as president. That is down from 46 percent just last month.

Some of those independents, along with some unhappy Republicans, have a lot on their minds and a lot to say. CNN's Kyung Lah talked with several of them in the battleground state of Arizona. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Republican stronghold of the North Phoenix suburbs, signs of a party split.

LINDA RAWLES, REGISTERED REPUBLICAN: We're not at home in our party. We're not Democrats. We don't have anywhere to go.

LAH: So self-proclaimed independents Linda and Tom Rawles went to a street corner to hold their own small protest. That hasn't exactly been welcomed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every life matters.

L. RAWLES: Yes, have a good night.

LAH: There are frequent obscene gestures.

L. RAWLES: That was a finger there.

LAH: But some supportive ones.

L. RAWLES: Thank you, guys. Have a great night.

TOM RAWLES, REGISTERED REPUBLICAN: I think the last three to six weeks have been a turning point.

LAH: The coronavirus pandemic, historic unemployment and the sustained nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd.

L. RAWLES: All of these things together are allowing a few people to have the moral courage to speak up. We'll support Biden not because we agree with him on issues, most issues I don't agree with him on. I'm not a Democrat philosophically. But he's a decent, kind, sane man.

LAH: The shift among independents is a warning sign for the president. In 2016, Donald Trump narrowly won independents. A recent series of national polls show him trailing Democrat Joe Biden among that group -- a trend that's mirrored here in Arizona.

These suburbs are the battlefield in the fight for those votes.

Hunter Henderson protesting nightly in Tempe sees an opportunity with independents. He works with Vets Forward, a group that hopes to convince moderates to vote Democratic.

HUNTER HENDERSON, CO-FOUNDER, VETS FORWARD: The problems of our society are right in front of them now. And now is the time to, you know, really capitalize and have those conversations.

CAROL COONS, REGISTERED REPUBLICAN: Yes, I voted for Trump in 2016. But many Republicans who did vote for Trump don't feel comfortable even saying that because of this polarization.

LAH: Carol Coons is a self-described moderate and a nurse working the front line of Phoenix's COVID crisis. But it's not her job that's making her think about voting Democratic. It's the protests.

COONS: We have to come together as a people and we need a leader, a world leader, a national world leader that's going to help us do that, not poke the bear, if you will.

LAH: As far as voting Republican in November?

(on camera): What are you going to do?

COONS: I honestly don't know yet.

LAH: Would you say it's too late for you?

COONS: No, no, I wouldn't.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Coming up, NASCAR's only African American driver is reacting to the racing association's move to ban Confederate flags.

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[05:45:00]

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ALLEN: Protests in the United States have highlighted the many statues and symbols commemorating Confederate-era in history. Now pressure is increasing to remove them and other controversial icons.

In New York City, a petition to remove a Christopher Columbus statue is causing a stir. Critics say he exploited indigenous people. But mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Cuomo disagree, saying the figure also represents the positive legacy of Italian Americans in the country.

American companies are also feeling the heat. NASCAR, the company best known for stock car racing, has announced a ban on Confederate flags, something Bubba Wallace, the only full-time African American driver in the series is happy about.

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BUBBA WALLACE, AMERICAN RACE CAR DRIVER: How are you on both sides of it?

We're getting a lot of positive outreach, positive impact and gaining new fans as you go. Then we will get the fans that will never watch a NASCAR race again, the same fans that never watched NFL after the kneeling.

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WALLACE: The same fans are crying out that we're ruining their lives and throwing a pity party as to whether accepting change and understanding why we need this change and why it is such a pivotal moment for our country.

I heard the conversations of you talking with the mayor of Houston there. It is like, on a global level, this is an impact. So I'm excited about the change. I wish fans could come back ASAP so we can see the demographic and who shows up and what shows up, everybody who shows up. I want to see and hear what they have to say.

But through social media, you are getting both sides of the story. But there is more good than bad. So I'm excited about it.

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ALLEN: Renewed efforts to remove contentious symbols, like the Confederate flag, aren't the only way sentiment has shifted since George Floyd's death. Much is changing in the uproar over racial injustices. CNN's Tom Foreman has the overview of the movement rippling across the country.

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TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The roiling, relentless wave of protests is finally hitting home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we want change, our generation has to step up right now and demand that change.

FOREMAN (voice-over): State and the city leaders are suddenly moving fast on new rules to fight systemic racism following the horrific death of George Floyd at police hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still have black oppression in our society today, just in a different form.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota and California are among many places enacting or discussing changes to police procedures, funding and other measures. And there are desperate demands for federal changes, too.

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE'S BROTHER: Please listen to the call I'm making to you now, to the calls of our family and the calls ringing out in the streets across the world.

FOREMAN (voice-over): At the start of the year with President Trump's re-election train running hot --

TRUMP: The people can hear the crowd. They know.

FOREMAN (voice-over): -- and less than two weeks ago, when peaceful protesters were forcefully driven back for a presidential photo op, serious reform seemed hopelessly out of reach.

TRUMP: I am your president of law and order.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But Trump's mishandling of the unrest and the coronavirus outbreak has seen his never strong approval rating plummet and presumed Democratic challenger Joe Biden adding another layer to his pledge to take a female running mate.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I promise you, there are multiple African American candidates that are being considered.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The corporate world is also responding, with Nike, Twitter, professional football and other companies recognizing Juneteenth as a company holiday celebrating the end of slavery, all while sales exploding for books about the black experience.

TV shows are under intense pressure to revamp how they portray police and their tactics with the highly rated "Cops" and "Live PD" canceled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will it take for one of us to be heard about police brutality?

FOREMAN (voice-over): After NFL players posted a video and some police started imitating the kneeling protests of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the league commissioner responded.

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: We at the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier.

FOREMAN (voice-over): NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its events as the military considers renaming some bases named for Confederate leaders, despite the commander in chief's vow to oppose such a move.

And more Confederate statues are falling. Some white people saying taking down these symbols is an attack on their history. Some black people say leaving them up is something worse.

JEH JOHNSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It's my great-great grandmother, Julia Branch, born a slave.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson.

JOHNSON: The Confederate flag to me represents the viewpoint that she should have remained a slave for the rest of her life.

FOREMAN (voice-over): HBO Max, owned by the parent company of CNN, is even pulling the classic film, "Gone with the Wind" from its streaming service for racist depictions until it can return with historic context.

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HATTIE MCDANIEL, ACTOR, "MAMMY": Oh, now, Miss Scarlett --

FOREMAN (voice-over): It is a measure of how fraught the debate remains that the movie immediately shot up on Amazon's best seller list.

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FOREMAN (voice-over): Still, it is all but enough to spur former president Barack Obama to speak out about it.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The kinds of epic changes and events in our country that are as profound as anything that I have seen in my lifetime.

FOREMAN: In so many ways, this moment does feel different than all the calls before for these types of changes. But it still remains to be seen if that will play out and those changes will really come through -- Tom Foreman, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland.

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ALLEN: It is not just in the U.S. Anti-racism protests are impacting entertainment in the U.K., too.

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ALLEN (voice-over): The BBC temporarily removed an episode of the sitcom "Fawlty Towers" from the U.K. TV streaming service. Now it says it is reviving it but with extra guidance. The episode included the famous line, "Don't mention the war."

But earlier problematic scenes included a racial slur about the West Indies cricket team. And another comedy, "Little Britain," has been dropped from Netflix and other streaming services due to controversial portrayals of minorities.

The English Premier League is supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Players issued a statement Friday, saying, quote, "We stand together with the singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice."

When matches pick back up on Wednesday, you'll see the words "Black Lives Matter" on their jerseys. And a programming note for you: CNN and Sesame Street are teaming up again to host a special coronavirus town hall, "The ABCs of COVID-19," a CNN Sesame Street town hall for kids and parents, airing Saturday, today at 3:00 pm in London.

That is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. Follow me on Instagram or Twitter or on Facebook, anywhere on social media. I appreciate it. "NEW DAY" is just ahead.