Minneapolis protests TRANSCRIPT: 5/29/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests:
Angela Conley, Val Demings, Melvin Carter, Vanita Gupta
Transcript:

 

 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”: This is our moonshot, Ashish, we got to

do this. Let`s get the schools, get them back into the schools. Love my

kids, but let`s get them – get them back into the schools.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

HAYES: Ashish Jha, thank you –

 

DR. ASHISH JHA, HARVARD GLOBAL INSTITUTE: Can`t even keep our schools open,

what are you doing? So –

 

HAYES: Yes, thank you. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

 

JHA: Thank you.

 

HAYES: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.

 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much

appreciated.

 

Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour.

 

As we come on the air tonight, a mandatory curfew has just this minute gone

into effect, for the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, in

Minnesota. This is a live shot of what we are looking at tonight in

Minneapolis. And so, the curfew is not having its desired effect, at least

yet.

 

The decision to announce this curfew to put these cities effectively under

lockdown overnight tonight follows three straight nights of anguished and

increasingly violent protests during which local authorities have struggled

to maintain any semblance of control. It also comes on the same day that

both murder and manslaughter charges were announced against the police

officer who was seen kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, 46-year-old

unarmed black man, father of two, who died after repeatedly pleading for

his life from that officer and that officer`s colleagues on the scene. He

was saying explicitly he could not breathe.

 

Again, the officer seen kneeling on Mr. Floyd`s neck has been charged with

murder and manslaughter today. He is in custody. He has been arrested.

 

State and local authorities are apparently hoping that by imposing this

mandatory curfew, a fairly drastic measure tonight, I think they`re hoping

they will be able to lower the collective blood pressure in Minneapolis and

in the Minnesota capital of St. Paul, neighboring city.

 

We have learned late tonight that a number of neighboring cities and

counties around Minneapolis and St. Paul proper have also instituted

curfews along the same lines as what we`re seeing in the twin cities

tonight so it will that whole region of the state under what is effectively

a very strict stay-at-home order tonight. As I say those curfews went into

effect just moments ago, about two minutes ago, at the top of the hour,

9:00 p.m. eastern, 8:00 p.m. local time. The curfew extends from now until

6:00 a.m. local time tomorrow morning.

 

Both St. Paul and Minneapolis and as I mentioned again, surrounding

counties and towns, have announced that this curfew will be in effect

tonight, again 8:00 p.m. local time, 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, and we

believe in Minneapolis and St. Paul that will be in effect again tomorrow

night, same time, same restrictions.

 

According to the public orders that detail the terms of the curfew, while

it`s in effect, people are banned from traveling on public streets or

gathering in public places. The exemptions are people traveling to and from

work during those hours. First responders, members of the media, people

fleeing danger, or seeking urgent care, also people who are homeless and

therefore have nowhere to go, they are exempt from the order, too, but

otherwise, nobody is supposed to be out on the streets as of now.

 

Violations of the curfew are punishable by 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine

but it now becomes an acute and present question as to how this curfew will

be enforced. Earlier tonight, Minnesota`s governor, Tim Walz, signed his

own executive order expanding on the guidance issued by the mayors of

Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minneapolis and St. Paul. He said peace officers

will be on hand to enforce the curfew and to arrest people who don`t comply

with it. That term, peace officers, allows the governor to sort of ally the

specific question of which law enforcement and public safety agencies are

going to be enforcing this curfew and how they`re going to do so. There are

certainly a number of different authorities on the ground that we`ve been

seeing over the course of today and into tonight, including the National

Guard, out on the streets now.

 

National Guard interestingly put out public guidance today, reminding the

public that they`re distinguishable from local law enforcement. You can

tell they`re National Guard and not local police because they`re wearing

military camouflage fatigues but because they wear U.S. army and air force

patches and guardsmen and guards women have the U.S. flag on their sleeve.

In a city burning with rage over the actions of the local police force, a

different armed force on the street amid all of those protesters, wants to

be sure people know that they`re not the cops who people are so mad at

right now.

 

The National Guard is not supposed to be used to arrest people in the

streets tonight. They are charged specifically with protecting the state

capitol building, should protests devolve there in St. Paul. They are

providing security for two different law enforcement buildings in St. Paul,

so officers can basically stay on the job.

 

The National Guard is also tasked with escorting fire department personnel.

So the fire department can respond to fires and other emergencies

throughout the area, firefighters have been attacked when they have turned

up to put out some of the many, many building fires that have been sent in

both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

 

Earlier today, as I mentioned, the Hennepin County district attorney

announced that the officer seen pinning George Floyd to the ground with his

knee, that officer has been charged. Third degree murder and second-degree

manslaughter are the charges. Those charges hold maximum penalties of 25

years and ten years in prison respectively.

 

The criminal complaint released along with the charges shows that the

officer or alleges that the officer had his knee on George Floyd`s neck for

close to nine minutes, eight minutes and 46 seconds. According to the

complaint, the officer allegedly held that position for nearly three

minutes after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive and stopped moving, even after

one of the other officers on the scene reportedly, allegedly, felt George

Floyd`s wrist for a pulse, and found none. Nevertheless, the officer who

was charged today, according to the criminal complaint, kept his knee on

Floyd`s neck for more than two minutes after that time, after they found

that he did not have a pulse.

 

The county attorney who brought these charges today says the other three

officers involved in the arrest are still under investigation. And that

charges against them are anticipated as well.

 

But today`s charges against the officer at the lead of this arrest comes

less than 24 hours after that same county attorney`s office said they

needed more time to build their case, to make sure that these charges were

warranted. That announcement, the failure to charge yesterday, seemed to

provide accelerant to the protest last night in the Twin Cities, that are

now spreading throughout the country, it means we really don`t know what to

expect tonight in the twin cities but again, a mandatory curfew is in

effect in Minneapolis and in St. Paul and the surrounding counties and

towns.

 

I want to go to now live to my colleague and my friend Ali Velshi who was

with us last night when things turned very ugly in the third police

precinct and narrated through that as officers through flash grenades and

tear gas.

 

Ali, what are you seeing now and where are you?

 

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Tear gas canisters are all over the place,

Rachel. There`s been tear gas deployed. The police have spent the entire

day cordoning off this area, putting the barriers in place.

 

And they have now been pushed all the way back here. You can see the crowd,

constantly running back, and then pushing forward again. There are people

moving forward in this crowd, Rachel.

 

In tear gas, without gas protection. I got to tell you, just to be able to

breathe, a little bit of the gas gets in your skin, there are people there,

they are exposed to tear gas. We don`t know what the end game is here.

 

At about ten minutes before the curfew, there are announcements that said

you are in violation of your right to assemble, and unlawful violation and

will be arrested and police walked back together. And now, they are

completely disengaged. And they have gone back toward the overpass.

 

This is the police station that was taken last night. The police put

barricades in front of it. Put the fence back up. And now it is all gone

again. They`re back, the protesters are now here again, the police are

flashing red lights and you can see the tear gas in the air right now.

 

So we`re not sure what they`re planning to do. This is a standoff now. The

crowd has become much, much bigger over the last 90 minutes and we now have

the National Guard and the police working together firing tear gas

canisters which are still hot to the touch into the crowd – Rachel.

 

MADDOW: Ali, you can tell us anything about how the national guard and

police are working together? Are they a totally integrated force? Are they

separate? And what kind of numbers are you able to see them out there on

the streets tonight?

 

VELSHI: So, there are no Minneapolis police in front of us. It`s only state

police, some other police forces and the National Guard. Typically, the

National Guard has been at the sides and to the back, but in the last hour,

as protesters started to approach the police, and integrated their lines,

the National Guard closed ranks with them and filled in the spaces in

between.

 

But it was obvious that the crowd has been sent the message. They will not

disperse. And they didn`t wait until 8:00 local time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. It

was about ten minutes before that. They`re firing the tear gas began and

the police and the National Guard retreated.

 

Now, again, we don`t know where they`re going. We don`t know what is

happening here. We`re trying to be as close to it, and not being in the

middle of it too much but people are not being deterred, Rachel. They are

walking toward tear gas right now, which last night they were deterred by.

So something has happened. The crowd keeps on going and we can turn around

and see people behind us, hundreds of people streaming toward us.

 

So what looked like a situation that the authorities had tried to get under

control, for much of the day, allowing firefighters in to put out the

fires, that had ended. And look at this, Rachel, it`s not, it`s not a

protest, it`s a march, it`s a slow march. And we`re not seeing any violence

right now.

 

But they`re walking backward, then they go toward the authorities. And that

round of tear gas is basically at the demarcation line. Behind that, are

the National Guard and the police, on the other side of the protesters,

Rachel.

 

MADDOW: Ali, let me ask you, are the police and the National Guard, as they

are there, are they defending a position, or are they trying to prevent

marchers from going to a specific place? Or is this essentially them trying

to create a perimeter to encircle the protesters?

 

VELSHI: We had the perimeter all day. They had managed, it seemed like the

perimeter was around the police station, keep everybody two or three blocks

away from it because that this is the center of activity for several days,

this is the police station, in which those police officers involved in

George Floyd`s death were based.

 

That, I don`t know what the objective is now. The point was, that they had

a curfew, at 8:00 p.m. local time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, after which time you

were not going to be out and you were going to be arrested. It`s not clear

now what`s happening. Something has developed over here. It is not clear

what`s happening.

 

We were surprised to the National Guard and the police, completely retreat.

And walk backward entirely. It is not clear what they`re defending at this

point. It does seem clear that the strategic decision was made yesterday,

it has carried on to today, that police and the National Guard are not

engaging with the protesters. And the protesters are giving out wooden

shields to people to defend themselves against the police but we have seen

no interaction between protesters and police despite a lot of taunting and

agitation and hostility today, there is no direct contact.

 

So, this is what`s happening right now. At the moment, no direct contact.

But the protesters seem to be moving forward. You can hear the loudspeaker.

Just listen to that.

 

Saying you`re in violation. And you will be arrested. But there is no

apparent arrests being made right now. You can see the tear gas becoming

quite thick. Without a gas mask, this is very hard to exist in. That is

what the police are hoping that the gas will stop people.

 

MADDOW: Let me ask you, Ali, I want to give you a chance to catch your

breath and get your bearings in terms of your crew, but I`m going to ask

one other thing before I let you do that, which is over the past three

days, what we have been seen and what we`ve been able to describe is,

basically, big peaceful protests, that didn`t seem like they were heading

toward violence, every day, on Tuesday night, on Wednesday nice, on

Thursday night, and until usually late at night, usually after dark,

something clicked and things got much more confrontational.

 

I`m getting a different vibe from watching you right now in terms of how

confrontational it is already, and it doesn`t feel like it`s shifting from

one type of protest to another. That`s my view from here. But what`s your

sense on the ground of that?

 

VELSHI: Look, there has been certainly some of that, most of the day, it

was protests, speeches, definitely some animosity between the police and

the protests, and in the last hour or so, it has changed. People are

talking about tactics, about how they can stand together, should the

police, what to do, what not to do, they are handing out milk jugs, which

people believe pouring on your face after tear gas will help mitigate the

effects.

 

There is definitely a sense over the last hour or so that this is going to

be confrontational. And we`ve got masks to protect ourselves. But if I took

this off for ten seconds, it would be burning my eyes and my throat. And

that`s what you`re seeing a lot of the protesters are withstanding and

literally going out with milk cans, (INAUDIBLE) to protect themselves.

 

So, the protesters seem to be indicating that they`re not shying away from

a confrontation now, but you can see now people are streaming in this

direction again because of the heavy crowd of tear gas. Unlike last night,

Rachel, which is windy, there is very little wind here. So, this tear gas

is hanging here, and people are having to move away in order to get out of

it.

 

MADDOW: Yes, and as the police continue to use more and more and as that

gets thicker and thicker, that may make it a more hostile event to keep

standing there especially with cloth masks.

 

Ali, keep you and your crew safe tonight. We`ll be checking in with you.

Ping us as soon as you need us to get to you, OK, my friend.

 

Ali Velshi on the scene for us tonight in Minneapolis.

 

What he is describing in terms of the use of tear gas, obviously, we can,

there is not smoke, this is tear gas deployed by the police per Ali`s

reporting, and for that duration of the time that we were talking to Ali

about, we saw a lot of people, while the tear gas was lighter, moving in

that area, with either just cloth masks on or no masks on, and now, it does

seem to be having the effect that the police were trying to create, which

was to render that part of the street as a place where people can`t stand

and can`t stay.

 

Again, within the last 15 minutes, Minneapolis St. Paul, surrounding towns

and counties, have gone into what is supposed to a legally binding curfew,

where nobody is supposed be on the street. Between 8:00 p.m. local time and

6:00 a.m., local time tomorrow. There are obviously still a lot of people

out on the street.

 

Joining us now is Angela Conley. She serves as a member of the Hennepin

County Board of Commissioners. I should tell you that she was the first

African American commissioner ever elected to that board. She represents

the neighborhood where George Floyd was killed. She also lives just five

blocks away from the place that he was killed specifically.

 

Commissioner Conley, it is a real honor to have you with us tonight. Thank

you for taking the time.

 

ANGEL CONLEY, HENNEPIN COUNTY BOARD OF COMISSIONERS: Thank you so much for

having me.

 

MADDOW: Let me just ask you about the immediate situation right now, we`re

about 15 or 16 minutes into what is supposed to be a curfew on the streets

of the Twin Cities tonight. Obviously, a lot of protesters are still out,

and still very fired up, and seeming to be showing no intention of leaving.

 

What`s your reaction, your feeling about the curfew tonight and your

expectations for the enforcement of that, and what that might mean over the

course of these next few hours?

 

CONLEY: Well, I think the first thing that is on my mind is whether this is

going to lead to mass arrests. And what we don`t need is hundreds of people

being arrested, being shot at, because of the force that we see out there

right now, with the National Guard and the state patrol.

 

What I`m also concerned about is that on the corner of 38th and Chicago,

five blocks from my front door, where George Floyd was murdered, we have

people who have been holding that space, it is a sacred space right now,

and have been holding that intersection down. These are people who are

peaceful, who are there to pray, who are there to contribute to his

memorial, and to sing and to feed people who come by.

 

So there is a lot of community building that is happening throughout the

city, aside from what we`re seeing right now, that I want to see protected.

Overnight, all week, 24 hours, people have been protecting this space on

38th and Chicago. And I don`t want that to be disrupted either. I don`t

want to see those people face a police presence, because so far, there

hasn`t been a police presence on that corner. And that corner is very

significant to our community right now, and we want to keep it safe. We

want to keep it that way.

 

MADDOW: Let me ask, as the county commissioner who represents the part of

the city where that has happened, has there been any – have you been able

to try to negotiate or open any sort of dialogue about carving out that

space, as you described it, that sacred space, as an exemption from the

curfew, or at least coming to some accommodation about perhaps allowing

people to stay there, in the kind of environment that you were just

describing, peaceful environment that you were just describing, even as

every place else is locked down with the curfew.

 

CONLEY: Right. You know, I`m not expecting any special treatment. I have

just got off the phone with Mayor Frey before, before this segment here,

and my ask with that, there are people who are peacefully demonstrating,

peacefully expressing their grievances, with their government, as

protected, and it`s not, you know, it`s not violent. It`s not aggressive.

This is people showing love for each other.

 

And that intersection, five blocks away, with I`ve been, all week long, is

not a threat to the city of Minneapolis, it`s not a threat to armed forces.

It`s not a threat. It`s love of community.

 

I want to see that space protected. And I don`t want to see any squad cars

show up and intimidate people that are mourning at that intersection right

now.

 

MADDOW: There`s been a lot of national speculation and anticipation about

how the news of the arrest of this officer and now murder charges against

this officer might be greeted, how that news might be received on the

streets of Minneapolis, and particularly in your community, literally, as

you say, five blocks, you are talking to us right now, five blocks from

where this killing happened.

 

What do you think has been the impact of the announcement of that arrest,

the announcement of those charges? What`s your reaction to looking at that

criminal complaint and knowing that these charges have now been filed?

 

CONLEY: So what I`ll say to that is immediately, after the charges were

filed, I knew that we were missing three other accessories, to murder, and

so what the community has been saying, this isn`t justice, of course, he

should have been arrested, because we all saw on video that he murdered a

man, but there are they other people who are also responsible for his

death. And so unless all four officers are brought to justice, it`s not

considered justice in our community.

 

We need to be able to see charges brought on all four officers who were

involved in the brutal killing, the brutal murder of George Floyd.

Minnesota statute says that people who are with someone who commits a

crime, such as murder, can be considered accessories to that murder, an

because of which, you know, because of that very definition, they should

receive the same punishment as the officer who had his knee dug into the

throat of George Floyd.

 

So, while we see an arrest, as a first step and progress, it is certainly

not enough. Our community will not be satisfied until all of those

officers, all four of those officers are arrested, charged, and convicted.

 

MADDOW: While we`ve been talking with you tonight, we`re showing live

images of some of what is happening in the streets, we are seeing police

using what appears to be very large amounts of tear gas, to try to disperse

very large numbers of people, who are not willing to be disbursed tonight.

And this happens in the context of this new curfew, but this also happens

as night four of what has been just absolutely anguish, and at times

violent and at times dangerous very impassioned protests.

 

I just want to ask you, while I have you here, if you have words tonight

for the people of your city, for the people of your community, who are in

pain, and angered and also perhaps worried about what they`re seeing in the

streets tonight.

 

CONLEY: I want everyone to know that they are so loved. And there are so

many people that are looking out for them, and thinking of them, across the

globe. We are in mourning. We are (AUDIO GAP) in various stages of grief,

we hear you.

 

And I want people to think about what happened Monday night, what happened

to all of our psyches, what happened to our mental health, what happened to

the families of George Floyd, and what happened to George Floyd, and know

that is murder, and we want swift justice.

 

(AUDIO GAP)

 

MADDOW: We just lost the feed from Commissioner Angela Conley at an

incredibly inopportune time. Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley

we`re just speaking with. I`m sorry we lost that feed. She is the county

commissioner who represents the area where George Floyd was killed.

 

She lives and was speaking to us from about five blocks from that location,

raising an interesting point tonight, that in the context of this curfew,

which we have assuming that local authorities are trying to enforce here,

there`s supposed to be a curfew that should result in nobody being on the

streets in Minneapolis/St. Paul about 25 minutes ago, she is raising the

issue about the fact that community members have created a space at the

location where George Floyd died, and they have been holding that

intersection peacefully, as a nonviolent site, as what she describes,

basically a sacred site.

 

And there`s, to the extent that the curfew is going to result in a removal

of those people who are holding that space, that could also not be a

flashpoint but could be an important psychological touchstone in terms of

what we`re going to watch happen tonight.

 

While we are seeing these confrontations tonight, we`re seeing a lot of use

of tear gas tonight. I believe that we can, correct me if I`m wrong,

control room, I believe we can go to bring in Morgan Chesky, if he`s

available to us? We spoke with Ali Velshi moments ago just on the edges of

this tear glass cloud from the state police and national guardsmen who are

out trying to clear the streets.

 

Morgan Chesky is NBC News correspondent. He was also on the ground in

Minneapolis.

 

Morgan, tell us where you are and what you`re seeing.

 

MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Rachel, we are back, a block away

from the third precinct police station. That has been the epicenter for all

of this chaos the past several days. The curfew will effect, as you

mentioned, at 8:00 clock tonight.

 

But as you can see, people are staying put. There are several hundred

people are gathering here in fact, and that is tear gas canisters being

fired this way.

 

(INAUDIBLE)

 

CHESKY: That crowd continuing to move down the roadway here. This is

actually moving away from the area where they were last night.

 

So, Rachel, we do know that 8:00 curfew is set into effect to last until

6:00 a.m. in the morning. However, at this point in time, any actual

enforcement besides tear gas canisters has yet to be seen – Rachel.

 

MADDOW: Morgan, we can only occasionally hear you over the ambient noise of

what is going on around you. If you and your crew could just, if you can

hear me, if you and your crew could just do a little bit of a 360, or a

270, and show us a little bit, ambiently, in terms of what we are seeing

around you. If you could just spin, if your camera operator, thank you very

much, so we can see a little bit more about what is happening besides you.

 

We`re trying to get a sense of the volume of people on the street, where

people are coming from, where they`re trying to head to, and where they are

ultimately going to run up against those police. That`s helpful for us

getting a sense of seeing what is happening there.

 

Again, what we are watching for here. I was able to describe this earlier,

and I can`t – I mean, me narrating this for you, you probably understand

as best as I can, but that – what you can see there is that sort of

underpass there, we believe there is where both state police and national

guard have essentially formed a line to not have people passing. And this

is not far from the third precinct in Minneapolis that we saw attacked,

overrun and ultimately set aflame last night.

 

But these protesters are essentially walking away from the precinct house

toward police and national guardsmen and women who are out in the streets

tonight supposedly imposing this curfew but as of yet ineffectually.

 

Let`s ask the control room now, do we have Congresswoman Demings who we

could talk to now? Is she standing by? Can we bring her into this

conversation?

 

This is the perfect time. I`m honored to be able to bring into this

conversation, Congresswoman Val Demings, who has a decades long career

under her belt as a police officer, culminating in her time as the chief of

police, for the great city of Orlando, Florida.

 

Congresswoman Demings, it is an honor to have you here tonight. Thank you

for taking the time.

 

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Hi, Rachel. Thank you for the invitation.

 

MADDOW: Let me ask you, from where you are, speaking to us tonight, are you

able to see the same images and hear these same things that we`re able to

see that we`re broadcasting right now while we`re talking to you?

 

DEMINGS: I certainly am. I`ve been watching for a while. And it`s just a

sad time for America, as you well know, but you know, Rachel, as I`ve been

watching these images and certainly, I`ve seen, over the last three days,

really, what was been going on, you know, there`s a quote from Dr. King

that says a riot is the language of the unheard.

 

And so, you know, so people will take to the street, and do what they feel

they need to do, to be heard, and to be noticed, and to get attention in a

very serious matter. What happened to Mr. Floyd should not have happened.

And so, it`s a sad time, but these are familiar images.

 

MADDOW: Let me ask you, from a policing perspective, if you could just

reflect for us the challenges of what`s happening in these images, showing

these live images constantly from Minneapolis right now where our

correspondents are in the midst of this. We also just show some images

moments ago, those were also live images from Atlanta.

 

As a former police chief of a very good-sized American city, thinking about

the challenges of trying to enforce a curfew tonight that they have put in

place in the Twin Cities, thinking about the challenges of trying to

enforce some sort of order in cities that are lit up right now and enraged,

and where they have been multiple nights and at times violent protests,

what do you think we should take into these as national principles in terms

of effective and justice-based policing?

 

DEMINGS: Well, Rachel, you know the safety and security of individuals is

the top concern tonight, and during this time in our nation. And I do think

it is important to make sure that people are safe and secure, but that

they`re also permitted to peacefully and lawfully demonstrate their

frustration, express their views – and really, you know, we put plans in

place all the time, but every plan should be flexible and I think should be

fluid.

 

What happened a couple of days ago, as I said, was a tragedy, that should

not have happen, and it`s painfully familiar from an incident that occurred

in New York not too many years ago. I do like the idea of designating a

location that has significant meaning for individuals to peacefully be able

to gather and express their First Amendment rights. As long as it`s done

lawfully, peacefully, and without a threat to human life, and so, I know

that the city has taken the steps to, you know, based on the circumstances

that they have there on the ground, but I do think they should consider how

can they allow the protesters to, obviously who are very frustrated, with

good reason, to be able to protest, but do it safely, and peacefully.

 

MADDOW: We are seeing fraught moments of confrontation right now in

Atlanta. These live shots that we`re showing, protesters, eyeball to

eyeball, right up in the face of riot police – police officers in riot

gear, with their face masks. It`s – I mean, part of what is going on here

is that we are looking through this with two different eyes, one of which

is about this incredible pain and grief and outrage in our country and the

danger of these – the danger some of these protests that have been

violent, we`re also looking at through another eye that sees this in terms

of the ongoing pandemic, and people`s risk of infection, and whether or not

people are wearing masks and what masks mean in this context.

 

Given the stakes and given the anxiety here, when the president effectively

threatened military violence against protesters today, when he said what he

said online, about looting and shooting, and then in the same breath talked

about calling in the military, to deal with protests, I have to ask your

reaction to that, and if you think that might make things worse tonight?

 

DEMINGS: Rachel, this president has had opportunity after opportunity to

rise to an occasion in this country, and he`s failed every time. And yet

again, he`s demonstrated that he is totally unfit for the office that he

holds.

 

As we`re going through this public health crisis, with COVID-19, as we

certainly all are watching and grieving with the Floyd family, America is

on fire right now. And the president of the United States is walking around

with gasoline.

 

Presidents during these times are supposed to address the nation, and

exhibit strong leadership, and be a unifier, and a bridge-builder, and he`s

supposed to do so in a compassionate and caring way, expressing his

sympathy and empathy, for the loss that has occurred, and he just cannot.

He`s incapable of rising to the occasion. So what he did today to suggest

that property is more valuable than human life is disgraceful.

 

MADDOW: Florida Congresswoman Val Demings, former police chief of Orlando,

Florida, Congressman Demings, thank you very much for being with us

tonight. You`ve got really unique insight, and it`s an honor to have you

here.

 

DEMINGS: Thank you so much, Rachel. Take care.

 

MADDOW: I would be remiss if I did not mention that Congressman Demings has

also been reported to be under consideration as a possibility vice

presidential running mate for Vice President Joe Biden and his presidential

campaign this fall.

 

As we`ve been watching these live images tonight from the Twin Cities, from

Minneapolis, and St. Paul, we`ve also started to look around at cities

around the country that are also having some pretty intense protests

tonight.

 

We just saw a lot of footage from Atlanta, where there is intense standoff

going on between armed riot police and protesters, who are eyeball to

eyeball with them right now.

 

This is Sacramento, California, the capital city of California, where we`re

seeing protest.

 

We`re also keeping an eye on cities around the country tonight. There were

significant protests in Louisville, Kentucky, last night, in denier,

Colorado, and a number of other cities. We`re going to be watching these as

they continue to unfold.

 

What these protests are, in some cases, for example, in Louisville, last

night, that was a protest about a young woman, a young African-American

woman, who was killed in her home by Louisville police, several months ago.

Obviously, that is a protest that dovetails with these concerns about

George Floyd`s death, in Minneapolis.

 

Protests are taking on local grievances that are parallel with the

grievances of the community in Minneapolis that is grieving George Floyd.

And so, these protests are essentially in solidarity, I think you can see

this as a another night of national protests but in so many cities in this

country, there are individual local people who have been killed by police

who are being mourned and grieved, and whose deaths are being grieved with

local anger that is specific to the dynamics in those communities. And that

is going to fuel a lot of what happens both tonight and I think through the

weekend and in coming days.

 

I want to bring now into the conversation our friend Ali Velshi who is –

excuse me, let me ask the control room, do you guys – is Ali available?

OK.

 

I have to ask you at home to forgive me. This is a developing story. Ali,

tell me what`s going on right now and what you`re seeing.

 

VELSHI: I have my mask off, as you can see. There are protesters in front

of me, moving, more than a mile from where we started, there is no tear gas

to be seen, there are no police to be seen, and there is no National Guard

to be seen. For whatever has happened here, that day-long effort to

establish a perimeter is gone, the effort to maintain a curfew at 8:00 p.m.

our time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, has failed. These protesters now in a much

larger numbers than we saw earlier today, and quite possibly than I saw

last night are just moving along, in the direction that the police and the

National Guard retreated.

 

There is no, we don`t see police on high ground, we saw them earlier on a

bridge, we don`t see that anymore. So, it is unclear what the plan is,

these people are just walking at the moment. It is unclear whether the city

has a plan to enforce this curfew.

 

There were conditioned announcements while I was on the air with you, from

the police saying that you`re in violation of the curfew, and you will be

arrested. They do not appear to have been any arrests made. There do not

appear to be any confrontations with police.

 

So, we`re well behind the line. But we`re getting up to the front of it,

and there is no police presence here, Rachel.

 

MADDOW: So just to be clear, Ali, so I understand what you`re sighing,

where you`re walking right now is past the point that police and the

national guard appeared to be defending and pushing people back from when

we were talking to you moments ago. They left. And so, the crowd is just

continuing in the direction from which the guard and police were retreated?

 

VELSHI: We`re half a mile from where we were the last time that you and I

talked. And we are probably a full mile from where the police have been

defending their line all day. And there seems to be no slowing up. There is

no sign of tear gas. There are no more flash bangs. The last explosion of

something I heard was over ten minutes ago.

 

So, again, unclear whether these protesters are just walking to show that

they are not going to pay attention to this curfew unless three more

arrests are made, that seems to be the sentiment that is growing here, or

they`re being able to tell the police and the National Guard that your

curfew isn`t going to work.

 

So at the moment, people are just walking, it seems at this moment, to have

broken up as a protest, it`s a walk. People are walking. And not being

stopped by police. Not being stopped by National Guard. Keeping an eye out

just to see, but there is not any police or official presence around,

Rachel.

 

MADDOW: Ali Velshi, we will stick with you over the course of this hour.

Keep us apprised, my friend.

 

Ali, again, in the streets of Minneapolis right now.

 

I want to bring into the conversation right now the mayor of the great

American city of St. Paul, Minnesota, Melvin Carter.

 

Mayor Carter is born and raised in St. Paul, served on the city council. He

was elected as city`s first African-American mayor three years ago in 2017.

 

Mr. Mayor, it is an incredibly difficult night in your city. Thank you for

taking the time to be with us for a couple of minutes.

 

MAYOR MELVIN CARTER, ST. PAUL, MN: Thank you so much. It is an incredibly

difficult week. It is an incredibly difficult year in our city and in our

country right now.

 

MADDOW: Let me ask you about the immediate situation on the streets right

now. You and your fellow mayor of Minneapolis, Mayor Frey, announced

curfews today, that would have gone into effect within the past hour, and

should have kept people off the streets by the letter of the you can few

until 6:00 a.m. local tomorrow morning, and people are clearly in the

street.

 

How is this going to work? What do you anticipate? How is it going to be

enforced, if it is?

 

CARTER: You know, we`re looking at that right now. Obviously, there is an

enormous amount of rage, the scenes that you`re seeing in Minneapolis and

across the country right now, reflecting an enormous amount of rage. I want

to acknowledge understandable rage at this disgusting video of the killing

of George Floyd. The knowledge that he`s not the first person, he`s not the

first man, he`s not the first name, he`s not the first hashtag, and this is

the first time we changed justice for somebody, and not knowing that we

have the confidence, based on any historical fact, that somebody is going

to be accountable in our court and through our judicial system for that.

 

We`re seeing an enormous amount of rage. Unfortunately, it is manifesting

in some horribly destructive and horribly negative ways that don`t help us

build the type of future that we want for our families and our children.

Our goals are really paramount right now. We have been working last night

and throughout the day today, through our law enforcement, and community

partners to both preserve the right for those protesters, the people who

want to peacefully shout to the rooftops that George Floyd should still be

alive, that those officers should be in jail and then we have to do

everything we can to prevent this from ever happening again, and we want to

do that peacefully, we want to protect their right to peacefully say those

things. We want to protect the life and health and public safety, and

ensure that we are avoiding human injury, and any chance that we can get,

and those two things have to go together.

 

We`re working with our police officers, we`re working with our national

guard, our first responders, to be able to implement the executive orders

that we put into place, I think with some knowledge that not everybody is

going to know about it, when we first, on this first day of implementation.

And there will be some people, as you`re saying, who are going to ignore

it. Hopefully, it gives our police officers, law enforcement agency, and

first responders another tool to use, to help us restore calm in our

cities.

 

MADDOW: It`s not just some people, Mr. Mayor. There`s more people out than

at this time tonight, than there may have been this time last night,

according to our correspondents on the ground. I mean, if the curfew can`t

be enforced, without massive confrontation, will you abandon it? Should you

abandon it?

 

CARTER: You know, I won`t try to speculate on any of those things, you`re

right there, is a lot of people out, there is a lot of anger, and that

anger is spilling over, and we`re seeing, hopefully, it is mitigated a

little bit, by the one officer who was arrested today, and taken into

custody. We all know there were four officers involved. And we want to see

all four of them held accountable for their actions. It`s going to be

difficult to quell some of that anger that exists across our country, and

in Minneapolis right now, until we start to see that when something as

egregious, something as blatant, something as obvious and something as

well-documented as Mr. Floyd`s death happens, that somebody is going to be

held accountable.

 

We`re using all of the tools that we have available to us and at some point

this challenge that has included deaths nationwide, over the course of at

least the last decade, but the truth is, the only thing that is changed in

the last decade is camera phones, so our grandmothers an aunties will tell

us this is happening for generations. This anger is boiling over and it`s

going to be hard for any American mayor singlehandedly to stop it, outside

of us figuring out as a nation how we ensure that we`re addressing not only

the how people are protesting but the why people are protesting as well.

 

MADDOW: Well, we have been talking, while we have been talking, we have

been seeing images of intense and at times physically confrontational

protests happening right now, as we speak, in Las Vegas, and in Atlanta,

we`ve seen large crowds, marching in Sacramento, and we`ve got Sacramento

spelled wrong on the chyron there, if you guys could fix that. Also,

Brooklyn, New York, we`re starting to see kick off a little bit.

 

One of the things, Mr. Mayor, that we`re sort of anticipating or thinking

about how it may affect these things going forward, in your city, and in

Minneapolis, and around the country, is both the question of whether or not

there are going to be additional charges, whether the other three officers

will be charged, we don`t yet know, the county attorney says he anticipates

additional charges, but the other question raised by me from the criminal

complaint is whether or not we will see the body camera video from these

officers, that the complaint spelled out that they had body cameras on them

and they were running and that inquires there is more very up close footage

of Mr. Floyd`s death, of him being killed by these officers.

 

Do you anticipate that that footage will be made public?

 

CARTER: I sure hope so. I think we`ve set a precedence. Obviously that was

the Minneapolis police department. But between Mayor Frey and Minneapolis

and I, he and I have been very adamant that at times of these types of

crisis, that we need to make those body camera videos available, as soon as

we`re able to do that. Those things should be public information.

 

And so, you know, I think we ought to be erring on the side of

transparency. We ought to be airing on the side of account ability and that

can feel difficult, that can feel challenging in the moment. But in the

long term, this is about the covenant that has to exist, that covenant of

trust that has to exist between law enforcement and community.

 

My father is a retired St. Paul police officer. I have literally been

hearing about that covenant every day of my life since I was very, very

young. It is absolutely critical. And we have to maintain that covenant, we

have to earn that trust.

 

The events of this week have set us back, not just in Minneapolis Police

Department, but the events this week that have sent every American police

department back years, they have spent a whole lot of time, we have a

fantastic chief of police. We have a great police department who works hard

to build trust. Our police chief always talks about the bank of trust and

the fact that you have to make deposits for years before you find yourself

able to make a withdrawal.

 

He asks our police officers every day three questions, were your actions

reasonable, were they necessary, were they done with respect? And if so,

we`re doing all right.

 

But as you know, a trust that takes a lifetime to be built can be broken in

a moment and that`s what we`re seeing this week.

 

MADDOW: The mayor of the great American city of St. Paul, Minnesota, Melvin

Carter, as he mentioned there, son of a St. Paul police officer himself,

the first African-American mayor of St. Paul – Mr. Mayor, the whole

country is pulling for you, the eyes of the nation are upon you and your

fellow citizens tonight, but everybody is pulling for you. Thanks for being

with us tonight.

 

CARTER: Thanks for having me on.

 

MADDOW: All right, joining us now, I believe we can get over to Atlanta, to

our camera in Atlanta. Periodically, over the course of this evening, we

have been watching intense and emotional scenes in Atlanta, on the ground

for us is NBC News correspondent Blayne Alexander, this is on the ground in

Atlanta just outside the CNN Center there.

 

Blayne, thanks so much for being with us. Tell us where you are and what

you`re seeing.

 

BLAYNE ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Rachel, I`m just a few,

essentially right down that block is where the main entrance to the CNN

Center is. And you can see, that right down that block is where you`re

seeing the concentration of police activity. We`re seeing a lot of flashing

lights.

 

I got to say, within the past 15 minutes or so, Rachel, we`ve really saw

kind of an explosion of activity. Up until this point we have seen a number

of protesters gathered in that area. That`s where this evening, we have

seen the CNN Center, windows broken, the sign defaced.

 

At a separate entrance over my shoulder, there were videos over social

media, of a police line standing inside, blocking protesters to keep them

from getting in and some of them throwing lit fireworks at police officers.

So, really, this situation has completely dissolved.

 

I have been out here since before 4:00 this afternoon and it started

peacefully. There were several hundred, maybe a thousand people who were in

the streets of downtown Atlanta. They marched less than a mile away, to the

Georgia state capital, and then marched back.

 

But as the sun started to go down, as crowds started to come back here,

that we really saw the shift from people protesting and people chanting to

people climbing on top of police car, the main shift we saw out here is one

police car was actually set on fire. We were standing here, and you can

see, we`re kind of standing behind this fence, we were standing here, at a

safe distance, but we could see the dark billowing smoke start to rise.

 

Soon after that, we saw flames shooting into the air, and it was a police

car that was on fire. It was after that, that we started to see the videos

of some people using chairs to break through the restaurant windows, and

using objects to break into the CNN Center from a different angle.

 

So, you know, it`s really remarkable about this, Rachel, as I mentioned,

just in the past 15, 20 minutes or so, we`ve seen this intense escalation

here in streets of downtown Atlanta, but we`ve also heard from the

Atlanta`s mayor, Atlanta`s police chief, even calling out some big Atlanta

names, rapper T.I., rapper Killer Mike, all of them converging less than a

mile away from here, at the Public Safety Center, on live TV, urging people

to go home, urging people to come back to remain calm, and to come back

with cooler heads that prevail.

 

So, you`re seeing this unbelievable split screen of the city`s leaders

really calling for people to go home, stop damaging and trying to trash the

city of Atlanta intersection, and protesters essentially escalating what

we`re seeing out here tonight – Rachel.

 

MADDOW: Blayne, if you can hear me, let me just ask, what you can tell us

about, what seems to be the policing strategy on the ground in Atlanta.

We`ve seen – we`ve been watching some live images tonight, for example,

from Las Vegas, where it looks like there was a lot of pushing and shoving,

between protesters, and police, in Minneapolis live on our air tonight, we

saw big volleys of tear gas from police and National Guard before those

lines retreated and allowed protesters through without further

confrontation.

 

What can you tell us about how the police are handling this, particularly

given the sort of highly kinetic nature of some of the confrontations

you`re describing?

 

ALEXANDER: So, Rachel, what I can say is that, honestly, since about 5:00

this afternoon, we heard police giving announcements either from loud

speakers or from armored vehicles saying, hey, we need the crowds to

disperse. We`re asking you to break up, we`re telling you to break up. If

you do not break up, there will be arrests.

 

So, we saw a number of warnings before police officers before we saw them

inch this perimeter forward and police line forward.

 

I will tell you that since I`ve been here out, I and some of my colleagues

have seen a small amount of arrests, three or so, as people are throwing

water bottles. Since this escalation has taken place, really we have seen,

we have seen gas canisters flying. Can`t say they were tear gas but there

was some gas they were hoping to use to disburse the crowds.

 

But we`ve seen this slow movement of police moving forward with shields and

people kind of standing face-to-face. I got to say, Rachel, this kind of –

I don`t know if you can see this over my shoulder but when you see are the

tops of police shields forming a very solid line with protesters squaring

off, face-to-face, and they have been holding that position for the better

part of 20 minutes or so.

 

So, there hasn`t been moving. There haven`t been arrests we`ve seen. They

have been holding this stand off position. So, you know, I got to give you

a little background.

 

I can`t say this without talking about the city of Atlanta. It always says

it`s the city too busy to hate, right? It`s a city that birthed Martin

Luther King Jr. It`s a city that birthed the civil rights movement. And so,

leaders, mayors, police chiefs always take that into account when you`re

dealing with protests like this, protests on own scale, this is the place

where people come and protests were essentially birthed, peaceful protests.

 

And so, we know that leaders always try and take that into account, urge

people to protest peacefully and arrest tear gas, any sort of more

confrontational approach is always going to be a last resort typically here

in Atlanta – Rachel.

 

MADDOW: Blayne Alexander, we`re lucky to have you there on site. Be safe,

you and your crew. We`ll be back with you over the course of the night. I

know. Thank you. Blayne Alexander joining us live from the streets of

Atlanta.

 

Tonight, we have been watching live footage of different protests from the

around country. The full screen view you have is Brooklyn, New York. We saw

pushing and shoving. Same deal in the daylight three hours earlier, thanks

to time difference in Los Angeles right now.

 

We`ve seen some sort of intense scenes in the past few minutes out of Las

Vegas and large crowds in Sacramento and again, of course, Minneapolis and

St. Paul intense and large crowds in the street tonight despite what is

supposed to be a legally binding curfew that went into effect an hour ago

and supposed to stay in effect until 6:00 a.m. tomorrow.

 

This is the burned-out police precinct at – the third precinct in

Minneapolis, which was the home precinct of the four officers who were

involved in the arrest that resulted in the death of George Floyd.

 

I want to bring into the conversation somebody who you should know if you

do not already. Vanita Gupta was head of the Justice Department`s division

that would consider cases like this under President Obama. Civil rights

division of the Justice Department in the Obama administration. She`s now

CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

 

Vanita Gupta, it`s an honor to have you tonight. Thank you for taking the

time.

 

VANITA GUPTA, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS CEO: Really

good to be here, Rachel. Thank you.

 

MADDOW: I know that you`ve been able to see these images and watch this

reporting as it`s come into our studio tonight. I want to ask your

reaction, your top line reaction as you see these thinking about the cause

of these protests, the scope of these protests and the challenge of these

protests tonight from a justice and law enforcement prospective.

 

GUPTA: Yeah, I mean, I think the protests are about pain and the pain that

people are feeling that black America is feeling, that Americans across the

nation are experiencing at what they witnessed not only in the incident

with George Floyd, but in recent incidents across the country but seeing

that video and seeing the fundamental breakdown of any faith that our

justice system is going to be able to do to provide justice at large I

think is just what you`re seeing on this street.

 

You know, Dr. King said that true peace is not really the absence of

tension but it`s the presence of justice. And, right now, America is

feeling like there isn`t justice to be had. People are uncertain about the

course. There was an arrest made today, of course, it`s the first step.

 

But there is a long history here and that`s what we`re seeing play out in

streets across America.

 

MADDOW: We`ve seen statements from the U.S. attorney, the federal

prosecutor in Minneapolis and indeed from Attorney General William Barr

himself talking about this issue, this case being reviewed as a top

priority in the U.S. Justice Department. Attorney General Barr addressed

the prospect there might be federal charges brought against the officers in

this case. He said today he would wait for the state to act first. The

state has now charged one of the four officers involved in this arrest.

 

What do you think our expectations should be in terms of potential federal

criminal charges and the involvement of the Justice Department? As the

former head of the Civil Rights Division, what do you think it`s fair for

us to expect right now?

 

GUPTA: Look, I think that for any of us that have been doing civil rights

work for the last three and a half years and for years before that, people

are right to be skeptical about what this Justice Department will be able

to deliver on. The president, Jeff Sessions, Bill Barr have been uniformly

focused on dismantling the police reform efforts that the Justice

Department had been engaged in.

 

We weren`t a perfect Justice Department in the Obama era but there was a

real sense of the role that the Justice Department plays in these kinds of

situations. I think it`s important, though, that the Justice Department has

opened an investigation and that the FBI and the Civil Rights Division and

U.S. attorney`s offices are considering charges.

 

It`s a really high bar in the Justice Department for our federal case. It`s

why people around the country have been disappointed at times with the lack

of charges. It requires that federal prosecutors are able to establish

beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer engaged in unreasonable force

and knew what he was doing at the time was wrong and against the law but

did it anyway.

 

I will say in this case, I think these facts as we know them that will be

in an investigation meet that case. There is any number, the multiple

camera views in broad daylight and multiple officers on Mr. Floyd`s body

with, of course, Officer Chauvin on his neck for several minutes. He was

already restrained in handcuffs, no physical provocation, saying he

couldn`t breathe and in clear distress and witnesses around him saying that

he was in clear distress.

 

These are the kinds of facts that should meet a federal conviction but I

feel like it`s really important, Rachel, to make a point here, which is

that there`s no question that there needs to be a criminal conviction and

set of criminal convictions for the officers that both did nothing in the

face of this and were actively involved in his death. But I don`t think

it`s sufficient and this is where this justice department has really walked

away from the role that it needs to play. This Justice Department should be

strongly considering opening a pattern and practice investigation.

 

Criminal accountability can be pitched as a few bad apples in a police

department but Minneapolis has a long history of problems that date back

for years and the chief himself has been aware of this, has actually

instituted programs in the city police department, but you`ve got a culture

in the police department that has resisted reform and community activists

and activists on the ground have been calling for reform for years. You had

a police union president who last year when the mayor said to stop any

training that could have promoted a warrior type mentality, the police

union president actually went ahead in total defiance and paid for training

in the warrior mentality.

 

This is the kind of culture that doesn`t get addressed through criminal

accountability alone but actually requires systemic efforts to change

police abuse practices and culture of policing, and I just think that is an

important thing, and we have a president and have had two attorneys general

that have really corroded that work, corroded – in fact, in many ways in

speeches and rhetoric created us versus them mentality between law

enforcement and communities, and in some ways have also promoted police

violence with the infamous statement that the president made back in 2017

about roughing up suspects and much more.

 

So there is reason to be skeptical. I hope this Justice Department will

open a counter practice investigation but we got to be in this for the long

haul, even outside of what`s happening in Minneapolis. What you`re seeing

is pain around the country because we have to confront the history of state

violence against black communities and communities of color and it`s going

to take a lot of work. But this is the pain pouring out in the streets

right now all over the country.

 

MADDOW: Vanita Gupta, the CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and

Human Rights, the head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Justice

Department under President Obama – Vanita, again, an honor to have you

with us tonight. Thank you for being here. Thank you for making time.

 

GUPTA: Thank you, Rachel.

 

MADDOW: Again, we`ve got live images tonight that we are keeping an eye on.

You see that large crowd in Sacramento, California. They had stopped I

think of their own accord to listen to one of their own leaders, one of

their own activists among them speak just moments ago.

 

We`re watching tense confrontations unfold in Brooklyn, New York, in

Atlanta, Georgia, in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was a night where obviously,

all eyes continue to be on St. Paul in Minneapolis, where things have been

so difficult for the past three nights with ongoing protests.

 

But this is a nationwide protest movement now of outrage and pain after the

death of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of a group of Minneapolis

police department officers, one of whom has been charged with manslaughter

and murder.

 

Our live coverage continues now and through this evening. Do stay with us

tonight.

 

My colleague Lawrence O`Donnell is taking over right now.

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

                                                                                                               

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