Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Jury Deliberations Underway In Derek Chauvin Trial; Judge Says Rep. Waters' Comments About The Need To Get "More Confrontational" Could Be Grounds For An Appeal; Protesters Marching As Jury Deliberates In Chauvin Trial; At Least Nine Shooting Deaths Over The Weekend; FedEx Gunman Legally Purchased Weapons Used. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 19, 2021 - 20:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Completed a historic flight on Mars and landed safely back on the surface. Forty seconds of flight for Ingenuity, a four-pound helicopter and really little, right, because it's totally different in terms of atmosphere and gravity.

Rose 10 feet above the surface, took a picture and then touched back down on Mars. The project manager calls it a Wright Brothers' moment. Thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.

[20:00:19]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. A little less than a year since Americans watched George Floyd killed before their eyes, the country is now waiting uneasily, to some extent, on edge for a jury to decide former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's fate.

Some aren't waiting. A Black Lives Matter protest march is now underway not far from the Hennepin County Courthouse where jurors are deliberating tonight.

Cities across the country which saw millions take to the streets after Floyd's death are preparing for the verdict, especially an acquittal or a hung jury.

The White House is monitoring the trial, the Army just before airtime approved the call up of 250 D.C. National Guard members. Lawmakers have weighed in, none of which is surprising.

This trial has always been about more than just one police officer's actions or one man's tragic death, which means for many, the verdict will be, too. So there's certainly a lot to get to tonight, but first, let's go to CNN's Omar Jimenez in Minneapolis.

So, how is the community reacting tonight as the jury is now deliberating?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, you just showed some of those pictures. We're already seeing marches and protests calling for the verdict in this trial to be guilty against Derek Chauvin. But of course, the jury is deliberating over whether they even get to

that point. This process has been close to a year in the making right now, those protesters are marching through the streets of parts of Minneapolis.

And when you talk about the preparations in place prior to that, law enforcement presence has been stepped up, added fortifications outside police precincts. The Governor even calling for more law enforcement resources from other states.

And of course, all of this is in anticipation of a verdict, and as people on both sides in this trial made their final pitches to jurors today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: His name was George Perry Floyd, Jr.

JIMENEZ (voice over): The first words in closing arguments for the prosecution were not of the man on trial, but of the man they want jurors to remember.

SCHLEICHER: This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video. It is exactly that. You can believe your eyes.

JIMENEZ (voice over): The prosecution arguing it was Derek Chauvin's needs to the neck that eventually killed Floyd. And the prosecution took jurors back through witness testimony with diagrams and charts, reminding them of why they say Chauvin is guilty of it all and why he had every opportunity to stop what happened that day.

SCHLEICHER: He knew better. He didn't do better.

JIMENEZ (voice over): Making clear this trial was not about the Minneapolis Police Department, but about one former Minneapolis police officer.

SCHLEICHER: This is not an anti-police prosecution. It's a police prosecution. It is a pro-police prosecutor.

JIMENEZ (voice over): That defense began on the topic of what a reasonable officer would have done considering the totality of the circumstances, including the violence of the initial struggles.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The nine minutes and 9 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds. It completely disregards it. It says in that moment at that point, nothing else that happened before should be taken into consideration by a reasonable police officer.

JIMENEZ (voice over): Then largely sticking to their themes that George Floyd died from drug use and his medical history and that Chauvin did exactly what he was trained to do and the perceived threat of a growing crowd distracted Chauvin.

NELSON: In the precise moment the force was used demonstrates that this was an authorized use of force as unattractive as it may be.

JIMENEZ (voice over): Prosecutors pushing back in their opportunity for rebuttal.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTOR: When Mr. Floyd is saying, "Please. Please I can't breathe," 27 times in just a few minutes, you saw it when Mr. Chauvin did not let up and he didn't get up. When he knows he didn't have a pulse, he doesn't let up or get up.

Even when the ambulance comes, he doesn't let up or get up even then.

JIMENEZ (voice over): Each side hoping to leave a dozen jurors with the final impression before they deliberate on one of the most consequential cases in Minnesota history as the world watches.

NELSON: There is absolutely no evidence that Officer Chauvin intentionally purposely applied unlawful force.

SCHLEICHER: This wasn't policing. This was murder.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A motion was brought forward by the defense --

JIMENEZ: And at this point --

COOPER: Sorry, go ahead. A motion for mistrial was brought forward by the defense team. It was denied. What did the Judge have to say about that?

[20:05:00]

JIMENEZ: That's right, Anderson, and part of his frustration was that comments that Congresswoman Maxine Waters made over the weekend in nearby Brooklyn Center that she felt that protesters needed to stay in the streets and get more confrontational if the verdict in this trial is anything but guilty.

And the Judge was frustrated saying that elected officials need to stay out of this, especially when he feels their comments go against and are disrespectful to the rule of law.

He even told the defense, as part of a motion's hearing after the jury had gone to their deliberations that he feels her comments may have even given them something on appeal that could overturn the results of this trial.

But then he brought it back to this case saying he doesn't think it matters here because he trusts the jurors have been staying away from the news as they've been instructed to do so.

But of course, that jury deliberation process continues. We're going to get a notification once they're done for tonight and another notification when they begin in the morning as all of us, we have plans for the anticipation of the verdict. But at this point, all we can do is wait -- Anderson. COOPER: Omar Jimenez, appreciate it. Thanks so much, Omar.

I want to go next to CNN's Miguel Marquez who is with the marchers. Miguel, so talk about where you are and what you've been seeing.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So we are in downtown Minneapolis, since that verdict was handed over the -- or the jurors got the opportunity to start debating that verdict, this crowd is starting to gather. It is now several hundred, if not a thousand stronger. So I want to give you a sense of what it looks like and sounds like right now.

They have been not only chanting, but lots of speeches and sort of a rallying cry by many people who have been affected by police violence all afternoon, calling for equal justice.

I just want to point out right here, check this out. We are right next to a government center here and the fence is -- this is all razor wire. They put barricades in here and this is what many of the government buildings look like down here.

Many of the private buildings are boarded up as though they are expecting a hurricane to come to town, and a lot of the protesters we speak to say that, look, this is a situation where if they don't get a guilty verdict on all of those counts, that that is going to be a concern for many of them.

They want to see all three counts. If they don't see all three counts of a guilty verdict, they will -- they believe that's a problem for the justice system that that inequality that they are concerned with. It is not just George Floyd, it is not just Daunte Wright, but it's the justice system across the board.

It's those everyday transactions with people of color that they are concerned with that is very, very frustrating to them and they are hoping that the verdict that they expect in the next couple of days, I don't know if they are going to be out here all night. I know that they are planning another gathering tomorrow morning down here at the courthouse. So it looks like there's going to be almost a 24-hour like vigil in Minneapolis to await this verdict -- Anderson.

COOPER: Miguel Marquez, appreciate it. We will check in with you throughout the hour.

Joining us now also from Minneapolis, attorney, Benjamin Crump, who is representing the Floyd family. Mr. Crump, I wonder what you made of the closing arguments and how much impact you may think they'd have on the jury?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: Well, Anderson, I thought they were very persuasive. I thought that both the prosecutors who presented in closing presented evidence, objective evidence that Officer Derek Chauvin's use of force was not reasonable. It was not proportional. It was excessive, in violated their policies, and most importantly, Anderson Cooper, it violated the law. COOPER: As you know, you know better than most, there's a history in

this country of police officers being very difficult to convict. Jurors usually give them the benefit of the doubt.

In your mind, is there something that makes the case against Derek Chauvin different?

CRUMP: Well, I think I understand completely, the history of the difficulty of prosecuting and convicting them, a police officer for killing a black person unjustly in America.

And so I get that. I've been black all my life and we've lived this experience. This isn't something that we watch on television. This is something we've lived our entire lives.

But I do believe this is unique, this Chauvin trial because never in my professional career have I seen a Police Chief and the police leadership in a department come and testify against their police officer in their department and say that what he did was not our policy, we cannot condone this. We will not in any way try to justify this unjustifiable action of this officer. That's completely different than what we've ever seen, because normally, they will hide behind the blue wall of silence.

But I pray with this jury's verdict that there will be a precedent set that no longer will officers not tell the truth. They will tell the truth just like they want everybody in our community to do so when they say we see something. Well, this is your opportunity, our police in America to show us how it's done.

[20:10:44]

COOPER: A few weeks ago, you were quoted, Mr. Crump as saying that if people quote, "don't believe the process was fair and transparent, what we saw in May and June with the protests will be child's play to what we'll see in the aftermath of the verdict." Do you believe the process has been fair and transparent?

CRUMP: I think it has been fair and transparent. I think that the judge has tried to do everything appropriate to make sure that the case is not only fair and transparent, but everyone is extended due process of the law. That's something often that marginalize minorities, especially black people who are killed at these police excessive use of force cases that we rarely see.

And that's why George Floyd's killing in the trial of Derek Chauvin is such an important referendum on how far we have come in America, in our quest to live up to the promise of equal justice under the law.

Because understand, Anderson Cooper, if George Floyd was a white American citizen, nobody would be saying this is a hard case. This is a challenging case. They would have said from day one when they saw that video, bloody murder, and they will expect for justice to be swift.

But because he was a black man face down and handcuffed, everybody is questioning whether we can get justice.

COOPER: You know, the Floyd family is not only going through a personal tragedy and have been since George Floyd's death, but it's on a global scale. It's a very public tragedy as well and people look to them for messages.

I'm wondering what the Floyd's family message is to demonstrators tonight to others tonight waiting and watching.

CRUMP: Well, you know, George Floyd's family has been so dignified and graceful through this entire ordeal. They've always asked for people to protest peacefully, but they've always thanked them for exercising their First Amendment rights and said that George Floyd's life matters.

And now they're even going above and beyond in trying to be of comfort and counsel to the family of Daunte Wright, who you know was killed within 10 miles of the very courtroom where Derek Chauvin is being tried for killing George Floyd.

So I think, through not what they say, but their actions, both these families, they are teaching the protesters how to call for justice, but in an effective way, and in a nonviolent way.

COOPER: Benjamin Crump, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

CRUMP: Thank you.

COOPER: Next, what the White House is doing ahead of a verdict, plus our legal and law enforcement team on that and how well they think each side made its case. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:18:02]

COOPER: With marchers in the streets and jurors deliberating tonight in Minneapolis, we want to take a look at what could happen next there and across the country, that and the efforts now underway to prepare for any possibilities. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House for us tonight.

So how closely is the White House monitoring the trial? And have they been involved in preparing for any potential verdicts?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they say that they are prepared for whichever way this verdict goes, and so they have been pretty involved in watching what has been going on.

White House officials have been keeping an eye on it. Of course, there are TVs lining the halls of the West Wing in the President's study right off the Oval Office. And so they've been watching this pretty closely and President Biden himself has as well.

And one thing he has also been doing, Anderson, is preparing for what the response to the verdict is going to be. And part of that has been a heightened concern about potential unrest, not just in Minnesota, but also in the nation over what this could look like, something that we've seen play out time and time again.

Of course, we're already seeing crowds gathered there on the ground in Minneapolis. And one group that he did consult about this, Anderson, was the Congressional Black Caucus last week talking to them about his concerns about what the unrest could look like.

And so, in addition to that, his aides have been reaching out to local authorities, to state officials to really gauge where they are, where they need help and what they are expecting to come out of this.

COOPER: And, do we know if the President has any plans to address the country once a verdict comes in?

COLLINS: Yes, he will. Of course, they are not weighing in until that verdict has actually been reached. But Jen Psaki did tell us today in the briefing room that we will hear from President Biden, regardless of what the verdict is, and one thing that we talked about with her today were things like those comments from Congresswoman Maxine Waters and what the White House response to that is.

And Jen Psaki said that, while the President does understand the anguish and how emotional these situations can become, of course, we've seen them play out unfortunately time and time again. She says that President Biden sticks by his past calls for peaceful protests and they believe that's the response and that's the way that people should make their opinions heard.

[20:20:02]

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it.

Before we bring our legal and law enforcement team, a quick look at who is doing the deliberating, 12 jurors taking part with two alternates who also watched the trial standing by. Three of the 14 are in their 20s, three each in their 30s and 40s, four in their 50s. One is in her 60s. Nine women, five men. Eight are white, four black, the two describe themselves as mixed race.

Joining us now CNN senior legal analyst and former Federal prosecutor, Laura Coates and CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey, former D.C. Police Chief and former Police Commissioner in Philadelphia; also criminal defense attorney Catherine Flynn who represented one of the Baltimore Police officers cleared in the death of Freddie Gray.

Laura, closing arguments, what you heard, I'm wondering what you made of what both sides did in their cases.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The prosecution was as strong as they've ever been over the course of the trial. It is no easy lift to try to bring together three weeks of testimony, to try to thread these needles to make sure. You also remind jurors about what exactly they heard, to remind them about the poignancy of the different testimony, which key elements are important. There was a part that people think, well, it was a little bit dull to

go through the actual elements. That's where the trials get convictions or acquittals.

It is the job of the prosecution, because the burden remains with them to walk the jury through. Element by element for each of the charges that are contemplated, if they don't do that, you're going to have juries going back out and essentially saying, look, wait, what did that mean again? Which witness was that? How did they prove their case? They've got to do that heavy lifting and proving it.

For the defense side, you know, their job, of course, is to poke holes and try to take away a piece from the jigsaw puzzle. It's already been created. But they remain ineffective, in a sense, because this is a very, very bad case for the defense. Why? Because it's not just about the interpretation or perspective of sorts.

It's about a nine minute and 29 seconds star witness, the video. It's about the words of George Floyd and it's also, although they are told not to take into consideration, the silence of the officer. The only impression they still have is the one about the sinister arrogance that was promoted by the prosecution with no one to support or rebut that presumption that is lingering in the jury's mind.

COOPER: Catherine, I want to play a clip from the Judge today talking about the defense's motion for a mistrial based on the comments from Congresswoman Waters. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY: I'm aware of the media reports. I'm aware that Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial, and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction.

I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the Judicial Branch and our function.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: He went on to say that on appeal, they may be able to use that quite effectively, actually to even overturn whatever verdict takes place.

From your experience as a defense attorney, I'm wondering what do you make of that? Was the defense really arguing for a mistrial in your view? Or was it about getting it -- getting the issue in the trial record in case of a possible appeal?

CATHERINE FLYNN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think obviously, they're trying to get it into the appellate record. The Judge didn't -- from what I understand, the He judge didn't make any effort to voir dire the jurors to see if they had heard those comments, and the only way that it potentially could have impacted the jury is if one of the jurors had raised the issue that they had heard it, or if the court had voir dired them about that.

But I think it was smart of them to raise it. I think that's one of the things they have to do is try and protect that appellate record in case of a conviction.

So I thought it was a good idea to raise it.

COOPER: Chief Ramsey, I mean, obviously, we don't know what the outcome is going to be, nor does law enforcement, but they have to prepare for really any eventuality. What are they doing now that things have gone to deliberation?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, the preparation actually started a few weeks ago when this trial first kicked off. I know that Friday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the major city chiefs had a conference call to talk about preparation along with the Police Executive Research Forum that had a separate call with about a thousand Police Chiefs from across the country to talk about past demonstrations, things that went well, things that didn't go so well so we can all learn.

Because there's going to be demonstrations. There's no question about that. The question is, how intense will they be? I mean, if there's an acquittal, I can only imagine what it will look like.

But I also think that, you know, even if there's a conviction, the possibility of having some unrest is always there. It won't be anything like the scale you'll see if there's an acquittal or two out of the three charges he is acquitted on, but it could still be there because you'll always have that small group of folks that just want to get out and do something illegal, quite frankly.

COOPER: Laura, do you think the comments by Congressman Waters actually would be possibly basis for a successful appeal?

[20:25:00]

COATES: No. Don't think it has any legs, and here's why. Remember, this is something that had a visceral emotional reaction across the entire nation ever since last May. The former President weighed in on this particular case, a number of Members of Congress have weighed in on this issue over the course of time.

And the idea of trying to truly meaningfully sequester a jury from such a high profile case can really be an exercise in futility.

Now, the goal here, of course, is having the statement to suggest that the prosecution did not meet their burden, that they are -- these jurors are only going to be moved and persuaded by the threat of violence in their towns. And that frankly, undermines and belies what we've seen over the course of three weeks.

They have methodically went through a very compelling case with over 30 witnesses. They have proven different elements of the crime to suggest that the jurors are impartial, except when it doesn't benefit the defense is an oddity. And so instead, the way to look at this comprehensively is did the

judge do all that he could to try to meaningfully assure that they were instructed to be impartial. And remember, Anderson, with the voir dire, they actually were asked questions about what they thought about the unrest and the violence, and it wasn't over the course of a weekend with the killing of Daunte Wright, it was from months and months.

And so the goal was never to have a jury that had the equivalence of an ostrich with their head in the sand. The goal was to have people who could be impartial, not ignorant to the case.

COOPER: Catherine, at this stage, I'm wondering for attorneys, how much sense do they have what the jurors may be inclined to vote?

I mean, I know you experienced firsthand a hung jury in the case of the officers charged to the death of Freddie Gray. Do you have a sense it was headed in that direction?

FLYNN: Well, I think if any lawyers say they know what they think the jurors are thinking, they're wrong. They have absolutely no idea what those 12 people are thinking.

I mean, remember that these 12 people have never talked to anybody about the evidence that they've seen. They were instructed every time they went out into a recess not to talk to each other.

And so each of those people is bringing their own perspective. As a -- it's a brand new conversation that they're all having and the lawyers, we all think we have a lot of control over exactly what's going to happen in that jury room. We all think our words make a difference, but for the sake of argument, most jurors probably actually pay attention to the facts.

They are instructed that what the jurors have to say is not the law that is not evidence, and they pay attention to the facts.

So we all spend a lot of time guessing on what we think is happening inside the jury room, and usually we're wrong.

COOPER: Interesting.

FLYNN: You know, how the jury reaches a verdict is always quite interesting and usually not what the lawyers are predicting.

COOPER: Fascinating. Catherine Flynn, appreciate it. Laura Coates, Charles Ramsey as well.

When we return, two incidents occurring at this incredibly tense moment involving race relations in this country, each involving a separate congresswoman. One, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene; the other, Democrat, Maxine Waters, their responses and reaction from a Democratic colleague when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:31:50]

COOPER: We're watching protesters as they gather in like all of us waiting for a verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. By all accounts the jury is still deliberating at this late hour. Also, a curfew has just been called for 11:00 p.m. local time for Brooklyn Center Minnesota.

Earlier, we referred to the judge in the Chauvin case mentioning Congresswoman Maxine Waters specifically comment she made two protesters in Minnesota Saturday night that he said could be grounds for an appeal. Here's exactly what the Congresswoman said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): We got to stay on the street. And we've got to get more active. We've got to get more confrontational. We've got to make sure that they know that we make business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Short time ago, Congresswoman Waters tell CNN her reference to confrontation was meant in the context of the Civil Rights Movements non-violent history, quote, the whole civil rights movement is confrontation. When pressed on the on the judge stating that her remarks could be grounds for appeal, she replied, oh, no, no, they didn't, despite the judge saying so in the courtroom.

As Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that Waters has nothing to apologize for whoever Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has introduced essential resolution in the House. I'm joined now by House Delegate Stacey Plaskett, who represents the U.S. Virgin Islands. Congresswoman Plaskett, thanks for being with us. I'm wondering what your reaction is to those comments from Congresswoman Waters.

DEL. STACEY PLASKETT (D-VI): Listen, I think that this is a red herring that the defense counsel is trying to bring. He doesn't have a case, as we saw from the supposedly expert witnesses that he brought forward. Defense counsel will pull it anything that they can to try and remove and castigate anyone else, as we saw in him even doing what George Floyd making the victim, the individual who was killed by the police officer in some way being the person who caused his own death.

So, I'm not moved by what Maxine Waters says and neither should all of us. Kevin McCarthy should be concerned with what's happening within his own caucus. When we had an insurrection, when we've had issues here with the American people, Kevin McCarthy was reading Dr. Seuss books.

When he had (INAUDIBLE) individuals in his own caucus. You know, Taylor Greene, Gosar, Matt Gaetz, doing the most abominable thing saying outrageous, not just dog whistles, but outright racist comments. He hasn't made any move to remove them to center them, or to even reprimand them.

So, how dare he, at this point, have a discussion about Maxine Waters? He needs to look at his own caucus and clean up his own House. COOPER: Just in terms of what she said though, is it helpful at a time like this? I mean, you know, if a conservative Republican had said that about a, you know, a rally of pro-Trump protesters, a lot of Democrats would no doubt say well, wait a minute, they're telling people to be confrontational with police, when they're on the streets. Is that really helpful?

PLASKETT: I think what Maxine Waters says was that we should confront the system that's created, the individuals have to being out there to protest.

COOPER: She doesn't have to say that.

PLASKETT: And that's what we need to. That's what we need to confront on a regular basis. That, you know, police officers are killing our children. I have four sons that I worry about all the time, a black husband, black children, a black father, and my own black father, a police officer, once very much you will have been on the New York City police force for 30 years, once more than anything to remove bad cops, because the worst thing that a good cop can have is bad police officers on the force.

[20:35:29]

So, those are the things that I'm interested in confronting. I believe that we need to continue to have protests to raise awareness. And there can of course be peaceful protests, where I'm making the assumption that all protests is violent and leads to looting and rioting.

There's been so many peaceful protests, Anderson, in the last year that have led to the discussions that we're having now, that have led to the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, to issues relating to voting rights. Kevin McCarthy is not interested in talking about voting rights, creating a jobs bill that will continue to lift this country out of the issues that it has, and why are we continuing to point the finger on individuals that are trying to raise awareness, rather than putting the glare on those who continue to hold up systemic racism and the system that holds so many Americans back?

COOPER: Let me ask you about Marjorie Taylor Greene who just reference the Congress, Republican Congress, and she was just last week, according to our own spokesperson getting ready to launch a so-called America First Caucus, their promotional flyer for the group, which was obtained by reporters referred to respecting quote, Anglo-Saxon political traditions, which obviously sparked, you know, outrage, disbelief from some members of her own party and Greene's off has backtracked saying she has nothing to do with that language and was never going to launch a caucus. Do you buy that?

PLASKETT: No, I think what she said was, is that what she that that the proposal that was put out by (INAUDIBLE) was something that an outside group had presented to her and that they were going through the issues. She has continually backtracking on something that we all know that she's been interested in. Because if you read the outlines of what the plan was the seven-page manifesto by this group, it speaks exactly to the things that she's spoken about, not just in her time in Congress, but even before that.

The anti-Semitic racist, xenophobic language that she continually spouts and on her bully pulpit, here now in Congress, along with other individuals who've said that they're interested in willing to be a part of this caucus. I would note also Anderson that we need to be careful about this group, and others like it, because although this is a phrase that the former President Trump likes to use America First, many of his former individuals who worked in his administration are forming Super PACs and think tanks with that same name.

You know, a neo Nazi group, a white supremacist group by any other name is still the same thing.

COOPER: Delegate Stacey Plaskett, appreciate your time. Thank you.

PLASKETT: Thank you.

COOPER: It's a live shot of protesters gathering waiting for the decision of the Derek Chauvin trial. We're going to go to Minneapolis next. We're checking on the demonstrations that we've been seeing when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:42:07]

COOPER: Tension obviously high in around Minneapolis as well as across the country as expectations grow about what the jury may decide and how protesters may react after the decisions announced. We'll go back to Miguel Marquez who's covering the protests in Minneapolis. Which led us where you are, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, incredibly high tensions here. This is downtown Minneapolis, the crowd that has gathered, several hundreds (INAUDIBLE). The Reverend Jesse Jackson actually came down as is speaking to right now we're lucky listen to a little bit of that.

(CROSSTALK)

MARQUEZ: And so they've been out here for several hours and they've stopped at this particular location because of this, you can see this complex razor wire and the fences up. This is a now police precinct that took the place of the third precinct which burned to the ground when demonstrators took it over last year. That was the precinct in South Minneapolis, where Derek Chauvin worked and where that call went out of where George Floyd ended up losing his life.

The protesters here say they will gather again tomorrow. They have certainly brought in thousands of National Guardsmen, they've bought thousands of law enforcement officers, even from other states into Minneapolis and into Minnesota to protect different government centers in different sensitive areas. Protesters say they will be out again tomorrow 8:30 a.m. here in downtown Minneapolis at the courthouse to wait for that verdict. (INAUDIBLE) going to be basically a vigil of protests and of demonstration outside that courthouse. Schools will go on virtual basis on Wednesday in anticipation of that verdict. And remember the funeral for Daunte Wright is scheduled for Thursday. So there's a lot happening in Minneapolis this week. Protesters that I've spoken to so far and they say, look, if Derek Chauvin is not convicted on all three counts, he will at least (INAUDIBLE) a sign that we have a lot farther to go. And there will be great concerns about security here in Minneapolis and possibly (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: And Miguel, just quickly, will the jury see the crowds when they leave for the hotel tonight?

MARQUEZ: It is not clear. They have the are blocked off. This is basically (INAUDIBLE). It is not clear, they be able to hear them I doubt they will be able to see them because they have the area around the courthouse sort of cordoned off with material green materials. It's also a very big complex. They blocked off a street light in the middle that goes right through the court complex. So, we may be able to get them out wherever they're going without having any sort of (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Yes. Miguel Marquez, I appreciate it.

Everybody's grief is different for everybody, but our next guest certainly knows something of what the family of George Floyd is going through right now. Reverend Wanda Johnson is the mother of Oscar Grant who was shot and killed by a police officer in 2009 in Oakland. A story that was told to great acclaim several years later in the film Fruitvale Station.

[20:45:16]

Our honor, Reverend Johnson can join us this evening. Thank you so much for being with us. In the trial of the officer who killed your son that the jury deliberated for just six and a half hours before they convicted him of involuntary manslaughter. You were upset with that verdict given they could have convicted him a second degree murder. The Chauvin jury also has a choice accounts to choose from. Can you talk about a little bit of what was like for you and your family waiting for that jury's decision?

REV. WANDA JOHNSON, OSCAR GRANT'S MOTHER: First, I want to thank you for having me on your show this evening. When we waited for the jury to deliberate It was a lot of anxiousness, a lot of praying, you know, crying, just waiting and hoping that the jury would give the right verdict and find the officer guilty of not involuntary manslaughter but guilty of second degree murder. And that did not happen. As you know, he was only found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

And part of that the reason why he was sentenced so light was because the judge said that he gave the jury the wrong instructions. And so, the jury who had at first convicted him of a gun enhancement charge that was throughout. So, the charge of involuntary manslaughter was the only charge that was given to the officer. And he served 11 months in county jail. COOPER: You know, I think a lot of the country have heard -- has heard of your son's death and how he was killed. I'm not sure a lot of people have heard from you or a family member a loved one about who your son was, about who Oscar was. Can you just tell us a little bit about?

JOHNSON: Yes. Oscar was a young man who loved to help people. He loved to be a leader, he would stand up for what was right. The night that he was killed, he actually was telling us friends to follow the directions that we're going home, just listen to what they say and do what they say.

And when he saw his friend being handled roughly and he stood up and he wanted to talk to someone in charge. And that's when he ended up losing his life for standing for what was right. Oscar was the type of person where when a young lady who walked into the store where he worked at, didn't know how to cook fish. He called us at home and asked, how do you cook the fish?

What do you need to do? We spoke to the young lady and my mother was able to share with her what type of fish to buy and how to cook it. Oscar loved his daughter so very much. You know, one of the funny stories was when he found out that his fiance was having a girl, he hang two flags on the outside of his car that was pink, which said it's a girl and he would drive down the street with her.

You know, I remember times him calling and saying, you know, combing her hair and telling her the night before he was killed that they were going to go to Chuck E Cheese the next day and unfortunately his life was taken and he didn't have that opportunity.

COOPER: When you heard about another killing in Minnesota, and an officer who you know, said that she didn't mean to use a taser or it actually was the police chief in Brooklyn Center Minnesota, he said he believed the officer meant to deploy her taser instead of fatally shooting to Daunte Wright. Similar way your son was killed. I'm wondering what you thought.

JOHNSON: Oh, you know, my heart bled for the family and my condolences to that family to the Wright family. You know, there was three important ways that Daunte story relates to my son's story. One of the ways in the similarity is that both cases involve video capturing of unarmed African-American young men.

The second way was both cases reveal that there's a national consensus of whether the officer was justified in using deadly force. We can see that the story has been reported by the chief of police and in the same with Oscar's case it was reported that way as well. And in both of their cases, the chief of police at that time, they both resigned.

[20:50:12]

And the third thing that we can see is that there is still a deep- seated fear in many police officers, not all but some police officers have that deep seated fear, oftentimes, because they do not live in the communities where they serve. And then the stereotypes of African- American have caused them to fear African-Americans. And instead of doing their job without being fearful, they do their job fearfully, and it oftentimes causes African-American and brown young men to lose their lives.

COOPER: Yes.

JOHNSON: And so, this is a, you know, a national thing that must be looked at. And training must go forth when it comes to dealing with African-American and brown young men.

COOPER: Yes. Well, sadly another thing that both your son and Daunte Wright have in common is that they both have families who love them dearly and miss them terribly. And I appreciate you being with us Reverend Wanda Johnson, and representing your son tonight. Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, I'll talk with the key senator who's pressing ahead with his case for more stringent gun control measures in Congress in the wake of still more gun violence across the country this weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:55:28]

COOPER: There was yet more gun violence across the country this weekend. At least nine more people killed and shootings in several cities including Austin, Texas, were former sheriff's office detective is accused of killing three people. This is police in Indianapolis at the suspect in that mass shooting in a Federal Express facility on Friday have legally purchased two weapons using the attack.

Once earlier, police did take away a shotgun from the suspect but he never appeared before judge a requirement under the Indiana's red flag laws designed to temporarily remove weapons from people considered unstable to have them. Local prosecutor said there were shortcomings in the law.

Since the Atlanta spa killings on March 16th, there have been 50 mass shootings in the United States, according to analysis by CNN and the gun violence archive local media and police reports.

Joining us now is Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy was long push for stringent gun control legislation. Sir Murphy, we spoke in mid-March, you told me that when it comes to gun legislation, because you failed in the past doesn't mean what one should not continue and try to fight for change. Do you still have optimism tonight?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I do. Listen, the voters did their part. They put in charge of Congress majorities that support universal background checks. They put a president in the White House who wants to sign that bill. Now, it's up to us to deliver.

You know, 2013 now, eight years ago, we lost a vote on background checks. And since then, we've been building up political power in the anti-gun violence movement. So that today, you know, we are stronger than the gun lobby. And I think that's part of the reason why, you know, I am having, I think real substantive discussions with several Republicans about how we can bring a bill to the Senate floor in the next month or two that will dramatically expand the number of gun sales that have to be submitted a background checks.

So many of the guns that are used in crimes throughout this country are illegal guns, are guns that are sold to criminals, sold to people with serious mental illness outside of background check system. My hope is that we'll be able to break the logjam and actually get something passed in the near future that's going to save lives. I absolutely think that's possible.

COOPER: You think there enough Republican votes on that?

MURPHY: You know, you need Republican votes right now to pass this in the Senate. As you know, this is not something you can do through this process of reconciliation, where occasionally you get the chance to pass something with 50 votes in the Senate.

Right now, under the current rules, you need 60 votes, meaning 10 Republicans, I, you know, spent the last couple of weeks on the phone with, you know, almost half of the Republican caucus, asking them to keep an open mind. And I really think that there is a path to be able to get 60. Now, maybe that's not on universal background checks, a background check on every single sale.

But I think there is a chance, a good chance that we can dramatically expand the number of background checks that are done in this country, maybe have a series of national incentives for states to pass these red flag laws to take guns away from dangerous people. There are some really important improvements that we could make.

And I'm at the point, you know, Anderson where I don't want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I'm sick of this being used as a political cudgel the issue of guns by Republicans and Democrats, I'd rather make some progress.

COOPER: In, you know, Indiana has the so-called red Flag laws that you mentioned on the books. You know, it works in the sense that they did take I believed was a shotgun away from him, but the gunman bought, you know, other weapons that he used to kill eight people at the FedEx facility. Republicans often argue America doesn't need more gun laws, needs to enforce the ones that already has. Do you think that argument has some validity in this case?

MURPHY: Well, in this case, from what we know, it doesn't appear that they fully utilized Indiana's red flag law that they actually didn't put him on the prohibited list of, or the list of people prohibited from buying guns. But even had they done that in Indiana, that wouldn't have stopped him from buying a gun, because Indiana doesn't have universal background checks.

So, red flag laws don't work unless you have universal background checks, meaning the person is prohibited from buying a gun, whether they go to a gun store, or they go online to buy a gun. So, I think you need both even in this case, had he been on that list. Yes, he would have walked into a gun store and not be able to buy a gun but then he could have gone to a gun show or gone online --

COOPER: Yes.

MURPHY: -- and likely gotten the weapon. So you've got to do both.

COOPER: Senator Murphy, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

[21:00:02]

MURPHY: Thank you.

COOPER: The news continues right now. I want to hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you, Anderson. I appreciate it.