UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Floyd`s life mattered and Breonna Taylor`s life mattered and Philando Castile`s life mattered and Tamir Rice`s life mattered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Well said. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN with Chris Hayes is up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, on ALL IN, as the country comes together to mourn George Floyd, the president retreats further behind his new White House wall, And the condemnations of Trump`s use of the military on the people continue. Tonight, Hakeem Jeffries on the threat to American democracy and Masha Gessen on Trump`s performance of fascism.
Then, Republican Strategist Stuart Stevens on why Trump`s law and order campaign is not paying off. Plus, new questions about just who is in control of New York City after last night`s brutal police clashes. And remembering George Floyd, the man and his uniquely American story, when ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Today, a memorial was held for George Floyd in Minneapolis, 10 days after his death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. Tonight, there are once again largely peaceful protests going on around the country, including in Washington D.C. where President Trump has finally built his wall. And it is not to keep immigrants out, it is to keep the Americans that he is tasked with representing away from him.
Today, swathes of new fencing and concrete barriers were erected around the White House to keep out Americans engaging in their first amendment rights to peaceably assemble from coming too close to the White House because the president is scared of them. He wants to dominate them from behind his wall and inside his bunker. And to dominate them, he has enlisted his loyal soldier Attorney General William Barr, who from the very beginning of his time as attorney general has acted not as the administrator of the nation`s justice system, but as the President`s personal lieutenant.
Barr has sought to subdue D.C. protests by flooding the zone with federal firepower. It is his Department of Justice along with the Department of Homeland Security who our frightened president turn to supply the most intimidating men in uniform he could deploy like these military police armed with batons and shields. That is who is being deployed against the peaceful protesters singing Lean On Me outside the White House.
Military police, agents from Custom and Border Patrol, these guys, FBI, ICE, DEA agents, U.S. Marshals, and most distressingly, men from the Bureau of Prisons trained to deal with prison riots deployed to bring their particular skill set in the confines of a prison with reduced constitutional rights out onto the streets to intimidate American citizens.
Many of these men, and they`re almost all men do not have badges. They do not have identification. They will often not tell reporters who they`re with. And in this respect, they are very real sense secret police, the kind you see in other countries deployed amid unrest.
Senator Chris Murphy pointed out, "there`s no accountability without identification. There`s a very real possibility of confusion between legitimate law enforcement and armed private citizens just random dudes menacing the public." It`s a good point. It`s one of the reasons that we have badges in the first place. Today, Attorney General Barr said he was just fine with that lack of accountability.
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Now, in the federal system, we don`t wear badges with our name -- I mean, the agents don`t wear badges and their names and stuff like that, which many civilian police agents -- I mean, non-federal police agencies do. And I could -- and I could understand why some of these individuals simply wouldn`t want to talk to people about who they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You get the Dick Cheney vibes from him, like very quietly sort of, you know, just mumbling like completely ludicrous lawless nonsense. The sheer pathetic performative aspect of all of this, right, that the President has conjured, the president licking his wounds after having to go to the bunker, and then everyone knowing about it, and then telling us that it was in the day just to inspect it. Because it is so ridiculous, because it is so obviously coming from such deep, keening, and pathetic need at the core of this man, it is hard to determine what the line is between performance and actual authoritarianism.
As the columnist in the New Yorker Masha Gessen wrote, "whether or not he is capable of grasping the concept, Trump is performing fascism." I`ll be talking to her in just a moment. While all this is happening, we`ve reached the part in the news cycle, you often reach in other countries amidst unrest, right, which is these kinds of fine-grained reports about which security forces are most loyal to the regime, to Donald Trump, which ones are willing to attack their own citizens and which ones are not.
It is against this backdrop we`re seeing day by day, much of the top ranks of the U.S. military in open uprising against the president. There is a growing chorus emanating from the Armed Forces signaling in ways large and small they do not support the President`s authoritarian dreams of suppression of his own people.
The Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is saying he does not support deploying federal troops on the streets against American as the President has threatened. The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, the guy who roams to D.C. in military uniform amid the protest reminding the Armed Forces in a handwritten note attached to a memo, "We all committed our lives the idea that is America. We will stay true to that oath and the American people."
The head of the National Guard, Air Force General Joseph Lengyel stressing that troops are trained to "ensure people`s right to peacefully demonstrate." Former Marine Commandant General Robert Neller backing the protests and stating, "We are better than this. Stand up for what is right."
Retired Marine Corps Four Star General John Allen who commanded us forces in Afghanistan warning of the slide of the United States your liberalism and the beginning of the end of the American experiment. And, of course, former Trump Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a man who stood up there next to Trump for years, he`s one of the most respected military leaders of his generation declaring that "we must project and hold accountable those in office would make a mockery of our Constitution."
Huge parts of the upper echelon of the U.S. Armed Forces are sending out very strong signals. I mean, these are people that are trained to obey right, the command -- the chain of command and civilian control, right? Very strong signals they do not agree with the President. They do not want to be used as a means of suppressing American citizens on this 31st anniversary of Tiananmen Square.
The President is failing. He is plummeting the polls. He is losing control of the country`s story. His party continues to slavishly follow him into the abyss. But we need others throughout the government up and down to keep faithful to their oath even as the president desecrates his.
Joining me now for more on the President`s intimidation tactics, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries Democrat in New York. He serves as chair of the House Democratic Caucus. My first question to you, Congressman, is about the president deploying various personnel from the federal government`s law enforcement ranks, I guess, to patrol D.C. in a show of force without badges, without direct names or accountability. What do you think of that?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Well, the President is out of control. We`ve seen that time and time again over the last four years. But this is a new level of concern, because he is enlisting the military or federal law enforcement officials in a manner that clearly subverts and undermines the United States Constitution, which clearly provides in the First Amendment, the freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly, the freedom to petition your government. This is foundational to the American experiment.
And the President of course, has unleashed tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters in order to create a political photo-op. He is a wannabe dictator with authoritarian tendencies. And unless the good people in the military and in this administration stand up, it won`t get better, it will get worse.
HAYES: I`ve seen some people say, where are -- where are the Democrats, where is Congress on this right now. The Senate, I believe, is in session, the House is in recess, if I`m not mistaken. What do you say to people who say, we`re watching all this play out, where are congressional Democrats, what are you doing?
JEFFRIES: We will be back in Washington next week. Four committee hearings, including as I understand it, our Armed Service Committee Chair as well as our House Judiciary Committee to discuss a variety of issues and conduct hearings with respect to what we see across America, both in terms of the President`s subversion of the United States Constitution, as well as the police violence, epidemic that we have to address, as well.
You know, fundamental to America is the notion that no one in the military swears an oath to the President of the United States. They swear an oath to the Constitution, to the principles of separate and co-equal branches of government, checks and balances, the independent judiciary, the free and fair press, the right to petition your government, the preeminence of the rule of law.
Dr. King said to us that in the end, what we will remember are not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. And if you are a friend to the United States Constitution, you need to step up right now. Certainly, Congress needs to do that and House Democrats will do that.
HAYES: My understanding is the Department of Justice under William Barr, again, who doesn`t really seem to think that he is constrained by anything, as far as I can tell. When he talks about it, it`s all very sort of casually tossed aside. He doesn`t think he has to show up in Congress. He just thinks that that`s, you know, that`s not for him. You can call him.
We know the administration doesn`t think that they have to send anyone over to you guys. And they`re fighting subpoenas, which they`ve ignored in law. What is your understanding of the current Attorney General`s posture towards the ability for the first branch of governments to have him come and talk to them in their oversight role?
JEFFRIES: He doesn`t believe that he has any responsibility to come and speak to Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, which by the way, Chris, as you know, of course, is the people`s house, and then coming to speak before the House. He`s speaking through us to the American people as part of our charge to hold an out of control executive branch accountable.
But this is not new. We prosecuted two charges against the President of the United States corruptly abusing his power, in the case of the Senate trial with respect to the 2020 election, and obstruction of Congress, because he does not believe that he`s accountable in our system of government. He is behaving like a king, and a dictator and a monarch, exactly what the framers of the Constitution did not want.
But we will continue to press the case with respect to the attorney general and this administration. But the American people are ultimately going to have to settle this on November 3rd this year.
HAYES: Well, that -- I agree with you there. But there`s a long way to go and I am haunted by something that Adam Schiff, an impeachment manager alongside you, in the House said when he was before the well of the Senate, when he spoke to Republicans and said, well, you may be thinking how much damage can he do between now and Election Day. And Adam Schiff, your fellow impeachment manager said, a lot. He can do a lot of damage.
That was before 110,000 Americans were dead from the Coronavirus pandemic that he completely bungled the response to, before the unrest in the streets right now in the invocation or the threat of the Insurrection Act. I mean, we`re a long way from November. Congress may have to do some fairly radical things to stop this president. Do you agree?
JEFFRIES: Well, that certainly is the case. I mean, we`re going to have to look at every tool that we have available to us in the toolbox and hopefully some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, if not in the House, in the Senate, will join us in standing up for our democracy against a clearly out of control president.
And he`s unhinged because he knows he is getting ready to lose his job. And desperate people do desperate things. And so, you`re right, Chris. I mean, a lot can happen between now and November, and we`re going to have to be forceful in our response.
HAYES: Final question for you, quickly, Congressman. You represent Brooklyn. It`s my home borough, it`s where I live. Last night in Brooklyn, I saw various images and texted with people who were there, and various first-hand accounts of protesters of the New York Police Department assaulting and beating peaceful protesters with batons, of taking their vehicles, of throwing them on the ground. Are you satisfied with the NYPD response last night?
JEFFRIES: No. The mayor needs to do better in directing Commissioner Shea and the Police Department to do better. I`m thankful that the governor has charged the Attorney General with overseeing, investigating, and recommending accountability measures with respect to police officers who have crossed the line.
I know this is a difficult moment for all of us, but the NYPD has to do better and they will be held accountable when they cross the line.
HAYES: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries in House leadership on the Democratic side representing district and the borough of Brooklyn, thank you so much, Congressman.
JEFFRIES: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: For more of the President`s displays of authoritarianism, I`m joined by Masha Gessen, a staff writer at the New Yorker who you`ll recall wrote a piece called autocracy rules for survival two days after Trump was elected this week. The piece I mentioned earlier, Donald Trump`s fascist performance.
And Masha, I want to read back just -- and you also have a new book called Surviving Autocracy, which is about this theme. I want to read to you this paragraph from your latest because it captured a thing that I have been struggling to say all week. And the reason I`ve been struggling to say this because there`s two things at play here. There are these frankly, terrifying images of authoritarianism and authoritarian impulses commanded by a man who is so weak and pathetic and such an incompetent doofus that it can be hard to take seriously.
And so, this is what you said. "Trump is now performing his idea of power as he imagines it. In his intuition, power is autocratic and affirms the superiority of one nation and one race. It asserts total domination and it mercilessly suppresses all opposition. Whether or not he is capable of grasping the concept, Trump is performing fascism. What does that mean?
MASHA GESSEN, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORKER: Well, you know, I`ve tried not to use the word fascism to describe Trump in part and not because it`s not appropriate but in part because it`s a word that is slippery when you throw about too much. But it`s time that we use this word. And the reason it`s time is because Trump is so clearly deploying this the visual and rhetorical symbols of fascism.
It is the symbol of -- visually, I think he imagines that power looks like unidentified men in full combat uniform in front of the Lincoln Memorial with the columns right that even the architecture of it lends itself to this sort of fascist image. I think it looks like black hawk helicopters hovering over protesters. It looks like tear gas. It looks like overwhelming force.
And, of course, it sounds like overwhelming force as well. He perseverates on the word dominate on his -- in his phone call with governors. He talks about sending in the military. Does he know that that is fascism? Does he care? It doesn`t matter. This is his idea of power. He has signaled this many times before, he has expressed his endless admiration for the autocrats of the world, and now he`s making -- he`s performing this, he`s making a claim to this kind of power.
A power grab always begins as a performance of sorts. There`s always a claim made, and if it`s accepted, if the performance is believed, then it takes hold. And we`re at that critical moment now.
HAYES: What you said about his belief clearly in this is -- I mean, what`s striking is the president I don`t think believes in a lot of things other than that people should talk about Donald Trump. But this is one of his beliefs. This is -- this is an interview in March 1990 about Tiananmen Square.
Now, at the -- you know, you couldn`t really find a bunch of Americans on the side of the Chinese Communist Party when it came to Tiananmen Square, but in that tiny minority was Donald Trump saying, "When the students poured in in Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious. They were horrible. They put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak as being spit on by the rest of the world." Basically, he`s saying, what we need more is more Chinese Communist Party tanks rolling into Tiananmen.
GESSEN: He thinks that political power is brute force. Again, he`s made that perfectly clear over and over. But he also thinks that protest, and this idea he shares with the autocrats of the world, one whom I covered for a long time, Vladimir Putin, the idea that protests is chaos, that protest is the opposite of political power, because political power is controlled. And that protest is the ultimate challenge to political power and political power needs to be asserted in response to protest.
HAYES: This -- there`s another sort of commonality here with autocrats, which is the sort of threat of the fifth column, right, that there is an internal enemy that is seeking to subvert the state. We`ve heard the President talk about -- talk about what he`s seeing is domestic terrorism, classifying he and William Barr, domestic terrorism putting it at least rhetorically conceptually on a plane with ISIS or al-Qaeda murdering 3,000 Americans, talking about people, you know, breaking into stores and looting.
And we`ve got this of course from Ken Klippenstein, he`s a great investigative reporter, that the FBI`s own internal documents find no intel indicating Antifa which is of course, the sort of the great Boogeyman here involvement in the -- in the violence that happened on Sunday. But this rhetoric of domestic terrorism, this focus on Antifa, again, it`s buffoonish at one level and dangerous to the other. What do you make of it?
GESSEN: The creation of internal enemies, the creation of these Boogeyman is -- it`s a trope of all autocrats. And you know, what worries me most actually in this situation is that he -- Trump is incredibly talented and successful at steering the conversation. Here we are talking about whether Antifa is involved but -- which is something that in a way, we shouldn`t even be engaging.
But it was -- what was -- what I found very disturbing was governors and the mayors of American cities, Democratic mayors of American cities, people who used to be known as progressive Democrats like Bill de Blasio and Jacob Frey, the mayor of Minneapolis, buying into this sort of outside agitator trope immediately without questioning, saying that people who don`t belong there are protesting, as though there were a right to political action that were confirmed -- conferred on the basis of where you`re renting an apartment, as though we didn`t all have a stake in the police regimes that exist in this country.
This unquestioning use of fundamentally anti-democratic tropes and of course, unquestioning use of fundamentally anti-democratic tactics like the curfew in New York is absolutely terrifying because we`re finding ourselves in a situation where the conversation is about matters of degree of crackdown. The mayor of New York is willing to crack down to a certain level and the president of the country wants to crack down to an even greater level.
HAYES: It`s a really, really good point. Marsha`s new book which is fantastic like so much of Masha`s writing, Surviving Autocracy. Masha Gessen, thank you so much.
GESSEN: Thank you so much, Chris.
HAYES: Up next, some encouraging news. Whatever Trump is trying to sell, voters right now are not buying it. That`s next.
HAYES: The President has always appeared to fetishize strong men with the thought that it would make him a political superhero if he could become one. Instead, his political fortunes are sinking by the minute. As Fox News poll out yesterday shows the president down by four points to Joe Biden in Arizona. In Ohio. He`s down by two points. Ohio, he won Ohio pretty big last time around.
In Wisconsin, a state that he crucially but barely won in 2016, the poll has him down nine points. Nationally, a Monmouth poll has Trump down by 11. He was down by nine points in the same poll last month. And this seems to be making the Trump campaign somewhat anxious, understandably. In the last few weeks, they have spent -- get this -- nearly $2 million on advertising in Ohio, Iowa, and Arizona, three states they did not think we`re going to be on the board.
New York Times pointing out the spending in Ohio startled many Republicans giving that four years ago Trump beat Hillary Clinton there by eight points. After egregiously, bumbling the response to a pandemic that has nearly killed 110,000 Americans and counting, with more than 40 million Americans out of work, we`re now seeing the direct results of that. Donald Trump is probably at the lowest point politically in his entire presidency.
To talk more about this, I`m joined by longtime Republican consultant Stuart Stevens whose forthcoming book is called It Was All A Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump. Stewart, I want to just start with your -- as someone who has spent a lifetime in, you know, Republican politics, trying -- working on Republican political campaigns, presidential campaigns, just your assessment of the numbers we`re seeing of the President`s current political standing amidst this kind of national crisis.
STUART STEVENS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It`s possible that --
HAYES: Stuart does appear to be frozen. I don`t think we have that shot. We lost him. Here`s what we`re going to do. We`ll take a break. During that break, we`ll see if we can get Stuart Stevens back because I`d love to talk to him. If not, we`ll just move on. So don`t go anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: The reason we`re marching all over the world is because we were like George, we couldn`t breathe, not because there was something wrong with our lungs, but you wouldn`t take your knee off our neck.
We don`t want no favors, just get up off us and we can be and do whatever we can be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The Reverend Al Sharpton speaking in Minneapolis this afternoon in a memorial service for George Floyd.
At the same time marches and protests were happening from coast to coast. And the whole country was in a state of mourning today, has been for last week.
Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have been taking time on this program to memorialize people who have lost their lives.
Tonight, we`re doing something a little different, we`re talking about someone who got the virus, but didn`t succumb to it; instead, he died of the knee of a police officer. His name is George Floyd and he was 46-years- old.
Floyd grew up in Houston`s third ward. It`s a historically black neighborhood, it`s relatively poor. He lived in a housing project. In high school, Floyd was a star athlete playing both football and basketball. His lifelong friend, Steven Jackson, who went on to play in the NBA, to be a good basketball player called Floyd his twin.
In fact, Jackson says Floyd was known in the community as a protector and provider who didn`t have a hateful bone in his body. He said the only difference between them was that Jackson had more of an opportunity.
Floyd went on to play basketball on a scholarship at South Florida State College, but he didn`t finish his disagree. He moved back to his hometown of Houston where he started making music with a well known local hip hop group.
Friends, though, say that Floyd fell in with a bad crowd, and after a string of arrests for theft and drug possession, Floyd was sentenced to five years in prison on an armed robbery charge.
When he got out, Floyd became deeply involved in a local ministry. He had a daughter, Gianna (ph), who is now 6 years old. And he was intent on making changes for himself and for his neighborhood.
Here he is in his own words pleading for an end to gun violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE FLOYD: Are just going around and just busting guns in crowds, kids getting killed. You know, and it`s clearly the generation after us, man that`s so lost, man. Hey, man, come on home, man. One day it`s going to be you and god. You`re going up or you`re going down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Come on home. You day it`s going to be you and god.
Floyd, though, had trouble finding work in Houston, so in 2014, he looked for a fresh start and he moved to Minneapolis in search of a new life and new opportunity, and found it. He was holding down two jobs -- he was driving a truck and working security at a restaurant.
But then the pandemic happened. The restaurant closed under the shut down orders, and Floyd lost that job. And then he got sick. He tested positive for Coronavirus in early April.
Floyd recovered, but his life was ended on May 25 by a police officer named Derek Chauvin who kept his knee on George Floyd`s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds.
George Floyd should be alive today. We shouldn`t be memorializing him. Floyd`s uncle says he wants people to remember him as a kind and gentle man.
Floyd`s girlfriend says he taught her how to be a better person. And the mother of his daughter Gianna says Floyd was a love and a good father.
And here is what Gianna says about her dad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right, dad is changing the world.
GIANNA FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD`S DAUGHTER: Dad changed the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did what?
GIANNA FLOYD: Dad changed the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy changed the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Earlier in the show I was talking about the president`s tanking poll numbers about to speak to long time Republican consultant Stuart Stevens. His shot went out. His forthcoming book was called "It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump." And we now have Stuart back.
And I want to start, Stuart, with your assessment of what the president`s current political position is given the polling we are having, given the fact we`re spending money in Ohio. We`re seeing tight polls in places like Texas and Arizona. Where do you think things stand now?
STEVENS: Well, he`s in bad shape.
The (inaudible) poll was fascinating. If you were Trump and you are looking for good news, you would say, OK, my very favorable is 26 percent. Biden`s very favorable is only 16 percent, which speaks to the intensity of the voters, more favorable intensity they have.
But the number that just is shocking here is Donald Trump`s very unfavorable is 48 percent. That means 48 percent of the whole country has a very unfavorable view of him versus 31 percent for Biden. Once people get a very unfavorable view of you versus just an unfavorable view of you, it`s really tough to move them.
So this gives Trump very little playing field to move forward. They can do it. They can win. But it`s really a pretty bleak outlook. And this poll came out of (inaudible) before the events of the past 48 hours.
HAYES: You know, I think that some people are so sort of still traumatized -- I`m speaking now of liberals and Democrats by Trump`s victory in 2016 or electoral college victory, that there is always this sense of like I don`t believe the polls, or Trump is going to win. And I got filled with so many panicked incoming from the liberals when the protests started about George Floyd saying, oh, gosh, you know, this might precipitate white backlash and everyone was referencing Nixon in `68 and law and order. The president himself clearly thinks that can help him.
But we`ve seen actually it go the opposite direction. I wonder what you think is causing that, is it just that he`s incumbent, is it that he is the agent of chaos here? What do you think?
STEVENS: I think Trump, more than any president we had, represents anger and hostility. And it`s very rare in a situation in which the country is engulfed in hostility and anger that you desire more hostility and anger. So he`s the wrong person for this moment.
I mean, you think about it as a fight on a playing field, like a football field. We don`t like it when the coach runs out and jumps in the fight. We want the coach to be the person who is trying to separate people, cool everybody down. And Trump is out there, you know, he`s leading the charge off the bench. And he loves that stuff, and there`s a certain percent of the electorate that likes it.
But it`s really not what we expect out of leadership in any sort of segment of our society. We don`t see teachers in hall fights jump into the fight. They separate the students, and that`s the role that we want and expect and Trump can`t fulfill.
HAYES: You know there`s the broader political ramifications. Martha McSally is down like double digits in her race in Arizona against Mark Kelly. Cory Gardner in Colorado is looking bad. I wonder what you think the effects are on other Republicans. And, you know, I don`t expect Republicans to break with Trump because they basically can`t, but it does -- one does wonder if it`s October 1,a month out, and Trump is in this position and the Senate is looking like it`s going to flip like what the thinking is in a self- interested sense.
STEVENS: Yeah, I think I would be scared...
HAYES: ...Republican political class.
STEVENS: Listen, as someone who worked in the Republican Party for years and years, I cannot have any faith at all that there`s going to be any moral point or any higher point that`s going to turn Republicans against Trump, it will just be stark raving fear that would make them turn against him.
But I don`t know in October what you can do. It`s interesting, in this poll, the generic Democratic vote is close to what Biden is getting and a generic Republican vote is close to what Trump is getting. And that`s a really bad sign, it says the party is being identified by Trump.
I mean, if this election were held today, we would be talking about like 1964 kind of numbers.
HAYES: Yeah, that is what it looks like right now.
Stuart Stevens, I would love to having you back when the book is out. I really look forward to reading it. And thank you for staying patient with us and lending us your time tonight.
STEVENS: No, thank you. All the best, Chris, bye.
HAYES: All right. All right, last night in New York City, my home city, the city I grew up in, the city I live in, like many cities around the country, there was both a curfew and also a large peaceful protest that was happening after the curfew.
The peaceful protest then descended into violence not because of the protesters, but because the NYPD started beating people. This is what that moment looked like, all right.
I started getting reports of this and seeing this on Twitter, and I got to say we`ve all seen a million videos and snapshots on social media throughout all of this unrest in different permutations and from different political perspectives. And it`s always a good idea to not just take, you know, the 20 seconds, the 30 seconds you see as complete face value and telling you the whole story.
But in this case, this is not just snapshots on camera phones, it`s first person account after first person account of people who were there and journalists there to document the protest, including one photographer who was beaten with a baton while taking pictures.
In fact, the public advocate of the city of New York, Jumaane Williams, was present at the protest and live streaming.
New York Times reporter, Ali Watkins, was following the crowd and documented the peaceful protest and march in Brooklyn that was pushed back by a line of police into a wall of more officers.
A single, apparently, empty water bottle was thrown toward the police line and then, quote, batons started coming out. Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of this entire debacle of cops descending violently on peaceful protesters as opposed to just letting the protests die by attrition, a strategy used in this city and others, is the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York State went before reporters today to gaslight the public, all of us, into believing that we did not see what we all saw, that the witnesses are not telling the truth about police beating protesters with their batons.
Mayor De Blasio was asked about it this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of folks can see on video the use of batons, protesters who were being asked to leave being hit with batons, wondering what you think about that and whether you condone that type of police behavior.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D) NEW YORK CITY: There was some peaceful protests, overwhelmingly peaceful, certainly, throughout the day and into the night. A lot of restraint from the NYPD overall.
I have not seen the videos you refer to or seen those accounts, but it is anything that needs to be reviewed, it will be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So there was some peaceful protests. I haven`t seen the accounts, and then that was the mayor being asked about that.
This is footage shot in Manhattan last night. It appears to show NYPD officers just striking a person on a bicycle as onlookers recorded the scene while stuck in traffic. They are aghast, by the way. And then other officers join, so there`s four people beating this one guy on his bike?
And then for his part, the governor of New York took such umbrage at the suggestion police would use baton on innocent protesters, like the videos we all saw, that he called the question itself a partisan attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, (D) NEW YORK: Do you think there`s any sensible police officer who believes their job is bludgeoning a peaceful person with a baton? It`s that kind of incendiary rhetoric that it`s not a fact, it`s not a fact. It`s not even an opinion. That is a hyper-partisan, rhetorical attack.
Police bludgeon peaceful protesters with batons for no reason, that`s not a fact. They don`t do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, it is a fact. It is very much a fact. They do do that. Tablet magazine reporter, Armin Rosen, maybe he`s lying. Maybe he`s making it up. Maybe it`s a figment of our imagination, governor.
He said cops clubbed me and took my bike, this despite him wearing a helmet that said "press."
Oh, it`s not a fact? They don`t do that?
Videos have been appearing on Twitter from protests in New York City of the past week showing police using batons on protesters.
If all of this is what it looks like, and based on eye witness accounts from credible people and reporters, oh, yeah, it sure appear to be what it looks like, there must be consequences for the police officers and the people that command and supervisor them.
Last night, New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams is out on the street. He`s a citywide elected official whose job it is to advocate for people, provide oversight on city agencies, and he saw police officers beating peaceful protesters with batons in Brooklyn, quote, "I can`t believe what I just witnessed and experienced. The force used on non- violent protesters was disgusting. No looting, no fires, chants of peaceful protest." And Jumaane Williams, New York City advocate, joins me now.
Mr. Williams, maybe you can just start by what you would say to the mayor who says he didn`t see those accounts and the governor who says it`s not a fact, it`s biased, it`s fabricated that police would use batons on protesters.
JUMAANE WILLIAMS, NEW YORK CITY ADVOCATE: You know what is so disturbing about the mayor and the governor is how they try to portray themselves as different than the president. But I haven`t seen, to be honest, rubber bullets and tear gas trying to get a photo-op, but maybe that`s next.
And so the way they have dealt with these protest is aghast. They`ve literally taken the play-book by being goaded by the president. The main difference is they have smaller army. And it is just stunning.
I have to tell you, the path to (inaudible), just to be honest, if I had heard their account, I would have had trouble believing it. But what I saw made absolutely no sense. When that pushing started, we were in the midst of talking to higher ranking officials saying what are we doing? Let`s find a way to just let them go. This is peaceful, this is nonviolent, rather. And they said, OK, and then started to do that. And then all hell broke loose.
HAYES: Did you -- I just want to get this on the record, you were saying that you saw New York City police officers wield their batons and beat protesters who were peaceful for what -- at least in the moment, or at least to the protester, on the wrong end of the baton was no reason.
WILLIAMS: Absolutely. I cannot say what is happening every space of every place at a time, I can only tell you what I saw and what I witnessed and what I felt. And I kept asking why are we doing this? There`s no looting happening. We have no fires. These folks are nonviolently protesting.
And what I was told is that we want them to go home.
I said, if you want them to go home, they`re protesting, let`s set us up (inaudible), let`s find something else to do. And we did. And the night before, when I saw a similar action, which was scary, the police started screaming, mayor`s curfew, mayor`s curfew. And now so they`re using the curfew as another way to interact, just like they did with social distancing.
We always put these things in place to cause more tension. The mayor and the governor have thoroughly failed at dealing with these protests, when we should have been a beacon for the nation to show how we allow people to express their anger and their pain, instead we did the opposite.
HAYES: Do you think that has to do with the fact, for both the mayor and the governor, that there was significant looting in various parts of New York City. There was significant looting in Manhattan. There was also in -- I know in my home borough the Bronx there was -- further away from the spotlight, but a bunch of small businesses that have already been ravaged by Coronavirus got hit, that essentially, they saw that, and they thought, and this is no good, and they got a lot of heat in the press over it, and that changed the way the police approached protests, or was there a continuum all along?
WILLIAMS: They started out with this protest wrong.
On the first day, when people were protesting, to see an imposing force of police and pens around protesters, my question is what do you think is going to happen? You are forcing protesters not to be able to express themselves. You`re keeping them in tents.
So I spent on Saturday night, at Albemarle and Church Avenue in Brooklyn, two hours just saying let the protesters go through. Why would you want officers screamed at for two or three hours.
Now, they are professionals and have to act as such, but they`re only human. Why do you want that? And then why do you want protesters to be ginned up and just angry because they simply cannot move? These people are mourning and they`re grieving.
They spent the first two day saying we don`t want them in the streets. Why? Blocking traffic is the least of our issues right now. And I have to say the citywide officials to keep hearing them say we have to protect property. We have got to do what he what we can to protect property. And for me, yes, we want to make sure property is protected and that people feel safe.
But where is the same energy to say we have to do what we have to do to protect black lives? Where is the mayor and the governor`s plan and proposal to address the concerns of these protesters or (inaudible).
And that is part of the problem, we just don`t hear that. It is an aside. And people are really tired of that.
HAYES: Well, let me turn that back around on you. You`re a citywide elected official. What do you see as the solution here? What do you think needs to happen concretely policy-wise?
WILLIAMS: We`ve put forth a number of measures. And I want to shout-out to the New York City council for moving forward on several measures. And we have said we have to repeal 58, which shields officer`s disciplinary record. By the way, it was reinterpreted with Mayor de Blasio, even worse than Giuliani and Bloomberg, believe it or not. We`ve said maybe we can allow the New York City Council to have advice and consent over the police commissioner. We have said we should ban the choke hold. Surprisingly, just now we`re trying to do that.
We have said we should cut the budget of the NYPD so that we don`t have to get rid of every single youth job and cut the division of youth and community development by 40 percent like the mayor is proposing, but leave NYPD almost $6 billion fully intact.
We`ve said to the governor, maybe don`t cut Medicaid because you made some terrible mistakes and now people are dying in those communities, let`s figure out how to raise revenue from the wealthiest among us. And there is nothing. Crickets.
And so we put forth a plan. And we have others, but we have heard nothing in response. All we keep hearing about is really how to crush and stop the protesters. And to have a protest about the abuses of police to then send 4,000 more police, and put in place a curfew, it makes no sense and it is a dearth of leadership.
HAYES: Jumaane Williams, New York City Public Advocate, who has been on the streets among protesters for the last few nights in the Borough of Brooklyn right now. Thank you so much for your time tonight.
WILLIAMS: Thank you. Peace and bless you, love and life.
HAYES: I want to bring in someone who once wore a police uniform himself, now works to work with systemic racism in police departments across the country, here with me is Redditt Hudson, former St. Louis police officer, the co-founder of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers For Justice. It is great to have you back on the program, Redditt. It has been a little while since we`ve spoken, but we have spoken in the past about all this.
I`ve heard a lot of about what are the demands, what are the solutions look like here, and as someone who spends your whole time thinking about that as a former police officer yourself what do you think the answers are?
REDDITT HUDSON, CO-FOUNDER NATIONAL COALITION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS FOR JUSTICE: Well you got to look at those police unions, man. You got to get at those collective bargaining agreements that shield officers from accountability, transparency. A lot of the issues that you see are there, because they get away with it. And the way they get away with it is because immunity is almost built in to every contract they sign. And police unions are going to be some of the biggest adversaries of the kinds of reforms that collectively many people across this country are pushing for.
They`re going to be the ones. For example, in Minneapolis, where their police union president, Bob Kroll, saw the same murder we saw. He saw the same sadistic murder of George Floyd that we saw, but his plan is to fight for those officers` jobs.
Pat Lynch, when Daniel Pantaleo murdered Eric Garner, at the time he killed Eric Garner, he had received 95 more civilian complaints, than 95 percent of New York City officers. Pat Lynch wanted zero accountability for him. And here in St. Louis, with one of the worst unions in the country, the St. Louis Police Officers Association, here.
Governor Cuomo, we`ve admired how you have handled the Coronavirus situation there, but you are flat dead wrong about what police will do in protest situations. Here in St. Louis, the last major protest we had prior to this one, was in the aftermath of the Jason Stockley verdict, a guy who murdered a guy and planted a gun on him, well, officers here in St. Louis beat a protester so bad, that he lost his career.
Unfortunately, his career was as a St. Louis police officer. He was undercover. So that`s how we know that one happened.
HAYES: Can I ask you, this is slightly off topic, and I want to get back to sort of reforms, but just psychologically, when you view that -- I mean, you know, Jumaane Williams was saying these are humans, too, and I have been watching footage of police officers, I`ve interviewed dozens, now hundreds of police officers in the course of my reporting, you know, it is unpleasant to have a person stand in your face and scream at you all day, particularly when it`s hot and you`re in a lot of gear -- when you see these sort of movements, these moments where police appear to lose it, just something snaps, is that what is happening or is it more tactical?
HUDSON: I think it`s a case by case. You do have officers who will issue a tactical directive to be aggressive in settings like that, leaders on police departments, supervisors who will tell officers to go out there and do this work this way, this evening. There are situations where the human element does come into play.
But i would say, Chris, that when you go down and fill out the application, and go to the academy, and finish, and come on to the street, you`ve already accepted that reality about the work that you`re going to do.
I know what my job is. And if I don`t have the capacity to continue to respect the human rights, civil rights, and civil liberties of the people that I`ve been sworn to protect, then maybe that`s not the job for me, because authoritarian approaches to law enforcement, that say you shall do what I say regardless of whatever is going on, and if you don`t, I will instantly punish you with everything that I have available to me, up to and including murdering you, because you tried to use a counterfeit 20, that creates major problems across the country, and that is what we are collectively going to have to see fall, if we want to see the kinds of reforms that people are working for.
And I think this is that moment, Chris, this is the space where you have seen more and more, law enforcement officers, you know, we`ve talked in the past, and I was one of a few voices. Now, you see more voices nationally from the law enforcement community calling for accountability. And that is the best training that you can get, accountability. You will pay when you violate the rights of the people that you serve, consistently, and all the time. You will train a lot of officers to do better on the streets if that becomes the case.
HAYES: Final question, quickly in the last minute we have here, a lot of people are calling for cuts to budgets to police budgets. They say, look, we`ve tried all of these reforms. We`ve tried riding cams. We`ve tried all this stuff, what you really got to do is reduce the size, shrink police departments. What do you think of that?
HUDSON: There are arguments for abolishing the police. I don`t know that I`m a proponent of that yet. I think the people who make those arguments have thought it through carefully, but the reality is on the ground, for me, become, what did you do in a society, for example, if we envision somewhere, with no police officers, what do you do, when somebody murders your next door neighbor? What do you do when a violent situation arises? Is it vigilante? Is it a collective group that responds and is trained to respond, well, isn`t that a police force?
Yes, budgets are wildly overextended with law enforcement. Here in St. Louis, they take up more than half of the city`s budget just on the police department. I do think that`s wrong and it is a waste. So there`s problem some balance that could be struck to do a better job of not rewarding misconduct, and poor police culture with extra money.
HAYES: That I think is a question, where you set that level, particularly at a moment we`re about to go through some really brutal austerity, unfortunately, unless things change in cities and states across the country.
Redditt Hudson, it`s always great to hear your very particular insight. Thank you very much, sir.
HUDSON: Good to see you again, man.
HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END