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Thousands Mourn George Floyd At Houston Memorial; Interview With D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D); Before Dying, Suspect Tells Texas Police Officers "I Can't Breathe" In Newly Released Arrest Video; Fourteenth Day Of Protests After George Floyd's Death; Barr Contradicts Trump On Bunker "Inspection". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 8, 2020 - 20:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Erin, thanks. Good evening. Tonight, two weeks since the killing of George Floyd, protesters continue to fill the streets peacefully demanding changes in the way the policing works in this country. Changes that go beyond policing, changes to address systematic inequalities that have existed far too long.

These protests are making all of us as a country grapple with the question of whether as the County Sheriff in Mr. Floyd's hometown put it this weekend, quote, "We are part of the problem." That Sheriff joins us shortly.

So does the Mayor of Washington, D.C. who is also being asked about the same questions about her police force. Joe Biden has just weighed in as well on whether the police as some protesters demand should be defunded or their forces dismantled. You'll hear from him on that shortly as well.

He met today with George Floyd's family. The President has called the family, but is yet to meet with them or address the kind of systematic issues being raised by protesters. The President spent time today meeting with law enforcement officials.

He is clearly hoping to make a campaign issue out of some of the protesters calls for defunding the police. Meantime, another incident is getting attention, another black man killed on camera by police as he uttered the words, I can't breathe. His name was Javier Ambler and he is killed north downtown Austin, Texas. It happened last year. The video is just now coming to light.

Actor and Civil Rights activist, Samuel L. Jackson joins us as well.

We begin with the final public memorial service for George Floyd in Houston where he lived for many years. Thousands coming to pay last respects today. There is a lot to talk about tonight even as the demonstrations continue and history continues to be written, two weeks after Mr. Floyd's life was taken.

CNN's Sara Sidner is outside the church in Houston right now. Sara, just talk about what you have seen there all day and what is going to be happening into the night? SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There have been hundreds if not

thousands of people who have come to this church to pay their respects to George Floyd. I did personally pay my own and wasn't expecting there do be an open casket, but there was.

Everyone that came up got a few seconds to pray in front of the casket in which George Floyd's body lays waiting to be buried. And one after the other, people came up, some with tears in their eyes, some with their children in tow.

All of them believing that this is a moment in history that they need to be a part of it, but more importantly, they need to be here to show the family that they are with them and that they feel sorrow for what happened to George Floyd.

But everyone that we spoke to in the crowd, mothers and fathers and grandparents and uncles and aunts all here to recognize what George Floyd means particularly to the African-American community. They said that this really they felt was a turning point and they were here to make sure that the turning point actually did happen, to show solidarity with the Floyd family saying that there has to be a change between the relationship with police officers and the black community, something that they hope will happen after this and believe will happen after this.

We also heard from the Governor who was very, very strong in saying the same thing. This is a moment that this is going to change America as he put it.

We also saw the Police Chief here from Houston. He made sure to go in and pay his respects. He was the first Chief we saw to publicly denounce the officers involved, especially Officer Chauvin who was involved in putting his knee on George Floyd's neck and pressing down for more than seven minutes and 54 seconds as we counted in the video.

So, there was a lot of outpouring, hoping that they can show their respects while at the same time, hoping to press for change in the relationship between police and the black community -- Anderson.

COOPER: And Sara, Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer, he had a court hearing today. What happened?

SIDNER: That is right. Bail was set for Derek Chauvin at $1.25 million. The judge said that bail, just like with the other officers who were charged could be reduced to a million dollars if the former officer, Derek Chauvin would agree to certain conditions, which included handing in all of his firearms, not leaving the State of Minnesota, not contacting the Floyd family, not taking a job in security or policing in any way or any kind of job that involves having to use weapons.

And if those things are agreed to, then the bail will be set lower at a million dollars.

But at this point, it was his first court appearance. As you know, the justice system has a series of things that are going to happen and go forward. But you are seeing him in very stark difference.

You saw him on the videotape as an officer with his uniform on and in full control of a situation. This time he was handcuffed and treated as any other suspect would be.

It was quite a stark difference between what he looked like when we first saw him and the world first saw him and what he looked like now -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sara Sidner, thanks. As we mentioned, the President today made it clear where his sympathies lay. CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now with more on the President's meeting with law enforcement officers.

So, what did the President say and who exactly was he meeting with?


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He was meeting with a variety of law enforcement officials from across the country, Anderson. Really, a small circle of law enforcement officials from the Fraternal Order of Police and so on, and he is largely sequestered inside of his fortress right now.

He is avoiding questions from reporters and taking a lot of political pot shots. He is seizing on this desire expressed by some in these protests that police departments around the country should have some of their resources diverted away from those agencies and toward programs that would lift up at-risk communities, the so-called defund the police movement.

The President was trying to make the case when he was talking to the press earlier today that by and large, 99 percent of police officers are good people with just a few bad actors and here is more of what he had to say.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is not going to be any disbanding of our police. Our police have been letting us live in peace and we want to make sure we don't have any bad actors in there and sometimes, you'll see some horrible things like we witnessed recently.

But 99 -- I say 99.9 -- but let's go with 99 percent of them are great, great people.


ACOSTA: Two things to point out about that, Anderson. The President is saying that he believes 99 percent of police officers are good people. That may well be the case, but that is somewhat at odds with the feeling out on the streets right now in these protests as video after video after video of police brutality surfaces, painting a very different picture of law enforcement in the U.S. today.

And actually the President clinging to this idea of defunding the police being a theme inside of the Democratic Party, we should note, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presumptive nominee said earlier today through a spokesperson that he is not in favor of quote-unquote "defunding the police."

And you know, Anderson, even some the President's own advisers are concerned he is not handling this very well. I talked to a Trump adviser earlier this evening who conceded he has not handled this perfectly -- Anderson.

COOPER: Is any thought in the White House being given to -- I mean, is the President going to speak at all about race relations in this country? About systemic racism? About any of the issues which are being raised by thousands and thousands and tens of thousands of people in the streets day after day after day?

ACOSTA: It is a good question, Anderson. They have been talking about this inside the President's political team. It is an open question as to whether or not he is going to deliver that kind of speech.

The White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany at the briefing earlier today said that the President has already touched on these themes, already talked about these issue. That was an indication that perhaps, he is not going to do this.

But I think there is no doubt, Anderson, at this point, the President has left a lot unsaid at this point that he could say to the American people to try to bring this country together in some way, shape or form.

Obviously, he is not the great uniter, he is in a lot of ways, the great divider but he does seem to have an opportunity to try to talk to those grand themes that Presidents prior to the Trump administration have tried to express to the American people, Republican and Democrat.

But at this point, Anderson, he seems more interesting in taking these political pot shots than doing anything close to uniting the country right now.

COOPER: Of course. I mean, first they faced a couple of problems. One, if the President speaks extemporaneously on this, that would likely be a disaster because we have seen what he does when he speaks extemporaneously.

Number two, I am not clear though the White House has anybody who could write a speech for this President on the topic of racism in America. I don't know that they have anybody who could actually write that speech.

ACOSTA: That's right. And if you look at who would be doing the writing of that speech, it would be somebody like Stephen Miller who has been one of his chief bomb throwers since the 2016 campaign.

And so, you're missing a couple of components there. Not only does he lack the speech writers to put together a speech like that, Anderson, as you just noted a few moments ago, the President himself does not seem to be in the mood to deliver that kind of speech right now.

And you know, when you talk to his advisers both inside and outside the White House, they'll acknowledge he is not good at these Oval Office address and not good at one of those prime time addresses to the country.

And so, there are a lot of land mines there for the President if he decides to step into that kind of landscape, and I think at this point, that is what is holding this White House back.

COOPER: It is also remarkable to hear Spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany say that well, he has already spoken about this. I mean, he speaks about the same things day after day after day after day. I mean, how many times have we heard like witch hunt, no collusion, the perfect letter.

He speaks those things day after day. He sends the same tweets day after day and he seems happy to talk about that every single day. This seems to be conversation worth having more than once and I don't know that ever have it even then. Jim Acosta, I appreciate. Thanks very much.

Attorney General Barr --


ACOSTA: No question, Anderson, and just one other quick --

COOPER: Yes. Go ahead. No, no, go ahead.

ACOSTA: No, I was just going to make one very quick point and that was Kayleigh McEnany was more than willing to say that the President still opposes kneeling for professional athletes in the NFL and other sports, but yet, did not have a take whether or not chokeholds should be banned inside police departments.

And so, they know what they want to say when it comes to those hot button cultural issues like kneeling at football games, but not so much in terms of how to reform police work around this country -- Anderson.

COOPER: I mean, let's be real. Do you remember when he spoke in front of police officers early on in his administration, and he was telling them, when you put a suspect in the police vehicle, you don't have to be so gentle.

ACOSTA: Don't be too careful.

COOPER: Implying, they should like bang their head, yes, don't be too careful, and some of the officers behind him laughed at that, you know, I don't know -- he has spoken on this.

ACOSTA: He would have to have an out of body experience to deliver that kind of speech you are talking about. That's right.

COOPER: Yes, Jim Acosta. Thanks. Attorney General Barr who this weekend told CBS News that the chemical

in pepper balls isn't actually a chemical. Yes. He told Fox News that defunding the police is dangerous and that criminals in cities do more to oppress black communities than do police.

Quoting him now, "There is a lot for damage, a lot more killing, a lot more fear engineered on the streets from criminal elements in Chicago, for example." He also warned that demonizing police for the actions of certain officers is dangerous as is defunding the police, which many protesters are calling on cities to do.

Over the weekend, they added the line on to the end of Washington's Black Lives Matter inscription outside the White House on 16th Street, and on Sunday, as we mentioned at the top of the program, the City Council in Minneapolis voted by veto-proof margin to dismantle their police force and replace it with something as yet undecided.

The City Council President telling CNN though that quote, "The idea of having no police department is certainly not in the short-term."

Joining us now is Muriel Bowser, Mayor of the District of Columbia.

Mayor Bowser, thanks so much for being with us. What do you say to protesters as you're calling to defund the police?

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D), DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Thank you, Anderson. Well, I think that a lot of people have different meanings for what they mean when they say defund the police. And as I've listened and read, I think most people are saying they want reform and that they want good policing.

And certainly we don't paint all police departments or all cities in this same position on the pathway to reform.

COOPER: The D.C. Chapter of black lives matter has been critical of the district's large Black Lives Matter mural near Lafayette Square saying, quote, "This is a performative distraction from real policy changes. Mayor Bowser has consistently been on the wrong side of BLM D.C. -- Black Lives Matter D.C. history. This is to appease white liberals while ignoring our demands. Black Lives Matter means defund the police." I am wondering what your response is to that.

BOWSER: Well, what I would say is the worldwide, national and local appreciation for having a mural at the footsteps of the White House, affirming black lives has been so widely appreciated that we know that we did the right thing in reclaiming that part of 16th Street so people could have a safe affirming place to bring their grievances to the Federal government.

COOPER: What do you hope comes out of all that has happened just in the last several days, and I mean, obviously as you say, there is a lot of different protesters with a lot of different issues and a lot of different meanings even on some of the issues like defund police.

As you said, there are different meanings to different people. What do you see in terms of police reform and other reforms that are doable soon that can at least be a start?

BOWSER: Well, I think that what we heard from the Democrats this morning in terms of a national agenda around police reform is very important. We need to be attacking this issue from all levels.

I do think having patch works of reform efforts around different states and cities and different police departments is useful. But a national framework is even stronger.

In Washington, D.C., we started on the path of reforming our police department in 2002, and for 18 years, we have been professionalizing our force, training our force, investing in good tools so that we're building better partnerships with our community.

We were the first police department in the nation to fully equip our officers with body worn camera. We also last year issued a report on our stops. We've had an Independent Police Complaints Board for almost 20 years.

These are the building blocks to good police and community relationships. Communities need good police and police need communities that trust them.

So this partnership, we have to continue to build on each and every day.


COOPER: Politically, I mean, clearly the President is going to latch on to this defund the police notion as a political campaign, something that he believes will work in his favor perhaps in the presidential race.

I'm wondering, do you believe it is damaging to the movement?

BOWSER: I think as I could speak for public safety in Washington, D.C., and I, for example, have submitted a budget to my Council about three weeks ago where we make the investments in public safety that we need that includes officers, but it is also includes intervention. It also includes increases in funding in public education.

So I think that we have to, when we talk about what communities need to be safe, which is what I think undergirds this defund conversation is, it is not just policing. It is investments in the safety net and the opportunity to get programs that make communities safe, too. So, that has to be our focus.

Yes, we need good police, and yes, we need the programs that uplift communities.

COOPER: The White House Press Secretary earlier today said there were, quote, "no regrets" on how protesters were forcefully removed from Lafayette Square in D.C. last week.

Considering all of that we saw on video as it happened and have seen subsequently, even the individual on individual aggression, when you hear the White House saying no regrets, what do you think?

BOWSER: I think I've been shocked all week about how the Federal government behaved against the American citizens who were peacefully protesting.

We were shocked and outraged that they moved the United States Army to threaten Washington, D.C. into submission. I was shocked to see unnamed and unidentified Federal police in the Nation's Capital, all the while we're talking about police and community trust.

So, I think this White House has a lot to answer for and I hope these tough questions, they are made to answer.

COOPER: Mayor Bowser, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. I know how busy you are, and I apologize, I think I mispronounced your name for some reason in the introduction. I've had a long day. I apologize for that. Mayor Bowser, I appreciate your time.

BOWSER: No worries. Thank you.

COOPER: Thanks so much. You take care. Joe Biden weighed in tonight on the question of defunding police. Here is what he said to CBS's Nora O'Donnell.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: No, I don't support defunding the police. I support conditioning Federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness and in fact, are able to demonstrate they could protect the community and everybody in the community.


COOPER: He also called this moment, quote, "one of those great inflection points in American history in terms of civil liberties and Civil Rights and just treating people with dignity."

Much more ahead tonight, including the African-American Sheriff of Hoke Count, North Carolina. The powerful indictment he leveled at law enforcement that he, himself is part of, and the six words he wants to hear officers say about taking responsibility for their shortcomings.

Later Samuel L. Jackson on how what he has seen today resonates with what he lived through during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, a movement he was involved with, including working as an usher at the funeral of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.



COOPER: Saturday as you know, a memorial service was held in George Floyd's hometown in Rayford, North Carolina. We saw a powerful tribute from the county's African-American Sheriff. Hubert Peterkin told mourners that he had dreamed of being in law

enforcement since he was 10 years old, only to see that dream in his words, turn into a nightmare.

He also addressed the common notion that you hear a lot after each terrible incident such as this one, namely that the vast majority of police officers are good people, and it is only the one percent or two percent who tarnish the profession.

The President said words to that effect today, so did the Attorney General. Here is how Sheriff Peterkin framed it.


SHERIFF HUBERT PETERKIN, HOKE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: I'm going to be honest with you guys, there is a lot of good police officers in this world -- all over the world. We couldn't have done this today if we didn't have it.

But we can't afford to have one percent or two percent doing the mess that we are doing right now.

We walk around with all of this power and there needs to be some house cleaning. I didn't say spring cleaning. Spring cleaning means you're dusting and spraying, you need to take out the trash.

I don't care how much you march with the groups and get on your knees and play with the children, it don't mean nothing if you can't say these six words, "We are part of the problem."


COOPER: And Sheriff Peterkin joins us now. Sheriff, thank you so much for being with us. When you say we are part of the problem and that all officers need to acknowledge that and frankly, I think probably everybody probably needs to acknowledge that in this society.

I am wondering what you mean specifically for the police, because obviously, there is controversy that comes with that sort of a statement.

PETERKIN: Well, first of all, as I said on Saturday -- and thank you, guys for having me on -- most of the officers out there are good officers.


PERKINS: But we can't afford to have that two percent of people out there doing what they're doing, but before we can make change, we have to make change in our heart. We have to know that we're part of the problem.

I've heard officers even say, what is going on? What do we need to do? What do they want? You know, I don't even like the words they. How much do they want us to do? So that means that they're not accepting that we have part of this.

You can't point the finger at the community. You can't point the finger at the black and brown community and blame them when we are actually contributing to the problem that we have and the injustice that we're having, we are actually contributing to it.

So that's why I actually stuck with those six words, we are part of the problem, and before we can move forward, before the healing can start, we have to accept blame in this problem that we are facing today, Anderson.

COOPER: So how does police reform take place? I mean, we have seen it in past decades, you know, the New York City Police Department which I grew up with in the '70s is a very different department than it is now.

They've raised requirements for somebody to become a police officer. The education requirements, there is far more training and obviously more reforms are likely. Where do you see reforms happening? What needs to happen now?

PETERKIN: Well first, let me tell you what don't need to happen. Defunding is not the answer. Now I commend everyone that is giving ideas and they come on with all kind of cute things that they think might work.

But when you defund law enforcement, you're punishing all of those good officers who are risking their lives like myself, who are willing to die to protect and serve their community. Defunding is not the answer.

One thing that I will say that will have reform, if I fire an officer in my office and I've done it many times for excessive force, discrimination, and I fire him, he should not be allowed to go the next county over and get a job.

You know, even when other departments call or that officer signs a waiver, and we talk about what he has done and we show them what they have done. We even show them video footage of the officer doing things, but why should he get a job?

Anderson, I've even went as far as taking the badges of officers who I feel don't deserve to carry that badge for doing things such as what we are seeing today. So, we've got to look at reform --


PETERKIN: No, go ahead. I understand.

COOPER: No, I'm sorry, we have a delay, so I'm sorry to interrupt. There has also been some protesters who have talked about it and people who look at this issue, talk about the records of some officers are often hidden from public view, so if somebody makes an allegations against an officer, there is no way to see if that has happened before in that officer's career.

Is that something that needs to change? What are the issues surrounding that?

PETERKIN: If the law enforcement officials like myself, chiefs of police are not going to hold -- if they are not going to be transparent, if they're not going to have integrity and hold to the morals and values of our oath, then something needs to be passed all the way to Washington if we have to, to make this stuff available.

I don't agree. We shouldn't even be having this conversation. We are supposed to do what is right and we're not doing what is right if we hiding and protecting officers who don't need to be in this business.

COOPER: Sheriff Hubert Peterkin, I appreciate your time tonight and I really appreciate you speaking with us tonight. Thank you very much.

PETERKIN: Thank you, Anderson. Appreciate it.

COOPER: Thanks. Still to come tonight, breaking news on a newly released arrest video with a victim telling police officers "I can't breathe" when we return.



COOPER: Tonight at Houston, the world remember George Floyd, we've got breaking news about the release and all too similar arrest video. This arrest occurred more than a year ago but the video was revealed today. Again, police officers arrest an African-American male again that suspect telling police he couldn't breathe. And again that man dying shortly after.

Ed Lavandera has the story for us. Ed?

ED LAVENDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson we warn you as we begin to play this report, the video you're about to see is extremely troubling and difficult to watch. So with that warning, we should also say that the -- this is an incident that happened a little more than a year ago and that the Williamson County Sheriff's Department ruled the death of Javier Ambler as a justifiable homicide. The Ambler family attorney says that is outrageous.


LAVENDERA (voice-over): On March 28 2019, Williamson County Sheriff's deputies are pursuing 40 year old Javier Ambler just after one in the morning. According to a sheriff's department incident report, Ambler failed to dim his car's headlights as he drove past a deputy.

The report says Ambler tried to fleet leading officers on a 22 minute pursuit that ended up in the city of Austin. The incident report says Ambler crashed his car five times during the pursuit and that's where the officers body camera footage captures how the arrest turned deadly. The video first obtained by KVUE TV and the Austin American statesman.

[20:35:12] According to the documents obtained by CNN, Ambler exited his car with his hands up, he was not intoxicated and unarmed. Officers tried to handcuff Ambler but say he resisted and push back on the officers as he refused to follow the verbal commands. But the body camera footage captures Ambler in distress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you standing?

JAVIER AMBLER, VICTIM: I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you standing?

LAVENDERA (voice-over): Multiple times on the video, Ambler has heard saying he can't breathe and that he's not resisting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop resisting.

LAVENDERA (voice-over): Several minutes into the arrest officers realize Ambler is unresponsive.


LAVENDERA (voice-over): You can no longer hear him talking on the video. Officers then unhandcuff Ambler and can be heard administering CPR compressions until medical units arrive on the scene.


COOPER: And Ed --

LAVENDERA: And Anderson --


COOPER: -- investigation since now?

LAVENDERA: Well, right now we understand is that the district there are multiple investigations still ongoing. We spoke with the district attorney in Austin, Texas because that is where the pursuit ended. They're in Travis County, just south of Williamson County.

The DEA tells me tonight that they are in the process of trying to present this case to a grand jury for consideration of criminal charges. They were had hoped to do that in March but because of the COVID pandemic, they could not impanel a grand jury. They're hoping that that can be done by July at some point.

Anderson, we have reached out to the Williamson County Sheriff's Department and have not heard back today. But in documents filed with the state attorneys general's office, the Williamson County Sheriff's Department said that officers with their office of professional standards found that quote, after reviewing video evidence OPS concluded the primary and assisting deputies acted in accordance with the guidelines of the sheriff's department and use quote, objective reasonableness on, on the level of forced use in that incident. Anderson.

COOPER: Ed Lavendera. Ed, I appreciate it.

Joining me now is Ron Johnson, the former Missouri Highway Patrol captain who was applauded for the peaceful way he led police response to the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, six years ago on the demonstrations there.

Captain Johnson, thanks so much for being with us. Can you just walk us through -- it's very easy to look at something and form opinions about it. And there's obviously multiple moving parts to this. But can you walk us through what protocol is for officers trying to bring somebody into custody? Who may be resisting but maybe in distress as well?

RON JOHNSON, FMR CAPTAIN, MISSOURI HIGHWAY PATROL: Well, I think initially you use those tactics that you've been trained on to when someone is resisting. It starts at a different level of compliance. You're asking him to put its arms behind his back. But in watching this video, it's obvious at a certain point, he is in distress. He is not attempting to fight you.

He is definitely in distress. He's telling you, he can't breathe, and you can hear it in his voice. You can actually see it in his face. But you see, I'm not taking any actions toward officer, more so trying to maybe clutch his own chest. I mean, he's trying to bring his arms in, but not in a aggressive way.

And so I think we see this, and he's definitely in distress. This was tough to watch. I watched it. And it took me back to what we're seeing with Mr. Floyd. But he's definitely in distress. He tells him about his heart condition. And so you have to begin to take that consideration. And yes, police officers run across suspects who say different things, but you have to assess things based on the merit of that moment.

COOPER: I would imagine, you know, some officers watching this would say, Well, people say all the time I can't breathe or you're hurting me. I don't know how one deals with that in that moment. I mean, obviously, there must be -- I mean, how do you deal with that?

JOHNSON: Would you have to assess -- you have to assess the situation. But in this gentleman here, you can hear him grasping for air. And so I think you have to assess the situation someone's grasping for air, and you can look, you can see the look on his face that he is in distress.

COOPER: When you hear about when, you know, police reform means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. You hear some protesters talking about defund police. I'm wondering what do you think about that defund police idea? And also when you think about police reform, what are reforms, you know, that can be made, short term and even long term?

[20:40:06] JOHNSON: Well, when I hear defunded police, I take that as, let's just make sure we're looking at budgets and making make sure that they're being properly funded. That if there's things there that we can move around to another, another agency then we need to look at that but we may look at it department to say that they're underfunded, we may say that they're exactly funded.

But most people that are saying defund the police aren't saying get rid of the police. But, you know, school budgets, most governmental budgets, they're looked at to see if there's money that's there that should be moved around, or if it should stay.

And so I think that's proper. And I think, for our police department, while we're trying to make our ways with communion as a nation, that would be a way to do it to say, yes, look at us, and if we can help with our budget to make our communities and our country better, why wouldn't we?

And so we started talking about police reform. It's about training, we have to make sure that training is correct, that we're giving everybody a seat at the table and we're listening to the people that are in our communities, especially in our African-American communities. Not that we're giving them answers. We need to listen to them. And let them give us the solution that they see and when they are implementing those.

COOPER: Ron Johnson, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.

JOHNSON: Thank you very much Anderson.

COOPER: Just had as George Floyd is remembered, someone who attended the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and also marched in Memphis in 1968 Samuel L. Jackson will join us, talk about the outpouring of grief as well as the protests then and now when we return.



COOPER: And now alumni George Floyd's high school are gathered for visual the football field in Houston where Floyd once played. As protesters tonight across the nation remember his life and hope to push for a legacy of police reforms that will honor George Floyd's memory.

For our next guest, he looks -- very personal memories of the civil rights struggle. As a young man, Samuel L. Jackson fought for equal rights. He was even an usher at the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We are thankful to the actor, activists could join us this evening.


COOPER: Mr. Jackson, as someone who grew up in the segregated south, you were active in the civil rights movement. As I mentioned before you were an usher at the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr's. funeral. You marched also in Memphis and did other work in the summer of '69. I'm wondering what when you see people demonstrating in the streets right now, what do you think?

SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ACTOR & ACTIVIST: I think it's, it's amazing. I'm, I'm, I'm energized watching them do it. I wish I wasn't in this high risk area of, you know, COVID or I would be out there with them joining in. I had the energy to be out there but I love the way it looks. It's a very different view from the one I had in the, you know, '60s and '70s, the, the faces are -- of all ethnicities. The youth in the energy, it feels the same. And in my mind, it feels like change is about to happen.

You know, it's one of those kind of things where, you know, the birth of change, or birth, has labor. Now we're starting the labor pains of this change that's about to happen. It's almost like the murders that took place that got all these young people into the streets was the water breaking on. OK, that's enough depression, the water broke. Now we're in labor. So let's see what we can do or what the result of this labor will be.

COOPER: It's so interesting, because in '68, '69, the way you were involved in the movement for justice and movement for equality. You know, there was an older generation of black Americans. Who you, you know, at one point even at Morehouse, I think some of the Board of Trustees you took part in -- what was called a lock in, which essentially is you, you know, lock them in a room because they weren't willing to listen to what you and others at the campus believed in. I'm just wondering generationally how you saw things then how you see things now, you really believe change can happen?

JACKSON: Yes, I do. I know it's not going to be immediate. And that's one of the things that the young people who are out there will have to understand the level of patience that is going to take that will be a few years. But that's a result of identifying the people that have your like idea that understand what everyone out there is asking for what is the ask, and how to get those people in.

And now it's, it seems like an old foggy notion, or they feel that way that we keep talking about voting and what that all means, but you know, it takes the time, it takes a minute to understand what a revolutionary idea voting is and what it means and how you get the right people in there to express what you want, so that you can get the right man who hires the right DA who has the right chief of police, who adheres to all the things that the people want. That's the difficulty of explaining patients to young people.

COOPER: Do you think that Samuel Jackson in the summer of 1969, hearing somebody talk about patience would have the same sort of way of seeing it as you see it now?

JACKSON: No, I had the same, you know, burner -- burn it down right now. You know, let's, you know, blow the whole thing up and start over again, ideal they're there. And, you know, there is a level of blowing up that needs to happen. Always, so that's not, you know, an unreasonable thing to ask for in a in a specific revolutionary way because that's how things work.


There are institutions that that need to be blown up, that have not been blown up since the inception of captured people coming to this country. Here I am almost 72 years old. And I hear the same things where I look at the things that go on around me and say, well, OK, well, that hadn't changed. The big change now is, you know, technology, the internet and all those other things, because people have been mistreated by the law enforcement establishment of this country since they brought us here, and even more.

So when we were freed and they unleashed the paddy rollers or people to keep black people in line in a specific sort of way. And those that you use of that power has been excised against us more than it has the other, the dominant culture of this country.

And that's not, you know, an exaggeration or an untruth. It's just what has happened, and we've witnessed it. We've been warned against it. I mean, the same, the same things that people have to tell their kids about leaving home and being careful and hoping that they're, you know, boys and girls come back home are the same things that they told me when I was a child, things I learned when I was, you know, three and four years old, leaving home with my grandfather, how to look at the dominant culture, and not to engage them, you know, in a specific kind of way, because it was dangerous and possibly lethal for that to happen.

And understanding who the police were and what their jobs really were when they came into my community. Even the black policeman that we had, I think we had to when I was growing up in a (INAUDIBLE) know that most of the people that I knew that encountered them did not have pleasant encounters with them because it was their job to keep us in line in a specific way. So that's always been the case.

And one of my favorite, or the favorite saying I had when I was a young revolutionary was the (INAUDIBLE) Brown statement, you know, at a certain point, caution becomes cowardice. No slaves should die a natural death.

But you also have to understand that, you know, there are times when you are not being a coward, all you're doing is making sure that you survive a specific situation, and how it has to be done. And it can be difficult, people don't give you that option a lot these days. When you see the videos of how police interact with people of color. You see that they don't give you that option a lot of times

COOPER: I just want to be clear because I think maybe some people who, you know, read this interview in print, we'll hear you say, something should be blown up. I know what you mean. But you're speaking metaphorically about just systematic -- the kind of systematic change that really needs to take place not just in, in police, but in the education system --

JACKSON: Yes, I'm not talking about planting --


COOPER: Right?

JACKSON: Yes, I'm not talking about planting a bomb somewhere and, you know, blowing up an institution. I'm talking about blowing up the rhetoric around a specific institution, and how it functions, making sure that everything changes in the way that that particular thing is applied to everyone across the board.

COOPER: It's really fascinating talking to you, and you not only have an extraordinary career now, but you've had an extraordinary life and a life of involvement. And I appreciate talking to you. Thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I hope everyone out there is man your safe as they can possibly be. And don't forget that is a pandemic, even in the midst of all this, and thank you all that are paying attention and now understand that, you know, Black Lives Matter. We're not saying they matter more, we're just saying they matter.


COOPER: Samuel L Jackson. Up next, remember the President's claim he was only inspecting the White House bunker and wasn't taken to it rush to it by the secret servers for his own safety. Well, today his own attorney general did not tell that story, instead, seems to have told the truth actually. Details, next.



COOPER: Tonight, in fact check, a fact check of the President from the President's own attorney general. Today on Fox News Attorney General Barr said something that finally definitively put the lie to what even at the time the President said it sounded untrue. We knew it was a lie when he said it.

But now, we know for sure, it's about what happened two Fridays ago when numerous reports the President first family had been taken to the White House bunker as a safety precaution, and there's nothing unreasonable about that. It's not a sign of weakness, or especially unusual frankly. The President when asked about it later, simply could not admit that that had ever happened.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I went down during the day and I was there for a tiny little short period of time. It was much more for an inspection there was no problem during the day.

They said it would be a good time to go down, take a look because maybe sometime you're going to need it.


COOPER: Yes, just you know, it's good time to take an inspection of the bunker first time Yes, sure do that.

Today on Fox News Attorney General Barr put that absurdity to rest, saying quote, things were so bad that the Secret Service recommended that President go down to the bunker. Wow, you just said it. I like that the prisoner lies about something and they don't even get their lies straight.


Let's turn it over Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". You would think they would coordinate the lies? My well I mean, I don't know. You would -- yes.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: At this point --

COOPER: Why would they, of course.

CUOMO: Lie? Deny --

COOPER: Why they could see --

CUOMO: -- and defy those are the three rules of divide and conquer.