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The Situation Room
Gov. Cuomo: New York City Will Open On June 8; Gov. Cuomo: We Are Ordering Independent Review Of Policing Actions During Friday's Protests; Protests Erupt Nationwide Over Death Of George Floyd; MN National Guard: We Are All In To Maintain Order In Streets; Minneapolis Public Safety Commissioner: We Saw Protesters Destroy Property Without A Second Thought. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired May 30, 2020 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I had to ask them. My voice speaking for all of us. Please help us to go to work tomorrow. Please show up for work because it's your role, it's your duty, it's your obligation to us and they did and they did. I was not comfortable asking.
I will tell you the God's honest truth. I knew they were putting themselves at risk. I knew it and I - I don't envy any chief executive of this nation who has to order women and men to go to war. I can imagine how that would feel. I know how I felt having to ask our front line workers, I need you. I need you to show up. And they did. And they put their lives at risk to serve others.
And in that moment they were not black frontline workers. They were not white frontline workers. They were not Latino frontline workers. They were not Bronx frontline workers, they were not Brooklyn frontline workers, they were not Buffalo frontline workers. They were just Americans. They were New Yorkers. They were linked by the commonality of humanity.
And the Better Angels said, get past your fear. Get past your weakness. Don't stay home. Rise up. Be stronger. Be better than you - than you think you can be yourself. Get in touch with your strength. And hear that strength and they did it.
And we acted as one. This diverse community of New York. People from all over the globe, different languages. We acted as one. And many of those people gave their lives for us during that time. They gave their lives because we asked them to show up for us and they did.
Let's learn from their example. Let's understand what they did. We see all the success in those numbers and how far we've come. It didn't just happen. People literally gave their lives so others could live. They are the frontline hearers. They are the ones who charged up the hill when they knew the enemy was firing.
They showed that same bravery. They showed that same courage. And they did it only because we asked, not because they were getting paid more money or they were going to get a medal because they didn't.
They did it because it was the right thing to do. They did it out of love. That's what they did. They didn't die in vain. They've changed me. And I believe they have made me a better person by their example and by their lesson. And I will never ever forget what they did.
And I will strive to be half as courageous and half as brave as they have been. And to hear those Better Angels. And to get in touch with that strength and to respond from that strength. That's their spirit. Yes, be outraged. Yes, be frustrated. Demand better, demand justice.
But not violent. Not violent. Productive and smart. Act from strength, not fear. Love, not hate. And there is nothing that we can't overcome. We showed that here. We beat this damn virus and if we're smart we'll continue to beat it. But the way we beat this virus, we can beat the virus of racism, we can beat the virus of discrimination, we can beat the virus of inequality.
If we can beat this virus, we can beat anything. Look at it, that strength that people showed. You can do anything with that strength. Our leaders may not be as good as the American people and as strong as the American people and as kind as the American people. But it's still we, the people. It is still we, the people.
And we, the people shall still overcome. They showed us the way forward. And the way forward is to be New York tough, smart, united, disciplined, loving. Loving, loving. They gave their lives out of love and we respect that.
I'm going to sign a bill today that gives death benefits to the families of all the front line workers who gave their lives for us. It is the least we can do to say thank you. And we honor you and we remember you. You gave your lives for us. We will be there to support your families going forward. That's what this bill does. And it is my honor to sign it now.
We say to their families. We thank you. We grieve for your loss. And we will always be there for you the way you were there for us. Thank you.
REPORTER: This morning - news conference and they were critical of the way the police (inaudible) an apology from the mayor and what they didn't like was the wall of police officers in front of (inaudible). Do you agree with that?
CUOMO: You're going to have a lot of opinions about last night what happened. And there are going to be a lot of opinions that have merit. There will be people who criticize the police. There will be people who criticize the protesters. This is New York and this is a very contentious situation.
That's why I think the smart way forward is let's get an independent review. Let's find out exactly what happened. What procedures were used? What was right? What was wrong? That's what the Attorney General will do. I'm going to - going to ask the Attorney General to get the review done quickly. I'd like to see it in 30 days.
So we don't have to have a prolonged argument about it but review all the facts, review the police pre - procedures, review the crowds actions and give us an independent review. Non- political, right? This is political silly season. And this is an issue that will raise a lot of politics on a lot of levels.
But the Attorney General's independently elected. She's not in the political season. There is no election for the Attorney General this year. So just give us a factual review and let's get that review and then I'll respond to the facts in that review because people do deserve answers and people do deserve accountability.
If someone did something wrong, they should be held accountable.
REPORTER: They said that this wall of police officers that encourages the violence, that it - they suggested that the pattern of the police force didn't show -
CUOMO: Yes, so let the Attorney General look at the police procedure of using a wall, if that's proper - improper.
REPORTER: So we're still in the midst of the pandemic of course and people are out there, protesting not wearing their masks, they're not social distancing, does that concern you at all?
CUOMO: Yes, yes. Look, on the protest demonstrations. You have a right to demonstrate. You have a right to protest. God bless America. You don't have a right to infect other people. You don't have a right to act in a way that's going to jeopardize public health. And you know, the effectiveness of the mask, as simple as it seems.
The more we learn, the more effective it is. Demonstrate with a mask on. What's the difference? I mean I just, I still do not get it. And look, I've been having a lot of conversations, we're doing ads and all sorts of ways to communicate and we had Chris Rock and Rosie Perez and different people bringing their credibility to the situation.
It's primarily difficult with young people. I think the way they first heard about this virus was that they were immune. I remember there's a video clip during the Florida spring break where you had all those young people on the beach in Florida and there's a clip of a young gentleman saying, I'm not going to let this coronavirus bother me.
I can deal with it. Only old people have to worry about it. It's not going to stop me from partying. Is it really? Party on, forget Covid. Yes, even if you think you're a super hero because you're young and you're strong, you can get it and then infect someone else so it's just wholly irresponsible and I don't see any justification not to wear it and I'm going to try as hard as I can through every vehicle that I can to say, look, you're just wrong.
You know, you can have an opinion but there are also facts and you're wrong not to wear a mask. I think you're disrespectful. I think you're putting other people's lives at risk needlessly. And those are facts, right? So demonstrate, wear a mask.
REPORTER: Governor, this is the second review that's been announced today over the events of last night. People are still on edge. There are more protest planned for today. It does sound like police are going to wait 30 days on how to respond. Protesters are not going to wait 30 days on how to respond. What do you think needs to change so this doesn't happen again tonight?
CUOMO: Well, I gave no doubt that the Mayor and the police are going to have serious conversations today about last night and they should. We - we all saw the video and accountability works and I'm sure, I know the Mayor has taken note of last night and I'm sure they're - there are going to be conversations today about how to handle tonight and going forward.
REPORTER: Governor, as much as the protests last night highlight the systemic issues with the police response to protests, you know, the most prominent video of the officer throwing a woman on the ground, you know, has led to some details that this was the latest in a history of bad behavior by this one cop. A lot of state lawmakers are now saying that 50-a state law should be repealed. Do you support that and would you use your influence as governor to make sure that cops' disciplinary records are actually subject to public disclosure?
CUOMO: Yes, 50-a is the - people who don't know what 50-a is, 99.9 percent of the normal people. 50-a is a state regulation about disclosure of prior disciplinary actions vis-a-vis police officers. I do not believe 50-a can - that 50-a as an existing law prohibits the disclosure.
I have done counsel's opinions that say that. I think local elected officials across the state could release disciplinary records even with the existing 50-a law if they wanted to. I think they don't want to so they say I can't, right? The best way to say no as an elected official, politician is to say I can't.
I don't believe that's true. I believe they can with the law as written but just to make it simple, I would sign a bill today that reforms 50-a. I would sign it today. So the legislature can now convene by Zoom or however they do it. Pass the bill. I will sign it today. I can't be clearer or more direct than that. Just take one more.
REPORTER: (inaudible) With respect to the medical data on minorities, aside from the African-Americans and Latinos, do you have or do you expect to have any data on hospitalization, infections of the Albanian community?
CUOMO: That is a very good question. I do not know the percentages for the Albanian community. I don't know that they collect in hospitals. But I will find out and if we have it, we will get it out to you forthwith. Thank you very much. Have a good weekend. I'll see you tomorrow. I have to go to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, the governor of New York Andrew
Cuomo wrapping up his daily news conference, making some strong statements, both on the coronavirus pandemic, how it's affecting New York state, which is still very, very seriously.
As well as very strong statements on the criminal justice system in the aftermath of the George - George Floyd murder in Minneapolis.
George Floyd, 46 years old. Derek Chauvin the ex-police officer charged with third degree - third degree murder in that particular case. In - as far as the injustice is concerned, he says we have an injustice in the criminal justice system that is abhorrent. He says it's not just George Floyd. He then listed a whole bunch of other African-American men who were killed by police officers here in the United States.
How many times have we seen this same - the same situation unfold before this nation. He says has a history of discrimination and racism but then he goes on to say this. Yes, there is anger and frustration he said, but violence is not the answer. Violence obscures the righteousness of the message. Polo Sandoval is in New York for us.
He also called for an investigation into some of the actions last night, Polo, that we're seeing on videotape. It says it's raising more questions about police - improper police action in the face of the demonstrators. What is he referring to specifically? What happened in Brooklyn and elsewhere in New York City?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So what you have here Wolf, is basically immediate action that we're seeing that only at the city level but at the state level and this independent review is being launched. Looking into the actions of various officers, NYPD officers yesterday and violent altercations or at least encounters that were captured on camera that got the Mayor and also governor reference at least two videos that are making the rounds on social media.
It's certainly leading to some anger here and so the result is this independent review at the state and local level into the actions of those officers. One video particular that we're still basically looking into here but authorities have already confirmed they're also looking at this, is this image of an officer pushing a female member of a protest to the ground here.
So authorities are certainly looking into that and looking into the action at officers and at the same time promising appropriate action there but if you just step back for a second, we also have to -- we also are seeing what is very complex, very difficult situation for many people here on the ground and really across the country here because we have law enforcement officers and authorities here who have recognized that there's this united voice of people who are clearly frustrated.
Not just because of Mr. Floyd's death but previous incidents as well and they're - they're not pleased with this intolerable reality. However at the same time, you also have law enforcement that were faced with a very violent situation yesterday in Brooklyn.
Authorities saying at least 3000 people when that peaceful protest took a very violent. Authorities even citing one particular incident that took place in Brooklyn where Molotov cocktails, at least one, was thrown at police officers inside a patrol unit.
So what you have here is a very - again, a very difficult situation that played out yesterday. The result was that at least 200 people arrested. Multiple people who were injured on both sides, both law enforcement and some of the demonstrators and so authorities certainly want to take a pause, take a closer look at what happened and most importantly what did not happen last night so that they can adapt to any potential protests which we do expect to happen tonight and in the days ahead, not just here in New York but across the country.
BLITZER: Yes cities all across the country, Polo, you're absolutely right are bracing up for more demonstrations of potentially we hope not but more violence as well. We've got our medical analyst Dr. James Phillips of George Washington University with us.
The governor made another important point out that a lot of the demonstrators, not only in New York but all over the country, they weren't wearing masks and they weren't engaging in social distancing. The governor saying that they have the right to protest of course but they don't have the right to jeopardize public health. It's disrespectful. They're putting other people's lives at risk by not wearing masks and by not engaging your social distancing during these demonstrations. What say you?
DR. JAMES PHILLIPS, PHYSICIAN AND ASST PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV HOSPITAL & CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I agree you know. We've said from the beginning that the only way that we're going to get over the hump of this virus is for individuals to take responsibility.
Responsibility for their own health and for the health of their other - other neighbors and while these protests are important and these protests have a right to exist, it's really important if people remember that they can get sick by going to one of these and they may be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus and by shouting or yelling, they're spreading those droplets into other people who were simultaneously shouting or yelling and getting them sick.
And even more so you know, I have concern for the police officers on the front line. You know, I spent years as a as a tactical physician, a SWAT team doctor and we do our best to keep officers and the people they interact with safe and when I'm seeing officers not wearing masks or doing their best to distance from those people who are young and screaming, that also causes concern.
So you know, if you're - if you're an officer and you're out there in the midst of this, make sure you're wearing a face shield at all times because the disease transmission is a real possibility.
BLITZER: Very important indeed because even in the midst of these demonstrations and the anger over the death of George Floyd, the coronavirus pandemic continues. More than 100,000 Americans have already died in three months alone and thousands more expected to die in the next few weeks and months.
Let's get some more analysis on what's going on. Cornell William Brooks is joining us right now, a former president of the NAACP. Cornell, I'm anxious to get your thoughts because we're hearing a consistent message not just from the governor of New York but from the governor of Minnesota, the mayors of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
Yes, people have the right to protest but they don't have the right to engage in violence and destruction, throwing Molotov cocktails and authorities, law enforcement authorities in Minnesota said using IEDs, Improvised Explosive Devices. They may be a being instigated by outside forces at the same time.
You've studied this, you've worked in this field for a long time, Cornell. You and I are friends. Tell us your reaction to what's going on in our country right now?
CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, FORMER PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: First of all, I just begin with the word of condolence to all the families who lost loved ones to police violence and I begin with the word of concern for all the children in this country who would being triggered and traumatized by watching what is playing out in the streets and across the televisions and screens in this country.
It is certainly true that no one has a legal or moral right to use violence to destroy buildings, to destroy communities and they certainly don't have the right to destroy bodies, black and brown bodies and people of color bodies and trans bodies while wearing a badge and a uniform.
All forms of violence are bad but we have to be very clear about this. There is a moral equivalence between police brutality and the few people who engage in violence in all the demonstrations that take place all across the country on a routine and regular basis.
Yes, it's been my experience that there are those who do not live in the community, who do not - who are not concerned about the community, who come to demonstrations to engage in provocation, to build as you say to burn communities that they do not live in and to mete out consequences that they do not suffer.
So we feel and grieve for those who are suffering from this brutality but be clear, the violence began in this with the officer who killed George Floyd. The violence begins with these police officers who are literally out of control and so - so Wolf you know, it's not enough for us to react and respond to only the violence perpetuated by a relative few demonstrators.
We ought to be looking at the cause. That's key here.
BLITZER: You know Cornell, I want you to react also because it was an explosive statements we heard earlier, just a little while ago, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Herrington, I don't know if you know him.
But he made some very strong comments suggesting that outsiders, people not living in Saint Paul or Minneapolis were coming in. He called them terrorists. He said some of them may actually be organized crime figures, even white supremacists who he said, are simply seeking to foment destruction and unrest and make the United States of America look bad.
You're the former president of the NAACP, what do you - what do you make of that? It's a very strong allegations that he's making right there.
BROOKS: Well, this is not a conspiracy theory. I spent time in Minneapolis and Saint Paul after Jamar Clark and Philando Castille who were killed and that's when I've been in cities and towns across the country in the wake of police brutality.
It is not unheard of for people to come from outside the community and yell the loudest and call for violence the most vigorously while they're looting and parallelly destroying the communities of others.
If the Russians can attempt to weaponize our elections, subvert our elections, why would it be a surprise if they're not a few people who look to endanger many people and take the focus away from the victims of police brutality. That's what we have to focus on here because -
If we fought about George Floyd, we thought about Breonna Talylor and we thought about Ahmaud Arbery. If we thought about their families, think about the communities in which they live, the pain that we're all suffering, we have children watching as we speak and we responded to that with the sense of urgency and did what we need to do.
We would not be having this conversation and so rather than respond - rather than respond to only a few outside agitators as it were, let's deal with the inside problem that we have. And that means dealing with the problem, the pandemic if you will of police misconduct and police brutality because reality is we know it.
When a young black man has - is 21 times more likely to encounter violence and have his life taken at the hands of the police, then a white young man when we had the largest cities in this country, largest police departments, where roughly a third of the officers, a third of the officers as to say, there's only 30 percent of these police departments even require offices to report bad behavior.
And only a third call on offices to actually intervene in a way that was not done with George Floyd. We have a problem here and so this is not really terrorism on the back end. It's about terrorism on the front end and terrorism by those who are wearing blue uniforms and gold badges.
BLITZER: Stand by you know Cornell. I want to bring L.Z. Granderson. I haven't heard from him yet. I know he's got a lot to - a lot of thoughts on what we've been seeing unfold here in the United States, over these past few days, especially last night and the statements that we've heard from the political leadership today.
L.Z., what's - what's going through your mind right now as we just heard from the Governor of New York, the Governor of Minnesota, the mayors of Saint Paul and Minneapolis among others?
L.Z. GRANDERSON, ESPN HOST: First of all, it's good to see you again, Wolf. You know, I was really struck by Governor Cuomo's statement that violence is not the answer. I was struck there not because I don't agree with it but because I always hear in relationship with people protesting or sometimes rioters following an act of violence.
I never really hear violence is not the answer before that. I don't hear directed towards the police department. I don't hear it directed towards law enforcement, security guards. I only here it in response to after violence has been committed. Black people are told violence is not the answer. Black people are told you're supposed to turn the other cheek.
Black people are told, you're supposed to be better than this but you don't hear a great deal of people being told as in the direction of an official, to the police department or to the larger white community as a whole. I'm not picking at scabs here but the reality is, is that it's always been incumbent upon black people and minorities to solve white racism.
It's always been incumbent upon black people to be the better man, to be the better woman, to be the better person. I really would like to see the governors talk to the communities that are standing on the sideline, being non-racist, as opposed to anti-racist.
There's a difference. Non-racists are allowed to say it wasn't me and pretend as if the system doesn't impact you or better yet, benefit you. Anti-racists acknowledge the benefits of being white in America and so the disadvantages of being a minority in America, being disgusted by it and then actually putting words into action.
Those are two different things. We have this clamoring desire to return to normal. Well, let the FBI statistics tell you what normal looks like. Normal is getting a person of color, committing a crime suffering a longer sentence than his white counterpart. Normal is every significant socio-economic measurement being significantly better in favor of white counterparts. That's normal.
We don't want normal. We want to be better than normal so as long as we continue to be hung up on this notion that we need to get back to normal, with that we need peace and quiet, as if there was ever peace, we may have had an uneasy - an uneasy quiet but we've never had a peace, Wolf.
This country was started with genocide. This country was built in slavery. This country has a system in which it continues to play its minorities at the foot of their white counterparts. That's not peace. You may have quiet but you don't have peace. So as long as we continue to characterize this conversation to those parameters, unfortunately, I feel that we're going to continue to be on a hamster wheel where there being an unjustified murder, protest, violence, perhaps rioting and moment of uneasy quiet.
And then we do this all over again.
BLITZER: I stand by L.Z. because these are significant developments. We're showing our viewers by the way, some live pictures coming in from Philadelphia. The cameras are obviously just moving away. But you saw people protesting there.
There were X's on the ground. They're supposed to be social distancing in the process wearing masks. There was a lot of that social distancing going on in Philadelphia. We just saw those pictures. It wasn't completely social distancing. And not everybody was wearing a mask.
Mitch Landrieu is with us, as well, the former mayor of New Orleans. I'm anxious to get your thoughts, specifically what L.Z. is saying, and what we just heard from the governor of New York.
MITCH LANDRIEU, FORMER NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: Well, I completely agree with what L.Z. said and I'm happy to be with Cornell and I agree with his comments as well.
Governor Cuomo's comments were very interesting. I appreciate his leadership. He tried to do a couple of things at once. One of them was appropriately to say that violence is never acceptable when you're hurting yourself or other people. And that is absolutely true.
Mayor Bottoms in Atlanta, of course, Mayor Frey and Mayor Carter in Minneapolis and St. Paul are trying to get people to be calm and to be safe and to protest loudly and aggressively without hurting anybody else. I think that's all fine.
However, I think that Cornell and Governor Cuomo have raised the issue about what the initial incident of violence was, in this particular case, dealing with George Floyd, which was completely unacceptable but the -- what LJ said about how long that has been going on.
And Governor Cuomo did something very interesting. He went all the way back to the Abner Louima case, which was in 1997, when an African- American man was sodomized by the police and that required three surgeries. And to LJ's comments, how long does it have to go?
White America is not really hearing what the African-American community is saying. And they are appropriately enraged and frustrated and tired of these things happening over and over again. And what was interesting about what the governor of Minneapolis said of Minnesota, is the entire weight of the federal government is going to be brought to bear in quelling the violence that is on the streets.
What the African-American community wants to hear is that the entire weight of the United States government and all of its people are going to address the deficiencies in the design of our institutions that are produced the conditions that we have today. And unless and until that happens, until justice prevails, there cannot be any peace. And justice is not just quiet.
It's just not the absence of something. It's the presence of everybody being treated fairly and justly. And unfortunately, in this country right now, and this is what Governor Cuomo did. I thought well, he tied together the pandemic and the disproportion that impact that's happening on the African-American community with a pandemic of racism that's been with us for a very, very long period of time.
And until this country confronts that acknowledges it, says, I'm sorry, and then says I am committed to changing so that we all can be better. We should not be surprised that the normal that was talked about before that produced what we have today will continue to be. And I don't think we can wait anymore.
BLITZER: Well, let me get Marc Morial, the President and CEO of the National Urban League, also a former mayor of New Orleans into this conversation. These are such painful issues that we're all discussing right now, we're all worried about, we're bracing for more demonstrations and potentially a lot more violence in the course of the next several hours. What are you bracing for Marc?
MARC MORIAL (D), FORMER NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: So I want to offer two thoughts, Wolf. I think Mitch Landrieu's observation that what we want is the weight and the power of the federal government to help rectify the inequities we've been talking about today.
And it can start with the weight of the federal government assisting in number one, the investigation of those officers that caused Mr. Floyd his life, number one. Number two, the weight of the federal government should conduct a pattern and practice investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, something that Attorney General Barr has not done, something that former Attorney General Sessions said he would not do.
And Barr was asked at his confirmation hearing where I testified if he would in fact do this. And so the weight of the federal government has been absent in addressing the underlying issue that has brought us here today.
Number two, something very different is happening with these protests. In the 1960s, you heard about, quote unquote, outside agitators. That was the clarion call of segregationist, who wanted to challenge Dr. King and legitimate civil rights workers who were coming in to assist in communities across the south where it was Albany, or Augusta, or Birmingham, or Jackson, or Memphis.
This is different, where you have outsiders who may be white supremacist, who may be anarchist, who may be people who are fundamentally not aligned with the purpose of the protests that are taking place, whose sole purpose is to disrupt and distract. And by disrupting and distracting, we spend our time today talking about this without focusing exclusively on justice for Mr. Floyd, justice for Mr. Arbery, justice for Breonna Taylor, and reform of the criminal justice in the police systems across America. So I am very interested, Wolf, and we have a different this use of outside agitators was an old 60s term. You know, these are not agitators. They're interlopers, outside interlopers. If in fact, what the public safety director suggested is true, we need to understand and know that.
I was not comfortable with the language of the governor of Minnesota, who I may add, has a background in the military, was using, in effect, he was declaring war, saying he's going to bring the full force, but he didn't state the rationale meaning, who is the enemy? And what is their intent? And what is their purpose?
If you want to characterize it that way, calling American citizens, the enemy, so I think that there's got to be a stronger predicate lead to justify this overwhelming use of force. When you call the Secretary of Defense, you're asking for military support. He didn't say he called the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Director of Intelligence, the, if you will, Secretary of Homeland Security. He said he was calling the Secretary of Defense.
So we need to understand, and we need to know because if what they suggest and I saw, because of a report we did, our State of Black America report, what the Russians did, in manipulating social media, in the 2016 election, going all the way back to 2014 to try to confuse and trick young African-Americans and African-American voters. It does not -- it's not a leap of faith. It's not a, if you will, hard for me to imagine that there's some exploitation going on.
The Russians did it. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee, they got involved in the social media conversation that was taking place at the time, both pro-Colin Kaepernick and anti-Colin Kaepernick to try to stoke up, if you will, the conflict of a debate that was taking place in the United States.
So if that's the case, we've got something different. And we need to understand, it is different. This is not 1960s. But the governor and the public safety director, or if you will, the president and national security team have to let us know is this in fact a situation where there are organized terrorist group, organized foreign actors, white supremacist, and anarchistic that are creating the habit that we see in some cities today.
I think this idea that we always say violence is not the answer. Amen, what L.Z. said, because, where's the condemnation, the overwhelming condemnation of the police violence that has taken place? There have been too many voices who've been silent.
Time and time again, the way it is on civil rights leaders and African-American leaders, well, we need others to do as people like Mitch Landrieu have done, and to align themselves much more forceful and squarely with this mean for us to achieve racial justice in this country.
BLITZER: I want everybody to stand by and what, you know, Marc Morial was referring to as a statement. First of all, a statement made by the Governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, saying our goal is to decimate that force, saying the force being the outside agitators organized crime according to Mike -- John Harrington, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner, who says that among the outside agitators, were also some white supremacists.
And I just want to remind our viewers the governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz also announced the full mobilization, the full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard's the first time they're doing that since World War II. He's asking neighboring states to deploy National Guard personnel into Minnesota. And he's also said he's been on the phone with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs asking for military help from the U.S. military at the same time, National Military help out.
Everybody stand by. We're watching what's going on at the top of the hour, where we expect to hear, by the way, from the governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, once again. He's coming out with what he describes as faith leaders, civil rights leaders, to bring more on what's going on in Minnesota right now, much more of our special coverage coming up.
BLITZER: We're continuing to follow the aftermath of a very, very violent, contentious day overnight across America protests erupting from coast to coast over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis, a former Minneapolis police officer, maybe officers. Let's see what happens on that front.
In California crowd block traffic on a busy San Jose freeway smashing windows of cars trying to get through. I'm joined now by the mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo. Mayor Liccardo, thank you so much for joining us.
The "Mercury News" is reporting that an SUV hit two people during Friday's protests in your beautiful city. Do you have any details about what happened because it was so disturbing to hear about that?
MAYOR SAM LICCARDO (D), SAN JOSE, CA: And our prayers are with those two protesters who were hit by the SUV. We know that they're being treated. I don't have any details yet. But I do know that there were some shots fired, I believe. As Sheriff's Office deputies were involved, to try to deter the driver from getting into the crowd and obviously two people were hurt.
So we're trying to do all that we can to calm an awful lot of jittery nerves out here. And, you know, we certainly appreciate the -- that the outrageous, righteous, the protests are righteous, but the violence is never righteous.
BLITZER: Well, what's your reaction to what we've seen, not just in San Jose, but all across the country right now? What do you make of the violence that has erupted so far? LICCARDO: So this is a moment of reckoning for a country. And the real question is, how are we going to respond? What kinds of reforms are we going to institute in our criminal justice system? How are we going to step up around questions of racial equity from plaguing us really for centuries?
This is really critical moment for us to listen, to listen intently. But at the same time, to ensure that as we're allowing space for people to speak, that we're keeping the space safe. And we know in cities throughout the country, it hasn't been safe. Most protesters are of course doing exactly what they should be doing in protesting peacefully.
But we know there are a few that are engaged in destructive acts. And we simply need our police officers to continue to show clam restrain as they have them, and then obviously take action where they need to.
BLITZER: Are you expecting, Mayor, more protests in San Jose today? And if the answer is yes, how you're planning to keep your community safe?
LICCARDO: Well, we are going to continue to have officers out there expecting there may well be more protests. We just had 5:00 this morning, we were out there cleaning up debris on the streets to make sure that none of it can be used to harm people or to destroy small businesses nearby.
And many of the folks are out there 5:00 a.m. by the way, were volunteers. And it shows you that there's a lot of community heart here. We really want everyone to appreciate. This is our city collectively. So let's make sure that we're caring for our city while we're speaking righteously.
BLITZER: We heard earlier not too long ago, earlier today, from St. Paul's Mayor in Minnesota, Melvin Carter. He thinks some of these protests are actually being stoked by people from outside of his state of Minnesota. Have you seen evidence of people from outside your city, San Jose, taking advantage of the situation to cause destruction and chaos?
LICCARDO: I can't say I know exactly. Obviously, we're looking at arrest data, for example. There were about three dozen arrests yesterday. But I don't want to go there.
Obviously, what they're dealing with in Minneapolis and St. Paul is a very, very different situation much more severe than what we're dealing with here. We're going to continue to work collaboratively with the community that our community right here. And I'm confident that we're going to return to a more peaceful approach to speaking about this injustice.
And we've got a lot of reforms in the hopper. And I think directing everyone's energy, for example, to reforming our charter to expand our police auditor's responsibilities, for example, are the kinds of productive energy that can be really applied to this very important issue. BLITZER: Minnesota, Georgia, Kentucky, they're all activating the National Guard in their states to help keep the peace. Has there been any talk as far as you know of doing that in San Jose or elsewhere in California?
LICCARDO: No. We are relying with the help of other outside agencies, Sheriff's Department and others, to help buttress our department. But I think our police departments doing an excellent job in really allowing folks to speak, to express their protest as they should.
But I think so far, they're managing to contain as much as possible, the violence and destruction of property. Obviously, we can't know exactly will happen in the days ahead. But I'm confident that our police department is going to continue to be able to handle this.
BLITZER: All right. That's encouraging to hear that. What message, Mayor, do you want to give the protesters who may feel like their voice is simply not being heard in the wake of George Floyd's death?
LICCARDO: I would say that we do hear you. And many of those officers who are out there on the street with the demonstrators share much of the outrage that so many of us should feel when we see the atrocious crime that was committed in Minneapolis. And we feel the intense sadness over George Floyd's death.
I think it's important for all of us to recognize that we should share this common human outrage. And that pitting one against the other is not going to get us to where we want to be. You know, just two days ago, we released the use of force report in our San Jose Police Department with independent analysis about how we're actually deescalating the use of force in our Department over the last several years.
And we're keeping very close data about who racially, gender, and so forth, is the subject of that force. It's that kind of accountability that's going to enable our conversation to move forward productively. And we are going to be committed to ensuring accountability moving forward.
BLITZER: Yes. But you obviously got to worry about worst case scenarios right now. You're hoping for the best, but you worry about the worst. And what are your greatest fears?
LICCARDO: Well, I think we see there's a real contagion of anger out there, in addition to the coronavirus that we're all deeply challenged by. And it doesn't help right now that so many families are struggling at the edge without a paycheck for months in many cases.
And we know that that combination of deep need and anger can stoke an awful lot. And we just hope that we will find our better angels in the days ahead. And we're going to continue to message and to listen that we share a common outrage over this injustice. And we have a lot of work to do. But we have to do it together. BLITZER: Yes. And you make an important point, all of this unfolding in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, which is still out there. Thousands of people are expected here in the United States to die in the next few weeks and months, more than 100,000 already have died. And the economic pain and I assume in San Jose as well, what 40 million Americans, 40 million Americans have lost their jobs and are now applied for unemployment in the last 10 weeks alone.
Forty million Americans I assume the economic pain, the public health pain in San Jose, and now this pain erupting from the death of George Floyd. It's an enormous amount of challenges you're facing.
LICCARDO: The hardships are certainly intense for millions of our families. And its times like this that we can muster our collective character. You know, history is going to ask a very simple question, which is, how did we help each other during this critical moment?
And this is our opportunity as a community. What I've seen so far, thousands of volunteers stepping up and people contributing in so many ways to help their neighbors has been heartening. And I'm hoping that we can continue that spirit in that very challenging days ahead.
BLITZER: Well, good luck, Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose, California. You got a lot of challenges. Mayor's all over the United States facing similar challenges right now, as well. Thank you very much for joining us.
LICCARDO: Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: The Minnesota governor meanwhile is authorizing the National Guard in his words to fully mobilize. This historic move is in response to the violent protests last night stemming from the death of George Floyd at the hands of now former Minneapolis police officers, dozens were arrested in clashes with police overnight despite an ordered curfew as looting and fire stretched across the city.
I want to go back to CNN's Josh Campbell. He's on the ground for us in Minneapolis. Josh, we're going on day five of the protests right now. Things where you are right now they look calm. But what are people bracing for during the course of this day into the evening?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Wolf, what they're bracing for is what we have seen the last two nights and that is destruction that's come from some of these protests. You can see behind me this is just happening right now as we've gone on the air here.
This bank, this is a Wells Fargo branch that has been smoldering for hours. Yet, what we're hearing and talking to officials is that they don't have the resources to put out every single fire that is occurring in around this area. They're having the triage send their assets or apparatus to the areas that need it most, the smoldering flames that are engulfing apartments, for example and homes.
Now they're getting to the businesses. Here you can see fire officials just now arriving now. Now, last night, Wolf, this was the scene of one of those violent protests. We are one block away from the local police precinct as we arrived early this morning. We saw rubber bullets, shell casings from smoke grenades that were launched into this crowd that was trying to breach this local precinct.
Now, of course, this is all stemming from the outrage over the death of a black man here in Minneapolis. Folks say it was at the hands of a police officer that remains under investigation. We know that one of the officers has been charged with third degree murder.
But as we see this call for the National Guard fully mobilizing, it is yet to be seen whether protesters will heed the concerns from officials to stay home, whether these protesters will come out and continue to commit the attacks and then the damage that we've seen behind us here for days, Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens. Josh, don't go too far away. We're going to have much more ahead in our special Situation Room that's coming up.
Meanwhile, protest popping up this afternoon in Philadelphia. We got some live pictures from there. We're also awaiting the governor of Minnesota and faith leaders, civil rights leaders in this community. They're about to hold a news conference, the enormous concern surrounding the violent protests in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We'll have live coverage when we come back.