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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Protests in Multiple Cities Over George Floyd's Death; Protests In Atlanta Turn Violent; Prosecutor: Anticipate Charges Against Three Other Officers Involved In George Floyd's Death; Protesters And Police Clash In Minneapolis; Curfew For Minneapolis And St. Paul Starts In One Minute. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 29, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: People in the streets in the middle of a pandemic protesting the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis with the police officer's knee on his neck.
That officer today was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. He and three others had been fired.
We have live reports tonight from Minneapolis and nationwide. There is a lot to get to, I want to start right now with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz in New York, outside Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Shimon, what are the demonstrations been like here in New York?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It started peaceful, Anderson, but there are thousands here now. The largest demonstration that we have yet seen here in New York City, and it was relatively peaceful.
And then within last hour, everything has changed. The police have moved in. They've put barricades. We are behind these barricades. They are trying to get the protesters out the other way.
There are police everywhere. You can see a woman there being taken away, she was arrested, continuing to make arrests here really in the last 40 or so minutes, we've seen this here where police have been moving in, and you could see more police officers running.
But this has significantly escalated here in the last 40 minutes. As you can see, we are being pushed back as well as protesters and police here right now, police challenging the protesters.
We've seen pepper spray from the NYPD here at some of the protesters. We've seen officer with his pepper spray now out, and now bottles, water bottles, glass bottles being thrown at police and here, the police now coming in again, chasing people down as they are throwing bottles at them.
But this started peaceful, Anderson, but something changed, and then the police, who mostly were not -- did not feel any kind of threat for a while, they let the protesters go. Then all of a sudden, everything changed and police moved in with riot
gear. They are wearing helmets. There you see another bottle just being thrown and that's been going on for the last hour, and Anderson, more police moved in. Protesters became more agitated.
We saw pepper spray. Several people with pepper spray all over their face. Red eyes. We can see a woman here now walking away and was pepper sprayed, but certainly things have been very tense -- Anderson.
COOPER: Do you have a sense, Shimon, of how large the crowd is?
PROKUPECZ: It is thousands. Some people have left, but the problem now is there are people all around us. So, the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn now is completely surrounded by protesters and police.
But it is starting to rain here now, so hopefully, that will help the police, but there are thousands of people here, perhaps maybe as many as 5,000 at one point.
But it was peaceful, Anderson. But something changed and we saw setting -- a fire like a trash can was lit on fire and fireworks started going off.
And the police now are just trying to get people to move out of here, and that's what we're seeing now. But it is a very tense situation I am sure -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Shimon, we'll continue to check in with you. I want to go to Washington next with our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, what is the situation right now where you are? Where are you?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I am in Lafayette Park, Anderson, right across from the White House.
You can see the White House behind me and there were several hundred protesters here just a few moments ago. They are beginning to clear out of here.
You see about a hundred Secret Service agents lined up outside the fence of the North Lawn of the White House.
Anderson, just within the last hour, it's been a very volatile scene. We've seen people being pepper sprayed. We have seen some shoving and pushing between protesters and police officers.
I will tell you right now, it appears the Secret Service has arrested at least one person outside the White House, but largely it does seem at moment that Secret Service, which as you know, Anderson is charged with protection of the White House and grounds and President. They have done a pretty good job de-escalating the situation.
We don't know everything that's happened here so far, but they have managed to kind of wait out these protesters and these protesters are moving on to another part of Washington. But there was one moment, Anderson, I have to tell you that got very
tense. I was standing here in Lafayette Park, we heard some pops. I had 60 or 70 protesters rushing towards me and it just seemed as if for a moment, things were getting out of control.
But largely, things are calming down out here in Lafayette Park and it seems as though the Secret Service, they do have a handle on the situation right now -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Jim, I appreciate it. Brian Todd is also in Washington. He is joining us now. Brian, you're with the group that was in Lafayette Park. They have now left. Where are they heading, and what is it like?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it is very boisterous. It is very passionate. They are still very, very angry, but it is not nearly violent as what we saw a few moments ago that you heard Jim describe.
I was not far away from Jim when that happened in Lafayette Park. Crowds rushed toward us as well and pushed us to the side, and so did the police as they were trying to subdue one young man.
The police really got the crowd against them at that moment. The crowd turned on the police and was pretty violent for a span of about five minutes.
At that point, there was a standoff in Lafayette Park not far from where Jim and I were standing a short time ago. The protesters were pushing down barricades in front of the White House and the police were setting them back up again and it got pretty tense.
Right now, they are marching on 15th Street northwest. One of the organizers told me they wanted to get out of the park because they thought the police were trying to hem them in.
But we don't know where they're going exactly. They are going on 15th Street towards the National Mall and doing some chanting.
And just again, they are very, very passionate about sending a message to the Minneapolis protesters that they want them to kind of keep up the good fight.
But one of the organizers told me what they don't want here is have looting in the streets, property damage, violence. Well, they've had some violence already. They have had some confrontations with the police, but those fizzled out pretty quickly -- Anderson.
COOPER: And Brian, how long has this protest been going on? When did it start?
TODD: It started about 5:00 Eastern Time, so excuse me, a little over three hours and again, it started out with a couple dozen people and then it ballooned to a couple hundred. Now, it's a couple thousand. You could hear the chants behind me, very, very passionate. They do
not want people to forget the names of George Floyd, of people like Eric Garner, Freddie Gray. They keep chanting their names.
It is getting pretty boisterous here now, Anderson as we go down towards the National Mall on 15th Street.
We are not sure exactly where it is going. They may stop again and do some impromptu speeches and maybe block some intersections along the way.
COOPER: Okay, Brian, we will continue to check in with you. I want to go to our Nick Valencia who is in Atlanta. Nick, explain where you are and what's happening?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's ugly out here. The situation has deteriorated fast. We understand that these demonstrators showed up at about 3:00 this afternoon, and it's just within the last 30 minutes that things have really taken a turn for the worse.
You see behind me, our cameraman, William Walker, if you could pan in there, they've just set a car on fire.
Prior to that, they were breaking windows of an Atlanta Police cruiser. You have armored vehicles, SWAT team from Atlanta Police Department, as well as plain-clothed officers.
These demonstrators came here ready to confront the police. They began throwing objects at CNN Center, breaking windows. If you could pan over to see what they have left behind as that police presence pushed them past CNN Center. This is what they left behind.
Graffiti, some profanity, I am sorry about showing about that, showing that live, but it is just -- this is what is really happening out here, Anderson.
They have graffitied those CNN red letters, broken windows out. This is where they were.
And as you could see, happening live in front of us, if you want to pan back down there, William, another demonstrator is being taken into custody.
Anderson, we have witnessed at least six people, this is the seventh person that we've seen with our own eyes taken into custody.
These objects were thrown with aggression at the police. We did see at one point teargas, what we believe was teargas fired at the demonstrators as they have been pushed back towards the main intersection, if you're familiar with Downtown Atlanta. That is right at the main intersection of Centennial and Ted Turner.
And I want to pan to the left here, William, if you can because we are seeing dozens of heavily armed, in tactical gear Atlanta Police -- it seems as though from the State Police rather, Anderson, coming in, flanked by tactical -- others with tactical gear.
I'm sorry, I am a little breathless. This is really something to see here, Anderson.
You're familiar with Atlanta. You spend a lot of time down here. This is nothing that I've ever seen happen, you know, even prior to coming down here.
You know, there was hope as an Atlanta resident, this is a place that has really missed out on a lot of violence throughout the years, especially in 2015 with that rash of police shootings against African- American men.
There were demonstrations here, but nothing that turned violent. Certainly nothing like this.
Hey, I'm sorry, officer, can you just -- thank you so much. I know you're doing your job keeping us safe. Anderson, for our viewers out there, we are from a vantage point we are behind the Atlanta Police line. Go ahead -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Nick, if you can just give a sense, it's always hard to tell sort of how many people are involved in this? How large this is? Do you have a sense of, obviously, with the crowd, it's hard to tell a crowd size?
COOPER: Because awe can see some people obviously in the background, and obviously, we see those police, armored vehicles and in tactical gear as well.
Do you have a sense of the scope of this?
VALENCIA: Yes, we hate to estimate on numbers, you know. We hate to do that without talking to the police, but just from an educated guess, Anderson, there's over a thousand, perhaps even more than that.
Some people are wearing masks. We have the coronavirus happening right now. You know, the pandemic that hasn't gone away, and you really don't know with those that have showed up are wearing masks because afraid of the virus or because they want to conceal their identity while they are confronting law enforcement.
We have seen a lot of patience on the side of law enforcement so far here in Atlanta. They were trying to reason with the demonstrators, and again, as I mentioned, it is within the last 30 minutes that those individuals began throwing rocks at CNN Center, breaking those windows, and that's when police made the decision and decided to advance.
That wasn't welcomed obviously by those that came here to demonstrate. Go ahead.
COOPER: And Nick, the vehicle that is on fire, it looks like it is a police vehicle. Was that -- obviously, I assume somebody through an incendiary advice or you know a Molotov cocktail or something like that?
VALENCIA: Yes, we didn't know -- all we saw -- yes, we saw black smoke starting to come up, you know, right before we came on air with you. It just started right before this this live shot.
We don't know what they did to set that on fire. But you know, right before that, Anderson, they were breaking out the windows of a police cruiser.
All of the cars had been parked there as way, I assume to act as barricade, to flank the demonstrators that were outside of the CNN Center.
We don't know what caused that police vehicle to go up in flames, but it's on fire now and of course, I am sure there are concerns about it exploding.
We're far away enough from here, but it's still -- this is -- this is terrible to witness. It is terrible to witness, Anderson.
COOPER: And Nick, how long has this been going on for? Because I mean, I saw the crowds outside the CNN Center, I think it was an hour -- at least an hour ago. How long has this been going on?
VALENCIA: They've been out here warming up for at least five hours. You know, they got out here, from according to our National Desk at about 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, and that crowd only grew in size as the evening progressed.
You see now, they're all basically in front of the corner of Centennial Olympic Park there, the site of the 1996 Atlanta ceremonies.
You see now, Anderson, live pictures here. We are going to come back down here as William pans down, a fire truck has shown up here, I hope to extinguish those flames.
You see empty water bottles, projectiles that have been fired littering across the streets of Downtown Atlanta. Another fire truck has just shown up here.
COOPER: Nick --
VALENCIA: It's hard to say this, but things have seemed to have calmed down a little bit. Another object just got thrown, Anderson. They're still throwing objects.
COOPER: Yes, that's what I was going to say. I mean, it looks as if, sort of, there is right now, I don't know if it's a standoff or just a stand down.
It is the police and it's the demonstrators. It doesn't look like there's interaction between the protesters and the police at this point. It seems like people are kind of watching the car burning and obviously, more police are moving in. VALENCIA: That's right. That's a very astute observation. You know,
there doesn't seem to be confrontation right now at this point in this second. But you know, you've been in situations like this around the world. Things can change very, very quickly. So, we're going to be keeping an eye on it right now, but you know, it is quite a sight to see here in Downtown Atlanta, even the police officers here seem nervous -- Anderson.
COOPER: Nick, I want to stay with you and --
VALENCIA: Oh, Anderson, something just exploded.
VALENCIA: Something just exploded. That car is going up really fast.
COOPER: Yes. Obviously, it's a hazard for everybody in that area. Hopefully, the fire truck can at least get to it to put out those flames.
Joining us on the phone right now is retired F.B.I. supervisory special agent, James Gagliano. And Nick Valencia, we're staying with you and your images as long as you are in a safe place. James, just from a -- there's a lot of issues to talk about, and unfortunately, with now, a situation like this, as we end up focusing a lot on the demonstrations that are taking place, which are important and important to focus on because people want their voices heard.
But obviously, also there is the actual killing of George Floyd to focus on as well, which we will throughout this hour.
But just in a situation like this, there's a lot of moving parts, a lot of things can go south in a lot of different ways very fast.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, and Anderson, what we're seeing right now is that this is metastasizing. I've been -- well, first of all, exceedingly critical of the Minneapolis Police Department, the four officers charged in the death of George Floyd, but also what I felt was lack of preparedness.
You know, we are 96 hours outside of this and just what didn't happen in time to better prepare and to not know or to not expect that there was going to be angry, impassioned folks that were going to be protesting.
And then obviously, you've got a small segment of folks that are going to be acting out. Some of them are provocateurs, some of them are just into rioting and looting and those type of things.
We had to be better prepared. This is now exploding out -- and I don't mean to use that term literally, but as I am watching these scenes on television with you, that's what's happening.
And it takes me back -- I am from Atlanta. It takes me back to 1992 as a young F.B.I. agent. My father worked at Georgia State University, which is right around the corner from CNN building down there, as we're looking at these scenes.
And I remember small pockets of riots and protests that broke out. What I'm viewing right now, this takes me back to 1968 and it takes me back to 1992 in the Rodney King riots. It takes me back to 2014 and 2015, the Baltimore riots, the Ferguson riots.
How have we not learned to be better prepared? You know, police have a tough job, there is no doubt about it. They have got to disperse and control crowds. They have got to maintain public order.
They have got to stop rioters and the looting that is going on. They have got to direct the peaceful protesters and the innocent bystanders out of harm's way.
And what we are seeing right now is, we are seeing property damage. We are seeing potential for people to be injured, and some people say, or they suggest it's just property. This is people's livelihoods.
So if we are burning cars and we are burning stores, these people have no way to recover from that quickly, especially now where businesses are dealing with the pandemic and dealing with having sales down.
This is frightening to watch. As a guy that was SWAT team leader and hostage rescue team member in the F.B.I., this is frightening. We don't want the police to look or act like an occupying force, but in incidents like this, the only way to disperse crowds is to have a big enough force as a deterrent and Anderson, gosh, I'm just not seeing it.
COOPER: Obviously, when you kind of talk about the timeline of demonstrations that we have seen, you know, the other flip side way to look at it is, the sadness that we are still in the situation where people feel there is no other option, but take to the streets to have their voices heard when we have seen time and time again injustices occurring and people dying.
And Nick Valencia, it is -- you know, we have seen this before. I feel like obviously not this particular permutation of it, but -- and again it's I think a mistake to just focus on the demonstrations, which are taking place and not the underlying reasons that people are out in the streets because those, whether 1968 or 1992 or right now, you know, the places change and names of those who have been killed change.
But this continues, this lack of understanding, this dehumanization of others. It's got to stop somehow.
VALENCIA: You know, this is a group, Anderson, that is tired of remembering names as hashtags. This is a group that clearly feels as though their voice is not heard.
There is that famous quote from Martin Luther King, an uprising is the voice of the unheard. There is clearly anger.
And you know, you combine that with what's going on right now, with pandemic, with people home, people home from work. We're leading into the weekend here. They saw what happened today in Minneapolis.
I spoke to so many people that saw and were so angered with what happened today with our reporter, Omar Jimenez. This is not lost on this crowd here.
And you're right. You know, we can't just focus on the cursory images here that we see. It is shocking to our senses. This is not something we're used to seeing in Atlanta in the 14 years I've been here, something like this hasn't happened and in more than a generation here.
You know, you just had somebody on talking about 1968, I am sure people that were alive then look at these images like this behind me now and harken back to that day.
I want to give you update of what's just happened here in the last several minutes, Anderson.
VALENCIA: There are people on the rooftops behind me that are behind the police line as they have started to advance, those individuals that you see in baseball caps and t-shirts are part of a crowd that began just about five minutes ago throwing projectiles, soda cans and bottles and things like that down on the police as they began to push the demonstrators back towards the intersection of Marietta and Centennial Olympic Park.
That car that was on fire that we saw just moments ago has been contained. The police, it seems as though have made an advancement past those lines, those cars that were here, you know, armored vehicles, just the sight of that and these fire trucks and the graffiti that's left behind our workplace, Anderson. I mean, this is not something that you want to see anywhere in America.
COOPER: Nick, I want to go to Sara Sidner who is in Minneapolis where curfew set to go into effect, I believe in about 40 minutes or so. Sara, as I said, about 40 minutes from now, what is the situation? What are people saying to you?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are just down the street from the Third Precinct which we watched burn last night and you'll see that protesters and police face-to-face here.
Yes, the curfew starts in about 40 minutes, and basically, they have been chanting, one down, three to go. What they are referring to is one officer has been arrested and charged. They believe three more need to be arrested and charged because they believe justice cannot be done unless those officers are charged and ultimately, they would like to see officers convicted.
Obviously, the justice system has to go through its normal course. But right now, they're aware. They keep talking about the curfew. They are aware of it. They are counting down to it.
And we've been listening to people say, look, if you want to be out here and get arrested, you can stay, but just keep safe. So, there is clearly folks that may not leave when the curfew comes along.
COOPER: Sara, it's hard to get kind of a physical sense of where you are, where this is happening in Minneapolis, and also kind of the ebb and flow of this.
At a time when -- you've been there now several days. What is sort of the course of events from a time like this now to throughout the evening?
SIDNER: So, this crowd is much smaller here than it has been in the past 72 hours. But I'll give you a sense of where we are.
The police line that you see here, Anderson, yesterday, you saw me standing right there at the Wine & Spirits, right outside of that. And then, we moved a little bit beyond that to the intersection where you will see the Third Precinct.
Now, the Third Precinct was set on fire yesterday. We watched it as it happened. And so that has been destroyed and there are no officers in that precinct.
But this is just one side of the street. Basically what's happened is, the police and National Guard have cordoned off huge swaths of the neighborhood, much of it has been burned.
There are at least a dozen buildings that were on fire or have burned completely through. And so there's a whole perimeter that has been set up here.
Protesters were inside and they have kind of pushed the camera this way, they were inside the area where you see that is absolutely empty. There is no one inside that area. That is where they have set up the perimeter and now, the protesters are coming up to where the police line is on this side.
There's a police line on the other side where there are protesters. All the way around, there are protesters coming up to the police line.
And look, we should again reiterate and mention that George Floyd is the reason for this. But it is not just George Floyd, it is all the other cases before, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark -- that is why people are so heated and feel so passionate about being out here.
We will see if they actually go when the curfew hits at eight o'clock which is in about 35 minutes -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Sara Sidner, I appreciate it. Be careful, but I am thankful you are there.
Joining us right now is Benjamin Crump who is representing the Floyd family. Mr. Crump, thanks very much for joining us. I am wondering what the Floyd family reaction is to the one officer at least now being charged.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: Well, Anderson, they were relieved that he was arrested. However as they said, with much conviction, they expected first-degree murder and want first- degree murder, and they began to tell me stories about how when they were little boys, when I was talking to the brothers, how George would always sleep on the edge of the bed they shared with him and how he would put his brother Rodney in the middle because he always was there for them.
And to see him down like that, to die with that police officer's knee on his neck and the fact that the last three minutes, he was unconscious, and the fact they told me, we saw him urinate on himself. They are just outraged that they would not charge him with first- degree murder because they said they treated his brother less than they would treat a dog.
COOPER: The charging document, which I've read, and I'm sure you have gone over very carefully. It quotes the autopsy, and it is preliminary autopsy, it says, or it claims that the autopsy quote, "Revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, the combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death."
I know you have called, and the family wants an independent autopsy and I can certainly understand why. Does that make any sense to you? Does that sound like -- that certainly seems like something that is going to be used by the defense in any trial.
CRUMP: The family does not trust the Minneapolis Police Department or anybody affiliated with the Minneapolis Police Department, Anderson.
Remember the first report that came out, they gave so much false information in that report, talking about George was resisting. Talking about George was threatening, and saying that he died of a medical condition, never once mentioning the fact that this officer had his knee on his neck, not just for one minute, not for just two minutes, not for just three minutes, not for just four minutes, not for just five minutes, not for just six minutes, not for just seven minutes but for eight minutes.
And I do that on the family's behalf for dramatic effect, because people need to understand the last eight minutes of his life, he was struggling to breathe. He was telling them I couldn't breathe and they offered him no humanity.
So, when this autopsy by the City's Medical Examiner says that had nothing to do with his death, we understand they did the same thing to Eric Garner, and we're not going to allow that to happen this time.
And that's why you see those people protesting in Minneapolis, protesting in New York and Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, because African-Americans are just fed up with them killing unarmed black people, the people who are supposed to protect and serve us, so we will have an independent autopsy being performed by Dr. Michael Badden and we will get to the truth of the matter because we know, we witnessed a terrible crime that happened to George Floyd, and that crime was murder.
COOPER: George Floyd was not only held down, he was narrating his own death. He was explaining the stages of his death as it was happening and it's one of the things that's so sickening about seeing that video.
We now have seen another video from another vantage point, in which we see actually there were a number of officers actually on Mr. Floyd.
And in the charging document itself, there's a lot of damning stuff there for the officers, obviously. The fact that one officer says -- you know, points out that he seems to be in distress and asks if they should put him on his side, the officer who has now been charged said no, he's staying exactly where he is, which means he is staying down face down on the ground with my knee in his neck.
And even after the officer cannot find a pulse, and they're all aware they can't find a pulse, that officer, who has now been charged does not remove his knee from the neck of Mr. Floyd for some two minutes at least.
CRUMP: And Anderson, that's why George Floyd's family and people all over America are saying, how can they not charge first-degree murder?
The fact this DA even came out yesterday and added insult to injury when he said that there may be evidence that proves there was no crime.
And we were just baffled. His family -- George's family were just disgusted because they say, you mean to tell me, you're saying that you still can't arrest all four of these officers based on what we see on this video?
And they feel that this is just like they did in Eric Garner. They just tried to delay, come up with all kind of ways to justify the unjustifiable killing of yet another unarmed black human being.
And his family was the world to know that they're going to keep their -- put on the neck of these offices until they are convicted, just like he kept his knee on the neck of their brother. They're jumped to a giant.
COOPER: Benjamin Crump. I appreciate talking to you. I'm sorry, it's under these circumstances, as always when I talk to you, but thank you.
Coming up next --
CRUMP: Thank you.
COOPER: -- how prosecutors can make the case and the challenges that they face. Later more on the question of presidential leadership at this moment. The incredible thing that the President decided to tweet late last night, early this morning about what is happening in Minneapolis. And how all this fits into the long arc of American history. Dr. Cornel West joins us as well.
COOPER: We're seeing demonstrations on the streets across a number of cities across the country. We watched earlier of a vehicle on fire in Atlanta. You're looking at a live picture from Atlanta right now. Bottles thrown in Brooklyn, marchers in Washington including outside the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Also, we saw them outside the White House.
People out in force protesting the killing yet again of an African American man, this time in Minneapolis. Last night saw a police station set on fire there, today so a third-degree murder and manslaughter charges against one of those officers. Certainly, it has not tamped down the anger more now on the question of what goes into making a murder case against a police officer and some of the medical issues factoring into it.
Joining us for that, Gloria Browne-Marshall, she's a professor of Constitutional Law in New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and author of Race, Law and American Society 1607 to Present. Also with us, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Senior Chief Medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Jeff, the fact that that Officer Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd's neck for eight minutes, including two minutes after -- two minutes and 53 seconds, almost three minutes after they knew he did not have a pulse after he was non responsive. How damning is that? And how is it that the -- yes, how damning is that?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well as a prominent Minnesota lawyer said to me today, this is an in -- an indefensible case. I mean, there is no way Officer Chauvin can win a trial, I think, and there's one more very important fact that you didn't mention which was that George Floyd was handcuffed. So the usual argument that that is heard when a police officer is charged with some sort of misconduct with regard to a citizen, that I felt threat, the officer and juries are often very responsive to that because police officers do deal with threats, but George Floyd was handcuffed. So he couldn't possibly pose a threat to these officers.
And I think that's what makes this case virtually open and shut at least against over Officer Chauvin. And then we'll see about the other three who are likely to be charged with at least some crimes as well.
COOPER: Professor Browne Marshall, are you as confident as Jeff Toobin, I mean, a third degree murder charge is obviously much different than second or first degree which, you know, the family would like to see or a first degree murder charge. The prosecutor in this case did leave open the possibility of more charges. What do you think of this case based on what we know now and what you read in the charging document?
GLORIA BROWNE-MARSHALL, PROFESSOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, I think that even though the family wants first degree murder, it sounds like that's a great thing, except it requires planning and premeditation. And I don't think we have that here. We have a diabolical soul who hid the blood thirst, but I don't know if they can prove that it was planned or premeditated. They do have another officer, Officer Lane who pulled a gun for no reason whatsoever. And I think for no other reason, then that gun, that officer should be arrested as well.
COOPER: It's also Professor startling when you read in the charging document that one of the officers raise concerns about Mr. Floyd's condition, suggesting or asking about, you know, asking other officers about maybe putting him on his side and that and that was turned down immediately. And even after they couldn't find a pulse to keep the knee -- this man's knee, this officer's knee on Mr. Floyd's neck for nearly three minutes. Is that what makes this case so clear?
BROWNE-MARSHALL: I think this is clear. But I also think we have to go back to how many times we've had where we thought would be a clear case with a video, only to be rebuffed by --
BROWNE-MARSHALL: -- prosecutors who are not do their job properly, would not, you know, return an indictment using the same skill they would use with a civilian on civilian crime. And the undermining of the case by jurors who come on to the case line to say be unbiased, who decide that they're, you know, going to let the officer off no matter what, there's so few of the with that you can't even be confident. I claim that this is part of a genocidal commission. There are people who have decided that this is what they want do execute black people, and they can do it with impunity.
And that's why the protests are so impassioned, because we clearly see that this is -- these murders that go on every single year are part of a pattern of American history of killing black people.
COOPER: Sanjay, we don't have the full autopsy report and family says they want their own. You can understand their point of view on this. The complaint, as I mentioned earlier, does detail some information from it stating there were no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation, a traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. What does that mean? Because I mean, does that if, I mean if it's not strangulation, sitting on somebody and who's saying they can't breathe and their chest -- I don't know if their chest isn't able to rise and fall with breath, but this man died.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, that's what a lot of people are going to read about, but I don't think that I'd read too much into that. I mean, if there was physical evidence that would be clear, there was physical evidence, but no physical evidence there of traumatic strangulation, doesn't really mean anything, because people can still essentially asphyxiate without that physical evidence. And that's probably the biggest takeaway there. Also, look, I mean, you know, you have other things that could have happened to him. I mean, the carotid arteries, which are supplying blood flow to the brain, were they being compressed, he was in a really sort of unnatural position there. As you mentioned, he was prone, it's hard, just harder to breathe, get somebody standing on your neck and you're prone, makes it even more challenging. The point is that there can be lots of different things that could have caused this. They also wrote in that report that he has this underlying history of cardiac disease and possible intoxicants.
I mean, first of all possible intoxicants I think they just threw in there because, yes, it's possible but they have not verified that those lab results are forthcoming really probably has no relevance here. And a lot of people have some underlying heart disease. The fact of the matter is that those things --
GUPTA: -- did not precipitate his death right now. Also I will say one more thing you know they checked first pulse. Not only did they not take his knee off of his neck, but even afterwards when the paramedics arrived, I was reading this report, he is put onto a stretcher, clearly a pulseless unresponsive gentleman put onto a stretcher by paramedics. First thing you do you start CPR, you try and resuscitate. Nothing like that even happened. They just put them into the ambulance and drove away. So it's really quite striking.
TOOBIN: Anderson if I could just add point about that. Ultimately, it's going to be up to the jury to decide whether the -- this officer or all the officers caused this death. And good luck to a defense attorney telling a jury no, no, no. Eight minutes of a knee on the neck didn't cause his death. I mean, I think common sense plays a part here and if the jury --
COOPER: Yes, but, you know, Jeff a lot of people said that during -- with seeing the Rodney King video also thought that and jury thought otherwise. So Gloria Browne-Marshall said, you know things. Yes.
Gloria Browne-Marshall, thank you, Jeffrey Toobin, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Thank you as well.
Joining us now is, Dr. Cornel West, professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University.
Dr. West, I'm glad we are talking tonight. What are your thoughts watching these images tonight around the country people in the streets and the horrific images we saw of George Floyd and what is happening?
CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: I just want to begin by extending my condolences to the Floyd family. They exemplify spiritual nobility has very important long history, 400 years of black people having to come to terms with these kinds of vicious murders and assassinations and, and attacks. Now, no, I haven't seen you Anderson since the little brother, Wyatt Morgan made his appearance and then the -- in the midst of all of this ugly greed and hatred and corruption, it's very important to also celebrate birth and reverence here.
But I think what we're really experiencing here though, brother and I say this in all honesty and deep sadness, because, you know, I've been trying to bear witness home for 53 years telling the truth and trying to say something about the least of these, but I think we are witnessing America as a failed social experiment. And what I mean by that is that the history of black people for over 200 some years and in America has been looking at America's failure. Its capitalist economy could not generate and deliver in such a way that people can live lives of decency, the nation state its criminal justice system, his legal system could not generate protection of rights and liberties.
And now, our culture of course is so market driven everybody for sale, everything thing for sale, it can't deliver the kind of -- the kind of really real nourishment for soul, for meaning for purpose. And so when you get this perfect storm of all of these multiple failures at these different levels of the American Empire. Then Martin King already told us about that when I saw those pictures there in Atlanta. You could see Martin right there in Atlanta saying, I told you about militarism, I told you about poverty. I told you about materialism. I told you about racism and all of its forms, whatever forms it takes, I told you about xenophobia. And what we've seen in America is now these chickens coming home to roost, you're reaping what you sow.
In this instance, you have brother George, where it is so clear, it is a lynching at the highest level, nobody can deny it. And I thank God that we have people in the streets. Can you imagine this kind of lynching, taking place and people are different. People don't care. People are callous. You have just a few people out there with signs that I recall the moments in which during the Reagan years, there was a few of us out there.
In the '60s, you had masses out there. Now you've got a younger generation of all of these different colors and genders and sexual orientation thing. We won't take it any longer. But you know what's sad about it, though, rather, at the deepest level, it looks as if the system cannot reform itself. We've tried black faces in high places, too often our black politicians, professional class, middle class become to accommodate it to the capitalist economy, to accommodate it to the militarized nation state, to accommodate it to the market driven culture tied with celebrity status, power, fame, all that superficial stuff. That means so much to so many fellow citizens.
And what happens, what happens is, we got to kneel ashes gangster in the White House who really doesn't care for the most part. You got a neo-liberal wing of the Democratic Party that is now in the driver's seat with the collapse of brother Bernie. And they don't really know what to do because all they want is show more black faces, show more black faces. But oftentimes these black faces are losing legitimacy too, because the Black Lives Matter movement emerged under a black president, black Attorney General and black Homeland Security and they couldn't deliver, you see.
So, that when you talk about the masses of black people, the precious poor and working class black people, poor and working class brown, red, yellow, whatever color, they're the ones who are left out, and they feel so thoroughly powerless, helpless, hopeless, then you get rebellion. And we've reached the point now it's a choice between non violent revolution and by revolution, what I mean is the democratic sharing of power, resources, wealth and respect. If we don't get that kind of sharing, you're going to get more violent explosions.
Now the sad thing is that this neo-fascist moment in the White House, you got some neo-fascist brothers and sisters out there who already on, they show up there the U.S. Capitol, and they don't get arrested. They don't get put down. Well, that's that the President --
COOPER: That's extraordinary thing.
WEST: You say what I mean?
COOPER: You have, you have this white weekend, you have these white weekend warriors showing up as if they're former Special Forces ops when they're not, you know, busting into the statehouse. And the President praises those people. And yet everybody else is a thug to the President. He quotes, you know, a white Sheriff from the south in spite, I guess, was 67 or maybe 68. I mean, that's if you wrote that in a movie people would say there's no way the President of the United States would quote, a southern Sheriff on the night that a great city in this country is seeing, you know, people in the streets. I mean --
WEST: That's exactly right.
COOPER: It's --
WEST: But let's keep in mind --
WEST: He's being true to himself. He's saying what he really feel --
COOPER: Well that's the truth.
WEST: -- so, you see what I mean? But see, we have to recognize too because I don't like to talk. Like, like, I'd like to punch your core. I got some thug in me. I've know I've got some gangster in me as a Christian, I got to fight it every day. What does that mean? That means we have to call people who they are. A neo-fascist thug in the White House calls my brother and sisters in the street thugs. So then the question becomes, how do we keep alive moral spiritual standards, keep allies stand in contact with the humanity of all of us across the board, but recognizing we're living in a moment of massive economic capital -- second, what the capitalist economy failure when it comes to delivering the needs.
The nation state failure to put to protect, critical criminal justice system failure to be fair, you see. And the only response we have is Samuel Beckett, my brother try again, fail again, fail better. Try again, fail again, fail better because white supremacy is going to be around for a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long time --
COOPER: Try again.
WEST: -- surprises happens again. Try again --
COOPER: Try again --
WEST: --- there's no moment in. You try again fail again, fail better. That's my blues line of our Iris brother. But the question is we must fight even in a moment in which we have a failed social experiment. We must fight and we must have anti-fascist coalition against what's going on in the White House Republican Party, we have to tell the truth about the milk toasts cowardly activity too often, that we see on the neo-liberal wing of the Democratic Party. And we must be critical of ourselves in terms of keeping alive the highest moral and spiritual standards of Martin Luther King Jr. and Fannie Lou Hamer, and Ella Baker, and you see that work in the soul of brother George Floyd family.
COOPER: Dr. Cornel West. I appreciate your time tonight and --
WEST: No, I love you brother, you stay strong man.
COOPER: Thank you. I love you too. Thank you. Let's go back to Brian Todd in Washington. Brian, where are you now?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we're on Independence Avenue right by the capital. Our photojournalist Jane is going to take it down to where we had a very tense moment here. Just a short time ago, these protesters are still here. Most of the protesters who were here by police cars that were at this spot have now left. A moment ago, they were really menacing a police car and a couple of the police officers who were by it screaming and they had their hands on the car. They were, you know, they were they were menacing the police and the car. We thought there might be more of an incident here.
But this gentleman here in the orange vests, he's one of the protest leaders. He got the crowd back away. Then the police back the cars away, you can see down Independence Avenue. They're down there right now. They -- it was -- again it was a very tense moment. We thought that something might happen to the police car but cooler heads prevailed on both the police side and one of the protest leaders this gentleman over here he really got the crowd to back away so the crowd has moved back that way on Independence Avenue. And the police corps back down Independence Avenue more toward the mall. So a tense moment kind of averted here but it looked pretty bad for a few minutes here. Anderson.
COOPER: Will tell us a little bit of good news there. Brian, appreciate it. Be careful. There's been apparently another development in Minneapolis want to go back to our Sarah Sidner. Sara, what's going on?
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: OK, let's go. COOPER: Sara. What's going on?
SIDNER: All right.
COOPER: It's Anderson.
SIDNER: We are now -- Anderson, we are now hearing lots of loud explosions. That is tear gas that has been deployed. The police line earlier -- another explosion you see, you see what that is all about smoke is tear gas, the line of officers, the state police and the sheriff's department that you saw earlier, they're gone. They have backed up because we weren't able to get anywhere near this -- another explosion of tear gas. All right, I'm going to let you see for the first time today, since they cordoned this off. That is the third precinct right there, Anderson, you see that it is definitely damaged from fire. But you can also see that accurate smoke.
So I'm going to let you back up because you're going to get that in your eyes is going to really burn. Folks are tears in their eyes. As this gas comes closer and closer, it is extremely strong. I'm going to have you turn around now it's time to show what has happened in the streets. We have been away from this area all day. This is where the state police and the National Guard over there had stopped people from coming anywhere near this area. We do not know why they backed up but we do know that there is a curfew that starts in nine minutes.
So in nine minutes you are supposed to be out of this area and back home not on the streets. There are people that have absolutely no intention of doing that. Absolutely no tension. All right more --
COOPER: Sara, do you know at this point?
SIDNER: We --
COOPER: Can you tell Sara, I know -- from your vantage point why the tear gas is going off in that location does it? Obviously it seems like a different group over there.
SIDNER: Yes. Yes, I can show you why if I can get just a little bit closer. Careful guys. There is a line of police told you that they move back from about -- here's the police, you see them. Those are state police this line is getting hit pelted by rocks and bits of concrete so they are responding with tear gas. But this line move back and we still don't know exactly why. But we are eight minutes until the 8:00 curfew here in Minneapolis. Outside of the third precinct which was set a blaze. As we watched it go up last night, you are seeing incoming rocks coming at the State Police there.
Just over there to your left you see the target foods, they have converted this entire place off but all of a sudden they are now gathering in one area. And that is why you're seeing all of the explosions. They are responding. You see the rocks being thrown there.
SIDNER: They are responding with tear gas at this moment in time. COOPER: Sara, we're going to stay with you and your images and you -- I also just want to bring in Bakari Sellers as well, a former South Carolina Democratic state lawmaker, author of the new book, My Vanishing Country.
Bakari, just says you see these images and hear what Sara is saying about Minneapolis. I'm wondering what your thoughts are tonight both to what's happening in the streets and also what's happening in the legal system and what's happening in America.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well that's a rich question. I've heard a lot of your guests talk about 1968 and this does hearken back to 1968. And I know your viewers a live (INAUDIBLE) you're born in 1984. What do you know about 1968?
What Tom Brokaw called it boom. He wrote, he wrote a great book called it Boom 1968. Because February 8, 1968, you had the Orangeburg massacre, and that's when my father was shot. That's when three others Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond and Delano Middleton were killed, 28 others were shot along with my father on the campus of South Carolina State University.
You also had the assassination of Dr. King, April 4th of '68. And then you had the assassination of Robert Kennedy, you combine that with the uprisings that you had from soldiers coming back home from Vietnam. This is very reminiscent of that year. And so I share that story with you particularly about my father, because I want people to understand that we are only one generation away. And that trauma that many people, many black folk are displaying in the streets right now is a very real trauma. It's a perpetual sense of grief and grieving. And that's what you're seeing. That's the underlying cause.
You know, not only am I a son of the civil rights movement, and I love brother Cornel West, but my father and I have sharing too many of the same experiences. You know, he's 75 I'm 35 and I've already buried a good friend who was worshiping in a church five years ago along with eight others. And he had him (INAUDIBLE) and Jimmie Lee Jackson, he had Goodman (ph), Turner (ph) and Cheney (ph). I had Tamir Rice (ph) and Alton Sterling (ph) and Eric Garner (ph) and Breanna (ph) and George in a mod.
And, so as much progress as we've made Anderson, we still have yet a ways to go. And I want to just take brother West, if you give me one second, I want to take brother West's statements just one step further, because there are a lot of white folks watching this program and trying to figure out what can they do? And see that is an interesting question, because the first thing you have to realize is it ain't on black folk to cure racism in this country. I'm sick and tired of people thinking that. And the second thing is and this is what the President fails it because he doesn't have the empathy or the nuance to understand this. You have two choices. You can either be racist or anti racist. That's it. That's the only choice you have in this country. It's not good enough to simply sit at home and say, I'm not a racist, you have to be anti racist. You have to root this out. And it's incumbent upon people to have, as you said, we have to have conversations centered around understanding and empathy. So we can begin to heal the divide in this country, because racism is killing black folk, is killing us through COVID. And it's killing us on the streets of places like Minneapolis.
COOPER: Yes. Bakari, I want to bring Sarah into the conversation. Sara, explain what's going on, if you can.
SIDNER: I can. So I want to get you two pictures. On the other side of the street rocks are coming. You're seeing the National Guard coming. On this side of the street, look what you see. Look at what you were looking at. These are folks who feel like these streets belong to them. And they aren't taking a knee with their hands up trying to show that they are peaceful protesters that but they believe these streets are their streets and you'll hear that chanted often.
This side of the protest absolutely peaceful. Quiet. Hands up. Standing although in the street right near the third precinct site, it's like I'm going to have you move because they were making a move. You see the vehicles, the military vehicles, the National Guard there, Anderson. They are rolling past the first place to burn here during these protests the AutoZone. To my right, that is the third precinct there. They are rolling past the third precinct. There has been an announcement telling people that it is time to clear the streets because there was an 8:00curfew.
You're hear people chanting say his name George Floyd, that is what people are here for, they're here in response to the video they saw of George Floyd dying and they are not planning on leaving it is very clear. They believe that they are the citizens that belong to the streets and that this is their home, and they're not going anywhere. Even though there is a curfew that begins in two minutes. Now you're going to start seeing people roll back because all right. All right, watch it let's go.
SIDNER: So, it's just smoke. That's it. That's smoke from the flashbang. But it's -- but it's -- OK. That it -- that's right there is not tear gas, but you are seeing tear gas being deployed as well here. That's just smoked to try to get people to move back. But again, folks are moving back but they're not leaving.
This group of people there were more people out here earlier who decided to go home, some parents with children, but these folks believe that this is just this is wrong to them. To them these streets are now there's, some of them are taxpayers and they just absolutely do not want to go their pain, their anger, their frustration is still very, very, very high and they don't feel like they should have to leave Anderson. COOPER: And Sara just from those who are just joining us, that the third precinct which burned that is a past that red brick building to your left. Where's that police? We saw a line of police in, I guess, right gear -- a tactical gear coming in. I don't see the police anymore. Are they now just off to the sides?
SIDNER: Yes, this is a really interesting tactic that I haven't seen before. And I know you've covered these protests as well. When they have happened in other parts of the country. I just never seen the police completely leave a place again. And last night there was no police presence whatsoever at a certain hour. And that is why you see the damage to the third precinct there. People just decided that their ire was going to be pointed at that, now that is tear gas right there. So we're going to back up a little bit.
The colored you will see that this sort of smoke color gas, that gas is not tear gas, but this is and it is pumped and strong, Anderson.
COOPER: Sara, I'm going to hand things over to Chris Cuomo for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris?