George Floyd TRANSCRIPT: 6/2/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Andrew Mills, Michael Steele, Melissa Murray

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again. Day 1,230 of the Trump administration. 154 days remain until the presidential election.

The protests that erupted in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police now, of course, a nationwide movement, one that seems to grow larger by the day. For the eighth night in a row, people in the middle of a pandemic are in groups out on the streets.

A few hours ago as young protesters stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial. There was a dramatic show of force just behind them on the steps of the memorial, dismounted infantry, many of them with faces covered.

Mandatory curfews now in effect in at least 28 major cities from New York to Los Angeles, meaning millions of Americans are supposed to stay home.

We begin in the city of New York, where Correspondent Ali Velshi has ventured home from Minneapolis and is now at 14th Street and Fifth Avenue in lower Manhattan where, Ali, we should point out curfew has been in effect for, what, three hours?

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST, "VELSHI": That`s correct. Exactly three hours. I`m a block West of Union Square. We have people who have been arrested getting into this van, ever here on the right, probably a dozen in that van. There`s another van right next here where they`re loathing few people in. You can still see police vehicles coming in. Then there`s a third van in the distance over there. You can see some people with zip ties around their wrists.

So there have been over a dozen people in the last 15 minutes. They were all seated here. They`ve been arrested. They continue to chant, and the charges, we understand, are all breaking curfew. So the curfew has been in place for about three hours, and what we`ve seen is police moving around the city to various places and making arrests.

Now there were large groups. There was a group that probably numbers in the 5,000s heading over from Brooklyn across the Manhattan Bridge. This seems to be part of that group. There was another group on the upper west side coming down the west side highway. There was a third group in midtown in the 50s and another group in Times Square.

But I spoke to a few protesters who said there wasn`t really an objective tonight. They were out on the street and as police came out and continued to block off intersections, many of them did disperse. Some did not, and the result of that is a number of people getting arrested.

So here we have, again, Union Square, which was an objective, it seemed, for some of the protesters. And if you look behind me, there are still police vehicles over there coming in. So that`s Union Square that Mike has just turned around to look at. There are more police vehicles coming this way.

But all evening on the scanners, Brian, we`ve been hearing reports of location movements and fairly fast movements, groups of a few hundred people at a time up to a few thousand. It does seem the three hours in New York police do have a situation on it and curfew is in place.

Now, there are people around town. There are individuals walking around town still who would be in violation of curfew, but they don`t seem to be being arrested. It seems to be people who are involved in protests. And as these people are loaded into these vans, they continue to chant "say his name, George Floyd," "black lives matter." They`re chanting in that nature. But, again, everything we`ve seen so far has been peaceful. We have seen reports and seen reports and earlier it sounds like I heard a window crashing, so there have been sporadic reports of violence around the city, but the peaceful protesters have been broken up, and many of them are being arrested as we speak. Brian?

WILLIAMS: Ali Velshi, thanks. As we keep saying, separate and apart from the peaceful protesters last night in New York, where the looters laid waste to parts of Midtown Manhattan, today we heard from the governor of New York say that the mayor and the New York City Police Department were not in control last night. So short of calling in the 13,000 National Guard in the State of New York, the governor seems to have prevailed. The streets seem calmer and more peaceful tonight.

Our Correspondent Shaquille Brewster is in Minneapolis where we last spoke to him last night, a neighborhood which is by design a peaceful place because it is a sacred place. It is the street where George Floyd was killed. Shaq.

SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: And, Brian, we`re actually right now across the street from that exact location where George Floyd was killed over a week ago at this point. We know that here in Minneapolis, there`s that curfew in place. That curfew went into effect at the top of the hour, and you still see plenty of people here, plenty of people having -- protesting and letting their voice be heard. And there`s a whole ceremony going back there. You see someone speaking. They`re talking about George Floyd. They continue to chant for George Floyd.

This is the scene that you`ve been seeing all day long for the past couple of days, Brian. This is one area that despite the curfew, police have not entered. Police are leaving this and letting it be that sacred place that so many people have called it as by day, you see people bringing in flowers, bringing in candles, bringing in their sign. And by night you see people doing what they can to commemorate and live up to George Floyd`s memory.

We did have some updates today, Brian, on the case and on the investigation on two fronts. The first from the state. The governor announced today that he was filing a civil rights charge against the Minneapolis police department. He`s looking into systemic issues that the department has, saying he`s not just looking at this George Floyd investigation, going beyond it and seeing the past ten years, the patterns and practices of that department. He`s saying and he almost credited protesters, people have been coming out in force.

We had 2,000 people in St. Paul at the site of the state capitol. He`s crediting protesters and activism for pushing that change about. Then you heard from the attorney of the George Floyd family, Benjamin Crump. He said that he expects by the time that George Floyd is laid to rest, which we know will be Tuesday in Houston -- so by Tuesday of next week, according to the family`s attorney, the three remaining Minneapolis police department officers will be arrested and charged. That`s according to the family attorney. We`re still waiting to see what the official side has to say about that. But you can tell people are watching. People are watching this closely. One of the chants you`ve been hearing since the brother of George Floyd came here yesterday was one down, three to go.

People here want to see not only those officers arrested, but they want to see that systemic change, and they`re hoping today with the latest developments, that they`re getting a little bit of both. Brian.

WILLIAMS: Speeches and calm going on in the background. Shaq Brewster in Minneapolis, we appreciate it.

Last we heard from Jo Ling Kent in Seattle, she was getting hit by a projectile as last night`s peaceful demonstration turned into something else. And, Jo, I understand you`re back on the same athletic fields where we last saw you 24 hours ago. How are things going tonight in Seattle?

JO LING KENT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Brian, here in Seattle, it is peaceful so far in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It turns out there`s a lot of different ways to show your support for black lives matter and George Floyd. It`s social distancing here on this big athletic field. You may have seen us cross it a little bit last night as we were leaving the teargased area.

But just beyond this field is the intersection where you have thousands of protesters gathered facing towards the east precinct there. And it is a much, much larger crowd than what we saw yesterday, and it assembled a lot earlier. You have more music, more spirit tonight than we did yesterday.

Now, I want to tell you why you might be seeing that. The mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan, came out a couple of hours ago to speak to protesters when they were gathered across about a mile down the road here in Seattle. And her message, which was not always very well received, was that she is now here to listen and engage with the protesters. She has now tweeted just now, saying that trust between law enforcement and community is earned. And every single action, the mayor here in Seattle says, where the police officer either adds or takes away community trust.

And beginning tomorrow, the mayor is telling all of us she will be having meetings and hearing directly from protesters about their calls for social justice, for police reform here on the ground.

Meanwhile, the curfew was pushed back tonight, so protesters curfew is now 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., and that has been extended, Brian, through Saturday morning. And the idea here, having just talked to one of the organizers again, is to maintain the momentum, to keep the peace, but also make their voices heard.

But we also want to point out one more thing before I let you go. Back there you see, a huge group of people, right? You`ve got the folks hanging from the top of the -- I think it`s a batting cage. I`m not sure. But there`s a lot of police on the other side, and there`s National Guard.

Now, that national guard is now geared up in different equipment, more riot-proof equipment compared to last night, and that means they are also gearing up for a possible situation here that could be more intense than what we saw. But overall the spirit here in Seattle, in Capitol Hill is positive. People are glad to be here making their voices heard. They believe they have a chance now, some of them do, by engaging the mayor of Seattle. So there`s a lot of action, and we are staying here at a safe distance to watch it and observe it and see how it transpires tonight. Brian.

WILLIAMS: Probably a good plan, Jo. Thank you. We hope it stays peaceful and get back in touch with us if you need us.

We have updates to that show of force against peaceful protesters yesterday in Lafayette Park across from the White House. Today the U.S. park police denied using tear gas, said they acted after protesters used harsh tactics themselves.

Reporters who were there as eyewitnesses said all day long today that`s not true. The Washington Post is reporting Attorney General Bill Barr is the one who ordered the operation to clear the way for Trump`s bible-holding photo op at St. John`s church there in Lafayette Square.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who was notable by his presence along with the head of the Joint Chiefs, General Milley, Esper tells NBC News he didn`t realize Trump was heading to the church, saying he thought he was going to, "see some damage and to talk to the troops. I didn`t know where I was going."

Former military leaders are now speaking out about this whole thing. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen writes this in The Atlantic. "I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump`s leadership, but we are at an inflection point and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent. Whatever Trump`s goal in conducting his visit, there was little good in the stunt."

There was reporting today the entire visit was engineered by Hope Hicks and Jared Kushner. Additional reporting that the bible that was brought was brought there from the White House in Ivanka`s handbag, which last night the internet quickly figured out retails for over $1,500 at Max Mara.

And tonight in a letter to The Washington Post, Former Undersecretary of Defense James Miller resigned. The Pentagon`s Defense Science Board calling yesterday`s operation an appalling use of force.

The President visited yet another religious site this morning with a stop at the St. John Paul II National Shrine. That prompted an angry response from the catholic archbishop, the diocese of Washington, who wrote, "I find it baffling and reprehensible that any catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree."

Garrett Haake remains in our nation`s capital. He was there in Lafayette Square yesterday when the pushing and shoving and firing and tear gas started. He remains there for us tonight. Garrett, how has this evening been different?

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Brian, it`s been a very different day here today. One of the largest, probably the largest protest I`ve seen here in Lafayette Square. And ironically, the President`s use of force here yesterday and his visit to this church had the effect, I think, of uniting Washington, D.C. even more in opposition to those tactics.

I talked to a lot of protesters today for whom this was their first day out. Some of them felt like they didn`t know how to show their support or they didn`t know if this was their fight or their protest. But after seeing what federal police officers did in their city, wanted to come out and show their support today. And so they did, staying well past the 7:00 p.m. curfew that was put in place yesterday.

You can see behind me there`s still upwards of 100 or 200 folks still defying that curfew here tonight. Protest continues. It continues to be almost entirely peaceful. As we get later into the night, you do see more folks who are inclined to throw bottles and things like that, plastic bottles at the officers who are in the park behind me.

But it seems pretty clear that Washington, D.C. is going to let protests continue so long as they remain peaceful and the federal law enforcement officers seem content to stay behind the nine-foot-tall fence that was installed in this park late last night, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, that is -- that barricade that a lot of people woke up to this morning is a huge new addition and certainly helps the troops and the police hold that ground. I know people have been shaking it. I think some people thought of trying to topple it tonight, but most reports have it that the peaceful protesters themselves have shouted down that effort and said, that`s not why we`re here.

HAAKE: Yeah. I can confirm that, Brian. We`ve seen that all day, protesters essentially self-policing when folks have been throwing bottles or have been trying to do more or what we call off-message activities. The protest organizers have said, hey, that`s not why we`re here and in many cases start to drown out with chants of peaceful protest, reminding folks the purpose for this, the life and the taking of the life of George Floyd, and the history of police violence against these communities, not trying to do things the other way around, Brian. So again, self-regulating protests here tonight.

WILLIAMS: All right. Garrett Haake, Lafayette Square in Washington just across from the White House, a piece of real estate everyone should know by now.

Alexi McCammond is with us tonight, and we`re happy about that. She is Political Reporter for Axios and a longtime friend of our broadcast.

Alexi, I heard it say yesterday that what Donald Trump did was Erdowinnian (ph), and we don`t want to take anything away from Erdogan of Turkey. You cover politics. What audience, what subset was the holding of the bible aloft even though the visual required the President to walk within distance of spray-painted profanity involving his name, what was that visual aimed at?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXI MCCAMMOND, AXIOS POLITICAL REPORTER: Thank you so much for having me, Brian. I feel like in the last two days alone, we`ve been talking about these incredible split-screen moments that we`re seeing not just between former Vice President Joe Biden and the way that he`s handling this compared to President Trump. But President Trump against himself and his own words and what he is saying while the country is enfolding into deeper and deeper chaos.

The stunt that he pulled yesterday, walking to the church to hold up a bible and not even reference any lines from it or offer words of inspiration to the country, was for his base audience, I would imagine. It is for the folks that he knows will stick with him no matter what. It is for, he thinks, dumb faith leaders who will fall for this stunt, but the country is quickly learning that President Trump cares about himself in these moments, and he cares about his base group of voters. And we know that he tries different tactics to throw red meat to them through culture wars and different things literally since he ran for president in 2016. But we`re seeing the depths and the darkness of those culture wars and where he is willing to go in a moment like this.

WILLIAMS: Alexi, you invoked Joe Biden. I`d like to play a little bit of the speech he gave in Philadelphia today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, (D) FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. George Floyd`s last words, but they didn`t die with him.

They speak to a nation where too often just the color of your skin puts your life at risk. They speak to a nation where more than 100,000 people have lost their lives to a virus and 40 million have filed for unemployment.

I won`t traffic in fear and division. I won`t fan the flames of hate. I`ll seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued our country, not use them for political gain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: Alexi, are we going to live to see the day when empathy is an issue in a presidential campaign, you think?

MCCAMMOND: Brian, before all this happened, I would have said no. The coronavirus pandemic started to change that slowly. I`ve heard from voters myself who previously wouldn`t say anything bad about President Trump other than they wished he would stop tweeting.

I slowly saw how voters in crucial Midwestern battleground states would say things like, we hate the way that he`s injecting politics into a life or death situation. Now we see the way that he`s handling this George Floyd situation, and we saw voters who are ditching President Trump because of his personality before all of this.

We now see Americans who are siding against him, who are siding with Joe Biden in part because -- in large part because of the leadership that both of these men are showing but because of the personality traits that Joe Biden is showing, that President Trump is not.

We know that Americans are looking for a leader in this moment. They`re looking for someone to offer guidance on the way forward. One of the more interesting lines from Joe Biden`s remarks today in Philadelphia came when he said that he wasn`t always going to get things right on the first try but that essentially, and I`m paraphrasing, that`s not the point. The point is that you`re pursuing what`s right. You`re taking responsibility for what you do. You`re listening to other people, and you`re making sure that you`re listening to the people who are actually affected by these things. We haven`t heard that same type of rhetoric from President Trump. We haven`t heard that same type of leadership or guidance from the incumbent president in the White House.

Americans are broken in this moment not just because of George Floyd`s killing but because of everything else that is happening at this moment and that has been happening since the 2016 election. And I think that we will see empathy on the ballot in this election in a way we haven`t in a really long time.

WILLIAMS: I have something else to play for you. Our own Kasie Hunt was on Capitol Hill today. This is something less than a roll call of honor, but it is senior Republicans in the Senate that we will all recognize.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Senator McConnell, was what the President did last night the right thing to do?

MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I wasn`t there so I didn`t see exactly what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think he could do better?

MCCONNELL: We all can -- every day we all can do better. I try.

HUNT: What the President did, the peaceful protesters that were dispersed with tear gas, he then walked across the street to the church. Was that the right thing to do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t really see it.

HUNT: Was clearing the protesters an abuse of power? You don`t have any comment on what happened at the White House last night?

MITT ROMNEY, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gassing of White House protesters, do they have right?

ROMNEY: I didn`t watch that enough to know what happened there.

LISA MURKOWSKI, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I did not think that what we saw last night was the American that I know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: So, Alexi, just a little list here. Kentucky, Wisconsin, Kansas, Florida, Utah, Alaska, the voters all there. It`s their business because they sent all those senators to Washington. Is that answer and/or the lack of an answer entirely going to be cool with the electorate going forward?

MCCAMMOND: We heard the refrain time and again in this moment that, you know, if you`re silent, you`re on the side of the oppressor. That didn`t just apply to what`s happening with George Floyd. That applies to what the President is doing to the American people, what he is saying to the American people, and how the folk who`s are working under him are treating the American people who are exercising their first amendment rights.

It`s not just the silence from Republican allies and senators on the Hill when it comes to this, Brian. It`s the words that are coming from the Trump campaign, who are asking journalists to retract and correct their stories that put the factual information out there that protesters, as you mentioned, your colleagues, Garrett Haake, Yamiche Alcindor at PBS and others were teargased themselves yesterday while covering this.

But the Trump campaign is going so far as to literally try to gaslight us into saying that we should retract and correct these stories because it simply was not true. That, plus Republican senators being silent on this entire issue is something that voters are watching unfold in real time, and it`s something that is not sitting well with the American people.

Polls show time and again that a majority of Americans think that not just the anger behind the protests but the manifestation of the protests are justified for the American people. That`s not what you hear coming from President Trump, and it`s not what you hear in the silence from Senate Republicans.

WILLIAMS: Our thanks to our friend Alexi McCammond from Axios. Always a pleasure to have you on the broadcast. Thank you very much for making some time for us tonight.

MCCAMMOND: Thanks, Brian.

WILLIAMS: We`re going to take our first break. On the other side, we`ll check in with some major cities on the west coast tonight right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: Welcome back. If you`ve been watching for the past several nights, we have followed Correspondent Gadi Schwartz all over Southern California. Tonight finds him with the protesters on the move in Hollywood. Gadi, what`s the situation there?

GADI SCHWARTZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So right now you can see there`s a lot of people out here. They`re saying "black lives matter." You`ve got people here (overlapping voices).

One at a time. One at a time. So we`re going to talk to him. You just said, we`re not here to loots. What are you here for tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible). We`re tired of going through this. We`re trying to make a statement here. (Inaudible).

SCHWARTZ: Thank you so much. So I`m going to take you this way. Thank you, guys. So I want to show you what`s going on right now. That`s what you hear, the passionate group at the front. But behind the group, you`ve got what`s basically devolved into protests of people in (inaudible) -- and then you`ve got cars in the back.

Now, I`m going to show you this over here. You`ve got the helicopter above. LAPD has been carefully tracking where this protest is moving. For now, they`ve given them somewhat of a wide berth. All day today we have seen some of the biggest protests so far in Los Angeles, and most of them, while rowdy, have been peaceful. We haven`t seen any situations or instances of looting like we saw yesterday here at this rite aid. But this is a pretty dynamic situation. You`ve got people in the back of cars over here. You`ve got people that are in the road, and this is well past curfew. So LAPD now says that they`re going to start moving in. We`ve seen them on the periphery of this protest. They`ve been boxing in cars, starting to make arrests, starting to impound vehicles.

But this group is about 200, 300 strong right now. You`ve got LAPD keeping an eye on what`s going on from the periphery, most of them on motorcycles. But in the next couple hours or so, if any indication was yesterday, we may see them start to box in some of these protesters, make massive arrests. Last night LAPD in Downtown Los Angeles set a record for people arrested. We understand over 700 people were arrested so far. Again, some of the largest crowds we`ve seen thus far (inaudible). As you can see, it`s been really, really rowdy here. I`m going to send it back to you. We`re going to position a little bit further back, but we`re going to keep an eye on this situation. Brian.

WILLIAMS: OK. Our usual apologies apply for the language. Tensions are high. Emotions are high. A hectic but let`s hope remaining a peaceful night on the streets of Hollywood, California, tonight.

Our next guest Santa Cruz police Chief Andrew Mills, took a knee demonstrators in his city Saturday. That was all it took to make news across our country. He`s also making a public plea to get policing back on track. For more, we are happy tonight to be joined by the police chief for Santa Cruz, California, Andrew Mills. Chief, talk about what went into your decision and what you learned in that simple act of taking a knee.

CHIEF ANDREW MILLS, SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, first of all, thank you for having me on. It`s an honor to be here and to talk about what`s happening in Santa Cruz and many other cities across the country. The mayor, the person kneeling to my right, Justin Cummins and I were talking and discussing, you know, the Black Lives Matter movement, what it was a very peaceful protest.

And when that time came for everybody to take a knee, it felt right. I`d already determined in my mind that I wanted to take a knee to show my stance, what we need to do in policing to get things back on track.

Secondly, I also wanted to send a message to my community that we`re all in this together, that we are -- we can de-escalate this. We don`t have to have riot gear and helmets and bats and batons, that we can do this in a very peaceful way. And then a message to my department that we are part of the community, not separate from it, not above it, not to police it, but to work with our community in order to bring justice for everybody, including people of color and people who are undervalued in many ways in our community. So just kind of an organic thing that just happened spur of the moment.

WILLIAMS: How is your community? How are your streets? And how is your department? Here in the New York area, for example, NYPD is working 12s mostly, 12-hour shifts, 12 on, 12 off in some cases. And with the tempo of this, a lot of big-city departments especially are getting good and tired.

MILLS: Yes. So our community is doing fabulous. We have not had any act of violence, and we`ve been very fortunate that our community values peace and has really made us proud that they`ve determined that they would do peaceful protests up to this point, and we think and we believe that will continue.

We have not moved to 12-hour shifts at this point. We have deployed some overtime to make sure we have adequate staffing to meet any problems that might come. But we just got off a long term of 12-hour shifts because of COVID-19, and now we have the opportunity to go back to our normal shifts. And so it`s working well for us right now, but we`re keeping a very close eye on it as you might imagine.

WILLIAMS: How do good cops answer for bad cops? I believe it was yesterday we had a live television news audience watching in Australia. Their correspondent and camera person in Lafayette Square, in Washington, as was our own Garrett Haake, as were correspondents from other networks and publications when the call just went out. The signal went out around 6:35 p.m. Eastern Time to move, and it got rough, and it got violent.

And all of Australia saw a police officer just aim a roundhouse punch at the cameraman. There have been protests filed over it, say nothing of what has us here, the taking of a life at the hands of police in the twin cities. So, back to my lengthy and wordy start of this question. How do good cops answer for bad cops?

MILLS: Well, Brian, we`ve got to do a lot better. We have been way too slow as a profession to make sure that we`re cleaning out our own house. But I can tell you this, that most of the sustained allegations that we get for internal affairs investigations come from police officers inside the organization. And I think that has to continue. It has to increase.

But we have a little mantra here, and that is if you see it, you own it. You can no longer say that`s somebody else he responsibility. It wasn`t me. If you were there, it was just as though you didn`t, that you didn`t intervene and stop excessive use of force.

And I read an article just recently that over 100 journalists have been hit with rounds and have been injured as a part of this coverage of this protest. That can`t happen in a free world. The press needs to be free, needs to film us, needs to hold us accountable and do it fairly but at the same time, the police have to do their part to make sure that happens.

WILLIAMS: Chief Andrew Mills, we wish you well, chief. Thank you very much for making the time to talk to us live tonight. Be safe. Be well.

MILLS: Thank you so much. Have a great --

WILLIAMS: Thank you. Let`s go to Oakland, California, where our friend Jacob Ward has been covering for the past couple of nights and where the effort right now is to get people to pay attention to a curfew. Jacob, what`s the situation?

JACOB WARD, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Brian, this is about -- we`re now 35 minutes past curfew, and there have been enormous, colorful, inspiring protests throughout the weekend and into yesterday. We saw 15,000 people, including among them several teenagers and parents who had, you know, said they had never protested before coming together.

But each night the choreography leads to this moment, this intersection a few blocks north of the Oakland Police Department`s precinct, and here is where the final protesters have come to make their stand. They do not seem that they will be satisfied until the police have confronted them in some way. You see them here with hands raised, basically waiting, waiting for this moment. And here more and more police have gathered now in riot gear. Agencies from across California have flooded into Oakland to help with disturbances here.

But I think, Brian, the thing that for me jumps out about this place is there is such a long and increasingly sophisticated history of protests here in Oakland. Whether it was the era of Apartheid or AIDS or the Oscar Grant shooting in 2009, or this now, there is really a culture of protest.

And with it comes this sort of higher level of communication. There`s a seen over here that says there was no curfew for the white people protesting public health with AR-15s. You know, people want to have a very sophisticated conversation about the systemic problems they see in this country.

But of course it does come down to in the end this very simple choreography of fighting. That ends up being the case. We were tear-gassed along with all of these protesters in this intersection just 24 hours ago. It may very well be that that has to happen again, Brian, because these people do not seem to be satisfied until they clash with police in some form.

WILLIAMS: We have talked to you about the tech world. I have talked to you about the pandemic. I feel like I know your young fame and the confines of your house because you`ve often been confined to quarters. How are you and your family doing? It`s a lot.

WARD: It is a lot. I will say this. This moment is, I think, transformative for all of us. You have to remember, Brian, that this county, our county is still under a shelter in place order. And so, there`s an extraordinary thing happening here in which people are keeping these two major human crises in mind, where people are not only dealing with this, but also handing out hand sanitizer to one another and forming groups trying to keep each other at a distance while at the same time being determined for this.

So certainly trying to explain it to my young daughters at the same time this is happening, I feel all of us, you know, five or six days ago, I was the tech correspondent. Now suddenly I have a gas mask and I`m in the street. All of us I think have been changed by this, you know, and my family certainly is not immune to it, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Well, I was thinking about those little girls in my question, Jacob Ward. Thank you, friend, for your hard work outside in the streets as luck and fate would have it tonight. Jacob Ward with our live report there.

Another break for us. And coming up as we continue to monitor all these various situations across the country, could this all be indeed a turning point for this presidency? Our discussion when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: Before we get back into our conversation of politics and where this moment leads us, back to Ali Velshi in Lower Manhattan in New York tonight. Now three hours, 42 minutes after the expiration of the curfew. Ali?

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST, "VELSHI": And most people have spread out. I`m here at Cooper Union, St. Mark`s Place and Cooper Street. You can see these two transports behind me. They are actually loading people onto them right now. There have been more arrests made right here, but in most cases -- take a look, Mike. Take a look down there. You can still see some police action.

But what`s generally happening now is around the city. Radio calls are going out when there are small groups of protesters who have not left. So in most cases now, what we hearing is that last group of people we had -- when we were on air with you and this group are being arrested for curfew violations exclusively at this point. So it`s not something else. It is simply the fact that there are groups who are still protesting and still chanting and still on the streets.

There are individuals in the streets. I can see them in all directions, people walking around not being arrested. But if you are part of what looks like an organized protest or police ask you to move along or go home and you don`t, you are liable for arrest now.

So you can see what is happening now is there`s a large show of police in any instance where there is a call that says there are a few people. So at this intersection, you`ve got this. You`ve got fewer than 10 people who have just been arrested and put into those two vehicles. But you can see the call goes out for all available vehicles right now.

There isn`t a shortage of vehicles or police or transport vans or corrections vans right now. In fact, about a block away, there were dozens of police officers on bicycles. A block beyond that, there are a lot more police officers in helmets with batons. But they`re sort of standing around. It does seem that the tension and the heat has gone out of it tonight. There was a very large crowd. I think Katy Tur saw them on Chris Jansing saw them that was coming over the Manhattan bridge and sort of into a standoff with police.

But what happened as they got into Manhattan, they were directed by police in different directions and the curfew sort of ran out of steam. I did speak to a couple of protesters who said they`re coming back tomorrow, but they`ve gone home for the night, Brian.

WILLIAMS: 10,000 New York City police officers are out on the streets tonight, seemingly just as many New York City police cars. Ali Velshi with a life report from Lower Manhattan.

I want to play for our viewers an emotional moment that took place on live television earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROXIE WASHINGTON, MOTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD`S DAUGHTER: At the end of the day, they get to go home and be with their families. Gianna does not have a father. He will never see her grow up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle. If there`s a problem she`s having and she needs her dad, she does not have that anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: This is the first time we heard from the mother of George Floyd`s 6-year-old daughter, that beautiful little girl we just saw there. It was an urgent reminder of what`s been stolen. "Washington Post" columnist Eugene Robinson writes this in the paper. Quote, to me, this feels less and less like just another iteration of the set-piece drama we`ve lived through so many times. This eruption feels like a potential inflection point, a collective decision that "normal" is no longer acceptable.

Let`s talk about that thesis. With us tonight to do that, Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Former lieutenant governor of the state of Maryland. These days the host of "The Michael Steele Podcast. Brittany Packnett Cunningham, she is the co-founder of the Campaign Zero to end police brutality and a former member of President Obama`s 21st century policing task force. She has also just been named a newly minted MSNBC contributor, and we`re happy about that around here. And Melissa Murray, an nyu law professor. It`s been hours since I last spoke to her, who notably clerked for Sonia Sotomayor when they now Supreme Court justice was a federal judge with the U.S. Court of appeals.

Well, good evening and welcome to you all. Michael, I`m going to begin with you because you were the first to be introduced here and because with you, I have to nakedly ask a question about politics. So Senators Collins, Sasse, and Lankford just raised their head above the sand today and made the first baby steps toward criticizing their president. I note the president tweeted right at them tonight.

This is going to require courage, Michael, if Republicans are going to speak up and not be OK with the brandishing of a bible in front of a church with a burned-out basement and profanity, including the president`s name in spray paint, behind him, which apparently the advance team missed. This is clearly, Michael, going to take courage.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: It is. I don`t know what it will show up. You saw that line of senators going into the room earlier today, barely looking at the reporters, looking at the floor, turning their back, pretending they didn`t hear the question.

Courage is a fleeting thing with these folks, and I think the American people need to stop expecting it to come. We just need to get over that and move on. We can`t stay in this space expecting something that hasn`t come in three years, didn`t come through the Mueller investigation, didn`t come through the impeachment investigation. Why the heck would it come now?

You know, standing in front of a church is far less an inflection point than impeachment. So they couldn`t do it in impeachment, I don`t know what makes us think they`re going to have something to say about that, and that`s exactly how it played out.

So I think we just need to move on from this, and I think the American people, to points that were made earlier in the program, Brian, they need to now gather this to themselves and decide what kind of government they want and what kind of men and women they want leading that government beyond this inflection point.

Donald Trump has done one thing I think it`s important to note, and that is he`s made us appreciate normal. He`s made us appreciate what we`re now missing. We took a lot of that for granted. We took a lot of the institutions and the value of leadership, you know, men and women in service who actually empathized with our plight and at least, at least found the words to make us look past the difficulties. Now we know what it`s like to have those things disappear, to be absent that. So if nothing else, i guess that`s the one good thing that comes out of what Donald Trump has done so far.

WILLIAMS: Brittany, Melissa, I`m coming to you. I want to take 60 seconds. I`ve just been alerted to go to Gadi Schwartz, out in Hollywood, California. Gadi, what`s happening there?

GADI SCHWARTZ, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brian. So that group that you were watching, they`ve actually been -- they`ve been surrounded on this corner here in Los Angeles. I`m going to show you what`s going on. They`re ordering people out of the car. In fact, here what`s we`re going to do. We`re going to kill that light. If you don`t mind, I`m going to bring you right over here. We don`t want to interfere with what`s going on. We just want to be here observing and making sure that everything goes according to the book and also document what`s happening down the street.

I`m not sure if you can see. If you take a step right here, Carlos, we`re going to stay out of the way. You`ve got people inside of that car right there and there are one, two, three, four, five cars, six cars. So this is probably the back end of the protest that they`ve been able to block in here, and they have people coming out with their hands up. It`s hard to make out, but they`re going to be moving over to the wall over here.

And we`re just going to cut our way right over here. We`re going to stay right here if that`s OK. Perfect. OK. So right over here we`ve got another car where people are coming out right here.

At this point -- will do, will do. At this point, these people are basically violating curfew. So we`re going to walk back this way. It looks like they`re bringing in some sort of large van. There`s about 50 to 60 people in this group. There`s also maybe 30 to 40 people that took off running this way.

Again, this was a peaceful protest, out past curfew obviously. So the LAPD has been moving in, making these groups smaller and smaller. But so far it`s been relatively calm even though this looks like a lot of action. It is nothing like we saw yesterday. We did see circumstances of looting from people on the periphery that may or may not have been part of the protests. Then we saw people clashing actively with police. But we`ve got some other equipment coming in right over here. This is another vehicle that they`re going to be loading people in with. So, Brian, we`re going to keep monitoring this, and we`ll send it back to you.

WILLIAMS: Gadi Schwartz in Hollywood, thank you. And here I was about to welcome Brittany Packnett Cunningham to the fold and tell you, Brittany, how happy we are to have you here. And it occurs to me looking at those squad cars, LAPD famously all of them have "To Protect and Serve" on the door of their squad cars. Question one, are police departments honoring that pledge across the country? Question two, do you think we`re seeing a new movement being born?

BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I certainly don`t think that they are honoring that commitment to their constituents, and that is a systemic reality. We see that not just in Los Angeles. We see that across the country. And all due respect to Mr. Steele, I don`t miss normal. Normal was Michael Brown being killed, Sandra Bland being killed, Tamir Rice being killed, a 12-year-old in Ohio playing with a toy. That happened under a Democratic administration.

The truth of the matter is no matter who`s in office, America was built on the backs of black people but has never actually protected those same black people. So I don`t miss normal, and I think if you ask most of the folks in the streets right now, they don`t miss normal either. The status quo worked for some and not for everyone. And the truth is justice is not just a moral choice. It is the only lasting choice.

To your second question, Brian, we saw an uprising in 2014 in Ferguson and in Baltimore. We`ve seen uprisings long before that, and chances are unless we see legitimate and transformative changes to actually create justice in people`s everyday lives urgently, we will see rebellions and uprisings again.

So the question is not will we return to normal. The question is whether or not we will take the opportunity we have in front of us to make bold and decisive action to ensure that people of all stripes and black people in particular can experience equity in their everyday lives. I don`t miss normal. I want to go to a new normal.

WILLIAMS: Professor, over to you, and my question has to do with a cherished piece of real estate in Washington because of the man sitting on the chair in stone, because of his words that surround him on the walls. The Lincoln Memorial tonight had, again, what looked like dismounted infantry on the steps, men and women dressed more for Ramadi than the District of Columbia. How should American citizens process that site and the use of the military, including columns of armored humvees tonight in the capital city?

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: Well, it certainly was a picture that was more in keeping with a dystopian future than it is everyday life in America, and I think it was a very jarring image for most Americans. This picture of the military is just yet another manifestation of the kind of state violence that we have seen these protests around.

And to be really clear, these protests are about the use of police force, about military force, but they`re also generally about the failures of the state. And the failures of the state over the last three months have been legion, so these protests are largely about George Floyd and his senseless death, but I think they are animated by the broader sense that the state has failed all Americans. And we have been failed by the mismanagement of this pandemic. We have been failed by the grinding halt in our economy, the loss of health, the loss of safety, the loss of security, and the loss of a way of life that for many people was uneven and inequitable as Brittany said.

But now we`re all feeling it in a way that perhaps we have never felt more profoundly, and we`ve lost our way. And I think those protests speak to that and the fact that we have these military forces on the steps of a monument to honor a man who spoke of the ultimate dream of a free and democratic society is just, again, a jarring statement about how far we have fallen.

WILLIAMS: And it says a lot about these times this week that we are living in that here we were starting a conversation, and we had to cut away -- chose to cut away to Hollywood, California, and these scenes, these relentless scenes from America`s city streets these past eight days since the death at the hands of police of George Floyd.

Our thanks to the three of you. We`ll do this again. We`ll have more time to air it out and have a good talk. Michael Steele, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Melissa Murray, our thanks.

Our coverage is going to continue of course throughout the night. We will take a break here. At the top of the hour when we come back, my colleague Chris Hayes will pick up on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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