George Floyd TRANSCRIPT: 6/1/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And your coverage of the president`s announcement of whatever that was, was
really compelling. And the thing we always have to remember is, of course,
that the Pentagon and military operate on battle plans. They have battle
plans for all sorts of different places in the world at any given moment.
They do not have any plan in the Pentagon anywhere about how to police Los
Angeles, California or New York City. That plan doesn`t exist and there is
no one in in the military who knows how to do it.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: Yes, and to see the former chairman of
the joint chiefs of staff having to rebut the Trump defense secretary today
when he talked about the American battlespace, having to point out to him,
hey, listen, I`m – I`m one of the recent former chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, there is no American battlespace. U.S. troops don`t fight
battles in America. The America public is not the enemy.
Having to rebut the president on that sort of thing, you know, I don`t
think we expectate – we don`t have inch high expectations anymore in terms
of the president`s remarks or his understanding of the constitutional
republic. But having to have the defense secretary rebutted along those
lines is just – just deeply unnerving because of exactly what you just
O`DONNELL: Your discussion with Jeh Johnson is really the one to – that
people should be listening to. They should get it online, everything was
there. Thank you, Rachel. Really appreciate it.
MADDOW: Yes, thanks, Lawrence. Thanks.
O`DONNELL: Well, we`re going to begin with reports of what`s happening on
the streets of Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. right now.
Let`s first go to MSNBC`s Shaquille Brewster in Minneapolis.
Shaquille, what is the situation there tonight?
SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, this is the street,
this is the intersection where George Floyd was killed exactly a week ago,
almost to the hour. What you see is a very impressive scene. A lot of
people, curfew doesn`t begin until 10:00 p.m. so plenty of time. People got
on their knees and chanting “George Floyd.” There are prayers that we
This is a scene that was very similar to what we saw earlier today when the
brother of George Floyd came over. Terence Floyd came through. He had
flowers, he knelt, he spoke to the crowd.
And his message was very clear. It was one of – one, stopping the looting
and stopping the violence, calling on people to stop the destruction of the
community, saying he`s angry, but he is not doing that. So others should –
people shouldn`t be doing that either.
But, two, it was using that energy, using that passion in more productive
and constructive means. He`s called on people to go out and vote, for
example. And you really people listened closely. They were impacted by what
he had to say.
And he went around and just spent time here talking to folks. And,
Lawrence, this is what you`ve been seeing, hundreds of people at this site
bringing flowers, having candles, having those discussions with people
about the tensions that Minneapolis has known and has been having for
several years now. We know that George Floyd is the 11th person to die at
the hands of police in just the past 10 years.
There is a lot of built up energy. One sign that we saw earlier today was
one that said, listen to black people. It`s from a – a white woman was
holding the sign up saying that, hey, it`s time to we need to – it`s time
for us start listening instead of just talking and saying what we think
needs to happen, let`s listen to what we believe should happen.
So, that`s the scene that you have here, Lawrence. Very peaceful, very
solemn and somber, but a very serious tone here at the location where
George Floyd lost his life one week ago.
O`DONNELL: Shaquille Brewster in Minneapolis, thank you very much. We will
come back to you as things develop there over the course of the night.
Thank you, Shaquille.
Let`s now go to Washington, D.C., to NBC`s Garrett Haake, who has been
covering the situation in Washington all day and all of this evening.
Garrett, what is the situation there now?
GARRETT HAAKE, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence,
tonight, the protests that were focused mainly in Lafayette Park over the
last couple of nights have scattered out to the rest of the city, although
the number of protesters is significantly smaller that we`ve seen over the
last couple of nights. The curfew here in Washington, D.C., went into
effect around 7:00 this evening, shortly after that really aggressive,
shocking, clearance of Lafayette Park by federally controlled U.S. Park
Police, Secret Service, National Guardsmen on horse, using batons, shields,
flash bangs of tear gas. After that, it really dispersed the protest
movement across the streets of Washington, D.C. tonight.
I could tell you that all day today – and I have been out here all weekend
– so I think a pretty good basis for comparison, we saw the most peaceful
of the protests we have seen here in Washington, D.C. which made those
images more striking. The protests that we have seen even since have been
peaceful with protesters walking up the street behind me, 17th Street, just
outside the White House, around 8:30 this evening, headed north into the
more residential neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., stopping to chant
George Floyd`s name, to take a knee and to remind those who are still
paying attention here in Washington, D.C. that Black Lives Matter.
That`s what we`re seeing here tonight. The hope – and this is a hope
expressed by the mayor and police chief earlier today that by instituting
this earlier curfew, we might prevent some of the looting and some of the
more dangerous activity that we saw last night. You probably heard the saws
behind me. Most businesses left down here in the central business district
of D.C., having either boarded up their windows or they were already
smashed last night.
So, we`re still sort of bracing to see what might happen in the late hours
here tonight. But so far, at least now in downtown D.C., Lawrence, things
are fairly quiet.
O`DONNELL: Garrett Haake in Washington, D.C., thank you very much for that
report, Garrett. Really appreciate it.
And we are doing our best to deliver a sense of what is happening around
the country tonight, but our best is never good enough because perspective
is always a challenge in news gathering especially TV news gathering which
is always attracted to the most dramatic pictures. And so, for example,
just one example, a small army of citizen volunteers who appeared out of
nowhere this morning in Santa Monica, California, to clean up the vandalism
of the night before will never get the same time on TV for their kindness
and generosity and civic spirit and humanity.
To the big question that America is asking itself tonight, the answer is
yes – yes, we have been here before. And on the day when the president of
the United States threatened to use active duty U.S. military for crowd
control in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, it is worth remembering that in
April of 1968, in Washington, D.C., after Martin Luther King Jr.`s
assassination, there were 6,000 people arrested, 10 people killed over the
course of that week, and the United States military was deployed in
Washington, D.C. then to control the city. That deployment included the
Sixth Armored Calgary Regiment, the 91st Engineering Battalion, and the
So, yes, we have been here before for the same reason, the murder of a
black man. We are going to go – we are going – we`re going to go to –
we`re going to go to Cal Perry in Louisville right now with the breaking
news situation there.
Cal, what`s the situation?
CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So, we`ve had total chaos in the last
few minutes, flash bangs went off, there was the distinct sound – the
distinct sound of gunfire which changed the mood very quickly. You can see,
we are now surrounded by the gas. They put out the tear gas.
The line is there. Those are more flash bang, Lawrence. The crowd here was
jovial but was getting out of control especially with the vehicles and cars
when the National Guard supported units with the police moving forward, the
crowd went to meet them.
That`s when we saw the tear gas and flash bangs, but again, the thing
that`s been happening in this city has been live gunfire, live gunfire. And
we heard it distinctly just about three minutes ago. There was somebody was
shot and killed last night just after midnight. That has been the concern
that everyone has had. The crowd has now dispersed and starting to run. And
if you can see those blue lights, you`ll see police are moving forward very
slowly but deliberately and again, they`re using tear gas to get rid of the
The thing that happened last night, Lawrence, just after midnight, David
McAtee was killed, 53 years old. He was shot dead in an exchange of
gunfire. And as we found out later from the mayor, the police were not
activating their body cams. There was no body camera footage.
That has really upset people here because they view the police force here
as more than just abusive, but as corrupt and as dirty. And that`s what
we`ve been hearing here on the ground, and the fact they were not
activating their body cameras has upset a lot of people here and is frankly
what brought people on the streets here tonight, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And, Cal, we know that two police officers fired in that
incident last night, and two members of the National Guard fired in that
incident, but we don`t know whose bullets killed that very popular black
owner of a restaurant there. The mayor himself said it was a tragedy. The
mayor fired the police chief today over this.
And tonight, is the crowd – is the crowd engaged on the matter of what
happened last night or is this still a focus on George Floyd?
PERRY: I think they are engaged on what happened last night. I will take
you back to the March. The death that we saw here in this city in March of
a 26-year-old EMT who was in her apartment when the police did a no knock
raid, and a no knock raid is just a slick way of saying they went in
without announcing themselves, they were plain clothes, but because they
didn`t body cameras, we don`t really know what happened.
There was what we heard from the neighbors, there was what we heard from
that apartment – they are really shooting now these rubber bullets on the
street. But because the police were not wearing body cameras, everybody is
disputing what happened that night, and then the same thing happening in
And it`s worth nothing on Friday, three days ago, 72 hours ago, when I
spoke to you last, the mayor said it`s mandatory, all police have to wear
body cameras and they have to be activated at all times. So, people just
don`t understand how within three days, within 72 hours of being told these
body cameras are a requirement, that people just didn`t turn them on, when
they knew they were headed for a conflict.
Lawrence, I want to show you what is happening here. So, there`s a few
brave protesters, but they`re now really moving in hard, and I think we`re
going to see some arrests tonight. There were 40 arrested last night, 40
people the night before, and I think we`ll see more arrests.
But to just close this circle around that what we`re talking about, the
situation in Louisville is, of course, very symbolic of what we are seeing
around the country. There is a deep seated distrust, mistrust of the
police. And it goes again beyond what the police do to a deeper issue, when
these body cameras are off, people assume that they are hiding something. I
think that`s the bigger issue here, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, thank you for that report. We will come back to you
as thing develop there in Louisville.
We are joined now by phone by Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of
California. Senator Harris joined the protest in Lafayette Park in
Washington, D.C. on Saturday.
Senator Harris, thank you very much for joining us.
I want to get your reaction to what the president said today about what his
– apparently his desire, although he may not have the authority, to order
U.S. active military into the cities to basically take over those cities of
this country to basically take over and dominate those cities.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) (via telephone): Lawrence, to be clear, these
are not the words of a president. These are the words of a dictator. He
talked about domination, dominating the streets. You know, domination is
just another way of saying supremacy. And that is part of the theme of who
Donald Trump is.
And that is – you know, after a long career of running for office and
being president, where he has spent full-time trying to sow hate and
division. But the fact that he has threatened – he is a commander-in-chief
threatening the American people with the American military, prepared to use
the military against its own people? That`s not the sign of a commander in
You know, I said recently Donald Trump is like the worst combination of
George Wallace and Richard Nixon. He is not capable of leading our country,
especially in this moment of crisis where people are in pain. America is
raw right now and her wounds are exposed. And what he is doing is just
fanning the flame of hurt and pain.
O`DONNELL: The president repeatedly today used the phrase “law and order”.
He said he wants to be the law and order president. That was actually
Richard Nixon`s campaign phrase of 1968 that won him the presidency, in a
year when there was a great deal of civil unrest, including, of course, the
rioting that occurred in Chicago during the Democratic Convention, the
president`s use of that term seems to be designed in the same way Richard
Nixon used it, that it is all aimed at his voters and to strengthen his
base of support.
HARRIS: I think you`re right. There`s no question in my mind that he is
doing this because, one, he does not have any compassion for the people and
their pain. Two, he has no full awareness of the history of our country in
the issue of race, and the fact that black people in the history of our
country have been treated as less than human, and the way that George Floyd
was treated is the current evidence of that, and that we`ve never fully
addressed the history and the historical and systematic racism that exists
And yes – so, of course, he is going into that old playbook of trying to
pretend he is a hero for calling for law and order. But what he is doing is
he`s destroying America, he is destroying our capacity to fight for the
ideals we have not yet reached but know we can get to if we are together in
this. And people are in pain because of it.
But I do believe in the strength of the people. I do believe in the true
nature of who we are and that we will continue to fight for those ideals
that we`ve not yet reached, but it will not be with Donald Trump`s help.
O`DONNELL: Senator Harris, we now have as of tonight 1,802,344 cases of
coronavirus in this country, and we have suffered 105,069 deaths at least
from coronavirus in this country. In the middle of this pandemic, we have
stopped to focus on the loss of one life under a police knee in
How do you maintain the focus and the necessary focus on the pandemic,
especially for, for example, protesters and their need to take care of
themselves in this pandemic? How do you keep that focus running at the same
time that these protest focus is running?
HARRIS: Well, there – you bring up a great point, Lawrence. There`s a
real overlap here, because let`s be clear – the issue of policing is
really the tip of the iceberg. But there is the undercurrent – you know,
the undercurrent of this is the issue of housing and affordable housing,
the issue of healthcare and the disparities in the health care system in
terms of who has access and how much they – money they have to have in
order to have access, the undercurrent is the disparities in education and
And so, these issues are connected when we talk about the pain of the
American people and the suffering of the American people. And so, there is
work to be done. I`m working, for example, on what we need to do to save
our small businesses. Ninety percent of women and minority-owned small
businesses did not receive the benefit of the Paycheck Protection Program.
We need to deal with that.
We need to deal with the fact that the bodega, the barbershop, the beauty
salon, the florist, you know, mostly have employees, ten or fewer people.
And so, we have a whole initiatives that`s about carving them out and
giving money directly to them instead of just giving it to the publicly
traded so-called small companies.
There is work to be done in terms of – Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey and I
are proposing that during the pandemic, we give people direct payments of
$2,000 a month, through the course of the pandemic and three months after
because the American people are falling down and we need hold them up
through the pandemic, so once this is over, they can get back on their feet
and get to work.
These are things that we need to fight for. There are solutions, there are
solutions, but we cannot overlook the pain people are feeling and this is
what we are seeing evidenced itself in the streets of America.
O`DONNELL: Senator Harris, I want to get your reaction to a development in
the prosecution of the murder case in Minneapolis, and that is that the
governor used his authority to put attorney general, State Attorney General
Keith Ellison, in charge of that prosecution. You have been both a district
attorney and an attorney general, you`ve been in both of those roles. The
county attorney now will be working as a teammate in effect of Attorney
General Keith Ellison.
What is your reaction with your expertise as a prosecutor to that
development in this prosecution?
HARRIS: I strongly believe as a former prosecutor that whenever we`re
talking about investigating police misconduct, it should not be the D.A.`s
office or the state attorney`s office that work with that police
department. It should be independent investigation.
So I applaud having the attorney general investigate the case. That should
be happening across the country. It should never be – and I notice and I
speak from experience. It should never be those D.A`s offices who are
investigating those cases.
In addition, Lawrence, part of what I`m calling – and I have legislation
on this issue – is independent investigation and also a legislation to say
we need to have a national standard of force – of use of force, because
what`s happening right now in courtrooms of America when prosecutors bring
these cases against police officers for the use of excessive force, the
standard is to ask, well, was that use of force reasonable in that
Well, we can explain away almost anything as having some reason. It is
almost an insurmountable burden that prosecutors have to meet in order to
make sure there is justice and accountability for excessive force, and in
this case death.
So, what I am proposing and what many of us are fighting for is instead the
standard would be, not was it reasonable, but was that use of force
necessary? Because that really is the fair question to ask when we are
talking about accountability and when we are talking about justice for
those families and the community at large.
O`DONNELL: Senator Kamala Harris, thank you very much for joining us
tonight. We really appreciate it.
HARRIS: Thank you, Lawrence. Take care.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
We are joined by Trymaine Lee, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and MSNBC
correspondent, Marq Claxton is with us, retired New York City police
detective, and the director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. And
Eddie Glaude is with us. He`s the chairman of the Department of African-
American Studies at Princeton University, and an MSNBC contributor.
And, Trymaine, let me start with you because you`ve spoken to Attorney
General Ellison in Minnesota about this situation. What do you see now as
different in this prosecution with Keith Ellison in charge?
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I think what Keith Ellison brings is
first, as a black man, he understands the true texture and nuance of the
long history that got us to this point. He understands the rage being
showed right now, he understands all of the wrinkles. But he also said he
is committed, he believes that former Officer Chauvin murdered George
And I asked him about one thing that I`ve been hearing over and over again
from folks, is that they want a first degree murder charge. They want that
officer had his knee pressed into George Floyd`s neck and he took his large
breaths, and he just looked at the crowd. We believe there was intent
But he said there is a risk of overcharging and, you know, risking a losing
case. But almost as bad is undercharging. So, he said nothing is off the
So, the second thing I was, you know, there were three other officers.
Every day, it seems we`re getting a new angle on the video of Gorge Floyd`s
death. And not only do we see Chauvin`s knee on George Floyd`s neck, we see
three other officers on top George Floyd`s back. And so, he said, he still,
you know, considering the evidence, he didn`t touch on it exactly, you
know, in terms of the evidence, but he said he is focused, he believes that
a great crime was committed here and he is focused.
But I think we rarely see, we had Kamala Harris, you see Keith Ellison,
rarely do we see black attorney generals appointed across the country,
rarely if ever. You know, that`s been a call of reformers, saying we need
more diversity, people who understand the community.
But again he gave me a litany of cases that he thought were clear crimes
that didn`t end up in successful prosecutions. Think about the Walter Scott
case, shot 17 times in the back in South Carolina, a hung jury. You look at
in Eric Garner`s case, a non-indictment. Trayvon Martin case, that wasn`t a
police officer, but we`ve seen the outcome.
So, he said it`s critically important to dot every “I” and cross every “T”,
but it`s certainly an uphill battle.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to go to Chris Jansing right now in New
York City. You are seeing the image on the scene. Chris, what is the
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORREPSONDENT: Well, we had a whole day of very
peaceful protests, thousands and thousands of people but they split up
about sundown. This is the story of what happened since. I think you have
video we can show you. There were so many young people in there.
The police came very quickly and there was a scuffle, one of the commanding
officers got hurt. Not the only place. A couple blocks off Times Square
that`s been vandalized. But let me tell you, everywhere we went after dark,
we saw this, up and down lower Manhattan, around midtown where we are now,
just a block from here, a Verizon store that said no merchandise, no cash,
was broken into and fire was set.
Dozens of protesters today asked me to say, please tell folks this not
we`re about. We are about fighting systemic racism, we are about changing
the system, we are about making sure that another George Floyd doesn`t
happen. They consider by and large this to be a huge distraction and they
wish that people would stop.
But this has been occupying the police, twice as many on the street tonight
as there has been last night. And this destruction is the reason why this
is a very popular tourist store with lots of New York stuff here, broken
into. You can see the glass down there. This is where why Mayor de Blasio
announced that the 11:00 curfew coming up will be 8:00 tomorrow night.
And as we have seen police, they`re very mobile. They`ve been on foot,
they`ve been on bicycles, they`ve been in vans, they`ve been going where
these groups of largely young people are. They are not protesters,
Lawrence. They are here just to destroy, to loot, to cause trouble.
Let me make one more point about this. There was one single protester who
said to me, unfortunately, he thinks it`s taken some of the destruction
around America to bring attention to what they want to bring it to. But he
said this is our home, neighborhood New York and hard to watch.
And just personal note, that Duane Reade that I just showed there, I stop
there about twice a week. It`s right between 30 Rock, where there was a lot
of protesting and there was destruction at some stores there, Michael Kors,
we saw destruction at Best Buy, just down the street from there, and my
house and so, I stop here a couple of times a week. I talked to a few
neighbors who said there is no reason for this. Why is this happening? This
is not what this is supposed to be about.
I spent four hours walking New York. Largely peaceful protesters, but after
dark this is what we are seeing across much of New York, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Chris Jansing, thank you for that report.
Professor Eddie Glaude, you said something last week that put a perspective
on this that I have not heard anyone frame anywhere as well. You talked
about what it must feel like in your bones to be living through this
pandemic and then have your neighborhood crushed as it was in Minneapolis
by this murder of a black man under a police knee. What is your perspective
on this now that we are a week into it?
EDDIE GLAUDE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think, you know, there`s an old
blues metaphor. You know, Robert Johnson found his sound at the crossroad
when he made a deal with the devil. It seems to me the country is at a
crossroad, whether we are going to continue to invest and double down on
the ugliness of our racist commitments, or we`re finally leave this behind.
I think the obvious lynching of George Floyd was simply the fuse that lit
the tinderbox and it`s so layered, Lawrence. What is so interesting to me
is this really quickly, is that people are choosing to risk their lives in
order to protest brutality. They know we are in the middle of a pandemic.
Many probably lost loved ones they weren`t able to attend their funerals,
and yet they are in the street bringing attention to the fact that even
though with the global pandemic that has killed over 105,000 Americans, the
majority – disproportionately African-Americans, right, they`re still out
there trying to call attention to the fact that even that`s happening, that
police is still killing.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to squeeze in a break right now and we will
right back with our live coverage here at THE LAST WORD.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And we are back. These are live shots of
New York City at this hour and Phoenix. The protest demonstration in
Phoenix there, where it is 7:33 p.m. at this hour, a peaceful protest from
all that we can see at this point.
Joining our discussion now is Paul Butler. He is a Law Professor at
Georgetown University, a former Federal Prosecutor and an MSNBC
Contributor. Trymaine Lee is back with us. And Paul Butler, Trymaine was
talking earlier about the autopsy reports that we now have.
We have both, we have the official report from the County Medical Examiner
saying it`s homicide, then you have Michael Baden who was hired by the
family to conduct a private autopsy. And in that private autopsy, he says
very clearly that George Floyd was killed on the scene.
He believes he died right before our eyes on that video and that it was the
pressure on his neck and the pressure on the rest of his body by the other
two officers who were holding down his lower body and pressing his lungs
into that pavement. What is your reaction to these developments in the case
PAUL BUTLER, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: So both autopsy reports
indicate that the cause of death was homicide. I`m hearing that`s a medical
term. It means that Mr. Floyd didn`t die of natural causes, that his death
was caused by another human being.
It doesn`t mean homicide in a criminal sense. That what the jury will
determine. The interesting thing about the family report is that it
indicates that, not only did Mr. Floyd die because of compression to his
neck, but also because of compression to his back and legs, which prevented
blood and oxygen from getting to his brain and heart.
And so that raises the question of why the other officers have not been
charged since they were the one who were also compressing his body, and if
in fact they are charged, will they also be charged with murder?
The other interesting thing about these reports is that the official report
suggests that there were other underlying health conditions which caused or
contributed to Mr. Floyd`s death, whereas the family`s report says that Mr.
Floyd died only because of the officer`s conduct.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Dr. Michael Baden said about this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MICHAEL BADEN, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: When he said I can`t breathe,
unfortunately many police are under the impression, if you can talk, that
means you are breathing. That is not true. I am talking and talking and
talking and not breathing in front of you. So, the concept that a person
says I can`t breathe, like Mr. Garner, like in this instance means you
should take it seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Trymaine, this is the day when we`ve had more developments in
the case since the day that the officer was arrested.
TRYMAINE LEE, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Yes, that`s right. New
developments are rapidly pouring in. Every day, there`s a new angle in the
video. We have two autopsies now.
Keith Ellison the Attorney General was appointed to lead the case just last
night. Today, he told me that he is already pouring over evidence to
determine whether the other officers on the scene who`ve also been fired
with Chauvin should be charged, but also considering whether or not Officer
Chauvin`s charges should be upgraded from third degree murder and
manslaughter to first degree charges.
There is so much happening in this case. And then you look outside and
imagine the pressure pushing in, I won`t say Keith Ellison, but also the
entire system. There are a generation of young people who came of age post-
Trayvon Martin, who have seen these cases time after time with no
And if any of these cases for some reason - this one has resonated with so
many of us in a very different way. And we have been here before with the
Mike Browns and Eric Garners and Freddie Grays, but I think to have the
triplicate nature of what we saw in the last few weeks, where you had
Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia gunned down by white vigilantes.
You had Breonna Taylor shut dead eight times in her bed as she slept in the
course of a no-knock warrant. And then to see George Floyd die the way he
did, there is a lot at stake here. And I have always said this, we`ve been
here having these conversations time and again. When there is an absence of
information, absence of transparency, it will be filled with gas and heat.
And we are seeing some of that. Even though we are seeing these
developments, there are people who want to see justice, even though time
and again, it is not clear that many folks, black folks especially, know
what actual justice is, and that`s where we are. In that conversation with
Keith Ellison, I don`t think any of this weight was lost.
He was appointed for a reason. He said it was to bring the full weight of
the state and all its resources to bear on this case. But I think there is
a symbolic, there is something symbolic here. Let`s say you want justice,
well at least maybe you will have a better shot here.
I`m not saying that`s what the Governor is thinking. But for many people
that`s what is at stake here, and we`ll see, but right now you hear the
President talking about dominating the streets and appointing soldiers into
these communities. And we have seen it time and again, the response to
police violence is militarized police, the response to police violence is
armored tanks and snipers, and we are seeing that play out.
You see those images that Chris Jansing showed in New York City of those
broken windows, many of those young people don`t have anything but rage in
their bellies, nothing but anger and rage and hurt in their bellies. And
obviously, the powers that be have to weigh all of this, but day by day
there are a lot of people who are hoping that this time this might be a
pivot point towards justice.
O`DONNELL: We`ll go to Gadi Schwartz right now, NBC News Correspondent who
is in Los Angeles I believe reporting from Hollywood. Gadi, where are you
and what is the situation there?
GADI SCHWARTZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right now, we are deep in Hollywood
and you can see that there are police that are running in all different
directions. They are deploying to different parts of the city and we`ve got
them pulling up spike strips right here because they boxed in some cars
that they believed may have been involved in looting.
There are some looting of a Rite Aid just down the way, so I`m going to
show what that looks like right now. CHP has boxed in these cars right here
and there are some officers that are responding to another call, but it is
now past curfew. Some of the people here we understand are being arrested
for possible looting, others for disturbing the peace. But it`s really a
tense situation we`ve got.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Gadi, we are going to have to cut to Oakland, California
O`DONNELL: You`re watching live coverage of the situation in Oakland,
California at this moment. OK, we are going to come back to that when we
can have some perspective on it and see what is actually happening there.
It`s not infrequent for these cameras to supply what seem to be urgent
images, but without context we don`t really know what we are seeing there.
Marq Claxton is still with us, former NYPD detective. And Mark, I wanted to
get your reaction to what you see as developments in the prosecution case
today, with the autopsy report indicating that there could be criminal
liability for homicide for two other officers who were also compressing
George Floyd`s body.
MARQ CLAXTON, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: I think today`s autopsy reports came
as support of what we saw with our own eyes and believed in our hearts
regarding the death of Mr. Floyd.
I want to touch on just the movement that`s been happening as of late in
some of the events that occurred today. It seems as if we`re squandering a
golden opportunity. And when your Commander in Chief becomes a Provocateur
in Chief, you`re squandering a golden opportunity for reform, it just shows
how far away we are from reform.
What a golden opportunity when you think that we have individuals, civilian
population committed - emotionally committed police reform, criminal
justice reform. You have law enforcement professionals across the nation
who have expressed publicly their support for some level of reform, and you
have a President who instead decides to provide provocation and increased
militarization about police. It`s a squandered opportunity. So the recent
developments, the autopsy reports, the failure, the lack of an arrest here
all point towards squandering of a golden opportunity to start moving
towards a more progressive and reformed agenda.
O`DONNELL: I want to go back to the Eddie Glaude on that point. Professor
Glaude, the squandered opportunity here is still within our grasp. This
story is not over, the momentum from it is not over. And historically, the
challenge in it has been - I have been on this subject since the late
1970s, my first book was about this, but the challenge has been getting
white political support for a crisis that everyone in the black community
knew was present and ongoing, and this seems like one of those moments to
get that political support that could gel into a large enough majority for
legislative action of some kind.
EDDIE GLAUDE, CHAIRMAN DEPARTMENT OF AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES, PRINCETON
UNIVERSITY: Well, perhaps. And we do know in the past and some efforts on
the part of white allies and white liberals, they end up doing things that
actually help build a carceral state.
My colleague Naomi Murakawa wrote a wonderful book called entitled “The
First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America” to detail that story.
But I think, Lawrence, you are absolutely right. With the pressure from the
streets, we have an opportunity, and I think we need to talk about
qualified immunity. We need to talk about decriminalization.
You can damn near sneeze in this country and break a law. We need to talk
about demilitarization of the police. We need to talk about what Senator
Harris mentioned that is a national uniform code, a policy around the use
of force, and I think those are baseline gestures that we can begin to
Because we know that the criminal justice system is not - it`s messed, it`s
complicated, the relationship between police, prosecutors, county
examiners, a range of things. So we have a lot of work to do, and this
pressure from below in light of the tragedy that we just - the public
lynching that we just witnessed has given us an opportunity to do just
O`DONNELL: We are seeing live coverage of the protest demonstration in
Phoenix tonight, which remains like most of the demonstrations, virtually
all of the demonstrations, the protests nationwide have been peaceful.
The activity that has not been peaceful is usually either unrelated to the
protest or something that happens after the protest or it involves perhaps
maybe a very tiny sliver of the people who are involve in the protest, if
it involves any of them at all.
So we are trying to cover two different things on the streets of America.
One is what you are seeing right here, which is an entirely peaceful
protest. That is most of what is happening on our streets. Our cameras are
also chasing criminal behavior pretty much wherever they see it. We have a
tendency to overemphasize it, because wherever we find it, we tend to send
the cameras there. And so don`t misunderstand the proportions here.
There are many more people you see right there than you have seen in any of
the other criminal behaviors that we`ve put on the screen tonight. We are
going back to Oakland, California tonight where we have live images coming
in from there. Jake Ward is covering this for us in Oakland. Jake, what is
the situation there?
JACOB WARD, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I want to show right now the police
cordon that just has launched up. This is the first night of a curfew
imposed by Alameda County, 8 p.m. which by my watch is not for another 12
minutes, and yet a moment ago just down the block, we are hit with flash
bangs and tear gas and forced to don our masks.
This cordon of officers including both Oakland PD and Alameda County
Sheriff Department seems determined to get us off the streets right away,
in spite of the fact that all day, I have been talking about how
extraordinarily peaceful Oakland has been.
Tonight, a few hundred people did gather up against the police cordon,
chanting much more loudly than they had. But we just came from a gathering
of over 3,000 people by local estimates and that was full of teenagers,
children, people who spoke powerfully and eloquently about their desire to
be in that place, to use in the case of one white teenager we spoke to his
privilege to make sure that people got heard, and several teenagers talking
to us about the need for police training reform, the need to not have to
act in a different way in order to protect themselves against the police.
It`s really quite beautiful to be around. And now to see suddenly the
police firing these small explosive devices and tear gas into what has been
an angry, but very peaceful crowd until now, it`s unfortunate to see. And
again, we are about 11 minutes from the official curfew. Perhaps it had to
come to this, but it is not clear to me that that is the case.
O`DONNELL: Jake Ward, thank you for that report in Oakland, California. We
are going to go back down to Los Angeles now to Gadi Schwartz who is in
Hollywood where the curfew is 6 p.m. in Los Angeles County, one of the
earlier curfews. What are we hearing there, Gadi, what is the situation?
SCHWARTZ: It has boomed - it`s unfair (ph) for hearing some flash bangs or
possibly some sort of fireworks, we`ve seen fireworks set up near police.
But what we`re seeing behind us here, this is a line of people that have
been arrested, they are taken into custody.
It`s unclear exactly how they`re going to be processed, whether they are
going to be released on their own recognizance or just something that we`ve
seen for quite some time, we know that in Los Angeles, there have been over
700 people arrested.
But as you know, during the pandemic, there have been about 5,000
nonviolent offenders released from jail, many of the court systems are shut
down. So there is a big chance that these people will be released within a
few hours, possibly by the morning.
So let me tell you what police say unfortunately we haven`t been able to
talk to the people that are in custody yet. We`re going to try to ask them
some questions as soon as we can. But police say there was a looting just
down the way at a Rite-Aid. And since officers in this area for some reason
they stopped a bunch of cars over in this area, again some people they
think may have been looting.
Others were out during - after the curfew. The curfew here is 6 o`clock as
you mentioned. So what we have seen is this convergence of almost three
different groups here in California. You`ve got the protesters that are
peaceful, you`ve got a few agitators inside of the protestors that are
engaging with police.
And then you`ve got an element that is going around trying to find
vulnerabilities, trying to find where police aren`t, that happened
yesterday in Santa Monica. Today, the use of police deployment, as you can
see, is massive. We have got way more officers on the street than actual
protesters in many cases, and so they are deploying extremely rapidly and
boxing people in. Lawrence?
O`DONNELL: Gadi Schwartz, thank you for that report from Hollywood. We are
going to take a break here and we will be right back after this.
O`DONNELL: Here is a moment in Los Angeles yesterday. It was actually in
Santa Monica yesterday afternoon, and it was captured on local Los Angeles
TV by reporter Koco McAboy for Channel 11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KOCO MCABOY, CORRESPONDENT, FOX 11: Hey, guys, you see this? OK, do you
guys want to come back to us? Hey, do you guys want to come back to us?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That brave young woman ran in there to stop that destruction of
that store, and at least temporarily scared those people away from that
store. There were scenes of destruction in Santa Monica, California
yesterday and there were scenes of heroism like that, trying to prevent
destruction. And the destruction was preceded by a protest demonstration
that was 100% peaceful, 100% peaceful.
Joining our discussion now is Heather McGhee, co-chair, Color of Change and
an MSNBC Contributor. And Professor Eddie Glaude is back with us. And
Heather, I have been struggling for perspective in our coverage, which is
what am I supposed to do when I`m at that protest yesterday in Santa
Monica? I watched the whole thing. It`s 100% peaceful.
And then there`s this small group of people, two dozen, three dozen maybe,
who dominate television for the rest of the night because they have run
into stores to grab $70 sneakers and things like that, and those are the
people who get all of the attention in the coverage of this. How do we find
perspective in the way we watch these events?
HEATHER MCGHEE, CO-CHAIR, COLOR OF CHANGE: Lawrence, I want to thank you
for being self-reflective about that, because the message of this moment is
the extraordinary courage and heroism of the everyday Americans, many of
them young, a multiracial group of Americans in every single state in this
country, who have joined together with an urgent demand to transform this
And they`re doing it during a global pandemic, with the threat of
unconscionable police brutality that is only getting worse with these
nationwide curfews that give police a free rein to attack people just for
exercising their First Amendment rights.
They`re doing it because they see a new America coming, and they`re willing
to fight for it, and they`re willing to put their bodies on the line for
it. And I`m sure Professor Glaude and I have all been to protests like the
ones in these past two days, but have never seen so many people of
different races and ethnicities coming together repeatedly to say enough is
enough. We see a new America coming, and it`s time for those who are
holding on to the old ways to simply get out of the way. It`s courage and
it`s bravery, and that`s what you need to focus on.
O`DONNELL: Professor Glaude, we have had police officers around the country
join the protest, take a knee with the protesters. I saw some truly
fearsome-looking police officers yesterday in the Los Angeles area in riot
Each one of them, when I watched their behavior up close with the
protesters, was polite, was professional. I mean that officer right there
couldn`t have been nicer to every single person who approached him. And
yet, we also have some horrible stories, horrible stories of the police
work that we have seen this week in their attempts at what they call crowd
control. How do we put it all into a perspective that we can understand?
GLAUDE: Well, I mean I think it`s wonderful that we have examples of police
behaving humanely, that their uniforms don`t in some ways distract them
from decency and extending dignity to their fellows.
But I wanted to say, as I was watching some of the misconduct, some of the
misbehavior, Lawrence, I couldn`t help but think that if you bracketed the
tear gas and the rubber bullets, what we saw was the way in which black
communities and communities of color are often policed.
That is to say, we see aggression, we see insult and contempt and spite. We
saw that over the - we`ve seen that over the last couple of days or nights,
that is. So I think what we have to do is kind of move beyond the symbolic
gestures and really get to the heart of the conversation of how do we
reform the ways our communities are policed, and how do we reform criminal
justice in the United States to address the racial bias that`s at the heart
of it all?
O`DONNELL: Heather McGhee, Barack Obama made his entry into that discussion
today and saying and in PC wrote that protesters have to now focus on
exactly what they should be demanding because this is the moment where they
can make those demands on policy.
MCGHEE: Yes, I think it`s really important that everyone who`s watching
knows that they can get involved in that. Color of Change and many other
organizations, you can text 55156, text the word “demands” and you will get
engaged in an action network.
People can take action at their local and state level and of course at the
federal level. This is a breakthrough moment that we`re having in this
country right now. Donations from police should be toxic to candidates. We
should have pledges all across and up and down for office to not take the
money and to have a criminal justice reform agenda that meets this moment.
O`DONNELL: Heather McGhee, Eddie Glaude, thank you both very much for
joining our discussion tonight. I wish we had more time. Thank you. Really
That is tonight`s last word. “The 11th Hour” with Brian William starts now.
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Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
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