U.S. Protests continue TRANSCRIPT: 6/2/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now. Good
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Chuck, good evening.
I was watching your hour. Some of what you were covering is just striking.
So, thanks to Chuck Todd. Thanks to everyone who has been working during
Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.
And, tonight, here we are again, for the eighth consecutive night, massive
protests and marches. You see them right here across America live in cities
large and small, And many places where curfews are again looming tonight,
mayors and governors struggling to respect free speech and protest rights
by day, while also deploying these lawful rules to restrict the potential
for public safety risks at night.
We are living here in the cusp, at the end of this day on the East Coast,
between the protests and the looming curfews. Here are just some of the
places that we are tracking, as people protest.
D.C. has a curfew hitting within this hour, 7:00 p.m. New York City arrives
one hour later at 8:00 p.m. I can tell you that is actually New York`s
strictest running curfew since 1943.
And there is down in Houston. We have seen large groups throughout the day.
That is George Floyd`s hometown. It is where he will be buried. Today,
there are reports making some news, making waves, because Joe Biden has
reportedly told folks that he will attend Floyd`s funeral, and saying this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our country is crying out for
leadership, leadership that can unite us.
The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism, to deal
with the growing economic inequity that exists in our nation, to deal with
the denial of the promise of this nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That is one person running for president.
The current president has not spoken in public since his address last
night, which, if you were watching the news, you may recall came during
this hour of the day. We`re also hearing reports of a military and police
presence outside the White House, new fencing around Lafayette Park by the
White House, which featured those scenes last night, as protesters
dispersed amid smoke bombs, flashbangs, and reports of tear gas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Ari, this is an extraordinary
escalation on the streets in front of the White House right now within the
last 15 minutes.
Mounted police have been coming down the street – you`re going to see them
in the frame now – using flashbangs in front of them and mounted police to
clear what has been an entirely peaceful protest, not 98 percent, not 99
percent, but 100 percent peaceful protest here today.
People throwing – there was no throwing of water bottles. There was no
throwing of objects. But, a short time ago, mounted police officers have
been clearing the street.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was the scene outside the White House just 24 hours ago.
Tonight, we are tracking everything that can occur as the curfew
approaches. I can tell you, you may recall, and look at the side by side
and take it in for yourself, the president, after that move, after those
dispersements, walked to a nearby church, held up a Bible for the cameras.
It`s a move that some members of Congress and some prominent clergy today
are denouncing as a literally dangerous stunt.
Now, let`s get to it.
MSNBC`s Garrett Haake is back live in Lafayette Park.
Garrett, what are you seeing tonight?
HAAKE: Ari, I`m back, and so are probably thousands of other people here in
D.C., packing this park and the streets around it for the fourth
It`s always hard to judge crowd size from inside it, but just walking
around these blocks, I think this is the largest crowd that I have seen
here at any point during these protests. And while the focus remains on
George Floyd and on police violence against African-Americans, there is
also today a far more distinctly anti-Trump element to it.
A lot of the folks that I have spoken to today told me that this is the
first day they have come out, in part because of what they saw happen on
the streets of their city last night, with federal police forcing peaceful
protesters out of these streets.
It was shocking, I think, to a lot of people to see that, and I talked to a
number of people who said they felt like her activism may up to this point
may have been online or some other format. They wanted to come out and be
physically part of this today.
It`s 6:04. About 30 minutes from this time yesterday was when Park Police
and other federal law enforcement agencies cleared this park. We have not
yet heard what the plan is for tonight, although D.C.`s mayor did say at a
press conference today that the actions by federal law enforcement last
night will make it more difficult and more dangerous for Metropolitan
Police to police the city tonight.
So we will see exactly where this goes in the next hour, Ari.
MELBER: And we will be checking back with you as warranted, Garrett Haake.
Thank you, and stay safe, as always. Safety first. We will get the shots
when we can, as we did last night.
I want to turn now to what we mentioned in Houston, where NBC`s Priscilla
Thompson is live.
We also heard from members of the Floyd family just in the last hour.
I`m curious what you`re seeing today.
PRISCILLA THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
Well, Ari, folks are heading out from this rally here today. It was held at
City Hall just over here. And you can see folks are turning out to go back
on to the streets to march back down to the park.
So this rally is wrapping up, but a very energized crowd here. Tens of
thousands turned out and chanted his name, George Floyd, throughout the
And the other notable thing here – we have talked about a lot – is just
the diversity of these crowds. I want you to take a look over here. Texas
has a very large immigrant population, and we have seen a lot of these
Mexican flags flying throughout here. People have written “Black Lives
Matter” over them.
I spoke to one woman who is a dreamer. She came here as an undocumented
dreamer. And she told me, when I first came here, I didn`t feel like I had
And when she saw the video of George Floyd, she felt compelled to come out
here and to protest and to march and to use her voice in order to inspire
justice for him and his life. And the organizers here and the police as
well have said that they want this to be a peaceful protest, and it has
been so far.
I do want to say, we did see one Antifa flag, and we also saw some folks
with water in case there is tear gas, but we haven`t seen any of that so
far as this protest wraps up, Ari.
MELBER: Priscilla in Houston, Texas, thank you.
We turn now to New York City, which has had some of the largest gatherings
we have seen here eight nights in.
MSNBC`s Katy Tur – Katy Tur has been out there. She is walking with
What are you seeing, Katy?
KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So, Ari, we are two hours from the
curfew, and there is a question about whether this crowd is going to
continue on marching post-curfew, or whether it will disperse.
They have been marching, many of these people, since 1:00 p.m. this
afternoon. Well, we just heard a rather large chant that said, “F your
curfew,” with more colorful language than I will say on television.
So, that could give you some indication what might happen starting at 8:00.
This has been a peaceful protest. It is a diverse protest. But many of the
people are young. That being said, if you look up at the balconies and in
the windows of the streets of New York City, New Yorkers, young and old, of
all colors coming out to their balconies to cheer on these protesters, to
cheer on these marchers.
There was an incredible moment just a few minutes ago as we were walking
by, about 30 minutes ago, as we were walking by Memorial Sloan Kettering,
the cancer hospital. And the doctors and the nurses and the health care
workers came out and applauded these marchers, took a knee and applauded
these marchers, the same people that this city has been applauding at 7:00
p.m. every night for the past 80, 90 days.
It was tremendous. But, again, 8:00 is when the curfew happens. There have
not been any confrontations with police officers, even though we have
walked many of them on this march.
I am curious to find out how exactly they are going to disperse this crowd
and enforce the curfew once 8:00 comes around.
MELBER: Katy Tur reporting there.
And we will be coming back to Katy and all of our reporters in the field as
warranted, as we try to track every aspect of this.
And, as I have mentioned before, as you look on your screen, and you just
see some of the places we`re watching, it`s worth repeating that, while
there were incidents of looting and violence, and we have covered that,
many of these protests, as they continue, particularly when they are in the
daytime and at their largest, have been largely peaceful.
And so we want to note that, because, sometimes, what you see on your
screen is distinct from the moments that understandably also get a lot of
attention, those incidents of looting or violence.
Now we bring in our experts.
Rashad Robinson is a civil rights leader. He is president of Color of
Change. And Maya Wiley is former counsel to the mayor of New York City. She
was chairwoman of the New York Civilian Complaint Board, which provides
independent oversight of NYPD. She has worked on these civil rights issues
for some time.
Thanks to both of you for being here.
Maya, I`m curious your thoughts about where we are in the intersection
between organic and now structured protests, which continue tonight, and
what police and civilian leaders are doing and thinking around the country.
Is this a time where people say, OK, you get through a few more days of it
and, historically, these things tend to recede, or is there any sign in
your mind, as we look at these giant crowds, that something different and
larger is afoot?
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Ari, I think you said right there at the
end. Something bigger and larger is afoot.
And that afoot is called justice and the demand for change. And I think
what demonstrators and protesters are showing is, they keep coming out
because they have not yet heard what will be different. Many leaders, I
think rightly and appropriately, have been saying publicly, we hear you, we
understand, we`re with you, and that is important.
We have seen images of police who have also knelt, taken a knee with
demonstrators, who have walked arm and arm with demonstrators, who have had
good conversations with demonstrators. Those are incredibly hopeful.
But we have not yet heard sufficiently from leaders what exactly will
change, so that protesters know there will not be another George Floyd
video, there will not be another Eric Garner video, and that, if there is,
there will not be a need to protest in order to see legitimate and
evidence-based charges brought against police officers who violate the law.
That`s what protesters are asking for. And I think that, unfortunately,
because there have been some incidents of violence, that there have been
some incidents of unrest, there has also been the opportunity to use that
to demonstrate how policing can be different.
Even in these moments, because most protesters have been nonviolent, how do
we protect the storefronts, stop the looting, stop the few people who are
doing the bad acting, without shoving and driving cars into and pepper-
spraying people who have their hands up and are stepping backward?
Because that is reinforcing, for demonstrators, I think, that, while there
is some rhetoric about, I hear you, there is not enough demonstrated action
for change, and there is real opportunity to do that right now, and it`s
RASHAD ROBINSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COLOR OF CHANGE: You know, I really –
I couldn`t agree with Maya more.
I think one of the challenges that we actually have is the ongoing
disconnect between our political leaders sometimes saying what they want to
do, sometimes saying that they hear us, but not actually moving forward
And, in particular, even in this moment, we`re giving a lot of sort of
policies that folks want to push. So it`s the what, but it`s not the how.
And why that how is important is because, far too often, we can get people
sort of situated around things that need to happen, but when it comes time
to actually move those proposals forward, in the way of that stands a whole
lot of opposition.
So, in Minneapolis, what we`re seeing right now is a very powerful police
union that is standing up and speaking out and saying some really horrific
and racist things. And we see that from police unions and police
associations all around the country.
I have sat in rooms, like in the White House, and had the head of the
Fraternal Order of Police tell me to my face that all of this talk of
racial profiling is new to him.
So, what does that mean for folks who are watching? What it means is, it`s
hard to come together around some reforms, when people gaslight you and
tell you that there is actually no problem whatsoever. We keep coming with
lists of demands, and on the other side we are met with people who look us
in the face and say is there no problem whatsoever.
So, part of this will have to be that political leaders will have to have
some courage. They are going to have to go against powerful forces. They`re
going to have to not just tell us that they hear us and that they`re with
us, but they`re going to have to disrupt the status quo that far too often
stands in the way of change.
MELBER: Rashad, let`s dig into that a little bit, because you and Maya have
been on this program and others.
We have been having some of these conversations for over a decade. That`s
how long I have known you. And your group came out of a group that others
will know affiliated with MoveOn.org. And you were sort of building the
civil rights black advocacy and anti-police brutality, among other things,
of a digital movement like that to rival MoveOn.
You have been doing this full-time. What do you think people at home need
to understand, if they`re looking at these protests, which are organic,
spontaneous, rising up at this time in this pandemic amidst these
allegations of brutality, but what about a week, a month, a year from now?
How do you stitch together, in your view, with the work you do, that
sporadic with the long-term?
ROBINSON: Well, what we`re really hope to be able to do is, in this moment
where there is a deep level of presence and visibility is translate that to
real action, with a deep recognition that there are going to be ongoing
problems that continue to arise.
And so one of the things that we have done is, we have built a platform
around district attorney reform. So, if you`re watching right now these
uprisings in different cities, make no mistake, you live in a place,
likely, where you have a district attorney that does not prosecute and hold
police accountable, that is oftentimes rising and pushing mass
We have a country that has 4 percent of the world`s population and 25
percent of the world`s incarcerated population. That means that it doesn`t
happen in just one place. And so, at the WinningJustice.org platform, which
we have built at Color of Change, we have a searchable database of the
We`re building local squads around the country for people to engage and
hold these prosecutors accountable for the type of change that needs to
happen to both end mass incarceration and to hold police accountable for
the violence and terror that far too often happens.
ROBINSON: What people want to know is that, when a police officer puts
their knee on the neck of an individual and looks directly in the camera,
that the state is not going to support them and defend them at every turn,
that people will be defended and people will be protected, that safety and
justice is really possible.
MELBER: Yes. You lay it out, and it`s so important,. And that goes to the
I want to thank Rashad for joining us.
Maya will be rejoining on a special conversation later this hour.
And I want to tell folks at home, as you look at these scenes around the
country, what we`re going to do next. We have signals of possible new
charges against other officers in the Floyd arrest. We have the reporting
on who is saying that, what that means.
And the Reverend Al Sharpton, who has worked with so many victims`
families, is here.
Veterans also reacting to Donald Trump talking up military patrols inside
the United States.
And, also, we`re going to get into a very big question tonight. What
practically is already changing? Can you measure it? What does it mean?
I have a breakdown of that coming up.
Stay with us. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Here is the scene live in Los Angeles right now, about 3:20 p.m. on
the West Coast, far from curfew time, like we were showing at the top of
the hour on the East Coast, as you can see, very large what appear to be
orderly and peaceful protests, based on both our overhead cameras and what
we see on the ground.
And this is a large amassing that we see in so many cities, East Coast
where they`re approaching curfews, West Coast, L.A., down South in Houston,
eighth night, and all of this continuing.
We wanted to show you L.A. and also give you a legal update on the core of
Most people know it by now. Four different officers were involved in the
arrest of George Floyd. Now, that ended, that entire arrest scenario, when
Derek Chauvin killed him.
Now, Floyd`s memorial will be held in Minneapolis Thursday, and there is
news Joe – there`s news, I should say, that Joe Biden plans to attend a
funeral for him in Houston next week. As for the death itself, the
government autopsy ruled Floyd`s death a homicide, listing additional
factors besides asphyxiation.
That, however, was the cause found by an independent exam paid for by the
Floyd family. So, take this together night, amidst these protests, and you
the finding of a killing. You have the situation on video, and you have
these other three officers.
Do they bear any legal responsibility, such as conspiring in the killing or
in the use of excessive force? Well, tonight, we have a hint of new
information on that front. And, as we always do here, I want to be very
clear with you about the sourcing, what we know and don`t know.
The hint of information comes from the Floyd family lawyer. They are
obviously participants in all of this. But the lawyer is announcing that
authorities are telling the family, the officers, those other three
officers – quote – “will be charged.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF GEORGE FLOYD: We have heard that
they expect to charge those officers. And now the autopsy – independent
autopsy from the family that pays particular attention to the two knees in
back compressing his lungs, which is equally important as the neck
compression cutting off the flow of air.
He was dying for breath. We understand they will be charged. That is what
the family is hearing from the authorities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We`re joined now by the Reverend Al Sharpton, host of “POLITICS
NATION,” president of the National Action Network.
We should note, as with many of these cases, the rev has become involved.
He has been asked and will deliver the eulogy on Thursday.
And, Rev, you have worked on many of these cases that begin, among other
things, with the question of what authorities are involved. Are they
independent, or are they in cahoots with the officers. Are they state-
independent, as we have seen with the attorney general getting more
involved in Minnesota, or federal, as you and your advocacy have often
called for federal intervention to get a layer of independence.
With that context, your reaction to what Mr. Crump said?
AL SHARPTON, HOST, “POLITICS NATION”: I have been talking with Mr. Crump
throughout and several times every day, as we plan the memorial.
And we have been told and the family has been told that these three
officers will be charged. This was the thing that the family had called for
in the beginning. We have supported that. And, clearly, when the
independent autopsy came out, it clearly says that the cause of death was
this pressure that attorney Crump just said in the video you played, and
that caused the death.
So you cannot the officers who were also leaning in and was cooperating
with not stopping the initial arresting officer from his knee on the throat
and neck of Floyd, that you can`t just pierce it out. They all were
involved in what is a criminal act.
And they all ought to be prosecuted. And I think that, from our trips to
Minneapolis and around different parts of the country where we have
chapters of the National Action Network, that`s what people are saying. We
want to see them all held accountable, and we want some long-term change.
And that is I think what people are out for. The protests, the ones that
are there for that by the tens of thousands, that`s what they want. We have
heard before. We had a tape with Eric Garner, and nothing happened. We have
seen them promise and do knowing. Now it`s time for this to stop, and we
just get the proper equal protection under the law.
MELBER: Which authorities are stating that charges are coming?
SHARPTON: Well, I can`t divulge what the attorneys don`t want.
I can say that they have been told and the family has been told that there
will be charges coming with the officers. Where and when, I`m not at
liberty to divulge. The lawyers will have to do that.
Rev, I think our viewers know, you wear more than one hat, sir, and you`re
an expert on many of these issues. You also have been involved in the
political side of this. And many people, from President Obama to Vice
President Biden, have called upon you and worked with you.
And Joe Biden is out there. I want to play for you what he is saying, and
I`m curious what you think, as an individual involved in the political side
of this as well. This is a tough time, but politics doesn`t stop. The
president obviously is there saying his piece.
Take a listen to what Joe Biden is doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: And we are in the battle for the soul of this nation.
I won`t traffic in fear and division. I won`t fan the flames of hate. I
will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued our country, not
use them for political gain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, Rev, I have worked with you a long time. I want to have a real
talk here about this, all right? You ready?
SHARPTON: I`m ready.
MELBER: Saying I won`t fan the flames of hate is a fine knock on Donald
Trump, but it is a very low bar.
And it comes, as you know, as people in the civil rights and black
community have said, Joe Biden has to do way more than say he is – quote -
- “not Trump.”
I`m curious what else you think specifically, as a civil rights leader and,
as I mentioned, someone who knows the Obama-Biden administration well, what
more you think Joe Biden must do now?
SHARPTON: I think that he`s got to keep saying that, but he also should
join the family in saying that all parties that led to the death of George
Floyd ought to be prosecuted, and let them defend themselves before the
There is probable cause, based on these autopsies and based on the
videotape, that they be arrested. If this was probable cause on anyone
else, any other citizens, they would have been arrested and in jail by now,
and told, if you have a story, an explanation, tell it to the judge, but
this is the evidence, and you are guilty of probable cause. We will see
where it goes from there.
And I think that that is what Joe Biden ought to call on. Clearly, it is
within the law, and, clearly, it is what people want to see, not a favor,
but equal protection under the law.
MELBER: Reverend Al Sharpton, I want to thank you, as always.
I want the tell viewers we are looking at these live shots in Washington,
D.C., 30 minutes away from the curfew. You can see plenty of people still
out. We`re going keep our eye on this. We have our cameras and reporters
safely trying to monitor this on the ground.
But we get to what I told you earlier, measuring what`s actually happening
in the change on reforming police, specific examples when we are back in 30
MELBER: Welcome back to MSNBC`s THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.
And we`re tracking a lot of stories, including, as I mentioned, getting
into a measuring of how the protests are leading to direct action in
We have special guests on that.
But as I have told you I would do when warranted, we want to dip back in
live in Washington, D.C., in Lafayette Park, where MSNBC`s Garrett Haake is
monitoring a growing protest there – Garrett.
HAAKE: Hey, Ari.
Yes, it`s 6:30 now, which is about the time yesterday that we saw mounted
police from the U.S. federal Park Service come out onto the street. We have
not seen anything of the sort yet today. And I can tell you, they probably
have a harder time getting out on to the street today than they did
This crowd is massive here. It goes at least a block in every direction
that I can see, down H Street, on the north end of Lafayette Park, of
course, the famous park across the street from the White House, and down
the side streets around it, as far as we have been able to tell.
The park itself remains full of federal law enforcement officials who seem
to be just sort of on standby waiting. I don`t know for what. I have been
talking to the protesters out here all day. I have been watching all day. I
can tell you, this has been a totally peaceful protest up until this point.
The closest thing that I could describe to any kind of provocative act
might have been folks shaking the fence line up along the fence. You know,
this feels like maybe a broader cross-section of D.C. than we have seen
here in other days.
I think, though, the images that we have continued to see of these
protests, of the government`s response to them have inspired a lot of
people to come out here and be a part of this today on what is day four of
more or less constant protest presence here in Lafayette Park – Ari.
MELBER: Garrett Haake on the ground in Washington. And, as noted, we can
see around you and behind you, most individuals being orderly, being
peaceful, while we watch what will happen with the curfew. Thank you to
We will come back as warranted.
What we`re seeing right now does mark this full week in a row of protesters
taking to the streets, the eighth straight evening. And while there are
many issues, the focus, of course, we know, is demanding accountability and
reform for policing.
So, as we track these protests tonight, many of them moving through orderly
across cities, across marches, we also are doing something else that is
about the right now, and, quite frankly, it`s harder to do than just
watching feeds or videos or viral videos.
This is tracking the policy demands and results. So, let me go through a
few with you and then bring in our experts.
Number one, there is a bipartisan push now to reform local police and limit
the use of military gear in response to these protests. Number two, a
related effort to ban choke holds, this controversial tactic that was at
the center of deaths of Eric Garner – that was back in 2014 – and now
Number three, we`re seeing elected civilian leaders take a much stronger
line against their own police chiefs that are supposed to report, of
course, up and into civilian accountability. There are specific examples
far from Minnesota now. Take a Kentucky police chief who is out, which is
accountability for two officers who were involved in a fatal shooting at a
protest who didn`t activate their body cameras.
Number four, we`re seeing some concrete action taken by local prosecutors.
Look at Atlanta, where six officers are facing charges after tasing and
forcibly removing two college students from their car, video of that
incident posted online. Two of the officers were also fired.
These are just some of the incidents and the results that we are tracking.
I`m joined now by Jumaane Williams, who is in the center of all of this as
New York City`s public advocate. That is a position explicitly designed to
deal with and do oversight of the rest of New York City government. I`m
also joined by an expert we have used many times you will recognize, Marq
Claxton. He served as an NYPD detective, but he is director of political
affairs for the Black Law Enforcement Alliance, and brings a perspective of
both police experience and civil rights to all of this.
Good evening to both of you.
Let me start with you, Jumaane.
How are you measuring any steps and progress around the country for this?
JUMAANE WILLIAMS, NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC ADVOCATE: Well, thank you very much
for having me on.
My measure of progress is exactly what you`re talking about. And so often
the cry for calm during these measures is swift, it`s harsh, much swifter,
much harsher than the actions of actually doing something about what people
are asking for.
And so the cry has been no justice, no peace for a long time, it seems
everybody now wants peace with no justice. And so these bills and the
policies that you put forth should not have taken all of this unrest to the
simplest of these.
But these and many more are what people need. And I just have to add it`s
not just police. These people have been home seeing mostly black and brown
people dying from a pandemic. These people have seen black mothers`
mortality rate sky-high because people don`t believe their pain, or the
And so we have to remind folks that there is a cacophony of things that the
black community is dealing with as a drip, drip, drip. And, sometimes, the
drips have the bucket full and just flow over.
MELBER: Yes. All of that, I think, is part of this, contributes to the
environment people are operating in, the disparities, the injustice, the
Marq, what is your response to some of the measures we just outlined, which
are right now a direct response to the protests?
MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: I think those measures are
good steps forward.
And there are so many other additional measures that need to be taken, or
examined at least, by a whole group of individuals and interested parties,
those people who are, for example, part of the organic original protest
movement are related to the death of Mr. Floyd.
But I think whatever steps we take towards what would be considered police
reform, it will require that we first decide how we will begin to penalize
and punish those individual police officers who engage in criminal conduct,
whether or not you`re going to continue with state prosecutions, whether or
not there will be federal intervention automatically, or whether or not we
create a third system perhaps that`s fully independent of both federal and
state prosecutions and how that would work.
Because, until we get to the point where those individuals who commit these
egregious acts are penalized fully and prosecuted to the fullest extent of
the law, any additional reforms will be just mere window dressing, and not
necessarily as effective as we want them to be.
MELBER: I understand exactly what you`re saying, Marq, because – and we
have had these conversations on the program before, and they`re worth
digging back into.
You can have an abstract discussion. I will pick something very
controversial in law, the death penalty. You can have an abstract
discussion about whether the government should be executing people. And
there is a debate about that.
But, in America, that is a misleading debate to start it that way, because
the people who actually get execute ready overwhelmingly poor and
minorities. So, it`s not really a discussion about whether the government
should kill people. That`s in theory.
In practice, it`s, should you have a system that results in only killing
poor and minorities. And when you put the question that way, I think, Marq,
a lot of people would think about that and say, that seems unfair, as a
basic first-year law school kind of question.
I tee that up for you, Marq, on the controversial police tactic, because
NBC News was reporting in this article about these choke holds and how
they`re actually used; 44 people were rendered unconscious with neck
restraints over five years just in Minneapolis. Sixteen percent of the
incidents total resulted in that.
And I want to put up this pie chart here, briefly. We`re going to put up
this pie chart on who actually is subject to them. And you see right there
60 percent black suspects, Marq.
How should that inform the reality discussion? Because, in theory, it`s,
oh, what are the tools that police need? And police do need tools. And
then, in reality, it`s in that place and in many others, the tools are only
being primarily used on certain suspects, Marq.
I think the discussion, for example, on choke hold and choke hold usage can
lead us to a larger discussion that deals once again with reform. And there
is one component of many reform agendas.
I know my organization promoted this reform package that includes basically
a universal national professional standards, which will incorporate
training that each department receives, which would also incorporate clear
ideologies and philosophies of practice for law enforcement agencies.
So, as opposed to having one department as it is right now, one department
that is silent on choke holds, another department that bans – quote,
unquote – “choke holds,” another department that has a different
interpretation on what choke holds are, there is one single national
standard that law enforcement agencies, professional law enforcement
CLAXTON: So, I mean, that`s how I look at those issues relating to items
like such as choke holds and other uses of force.
There will always – all the data says that, if you examine it, blacks
receive the short end of the stick on all available data as it relates to
CLAXTON: … in this nation. And that has to change.
MELBER: Let me bring – and let me bring Jumaane back in briefly.
We`re looking at this Washington protest, which remains pretty orderly,
keeping an eye on that, as the curfew, though, is 20 minutes out.
Jumaane, in New York. I`m curious what you think about the challenge posed
there by what are, of course, Democrats. Bill de Blasio always said he was
a very progressive Democrat. And he has talked and worked on civil rights.
Whether people want to factor it in as relevant or not, he himself and his
campaigning and in public has invoked his interracial family.
His family has been out protesting, some of them. I say that all
respectfully, and yet New York is a place, as you know, where even when
there are – quote, unquote – “liberal pro-civil rights mayors,” there
still seem to be many problems with NYPD.
Do you view that as something de Blasio is ultimately answerable for?
WILLIAMS: I have to say, it`s been stunning to watch from people who say
they are different.
And curfews have a place. I was the first person in the city to say we need
to shut down for the coronavirus. Neither the mayor or the governor
listened. And now 30,000 people in New York state are dead.
And now, when we`re talking about black lives, the first thing folks want
to do about people who are protesting about overpolicing and laws that
cause interactions is give a curfew and other laws to cause interactions,
instead of saying, this is what I can do right now as mayor and governor by
executive order, this is what I`m doing, so people can get – so I`m
thankful for the City Council and for New York City for moving forward on
banning choke holds and other things.
But people across the country…
MELBER: But let me make sure – just because of my job – just my job to
make sure I`m hearing you right.
Are you saying, though, that you think de Blasio and Cuomo have overreacted
to trying to control the protests and should be doing more to do executive-
led reform now?
WILLIAMS: Of course. They have failed. It`s not like they`re overreacting.
The mayor failed from the beginning of this protest. The military might
that was shown at the beginning of this protest set the stage, needlessly
putting protesters in danger and officers for no reason.
The government coming in, with no plan of how to address what the
protesters are asking about, set a curfew that made it the worst night we
have seen so far.
And so it just behooves – and it boggles the mind of why everybody is
having a discussion about curfews and 4,000 additional police in New York
City, but not having the real discussion about, here is the plan,
protesters. We hear you. We hear your pain.
In New York City, the last time a curfew was used was 1943, when a white
police officer shot a black soldier. And so the only time we seem to care
about this stuff and the only thing that we seem to push is black lives
And so we have to have the hard discussion and real leadership in this city
and the state, because it is absent, and people – we said on the pandemics
that there will be human cost to the inaction.
And we`re seeing it now. And we`re saying now, there will be a cost to the
lack of real leadership in this city, in this state. So, we don`t want to
see the things that we will see. But we`re saying the best way to get at
this is to address the concerns of the people in the city, state and this
MELBER: Really appreciate that.
And I was asking you because I wanted to hear that specifically. A lot of
folks in the news, and sometimes we overemphasize the political or partisan
part. You`re talking about, obviously, other Democrats in New York, but,
really, your views of where, as you said Cuomo, and de Blasio, in your
Interesting to get that perspective, as an elected official, public
advocate in New York.
Jumaane Williams, Marq Claxton, thanks to both of you.
We`re keeping an eye, as viewers can see, on Washington, D.C., as the
We also have veterans reacting to Donald Trump`s threat to get the military
involved, and a lot more when we come back.
MELBER: There has been continued outrage after the president threatened to
send the U.S. military to American cities to deal with the protests.
Meanwhile, new video of military helicopters flying low in Washington
trying to also disperse protesters. Governors, though, saying they will
reject military inside the United States.
Congressman Seth Moulton is a former Marine. And he says Donald Trump is
basically turning to tyrant tools here. He joins me, the congressman, along
with Maya Wiley.
Congressman, explain your views on this.
rMD-BO_REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Well, the call that I made last night was
for our troops to be prepared to disobey the unlawful orders of our
commander in chief, because that`s where I see this heading.
Trump has used and abused the military in the past to push his political
agenda. And the fact that he has in a tweet called for troops to shoot on
civilians, the fact that he has now called for using our active-duty
military to suppress dissent at home among peaceful law-abiding Americans,
is a call for every young man and woman in uniform to remember that their
oath is to the Constitution, and those are the principles that they have to
MELBER: Given your service, I think people know what you have been willing
to do in the past here.
So you take these issues extremely seriously. How do you also balance
against overreacting to Donald Trump saying and threatening so many things,
just like during the start of the virus, when he said he would do things
that he didn`t have the power to do, and governors ignored him and life
How do you balance that in what is admittedly a difficult quandary?
MOULTON: I think the most dangerous thing question we can do is assume that
the president won`t actually do what he says he is going to do.
And time and again, what`s been worse about this – the worse thing about
this president is that he says terrible things and then actually does them.
And our troops have got to remain vigilant.
A lot of people don`t understand what it means to be in the military. And
people have often said to me that being in the military is just about
Well, that`s not right. Being in the military is about following lawful
MOULTON: … and having the moral courage to disobey unlawful orders, even
if they come from the commander in chief.
MELBER: For context, we`re keeping an eye on Boston, but I want to briefly
put up the Insurrection Act at a very basic level, Maya, because we all
learn as we go here.
And you hear a reference to this from the president online. Let`s take a
look here at when a president basically is supposed to use the Insurrection
Act, if we have that. We may not have it.
And I will read it.
It`s “at the request of a state to enforce federal law or to protect civil
I`m curious what you think about the obvious – here it is. So, there you
I leave it the up for the screen for a second while you explain, Maya. To
protect civil rights would seem like, of course, the very thing that so
many in the streets are accusing Trump and his allies of opposing.
WILEY: Yes, and let`s even step back a minute before that. `
The structure of our democracy and the way we protect against tyranny by a
president is that there are powers, including domestic law enforcement,
that exist at the state and local level, not the federal level, and that we
have created essentially a firewall between the military and domestic
issues intentionally to ensure that a president cannot misuse his power.
And what we are hearing from this president – and I think Mr. Moulton is
exactly right is, what we are hearing is a challenge to the fundamental
rules and values of the structure of our democracy that says, no, the
president can`t use the power of the office to decide when the people
exercising First Amendment rights should be shut down by a use of military
And this is why our military leaders themselves are expressing deep concern
with the president`s statement. So, I think it`s absolutely appropriate to
say, you know, there`s no insurrection here.
This is people exercising their constitutional rights. And to the extent we
have seen violations of law – and let`s face it, we have.
WILEY: That is in looting. That is if someone throws a projectile. Of
course, that is a violation of law.
There has not been a request or even an indication that law enforcement
can`t handle that. In fact, we have had too many examples of law
enforcement going beyond any aggression that`s come from demonstrators
already at the local level.
WILEY: We don`t need to fan the flames and endanger our citizenry and
endanger our constitutional order.
MELBER: Well, and that goes to the understanding that citizens have during
a very difficult time of, what are we seeing?
Congressman, I`m going to ask you a question. We`re going to go into the
full video here of what we are seeing in Boston, this overhead shot. But
viewers will be able to hear you as we look.
I think we can go – we will go full on this. We`re also looking at Boston.
And then I think we have some of the Lincoln Memorial as well, where
there`s some pretty striking imagery, but, for the most part – and, again,
we report on this, Congressman, so people can see with their own eyes.
Maya mentioned the incidents that we also reported, where there was
lawbreaking and violence. But the majority, day after day, that we have
seen, when you count up – for example, we had a count earlier this week of
roughly 4,500 federal arrests around the whole country, but hundreds and
hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who were largely orderly, who
largely dispersed for curfews, who largely were out during the day.
And so, Congressman, as we look here at this overhead shot of what is a
very large amassing of amassing of individuals in Boston, your thoughts, as
a member of Congress, a co-equal branch of government, about what it means
for the government to understand and respect free speech rights and
peaceful protest, which inherently protest some of what you all do in the
Congress, et cetera.
MOULTON: Let me just share my thoughts, as an American and as a patriot.
We are witnessing patriotism here. This is a country that was founded by
dissenters. It was founded to expand freedom. And it`s committed to
principle – to the principle of equality.
And yet we have a president who`s trying to suppress dissent. He`s trying
to curtail freedom. He`s attacking those who are fighting for equality.
What you`re witnessing right now on the video are photos, are videos of
patriotic Americans. They`re doing the most American thing we know, which
is standing up for our constitutional rights, advancing the rights and
freedoms of others.
This is a time when we all want to be with the protesters, when we want to
be on their side, on the side of our flag, on the side of our Constitution,
on the right side of history.
MOULTON: It (AUDIO GAP) my heart to see these videos, Ari.
This is what America…
MELBER: Well, and, Congressman, I`m running up against the end of my time.
You could call that my television curfew here.
But you have made really important points, as a person, as I mentioned,
who`s in the government, who is facing these protests partly as well, but
you`re saying they`re patriotic. You`re saying we should respect and
listen. That`s very interesting.
I appreciate Congressman Moulton and Maya Wiley. Thanks to both of you
MOULTON: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: We will be right back.
MELBER: Thanks for watching THE BEAT tonight. We will be back at 6:00 p.m.
Keep it right here on MSNBC.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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