IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

George Floyd's fatal arrest TRANSCRIPT: 6/8/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams

Guests: Maya Wiley, Scott Thompson, Cornel West, Irwin Redlener

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. As we start a new week day 1,236 of the Trump administration, 148 days to go until our presidential election. Exactly two weeks to the day after George Floyd`s death at the knee of a police officer, and demonstrators are back on our streets as we come on the air tonight. We`re looking specifically at marches and rallies under way from New York on the left to Portland, Oregon, on the right on both coasts and many places in between.

The public outcry over George Floyd`s death has ignited debate and action on police reform, and a lot of people advocating for what they have taken to calling defunding the police. The phrase even appears in large yellow letters on the newly named black lives matter plaza on 16th Street near the White House. Depending on who you ask, defunding police can mean redirecting money to social programs to entirely disbanding police departments.

The Minneapolis city council has already voted to begin the process of ending its police department as currently constituted. The city is still working out exactly what that means. City council president envisions a year-long conversation. This afternoon at the White House, President Trump weighed in on the issue at a roundtable with law enforcement leaders.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: This has been a very strong year for less crime. That`s because we have great law enforcement. I`m very proud of them. There won`t be defunding. There won`t be dismantling of our police, and there`s not going to be any disbanding of our police. Our police have been letting us live in peace, and we want to make sure we don`t have any bad actors in there, and sometimes you`ll see some horrible things like we witnessed recently. But 99 -- I say 99.9, but let`s go with 99% of them are great, great people. As you see in some of the papers, they want to end the police department. "End the police department in Minneapolis. End it." What does that mean, end it? We`re going to be discussing some ideas and some concepts and some things, but we won`t be defunding our police. We won`t be dismantling our police.


WILLIAMS: Tonight in an interview with Fox News, Trump`s attorney general backed up his boss.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would happen if a major American city, Chicago, D.C., disbanded its police department? What would that look like? Would the federal government have to step in?

BILL BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, what it would look like is you would have increases in vigilantism. In American communities, a lot more damage, a lot more killing, a lot more fear engendered on the streets from criminal elements. In Chicago, for example, in one weekend if you pull back the police from these communities, there will be more harm done to these communities.


WILLIAMS: Earlier today Democrats on the Hill in kneeled in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the exact amount of time a police officer held his knee to George Floyd`s neck. Before they unveiled a bill aimed at reinstating -- at reining in, forgive me, excessive police tactics. It calls for more data from local authorities on use of force, funding to investigate police departments, bans on choke holds and no-knock warrants, and a national database on officer misconduct.

The legislation does not appear to shrink or expand police budgets. House democratic leaders are now advising their caucus members not to let the momentum for reform get hijacked by debates over funding. Earlier on this network, the house speaker defined the vision for this proposed bill.


REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA HOUSE SPEAKER: Funding of police is a local matter as you know. From the standpoint of our legislation, we`re not going to that place. What we`re doing is talking about how we change policy to make our policing more just. There`s some issues that we ask police to do like mental health issues and policing in schools and all the rest that perhaps we can shuffle some of that money around. But those are local decisions.


WILLIAMS: Perhaps noting this would quickly be used by Republicans, the Biden campaign put out a statement today saying, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded.

As Trump tries to govern amid the protests, the ongoing pandemic and its impact on the economy, a new poll shows his approval rating now standing at 38%. That`s down from 45% as recently as early May. We also learned from economic data just out today we`ve been in a recession since February.

Meanwhile, NBC News has learned the Trump campaign is gearing up to present the President with options to resume his rallies and that over the last week, the President has been asking advisers why he can`t be holding mass rallies when thousands are gathered in the streets to protest the death of George Floyd.

One of the thousands in the streets on Sunday was Senator Mitt Romney, who was also working with Republicans on a police reform bill.


SENATOR MITT ROMNEY, (D) UTAH: We need a voice against racism. We need many voices against racism and against brutality. We need to stand up and say that black lives matter.


Today Trump posted this about Romney. "Tremendous sincerity, what a guy. Hard to believe with this kind of political talent his numbers would tank so badly in Utah. Well, late today the senator was asked for his response.


ROMNEY: I don`t know what the President`s views are with regards to this issue. He spoke originally about his concern about George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you considering voting for anyone other than President Trump in the fall?

ROMNEY: I`m not going to be describing who I`ll be voting for, I don`t imagine -- my plan is to stay quiet on that.


WILLIAMS: Tomorrow will be the final public memorial for George Floyd in Houston where he grew up. Today Joe Biden was there to pay his respects and hold a private meeting with Floyd`s family members. As thousands gathered in Houston for that memorial, fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had his first court hearing where bail was set at $1.2 million. He entered no plea. He`s facing charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter. He could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.

A lot to get to. Let`s get to our leadoff discussion on a Monday night. Phil Rucker is with us, Pulitzer Prize-Winning White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post and Co-author along with his Post Colleague Carol Leonnig of the best-selling book, A Very Stable Genius. Jonathan Karl, Chief White House Correspondent for ABC News and the current President of the White House Correspondents Association. His latest work is, Front Row at the Trump Show, and that was before social distancing. And Maya Wiley, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a veteran of the New York City mayor`s office, now with the new school here in New York.

And, counselor, Maya, I`d like to begin with you and this phrase, defund the police, because it`s out there now. It`s visible from space on 16th Street. It`s all over the web and on every broadcast like this one. I heard Democrats today call this a straight-up valentine politically to the Republicans. We`ve seen the fruits of that already today and tonight.

I`ve heard Democrats reassure people that this isn`t what it says, and I`ve seen a lot of complaints on social media that when you use the phrase, explain the phrase. Assuming reasonable people want something to happen when they call 911, Maya, what`s your understanding of defunding the police?

MAYA WILEY, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: So my understanding of defunding the police is fundamentally about recognizing that we have had a peace dividend that the we have not spent on our people. And what I mean by that is police budgets have been growing, and staffing of police have been growing despite the fact that we have had three straight decades of rapid drops in crime.

If you just look at the New York City police department, which is the largest in the country by far, twice as large as the FBI. It literally has seen a 22% increase in budget as I understand it over the last four years. And we have had historic low violent crime rate for years, for years. And just to give you one practical example, it means that in New York City, we have, say, 5,500 public safety officers in schools. They`re on -- they`re police department personnel. We have only 560 school psychologists, but we have 1.1 million children, including over 100,000 of those who are homeless.

So part of what people are saying is we`re not spending our resources wisely. When we think about black lives, when we think about Latino lives, when we think about the lives that are disproportionately lost in the kinds of incidents we have seen with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many that we can name on this program.

What I think we`re hearing from people -- and it`s people, it`s not just activists. It`s people showing up at these demonstrations. I`ve been at these demonstrations. It`s ordinary people just calling for it. They want a recognition that we have a fundamentally dysfunctional relationship with preventing crime and with supporting people and that that has to shift in a dramatic way.

Now, the word --

WILLIAMS: A -- yeah, go ahead.

WILEY: -- I agree does not capture it.

WILLIAMS: All right. And Jonathan Karl, Maya just delivered a perfect top- to-bottom definition of the phrase as it`s defined by the movement, as it`s supposed to happen where the rubber meets the road. We are still left with this two-word phrase "defund police." How has the President in the space of one day tried to turn that to his advantage?

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, he`s jumped on it immediately. I mean, the President is looking at the broader political context here. He`s getting hammered across the board in the polls, national polls, the polls in virtually every key battleground state, and he`s, you know, struggling to find a message here. And here he has this. They have jumped on this, both the President himself. You played it at the top of the show, what he said. With law enforcement. I think he will say this, talk about this every single day.

He will try to portray -- it`s interesting that they were attacking Biden before from a different direction, citing his role in the crime bill back in the 1990s. Now even though you saw Biden put out a release saying point- blank he does not support defunding the police, they will tie him to this position. They will tie him to the cartoon version of this position, which is abolishing the police, and this will be -- I think you`re going to see a Trump re-election campaign that is part, "I`m the one that can bring the economy back" and "I am the candidate of law and order."

WILLIAMS: OK. Phil Rucker, that nicely sets up a question about polling. The latest polling shows the President underwater to Joe Biden, and to quote Brianna Keilar, all of the polls show the same thing. We learned today, by the way, we`ve been in a recession since February. Depending on which stat keeper you quote, coronavirus is showing up levels in either 20 or 26 of our states. And, oh, by the way, there are new barricades around what passes for our presidential palace. So the job Jonathan Karl is talking about, re-electing this President, none of that organically adds up to being awarded a second term.

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Yeah, Brian. The President`s in an incredibly weak position right now, and he has a lot of challenges in the five months ahead between now and the election. He`s clearly trying to address some of those with his law and order messaging. But the reality is a lot of Americans are in pain, are suffering right now, and there`s chaos all around them. And, you know, in addition to those top- line numbers that you called out from the polls -- and what I mean by that is the head to head matchups between Trump and Biden where Trump is losing ground -- it`s also notable to point out that so many more Americans have a pessimistic view of the direction of the country right now. They think the country is chaotic. They worry about what`s going to happen next. They`re looking for stability and leadership. That`s according to some of these polls, but it`s also according to the focus group that strategists in both parties are having.

I`ve talked to some of the strategists over the last couple of weeks. There`s a real concern and fear out in the country, and the challenge for the President is to try to speak directly to it. He has struggled to do that to date. There is some hope within his circle that once he can get back to a little bit of a normal routine, back out on the campaign trail with some of the rallies that he likes, that he can, you know, somehow find a way to recover here. But it`s a tall order for sure.

WILLIAMS: Maya Wiley, I share this with you and our audience. Here is Jared Kushner from today.


JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The law enforcement community heard the cries from the community, saw the injustices in the system that needed to be fixed, and they responded by coming together to fix it. Hopefully at this time where there`s a lot of people in the country who are feeling different pain and feeling different concerns, law enforcement can be a leader in coming together and helping us work towards bringing solutions.


WILLIAMS: So, Maya, for all the complaining I heard mostly on social media over the weekend that Mitt Romney did the bare minimum, he marched, and he said "black lives matter." Mitt Romney did that and owns it, and he has thrown down on one side of this. It sounds, however, like the Trump White House is going to stay on the other side and throw down with the other side.

WILEY: Yeah, they`ve made their position very clear because as we heard today, because Trump won 8% of the black vote. So he`s proud.

WILLIAMS: That is true. The Press Secretary did flaunt that stat from the lectern.

WILEY: Yeah. I was -- she did that on camera, and so I think that shows you how out of touch they are that they literally don`t understand or care that there is a fundamental movement, shift in this country that recognizes there is something deeply wrong with what is happening with law enforcement.

You do not have thousands of people from not just in Los Angeles or New York, but in Des Moines and Greenville who are demanding change. And the idea, the idea that you would say that law enforcement itself that has lost the trust of communities, of color in particular and that communities that are white are saying, we don`t even believe you anymore, we think you got to change, we don`t think you`re accountable, we think you think you`re above the law -- that those are the people Jared Kushner is telling us should lead reform. Literally the fox in the henhouse. So it`s just is out of touch to say the least.

WILLIAMS: I`m sorry, Maya. Jonathan Karl, you cover Charlottesville in your book. You talk about this president on race in your book. We kind of have come to know this President on the topic of race. So let`s just say that maybe there are folks in the West Wing who don`t feel a national speech on the topic is a good idea. Are they, at a sheer political level -- are they not, as some have said, on the wrong side of history? Are they now bumping up against demographics in a way that they`ve moved on and it could be fatal to a re-election campaign?

KARL: It sure feels that way, Brian. I mean if you look at the West Wing, it`s one of the least diverse workspaces in America. When the President made that walk across Lafayette Park to the front of St. John`s church, he went with a handful of his top advisers. Every single one of them was white. If you look at virtually any meeting there in the West Wing, unless it`s one where he`s brought in his opportunities own group, it is almost entirely white.

You know, I wrote in Charlottesville, his team back then, his advisers got him to give a national address, and he did it. It`s been almost entirely forgotten to history because the next day he came out and made impromptu remarks about how there were very fine people on both sides of the protests in Charlottesville. Very fine people marching hand in hand with white supremacists, carrying tiki torches in Charlottesville.

What I found out in reporting on that is they were so anxious to get him to talk to the country and give these prepared remarks that everybody quickly forgot about that in the meeting leading up to it, the President met with some of his top advisers right there in the residence at the White House, and he went through the exact same rants, praising confederate generals, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, talking about the fine people marching to keep their statues from coming down. And nobody -- John Kelly was there. Jeff Sessions was there. Christopher Wray, who just become FBI director, was there. They all heard the President give this rant, and nobody pushed back at all. He went back, and he read his prepared remarks they wanted him to raid. And then the next day, he said virtually exactly what he had said in private, and it became what I would argue until 2020 probably the low point of the Trump presidency. All his advisers knew that`s what he was saying. They knew that`s where his head was at, and they did not try to talk him out of it.

WILLIAMS: And, Phil Rucker, then we have just the visuals. We have the attorney general happening to drop into conversation today that, yes, indeed, the President was in the bunker that the President tried to pass off as a kind of routine bunker inspection one does. You have pictures of razor wire atop the new barricades outside the White House. You have protests on American streets every night for 14 nights. Those visuals start to add up.

RUCKER: They do, Brian, and what they tell is a story of a White House, of an administration trying to deceive the public about what happened last Monday night in Lafayette Square. I would add by the way, that visual, a documentary that our team at The Washington Post put together that showed minute by minute in that square the coordination among those federal law enforcement authorities about how they were going to go after the peaceful protesters and some of the weapons they used, and it completely contradicts the narrative that has come out of the White House. And it shows the degree to which they were trying to deceive the public. But beyond that, there`s a picture here of an administration and a White House understand siege literally with that barricade around the expanded White House security perimeter.

My reporting shows that the White House staff are eager to get those fences down. They claim they don`t have any credit for it. Nonetheless, it feeds this impression of the President militarizing what has become a social justice movement across this country and using military force and the power of his office to try to hold back the calls for change from so many people in the streets.

WILLIAMS: To our big three tonight, our thanks. We`re always happy when Jonathan Karl takes a wrong turn on his way to ABC News. And to our friends Phil Rucker and Maya Wiley, thank you as always.

Coming up here tonight, there`s a lot of talk about breaking down the police, starting all over again. We will talk to a former police chief who did just that.

And later, passing fad or moment of reckoning? Why Dr. Cornel West has a very strong opinion about what we are seeing on our streets right now, tonight, as THE 11TH HOUR is getting started on this Monday evening.


WILLIAMS: Let`s go back to this phrase "defunding the police." It obviously means different things to different people. The Associated Press reporting supporters of the movement insist their demand is not about stripping agencies of all their funding. "They say it is time for the country to address systemic problems in policing in America and spend more on what communities across the U.S. need, like housing and education."

There is one recent big-city example of a police department getting stripped down and rebuilt from the ground up -- Camden, New Jersey, just across the river from Philadelphia, routinely referred to as America`s poorest city. In 2013, the entire Camden police department was disbanded.

Back then we took a great interest in the new chief there, Scott Thompson. He and I spent hours together talking and riding and meeting people as he made the switch to community policing and de-escalation. During one ride through the city, he told me if police can build relationships with the people they protect, "anything is possible."

For more, we`re so happy to welcome to the broadcast Scott Thompson, former Police Chief for Camden County, New Jersey, where we add police headquarters now bears his name.

Chief, it`s great to see you. As you know, as a jersey guy, I`ve always viewed Camden and its history with a mix of pride and sadness just like everybody, I think. Riding around with you, I remember the corner store. I remember the parish priest. I remember the young single mom and her son. All were stops on your route. So cast modesty aside. Tell our audience how bad was it when you got there, and what were the improvements by the time you left?

SCOTT THOMPSON, FORMER POLICE CHIEF, CAMDEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: Well, Brian, when you were with us in 2012, it was arguably the darkest hour in the history of the city. We had a murder rate that was 18 times the national average, violent crime rates that were exceeding that of third- world countries. And we had very high levels of mistrust from the community to its police. And it was in 2012 and 2013 that we -- essentially the entire organization was fired, including myself, and we all reapplied and started anew.

And the key for us in creating the new organization was to have a department that realized it could not arrest its way into a safer community that the only way we were going to make that city better was to do something different. And that was we were going to reclaim neighborhoods from the violent drug gang leaders who operated with a sense of impunity by empowering the people. And that`s essentially what we did. We deprioritized arrests for minor offenses. We told cops to stop writing tickets. We put them on corners. We put them on bikes, and essentially what we did was we had moments of interaction with people in the public that were not predicated upon enforcement or moments of crisis. And by having those interactions, by having that communication the people got to learn who the police were and probably justice employing. The police got to learn who the people were. People started to leave their homes. When you drove the streets with us, if you recall, very few people were ever sitting on their front steps. You didn`t see little kids ride riding their bikes on the streets. And the dynamic in that neighborhood has significantly changed. We had 175 open air drug markets within nine square miles. Let me say that again, 175 drug markets in nine square miles. Today we have less than 20, and we did this by empowering the people in the community, not by militarizing the corners.

WILLIAMS: You diminished two policing staples both of them happen to have the word down in the title. The take town, pulling over cars base on a whiff of suspicion, and the patdown. We all know what that is, and both can be less than subtle forms over time of harassment. And yet you managed to police your community with less of an emphasis on those two things especially.

SCOTT THOMSON, FMR. POLICE CHIEF CAMDEN COUNTY, NJ: Yes. Well, you know, that doesn`t equate to safer neighborhoods. And really the definition of insanity, Brian, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We changed the metrics by which officers were judged.

In fact, in our organization, we actually investigate our top five ticket writers every month because that is not a priority for us. In cities that are extremely challenged like Camden, you know, our per capita income is less than $13,000 a year. So a cop handing a $250 ticket to a single mom that`s working two jobs can be life-altering.

And, you know, and the people in these really challenged communities, what they want is a police force that will treat them with respect, dignity, and put the full weight of law enforcement in a laser-like focus on the people who are negatively defining everybody`s life.

What the people of communities become extremely upset with is when the police don`t seem to know who those individuals are and they apply broadbrush applications of enforcement and essentially re-victimize all the people that live in the neighborhood. And it`s extremely frustrating for them. Again, it`s polarizing.

And then something significantly a shooting or murder will occur, and we would go into the neighborhood and we would ask them to cooperate to tell us who did the shooting, and we would wonder why people wouldn`t want to talk to us.

You know, in 2012 when you were with us, Brian, our solve rate in homicides was 16 percent. In two years, we took that up to 61 percent, and we weren`t doing anything different. It was that we had the people of the community were finally talking to us. We started to build levels of trust, and we became better at our job because we were better informed.

WILLIAMS: The man whose name is now out on the front of police headquarters, former Camden police Chief Scott Thomson. Chief, great to see you again. Thank you very much for coming on our broadcast to talk about the work you did there.

Coming up for us tonight, today the mayor of Minneapolis said this is a transformative moment. Harvard`s Cornel West calls it a turning point. We`ve got the second guy, Dr. West, standing by to talk to us. We`re going to ask him to explain.


WILLIAMS: At this time for our country we`re fortunate to have back with us again tonight Dr. Cornel West. Having taught at Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth and Yale. For starters, he`s currently a professor at Harvard, professor emeritus at Princeton. He`s the author of 20 books and in the spare time is co-host of the new podcast appropriately called "Tightrope." We are as always happy to have him on our broadcast.

Dr. West, I had the great privilege in life starting at the age of 8 to know the late, great Peter Gomes, who at the time of his death was chaplain at Harvard University. He was my brother`s college roommate and was always in our house, and we kind of knew back then this was a wise and learned man.

And one of the quotes he has left us with is, who of us would not love to have the courage to act upon our convictions as opposed to acting upon our fears? And I`m curious is it because you see the convictions of all the people in the street that you`re so convinced this is a moment of reckoning, to use your words?

CORNEL WEST, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, one, Peter Gomes was my teacher, and he was my very, very dear brother.

WILLIAMS: I didn`t know that.

WEST: And I`d also want to acknowledge institution rows that I worked with (Inaudible). Peter Gomes meant the world to me, and I think he would be fired up at this moment because he and I were fundamentally committed to calling for a moral and spiritual awakening about the evils in America. And he was convinced that we need to focus on the exemplars of love. And this is so very important to the Black Lives Matter movement.

You see, it`s hard to focus on black love in a society that`s been living in denial for so long. So even talking about -- (inaudible) -- people must be deeply respected and adequately protected and the system in place is not doing that.

And so the movement provides a very sophisticated vision and analysis. It says there`s got to be some oversight. There`s got to be some accountability. There`s got to be some community control, and you have to connect police power to Wall Street power and Pentagon power because in our society, there`s a priority on military spending.

The national budget goes to the State Department and Pentagon. Wall Street, unaccountable, lack of serious answerability, of responsibility when it comes to their crimes, and therefore there has to be a shifting to housing, schools, quality education, civic associations able to flourish.

I was glad to see my vanilla brother talk about that in Camden because I`ve been to Camden. I know the high schools there. I know brother Keith Benson, who`s my dear brother who actually use split drums (INAUDIBLE) but he`s an activist as well.

And they have been able to turn things around. Why? Because when you respect people and when you respect black people who have been so disrespected, when you protect people, protect black people who have been so deeply unprotected, then the possibilities of the community coming together with the policing agents who are part of that community, but you got to hit poverty. You got to hit jobs. You got to hit health care. You`ve got to hit education.

They all go hand in hand. That`s what the black lives matter movement understands. That`s why I love those brothers and sisters. I love their love for unloved people, black people. Now of course, as a Christian, I love everybody, but I start on the chocolate side of town.

WILLIAMS: One of my other favorite contemporary philosophers Samuel L. Jackson said tonight on another network while talking to a guy who looks suspiciously like Anderson Cooper, this is how Samuel L. Jackson sums up what he`s witnessing on the streets. The water broke. Now we`re in labor. Now we`re starting the labor pains of this change that`s about to happen. Does he have it about right?

WEST: I think brother Samuel Jackson is right, but it can go so many different directions. You and I know white backlash, neofascist crackdown. That`s the kind of thing that Trump and Barr and others are talks about.

As you know, you know, we`re going to bury our dear brother George Floyd tomorrow and that`s a very solemn moment, but the memory of Breonna and so many others as well, it means it could go another way. It could either go a way in which the community is actually in power, in which there is a massive reinvestment of resources in poor communities, in poor black communities, especially- there`s a brilliant piece on this with sister Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor in the New Yorker, can America change?  I think it`s the best piece we have now on this present situation.

We`ve got to connect the police crimes, Wall Street crimes, Pentagon crimes. The ways in which lack of accountability generates violation of the law. It can be drones dropped by Pentagon. It can be the embezzlement inside of market, insider trading and market manipulation, predatory lending, broad activities in Wall Street, not one criminal goes to jail, and then there is the police killing our precious young folk, none of them going to jail.

Those are the issues of a democracy. Democracy is about accountability, answerability, responsibility. The history, the vicious legacy of white supremacy in America has been one in which slaveholders, Jim Crow, can treat black people any way they want and get away with it, you see. That`s what we`ve been dealing with for 400 years in America. Do anything you want. Say anything you want. Democracy is about curtailing the arbitrary use of power vis-a-vis citizens and its nation state, citizens and its economy, citizens and its institution.

And so when we talk about race, let us not just talk about police murder and police brutality. That`s the element, crucial catalytic -- the moment of catalyst that Brother Samuel is talking about, but it includes all of us in terms of our economy, in terms of our nation state.

And when I look for example at what is happening in the Democratic Party, when I look at so much of black leadership these days, they so quickly want to coop and they so quickly want to incorporate the movement and make it more mainstream, and next thing you go sweeping legislation. Not a whole lot of talk about community control and civilian oversight as we see in Newark with Brother Barack and Brother Larry Hamm.

But they want to immediately grab it and mainstream it. And when you mainstream it, you deodorize it. When you deodorize it, you sanitize and you sterilize it. I come from a funky people. Bootsy Collins is my funk master among others. You`ve got to keep it funky. When you keep it funky, you`re getting beneath all the superficiality and dealing with the raw reality of struggle and love, laughter, joy, freedom.

WILLIAMS: I`m going to start by listening to some teddy tonight thanks to you. Dr. Cornel West, it`s always pleasure.

WEST: We love him. Don`t forget him.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for your wisdom tonight. Thank you, Dr. West.

Coming up for us, it took 100 days, but New York City is reopening, and the virus is still very much out there. We`ll have the very latest on what it`s doing when we come back.


WILLIAMS: Exactly 100 days after its first reported case of coronavirus, New York City has started reopening. But as New York`s governor pointed out today, the pandemic remains a threat in the city that was, let`s remember, the COVID-19 epicenter, where it has killed almost 22,000 people. In our country in just the last 24 hours, there have been over 22,300 new confirmed cases, 888 people have died. 24 hours. The pandemic is now blamed for 11,160 deaths. We`re still trying to find out more about it.

Today the World Health Organization said new data suggests to them asymptomatic carriers are not the main driver for spreading the virus. But experts warn way more research is needed to truly know for sure. That`s why we have one of our favorite guests back with us again tonight.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, pediatrics physician by trade, clinical professor with the School of Public Health at Columbia University, where he is also the director of Columbia`s National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

Dr. Redlener, how do we process the number of cases we are seeing? Depending on which count you follow, either 20 states are up, or as many as 26 states where we are seeing a red line going up. Is that a function of increased testing, or is that a function of people who have gotten out, states that reopened early and they`re spreading it because of commingling or both?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Yes, Brian. So actually all of the above. We have a complete mess of confusion about the data. We don`t even have accurate or consistent guidelines for determining who has died from this disease. There are some states that are not reporting any of the COVID dead to the CDC, and many states are using different criteria to say whether somebody has died from the disease or not. This just leaves the door open to confusion, loss of trust, and I`m afraid an inevitable resurgence of COVID, Brian.

WILLIAMS: And what do you make of an organization like the WHO -- and let me get this right. They said most transmittal is through asymptomatic carriers. Do you agree? Do you highly doubt that? Do you think it`s irresponsible, as Andy Slavitt, the Obama administration specialist said over this weekend, irresponsible for them to do that?

REDLENER: Yes, it was way too soon for the WHO to make any kind of announcement about how it`s being transmitted. We just don`t know. Some people have very mild symptoms, and you can`t call them asymptomatic, but they may not report being sick.

So we don`t know what`s transmitting, and also there`s people before they actually get symptomatically ill, they`re pre-symptomatic, so that just adds to the confusion. But the WHO needed to wait a lot longer and get a lot more data than what they have before making a public pronouncement like that. It just adds to the confusion, Brian.

WILLIAMS: New York City, an area where you are indeed an expert, was expecting an influx today of 400,000 people. Mass transit, the streets, people who have been away, tucked away to get out of the way of COVID-19. How can a city like New York with a subway system, buses, Uber, cabs possibly avoid an uptick in cases with an influx that large for just the first Monday, stage one of reopening?

REDLENER: Sure. And don`t forget we`ve also had a tremendous number of people in the streets protesting against social injustice following the murder of George Floyd. So that just really adds to the possibility of this disease spreading around. So we have that. We have what in many ways might be considered a premature reopening, and we are not doing enough tracking or testing.

So we have the potential hot box here of New York City having a resurgence of COVID, which could be pretty serious. We`ll know in a few weeks. Listen, all of us really want the city and all cities to be opened, but we`re dealing with a lot of unknowns here.

And I am worried that we`re getting back too soon. Just a word by the way for people using public transportation they need masks. They also need gloves. They need to not be touching with their bare hands the support bars, the seats, and everything else that occurs on our public transportation. People still need to remain incredibly attentive to what the risks are, Brian.

WILLIAMS: You`re in a scary line of work, but we are much obliged to be able to ask you questions from time to time. Dr. Irwin Redlener, our thanks. More of THE 11TH HOUR just ahead.


WILLIAMS: 14 straight days of protests in some form or fashion in our city streets. There`s a police line right now as we continue to watch things for you from coast to coast. These are live local news pictures from Portland, Oregon.

Coming up for us, a living legend lives long enough to see the words he fought for all his life really big enough for the whole world to see.


WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, what must it be like for an old warrior of the civil rights struggle, a man who quite literally has the scars to prove it? What must it be like for him to read the words "Black Lives Matter" in yellow letters 50 feet tall and visible from space on the street that visually leads to the White House, interrupted only by Lafayette Park, which is tonight territory occupied by the federal government?

John Lewis got to see it for himself this weekend. The Georgia democratic congressman was invited and accompanied by Mayor Bowser of Washington, who commissioned the giant work.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: It`s very moving, very moving, very impressive. I think what the people in D.C. and around the nation have sent a mighty, powerful, and strong message to the rest of the world that we would get there.


WILLIAMS: John Lewis is 80 now, the man who marched with Dr. King and was severely beaten at Selma announced six months ago he`s battling stage four pancreatic cancer. He walks with a cane now. He`s undergoing treatment, and the man who`s been fighting all his life admits this fight is very different. But he lived to see this sight in Washington, and that`s saying something.

And that is our broadcast for this Monday night as we start a new week together. Thank you so very much for being here with us. On behalf of all of my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night from our temporary field headquarters.

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