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Curfews imposed TRANSCRIPT: 6/1/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michael Eric Dyson, Mara Gay

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: In the meantime, THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Hi there, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Katy. Thank you very much.

And welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

We have a very busy show. This is actually one week after police killed George Floyd. Today, we heard an extraordinary message from his own family, as well as many disturbing things coming out of Washington.

Now, right now, at this very hour, I want to show you what we know. You can see these protesters gathering for what will be a seventh straight night in cities around the country.

Some of the crowds, as you see here, quite large, swelling in size. And we`re monitoring this all over the country, including places where the National Guard is deployed. Marchers, you see on the right side of your screen, crowds on the left, New York seeing gathering crowds, with calls for another curfew tonight.

There have been an eruption of protests, of course, throughout the weekend.

We want to tell you, when you look at this right here, something you`re certainly aware of if you watch the news or you go online, many of these protests were peaceful. Many were largely orderly. And we have been reporting that out as a news organization, along with, of course, some of the very regrettable incidents which included violence and looting.

In tonight`s program here on THE BEAT, we are going to give you the full context, the full facts, the clashes with police, as well as the political protests.

Now, we begin right now with what the family of George Floyd is demanding. This is a time to listen to them. You`re looking at footage right here of Mr. Floyd`s brother when he took a knee with other protesters just this afternoon in Minneapolis. You can hear the chants.

It was a makeshift memorial. This is the very spot where George was killed. And you can hear the brother discuss his grief, while also call for arrests and call for protesters everywhere to be peaceful.


TERRENCE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I understand you all are upset.

But like it was already said,I doubt you are half as upset as I am.

So, if I`m not over here wilding out, if I`m not over here blowing up stuff, if I`m not over here messing up my community, then what are you all doing? What are you all doing?

You`re all doing nothing, because that is not going to bring my brother back at all.


MELBER: Just take that in for a brief moment, as we report out what we`re hearing from people.

We need to listen to Mr. Terrence Floyd, for all the obvious reasons. He`s mourning. He`s a brother of the person whose death started these protests, and he`s also engaging in a civic and political action. And you heard him just there. He`s speaking to Minneapolis. He`s speaking to the whole country.

It was really moving, watching and listening to him today. We`re going to show you this context today. He`s saying to people, I lost my brother, and I`m not wilding out, so you shouldn`t either. And he goes on to call for people to stay protesting, stay politically involved, stay active, vote, but not let the movement be taken down by what he viewed as a few looters that don`t represent what he wants this mission on behalf of his brother to be.

Now, that is, of course, the political activism side with the morning. There`s also a lot of developments in the case itself, the family announcing the findings from an independent autopsy that they obtained, partly out of a lack of faith in the police process.

And it states that Floyd died of asphyxia, which contradicts the county`s exam, which stated there was no evidence that Floyd was -- quote -- "deprived of oxygen." It referred to -- quote -- "underlying health conditions."

Another person who we haven`t heard from today on the record, the president. Donald Trump did, however, speak to governors, and very different in tone for what we`re hearing from others. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to dominate. If you don`t dominate, you`re wasting your time. They`re going to run over you. You`re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.

And most of you are weak. We`re going to clamp down very, very strong. But you have to arrest people, and you have to try people, you have to try to put him in jail for 10 years, and you will never see this stuff again.


MELBER: Keep in mind that what you`re hearing from the president there, whatever you think of it, is not a public statement. That wasn`t the president rising up and putting up his own statement under public view, on the record, what you might call the more direct, brave thing for a leader to do.

No, that was the president trying to speak in private and take on that tone with governors, while he`s yet to address the nation. And it is, of course, a contrast to the previous occupant of the White House, someone who, as we have reported here, doesn`t often step up and try to make contrast with Trump.

But former President Obama moved to speak out today, issuing a lengthy piece you can read for yourself on Medium. We`re going to give you this quote.

He says: "The majority of these participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation," while he also spoke out against the violence. The former president saying today that a movement that seeks more ethics in policing and government must apply those ethics to itself.

Such a contrast to the current president.

We have so much planned for you. I want to get right to a report from the field.

NBC`s Shaquille Brewster has been reporting out of Minneapolis, been very busy.

What are you seeing at this hour, basically, given that you were also there earlier today, when we showed the Floyd procession? What are you seeing as they head into later afternoon here?

SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Ari, this, of course, is the scene. This is the intersection where George Floyd lost his life exactly a week ago today.

And what you`re seeing are a torrent of people come from all -- literally all over the country to do what they can to pay their respects. There`s a visual behind me. That`s just one of the three different sites here at this intersection.

And you really see people from all over. You see -- I met a guy who came up from Dallas. I met a gentleman who came over from Montana and was talking with community members about the different feelings they have and the tensions within the community.

That`s the big word here that you see right now that is being embodied at the scene where George Floyd was killed a week ago, a sense of community. People are coming around, picking up garbage. People are handing out water, grilling for other people.

You see people from all over, old, young, black and white. As you mentioned, Ari, today, we also got mixed information from both the family and then the medical examiner. The medical examiner released their official findings. They ruled this case a homicide.

You have heard them mention the other factors involved, saying they mentioned that there were contributing factors, like heart disease. They mentioned drug use. If you listen to the family, the family says -- in the family autopsy, they said, it`s very simple what happened. The officers took their -- took the breath of -- took the breath of George Floyd, which resulted in his life.

And they said, it doesn`t -- you don`t need anything more than that. If you look at what Benjamin Crump said in that press conference earlier today, he said, what we do know, based on the autopsy results, is that the ambulance became the hearse for Mr. Floyd, saying that he was already dead before he was put into that ambulance.

The main message that you hear from protesters here today and even the brother of Mr. Floyd is, they had that plea for peace. He said, yes, have peace, but they also had a call for justice. They want to see the other three remaining fired Minneapolis police department officers, they want those officers to be arrested.

They want them to be prosecuted in a way that you saw of Mr. Chauvin -- Ari.

MELBER: Shaquille Brewster, thank you very much.

I want to bring now some -- bring in now some of our experts.

Mara Gay is an editorial board member from "The New York Times." "The New Yorker"` Jelani Cobb also writing about. His latest piece is "Minneapolis: The Coronavirus and Trump`s Failure to See a Crisis Coming."

I should mention, viewers of THE BEAT may recall, on a personal note, Mara has been with us as an analyst for years and joins us tonight after some time away, while you were dealing with the coronavirus yourself, something you have spoken about and written about.

So, first of all, Mara, good to see you. Thanks for being back.

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You, too. Thanks for having me, Ari.

MELBER: Absolutely.

Second of all, so to speak, Mara, when you look at what these protesters are addressing, what do you see as important as we head into another uncertain evening?

GAY: You know, I just want to say, I think it`s extremely important that we, as Barack Obama did today, recognize that the overwhelming majority of people who have taken to American streets have been peaceful and courageous, as the former president said.

They have a very clear message, which is that they are demanding that black Americans and all Americans be treated with human dignity and respect that they deserve as citizens and equal due process under the law.

There are specific demands. And one of those is to hold bad policing accountable and bad police accountable. But I think really just that cry for human dignity and respect is very obvious.

And so, of course, violent demonstrators, which make up a tiny minority of these protests, should be condemned and called out. But you see protesters doing that. So, I really think the focus needs to remain on the larger message here.

MELBER: Yes, and it`s a larger message that we saw reinforced so poignantly today, Jelani, by -- as I mentioned earlier, I was going to play more of this -- by Terrence Floyd, someone that obviously bears listening to, while he mourns and grieves.

I will tell you one thought -- and this is about a half-minute that we want to play for people. I will tell you one thought for me. And I`d love to hear yours on the other side.

We`re about to listen to more of Mr. Floyd, an individual who is mourning and grieving, which everyone knows, as you go through your life, is a very hard thing. Then he`s also doing this in public, with the civic and political background of that, and doing it against the kind of criticism and maligning of the movement.

So, let`s keep all that in mind, because it struck me how strong and brave he was, as we listen to him, and get your thoughts on the other side, Jelani.


FLOYD: Let`s do this another way. Let`s do this another way.


FLOYD: Let`s stop thinking that our voice don`t matter...


FLOYD: ... and vote!

Not just vote for the president. Vote for the preliminaries. Vote for everybody.


FLOYD: And that`s how we going to hit them, because it`s more -- it`s a lot of us. It`s a lot of us.


FLOYD: It`s a lot of us!



MELBER: Jelani.

JELANI COBB, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s very affecting and very -- I mean, it`s hard to see this, because, on the one hand, this man should be allowed to grieve his brother.

And he should -- the family should be able to have this moment to give each other solace and to console each other and so on. And he has to be kind of thrust into the spotlight here.

I saw it, and, of course, the easy reference, the first thing that comes to mind is 1992, when Rodney King had to come out and ask people to stop burning down the city of Los Angeles, the famous words, "Can`t we all get along?"

And I think that this is -- it`s crucial. I mean, everything he says is crucial.

I do want to touch on one thing that you said earlier, though, when you pointed to the president`s comments, and him telling people, the governors, that they had to dominate, as if taking a firmer hand with policing didn`t get us into this position in the first place.

And this is largely a product of him having advocated the very kinds of policing that -- very kinds of policies that led to the loss of Mr. Floyd`s life.

And, as a final point, it`s a very strange contradiction, because he said no such thing about the people who were committing acts of violence in his rallies in 2015 and 2016. He said no such thing about the Turkish security forces who were attacking protesters in the United States, in Washington, D.C., on sovereign American soil, but no such commentary from him.

And, most inexplicably, he did not take that same firm line with the protesters -- or, rather, the alt-right figures who were responsible for the actual loss of life in Charlottesville.

And so I don`t understand. What makes this different than all those other circumstances?

MELBER: I think it`s an important context that you lay out.

Everything in this controversy is about whether there are uniform, equal standards or not. And when the facts and evidence and in many cases videos show there are not, then the debate ensues from there. And so that eliminates the space, the factual space, for people to wrongly or ignorantly claim that everything is fair.

And so, as you point out, the president`s claims don`t really add up.

I should mention for viewers who can see on the screen, as we have been following this story throughout the day, one of the themes has been the president`s lack of public statement or response -- 6:13 p.m. in Washington at the White House, and you can see the signs of what look like a press conference in our modern era, the socially distancing rules in effect for the reporters, the lectern set up outside.

And we are told, formally, the president here will speak.

And, Jelani, I want to play a little bit of something we heard from a press conference with the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who will be actually part of our coverage tonight, as well as the artist Killer Mike, who was with her, speaking on all this, and look at that as an example of people who were speaking out in the beginning of this.

I`m playing this explicitly. This is Friday going into all this. This was a time when leaders had to stand up in real time, because Monday night is more than late. It is ridiculously late, by the standards of most, again, both parties, mayors, governors, others, who`ve been dealing with this for days, if we do hear from the president later night.

Here was that press conference, first Jelani Cobb and then Mara, from Friday.


KILLER MIKE, RAPPER AND ACTIVIST: After it burns, will we be left with charred, or would we rise like a phoenix out of the ashes that Atlanta has always done?

I can tell you is that if you sit in your homes tonight, instead of burning your home to the ground, you will have time to properly plot, plan, strategize, and organize, and mobilize in an effective way.


MELBER: My experts stay with me.

But I`m told that, actually, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is now ready. So, obviously, for news, we want to get her in, and my experts stay.

Mayor Lance Bottoms, thanks for joining us.

We just saw the footage from that press conference you held Friday.

I`m curious. First and foremost, what is on your mind in your city and community tonight?


The thing that keeps coming to me today is that America is a tinderbox right now. And Donald Trump`s tongue is like a match. And so I am very concerned about what he will say. We are at a tipping point in this country.

And it is extraordinary for me to say that I wish our president wouldn`t speak at all. But we know what happened in Charlottesville. And he has a history of making matters worse.

And so what`s on my mind tonight is the murder of George Floyd, and the deaths of so many other people in this country. And we`re watching it, and we`re feeling it, and we`re living it in real time.

And I can tell you, as a mayor, although I am called to lead, and I`m responsible for my city, in so many ways, I feel just as helpless as so many other people in this country right now. And Killer Mike was absolutely right. I could sit at his feet all day and listen to him.

What`s our plan? What is it that we want, in a very tangible way, on the other side of this. The words of Audre Lorde, revolution is not a one-time event.

And I think it`s incumbent upon us, as leaders and people across this country, to be able to articulate that, so that we will know what the point of satisfaction is.

MELBER: Yes, I hear you on all that, and revolution not a one-time event.

In the old days, it was said that the revolution will not be televised. And that was a criticism of the -- at the time, the overwhelmingly white press that wasn`t going to cover it.

Here, we`re seeing, in the story we`re covering with Floyd, in the Georgia story we cover with Arbery, in -- obviously in cases that also include your city, we`re seeing the people use technology, use videos, so that it will be, in effect, televised, because people make the videos and they go around.

We`re also seeing that throughout these protests. I want for your reaction -- and folks can see that we`re keeping an eye on the White House, if that press conference begins.

But for your reaction, Mayor, your own Atlanta chief of police engaging with protesters, trying to hear them out. Let`s look at that moment.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because, if I have to get up, and I have to get up and check on all of my friends, I have to make sure all of my friends make it home every goddamn day...


SHIELDS: What I saw was my people face to face with this crowd, and everybody`s thinking, how can we use force and defuse this?

And I`m not having that.


MELBER: As the civilian in charge of your city and the police, how are you trying to lead them during, again, if we cover it all as fairly as possible, what is obviously a very difficult challenge also for the officers out there?

We just showed one who appeared to, at least from her words, try to really engage people in a constructive way?

BOTTOMS: And the great thing about what you saw there is that just one for the cameras. We`re engaging in each and every day in Atlanta with our communities.

We have At-Promise youth centers throughout Atlanta, in addition to our Centers of Hope. We`re building some additional At-Promise centers. And our new police recruits have to go into these centers and volunteer. So they create relationships with kids in our communities, many of who don`t have fathers in their lives, and they`re creating real relationships, and not just ones when they`re chasing them down the street.

And so when you see Chief Shields go out into the street and engage people in conversation with care and concern, that`s happening every day in this city.

And to the extent that we have had any grace in this city during these protests, I think it`s because our communities know that we`re trying to do better. We are turning our jail into a center of equity. We have eliminated cash bail bonds in the city. We have a transition program. Men coming out of prison are transitioning into full-time jobs with the city of Atlanta with full -time benefits.

That`s the type of criminal justice reform that we need to hear our president speaking about and needs to be happening across this country.

MELBER: And, as you said, what you`re keeping an eye on with the president, we are as well.

You mentioned you`re not optimistic, because you feel that he has thrown gasoline on these matters in the past. We will be keeping on eye on that.

Mayor, thank you for joining us tonight.

BOTTOMS: Thank you for having me.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

I`m going to bring back the experts we were speaking with, Jelani Cobb and Mara Gay, who`ve done a lot of thinking and writing on these issues.

And I want to play the Minneapolis police chief also speaking out about the underlying incident that did start all this, the killing that, as mentioned, was a week ago. Take a listen to the Minneapolis chief of police.



And so I see that as being complicit. In silence and inaction, you`re complicit. You`re complicit.

If there were one solitary voice that would have intervened and act, that`s what I would have hoped for.


MELBER: Mara, your reaction to that point?

GAY: You know, I think we have seen, I have to say, some extraordinary leadership, especially in Atlanta, I will say, although Minneapolis` police chief, that was the right thing to say.

If you are concerned about the kind of unrest that we are seeing on our streets today in America, no matter what political perspective you come from, you need to understand that the way to stop that is to address the root cause of the hurt and the anger and the violence, which is the overpolicing and racism that is levied on black Americans and other Americans.

And I really don`t want that to get lost. I think, when you hear people like Killer Mike and you see people like Atlanta`s mayor and police chief come out and really give people space to be heard and be seen, that is the way forward.

More policing to -- especially to Jelani Cobb`s point, it is not going to be a response that works. So I think Killer Mike is a great example too of somebody who is speaking so much truth to power, and really finding a peaceful way forward to justice.

But if Americans aren`t willing, if white Americans aren`t willing to listen to those voices, then we`re in a really bad place, because this won`t end. It won`t end well.


MELBER: Let me bring in Jelani for a final thought.

Jelani, we have a -- I`m just telling everybody, we are awaiting the president. They pushed the time back, and may continue to push it back. And so it`s my job to just tell everyone that`s what`s going on there.

We have a special report as well that we are going to move to right after this, before the president speaks, but I wanted to give you, Jelani, a chance for your final thoughts here.

COBB: Yes, just two quick bullet points -- or, rather, three quick points.

One is that it`s very important to note that the chief of police -- in many of these cities, when you`re looking around, there are police chiefs who are interested in reforming their departments, who are interested in having a better rapport with the communities that they serve.

And even the police chiefs run into the obstacle of the police union. And so that becomes one of the other kind of layers of this conflict that we don`t know about.

The second is, as per Mr. Trump, there`s a real question about the accountability of his administration as it relates to these things, specifically, Jeff Sessions, as the attorney general, gutting the consent decree program, which was meant to reform rogue police departments, part of the mechanisms that had been in place since 1992, and, in addition, the reforms that the Obama administration brought post-Ferguson to try to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

It`s a mirror of what happened with the pandemic preparedness. They gutted the things that could have helped us be prepared or helped prevent the kind of tragedies that we have seen unfold.

The last point I want to say is also, like, to confirm or to echo Ari`s sentiment that we`re very happy to see Mara up about and on the other side of the illness.

We were all worried about you. So...

GAY: Thank you.


MELBER: Amen to all that. It`s a -- sorry, Mara, go ahead.

GAY: No, I was just -- thank you.


MELBER: That`s a -- we`re all people here, as well as dealing with the work and the reporting and the tragedies. So, I can definitely echo your echo, if you will, Jelani.

Thanks to both of you.

And let me tell everyone, what we`re doing is a bit of a reset right now. We are keeping an eye on the president. If he comes out early or comes out at any point, we will go right to that. We have heard criticism of him. We have heard, for example, Democratic politicians earlier in the broadcast basically saying they are worried that he will not contribute positively the situation.

But we will hear from him directly, as we do cover all news here. So I want you to know that, but that`s coming later.

These political announcements, press statements sometimes can get quite delayed.

And so, right now, with the warning that we will bust out of this if we need to bring you any new developments, I want to bring you something we have been working on today, as we looked over everything that has been happening across our country over this past weekend.

Sometimes, there`s so many different images, it can be hard to understand what`s really happening. So, I want to go into the fundamentals of this moment, and I hope you stay with me.

So, we`re going to try to do a few things here, from looking at the latest on the ground, to looking at the seeds of these issues in history, in this report.

Now, there`s no single image or clip or quote that can capture everything going down right now. But we can begin with scenes from this weekend that depict the turmoil that`s permeating our whole nation right now, and some of the emerging voices that could define this moment.

Please keep in mind, as I show you this next clip, this series of clips really, that some of what you`re about to see can indeed be disturbing.


KILLER MIKE: I watched a white officer assassinate a black man, and I know That tore your heart out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Charge the cops. Charge all the cops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no, no.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I share the outrage. And I stand with the protesters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Charge them in every city across America where our people are being murdered!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We see several officers go up to the car and start breaking the glass.

KILLER MIKE: Now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize.


MELBER: Mobilize.

And we want you to know, as we report the facts here all together, we have seen that mobilization protest in at least 140 cities, continuing right now tonight, as the president prepares to speak.

Now, many of these are primarily peaceful in nature. Some turned to looting and violence. Authorities have made over 4,000 arrests to date, and this is not over. Officials also counting several people who died in these protests.

Now, in a movement confronting police misconduct, also these allegations of misconduct in the protests themselves, the video that has circulated of officers escalating and initiating contact, this footage of NYPD appearing to make a decision to drive into a crowd of civilians. That`s now under investigation.

So, as this all piles up, many are asking right now, how did we get here? The short answer is as depressing as it is enraging.

We have been here in this position for a long time. When a society is fundamentally unjust, its injustices build and fortify themselves over time. New developments that occur can routinely then flow into the existing systems.

So, take these three flash points right now, the police, the economy and the pandemic. Well, the first two operate on years of inequality. The third, this coronavirus, of course, arrived as a new phenomenon, but it swift grounded sway through old inequalities, American housing, health care and economics, all unequal.

And that swiftly turned this technically blind virus into a discriminating killer, black Americans dying at roughly triple the rate of white Americans right now from it, the economy reinforcing the dynamic.

We can all see that tens of millions of jobs were just eliminated from the virus shutdown. It`s obviously not the workers` fault.

So, I ask you tonight, can we also see that black workers are almost twice as likely to be laid off during the pandemic? And while, yes, everyone may be feeling the recession in different ways, I ask you tonight to look at this.

Can we also see that, while 17 percent of white-owned businesses face a decline in this pandemic, the number is more than double that for black- owned businesses?

And months into this, I have another question. Can we also see that Congress has taken your money for pandemic relief, and while some of it did go to health care and unemployment insurance, a significant majority of the $454 billion in relief bills have benefited large corporations with these huge payoffs, with very little accountability?

And the 1 percent is profiting right now. As people go hungry and march tonight, billionaires have grown $434 billion richer in the pandemic, hundreds of billions.

So, as we try to understand all this, as it keeps going, protesters know about these facts I`m telling you. You know about these facts. People know where the money goes. People know how the powerful reward themselves and control capital.

And as we have a larger debate about a reopening staffed by essential workers, who, of course, do essential labor, can we address the fact that they find their treatment by corporations and the government to be anything but essential?

And that`s why this is also a night to study and listen to people who`ve been pressing these injustices long before they took over the headlines or shut down our streets.


TONI MORRISON, AUTHOR: If you can only be tall because somebody is on their knees, then you have a serious problem. And my feeling is, white people have a very, very serious problem.

And they should start thinking about what they can do about it. Take me out of it.


MELBER: Toni Morrison speaking to America`s foundations.

Or take the author James Baldwin, who urged American society, white and black, to really face the violence that creates these scenarios, where America`s racist roots are fortified by modern law and policing.

Baldwin arguing, you must understand that, to see violence in its proper context, be it police brutality or violence by the state or the murders that ended the lives of a generation of leaders, from King, to Malcolm X, to Medgar Evers, to Fred Hampton.


JAMES BALDWIN, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We are still governed by the slave codes. What is called the civil rights movement was really insurrection.

So, one can say that the latest slave rebellion was brutally put down. We all know what happened to Malcolm. We all know what happened to Martin. We know what happened to Fred Hampton and Mark Clark and so many more.


MELBER: That`s a little bit of that history, as we watch more history unfold tonight.

And this admittedly incomplete report has thus far briefly touched on the economy and the pandemic.

Now, as for the police conduct that did set off these wider protests, well, that history has been with us a long time, the repeated use of excessive force and killing, which begins as incidents, but then, worse, becomes formally legitimized in a U.S. criminal justice system that allows and defends it.

Now, we can report that to you tonight as a fact because the facts show a vast majority of the allegations against police in these instances result in no firings, let alone criminal charges.

In the few cases that do lead to a charge, take roughly 15 per year over 10 years, it`s about 10 per year of charges of manslaughter or higher. And the convictions for those very rare charges, I can tell you, are even more rare.

There`s a Bowling Green professor, Philip Stinson. He tracks all on-duty incidents that result in a death with policing. And he found, over several years, there were literally zero such convictions in the whole country.

If you widen out to a 15-year period of time that he used in his studies, five officers in deadly on-duty shootings were convicted of murder.

The reason why that`s all lopsided on the far right of your screen -- and this is so vital to what`s happening in America right now -- is that four of those five were convictions from after 2016.

So, what little change we have seen came after the Black Lives Matter movement and after the spike in cell phone video recordings. Another way to say it, the killing continues. It was rarely ever caught or punished.

And the few handful of changes I just showed you, they have come at the margins, when there is a combination of an extremely incriminating video and public pressure and often, yes, people in the streets.

So, while no law-abiding citizen is going to support crime or violence, when we stop and listen to the history and listen to those who risked their lives for social change, while also advocating peaceful methods for change, tonight, as we look over everything that`s happening, I want to tell you it is worth listening to how even they put riots in the context of injustice.


MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: I will continue to condemn riots and continue to say to my brothers and sisters that this is not the way.

In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.


MELBER: The unheard, Martin Luther King Jr. speaking about the other America.

Can we hear any better? Can we listen any better? That was over 50 years ago. It is a problem that so many of these observations ring so true so insightfully and resonate so deeply so many years later.

With that brief bit of historical context, we are joined by a scholar, a thinker and author Michael Eric Dyson, professor at Georgetown University.

Your thoughts, sir?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, you have aptly summarized and eloquently articulated the broad sweep of history, with a majestic arc rooted in first the acknowledgement that black suffering in American society has been so deeply entrenched, that it is taken for granted.

It is the very predicate for American progress. The plantation, then Jim Crow, sharecropping, then separation of society, separation of education has been the very basis for propelling America forward -- white America, that is -- while black America is held in captivity.

And so the deeply resistive strains of blackness in this culture that put forth arguments, ideas and bodies to oppose the vicious and hurtful intensity of white supremacy are seen as exceptions to, and not continuations of, American democracy, so that black bodies are alienated from the American scene, black traditions of resistance are seen as somehow exceptional, and black life and black death are seen in a vicious give-and- take, in a cycle trading back and forth.

So, what we have to do is to acknowledge that this country in which we live has to examine, as closely as possible, the very roots of its democracy that are intertwined with its own captivity of black people, but the salvation of America cannot come without the salvation of black people.

What James Baldwin, what Lorraine Hansberry, what Toni Morrison, what Martin Luther King Jr., what Septima Clark understood is that e pluribus unum is more than a credo. It means literally, out of many, one. And if you have segregated some, if you have isolated others, you cannot have the full health of American society.

Look at the pandemic of COVID-19, and look at the pandemic of COVID 1619, white supremacy, social injustice, economic inequality joined together to the body. And, in both instances, we can`t breathe. We can`t breathe because of police brutality and we can`t breathe because of a pandemic of COVID-19.

This is where the convergence of the natural order and the convergence of our manmade laws have really worked deleteriously to the disadvantage of black people in this country.

Only when we are able to embrace each other across that chasm and tell the truth about the way in which black death is a fetish, it is the pornography of black nothingness, of nonbeing which is being sought.

MELBER: Right.

DYSON: America is addicted to black death.

And this is part of the problem in American society.

MELBER: Well, Professor Dyson, you lay out so much there that I want to go through.

Stay with me.

I also want to tell viewers here who are joining us -- and we`re approaching around 6:40 p.m. Eastern in Washington, D.C. -- what we`re seeing here are the scenes outside the White House and around the metropolitan D.C. area.

This is America. This is America in 2020. These are the protests. What we can see here matches what we have seen in other cities, including Minneapolis, where it began. These are largely diverse crowds, racially diverse, tend to be a little on the younger side.

This is unrest outside of the White House, where the president of the United States has announced he will finally make a public address that he hasn`t done yet days into this.

We were told that could have been as early as 6:15 or 6:30. It still has not commenced. This is quite a scene that we`re watching unfold, as, obviously, both federal officials and those in riot gear are trying to maintain order.

Professor Dyson is going to stay with me, as we look at the big picture.

But, given the unfolding scene, we`re going to bring in a reporter we have been relying on throughout this weekend and through many of these skirmishes, MSNBC`s Garrett Haake.

What are you seeing?

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Ari, this is an extraordinary escalation on the streets in front of the White House right now within the last 15 minutes.

Mounted police have been coming down the street -- you`re going to see them in the frame now -- using flashbangs in front of them and mounted police to clear what has been an entirely peaceful protest, not 90 percent, not 99 percent, but 100 percent peaceful protest here today.

People throwing -- there was no throwing of water bottles. There was no throwing of objects. But, a short time ago, mounted police officers have been clearing the street.

Tony, if you can pan to the right, I want to show the military. I want to show the military police on the side of the street. Over the last half- hour, we have had military police, we have had Secret Service officers, we have had Park Police, and now we have had National Guardsmen lining the fence.

They have been stepping up closer and closer and closer over the last few minutes. You can see them lining the fence. Just a short time ago, we heard them firing those pepper balls into the crowd here, as they have been trying to disperse people.

You can see these officers aiming at the protesters who are here in the park, as we`re being cleared back along the sidewalk here in front of H Street.

Again, from where I stood, I could see absolutely nothing -- hang on a second here.

Ma`am, are you all right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, she`s not (EXPLETIVE DELETED) all right, man.


HAAKE: All right. I had to pull the mic there, but you could hear her say she got hit bad.

Look, Ari, obviously, this is an incredibly volatile situation here. And we`re going to try to keep our distance from it as best we can.

But this is by far the largest law enforcement presence I have seen in this park in the last three days and by far the most aggressive action I have seen by law enforcement in this park in the last three days. At no time that I have seen, Ari, in the last couple days...


MELBER: Garrett, we`re going to stay with you.

So, obviously, do everything you and your team are doing to stay safe. We`re going to stay on your shot.

And why don`t you walk us through, Garrett, what you know about where this is. Again, let`s relate for viewers, how close is this to the White House...

HAAKE: Sure.

MELBER: ... where the president is literally late, by the White House`s own initial announcement of when he would speak?

And give us that general geographic context.

HAAKE: Yes. Yes.

MELBER: We will stay on your camera as long as you`re safe.

HAAKE: Ari, yes.

Ari, this is the closest public street to the White House. This is H Street and Connecticut Avenue. It`s the first street north of Lafayette Park.

So, if you have ever been to Washington, D.C., if you have had your picture taken in front of the White House, in front of the North Portico, you were standing in Lafayette Park. It`s maybe 150 yards from the White House gates to where I`m standing right now.

Again, this is the closest public street to the White House. This is, on a normal day, a publicly accessible park. Last night, it was accessible about 30 yards` deep.

Today, these barriers have held all day. No one has been in it. The streets have alternately been open to not just pedestrian traffic, but vehicle traffic, at different times of the day today.

And now you`re seeing -- I don`t know if it`s related to the president`s planned remarks or not -- but this incredible militarized presence at what had been a peaceful protest here, again, 150 yards from the walk from White House.

You could drive a golf ball from where I`m standing on to the White House lawn, if you had any kind of drive.

MELBER: And so, Garrett, we`re going to, again, stay with you.

We`re keeping an eye on this. We`re seeing, obviously, these mounted officers move down the street, down H Street, as Garrett was explaining. This is very close to the White House. We`re seeing smoke in the air, Garrett.

Again, within your safety, because we have protocols if you need to move, but can you tell us, Garrett, roughly how many people you see?

HAAKE: Ari, as of a few minutes ago, I would have said there was probably 1,000 protesters in the street. That`s less than this time yesterday.

Tony, you got a step right behind you. Just be careful. Step down. There you go.

And hundreds and hundreds of law enforcement, federal law enforcement. I`m not sure if these mounted officers are MPD. That`s the D.C. local police. But every other law enforcement official here is in some variety -- Tony, you got to step up. There you go.

Every other variety of federal law enforcement. That`s National Guard, Secret Service, U.S. Park Police, you name it.

I can`t read on the -- yes, these are Park Police mounted officers as well. So, this is entirely a federal law enforcement response here in front of the White House.

We`re just past Jackson Place. We`re passing Connecticut Avenue. Again, the law enforcement here is pushing us West, away from the White House. We`re on the sidewalk here. And you can see what`s happening in the streets here, as they`re clearing everyone out.

We`re going to try to pick up the pace here a little bit. Ari, we may lose this shot here for a second...

MELBER: Yes, do it.

HAAKE: ... because we`re going to try to move a little bit more quickly here.

MELBER: Garrett, do everything you need to do.

HAAKE: I`m not trying to mix in with the police horse today, so we`re going to keep moving there.

MELBER: Yes. Garrett, go ahead and do what you need to do.

I`m just going to recap, and we will check in with as you`re able to.

But what we`re looking at here from Garrett Haake`s shot in Washington here is a fast-moving phalanx. They appear with the mounted police to be clearing that area around H Street, around the corner. That`s the public perimeter of the White House.

That`s, as Garrett was saying, about as close as you can get to the White House. It`s where tourists take pictures on a normal day. And we`re seeing here from Garrett`s shot the movement of the officers down the street. Protesters appear to be moving with that fairly speedy -- that fairly speedy effort to clear.

It seems to be slowing down a little.

And so, Garrett, with regard to, again, the rather unusual situation, at least in the United States, where the head of state is -- the head of state is planning an outdoor address, where I would imagine, based on what we`re hearing and what you`re seeing, as of moments ago, this would have been caught on audio.

Well, I think we do have the president coming in, so he`s begun speaking.

Let`s listen.


TRUMP: ... to be drowned out by an angry mob. The biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities, and as their President, I will fight to keep them safe. I will fight to protect you. I am your President of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters.

But in recent days, our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others. A number of state and local governments have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residence. Innocent people have been savagely beaten, like the young man in Dallas, Texas, who was left dying on the street, or the woman in Upstate New York viciously attacked by dangerous thugs.

Small-business owners have seen their dreams utterly destroyed. New York`s Finest have been hit in the face with bricks. Brave nurses, who have battled the virus, are afraid to leave their homes. A police precinct station has been overrun.

Here in the nation`s capital, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War III Memorial have been vandalized. One of our most historic churches was set ablaze. A federal officer in California, an African American enforcement hero, was shot and killed.

These are not acts of peaceful protest. These are acts of domestic terror. The destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is an offense to humanity and a crime against God.

America needs creation, not destruction; cooperation, not contempt; security, not anarchy; healing, not hatred; justice, not chaos. This is our mission, and we will succeed. One hundred percent, we will succeed. Our country always wins.

That is why I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America. I am mobilizing all available federal resources -- civilian and military -- to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights. Therefore, the following measures are going into effect immediately:

First, we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now. Today, I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.

If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.

I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capital, Washington, D.C. What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property.

We are putting everybody on warning. Our 7:00 curfew will be strictly enforced. Those who threaten innocent life and property will be arrested, detained, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I want the organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail. This includes Antifa and others who are leading instigators of this violence.

One law and order. And that is what it is, one law. We have one beautiful law. And once that is restored and fully restored, we will help you, we will help your business, and we will help your family.

America is founded upon the rule of law. It is the foundation of our prosperity, our freedom, and our very way of life. But where there is no law, there is no opportunity. Where there is no justice, there is no liberty. Where there is no safety, there is no future.

We must never give in to anger or hatred. If malice or violence reigns, then none of us is free.

I take these actions today with firm resolve and with a true and passionate love for our country. By far, our greatest days lie ahead.

Thank you very much. And now I`m going to pay my respects to a very, very special place. Thank you very much.

MELBER: We have been -- we have been listening to President Trump give his first in-person remarks in an outdoor address outside the White House, as Washington, D.C., prepares for its curfew, a rather remarkable set of events that we have been covering, including the efforts to disperse some of the protesters who were right alongside the White House.

Garrett Haake is with us, reporting from the ground in Washington, also, for special coverage, Pulitzer Prize-winning "Washington Post" columnist Eugene Robinson and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham.

Briefly, I want to get an update from Garrett on anything you`re seeing on the ground, sir.

HAAKE: Hey, Ari. I hope you can hear me OK.

I have decided to put my gas mask on here. We had tear gas deployed there just within the last few minutes here.

I`m going to take it off. I think we`re probably OK now down a side street here.

MELBER: We hear you both ways, Garrett.

HAAKE: The police cleared out -- yes, good. OK.

The police cleared out everything around the White House, the entire block, down 17th Street. Our team is now back up Pennsylvania Avenue looking in, as close as we care to get to here from the White House at this point.

Again, what we just saw, as the president -- I was hearing the president in my ear as I was watching mounted police and federal law enforcement officials shoot tear gas into peaceful protesters and move us down the street on 17th Street and turn the corner here away from Pennsylvania Avenue.

They don`t seem to be moving folks any farther. It looks like what we have got here now is a perimeter around the White House. I`m on the West side of the White House, looking closer to the Executive Office Building, again, for folks who are familiar with D.C., and the Renwick Gallery, which has become sort of part of the fortified zone here of D.C.

An extraordinary burst of -- the word I want to say is violence. I don`t know if that`s the right word, but sort of an aggressive move by all of those law enforcement officials declare folks very, very rapidly from in front of Lafayette Park and now down to these side streets.

I`m limited, only narrowed by my perspective here, which is from this one street. But it does seem like this effort was to clear that extra block radius around the White House. And now these law enforcement -- I think these are probably Secret Service in front of me -- appear to be standing down or at least standing by.

MELBER: Right.

And, Garrett, we`re looking at your camera shot there in Washington, D.C., some of this aftermath. We had footage there of what looked like a protester who was dealing with the aftermath of potential gas, was dealing with her eyes. We saw that. We see the police force and federal force there, which shows basically the aftermath and a quieter scene than we had moments ago, as we brace for an evening where Washington, New York and other big cities are seeing both protests in the face of mandated curfews.

Having gotten that update, Gene Robinson, your thoughts on the president having now broken his silence days into this moment in America?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Unbelievable that that`s the first thing President Trump would have to say publicly directly to the American people about the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, absolutely unbelievable.

I suppose it is in character for President Trump to -- not to say anything that would attempt to bring people together, that would attempt to heal, but rather to answer with his version of a mailed fist, and to say, we are deploying thousands and thousands of military personnel, to threaten to use the U.S. military, in a way that I believe to be illegal and unconstitutional, in American cities.

And then to coordinate this with that really quite absurd and gratuitous display of police might against 1,000 peaceful protesters 150 yards away from the White House, obviously contained, not trying to do anything, but to have them driven away on horseback like that.

It just -- he`s escalating the situation, rather than calming it down.

And I suspect that, generally, if escalation is what you seek, escalation is what you get. And we were deeply unfortunate to have this president at this moment.

MELBER: It makes sense, what you say.

It`s certainly a -- it was a spectacle, but a spectacle with a lot of consequence.

Jon Meacham, as a historian who`s looked at other deep divisions in our history, I`m curious what you think of what America is taking in now. The president breaks his silence with the show of force, if you want to call it that, as Gene alluded to, heading into this evening.

JON MEACHAM, NBC NEWS HISTORIAN: Thomas Jefferson, who had his own issues with the American dilemma of race, which we continue to live with now 401 years into the arrival of the first enslaved African-Americans in Virginia, said that the point of the presidency, the entire point of Article 2 of the Constitution, was to have someone who could give confidence and direction to the whole people.

And the story of the United States has been expanding the definition and understanding of what we meant by the whole people, what Gouverneur Morris meant when he wrote "we the people."

And the moments we commemorate, the moments we celebrate are the moments where we rise in the number of folks that we include in the understanding of who we the people are.

The statement we just heard is about the president of the United States, the temporary occupant of that office, as Gene says, was thumping his chest as opposed to reaching out. He was clenching a fist, instead of opening his hands.

He`s always been about building walls and dividing us for his own purposes. He sees America as a reality show in which he is the host and star. The problem is, his reality show is our reality.

And it`s very hard for me to imagine a moment in our 240-odd years or so where we have been as poorly served by an American president as we have been in the last three years, but in particular over last hour.

MELBER: Understood.

I want to bring Gene in. We have literally about 90 to 100 seconds here.

Your thoughts for people watching around the country in some places where there may be gatherings and others where people are watching this as something that`s happening in other states, but your thoughts as we go through a period where this is not over, not by a long shot.

ROBINSON: Well, first, to people who might be protesting tonight or who might be thinking about going out, I`d say, please stay safe. Please take care of yourselves.

I believe this is an extraordinary moment, the protests in more than, I guess, 100 cities around the country. This is a week after the death of George Floyd. And the -- it seems to me that -- there`s a wonderful phrase in the Declaration of Independence about how the government`s powers are derived from the consent of the governed.

I think that those who govern us no longer have our consent to murder African-Americans, the way Mr. Ford was murdered. And I think that consent has been withdrawn. I think -- and I get a sense that, after incident after incident after incident, we really have entered a new reality and a new sort of consensus.

And it butts up against Donald -- what President Trump believes is today`s episode of his reality show. And we`re going to be having that clash. But this is a moment for police and justice system reform.

And we heard not a word about that from the president.

MELBER: Right.

I want to thank Gene Robinson and Jon Meacham, Garrett Haake, and all the others who contributed to our broadcast tonight.


MELBER: We`re listening to some of the applause in Minneapolis.

There is much more work to do. We`re all in this together.

That does it for our hour here on THE BEAT. Keep it right here on MSNBC.