CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you.
And we start with breaking news.
All four officers involved in the arrest and killing of George Floyd have been charged with murder. Now, this is all brand-new this evening. So let`s go through it.
One, the main officer who led this arrest, pinning Floyd`s neck until he died, had previously been charged with third-degree murder. Now, late today, prosecutors upping that to the more serious charge of second-degree murder.
That itself is quite rare in police cases. Two, you need to know tonight that all three other officers in the arrest have been hit with new murder charges, aiding the unintentional murder in the second degree for their role in backing what we see here, what we all in America has been processing, which is how the main officer, Chauvin, was strangling basically the air out of this individual, how they protected that maneuver, as both Floyd on the ground and peaceful onlookers pleaded for the officers to stop, the spare the life that was clearly dying in front of everyone in broad daylight on tape.
Three, another fact that you should know as all of this occurs tonight, this legal news didn`t come from the local DA. Minnesota, like most states, still uses local DAs to patrol the police. That`s a potential conflict of interest, since DAs work with the very same officers daily to investigate and win cases.
But this news that I`m reporting to you right now, today`s news, it came from a more independent authority, state Attorney General Keith Ellison.
You could hear him speaking there. This was the press conference. This is different. And, as everyone says, what should America do differently or not, you should know, factually, that the person announcing these charges was specifically and recently put in charge of the case to provide more independence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I filed an amended complaint that charges former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with murder in the second degree for the death of George Floyd.
Hennepin County attorney Michael Freeman and I have filed a complaint that charges police officer Kueng, Lane, and Thao with aiding and abetting murder in the second degree.
George Floyd mattered. He was loved. His family was important. His life had value. And we will seek justice for him and for you, and we will find it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was Mr. Ellison. It was a gripping presentation.
It is a change tonight that we have these filings. This is new. This is different. This is four officers charged with murder. I could just tell you, legally and factually, that`s not the normal routine. This has come, of course, as you know, after over a week of nationwide protests.
And within miles of the scene I just showed you, demonstrators gathered at the location of the charged crime, which has become a memorial, and they reacted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: We got all four! We got all four! We got all four!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: In fact, we can tell you reaction is pouring in everywhere right now.
Great awareness, of course, by these protesters and many others that tonight`s news is an abnormal outcome already. This is not the routine march of investigation and due process, because, routinely, cops are simply not charged and convicted of murder in any state.
We can show you the scene there in New York, or right here in Philadelphia, where marches continue and people know and people are sharing the news that something unusual just happened, these four officers hit with murder charges. This is all happening right now in America. This is all an outgrowth of what`s been happening in America.
And back in the nation`s capital, protesters also pushing this same set of issues. You can see so many here lying face-down, holding an attempted silence for the duration of the time that the officer kneeled on Mr. Floyd`s neck, killing him.
Because of the video documentation of that evidence, because, in large part, of these protests everywhere, because, as I reported to you earlier of the difference of a new prosecutor in charge, and because of many other fairly atypical factors, the news tonight is that all four officers face murder charges and up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
Now, this is not an outcome tonight that the current president welcomed, not an outcome that Donald Trump suggested should be in the cards.
Instead, he has been, of course, loudly denouncing the protests, tweeting about them, and opposing the calls for police accountability.
But on this potentially historic night, it`s not Donald Trump that we`re hearing from right now, but the former president stepping back up into a time that`s always hard to address the nation, a time of crisis.
Barack Obama giving his first public address since these protests began. Now, he had previously released a statement. Tonight, though, just moments ago, we covered part of this in the previous hour on MSNBC, Obama urging a constructive path forward and also specifically condemning how he said some police who are supposed to protect are actually dealing out -- quote -- "violence."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to speak directly to the young men and women of color in this country, who as -- have witnessed too much violence and too much death.
And, too often, some of that violence has come from folks who were supposed to be serving and protecting you.
I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter, that your dreams matter. And so I hope that you also feel hopeful, even as you may feel angry, because you have the power to make things better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You, the former president says, have the power to make things better.
Obviously, a contrast to the opposition and the attacks on freedom of speech and the constitutional right everyone has to speak and protest, which has emanated from the current president.
I want to draw your attention to one more point from President Obama, and then we turn out to reports in the field and quite an array of experts and civil rights leaders in tonight`s broadcast.
I want you to notice that the former president, who also is a lawyer, and also is a constitutional scholar, and also chooses his words quite carefully, he referred to violence committed by police.
That is quite a statement coming from someone who used to run the federal government, because, as we all know, the main distinction in a lawful democracy between force and violence is its legitimate use. We refer to the use of force by the military or the police. We refer to violence as the other actions taken against people, the criminal actions.
The problem that we`re dealing with right now, that America is grappling with is, what happens when the people who are supposed to enforce the law to use only lawful force actually, potentially or allegedly, become the source of criminal violence?
That`s a tough problem. It is notable that, as the president, former President Obama weighs in, he refers to -- quote -- "violence" by police.
Now to our program.
We begin, as we do often on these evenings, with reporting directly from the ground.
MSNBC`s Shaquille Brewster in Minneapolis at that site we showed earlier of Floyd`s death, what has been the reaction this afternoon to these new charges?
SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: The reaction is, they`re excited. They`re happy that these charges have come.
You know, I have struggled with defining and describing exactly what is the reaction here, because, on one hand, there is celebration. It`s a celebratory mood in the fact that these charges, all four officers have been charged. That`s something that protesters have been calling for, for over a week.
But then there is the anxiety that you hear from people, people who say that they understand and who heard the warning of Keith Ellison, saying, a conviction is hard to get, and understand how hard and how difficult of a task this is, now going through trial and know that a conviction is not guaranteed. It`s not the guaranteed result.
There is also hope that you hear here, as people are talking to one another, engaging in conversations with people they never even met, never met before, people from all over the country. So it`s really a sense of community that you have as people engage.
I will let you take a look at the scene right now. In the middle, it appears that the group is doing a prayer right now. That`s one of the vigils, one of at least the three different memorials here at this intersection where George Floyd died over a week ago.
And, you know, one thing that you continue to hear from people who come here to not only pay their respects, but to adversary and have the advocacy, is the push for more, not just the arrest of the officers, not even the conviction of the officers, but for systemic reform.
And it`s that reform that they feel like they`re starting to get. Yesterday, we heard from the governor of the state, the governor of Minnesota, who actually came here this morning to pay his respects.
He is filing that civil charge against the Minneapolis Police Department, not just looking at this case, but going back 10 years at the patterns and practices of that department.
That`s what people here are calling for. They say that this is a moment beyond the specifics of this case. But they believe this is a moment where they there can be true -- Ari.
MELBER: Shaquille, thank you.
I want to go right to Washington, where MSNBC`s Garrett Haake is again at his reporting position outside of the White House, where we have seen a range of events over different nights.
What are you seeing now?
GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Ari, my reporting position has been moved back about 70 yards from where it`s been the last couple of days. That`s because federal law enforcement have pushed out into the street sometime overnight last night, with the help of the National Guard and federal officials, who throughout the day have refused to identify themselves, but who we believe are with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons here helping with the federal response.
They have shut down this street just a block from the White House on 16th Street. All day today, we have seen hundreds of protesters. If you had been with me a few minutes earlier, this entire street would have been full. But a lot of folks have left and turned the corner onto I Street to march, we believe, towards the Capitol.
That tends to be the way this goes. These protests in D.C. are kind of an organic thing. They build up with big crowds, and then they march out into the streets. Then they inevitably return here to the White House.
Here in D.C., the curfew has been extended tonight until 11:00 p.m. It was 7:00 p.m. last night, although it was not particularly enforced. We had a large peaceful protest into the night here.
And, Ari, one bit of good news. Just in the seconds before I came on the air, I saw a statement from the U.S. Park Police, who were, of course, the main agency involved in clearing H Street, clearing the park for the president the other night.
They said two officers have been placed on administrative leave while they investigate the incident caught on tape of them attacking an Australian news crew that was caught on tape, proof that the cameras on at these events hopefully does in fact make a difference.
MELBER: Thank you, Garrett.
I want to turn right to our experts, now that we have gotten a sense of what`s happening around the nation.
Professor Deborah Archer is associate professor of clinical law and the director of the Civil Rights Clinic at the NYU School of Law. And Marc Morial is president and CEO of the National Urban League.
Both of you work on these issues. Thanks for joining us tonight.
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Thank you.
MELBER: Marc, I want to play a little Keith Ellison, who, as I have emphasized, as people try to keep track of so many aspects, Keith Ellison does not deal with the vast majority of local cases.
He was explicitly called in to deal with this because of, as mentioned, the potential conflict of interest, and here he was today unveiling these relatively unusual charges against officers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLISON: We are following the path of all of the evidence, wherever it leads. We are investigating as quickly as we can, because speed is important.
We`re also investigating as thoroughly as we can. Every single link in the prosecutorial chain must be strong. It needs to be strong, because trying this case will not be an easy thing. Winning a conviction will be hard.
The very fact that we have filed these charges means that we believe in them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORIAL: Ari, yes, so let me offer this observation.
I have great confidence in Keith Ellison. He is a great lawyer. He was a member of Congress for a number of years. He`s got compassion in his heart. And I think the fact that he has taken over the case will give great confidence to people in Minneapolis who want justice that this case is going to be aggressively prosecuted, it`s going to be professionally prosecuted.
And I think he did the right thing in charging the remaining officers and upping the charge on Officer Chauvin. I never understood the charge of third-degree murder. It seemed to be a puzzling thing. And I think Keith Ellison has quickly, I think, put this matter on a better track.
But he`s right. Securing a conviction is never easy. I`m certain these officers will have very strong lawyers representing them. But the people are demanding justice, not only in Minneapolis, but all across this land, all across this globe.
They witnessed with their own two eyes the death of a man. It was a modern- day lynching. It was a strangulation. No justification whatsoever for what occurred. And I think Keith Ellison has taken the right steps. I think he did it as quickly as he could, and I think he is not promising anything other than the fact that he`s going to aggressively prosecute.
But he is being very clear, and I think he is right, that this is going to be a tough case, because these cases are always tough cases.
MELBER: Professor Archer, as someone who has worked on and studied this for so long, what do you think America should take from the legal developments today and the wider role of direct action, street protests, as we look, viewers are looking at the shots from around the country, marches in New York City, in California, in all sorts of places continuing, because there does seem to be a movement afoot?
DEBORAH ARCHER, DIRECTOR, NYU CIVIL RIGHTS CLINIC: Right.
So I think we should be celebrating what happened today. The rarity of a police officer, as you mentioned earlier, or four police officers, all officers involved, who take the life of an unarmed black man being fired, arrested, charged with murder, the fact that we are celebrating that is a reminder of how unjust our legal system is when it comes to the actions of police officers.
And although we`re celebrating, we have to remember why we`re here. We`re here not because there was transformational change in policing the last time this happened. We are here because a teenaged girl had the strength and power and courage to videotape what happened.
And we`re here because protesters demanded accountability. Before that, it was business as usual, with police officers just saying that a black man was resisting arrest and they had to use force to subdue him.
So, today is significant. But we also have to recognize how far we are to go. President Obama, I think, was really wonderful in talking about the pivot that we need to make, that we need to focus on justice in this case. We need to focus on justice for Breonna Taylor.
And we also need to focus on rooting out all the bad apples in police departments, removing them and punishing them. But, at the same time, we also now need to focus on reform of policing policies, practices, procedures, and culture.
That means we need to change how police officers are screened and hired, how they are trained, how they are disciplined and reprimanded, how they`re held accountable, including how they`re prosecuted.
And protests should continue. We should -- activists should continue to hold their elected officials accountable. History has proven that protests and uprisings like we`re seeing right now are necessary. Progress is not inevitable. It comes through struggle.
And we saw that the broadcast of Bloody Sunday helped bring us the Voting Rights Act and uprisings in Watts and Newark and Detroit helped bring us the Fair Housing Act.
So I`m hopeful that these types of uprisings we`re seeing now will help bring us the tools for truly transformational change. Otherwise, we will be here again in just a few years.
MELBER: Marc, let`s listen, as we are duty-bound to do, to George Floyd`s son, who has been effectively orphaned by what we are reporting was a killing.
The autopsy speaks to the medical piece of it, and what now, as of tonight, is a charged murder, a charge of four individuals accused of this murder. Here was George Floyd`s son, Quincy Mason.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUINCY MASON, SON OF GEORGE FLOYD: Every night with my family, I`m trying to get justice for my father.
And no man and woman should be without their fathers. And we want justice for what`s going on right now.
We need change. This can`t happen to anybody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Marc, where do you see -- Professor Archer mentioned the documentation and the video of the incident. And we have reported and documented how much more it tends to take because of the racism in the system to get action that in other cases the bar is lower.
This is another side of it, which is, as the protesters have demanded everyone pay attention, the direct action has made everyone pay attention, from the public, to the streets, to you live in a city where there is a curfew, to the press saying, this feels like a big story to cover, how much has that, in your view, made everyone listen to this very tragic recurring grieving process in the American black community of another person gone, and all of this public grief, as a -- as bearing witness and potentially as a part of action?
MORIAL: It`s been -- it`s indispensable. It`s made people listen. It`s caused people to wake up.
It said -- it`s expressed the sentiments that many of us feel. Enough is enough. We went through Trayvon and Michael Brown and Tamir Rice and Eric Garner, and numerous cases. Zero accountability. Officers not only weren`t convicted. Vigilantes like George Zimmerman were not only not convicted. They paid no price for taking the lives of innocent unarmed black men.
I will say this, though. At this moment, I also want everyone to focus on the Congress of the United States and the fact that it is at this moment when the Congress has within its power to change a number of federal laws and federal policies which would bring about greater accountability.
Changing those federal laws are not the sum of police reform. They`re not the complete package of police reform, but eliminating qualified immunity, changing the standard to bring a criminal civil rights case against police officers, establishing a registry and an accreditation system for both individual officers and for departments, establishing a no-choke national deadly use of force policy.
There are a number of things we have got to focus on. We need law changes and policy changes.
MELBER: Right. Right.
MORIAL: This is not about a conversation. This is about action.
And so much of my work now is focusing on that. And I believe there are members of Congress now poised to demand action, poised to move significant reform legislation.
MELBER: And I only have to fit in a break because I have Professor Rigueur and Reverend Barber coming up.
And, Marc, I know you would never take time from Reverend Barber.
MELBER: Never. Me either.
I really thank both of you for your work and for joining us. We will be having you both back, Professor and Marc.
MORIAL: Thank you.
MELBER: We have a lot in the show. Let me tell you what`s coming up.
President Obama giving those powerful remarks that ended just moments ago. I showed you one clip. We have more. It is rare to see the president come out this forcefully.
Also tonight, as mentioned, Reverend William Barber is here. He is a voice to many of moral authority, and he is talking about the movement work that he has been doing for years and whether we are at a point where things are changing.
Later tonight, we have a legal breakdown on what the Floyd charges mean, how they work, and why this very aggressive term -- you may be hearing this more in the days ahead, felony murder -- it`s usually used against alleged criminals, alleged gangbangers.
It`s being used against police tonight. Why? We`re going get into that. It matters.
I`m Ari Melber, and you`re watching THE BEAT, as we track these protests around the nation tonight, on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Let me start by just acknowledging that we have seen in the last several weeks, last few months the kinds of epic changes and events in our country that are as profound as anything that I have seen in my lifetime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: There is one way to measure it.
Former President Obama discussing the epic changes and saying they rival anything he`s ever seen. That`s saying something.
I want to get right into this right now and go more in-depth on what we just heard from the president with context from Leah Wright Rigueur, a professor at Harvard`s Kennedy School and longtime friend of THE BEAT.
Much going on, but I will say it`s good to see you again.
LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: It`s great to see you, Ari. How are you?
MELBER: I`m all right, as you know, we all know. We`re all going through a lot.
We wanted to really listen to deeper parts of this and get your perspective, which we value.
Here is Barack Obama contrasting this from the `60s.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I have to tell you, although I was very young when you had riots and protests and assassinations and discord back in the `60s, I know enough about that history to say, there is something different here.
You look at those protests, and that was a far more representative cross- section of America out on the streets peacefully protesting, and who felt moved to do something because of the injustices that they had seen.
That didn`t exist back in the 1960s, that kind of broad coalition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Professor, it`s no surprise that Barack Obama is keeping track and well-informed.
And it echoes something we have seen from our own reporters on the ground, that one of the distinctions here is, including in recent days in Minneapolis, reporters on this channel made the point that they were seeing at times majority white protests staying out, taking risks -- we know all the risks -- as well as, obviously, many of the community leaders, Black Lives Matter protesters who have been in this and doing this for a very long time.
What did you think of his historical point?
WRIGHT RIGUEUR: So, I think there are a couple of things to pull out about that Obama moment.
One, the nation is eager to hear from a president, a former president, who actually is going toe address the issue, rather than speaking in rhetoric or hyperbole. So, this is that moment.
And then, second, I think it`s important to remember that we had these kind of protests under Obama. We just didn`t have them to this extent. So we had Occupy Wall Street. We had various Black Lives Matter matters movements, protests well into -- really well into 2017, into Trump`s first term, but also under Obama.
So there is a way in which there is a precedent for all that`s happening. Right? So, the movements that we`re seeing right now are completely and utterly built on these past movements and really seeing these movements come to fruition, because anti-black discrimination has gone on for too long, but too has this larger structural, systemic inequality gone on for too long, and now people are reacting.
MELBER: He also spoke about the power of young people who are willing to take more risk, and that actually makes him optimistic. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Part of what`s made me so hopeful is the fact that so many young people have been galvanized and activated and motivated and mobilized, because, historically, so much of the progress that we have made in our society has been because of young people.
Dr. King was a young man when he got involved. Cesar Chavez was a young man. Malcolm X was a young man.
And, sometimes, I feel despair. I just see what`s happening with young people all across the country and the talent and the voice and the sophistication that they`re displaying, and it makes me feel optimistic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WRIGHT RIGUEUR: So, these movements are absolutely movements that are propelled by young people. And that`s been historically true.
We saw it with civil rights. We saw it with black power. We have seen it with labor movements. We have seen it with all kinds of movements. So, young people are leading the force on this movement.
And part of it too is because young people are affected by a number of these issues in ways that really speak to their generation. So, if we think about underemployment and unemployment, black people, young people are affected, by and large, the worst of all of the individuals who are protesting. So, of course they`re going to be out there.
But I do also want to call attention to the fact that one of the remarkable things about this is that we have also seen older generations participating in the protest.
Young people may be leading this, but, in fact, we`re seeing an intergenerational collaboration and alliance happening, where you`re seeing older people, middle-aged people, right, even elderly people out on the streets protesting and participating in this moment.
MELBER: All really great context, Professor.
Great to have you back as well, as we think about the president stepping out tonight, of all nights, to really get into this.
Leah Wright Rigueur, thank you.
And, as mentioned, Reverend William Barber, who is the co-chair of the Poor People`s Campaign and a leader on these issues, joins us.
We`re back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: Welcome back to MSNBC`s THE BEAT.
We have a lot of news today.
Reverend William Barber is here.
If you`re just joining us, it was just late today that the Minnesota attorney general announced these new murder charges, elevated against the original officer at the center of the Floyd killing, and new charges, three new murder charges for the other officers.
As mentioned, Reverend William Barber is here. He does more than one thing.
And, Reverend, it`s good to you back. I have talked to you about more than one thing. I will mention to viewers you are, of course, the co-chair of the Poor People`s Campaign. You`re a board member of the NAACP. And you have done work on organizing for many years in North Carolina.
You were a leader of the movement known as Moral Mondays, which gained national attention. And, today, you are writing about Trump`s use of the Bible as an obscenity, and you say, you recommend he should try reading the words inside it.
Let me begin, sir, given your work on the power of organizing. Do you think it is grassroots and street organizing that led to these murder charges today?
REV. DR. WILLIAM BARBER, PRESIDENT, REPAIRERS OF THE BREACH: I think it had a great part in it.
I think the fact that we had it on tape, that that 17-year-old girl was like David before Goliath. She would not move, despite seeing one of the most grotesque things that any child could be exposed to. She stood there. I`m glad she did, because we may not be at this place if we did not have it on tape.
I think that part of what also garnered so much attention to this is the moment in which it happened. You know, there were a lot of wounds before COVID of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation before COVID, the lack of health care before COVID.
Then COVID hit, and the wounds are exposed and exploited by the pandemic. And then 100,000 people are dead, and the ineptness of the president. And then you see a lynching on TV.
I think all of these things compound, combined, had an impact.
MELBER: Let me ask you about it. You just said it, and you are someone that we call upon that you think about these things obviously from a moral dimension, and you teach about God.
And, sometimes, in our discourse and in the media, we shy away from that, and people have different beliefs.
But when you think about that and God, what does it mean to you that we are living in a time of extreme death? This pandemic is all around us. It has not been an equal-opportunity killer, but it has touched so many.
And then, within that, we see the killing, which Minnesota authorities now describe as an alleged, charged murder. How do you see that interacting, because we`re dealing with this time of death, Reverend?
BARBER: Well, death can have -- especially death in the movement can have the potential of destroying you and making you doubt and go into utter despair, or death can spur you, like the death of Emmett Till spurred Rosa Parks.
It was the death of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman that made more people go South, not less. It was the death of four girls in a Birmingham church 17 days after the March on Washington and then the death of a president that pushed people to do more.
Sometimes, what death does is, it makes people say, wait a minute, our systems are failing us. We may die, but we shouldn`t die like this. And so we`re going resist the death. Like Claude McKay said in his book back in the Harlem Renaissance, if we must die, let us not die like hogs.
And what is happening is, people are saying, this is not supposed to happen. The state is not supposed to kill you. The state is not supposed to keep you from having PPEs. The state is not supposed to take your health care. The state is not supposed to force you back to work in lethal situations, like Trump did with meatpackers.
And, certainly, the state, in your name, is not supposed to murder somebody right in your face. Sometimes, when that kind of death happens, it actually brings people to life. It`s almost like a crucifixion, and then there is a resurrection.
I was read a Scripture in Amos that actually says -- God says, I`m looking for the day when a remnant of people will go in the streets and shut down the malls and shut down the businesses and cry and wail until the nation pays attention.
It`s in Amos Chapter 5 in the Message Bible. Some of that is what we`re seeing in this moment.
MELBER: Thank you for that.
The other thing I want to ask you about -- as we`re listening to you, Reverend, we`re seeing the images from around the country. We`re hearing some of the ambient sound. This is all happening. This is real. And it`s happening as people get word of the new charges, but there are so many aspects to this around the whole country.
I want to show you and our viewers one way we can measure what I think President Obama had referred to as well today, which is the notion that some of this is getting broader support, which takes a lot of the groundwork, as you well know.
Here is the public support, for example, from the Ferguson protests in a poll that asks, were they reasonable? This was at the time. And everyone, I think, watching the news may remember those Ferguson protests in that era, the Obama era -- 25 percent.
Today, when we ask, are people sympathetic to the Floyd protests, Reverend, you get a number that is way higher than our polarized views of all kinds of things, whether it`s Donald Trump or religion or abortion. You get 64 percent today now of Americans say they`re sympathetic to these protests.
Do you see that as important growth? And why do you think that`s happening?
BARBER: Well, again, I think it is important.
It reminds me some of the Moral Monday movement, when we got polling similar in the PPP polling, because we -- people saw all of the diversity, and they started looking at it different. And they said, this -- what`s really going on here?
And then they started listening to the issues we were talking about, and they recognized that all of us are threatened by this. If cops are putting their knees on people on camera and murdering them, this is not only being done in our name. It`s threatening all of us, but also because this is a time when so many feel like the weight of injustice is on their necks. The weight of injustice is on their necks.
We`re in a time, in 48 hours, you could be dead. And think about it. In the midst of this COVID, we haven`t increased health care for people. So many people, when they heard Floyd say, "I can`t breathe," they can identify that in so many ways, in terms of racism and criminal injustice, but also many of the other ways.
This is an important development. When you have moral movement focused not on the puniness of conservative vs. liberal, but justice vs. injustice, and then when you have diversity of people, black and white and red, yellow, and gay and straight and young and old, saying, look, we may not even know everything that is wrong, but we know this is not right.
We know something is broken, and it has to be fixed. And then you have a president that tries to shut down legitimate nonviolent protests, and he found out you can`t arrest all of us.
BARBER: (AUDIO GAP) celebration (AUDIO GAP).
But then the people said, we`re going come back. Now we`re going to stay past the curfew. We`re going do it nonviolently. And what are you going to do? Are you going to arrest all of us?
People are saying, this is our land. This is our country. And I think we have seen a birth of a deep conscience. I have been seeing it in the Poor People`s Campaign. I have been seeing it in the mountains of the Appalachians and on the Apache Reservation and down South, as we`re organizing June 20 of 2020 the Mass Poor People`s Assembly and Moral March on Washington digitally.
We had planned it two years ago to be on Pennsylvania Avenue in `20. We can`t now because COVID. And they won`t let us (AUDIO GAP).
BARBER: But it`s going to be powerful, because people know something is wrong, and it`s got to be fixed.
BARBER: You have don`t have to have this kind of racism. You don`t have to have this kind of poverty. We do not have to have this kind of death.
And, as you`re saying that, we`re watching it. We`re seeing people march.
Reverend Barber, I want to thank you. As mentioned, you have the June 20 event. And we should tell viewers the book, "We Are Called to Be a Movement," coming out next week, Reverend William Barber.
We`re going fit in a break here, but when we come back, I have a breakdown we want to share with you, this new legal case against now four officers charged in the Floyd killing. What will come next? It`s a long way to the courtroom.
We have you covered.
Later, we`re going continue to track the demonstrations we have been seeing, many of them orderly and peaceful around the country, as some curfews approach.
MELBER: Welcome back to our coverage here on THE BEAT.
There is so much going on, it would be easy to lose sight of the individual aspects of how these rather unusual murder charges against four police officers are proceeding.
While we have been tracking the protests and hearing from civil rights leaders -- and we will hear from Maya Wiley in a moment -- right now, I want to get into these new charges.
All four officers are basically facing murder charges, officer Chauvin charged with second-degree felony murder. The other three chargers -- excuse me -- the other three officers, I should say, are charged with a type of murder that says basically they aided a second-degree felony murder.
Now, what does this mean in practical terms? Right here is the headline. You don`t have to get into all the weeds. You have four officers in this incident. You have Mr. Floyd dead, killed, according to the autopsy. And all four face up to 40 years for unintentional murder.
Now, let`s get into what this means, because we are at the beginning of a legal process, not the end. Everyone is legally formally presumed innocent until proven guilty.
So the new information tonight is how prosecutors want to prove them guilty of murder. The theory here is called felony murder. This is a serious charge.
And it`s not just a murder charge. It`s one that actually requires a separate and additional felony. So, put the officers to the side for one minute, and imagine someone goes to hold up a liquor store, felony number one.
Then, in trying to commit that felony, somebody gets killed. There is your felony murder. Now, I just described a random kind of street crime. I can tell you -- and we checked with several experts today -- police officers are rarely charged with felony murder.
This is not typically how prosecutors approach these cases. But there has been nothing typical about any of this.
Now, for context, let`s look at the numbers showing how often officers are even convicted of murders when there are police shootings. From 2005 on, on your screen, what you see is zeros, nothing, nada, no convictions, zero officers convicted.
When it started to change, and we have been reporting on this, in just, say, the past five years is you have a handful of officers convicted or murder. We checked, and we didn`t find many examples of convictions of felony murder
Now, the attorney general of Minnesota is highlighting all of this today, and, in addition to explaining how he is going to approach this, he argues that, basically, the first felony was assault of Mr. Floyd, and then obviously the killing makes for the felony murder.
He also took pains to emphasize he was not responding to public pressure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLISON: I did not allow public pressure to impact our decision-making process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, that may be true. I`m a newsreader, not a mind reader. And I can`t tell you what was inside Mr. Ellison`s decision-making process.
But I can report for you something that you need to understand when you look at these problems and potential reform. Whatever Mr. Ellison`s decision was, the main reason he`s making any decision at all is, yes, because of the public pressure you see on your screen, because of the public pressure you may see in your community, because of the public pressure that has been ripping across American life for the past week, because it was only pressure that changed the routine to put an independent attorney general overseeing the case in the first place.
So, here we are, a week after there were no charges in the case. And all of the sudden, four officers face this very aggressive move of a felony murder prosecutorial theory.
The three officers at the scene are charged with -- now we`re going get into the detail -- quote -- "intentionally aiding, advising, hiring counseling and/or inspiring to kill George Floyd," to "cause the death" of him.
And the charge of Officer Chauvin was upgraded today, the complaint now noting that he -- quote -- "left his knee on Floyd`s neck even while force was no longer necessary to control him, no longer necessary to control him." That`s legal-speak for brutality, that this was not a necessary tactic.
And then it adds that Chauvin`s restraint of Floyd was a substantial causal factor in the death.
Now, the ongoing investigation can take months. New charges could be added or changed. The prosecutors need to collect the evidence. Securing a murder conviction is always a big deal. And, as we just showed you, securing it of an officer is something that in many years doesn`t happen in one single state in the entire country.
Now, having walked through the breakdown, I want to bring in Maya Wiley. She is a former civil prosecutor. She worked for the mayor of New York City and was chair of the New York Civilian Complaint Board, which provides independent police oversight of NYPD.
Maya, that makes you not only an old friend of THE BEAT, but, substantively, a quite perfect guest for these challenging topics.
It`s good to see you.
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Good to see you, Ari.
MELBER: Can you think of a felony murder conviction that`s ever been won against an officer? And, if not, how do you think this will work and apply here?
WILEY: Well, I don`t know of one. I can`t say there`s never been one.
But I think you have said it well. Look, the felony underneath this is aggravated assault. That`s what we heard from the attorney general, essentially. And what we see is certainly easier to prove the aggregated assault. You intend that, and then the murder happens on top of that.
Then the other officers, because they had reason to know that this was going to possibly result in death, and then results in death, you participate within it physically, and you participate by not stopping it, even after you find out there is no pulse.
I think that this is a strong case in that sense, not that these were ever easy to win, but this is a stunning video, and even both coroners, the family`s coroner and the medical examiner, agree this is homicide.
MELBER: Briefly, 25 seconds, what would you say to a jury?
WILEY: I would say that wearing blue is not a defense to killing, and that`s what we see on the video, plain, simple. Believe your eyes.
MELBER: An experienced litigator knows concise and clear often wins the day.
Maya Wiley, thank you, as always, for your legal analysis. We will be seeing you again.
We have more on the show tonight, including an update on the protests, as curfew approaches.
We will be right back.
MELBER: We are continuing to monitor these protests.
You see the scene in Washington, D.C., with a curfew approaching. You see other speeches and gatherings around the country. It is a night where people are reacting to these new murder charges.
We`re tracking it all for you. And we will be right back with one more thing.
MELBER: It`s been a busy hour here on our broadcast.
I did want to tell you a couple quick things. One, I will be joined tonight on Instagram Live -- you can follow me @AriMelber on Instagram -- around 8:15 p.m. Eastern. And we will be talking to Bun B, who has been working directly with other artists and the Floyd family on all the activism and memorials.
We will also be back here tonight on MSNBC television for coverage of tonight`s news. That`s midnight tonight. I will be in the anchor chair live.
Congressman -- Congresswoman Maxine Waters will be one of our special guests tonight.
Keep it right here, right now on MSNBC.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END