George Floyd TRANSCRIPT: 6/9/20, The Rachel Maddow Show
REP. ANTONIO DELGADO (D-NY): That`s why with the Heroes Act, I partnered up
on a bipartisan basis the Direct Communities Act to get direct aid to every
state and local government irrespective of population and size.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That`s for sure (ph).
DELGADO: It`s so important. The Heroes Act said only government units over
500,000 people. We don`t have any unit like that in New York 19th.
HAYES: Congressman Antonio Delgado from Upstate New York, thanks for making
DELGADO: Thank you for having me.
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. Thanks, my friend. Much
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks for joining us this hour.
At the church today in Houston, you could see it, “We love you, George,”
painted on pieces of cardboard propped up along the bushes along the site
of George Floyd`s funeral. Today, Mr. Floyd`s family, his friends, people
who played football with in school, they all gathered one last time today
at his funeral in Houston before he was laid to rest this afternoon next to
his mother, in the city where he grew up.
Mr. Floyd`s casket remained open today during the service in a way that has
had people calling back to the funeral for Emmett Till who, of course, was
the 14-year-old who was brutally lynched and murdered in 1955. At his
funeral more than 50 years ago, Emmett till`s mother famously demanded that
the casket be left open deliberately so everyone could see what the killers
had done to her son.
It was a private service today for George Floyd. Mourners who could not
attend instead lined the streets outside waiting for his funeral procession
to drive by, holding signs that said, “Rest in Peace”.
George Floyd had five kids. He had siblings, aunts and uncles. He had
cousins. He had a niece.
The arrival of his family today for his funeral was a painful reminder of
who he left behind. They were all dressed in white so it was easy to see
who they all were in the crowd. Today, George Floyd`s family spoke about
his life, not just about those last nearly nine minutes when he died. They
talked about how they called him Perry, which was his middle now. How they
called him their superman. Their protective umbrella, and they talked about
getting justice for his death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKE WILLIAMS, GEORGE FLOYD`S NIECE: Hello. My name is Brooke Williams,
George Floyd`s niece. And I can breathe.
As long as I`m breathing, justice will be served for Perry. The officer
showed no remorse while watching my uncle`s soul leave his body. He begged
and pleaded many times just for you to get up, but you just pushed harder.
Why must the system be corrupt and broken?
Laws were already put in place for the African-American system to fail.
These laws need to be changed. No more hate crimes, please. Someone said
make America great men again, but when has America ever been great?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My little brother, my little brother was a friend, he
was a mentor. He was a father. He was a basketball player. He was a
But most of all, he was a human being. When the family came to me and asked
me, did you go speak? I will speak, I will keep on speaking, I will fight,
I will fight, I will fight because I`ve been fighting for him and I will
keep on fighting for him.
BRADY BOB, GEORGE FLOYD`S RELATIVE: Those men that stood on my brother`s
neck changed the world. They took somebody from us that was great. When I
say great, I never heard him complain, not one time.
He was an umbrella to all of us. He was 6`6”. Any rain came our way, he
made sure that he could cover it for us. From the community home to Jake
Yates high, he was everybody`s shelter, everybody`s shelter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: George Floyd, 6`6”, human umbrella, he said he was everybody`s
At Mr. Floyd`s funeral today in Houston, there were speeches from members
of Congress and from the mayor of Houston, who announced that he would be
leaving the funeral to go sign police reform legislation for the city of
Houston. Former Vice President Joe Biden gave a speech by video after
meeting with the Floyd family yesterday, talked about the burden of grief.
And then there was the Reverend Al Sharpton who delivered a rousing, raw,
emotional eulogy for Mr. Floyd. In the crowd today were the mothers and
sisters and family members of other African-Americans who have been killed
by police, Reverend Sharpton asked them all to stand up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: The mother of Trayvon Martin, will
you stand? The mother – the mother of Eric Garner, will you stand? The
sister of Botham Jean, will you stand?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: To stand today to be recognized at this funeral because of what
they have been through before and what the Floyd family is going through
The size and the scope and the volume level of the national response to
what happened to George Floyd is another testament to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: If you had any idea all of us would react, you`d have took your
knee off his neck. If you had any idea that everybody from those in the
third ward to those in Hollywood would show up in Houston and Minneapolis
and in Fayetteville, North Carolina, you`d have took your knee off his
neck. If you had any idea that preachers, white and black, was going to
line up in a pandemic when we`re told to stay inside and we come out in
march in the streets at the risk of our health, you`d have took your knee
off his neck. Because you thought his neck didn`t mean nothing. But God
made his neck to connect his head to his body, and you have no right to put
your knee on that neck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After this emotional funeral today, George Floyd was brought to his
final resting place to be buried next to his mother. He was brought there
in a horse drawn carriage. Supporters, again, lining the road on either
And yet, still, 15 days after he was killed in every corner of the country
there are still protests in the streets. This was New York. And Washington,
D.C. and Los Angeles, and Minneapolis today, protests ongoing this evening.
We`ve got, I believe, live pictures from both Denver and Phoenix right now,
where things are still going on.
It`s been an incredible day, an emotional day. And simultaneous to that,
one of the other things we watched all day today was another way to measure
the health of our country and our democracy today.
And that was the utterly predictable, absolutely terrible situation when it
came to people of all races, but particularly black people today trying to
vote in the great state of Georgia. You may have seen some of the headlines
about this in the national press today. I want to show you some coverage
from Georgia-based reporter Blayne Alexander for “NBC Nightly News”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAYNE ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS REPORTER: This is primary day in Georgia. Lines
in Atlanta stretching for blocks. Some standing in the rain, forced to wait
hours to cast a ballot.
You`ve been here about three hours?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m not leaving.
ALEXANDER: You`re not leaving? Why are you so intent upon staying here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s important. It`s important for me. It`s important
for my son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, we`re going on that four-hour mark.
ALEXANDER: Georgia unveiling new voting machines statewide right in the
midst of a pandemic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Several of the machines were broken. It seemed like
maybe half the machines were down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a disappointment. This is something that should
have been checked yesterday.
ALEXANDER: The biggest problems in metro Atlanta, specifically areas with
higher black populations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Blayne Alexander reporting for “NBC Nightly News” tonight.
I should mention that Blayne Alexander herself voted at her home precinct
in Georgia today, and she says that she herself waited more than two hours
in line. She says there were – for her whole precinct there were four
voting machines that were working and only one poll worker to check people
in. She waited more than two hours.
But what`s happened in Georgia today has been front page national news all
day, alongside everything else that has happened today.
At politico.com, this was the headline, quote: A hot, flaming mess. Georgia
primary beset by chaos and long lines. On the front page of “The Washington
Post,” in Georgia, primary day snarled by long lines, problems with voting
machines, a potential preview of November.
It was the same vibe on the front page of “The Wall Street Journal.” in a
warning for November, voters endure long lines in Georgia`s primary
“The New York Times” has been front page the situation in Georgia all day
today. Quote, I refuse not to be heard. Georgia in uproar over voting
Quote, Georgia`s statewide primary elections on Tuesday were overwhelmed by
a full-scale meltdown of new voting systems put in place after widespread
claims of voter suppression during the state`s 2018 governor`s election.
Scores of new state-ordered voting machines were reported to be missing or
malfunctioning, and hours-long lines materialized at polling places across
Some people gave up and left before casting a ballot and concerns spread
that the problems would disenfranchise untold voters, particularly African-
Americans. Predominately black areas experienced some of the worst
Now, here`s where “The Times” got their headline on this piece today.
Quote, in Atlanta`s old Fourth Ward, the neighborhood where the Reverend
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. grew up, Marneia Mitchell arrived at her polling
place five minutes before polls were to open at 7:00 a.m. She thought it
was early enough to vote fast, avoid trouble and get on with her day. Three
hours later, she was still waiting in line, having moved about 60 feet from
where she had started.
At first, voters were told the machines were not functioning. Then they
were told poll workers didn`t have the passwords necessary to operate.
The line stretched three long city blocks and comprised hundreds ever
voters, a multi-cultural crowd in one of the city`s most cosmopolitan
boroughs, many masked, some in lawn chairs, everyone sweating as the
temperature pushed toward 90 degrees.
Ms. Mitchell, age 50, a stationary design, who is African-American, was
livid. She said, quote, it`s disgusting. It`s despicable.
Around the corner, retiree Terri Russell had also been waiting for three
hours. She leaned on a beach chair that a do-gooder had offered her. Ms.
Russell, who wore a mask, said that she has bronchitis and asthma and that
she rarely left the house even when there was no pandemic. She said she
requested an absentee ballot but never received one. Quote, I refuse not to
be heard, and so I`m standing in line.
What happened today in Georgia, what`s still happening into the night
tonight in Georgia, is something that everybody saw coming from multiple
vantage points, even just in the immediate past. In that 2018 governor`s
race in Georgia, you may recall that Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost
to a Republican named Brian Kemp. Brian Kemp`s previous job had been
secretary of state in Georgia, which meant he was in charge of
administering that election in which he himself was running for governor.
He did not recuse himself from administering that election even though he
was the candidate at the top of the ticket.
Part of the way he prepared the ground in Georgia for himself in that
election was that he kicked more than half a million people off the voter
rolls in Georgia in the year ahead of that general election, which was
absolutely unprecedented in modern times in that state.
On Election Day in 2018, with half a million-plus people having been kicked
off the rolls, it was a total breakdown and total dysfunction at the polls.
It led to such a debacle of an election day that it made nationwide
headlines, even on a day when lots else was going on. It was such a debacle
that that Democrat, Stacey Abrams, would not concede that she had lost that
race fairly and many Democrats still don`t believe she did.
That was 2018. That was the last major election in Georgia. Then in advance
of this election today in Georgia, you could also see today`s disaster
coming when the new Republican secretary of state, the guy who replaced
Brian Kemp when Brian Kemp became governor, the new Republican secretary of
state decided to make what even the local hometown press in Georgia
considered to be a very high-stakes bet, kind of an experiment, a little
wager here. Here goes nothing. Great leap for the state.
An electronic voting machine company hired Brian Kemp`s former campaign
manager to be its lobbyist, and then the Brian Kemp administration in
Georgia hired that company to replace all of the voting machines in every
city, town, and county in Georgia all in record time, literally record
time. The state had this board of evaluators that was looking at the
various companies who were trying to get that voting machine contract. This
board of evaluators looked at the different bids from the different
companies and what they were offering.
They did not pick the company that Georgia ultimately went with. They
picked a different company altogether. But, nope, the state administration
decided instead they would go with the company that Brian Kemp`s campaign
manager was the lobbyist for. The company had never had a job this big
ever. In fact, there has never been a bigger job in U.S. election history.
As the “Atlanta Journal Constitution” pointed out last November, what
Georgia was trying to roll out here was the largest and fastest rollout of
elections equipment in U.S. history. This company had never had anything of
this size. The company had never installed so much equipment at once and on
such a time schedule.
Georgia was trying to do the impossible. I mean something that everybody
knew at the time was impossible – 30,000 brand-new voting machines of a
type that hadn`t been used in the state for 7 million voters, more than
2,600 precincts, all at once, all in a matter of months in a state where
voting was already an apparent deliberate disaster. And that`s what they
set out to do.
And now, today, that disastrous bet has paid off. Not a surprise. This was
the absolutely foreseeable headline in the “Atlanta Journal Constitution”
tonight. Quote: New voting machines lead to lines and problems on Georgia
election day. Yeah, you think?
Quote: Problems with Georgia`s new voting computers plagued the state`s
primary election today, leading to lines and voters leaving without casting
their ballots. Poll workers said they had difficulties turning on the voter
check-in computers and encoding voter access cards and installing
touchscreens. Voters waited in lines for hours at various precincts across
Cobb and DeKalb and Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
A precinct manager at Cross Keys High where voting had essentially shut
down Tuesday morning said he couldn`t use the voter check-in computers. The
touch pads aren`t receiving or accepting the authorizations and we`re out
of provisional ballots. There`s nothing we can do.
People queued in that high school parking lot there for hours. But
essentially that voting location shut down.
DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson told the “Atlanta Journal
Constitution,” quote: Even the poll workers don`t know what to do. These
are new machines, and you expect people to run them in less than a couple
of months? If this is a preview of November, then we are in trouble. If
this is a preview of November, we are in trouble.
Well, you know, it depends on your perspective, I suppose, because again
it`s not like Georgia didn`t know this was coming. Not what happened in
their last disastrous, botched election, not after what they did to the
voter rolls on purpose for that election, not what they did with this
voting machine debacle at the very last minute right before this
presidential election year, which one good government advocate today in
Georgia called, quote, like Walmart trying to decide they wanted to change
out their point of sales system on black Friday.
I mean, you know, maybe this is trouble today in Georgia. You know, maybe
these are problems and snafus today in Georgia, or maybe this is something
on which the Georgia state government has been diligently working because
everybody saw it coming, and then it did.
But here`s another angle on the same problem in a different place. One week
ago today, the great state of Iowa held its primary elections this year.
And look at this. This is what the secretary of state sent out when the
results came in a week ago tonight. Good job, everybody! Well done!
Goobery fireworks meme that he sent out with his congratulatory tweet. But
as goobery as that is, it actually was well done in Iowa. A week ago
tonight for the primary that they just held, the state of Iowa broke all
turnout records for a June primary. The last record for a June primary,
1994. Iowa voters blew through that record easily. They set a huge new
turnout record a week ago tonight.
And against the odds, right, this is the midst of Iowa having a
considerable coronavirus outbreak, right? Iowa has had over 22,000 cases.
They`ve had a bunch of terrible outbreaks, particularly in meat processing
plants. Iowa has had honestly a weird and secretive and super random
response from their state government and their governor, which has not
helped either with the disease itself there or with people trusting the
government to get things right and keep them safe. I mean this election
last Tuesday night happened in the middle of all that worry.
It also happened in the middle of the protests over the death of George
Floyd, which have been very significant protests in Iowa. And unfortunately
there`s been some pretty serious unrest and violence around some of those
protests, some people hurt. But still, in the midst of those things all at
once, they held a primary election a week ago tonight, and Iowa set a
record for turnout, which is great, right?
Good job, everybody, as the secretary of state said. Well, the way that
Iowa set that turnout record is very simple. They sent everyone an
application for an absentee ballot. They sent everybody – it was an active
voter in Iowa an application for an absentee ballot. You got one in the
So, all you had to do was fill out that application, send it back, and you
would get sent an absentee ballot to vote by mail. That`s it. That`s what
they did. That`s what gave them record turnout that they were all so proud
At least they were all super proud of it as of Tuesday of last week when
they had this no-hitches, smooth primary with record turnout. They got
results right away. Everything was fine. No complaints. It all worked.
Everything else is going wrong in the state of Iowa. Not that primary, it
worked. And they were all super proud of it as of Tuesday.
By the end of last week, by Friday, Republicans in the state legislature
had already drafted a bill and started moving a bill that will stop the
state from ever doing an election like that again, because doing it that
way made it easy and safe for people to vote. And so, lots of people voted,
and so Republicans in the Iowa state legislature apparently believed that
that must be stopped.
And don`t take it from me. Take it from the association of local elections
officials in Iowa, who are raging against this. In their words, they are,
quote, baffled by it.
Here`s the statement from the president of their association. Quote: County
auditors as local commissioners of elections are baffled by this. The 2020
primary was very successful based on a variety of metrics. Counties
experienced record or near record turnout. Election Day went very smoothly.
Results were rapidly available. Why would the state want to cripple the
process that led to such success?
Well, it`s not specifically the whole state that wants to do that. It`s
Republicans in the Iowa state legislature that want to do that. Why would
they want to cripple this system that worked so well? Why would the state
want to cripple the process that led to such success?
Raise your hand if you think you know.
This was the editorial today in “The Des Moines Register” just ripping Iowa
Republicans for what they are trying to do here, for what they are trying
to screw up. Headline, message from GOP lawmakers to Iowans, we don`t want
you voting. Republican state lawmakers are on a mission. Make it as
difficult as possible for Iowans to vote.
Participation by more people in our democracy is a success, but that`s not
how legislative Republicans see it. Perhaps they fear being voted out of
office if more people cast ballots. For engineers of voter suppression,
though, that is exactly what needs to happen. “Des Moines Register” today
But – I mean seeing what`s happening in Georgia today – what happened in
2018 in Georgia, what`s happening in Georgia today, that`s what`s happening
in Iowa over this past week.
Pull back the lens a little bit further here. Nationwide, Republicans last
month launched a new nationwide $20 million effort to fight efforts in all
states to make it easy and safe for people to vote this year.
There`s special efforts underway to make it easy and safe for people to
vote despite the fact that we are in an epidemic of a contagious disease
that people may be risking their lives against if they have to turn out in
congregate to vote in the way we normally do. Republicans nationwide are
planning on spending $20 million in an effort to stop states from making it
easy and safe to vote.
At the White House, everybody from the president himself to the attorney
general of the United States to White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway
to the new White House spokesperson, they have all personally denounced the
idea of people voting by mail in this year`s elections, right? They`re
saying, oh, this isn`t a proven safe and easy way to vote. No, it`s
dangerous. Voting by mail, it`s un-American. It shouldn`t be allowed.
The president has been making that case from the White House even though he
himself votes by mail. The attorney general has been making that case from
the Justice Department even though he, himself, votes by mail. Kellyanne
Conway has been making that case from the White House even though she
herself votes by mail. The new White House spokesperson has been making
that case from the White House even though she, herself, votes by mail and
even though she may have done at least some of her voting from an address
where she doesn`t actually live, which is a proper considerably worse than
just her rank bloody hypocrisy.
This isn`t about there being any actual problems or any actual worries
about voting by mail. The only problem with voting by mail is it makes it
easy and safe for people to vote. All of these objections from the White
House and from the Justice Department raising all these concerns about how
terrible it would be to vote by mail, raised by all of these individuals
who themselves vote by mail.
What this is about is about stopping you from voting in the next election,
or at least forcing you to take your own life into your hands to do it.
Georgia voting today is a debacle. That is not an accident, right?
It`s not an accident if everybody can see it coming from miles away and can
predict it and did predict it in writing months in advance, right? This is
something that didn`t get better after their last botched election, that in
fact might have been made considerably worse after the last botched
election in a way that raises very dark concerns about the prospect of
Georgia`s swing state status in the November general election.
It is a wake-up call for what is coming in November and what Republicans
are going to try to do, as is the Republican effort to break a system in
Iowa that`s actually working great, as is the top-down effort in the
Republican Party to try to scotch voting by mail because it works and it`s
safe and therefore we can`t have that. They can have it for themselves, but
the rest of us can`t have it because then too many of us might vote.
That said, there is a plan to try to fight back against all this stuff, and
one man widely seen as a quarterback of that effort is going to join us
live here next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: As we have spent the day and the night today watching the slow-
motion disaster of Georgia`s failed election today with voters waiting for
hours in the heat, in the middle of a pandemic, to cast their vote on
brand-new, untested machines that may or may not work, that may or may not
turn on, that poll workers may or may not have any idea how to use, that
may or may not be backed up by provisional ballots, that may or may not be
in stock at any individual polling place, it`s worth remembering that it
didn`t have to be this way. In normal times, which these are not, or in
extraordinary times, I mean we`ve dealt with extraordinary circumstances
for elections during crises before.
After Hurricane Sandy, October 2012, after hurricane Michael in October
2018, there were special accommodations made. Of course there were. There
had everybody, even people affected by those big, widespread crises, could
cast a vote and have it counted, even if they couldn`t cast their vote in
And, yes, now we have another extraordinary circumstance. We`ve got a
widespread, sort of out of control epidemic of a highly contagious fatal
disease in this country that makes the act of going to the polls to vote in
person a personal hazard, a life-threatening hazard for many Americans.
The Democratic Party`s leading voting rights litigator had this to say
about these new extraordinary circumstances back in March. He said, quote:
Unlike prior events, the virus poses a health risk to voter in every state,
city, town, and village in the country. Not only will voters not want to
wait in line and file into school rooms in proximity to others, but
election workers, many of whom are elderly, also may not eagerly sign up to
staff polling places where they will come in contact with hundreds of
strangers in a single day.
The most discussed solution has been for states to expand the use of
absentee and vote by mail ballots. But with the exception of a handful of
states such as Colorado, Oregon, Washington state, most states still rely
primarily on in-person voting. For absentee voting to be effective for
November, states must start planning now. Quote: The time to act is now.
That op-ed was in “The Washington Post” in March. The time to act is now.
Well, tick tock.
Joining us now is the author of that op-ed. As I mentioned, he is the
Democratic Party`s leading litigator on voting rights issues, Mr. Marc
Elias joins us now.
Mr. Elias, thank you very much for being here. I really appreciate you
taking the time.
MARC ELIAS, DNC LEGAL ADVISER ON VOTER SUPPRESSION : Thanks for having me.
I wish it was under better circumstances.
MADDOW: Yeah, me too.
I know that you`ve been able to see the last few minutes when I was talking
about what happened in Georgia today, what`s happened in Iowa over the past
few days, the action that Iowa Republicans have been taking there, some of
the things we`ve been hearing from the White House. You`re a real expert on
this stuff. I wanted to ask you if I got any of that wrong or if there`s
any part you feel like needs more or less emphasis?
ELIAS: No, look, I think you got it exactly right. The fact is in Iowa,
they wanted to have a successful primary sending absentee ballots to every
voter, and they did. And the reaction of the Republican Party was to say,
well, let`s not let that happen again in November.
In Georgia, the Republican secretary of state said, we want to continue to
have failed elections. It worked for us last time. Maybe it will work for
us again. And you saw that.
But don`t forget that this is not the first time we`ve seen Republicans
with this playbook even during this primary season. We saw 7-1/2-hour lines
before COVID in Texas after there was massive poll closings, and we saw of
course in Wisconsin the Republicans block an effort to move the election so
that it wouldn`t be in literally the height of the pandemic. And they
And that was to win a state judicial election. Just imagine what they`ll do
MADDOW: What is the solution here? I mean, I know that what you do with
your time is that you bring lawsuits. You bring legal actions to try to
whack each of these moles it comes up in each of these states.
Do you – is that the only strategy? Do you have faith in that strategy
this year? Is there anything else that could be done?
ELIAS: Yeah. Look, there are tons of things that could be done to make this
situation better. The problem is that you have Donald Trump in the White
House telling Republicans at every level not to do those things.
So, it`s very difficult to get smooth election administration when you have
Republicans in a position of power being told by the president of the
United States, don`t let there be smooth election administration. So, we
ultimately wind up going to court not as a first resort but because the
courts are there to protect voters if all else fails.
And what we saw today in Georgia was all else failing. What we saw in
Wisconsin was it failing. And unfortunately, you know, we see in state
after state a concerted effort on the part of Republican election officials
and Republican legislatures to really not want us to have successful
elections in which every eligible voter can vote and have their ballot
counted and counted accurately.
MADDOW: Is there one state, or is there a small group of states that really
keep you up at night in terms of November? Obviously, every election is
important, and you never what`s going to be determinative.
But thinking about the presidential election in particular, is there
anyplace that you feel like needs more national attention in terms of the
threat there and your expectation for how things are going to go?
ELIAS: Look, I think we obviously all know about the problems in Wisconsin,
so that`s – you know, that shouldn`t drop out of the public consciousness.
There was a lot of attention on it during the primary, and that
circumstance has not – has not gotten better. In fact, conservative groups
in that state are still scheming to figure out how to make voting harder
You know, you look at Florida. You look at North Carolina where you have a
Republican legislature still passing voting laws. You look at Arizona where
you have a very conservative attorney general and governor and legislature.
So I`m paid to worry about everywhere. So that`s what I`m doing. That`s
unfortunately, you know, where we`ll be between here and November.
MADDOW: Marc Elias, who represents the Democratic party on voting rights
issues, thanks for helping us understand this tonight. Come back to us in
coming days as we learn more about how these states are going to be trying
to do this. Really appreciate your time here.
ELIAS: Happy to do it anytime.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead here tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON: As I speak right now, the city
attorney is drafting an executive order, an order that I will sign when I
get back to city hall. And what that order will say is that in this city,
we will ban choke holds and strangleholds. In this city, we will require
de-escalation. In this city, you have to give a warning before you shoot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: At the funeral service today for George Floyd, Houston`s mayor,
Sylvester Turner, made that announcement that he`d be leaving the funeral
to go sign an executive order that would ban the use of choke holds by the
Houston police department and require that officers give a verbal warning
before they shoot.
And that was a dramatic moment today at that funeral today in Houston. But
it is something that is happening around the country. In addition to these
changes the police department announced today in Mr. Houston where Mr.
Floyd was laid to rest, yesterday in Minneapolis, the city where George
Floyd died after being pinned to the ground by police, yesterday a judge
ordered the Minneapolis police department to stop using all chokeholds and
The order also requires officers to intervene if they witness a fellow
officer using unauthorized force. The same order also restricts the use of
crowd control weapons like tear gas and rubber bullets by the Minneapolis
This is a slate of reform measures that were approved last week in an
agreement between the police department and the state. They were waiting on
a judge to sign off on it. The judge has now signed off on it, and so those
policies are now in effect. Those changes have been made in Minneapolis.
This, of course, comes on the heels of the city council announcing there
they will work to dismantle the Minneapolis police department and create
something entirely different in its wake.
In New York, state lawmakers this week passed a wave of police reforms
including a bill named in honor of Eric Garner, who was killed in 2014
after he was put in a chokehold by an NYPD officer. The new legislation
allows prosecutors to bring a felony charge against an officer who injures
or kills someone while using a chokehold.
New York lawmakers today also voted to repeal a decades-old very
controversial law that has kept law enforcement officers` disciplinary
records a secret from the public and the press.
In California, more than a dozen of that state`s police departments,
including the LAPD, have now announced a ban on the so-called carotid
restraint, a type of chokehold. Denver has now banned choke holds and also
now requires police officers to report it whenever they point a gun at
Further reform measures are being enacted in Dallas, Texas, in Reno,
Nevada, in Washington, D.C. earlier today, the D.C. City Council
unanimously passed emergency legislation that among other things would ban
the hiring of officers who have a history of serious misconduct.
So, we`re seeing this rapidly. It`s been just over two weeks since George
Floyd was killed and since the nation erupted in outrage. In city after
city and state after state, we are seeing reforms, some restrictions on the
police put into place at a fairly rapid clip.
What should we expect from these kinds of reforms? What will work? What
will stick? What could make the biggest difference? What`s possible now
because of this national furor, this national movement that might not have
been possible before?
Joining us now is Redditt Hudson. He`s co-founder of the National Coalition
of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice Reform and Accountability. He`s
also a former police officer in the great city of St. Louis.
Mr. Hudson, it`s nice to have you here tonight. Thanks for making time.
REDDITT HUDSON, NATIONAL OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS FOR JUSTICE REFORM AND
ACCOUNTABILITY: Good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: That list that I just gave of the changes and restrictions on
police conduct that have been announced in cities and states just fairly
quickly in the two weeks since Mr. Floyd was killed, since these protests
started, are you hopeful about those changes and those restrictions having
an impact? What strikes you about that list?
HUDSON: Only if accountability goes with it. There have been measures to
ban choke holds, for example, in New York, chokeholds had already been
banned when Eric Garner was murdered on the corner for selling loose
cigarettes. It`s too bad that law wasn`t in place. Any of the reforms we`re
talking about which echo past reforms, I think we`re at a moment where we
need significant, transformational change in building a new police culture
and a new police response.
But any training or reform that is going to be effective has to come first
with real accountability. The best training that any officer can get is
accountability. Derek Chauvin spending a significant part of the rest of
his life in prison will be excellent training for those officers who remain
on the Minneapolis police department and all over the nation. That has to
be a part of any change that we see. Otherwise, they`re going to fall
I think they are well intended, and I think to answer your question about
what`s possible with the groundswell of movement that we`ve seen not only
in this country and around the world relative to a serious fight against
institutional racism and the evils that it has wrought in every system that
we have and its foundation in white supremacy. We`re at a critical point in
our nation`s history where I think there is a critical mass, enough people
to push for the kinds of changes that are envisioned by most people who are
working to change this system.
MADDOW: So I guess what I hear you saying – let me make sure I`ve got this
right – is that when there have been reforms tried in the past and there
have been restrictions put on police officers` behavior in the past, when
police departments have tried to even move sort of more holistically in a
more progressive direction, the reason those efforts haven`t worked to
change things is because police officers never feel like those changes are
binding? And so they don`t have to do it, and so the first structural thing
that would make a difference is if police officers felt compelled, were
compelled to do these things or face the consequences if they didn`t.
That`s the most important change?
HUDSON: That is exactly the case. And what I`ll tell you too is what has
created the environment in which zero accountability exists and
expectations that nothing is going to happen, is the power of the police
unions across the country have enjoyed for generations. To all of the
people who have demonstrated in all of the cities across this country, we
know where we`re headed. Those people who have worked in the criminal
justice reform arena, myself having worked for the ACLU or the national –
NAACP, everywhere we went where there was an egregious case of police
misconduct, it was also the full support of the police union that had also
created the policies and exemptions that shielded that officer from the
consequences of his or her bad action.
So what we people need to understand, for example, here in St. Louis, we
have one of the most progressive and courageous circuit attorneys in the
country. Her name is Kim Gardner. She was elected as almost an embodiment
of the changes that were pushed for after Ferguson. Michael Brown was
murdered ten minutes from my house. She introduced legislation in St.
Louis, had a bill introduced relative to independent investigation of
police misconduct, which the police should never investigate themselves. It
was embraced by legislators in the city, the board of aldermen. Many people
The St. Louis police officers union, which is one of the worst police
unions in the country, run ostensibly by a buffoon named Jeff Roorda,
politically leveraged their influence, and it wasn`t even brought to the
floor for a vote. This is what all the people you see on the screen should
expect as we move forward and get ready to do this thing. These police
unions, you have to be aggressive and push for them to acknowledge the
human rights, civil rights, and civil liberties of the communities that
they`re sworn to serve.
MADDOW: Redditt Hudson, former St. Louis police officer, co-founder of the
National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for justice reform and
accountability, Mr. Hudson, thank you for your time this evening. Your
perspective is absolutely invaluable. Thank you.
HUDSON: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more news ahead tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Tonight a dramatic rise in coronavirus hospitalizations in some
states among the first to reopen. In Arizona, the state urging hospitals to
keep emergency plans activated after seeing COVID-19 cases more than
double. Health officials now saying eight out of ten hospital beds are
being used and warning they could hit full hospital capacity in a matter of
DR. MATTHEW HEINZ, TUCSON MEDICAL CENTER: We probably knew what would
happen by reopening too early on May 15th. The virus is going to do what it
does, and here we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The virus is going to do what it does, and here we are. That doctor
at Tucson Medical Center in Arizona, Arizona ICUs in the biggest cities in
the state are full. Hospitals in general are now getting close to full as
well. And it`s not only Arizona that`s experiencing this spike in
hospitalizations right now. Texas started reopening at the beginning of
last month. Texas just marked its second consecutive day of record
hospitalizations. Hospitalizations already hitting – excuse me – also
hitting a new high in Arkansas and two straight days of record
hospitalizations in North Carolina.
In Montgomery, Alabama, which we`ve been keeping a close eye on, the mayor
there has been sounding the alarm about rising cases for the last three
weeks after the state began lifting restrictions in Alabama. As of today,
the four major hospitals that serve Montgomery are treating more
coronavirus patients than ever before.
The head of the Alabama Hospital Association says today, quote, we`re just
full. The situation is not sustainable.
“The Washington Post” reporting that since the start of this month, since
June 1st, 14 states and Puerto Rico have recorded their highest seven-day
average of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. That new cases
trend is obviously not good for the projected death toll in this country.
Back when the White House used to appear to work on the coronavirus
epidemic, when they used to have coronavirus briefings, you might remember
there was one particular projection model they liked to showcase at all of
their briefings. It was from the University of Washington, the Institute
for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Funny
thing happened with that model. About a month ago when that model`s
projections started getting more dire about the number of Americans who
were going to die from this thing, the White House stopped talking about
But those researchers at the University of Washington have still kept
working on it, and today their projections for the number of American
coronavirus deaths jumped another 5,000 from where they were at last week.
They`re now projecting that by the first week in August, 145,000 Americans
will be dead from this thing – 145,000. From today, that would be 30,000
more Americans dead in less than a month.
We are on track to pass 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases in this
country as soon as tomorrow. But, again, the federal government just
doesn`t appear to be working on it anymore, and states are working on it to
the extent that they can and that they care. In the words of that Arizona
doctor who says his state reopened too early, the virus is going to do what
it does, and here we are.
MADDOW: We have been watching all day today the debacle of missing and
malfunctioning voting machines in the state of Georgia. Huge, long lines to
vote in Georgia, particularly in African-American districts.
We are also now tonight getting reports from Nevada, which is also holding
a primary today. We`re getting reports of three-hour-plus long – excuse me
– three-hour-long lines to vote in and around Las Vegas. We`re going to
have eyes on that story throughout the night tonight.
But that is going to do it for us this hour. Our live coverage continues
here now on MSNBC with “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the