ERICA MACDONALD, U.S. ATTORNEY: It is imperative that the investigation is done right and done right the first time. And that is what we are going to do.
This has been a rapidly evolving situation. We first learned of it in the early morning hours of Tuesday.
The FBI reached out directly to me, and we have been working on this case nonstop since we were notified.
We understand the severity of this situation unfolding. It breaks my heart to see what is going on in our streets in Minneapolis and in Saint Paul and in some of our suburbs.
And I am pleading, I am pleading with individuals to remain calm and to let us conduct this investigation.
Give it just a minute, before I blow over.
We share with the FBI, and we share with our state partners, who are conducting parallel, but independent investigation -- so that is clear. We have two different investigations and conclusions and recommendations that will come from those to each of our respective offices.
But we share an unwavering commitment to see that this investigation is done right, that it`s sent forthwith, that we act with dispatch, and that we live up to the standards the community demands.
Our highest priority is that justice will be served.
With that, I am going to close my comments and turn it over to Special Agent in Charge Rainer Drolshagen from the FBI.
RAINER DROLSHAGEN, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Thank you, Erica.
Good afternoon. My name is Rainer Drolshagen. I`m the special agent in charge of the Minneapolis field office.
Echoing the U.S. attorney`s comments, I`d like to say I express my complete condolences to the Floyd family. I`d also like to express my sympathy to the citizens of Minnesota, as there is extreme frustration, anger, and sadness.
I also want to thank Chief Arradondo of the Minneapolis Police Department. He reached out to me in the middle of the night and requested our assistance. His call enabled me to immediately reach out to the U.S. attorney`s office to enlist their assistance.
And as such, we were able to open an investigation in a matter of a few hours after the incident.
Our role in this investigation is to investigate allegations of willful violations of federal civil rights. The FBI team is following the path where the facts will lead us. We are conducting a swift, yet meticulous investigation.
In less than 72 hours, much work has been done, but I assure you there`s much more to be accomplished.
I want you to ensure that you understand we respond to cases like these as quickly as possible. We will follow the case to conclusion, in partnership with our state partner, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
The FBI is a fact-gathering agency. We collect facts, and we need your help. We`re asking everyone that was present before, during and after the incident to come forward to help us build the best picture of what occurred.
Each little piece of the puzzle helps us complete the big picture. If you have any information, or if you have any videos, or if you know of anyone who can help us with this, I encourage you to ask them to contact 1-800- CALL-FBI.
Again, I`m encouraging you to reach out to 1-800-CALL-FBI. No tip is too small.
MICHAEL FREEMAN, HENNEPIN COUNTY ATTORNEY: Good afternoon. I`m Mike Freeman, Hennepin County attorney.
We are the principal prosecuting agency for the state and the criminal side.
Initially, I want to say that my thoughts and those of my office continue to be with a family and the friends of George Floyd. They know they are hurting over the senseless death.
The manager of our Victim Services Division has been in touch with George Floyd`s family on several occasions and is keeping them updated on what is happening in this case.
They`re aware that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, better known as the BCA, the Hennepin County medical examiner and the Hennepin County attorney`s office are moving as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
I`ve also been in direct consultations with Governor Tim Walz, with Attorney General Keith Ellison and others in the state, the city and the county discussions on this case.
As many of you know, the Hennepin County attorney`s office is one of very few prosecution offices in the United States who have successfully charged and convicted and obtained a guilty verdict against a police officer for unreasonable use of deadly force.
We have developed a detailed plan for that prosecution and, with the BCA, a detailed plan for investigation.
Our office has been flooded with calls, as many as 1,00 a day, as well as e-mail and social media from people in this jurisdiction, in this state and throughout the country. The main question is, what are you going to do about the murder of George Floyd?
Well, I`ve just described what we`re going to do. We are going to investigate it as expeditiously, as thoroughly and completely as justice demands. Sometimes, that takes a little time, and we ask people to be patient. We have to do this right, and that`s what we`ll do.
I also want to tell you that our office has led the nation in openness on these types of cases. When we decide to charge an officer, we put the criminal complaint on our Web site. If we decide that the evidence does not support a criminal charge, we put our report in all our evidence on the Web site for all to see.
When we make the decision in this case, we will do the same. What I can assure the citizens of Minnesota, we will do it as quickly as we can do it as possible. We`ll do it as quickly as possible.
I think Drew Evans from the BCA is next.
DREW EVANS, SUPERINTENDENT, MINNESOTA BUREAU OF CRIMINAL APPREHENSION: Thank you, county attorney Freeman.
My name is Drew Evans. I am the superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
First, I`d like to share with my colleagues here in expressing my deepest thoughts and sympathies to the family of George Floyd, the heartbreak that they`re going through and the community as a whole.
This is a difficult time for our entire community, as they mourn his death.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension began this investigation immediately after this incident occurred, when we were contacted by the Minneapolis Police Department. Agents were deployed, including our crime scene, immediately began gathering evidence, talking to witnesses, and then working immediately with the county attorney`s office, discussing our findings and what we had at that time.
Next, over the night, as was indicated, the FBI was contacted. I spoke to Chief Arradondo. He informed me of his contacting them, and that was a contact we all welcome in this process. We`re working very collaboratively together through this process.
Our agents are working closely together. We`ve deployed numerous resources. We brought in agents from all over the state, recognizing the importance of an expeditious, quick investigation that is still thorough, independent, and unbiased by all of our organizations.
Those findings will be turned over to the county attorney on the state side and on the federal side, as noted, to the United States attorney`s office.
The same thing we share, as the FBI did, we want any citizen, anybody who was there that witnessed this event, that has information that would be helpful to our investigation to either call the FBI tips line or 651-793- 7000, which is the BCA Operations Center.
My perspective is, we want citizens to go wherever they are most comfortable, whichever line they are, so that we get all of the information in this case, so we can conduct the most thorough investigation possible.
And with that, I think we`ll turn it over to the U.S. attorney and county attorney for questions.
MACDONALD: And so, at this point, we`re going to open it up for questions.
I can tell you, I will start by saying, we`ve got questions too, and we`re getting answers to those. We`re doing our best. We`re digging in. But we do -- and I want to echo what my law enforcement partners said. We need the community`s help.
There were folks there on the scene, not -- folks that we couldn`t identify necessarily at the time. We need to know who they are. Come forward. If you have a video, please share it.
We want to do, as quickly as we can, a thorough investigation to get answers to those questions. And I know that I saw the first hand going up was in front of me.
Ma`am, you had a question?
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Twitter is already saying what you guys are announcing today. They were hoping for maybe charges.
(OFF-MIKE) Are you worried that`s going to ignite more riots?
MACDONALD: My hope is that, getting it out through you, that the community will understand that we are taking this seriously, that we`re working as quickly as possible.
So the community understands, we don`t -- we don`t announce investigations typically. As you in the media knows, it`s unusual for us to come forward and tell you about an investigation.
As a United States attorney, we`re counseled that we are not to talk about that until the time of the conviction typically, or, in some cases, perhaps charges.
It was really -- it`s really imperative that the community understands how seriously we`re taking this and how quickly and swiftly we are moving on this. And so my hope with that is, is that people will understand, peaceful protests are always acceptable.
That is the cornerstone of our justice system, is that people have the right to say how they feel and to talk about their feelings, and to protest peacefully.
But the obstruction and the destruction of property and harm to individuals has got to stop. We are one Minnesota. We`re at our best when we`re at our worst. We`ve got to come together and stop the needless and unnecessary destruction of property and harm to human life.
MACDONALD: You may.
FREEMAN: Yes, this state is well known, and it has a strong reputation for firm and thorough First Amendment advocation. We support peaceful demonstrations.
I had a long talk today with Reverend Jesse Jackson, who came at the request of Attorney General Keith Ellison and the governor. And I believe Reverend Jackson will be speaking and asking for peace -- peaceful protest today.
Peaceful protest is good. It advocates our rights. And it also calls forth the witnesses that the United States attorney wants us to come forward.
Violence is not. Violence hampers our case. It takes valuable police resources away from our investigation, and it also harms innocent people who had nothing to do with that. It gets in the way of our work.
So, we`re asking, please, please, say what you need to say. Demonstrate how you need to do. That is in our Constitution. And all of us believe in that. But, please, don`t destroy an innocent person`s property who had nothing to do with it.
QUESTION: I think part of the problem is, sir, the video goes on for seven minutes.
He is clearly struggling to breathe during that time. And I think people will be hard-pressed to understand how you can`t bring charges at least against the officer who had his knee on that man`s neck.
FREEMAN: It`s a violation of my ethics to talk and evaluate evidence before we announce our charging decision. And I will not do that.
I will say this, that that video is graphic and horrific and terrible, and no person should do that. But my job in the end is to prove that he violated a criminal statute. And there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge.
We need to wade through all of that evidence and to come through with a meaningful determination. And we are doing that to the best of our ability.
QUESTION: When it comes to the African American community, and you guys -- and we`re here. A lot of came down to actually call for peace.
But when you guys are asking for them to be patient, they`re saying that there was no patience when it came to George Floyd when he begged and pleaded for his life.
What message would you give us to take back to the African American community to bring peace and to ensure them that justice is going to be served?
FREEMAN: I bring them the same message that African American Attorney General of the state of Minnesota Keith Ellison is bringing. I`m bringing the same message as the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
We have to do this right. We have to prove it in a court of law. And I will just point to you the comparison to what happened in -- in Baltimore in the Gray case. It was a rush to charge. It was a rush to justice. And all of those people were found not guilty.
I will not rush to justice. I`m going to do this right. And those folks who know me in the African community know I will do my very level best, but I will not rush justice, because justice cannot be rushed.
MACDONALD: Thank you for that.
It was wonderful to hear you say that you came down with other members of the community to ask for peace. And that is the most -- that`s probably the most positive thing I`ve heard here all day. So, I cannot begin to thank you enough for that.
And to the extent you can share that, and you can share the integrity and honesty of what we`re doing and trying to tell you what`s going on please do, because we need you. We need the community.
But it`s really important that we emphasize that everybody, everybody in the United States is entitled to due process of law. And due process of law requires us, as prosecutors, as law enforcement officers, to make sure that we`ve done a careful investigation.
And it requires us -- as I told you, I have tried -- as a judge, I presided over hundreds of cases, including first-degree murder cases. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that all your ducks are in a row before you make that charging decision, because you can`t undo what you`ve done if you rush.
But if you take that time, you`re going to do it right the first time and you`re going to get it done the first time.
QUESTION: Mike, I have a question about National Guard coming in now.
There is, it sounds like, fear and worry that this is going to escalate. Thoughts on the Guard being called in?
FREEMAN: Well, first off, the decision to call the National Guard is the governor`s decision. And I support his decision.
Second, I -- since I have Hennepin County attorney, I try to do -- be the best prosecutor I can be and run the best office. And I try to stay out of other people`s business. OK?
So, the -- on the streets and the law enforcement is not my business directly. I do encourage people not to do dangerous things and to harm other people or property.
But I can say to you that we just can`t rush this. I`ve been involved in a number of these investigations. The BCA has got their most veteran people. And they are good.
I have leading the prosecution team the two prosecutors that brought justice in the Justine Damond case. And, as I said to you earlier, it`s one of the few successful murder convictions of a police officer overusing force in the country.
And I had a lot of pressure to hurry that and to do it quickly. You can`t do that. These need to be done right. Please, give me and give United States attorney the time to do this right, and we will bring you justice, I promise.
QUESTION: Are the police officers cooperating?
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) source of the anger and the frustration and the belief that there are two sides and two ways, two paths to justice here, the path for police officers and privileged people and the path for everyone else.
FREEMAN: Esme (ph), as you know from covering these kinds of cases for a long time, each of the facts are different and each of them have to be addressed differently.
I assure you that if the person who had committed the act -- and I do not condone or respect the act done by the police officer to Mr. Floyd. That was excessive, and that was wrong.
The question in my business is, is it criminal? That`s what I have to prove. And if -- there are cases that you can quickly and easily evaluate.
Most of the cases, particularly cop use-of-force cases, are specifically more complex and have to be done right, and we`re committed to doing it right.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) officers cooperating with your investigation?
MACDONALD: I want to answer that question as well, if I may.
FREEMAN: Yes, sure.
MACDONALD: You know, it`s important for -- I 100 percent agree with you. That is the question, right? It is the question that people in my office are asking. It`s a question. We were all feeling the pain of watching that.
But this is -- this is what needs to be understood is -- and I know you all understand this, but to the extent I`m speaking to the community.
Police officers, by the nature of their job, have the authority to use a certain amount of force when they`re executing their duties faithfully and honestly and in accordance with their policies.
And so a lot of police officer, a law enforcement officer has within the latitude of their scope of duty the ability to use the right amount of force, but not excessive force, not excessive force as defined by the law.
And so that is what we are looking at with respect to any federal criminal violation of civil rights, is that issue of excessive force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One more question. One more.
QUESTION: Are the police officers -- thank you.
MACDONALD: I can tell you that every United States attorney of all the -- all of my colleagues that are out there, we are vested with doing what`s right for our state at the time.
Of course, we`re part of the Department of Justice, William Barr. I report to the DAG, who then reports to the deputy attorney general, who then reports to the attorney general.
But every United States attorney is given the discretion in their community to pursue the charges and to follow the leads where they are, and to pursue the case as they deem appropriate.
I am, however, keeping my boss in communication, in briefing, so that he understands the investigation that`s going on here in the state of Minnesota.
MACDONALD: I should`ve made clear, too, one thing. And I know it was in our statement that we issued last night.
But on our team of experienced trial attorneys, which are the most experienced in my office, I can tell you, I`ve been in viewing the evidence with my criminal chief, with my first assistant, United States attorney Anders Folk, with my deputy criminal chiefs.
We`re all in there together. But we`re also partnering with the Civil Rights Division from Department of Justice. The Civil Rights Division has an experience of doing these cases nationally. They bring with that expertise of understanding the requirements of 18-USC-242, which is the violation of law that we`re specifically addressing.
And so, yes, we are partnering with Department of Justice to use their expertise and their resources. But we are leading the investigation, and we are working collaboratively with our state and local partners and federal partners.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) ... the president about this?
MACDONALD: The president is actively monitoring the situation, but I have not spoken to the president directly, no.
QUESTION: Can you give us a timeline? Can you give us a timeline?
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) before coming out here? Can you tell us what the -- the wait was about?
MACDONALD: I cannot. I can only ask you to trust me that it mattered, and that I hope that I can fill you in on that at the appropriate time, which I hope is soon.
QUESTION: I mean, you obviously didn`t call us down here for this. You guys were hoping for something more. Can you detail what you were hoping for?
MACDONALD: I`m going to say the same thing again, but I appreciate the tenacity of asking the question again.
I would not have needlessly wasted your time. It was important that the community understand that we are actively involved in this investigation. We are working round the clock. We have been for the last 72 hours, and we`ll continue to do so to see that justice is done.
Again, we`re going to do right, but we will act with dispatch. And I will keep all of you informed as soon as there`s another development, and I will make sure that you, I promise, do not have to wait again. We`ll have it timed right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, thanks, everybody. Appreciate you coming.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: All right. Hello there, everyone. I`m Ayman Mohyeldin, in for Ari Melber tonight on THE BEAT on MSNBC.
You were just watching a press conference there with federal and state officials giving a briefing about the very latest on the ongoing investigation into the killing and death of George Floyd that has now set off a whole set of motions, of protests in the city of Minneapolis.
You heard there from federal law enforcement officials saying that their investigation is ongoing. They`re working as quickly as possible.
Interesting enough, you heard the U.S. attorney there say at the very top of her comments she thought that there would be some developments that she was going to be announcing. Certainly, none were announced during that press briefing. She did promise, though, if there were any developments, she would come back and brief reporters.
You also heard from the county attorney there, Michael Freeman, giving an update really on how his office is proceeding to either consider a charge against the police officer or not. He says they want to do this by the book. They want to do this slowly, but methodically, and make sure they get all of the details.
We have a lot to get to this hour.
We`re going start right now, though, by bringing in with us Minnesota`s attorney general, Keith Ellison.
Mr. Ellison, it`s great to have you with us.
I assume that you were watching that press, like the rest of us were. Let me just get your reaction to what you heard there from federal and state officials.
KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it communicates to me that they are serious, that they know they have to address the public and the press, that the questions are coming, and they deserve answers.
I think it`s important for them to assure people that this is not something that`s going to get brushed under the rug, that this is a serious matter, and both state and federal criminal justice leaders are digging in deep.
I will say that I believe that we will be seeing an expeditious investigation, but, at the same time, that may mean days and weeks, as opposed to months and years. Sometimes, these things really do stretch out. But I don`t think that`s what we`re going to see here.
But, at the same time, an immediate, imminent outcome, I don`t think is what we`re going to see, because I think that these professionals are more concerned with getting it right than getting it fast.
There is pressure to move quickly, though. There is some thought that, if a charge came, that that might slow down some of the protesting. But, of course, protesting really should not dictate the speed or the thoroughness of the investigation.
But I think that -- that they know that an expeditious investigation is what the public expects.
MOHYELDIN: We will get to the protests in just a second, but I do have a few questions specifically about what was said in that news conference that I want to get your thoughts on.
As you mentioned, you heard there the U.S. attorney say that we thought we would have another development that I could tell you about. Unfortunately, we don`t at this point.
I`m curious to get your thoughts. Any insight into what that development that the U.S. attorney referenced there was?
ELLISON: No, I really couldn`t speak on that issue.
I will tell you that everybody is gathering every bit of video they can. They`re trying to get through all the witnesses who were there. They`re trying to see if there is any videotape they don`t know about. They`re trying to make sure they are doing backgrounds on the individuals involved.
They don`t have the medical examiner`s report, to my knowledge. That might be an important piece of information. And so, you know, it`s going according to the proper protocols.
It`s not being delayed at all. It`s important for people to know that the Minneapolis police are not investigating the Minneapolis police. That has been moved to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. So, no, I don`t have any special thing to share about what they had in mind.
But I can just tell you that this is a situation where you don`t want to go for a quick arrest that might make people feel better about justice, and then the case goes south.
What you want to do is take the time to make sure that this -- these charges, if they are brought forward, stick, and that that will be the important thing.
MOHYELDIN: As you`re probably aware, a lot of people who have already watched the seven-minute video of the police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd say that in itself constitutes excessive force.
You can bring a charge against the police officer and still gather evidence. Those two are not mutually exclusive. That happens all the time. People are arrested, they`re charged, and more evidence comes to light.
The idea, though, that he has not been yet arrested has a lot of people concerned that there may be an attempt to find a justification why a charge has not been brought.
I mean, Michael Freeman just said right now in the news conference, he said there is evidence that does not support a criminal case.
ELLISON: Well, you know, I`m not sure. I heard that statement too.
I don`t think that what he meant is that there is evidence of an exoneration. I think that he -- what he is saying is that he knows that clever defense counsel are going to try to poke holes in every single link in the prosecutorial chain, and he wants to make sure that every single one of this is firm.
Imagine for a moment if you were defending this case. They might throw a lot of stuff out there, and you, as a prosecutor, want to be able to address every one of those things. So, that is really, I think, what he was referring to.
MOHYELDIN: All right, let me ask you then about the protests tonight.
Obviously, as you mentioned, as others have mentioned, in the absence of any kind of meaningful step forward by the law enforcement officials, people are still rightfully angry about how this has played out.
MOHYELDIN: How are officials in that state going to keep the peace tonight?
What is the onus of responsibility on law enforcement and city officials and state officials this evening?
ELLISON: Well, first of all, we want to appeal to people to protest peacefully, to understand that, you know, the cause of George Floyd is noble and just, and getting real justice for him is the right thing to do, and then bringing forth systemic, sustainable change is the right thing to do, and that - so peaceful, powerful, militant protest is absolutely appropriate.
But when the conversation gets diverted to, you know, broken windows and broken things, it`s -- that is not helpful to the cause.
I will say this. There is some disturbing video of some man dressed in all black with a face mask and an umbrella. He doesn`t look like any protester I have ever seen. I am concerned that there may be provocateurs in the crowd who are doing a lot of the damage.
I say to the protesters, if you see suspicious people doing damage, and they`re not carrying signs, they`re not chanting, they`re just breaking stuff and trying to hide their identity, take pictures of these people. They`re not helping you. They`re not helping the cause.
They`re online. There is a YouTube video of one guy, and I urge all the protesters, don`t let somebody tear down the good reputation of your righteous protest. Take pictures of these people who may well be provocateurs.
And that evidence is on YouTube. I urge people to take a look at it and see if they can identify that guy.
MOHYELDIN: We know that the four officers involved in that situation obviously now have been fired.
Minneapolis police policy does actually say that officers have a -- quote - - "duty to intervene" if they see excessive force being used. Did the other officers...
MOHYELDIN: ... at this scene fail in this duty?
You have innocent bystanders who are watching to say, he cannot breathe, and the police officer, not the one involved in putting his knee on the neck of George Floyd, but the others, they`re not even intervening.
ELLISON: Well, you know, the truth is, the victim was saying, "I can`t breathe." Onlookers were saying, he can`t breathe.
It looked very apparent to me that the man could not breathe. He said, my stomach hurts, my whole body hurts. He said, they`re going to kill me. He said so many things that seem very clearly to indicate that he was in distress and needed to have that knee off of his neck and get put -- and get assistance.
Didn`t happen. And it was very disturbing, very disturbing. It`s why this particular case has really captured the attention of the nation, because it just seems like just such a callous disregard of human life. And that`s what`s in front of all of us. We all are seeing it. We`re all witnessing it, and we`re all haunted by it.
MOHYELDIN: And we should also note, as we heard this there from the U.S. attorney, both the attorney general and the president of the United States are being briefed on this as well.
It has certainly captured the attention of people not just in this country, but around the world.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, sir, thank you very much for joining us this evening. I appreciate your time.
ELLISON: Thank you, sir.
MOHYELDIN: All right.
NBC`s Shaquille Brewster is live outside the 3rd Precinct in Minneapolis tonight, where I can see behind him already crowds are gathering.
Shaquille, I know it`s a little bit early for some of the information from that news conference to trickle to the crowd out there, but what`s your sense about how things will play out in the coming hours, now that we have heard from officials and it does not seem like there will be any arrests or charges this evening?
SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: I can tell you, Ayman, that is not what people, protesters wanted to hear.
That -- I don`t know if that has made their way down to the protesters here who are watching, who are protesting. But that news has not gotten to them.
And what you have been hearing, their main message for several days now has been, they want the officers involved arrested. They want the people who -- the officer who was on that tape, that tape that really went viral earlier this week, they want to see an immediate arrest, because they believe that is enough. That`s all you need to see.
Just to set up what`s going on right now, there is actually -- the crowd is back there, several hundred protesters coming in. And I`m actually going to slide to the side just a little bit, Ayman, and get off camera.
There is a line of police officers coming in right now. What we do know -- and there will probably be some rocks being thrown, so we`re just taking a little defensive posture. But the police are going in.
Apparently, there is someone who is having a medical emergency down there by the protesters. So, they`re sending a line of police in. But you see people are throwing things at the police cars as they`re going in.
Apparently, there was a report of a man stabbed over there in that direction. We still don`t fully know what`s going on. But you see police going in directly into the crowd. They`re setting up some sort of perimeter. And I`m trying to look as we go.
We`re keeping our distance. Setting some sort of perimeter, but you see, this is going to be something. So it`s definitely something that we`re going to watch. They went directly into the crowd. As I said, there are reports of a man stabbed, someone being held, possibly a suspect.
We don`t know the full details. But that`s what we`re see right now. It`s a situation that has changed very quickly. When you actually came to me, it was seconds before when we realized something was going on.
Up until then, there was music playing. There were people who were saying that they wanted to keep this peaceful, that they were going to stay calm, and that they wanted to control the narrative here.
As we`re watching, there are now some flashbangs. People are running towards us in our direction. This is a tactic that we have become familiar with, usually around the precinct. And that`s what -- they use the flashbangs to kind of scatter the crowd, to clear out that perimeter. And that`s what`s going on.
We know, where they`re circling right now, that`s where there was some activity earlier. I will leave it right now, just so I can keep an eye on of what`s going on. But that`s what we`re looking at right now, Ayman.
MOHYELDIN: All right, so, Shaquille, I want you first and foremost to be safe where you are right now.
But I know -- we also heard there -- I know you have been out there covering the protests now. This is the third night you have been there since they kicked off following the death of George Floyd.
We can see some of those protesters there throwing what appear to be either some objects at the police vehicles making their way into the center. You can still see that happening off in the distance, see some police as well dispersing from that white van to try to keep some of the crowd at bay.
One of the more significant developments tonight, Shaquille -- and I`m curious to get your thoughts on this, being on the ground -- was the decision by the governor to deploy the National Guard.
A lot of people describing that as a provocation. From where you sit tonight, how do you see that playing out with the protesters there?
BREWSTER: I don`t see it playing out well, Ayman.
And I`m just going to tell you what we`re going to do right now is, our photographer, John (ph), is just going to get off his tripod right now. So we`re going to have a shaky position. All we`re doing is creating more distance between ourselves and the flashbangs, so we stay safe and we can report for you.
But, again, what the protesters have been telling us -- and they have been very clear about what they want. They want arrest from the officers.
So, I know the National Guard, and that was something that we were talking about, the National Guard coming in and more efforts to step up and step up the security around. That`s definitely something that`s needed, because you see the Minneapolis Police Department has been overwhelmed.
A good example of that is -- we can`t show it to you right now, but this is the same area where just last night the Target was looted and a grocery store was being looted.
That looting has been happening all day. That`s never stopped. And, as we look -- I`m a little bit distracted. There are more police coming in now, Ayman. So, you will see the situation continue to develop. And you will see continued -- that perimeter continually to be set and expanded.
But as I was saying before, this is definitely a tense situation. And it`s a situation that, in both times, both nights we have been here, the situation escalates very quickly.
At this time yesterday, so 24 hours from now, this was a much -- before this latest escalation happened, this was a much more aggressive scene. So what we were thinking was, coming in to tonight, things were going to be a little bit more calm. Things were going to be a little bit quieter, at least before that press conference.
But you see how quickly things can escalate, especially when you have an emergency situation, as you do right down there. Again, where you see those flashing lights, where those police cruisers are, that is in front of the 3rd police -- the 3rd police precinct. So that is where the heartbeat of the protests have been.
That is where most of the clashes have been going in -- going on. And what you just saw was the police go in, a line of officers go in and set up a perimeter to handle some situation down there. The situation, again, we`re not clear exactly what it is.
But they went right into the heart of it. Apparently, the situation was urgent enough that they needed to do that -- Ayman.
MOHYELDIN: All right, so, Shaquille, again, let me just emphasize, make sure you and your cameraman are safe. Take the precautions that you need to.
Try to keep the live shot on at least that crowd so we can see what is happening. And stay with us.
While you gather your thoughts for a moment, I want to bring in Rashad Robinson. He`s a civil rights leader and president of Color of Change.
Mr. Robinson, it`s good to have you with us.
So, obviously, a developing situation here. Some folks perhaps were hoping that tonight may be a little different, certainly following that news conference. It`s still early in the night. But, as you heard there from my correspondent Shaquille Brewster on the ground, protests are still taking place.
You can still see the images of some of those demonstrators throwing objects at the police as they make their way into the crowd. This is certainly not the start of a peaceful situation.
RASHAD ROBINSON, PRESIDENT, COLOR OF CHANGE: Yes, I mean, I think what you`re seeing is a community that has had absolutely enough.
If you or I were on video with our knee on someone and pushing life out of them, there would be charges. There would be an arrest. There would be an investigation while -- after we were arrested, but we would not be able to be walking on the street right now and not living our life while folks were figuring out whether or not there were charges.
District attorney offices around the country, including the one in Hennepin County, have a terrible record of holding police accountable. And what has happened is, as a result of that, it`s created a whole set of lack of trust between community and police forces.
So, yes, we need arrests. Yes, we need convictions. And I totally understand what Attorney General Ellison was saying, but there is an ongoing way, when there is a different set of rules for police than everyone else.
And, as a result, communities have been treated enemy combatants, have not been heard, have not been recognized. And people are pushing -- people are pushing back. We need justice in this situation. We need police to be held accountable, and we also need long-term systemic change.
MOHYELDIN: Let`s -- we will get to the systemic change in a moment.
I want to first get also your reaction to the big development at the top of the hour, and that was the briefing from both the U.S. attorney`s office, the FBI, the county attorney there, as well as members of state law enforcement, the BCA, I believe.
What is your reaction to that briefing and the fact that, as of yet, as of now 5:40 p.m., no charges have been brought against any of the officers who were involved in the killing of George Floyd?
ROBINSON: Unfortunately, this becomes a story that so much of us are used to, for being on the ground in Ferguson, being on the ground in Baltimore. You start to see all of the ways in which the stories start to develop, how forces align to create doubt and sow doubt.
Police are defended by their police union and by other forces that create sort of this idea that the police had a right or that the standard is too high to hold them accountable. And then what ends up happening is that we continue to give police the ability to kill with impunity without any consequences whatsoever.
And so what I was very disappointed about was that they had a press conference without any press, without any news, without any new updates or new details on actually what was happening.
You had the Hennepin County district attorney talk about what happened in Baltimore, but not talk about sort of the history of police being let off, the history of police not being held accountable, even in his jurisdiction.
And then the one case where he did sort of reference, which was a black police officer that killed a white woman, which somehow they sort of magically were able to find a conviction for. But, time and time again, when the victim is black and the police officers are not, we find all sorts of ways in which justice is not served.
Over a million people have now signed the Color of Change petition demanding action, not just in terms of arrests and convictions, but also the fight for long-term change, because, at the end of the day, this is not a new issue in -- whether it`s in Minneapolis or whether it`s in communities around the country, where, even when we have video, even when we have sort of detailed evidence of police doing things that are out of bounds, we do not get the results.
And in this situation, I have to recognize that the police chief moved much quicker than what we have seen all around the country. The police chief saw the video and felt like they needed to be fired. And now we`re wondering, why did the police chief know that these folks needed to be fired, why did all of us see the excessive force on that video, and, at the very least, the police officers have not been held accountable in any way?
MOHYELDIN: The other big development today, as I was talking to my correspondent, our correspondent, Shaquille Brewster there, was the decision by the governor to deploy the National Guard.
Give me your reaction to that decision, as you watch this situation unfold. Is that likely to calm the situation, since there seems to be so much anger directed towards the police? Or is this an escalation?
ROBINSON: Absolutely, this is an escalation.
I can`t think of moments where the National Guard coming in has calmed people`s nerves down. People want a level of transparency that they haven`t had. People have a belief that the system will not work.
And the reason why people have a belief that the system won`t work without pressure, without pushing, without demands is because the system hasn`t worked time and time again.
And so, you know, having Trump`s Justice Department come to Minnesota and try to tell people to remain calm, we`re working, there is nothing to see here, you know, you would have to expect us to be crazy to simply be silent and not -- and believe that folks that time and time again have failed to hold police accountable, a Justice Department that is led by a president who has basically openly, as -- just a couple of years ago joked with police officers about roughing up suspects, has a Justice Department which has, you know, moved back on consent decrees that hold police departments accountable.
There are so many ways in which accountability is important. When we have seen police officers get fired in some of these cases, we have seen them actually get rehired in other places. The police officer that killed 12- year-old Tamir Rice in Ohio ends up get regular hired someplace else.
And the decks of the Titanic keep getting shifted in terms of the chairs. And so we are tired, and we need real action. And we also need people of all races and all backgrounds to recognize that they have a fight here too, that we need people to stand up.
MOHYELDIN: All right, Rashad, I want you to stay with me one second.
I just want to give -- I want to give a quick update to our viewers who are watching this scene play out. We saw police about 10 minutes ago, a convoy of police cars make their way into that crowd.
And, as they did, they were pelted with objects by some of those demonstrators that were there. And they were able to, at one point, it seems, put one person on what appeared to be a trolley and then take them out.
And just in the last few minutes there, we saw that police car, as well as that van, make its way out of the crowd, right to where our cameras were standing. Some of the police officers pointing what appeared to be their weapons into the direction of the crowds. Not sure what they were firing, whether it was just rubber bullets or perhaps even tear gas canisters into that direction.
But it seems now that the protesters and the demonstrators making their way away from that scene, a very volatile situation there.
Our correspondent Shaquille Brewster is on the ground there.
I want to bring in Marq Claxton, retired NYPD detective, for his perspective on all this.
Mr. Claxton, it`s great to have you with us.
Obviously, a troubling scene that we`re watching unfold.
First of all, let me get your reactions to what we`re seeing play out this evening following that press conference from state and federal law enforcement officials.
MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: Well, what we`re seeing, what we`re witnessing on the street there is a real mix, a hodgepodge.
We have individuals who are engaged in protest. (AUDIO GAP) You have some amateur provocateurs there mixed with the crowd. You have some professional provocateurs that will be mixed with the crowd.
(AUDIO GAP) But I think (AUDIO GAP) over the death of Mr. Floyd, understanding that there seems to be an avoidance, just ignoring the humanity of individuals, in particular people of color all too often in the country.
There is no excuse at this point. And the press conference that just ended is so disappointing and troubling, because just when you`re thinking that there are individuals who (AUDIO GAP) who are moving towards the right direction, you come up with the press conference about nothing, like a "Seinfeld" show. It`s about nothing.
And if they can`t find probable cause to effect an arrest of the individuals involved in the death of Mr. Floyd, then perhaps they should confer with the hundreds of law enforcement professionals across the nation, some in large departments, small departments, who have clearly indicated that those police officers blemished the profession, and, more important, that they should be arrested.
MOHYELDIN: There is no doubt that there is a justified anger on the street of Minneapolis following everything that has transpired, not just in the last hour or so, but over the last 72 hours, since that video emerged.
How do you thread the needle, so to speak, between the police that is on the ground, which is the subject of so much anger -- we saw them being pelted by some of those protesters. Their anger is directed towards the police.
But also the need for the police in a situation like that to make sure, as you said, that various agents, provocateurs are not sabotaging a peaceful demonstration guaranteed by the Constitution?
CLAXTON: Well, you go into a situation such as this, as a professional law enforcement person, and you understand that that`s the dynamic. That`s the reality.
And you also understand that you expose yourself to some increased danger. That`s the nature of the job. That`s what you signed up for. That`s what you understood would occur on occasion.
What you also have to do is to understand -- and this goes back, and that speaks directly to empathy and humanity, understanding the humanity of people -- you understand the frustrations of communities who feel they have been deceived.
You understand the frustrations of communities who feel that they -- there has been unnecessary, avoidable deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers in these black communities.
So you go into it understanding all of these things, and you have to keep everything in perspective. People will protest. They have a right to protest. That is the absolute American way.
We can`t act as if protest -- and call all protests rioting, which is a mistake, but we have to understand that protest -- and Dr. King called it best. He called it rioting. Rioting is the language of the unheard.
We have to realize and recognize that protest is about people who are trying to be heard and trying to get a response from government.
MOHYELDIN: As you probably heard, the U.S. attorney was delayed when that news conference got under way.
This is how she explained why the news conference was delayed. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MACDONALD: We thought we would have another development that I could tell you about. Unfortunately, we don`t at this point. But I am here to talk to you about the federal investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: What -- I don`t want you to speculate about why there was a delay, because we don`t even know what the development is.
But given the fact that there is this delay, does it only add anxiety and tension to already -- to an already volatile situation?
CLAXTON: Of course it does.
And let me just say (AUDIO GAP) saying. It seems as if -- and this happened a few weeks ago with the Arbery case. There seems to be a strategy or a shift in strategy for those who want to drag their feet with these types of prosecutions.
Either you take on these cases, you start the investigation, it can be a flippant investigation. You realize there is some conflict. You recuse yourself. You pass it onto the next person, who also understands there`s a conflict. Then you pass that on. Each step diminishes the integrity of investigation.
Or you do what appears to be being done right now before our eyes. You involve the federal government. They come in, claiming to be on -- riding in on the white horse, but, in fact, slow down the process of investigations and possible local prosecutions.
You see, there is clearly enough. There is clearly probable cause. And I will go back to what I said earlier. If you look on the record, there are law enforcement professional, heads of agencies, police professional, who recognize quite clearly that there is probable cause to effect an arrest.
That does not preclude or get in the way or interfere with an investigation. It is just a step in the investigation itself. So, the decisions that are being made and the decisions not to effect an arrest have nothing to do with maintaining the integrity of an investigation, have nothing to with the sanctity of investigations.
It`s something else going on. And that`s what the anger is on the street. People want to know, what`s holding this up?
MOHYELDIN: All right, Max -- sorry -- Marq Claxton, stay with me one second.
I want to go back to our correspondent Shaquille Brewster, who has been in the thick of it over the past hour or so, since this began. It looks like the situation calming down a little bit.
Shaquille, give us an update on what transpired. Have we learned anymore why we saw that sudden outburst?
BREWSTER: We`re still learning exactly what`s happened, Ayman.
And, actually, the camera positions that you guys were able to see we`re actually better than what we saw, because we were taking cover for much of the time, as you saw police go straight into the heart of where the protests were.
And you saw the attacks come in, the rocks being thrown at them.
I want to bring someone in who was directly there, who saw what was going on.
Tell me, what exactly happened? What did we see when the police rushed in? And why did they do that? What was going on?
A.J. AWED, WARD 6 CITY COUNCIL MEMBER CANDIDATE: I originally came from that direction. There were a group of individuals that were detaining someone that just stabbed someone.
So, they had them being detained. Police clearly came over here, but they stopped and parked over there. As I went back to get some belongings from my car, I told the officers that somebody is being detained. Go on that side to make sure that you intervene.
BREWSTER: Someone was being detained? A citizen was...
AWED: A citizen was actually detaining an individual that just stabbed someone.
BREWSTER: With a gun?
AWED: Yes, with a gun.
BREWSTER: There was a crowd around that person?
AWED: And the crowd around him.
That individual did not have a gun at them. They had it loaded at them. So, there was no endangering. They were just trying to make sure that that person did not run away. So, the group got involved as he was doing that.
So, when the officers -- I told the officers to move that along, and they came there. And that`s when they took control of the scenario. Obviously, that escalated things, because the crowd is predominantly on that side of the street.
BREWSTER: And the group now has left from them in front of the police precinct, has now started marching down the street.
Where were they heading last time you saw them?
AWED: So, they`re heading this direction, which is going towards Cedar- Riverside, which is pretty much predominantly the Somali neighborhood, the East African community.
But they were chasing after the police officers that were retreating.
BREWSTER: Even though the police officers were there pulling someone out who...
AWED: So, the police officers -- there was two different individuals. One was the person being detained that they got into -- that they intervened in.
And then the other individual was a young lady who was injured in the process. I don`t know -- they said that something was wrong with her neck and that she had some injury to her neck, but she was laying on the floor, and everybody was crowded under her.
So there`s a lot of good people in this whole scenario. A lot of those individuals were trying to get people to push back, like myself, were trying to make sure to put a crowd around the girl to protect her.
The police obviously dispersed gas and trying to get the crowd away. They retreated initially, and then after they saw that there were other things individuals trying to cooperate with them, they came back and they removed that individual and they took her away.
BREWSTER: What`s your reflection of what`s going on right now, not only the death of George Floyd, but then the outreach and the response -- the outrage and response to it?
You described it to me a couple of minutes ago as, it`s just been surreal.
AWED: Well, it`s beyond surreal.
I mean, we have to be putting things in context. I mean, clearly, the policing system in America is broken. Unfortunately, this is a manifestation of long trauma and long frustrations. I mean, these individuals aren`t pillaging and getting angry for no reason.
The underlining symptoms is the police department in America and the policing system in Minneapolis. We need to go ahead and completely abolish the system. We`re going to start completely all over, because, right now, it`s not an image of the community, to be honest.
BREWSTER: I started this without getting your name.
Can I get your name, please?
AWED: Yes, my name is A.J. Awed.
And I`m also a candidate for Ward 6 special elections in Minneapolis.
BREWSTER: Thank you, A.J., for your time. Appreciate it.
Ayman, that`s what you see. You see how quickly the situation escalates. There are more protesters who are gathered down there in front of the precinct
But that`s what you had, where many people who we saw -- I told you, minutes before the situation escalated, there was music playing. They were -- it was a more joyous atmosphere. And you saw how quickly it changed.
That`s what we have been seeing the past couple days -- Ayman.
MOHYELDIN: All right, Shaquille Brewster live on the ground for us.
Shaquille, you and your team, stay safe, my friend.
I want to bring in Christina Greer, a political science professor at Fordham University.
Christina, it`s great to have you and always a pleasure to get your perspective on this unfortunately troubling situation continuing to unfold there.
Let me first start by getting your thoughts on these very thought-provoking gentlemen that we just heard from there who I think really summarized quite eloquently the feeling of a lot of the protesters there.
The police system in this country is broken. It is the underlying problem. Do you agree with that?
CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: I absolutely do.
And I think, if we read The 1619 Project, and if we read literature from historians and political scientists, and if we watch the news today, we know that the institutions that have been set up in this country are -- have a foundation in white supremacy and anti-black racism.
And I think it`s playing out, unfortunately, on people`s cell phones. But it`s not new. As I think Will Smith said, it`s just being recorded. And we saw this, obviously, in a lot of our lifetime. In my generation, we saw it with Rodney King. And, sadly, we have a whole generation of young people who are growing up and witnessing these really vile acts being committed by the state.
MOHYELDIN: There is a lot of data that`s out there that shows a troubling pattern.
Surveys show that 75 percent of whites think police use the right amount of force, compared to just 33 percent of blacks in this country. I think a lot of people would look at that disparity and say, that`s because policing is a very different reality for whites and blacks in this country.
I mean, we can go on YouTube right now and Google whites and the police. And we saw just last week, when police were trying to enforce social distancing with young whites, they were pushed into -- one police officer was pushed into a pond. We have seen by people be able to yell at police in their faces without masks on, physically harm the police, without so much of a scratch on them.
And we`re seeing the exact opposite happens when people possibly forged a check, or possibly ran through a stop sign, or actually are just sitting in their own homes minding their business.
So, we have completely different police systems set up based purely on race, because we also have seen that class does not protect black people either in this country.
MOHYELDIN: The press conference that was held at the top of this hour concluded without any significant development, and perhaps may even add more fuel to the fire.
Are you at all surprised that, given the video that has emerged and that there are members of the law enforcement community in this country who are ready saying that there was excessive use of force demonstrated in that video against George Floyd, that charges have not yet brought -- that they have not been brought forward yet is troubling, in of itself?
So, first things first. I mean, my heart goes out to George Floyd`s family and the people of Minnesota. But we saw this in New York with Eric Garner. His family had to wait years before anything was done with officer Pantaleo and the other officers who were involved.
So I don`t think that placing someone on leave or possibly terminating someone is enough. In order for this to really change, we`re going to have to see police officers actually take responsibility for their actions and serve time for actually murdering folks on camera in broad daylight.
It should not be a death sentence if you have a minor infraction and you happen to have an interaction with the police, especially if you are black and Latinx in this country.
I mean, it`s to the point where I think so many people are exhausted. They`re scared. They`re frustrated. And they`re really seeing the explicit nature that the police just -- many police officers, not all, but many police officers see black and brown skin and immediately think of criminality.
MOHYELDIN: Yes, I think a lot of people are wondering just how much more grief this country can take, seeing these videos every day, it seems like.
Christina Greer, Marq Claxton, and all my guests this hour, thank you very much for joining us.
That does it for me on THE BEAT tonight. I will be back here starting at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Keep it right here on MSNBC.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END