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Protests Grow in Atlanta after Deadly Officer-Involved Shooting; Atlanta Police Officer Fired after Killing Black Man; Atlanta Police Chief Steps Down; Confederate Symbols Removed amid Protests for Racial Equality; George Floyd's Death Sparks Change in the U.S. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired June 14, 2020 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, a warm welcome to everyone. I am Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.
Well, yet another police killing of an African American man has prompted new protests here in Atlanta. One of them turning violent. Crowds still out in force at a Wendy's fast food restaurant where that shooting took place. It is now 1:00 am on the U.S. East Coast.
And earlier on, that building was set on fire, fully engulfed. Protesters also blocking a major highway in Atlanta south of the city, I-75. And CNN was there earlier when police fired tear gas at the crowd.
All right, now let's talk about the killing that set this all off. It began when police responded to calls about a man asleep in his car outside that Wendy's fast food restaurant.
Authorities say the man, 27 year old Rayshard Brooks, failed a field sobriety test and then got into a struggle, they say, with the officers. CNN has obtained eyewitness video of that struggle and a warning to our viewers, it is disturbing. It goes on for several seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES (voice-over): You can see police there grappling with Brooks. Georgia officials say that during the scuffle -- and you will see it happen fairly soon -- Brooks grabs one of the officers' Tasers and breaks free and there he goes, breaking free there, the Taser is in his hand and the police chase after him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Georgia officials released surveillance video that gives you another view point and I warn you again, this is disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES (voice-over): What you'll see is Brooks running left to right from your screen. He turns around, appears to discharge that Taser in the direction of the officers and then is -- turns around, starts to run away again. And, as he does so, he is fatally shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: The police chief has now resigned. The officer who shot Brooks now identified as a seven-year veteran, Garrett Rolfe. And the other has been placed on administrative duty. Here's Atlanta's mayor speaking about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA), ATLANTA: What has become abundantly clear over the last couple weeks in Atlanta is that, while we have a police force full of men and women who work alongside our communities with honor, respect and dignity, there has been a disconnect with what our expectations are and should be as it relates to interactions with our officers and the communities in which they are entrusted to protect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Let's go now to CNN's Dianne Gallagher live for us in Atlanta.
There's been three recent incidents in Atlanta that have angered people: two young people Tased in their car, another young woman body slammed by a policeman, breaking her clavicle and now this.
What is your sense of what is going on in the streets now in the wake of this latest shooting?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Michael, you kind of hit the nail on the head there. We have these incidents that have happened during protests after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
And so, the people in Atlanta, much like across cities all over the United States, have been out, demanding action. All the while this is happening as well. And the relationship between Atlanta police and the people who live, especially in certain parts of Atlanta, has already been strained before the protests began.
That incident with the aggressive Tasing of those two college students. Look, it ended with six police officers being arrested and charged, four of them have been fired. But for a lot of the people we've spoken with, that just isn't good enough because they feel like right now this is only happening because the cameras are on. The attention is there.
They want real change and real action. They want police officers in their community to be held accountable. Now look, we've heard a lot about different measures departments can take to better their relationships with communities.
Michael, one of them is having a police force that looks like your community. Atlanta police does look like its community. They have a lot of black and brown officers and that hasn't seemed to make as great of an impact as so many have said it's going to.
There is still a significant amount of distrust here in Atlanta from the people that we've been speaking to, especially over the past few weeks.
GALLAGHER: Now look, they have talked about the fact that they do want to see this change happen in their community and that they would like to see, to be able to work with the people here.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says that so far just this year, Michael, they alone have had to investigate 48 Atlanta police-involved shootings. That's a problem here. And when you talk to the people in the community, they talked about this sort of boiling over.
Even when they were protesting George Floyd, it was about all the people who lived near them, who were their friends, their neighbors, their cousins, who were killed or who experienced what they consider to be aggressive tactics from the police.
HOLMES: Yes, I mean you've got a situation now where the police chief's resigned. The mayor's been speaking out. There is an investigation into this. The shooting officer has been fired. The other one's on leave.
Is there a sense that this, it's enough, or that there does need to be that structural change?
Those officers have now been named as well.
GALLAGHER: That's right. And so we're watching this happen a lot quicker than I can tell you I have seen this happen in the past. Over the past three weeks, the quickness that the mayor, the now former police chief had acted, is a lot faster.
And, again, in speaking with protesters and people who live in Atlanta, that is something they've acknowledged. But again, they want to see this happen repeatedly and not just during moments of high stress and not just moments that are caught on camera. That is the emphasis from people.
We are outraged about things we haven't seen, things that haven't gone viral and we want police officers held accountable for that accountable as well.
We heard that from the former police chief, saying she wanted the city to be able to move forward in a new direct, to be able to begin healing again and working toward a new relationship with the people in the community. Whether her resigning is going to make that difference or not,
Michael, it's going to depend on what we see happen in terms of accountability, at least according to people we have spoken to who live in Atlanta and deal with the police in their neighborhood on a daily basis.
HOLMES: Exactly. Dianne, good to see you, Dianne Gallagher here in Atlanta for us. Appreciate it.
Now the president of the NAACP spoke with Wolf Blitzer earlier on "THE SITUATION ROOM." Derrick Johnson talking about the culture of policing in America. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DERRICK JOHNSON, NAACP PRESIDENT: It's unfortunate that we are repeating this now. Over the last six weeks, this is the fifth incident dealing with some sort of videotaped, racialized activity.
If in fact he had been drinking, we would have preferred him to stop at the Wendy's drive through, take a nap, then drive, than drunk driving and kill someone else.
Police need training. This is not acceptable. I commend the mayor of Atlanta for taking decisive actions to ensure the safety of her citizens. I commend all of the protesters who are continuing to raise the question.
And that question is central. We need to change the culture of policing. We need to evaluate how we train police. We need to make sure police not only support the communities that they have a duty to protect and serve but they need to be in the community.
We have far too many officers who live outside the jurisdictions in which they work, therefore they have little to no regard for the city. This is another indication that we must change the culture of policing in our communities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right, before we continue, we're going to continue our conversation with retired Los Angeles police sergeant, Cheryl Dorsey, who is also the author of "Black and Blue."
I did want to tell people that these officers have been named now. And we'll just put up, we have photographs, too. Garrett Rolfe, who's the officer who has been fired, he was hired by the department in Atlanta October 2013.
The other officer is Devin Brosnan. Now he was hired in September of 2018. He's been put on administrative duty. The two officers involved in this shooting.
Cheryl Dorsey, it's good to have you here to talk about this, we talk a lot about deescalation. And when you look at what happened here, that did not seem to happen. [01:10:00]
HOLMES: What in your view should have happened?
CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD SERGEANT: Well, what should have happened is that the officers should have broadcast a perimeter, provided responders with a description of travel and the suspect who was purported to be in control of their Taser and contain the area and try to take the person into custody within that perimeter.
You don't get to shoot someone because you can't catch them. And so I'm happy to see that this action has been taken by the mayor. Understand that they can move swiftly when they want to.
Be clear, the police chief stepped down, which is very different from leaving the department. She will assume a different role on the department. She's only changed office and changed title. So be clear about that. And we'll see what happens.
I think when officers are held accountable, their peers will start to understand that they're going to have to comport themselves in a way very different from what they've come accustomed to. Using deadly force as a last resort and generally, great deference is given to their version because they've killed the other person involved.
So we only have one story, the one that they tell.
HOLMES: We've heard this before, recently a lot. What do you think when you hear the term "a few bad apples" and that is a description of the problem?
DORSEY: Well, I believe that to be true. I mean, there's 18,000 police officers across the nation. I've worked with a couple of bad apples but there were far more who were there for the right reason.
It's unfortunate; if it bleeds, it leads. So these bad officers are getting our attention. Now that they have our attention, we need to remove them from the police department and to further help identify others who may not be known just yet.
Police departments need to engage in psychological investigations to see where three are in terms of institutionalized racism and bias.
HOLMES: I keep coming back to this thought, when you think about Mr. Floyd, that was about a counterfeit $20 bill. This was a call out about a man asleep in his car in a fast food parking lot and now he's dead.
I'm just wondering, what do you see as where lethal force can be used?
No matter what happened leading up to it, at the time the shot was fired, the man was running away.
DORSEY: And so we're taught and trained that deadly force can only be used in immediate defense of life. Your life or the life of another. And, at that point, as he was running away, all be it with their Taser, they may have been an a little embarrassed and didn't want to get ribbed about it later but you don't get to shoot someone.
And so officers have learned that they can say whatever they want after the fact to justify, because jurors tend to want to believe officers. It's a difficult occupation to have. And it's worked.
And so now that officers are being arrested and charged and jailed, I think this will give some pause. But we really do need those psychological evaluations, because there's a lot of people out there that are working with the skillset and a temperament that's not conducive to law enforcement, I believe.
HOLMES: And you and I touched on this I think last week. As a standalone phrase, defund the police sounds pretty crazy. But those who are serious proponents of it point out that it's about diverting funds from some current police activity, whether it's drug and alcohol abuse, mental health, homelessness and other things, whether moving it away from police and to social service.
If you have somebody asleep in a car who might be intoxicated, is that something that, you know, police officers should be showing up to?
And perhaps that could be something that that's part of that restructuring.
What do you think?
DORSEY: If sense were common, everyone would have it. You can't teach it.
But what do you do when you stop someone for a traffic violation and you find out that they're having some sort of a mental episode?
You don't have the luxury of calling in a civilian to come in and try to decipher and figure out what's going on. I promise you, as a patrol officer and patrol supervisor, the officers that are working in the field could care less about how moneys are moved around, shifted. It's not going to change their day-to-day activities.
And to be quite honest with you, absent accountability, it doesn't seem to faze them much in terms of what they do right now. We are just right on the heels of burying someone who was murdered in front of all of us.
DORSEY: And officers can't even contain themselves in the midst of protest and things that have occurred since the murder and the funeral of George Floyd. So officers are going to do what they do until you hold them accountable.
HOLMES: Retired LAPD sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, thanks so much, appreciate your time.
DORSEY: Thank you.
HOLMES: Well, this has been the 19th straight day of protests in the U.S. over racial injustice and police brutality. While things have gotten tense in Atlanta, many other demonstrations across the country have continued to be peaceful.
Thousands of people marching in New York City for example. Some city council members proposing $1 billion in cuts from the NYPD. This sort of diversion of funds we were just discussing with Sergeant Dorsey. The mayor, though, already against that plan.
Demonstrators in Chicago using music and dance to help drive home their message. This was called the House Music Peace March to fight injustice and bring the city together.
And several thousand people attended a protest on the campus of Clemson University. Members of the school's football team were among the speakers.
We're going to take a break. An update on the coronavirus pandemic when we come back. A doctor says a second wave can be avoided in the fall even if there is no vaccine.
Also Brazil continues to see hundreds of coronavirus deaths every day and it is taking a heavy toll on the country's health workers. We'll have more on that when we come back.
HOLMES: Welcome back.
Brazil is reporting the world's second highest death toll when it comes to COVID-19 and its curve of cases shows no sign of flattening. Chile also confirming some of the biggest case numbers in Latin America. The health minister there has now been fired over his handling of the pandemic as well as a series of gaffes.
The U.S. reporting by far the most cases and deaths worldwide but Dr. Anthony Fauci has some good news. He says a second wave is not inevitable as long as people continue to follow safety guidelines. Those include wearing face masks and social distancing. Something not everyone is doing.
Dr. Fauci also told Stadium he supports the NBA's plans to restart its basketball season. It's hoping to have 22 teams in a bubble in Disney World in Florida. He even called the plan quite creative.
More disturbing news, though, on coronavirus out of Brazil. The mayor of the country's largest city, Sao Paulo, has tested positive for COVID-19, reportedly showing no symptoms, though. But the news comes as infections in Brazil continue to rise.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more now on how the outbreak is straining the country's health workers.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Sleeping on the hospital floor after a shift, nurse horror stories from Rio de Janeiro, hit hard from COVID-19, poor and struggling.
Even in one image that shocked Brazil, the dead lying next to the living. Rio state's medical workers are dying more than anywhere in Brazil, 30 doctors and 40 nurses are workers.
Here's nurse Daniele Costa, describing her symptoms in isolation days before she died. Her friend, Libia Bellusci, a Nurses Union head, has had the virus and is hiding enduring lung problems from her family. She is better, though, enough to go back to work.
The worst she says is when in despair to help someone who's arrived newly in the red zone, we have to stop preparing a dead body for the morgue and leave it aside.
When Daniele died, it was in a hospital four hours out of town and Libia had to fight to get COVID-19 on her death certificate.
The last time we spoke, she was radiant, she said. Her dream was to work in the ambulance service and her dream was coming true. We queued hours to apply for these jobs. She hugged me. Although we could no longer hug at that time, she was happy, she would use the uniform again. It was her dream.
PPE shortages are complained of, even though in this hospital ICU, we're told it's OK. The number of dying in Rio are hard to comprehend. Even though some say they're underreported.
In this hospital's ICUs, there are 88 full beds and about six to eight patients die every day. That's about 10 percent of ICU patients a day.
The containers out back with room for 75 bodies at a time, the peak hitting Rio now. Some experts think with health care staff already exhausted, mourning and burdened -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
HOLMES: Demanding answers and justice, we will have more on the protest in Atlanta after a police officer shot and killed an African American man.
Also, just how much has changed since the fight for racial justice began?
We'll take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
HOLMES: And welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes.
In Atlanta, Georgia, a police officer has been fired less than 24 hours after he fatally shot an African American man. He is Garrett Rolfe, a seven-year veteran of the police force. The other officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, has been placed on administrative duty.
The Atlanta police chief resigned over this latest incident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES (voice-over): What you are seeing there is the Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was shot. And as you can see, it was burnt to the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Protesters did get into a confrontation with a CNN news crew. Let's back up and have a look at how this all started.
Friday night, police respond to calls about a man, Brooks, asleep in his car outside that fast food restaurant. Authorities say Brooks failed a field sobriety test. His lawyer suggests he was never given one but that remains to be sorted out. And then after that he got into a struggle with the officers.
CNN obtained eyewitness video of that struggle. A warning to viewers, it is disturbing to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES (voice-over): And what you see there is police grappling with Brooks after he'd been pulled from his car. The scuffle goes on for several seconds and during that scuffle, officials say that Brooks grabbed one of the officers' Tasers and breaking free.
He does that in just a few seconds, breaks free. Now he strikes one officer and runs off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Georgia officials also released surveillance video of the incident. I warn you, that video is disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES (voice-over): He turns right there, appears to fire that Taser in the direction of the officers, turns, starts to run away again.
[01:30:00] HOLMES (voice-over): And at that point he is shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: The lawyer for Brooks' family says it isn't quite how it happened. They say they have more details. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
L. CHRIS STEWART, BROOKS FAMILY ATTORNEY: They didn't do a sobriety test. There -- there was no count to 100 or whatever it is or walk this line. They said that they were just talking.
And it seemed to be a decent conversation. And then, all of a sudden, one of the officers grabbed him and told him he's under arrest.
So this started from nothing. This wasn't a bank robbery in progress or anything violent. They just told him he was under arrest. And now, I see that they're reporting, oh, it was a suspected DUI. Or he was -- fell asleep blocking the line.
He wasn't blocking the line. And they didn't even do a sobriety test, from what the witnesses, right there, said.
So why was he even under arrest?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey joins me now. He was also the police commissioner in Philadelphia and police chief in Washington.
So good to have your -- your voice of experience on this. I mean, I guess, one of the things that's important to remember, I suppose, this is a call about a man asleep in a car at a fast food restaurant. And, now, he is dead.
What does the video tell you, when you look at it?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there's two different videos that we've seen. One shows a struggle between Mr. Brooks and two police officers. One had a Taser in his hand. Mr. Brooks was able to wrestle the Taser away from him and take off running.
The officers gave pursuit. The one officer who lost the Taser is closest to him. At some point in time, Brooks turns, with the Taser in his hand, it looks like he may have fired it. You see a flash. Can't tell if that's a reflection or he actually discharged it.
And shortly thereafter, the officer actually shot him. And so, those are the two videos that I have seen. Now there could be other angles, other videos. But those are the two specific videos that I have seen. HOLMES: You know, I -- I -- I guess, at the end of the day, despite
what came before, the suspect -- he was running away at the time the shots were being fired.
What are the rules before you open fire as a police officer?
Do you not have to be fearing for your life or the lives of others?
RAMSEY: Yes. You have to be in fear of your life or the life of another. And that fear has to be imminent. Now some jurisdictions have changed that to immediate. In other words, right now. There's no -- it might happen in a few seconds or whatever. I mean, you have to be, just immediately, in fear of life.
I don't know the use-of-force policy in Atlanta. But the bigger issue is the fact that he had a Taser. You knew he had a Taser. Tasers are less lethal weapons. They're not deadly weapons.
And if he did discharge it, it would no longer be useful to him because it would have to recycle. The prongs would still be extended and you'd have to get it ready to fire again. So I don't know why he shot.
I mean, these things happen in just a matter of seconds. And we have the benefit of watching video, over and over again. But it does seem that the use of force may, in fact, not have been necessary. And those are the three things you look for in a use-of-deadly-force case.
Was it necessary?
Was it reasonable?
And was it proportional?
HOLMES: I'm not a police officer. But -- yes. I'm no police officer but, you know, when I look at the firing of the weapon, it appears to have not been in a very disciplined way. I mean, he is pulling it out. He's off balance and just seems to raise it and shoot, without much deliberation.
I mean, did the officer's action reflect good training, in your view?
RAMSEY: Well, you know, these are in-the-moment types of situations. The thing I kind of questioned, he had his Taser in the hand during the wrestling. He may have been trying to use what they call a drive stun, which is a pain-compliance technique, where you actually discharge right on the body.
And it makes -- you know, the electric shock causes pain which then, in turn, can cause you to be able to bring a suspect into custody.
But again, I mean, Atlanta is a police force, as far as I know, that is well-trained. But the training doesn't always translate into how it's -- how it's carried out, on the street. I don't know all the circumstances. But I would think that this officer has a problem, in terms of justifying use of deadly force.
HOLMES: There's been a lot of talk, of course, in recent weeks about the word "deescalation." I mean, that just did not seem to happen here.
What -- what -- what should have happened, as these things unfolded?
Particularly, sure, he discharges the Taser. But then, he turns away and is running.
HOLMES: What should have happened to make this not end in a death?
RAMSEY: Well, when you say "deescalation," the one video that I would like to see is what happened during the first, the initial encounter, when they first came upon him when he was still in his car.
Now my understanding is the officers had a body camera on. If that's the case, it should have picked that up. That's where deescalation is how you approach it originally.
I mean, what got them into a tussle to begin with?
I mean, that's a question. So if we know that, then maybe things could have been handled a little bit different at the very beginning. I don't know the answer to that right now. But certainly, it led to tragic consequences.
So they're going to look at everything; the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has the case. I know they do good work. I've seen their work before. And they will, certainly, let the cards fall where they may, as it relates to this -- this particular case.
HOLMES: CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey. Thank you so much. Really appreciate you taking the time.
RAMSEY: Thank you.
HOLMES: When we come back, the debate continues over whether to pull down Confederate statues. And we talk to an expert on the laws pertaining to those statues.
What can and can't be done?
We'll be right back.
HOLMES: Protesters in New Orleans have taken down a controversial statue and rolled it into the Mississippi River. The bust was of John McDonough, a slave owner who died in 1850 and gifted $2 million to the cities of Baltimore and New Orleans to build public schools. Police say they have arrested two people suspected of dumping the bust into the river.
HOLMES: Well, in the nationwide movement against police brutality and racism, there is also opening a long debate over removing Confederate symbols.
Could we be at a turning point?
CNN's Abby Phillip reports.
PROTESTERS: Black Lives Matter.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A national reckoning on race could now mean the end for the last remaining symbols of America's dark history of slavery.
In cities across the South, statues venerating military leaders of the Confederacy are crashing down. After the killing of George Floyd protests have swept the nation and prompted fresh soul searching.
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: I believe it is a sea change. And it's a long overdue movement against hate and racism in this country.
PHILLIP: It's the very issue that drew a group of white protesters including white supremacists and militia members to Charlottesville, Virginia, nearly three years ago. But today a massive shift.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time to heal, ladies and gentlemen, Richmond is no longer the capital of the Confederacy.
PHILLIP: Virginia's governor seeking to remove an enormous landmark that commemorates the Confederate Army commander, Robert E. Lee.
REV. ROBERT W. LEE, GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE'S DESCENDANT: He was a man of his time who fought to continue the enslavement of black people. And in so doing set our nation on a course towards destruction.
PHILLIP: The Marine Corps banning the public display of the Confederate battle flag and even NASCAR following suit, saying fans will no longer be allowed to fly that flag in the stands.
BUBBA WALLACE, RACE CAR DRIVER: No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here, they have no place for them.
PHILLIP: The changes are also sweeping through pop culture. On Thursday, the popular country group Lady Antebellum announcing a change of their name to Lady A, telling their fans we can make no excuse for our lateness to this realization that the name referred to the pre-Civil War period that included slavery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GONE WITH THE WIND")
HATTIE MCDANIEL, ACTOR, "MAMMY": You've been brave so long, Miss Scarlett.
(END VIDEO CLIP, "GONE WITH THE WIND")
PHILLIP: HBO Max saying it has temporarily removed the film "Gone with the Wind" and will return to the platform with materials putting that period of history into context.
And now a push from military leaders to strip the names of rebel generals from military bases.
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I don't have an emotional attachment to the names of those bases.
PHILLIPS: Former Army General David Petraeus writing, "It is time to remove the names of traitors like Benning and Bragg from our country's most important military installations."
But there is also staunch resistance beginning with President Trump who tweeted that the bases represent a history of winning, victory and freedom and he would not even consider renaming them.
Trump warning his party not to fall for a bipartisan amendment introduced in the Senate to remove the Confederate names. But it may be too late as some Republican lawmakers say the time for change has come.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): We don't want to forget what's happened in the past but at the same time that doesn't mean that we should continue with those bases, with the names of individuals who fought against our country.
PHILLIP: Now the amendment that President Trump decried on Confederate names has already passed with bipartisan support out of a Senate committee. It now potentially faces another vote in the full Senate.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell actually ignored reporters' questions on this issue.
But many Republicans will quickly have to decide, will they stand with President Trump on this issue?
Or will they vote to remove the names of Confederate generals from military installations all across the country? -- Abby Phillip, CNN, Washington.
HOLMES: Here to discuss this further is Sarah Bronin. She is a professor of historic preservation law at the University of Connecticut.
Great to have you on, Professor. It's an important conversation to have. I mean, generally, those who lose the war don't get statues. I mean, in 2020, it seems extraordinary that not just statues, flags, the Confederate flag, military base names and things like that, that honor the Confederacy still exist.
Why -- why do you think that is so?
SARAH BRONIN, UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT: Well, first, thank you for having me. And, you know, these are legacy names, names that -- that -- that were given to these bases so many years ago. And this really is time to change them. So I really applaud what the protesters are doing.
HOLMES: What -- what do you think they have lingered for?
I mean, is it a misunderstanding of the symbolism?
What they represent?
Our failure to understand that the Confederacy was about preserving slavery?
Or do you think, perhaps, there's an underlying support, among some, for them?
BRONIN: Well, if you look at the history of how some of these monuments and -- and naming rights came about, it really started in -- just after Reconstruction. There was another crop of these monuments being erected and places being named for Confederate generals in the 1900s to 1920s.
And then, there was really a third period, around the 100th anniversary of the Civil War and around the time when civil rights became very vibrant, the movement in this country.
BRONIN: So it really was, at all of those points in time, a backlash against African Americans asserting their rights. And, in that way, these monuments were very intentional. They've endured because I think people have not been able to get through to some of those in charge of -- of these -- these places, that -- that they're very hateful symbols and they represent racism and they should be eliminated.
HOLMES: Yes. I think you're absolutely right. A lot of people don't realize they weren't thrown up after the war to honor generals. They were thrown up as part of Jim Crow, to do exactly the opposite.
I mean, it's remarkable, I think, how many Confederate symbols remain in the U.S. I mean, the Civil War ended 150 years ago and I was reading, the Southern Poverty Law Center says there is still more than 700 monuments honoring the losing side. And then, there's -- there's grade schools, colleges, cities, counties, named after rebel leaders. And then, those 10 Army bases, notably, too. There is a lot out there, aren't there?
BRONIN: Absolutely, hundreds of physical manifestations of this claim to white supremacy over -- over everyone else.
But also, as you point out, roads that are named after Confederate generals, schools, parts of university campuses, even there are some mountains that are named after some of these -- these traitors, I think is the word that your previous guest used. So it's -- it's rampant. And, in fact, it's not just in the south.
HOLMES: Do you see this finally -- do you see this as a turning point?
I mean, we're talking a lot about turning points lately.
Could this be one?
Because they've survived other complaints in the past.
BRONIN: Indeed. And the law has evolved to -- to, in some ways, reinforce the -- the supremacy that's contained in these statutes.
In fact, use Alabama as an example. In 2017, was when Alabama passed a law called the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, that protected these statues from being removed by local governments.
And you are seeing how that's playing out today, just a few years later, with the mayors of Birmingham and Mobile, declaring that their statues are coming down or already having taken them down and then, the state coming in and suing them.
So you are seeing the conflict that continues to emerge between states, local governments and even the federal level, as -- as you mentioned in your report.
HOLMES: Does seem to be a time of shifting opinion. Sarah Bronin, Professor, I really appreciate it. Thanks so much.
BRONIN: Yes, absolutely. Thank you.
HOLMES: Calls for racial justice reverberating across Europe as well. Thousands gathering in central Paris to protest police brutality, marking the death in 2016 of a young black man who died while in police custody.
In London, fights broke out between far right and anti-racism demonstrators at a subway station. Boris Johnson weighing in on the clashes, calling them, quote, "racist thuggery." He took to Twitter, saying the protests had been subverted by violence, mainly from the right wing and that racism had no place in the U.K.
As protests for racial justice continue in the United States and around the world, we look at what has already changed and if the movement might spark more change. We'll be right back.
HOLMES: Since the death of George Floyd while in police custody, there has been an uproar in the U.S. to address racial injustices. CNN's Tom Foreman gives us an overview of the many changes rippling throughout the country.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
HOLMES: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM and spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. Don't go anywhere, though. John Vause will be back with more news after the break.