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Killing of George Floyd TRANSCRIPT: 5/28/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Jacob Frey, Brandt Williams, Andrea Jenkins, Keith Ellison

PAUL BUTLER, AUTHOR, "CHOKEHOLD": And so, that doesn`t need to happen. We need to change the law. We need to understand that the real crisis isn`t what`s going on in the streets tonight in Minneapolis, the real crisis is that the streets have never been safe for black people and brown people in Minneapolis.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Phillip Atiba Goff, Paul Butler, thank you, gentlemen, both, for sharing that. Appreciate it.

That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Appreciate it.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. This has been just a remarkable day in the news today. And I don`t mean that in a good way. I almost never do.

Today, we got word that for a tenth straight week, millions of Americans have filed for unemployment. In the past week, the record before this pandemic crisis was like 600,000-something Americans applying for unemployment in one week, in the depths of the great recession and frankly a number like 600,000-something would be spectacular news for us at this point. For us now, week after week, I said ten weeks, actually for eight straight weeks as of today, we are over two million Americans filing for unemployment.

Simultaneously, and perhaps in a related development, the White House announced today that they`re just not going to give their annual national forecast for the economy this summer. The White House does that every year. They do a budget in February and then they do an economic forecast in the summer for how things are going to go for the rest of the year.

Except this year, for the first time in decades, they`ve just said they`re not going to do that. Better not to say, right? Imagine what that report would say about the forecast for the economy, if they did have to put it out. Better just to keep mum maybe.

We are learning from this federal government with each passing day of the epidemic that not talking about something terrible is at least to their mind the easiest way to pretend that that terrible thing just isn`t happening. Smiles, everyone. Smile, everyone. Fantasy island.

In terms of the epidemic, and its progress, this week has seen a whole bunch of states start to hit record numbers in terms of the number of hospital beds that are being occupied by COVID-19 patients. We`ve got record hospitalization numbers right now, in Kentucky, and in Arizona, and in Alabama, and in North Carolina, in the state of Arkansas, the state health director warned today that they`re heading toward a new record peak in hospitalizations in Arkansas, as well. In the great state of Minnesota, they not only are at their highest rate of hospitalizations yet, the Twin Cities area, Minneapolis, St. Paul is up near 90 percent full in terms of its ICU beds already, and the state today just announced that they have hit their highest one-day death toll for coronavirus as well.

Minnesota is just dealing with a bare of an epidemic with the numbers going the wrong way, with hospitalization and ICU numbers getting troubling, particularly in the Twin Cities. And now, of course, Minneapolis, particularly the Twin Cities area, is dealing with a whole other layer of crisis on top of that.

Tonight, as we`ve been covering here intensively on MSNBC, the eyes of the nation are on Minnesota, and Minneapolis is still reeling tonight, following the death on Monday night of an unarmed 46-year-old African- American man named George Floyd who died in police custody. Mr. Floyd was seen on tape repeatedly pleading that he couldn`t breathe, as an officer pinned him to the ground with his knee, jammed into Mr. Floyd`s neck for minute after minute after minute after minute.

Since the day after George Floyd died, protests have been taking place throughout Minneapolis and in other cities across the country, too. These are live images that you`re looking at right now in terms of what is going on in Minneapolis tonight as we head toward nightfall.

The neighboring city of Saint Paul, which is, of course, the capital city of Minnesota, they ordered the state capital evacuated today. They ordered everybody out of the state capital, to get out, there were violent protests today in Saint Paul. This video was shot by an NBC News crew outside a Target store where hundreds of protesters were gathered and police were called after reports of looters at the shop having it and after police arrived, demonstrators were seen pelting a squad car with rocks and later took a bat to that squad car. There`s no officer in the squad car. Just the car itself is being barbed up and smashed there.

Shopping carts were later thrown at police vehicles on that same scene, as officers tried to form a wall in front of that store front. A reporter for our local affiliate that officers did eventually use tear gas against that crowd.

The looting that has been seen so far has led some Minneapolis businesses to put up signs in their windows that say minority-owned, in the hopes that they will be spared from looting. This all comes after a particularly confrontational chaotic and at times violent night last night. I mean, yesterday`s protests in Minneapolis did begin peacefully but things escalated over the course of the night and into the night and in the early morning, a standoff outside the city`s third police precinct, eventually within hours spilled over into chaos and some nearby businesses being looted and other nearby businesses being burnt to the ground.

At this particular intersection, we can show you an apartment development was under construction was completely destroyed after it was set on fire. Some firefighters were attacked as they arrived to put out various fires in the city. Authorities made the decision to just let some buildings burn rather than risk firefighters being injured or worse. Police officers fired tear gas at protesters and also rubber bullets.

Tonight, Minnesota`s governor, Tim Walz, has activated the natural guard in Minnesota to come in and help state police and local police with the situation on the ground. He has declared a state of emergency in the Twin Cities.

So, tonight, there is a lot of worry, there is a lot of consternation about what may happen next. Violence is obviously not the whole story here, throughout this whole or deal, we`ve also seen so many images of just plain grief, and anger and upset that`s not expressed violently.

Grief in a city trying to come together, and trying to figure out how to move past yet another incident like this, we`ve seen that in makeshift memorials throughout the city. We saw it today, at a vigil held by our own colleague, Reverend Al Sharpton, you know the site where George Floyd was arrested, on Monday night. We also saw it at a massive peaceful protest this evening outside of Minneapolis City Hall, where people chanted, say his name, George Floyd. Say his name, George Floyd.

The overarching sentiment from those crowds today is they want to know if justice will be served. So far again, this killing, in police custody, happened on Monday night. It is now Thursday. The officers in this case, four officers, who were on the scene of the arrest have all been fired.

It`s been reported tonight that they have all invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination. It remains to be seen what charges if any will be filed against those officers.

Earlier in the day today, the federal Justice Department said that they have made an investigation into Floyd`s death a top priority and with the Justice Department nobody quite knows what that means.

The Hennepin County district attorney today asked for patience as his office examines the case and considers whether or not the charges will be brought.

The mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, is meanwhile trying to hold his city together as the whole country looks at Minneapolis tonight, basically just holding our breath.


MAYOR JACOB FREY (D), MINNEAPOLIS, MN: If you`re feeling that sadness, that anger, it`s not only understandable, it`s right. It`s a reflection of the truth that our black community has lived. While not from lived experience, that sadness must also be understood by our non-black communities.

I believe in Minneapolis. I love Minneapolis. And in believing in our city, we must believe that we can be better than we have been.


MADDOW: Joining us now, exclusively for the interview tonight, is Jacob Frey, the mayor of Minneapolis.

Mr. Mayor, I know this is a really, really difficult time. Thanks for taking time to be here with us tonight.

FREY: Thank you so much for having me, Rachel.

Before we get going --

MADDOW: Obviously --


MADDOW: Please go ahead.

FREY: Yes, before we get going, I did want to address things after what transpired last night, and I have a very simple message for residents and community members within our city, that we need peace. If you are feeling anger, or sadness, I get it. It is not only understandable, it is -- it is righteous.

But we cannot allow that anger and sadness to so negatively impact our communities. We can`t be looting some of the community institutions that we need the most right now, especially during a pandemic. We need grocery stores for food. We need pharmacies for medicine. We need banks for cash.

And these institutions are all the more important, especially in our low income communities. So, by all means, protest, express your First Amendment rights, we will stand up for them. But we do need peace as well in our city.

MADDOW: Mr. Mayor, today, when you said I believe in Minneapolis but also that the city must be better than we have been -- I wanted to give you a chance to address that, too. And what do you think that means in concrete terms for your city, in terms of what needs to be better, what needs to be fixed, and what would count as justice in this case?

FREY: Well, Rachel, we`re not just talking about five horrid minutes of mistreatment of our black community, and specifically of George Floyd, we`re talking about 400 years worth of institutionalized racism. We`re talking about intentional segregation and restrictive covenants that run with the land and disparities in health and income and water and treatment -- pretty much every single facet of life.

And so, this particular five minutes stands on a very long history of wrongful conduct, and we do need to be better. We need to acknowledge it. We need to embrace that reality. And then we need -- we need action, you know.

And the first action that I believe needs to come is the charge. We need a charge of the arresting officer in this case.

You know, there was every incentive for me not to speak out about this issue. You know, there are all sorts of precautions and protocols that are baked into the walls of city hall that will tell you not to say something, not to act too soon, follow the process.

But like this was an instance when, you know, honesty is so important, because it`s the only way that we`re really going to move forward.

MADDOW: You just made an impassioned call for peace in the streets of Minneapolis tonight, as people are gathering once again to protest. Can you give us an update on the situation on the ground, and the plans tonight in terms of how to try to protect life and property as we head into the overnight hours?

FREY: I`ve been in constant contact with our police chief, as well as our governor and I`m very appreciative of the resources they have been able to provide. And I also want to note that we have a whole lot of people, as a matter of fact, we`ve got a thousand people who are downtown right now that are protesting so peacefully. And we want to protect them. They need to be speaking out right now, because ultimately, that voice will improve our community for the long haul.

But, you know, in an era of sound bites, so often, those that are protesting peacefully get lumped in with those that are not. You know, officers that are operating compassionately get lumped in with those that are not.

And we need to be clear about what we are saying right now, which is by all means, like anger makes sense, sadness makes sense, but I think right now, like I said, what we need is some action right now, and that starts with of course terminations which we`ve already done as all four officers have been term terminated. And I`ve also called on the county attorney to move forward with the charge.

I spent, you know, the better part of 36 hours asking myself a very simple question, which is why is the officer that pressed his knee into the neck of a helpless black man that was unarmed and handcuffed, why is that officer not in jail? Why has he not been charged?

And, you know, I couldn`t answer that question, Rachel, because if you had done that, or if I had done that, we would be in jail.

And so, of course, I understand the need for investigation. But I do also believe fully that we need to charge.

MADDOW: Do you have any indication of when that charging decision might be made?

We heard the Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman today ask for patience, basically saying that this needs to be -- this is a decision that can`t be rushed. We also saw the federal Justice Department come in and say this will be a top priority for the department. We also saw the medical examiner say that they`re waiting for the results of the laboratory testing, relating to the autopsy before they`re willing to say anything about the cause of death.

What`s your sense about the pace which these developments are likely to roll out? I`m thinking about that not just in terms of interest of the process, but I think it`s going to have a big impact in terms of whether or not people feel the need to continually night after night get back out into the streets.

FREY: You`re absolutely right. And that`s precisely the conflict that we`re dealing with right now. And I understand the necessity of having a thorough investigation. And I understand the need to make sure that, you know, all evidence is reviewed.

I also understand what I saw. And I saw the video that everyone else did. And what I saw was again five minutes worth of horrid conduct that is just wrong at the most human level. When someone is calling out for help, it`s our obligation to help them, especially if you`re an officer that is charged with protecting and serving the public.

That didn`t happen. And that`s a failure.

MADDOW: One of the things that will be different tonight and heading into, I guess heading into the next few days, is that the National Guard has been called up in the state. The governor has declared a state of emergency.

I understand that you may have had a role in advising the governor that it would be -- that it would be worth it to call up the National Guard.

Can you give us any insight into that decision process, and whether you`re at all concerned that having that different kind of authority present, having the guard working alongside state troopers and police, could be something that could be seen as further escalating tensions or further hardening the line between the community and the authorities that they`re so mad at right now?

FREY: We did think long and hard about this as well. I had many conversations with the governor to ensure that the presence is one of peace. The presence is one to protect these necessary community members, and community assets that have become all the more vital, because we`re operating two different crises right now, I mean, we`re sandwiched between COVID-19 in which we, of course, declared a state of emergency, and this horrible killing.

And that combination, yes, you know, we do need first responders, we do need to make sure that our city is protected, and we can make sure that those National Guard members that are in our city are positioned, not as an occupying force, but one to protect these necessary assets of our community.

MADDOW: Are you at all worried that the crowds in the streets are -- I mean, we are looking at live images right now, lots of people, if not the vast majority of the people we`re looking at are wearing masks but not everybody. Of course, people are not six feet apart from one another for the most part and these are chaotic, if outdoor gatherings that are happening, are you worried that these two crises may dovetail in terms of the risk of transmission at these ongoing protests?

FREY: Yes, if you`re not worried about that right now, then you`re not human. Of course, yes, I`m very concerned.

You know, we have seen the number of cases going up. We did a whole lot of work in Minneapolis, in Minnesota, to elongate that curve so that we didn`t hit the peak early on, when we didn`t have the necessary ICU capacity, and ventilators necessary to accommodate what would inevitably come in terms of transmission.

But yes, there is -- there`s definitely a concern about hitting that peak in the nearer future, as we know that there are a lot of people that are gathering.

And so, you know, by all means, again, express your First Amendment rights. Please, though, you know, wear a mask, stay at least six feet apart, and, you know, it`s about who we are in this city, you know? A lot of the people who are protesting right now may not be that high risk, but it`s about looking at the rest of our community that may be high risk. And that`s why we`re wearing masks and we`re taking these necessary precautions now.

MADDOW: Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis -- sir, I know you have a heck of a night ahead of you, sir. Good luck to you and your city. Come back as this story unfolds. The whole country is pulling for you.

FREY: Thank you so much, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. The protests that we have seen in Minneapolis Tuesday night, Wednesday night, tonight, calling for justice for George Floyd, have been spread out now beyond Minnesota and across the country. Last night while protesters in Minneapolis and saint Paul are demonstrating through the night, sometimes fighting tear gas and rubber bullets in clashes with the police, protesters in California also marched in downtown Los Angeles. They blocked the 101 Freeway, completely shutting down traffic at one point by forming a human chain. Protesters eventually clashed with police there, too.

Some of the protesters shattered the windows of a California highway patrol vehicle. One protester sitting on top of a California highway patrol vehicle, was injured, getting knocked off that car, as it sped away.

In Memphis, Tennessee, a group of more than 70 people marched down union everybody in Midtown Memphis last night, eventually linking arms and blocking that avenue as well, they were out there for four hours. Memphis police made five arrests last night.

In Michigan, people gathered at the capitol building in Lansing to listen to speech, to offer prayers for the family of George Floyd.

And today, there has been more. Today, in New York City, protesters in Union Square, in Manhattan, chanted I can`t breathe and we need justice, as they stood face to face with NYPD officers. So far, more than two dozen people have been arrested in New York.

There are also huge demonstrations in Chicago today. Dozens of people marching down Halsted Street in Chicago South Side, carrying signs that said, no lives matter until black lives matter, and we demand police accountability.

And in Alabama, a group gathered today at a park in downtown Birmingham to sing and mourn and protest together.

Protesters in Denver, Colorado, gathered at the state capitol, and marched downtown, demanding justice for George Floyd. Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death by police on March 13th in her home in Kentucky. Sean Reed, who was shot and killed by an officer in Minneapolis on May 7th.

These protests are spreading to every corner of the country but they began this week in Minneapolis and they continue in Minneapolis tonight, and we`re going to get more reporting from the heart of that great city as we head into nightfall tonight, just ahead.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Well, while the eyes of the nation are on Minneapolis tonight, you`re forgiven if you feel like there is something familiar in these scenes. That`s because the streets of Minneapolis have seen large, intense extended forecasts over this police department over the past few years. When police officers shot and killed Jamar Clark, an unarmed 24-year-old black man in November 2015, that sparked days of intense protests in Minneapolis, including makeshift encampment outside the fourth police precinct in Minneapolis. Protesters stayed at that encampment for 18 days. Justice for Jamar.

A Justice Department review was later sharply critical of the Minneapolis city government and police chief for mishandling those protests. Both the county attorney and the U.S. Justice Department though declined to bring charges against the two officers who were involved in Jamar Clark`s death.

Just a few months after that decision to not charge those two officers, a man named Philando Castile, a cafeteria supervisor at a school in Saint Paul was shot and killed by a police officer during what seemed like a routine traffic stop. Castile`s girlfriend was in the car with him during that traffic stop. She live-streamed the incredibly terrifying aftermath of that shooting from her phone. Her 4-year-old daughter was in the backseat of the car during that shooting.

And the protests that followed the acquittal of the officer who shot Philando Castile, hundreds of demonstrators at one point blocked a major freeway and protests were large and intense in Minneapolis.

Just one month after that protest, there was another Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed Justine Damond, an unarmed woman who had called 911, to report a possible assault. Now, in that case, the officer was arrested, tried and convicted of third degree murder and manslaughter. But in that case, the officer who pulled the trigger was black. And the victim, Justine Damond was white.

Those three high profile fatal shootings by Minneapolis police, three shootings of that high profile, in less than two years, and the huge protests in that city, that led to the resignation of the Minneapolis police chief, that also contributed to the city`s last mayor losing re- election, and we just spoke with the current mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, the current police chief is not only the city`s first black police chief he was one of five high ranking police officers who sued the department alleging institutional racism.

He has had his work cut out for him to try to reform this troubled police department. One of the white police officer`s whose hostile actions in the 2007 lawsuit went on to become the head of the Minneapolis police union and known for things calling Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization in the wake of the Jamar Clark killing and also known for paling around for President Trump and his homemade Cops for Trump T-shirt at a rally in Minneapolis last fall.

It is all that roiling history, much of it very, very recent history that is undergirding everything that is happening right now in Minneapolis. It is just one example of how radio active the Minneapolis Police Department has become. You should know that the University of Minnesota, the state`s flagship university, today they announced they are cutting ties with Minneapolis police. They will no longer contract with police in Minneapolis for big events, for football game, graduation ceremonies, they don`t want anything to do with the Minneapolis PD.

Joining us now, once again, is Brandt Williams. He`s a reporter covering the story for Minnesota Public Radio. He was with us here last night. I asked him to come back as this story develops and boy is the story developing.

Mr. Williams, I really appreciate you coming back and talk to us tonight. Thanks for being here.

BRANDT WILLIAMS, MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO: No problem. Thanks for having me back.

MADDOW: So tell me where you are, and what you`ve seen, and how things on the ground tonight compare with what we`ve seen the past couple of nights.

WILLIAMS: Well, tonight, as you can see behind me, the building, to my, over my shoulder there is the Hennepin government center. This is the site of a large and a peaceful protest, it started a couple of hours ago, the folks have gathered around 5:00, they started chanting, talking about George, and I`m sorry, George Floyd, and saying his name over and over, saying that they want justice for George, and they have done a couple of marches around downtown.

Over my shoulder, I don`t know if you can tell, but. So folks have now started some, to do another march, they`re going around, and conducting some more chants, you can hear horns honking. And -- but overall, unlike the scene last night outside the third precinct, this has been very peaceful.

MADDOW: Brandt, let me ask you, in terms of Hennepin County attorney, one of the things we talked about last night and one of the things that is a real point of focus is the question of whether or not any of these officers are going to be charged. Now, Mike Freeman, the county attorney, said today he needs patience, this is going to take some time. He also put out a call for additional evidence, particularly any additional video evidence from any additional witnesses.

From your history, covering these sorts of things and from looking at this situation right now is, that an unusual request? Is that, how is that going over, given the video evidence that everybody has seen that already exists of this arrest and Mr. Floyd`s death?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I wouldn`t say necessarily that`s unusual, for the Hennepin County attorney`s office. You touched on the previous shooting, that particular prosecution took a long time to get from the investigation to a charging decision. And during that period, there was a back and forth between the county attorney`s office, and members of the Minneapolis police department.

There was allegations that police officers were not cooperating with that investigation and there had been some bad blood between members of the police department, and the Hennepin county attorney`s office which is remarkable because these two entities usually have to work very closely together in order to get prosecutions.

Now I also covered another case of the Minneapolis police officer who was tried and convicted for assault while on duty, and during that trial, that officer`s name was Christopher Reiter (ph), and during that trial, there was tension between the police officers who were testifying, on behalf of the prosecution, during the trial. They were visibly reluctant to testify.

And so, it sounds to me that this may be another one of those situations where Freeman is trying to shore up as much evidence as he can, before he decides to make some sort of charging decision, because it`s going to be a tough call, either way, because the police are going to fight him, likely on operating of the prosecution of one of their own, and if he doesn`t decide to prosecute, what the community response is going to be.

MADDOW: Brandt Williams, reporter of Minnesota Public Radio, out in the thick of it tonight in downtown Minneapolis -- sir, thank you again for taking time to talk to us. We will be coming back to you in coming days as this develops. Thanks again.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was joined at his press conference today, in a very dramatic moment by the vice president of the Minneapolis city council. Her name is Andrea Jenkins. And when she stepped up to the microphone today with the mayor at this press conference, this is what happened. It was a very, very dramatic moment.



ANDREA JENKINS, MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL VICE PRESIDENT: We feel as if there was a knee on all of our collective necks. A knee that says black life does not matter, to the institutions that dictate what happens in this culture and society.

I am a part of this system to help to take that knee off of our necks.


MADDOW: She is the vice president of the Minneapolis city council, Andrea Jenkins. Ms. Jenkins is the nation`s first openly transgender black woman elected to public office. She has said that she believes Minnesota has some of the worst racial disparities in the country. And that is why she says she sought public office, to try to help change that.

Well, now, in the wake of George Floyd`s death, and the community grief and outrage, Andrea Jenkins is calling on state and local officials to declare racism a public health emergency.

Joining us now is Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis City Council vice president.

Ms. Jenkins, thank you so much for being here, I know it is a whirlwind right now in your city. Thank you for taking the time to be with us.

JENKINS: Thank you, Rachel. Happy to be here.

MADDOW: First, let me just ask you, we`ve seen you speak publicly over the past couple of days, we`ve been watching from afar, watching the streets of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and worrying, frankly, can I just ask, how you are, how you are holding up, and how you think your city is holding up now after what`s been three very, very hard days?

JENKINS: Wow, Rachel, you know, with this opportunity to be on national television, I do want to just take a moment to say, offer my condolences to the Floyd family, the brothers and sisters, the friends, the girlfriend. You know, words cannot express my deep sympathies.

I, like the rest of my community, we`re reeling. We`re in deep pain. We feel that collectively, our lives don`t matter. The very people that we paid to protect and serve our communities, it seems like, you know, I was looking at the overview, as you led up to this story, all of the Philando Castile, the Jamar Clark, the Justine Damond, and there are many more police-involved murders that you didn`t name.

And so, this community has been just really overburdened by being overpoliced, by being disinvested in, and really our cries and calls for justice, have seemingly been ignored. Except in the case of a white woman who was shot by a black police officer, and any police officer who commits a crime should be held accountable and certainly Officer Noor (ph) was being held accountable for his actions and the officers involved in this latest police murder need to be held accountable as well.

I was devastated when I saw the non-press conference, because they didn`t provide any press. There was no news. It simply was a lot of people talking in a microphone.

And so, I know that my community is saying, where are the charges? Why aren`t these officers in jail right now, until you get more evidence, Mr. Freeman -- you know, you saw the video, Rachel, as did the rest of the America, and in fact, the whole world. I`ve been getting calls for media requests from all over the world.

People really just are fed up with this sickness, this virus, that is racism, that is literally killing us. And when I say "us" I mean all of us. All Americans.

MADDOW: Let me ask you about what`s been happening the last three nights in Minneapolis, and in Saint Paul, and we have seen solidarity demonstrations in other cities around the country now, too, but it`s been so intense, in Minneapolis, it looks like it`s going to be another very intense night.

You`ve been so eloquent in calling for people to be constructive and peaceful and not destructive in their protests, but we`ve seen fires set, we have seen violent confrontation, we`ve seen stuff destroyed, we`ve seen stores looted, I guess the question is, whether you think that there is receptiveness among the people who are out in the streets to channeling this in a constructive way, to channel this in the kind of direction that you`ve been calling for, or if you feel like this is still going to burn for another night or more, just because the anger is there, it`s unrelenting, and there is no channeling it?

JENKINS: So, you know, Rachel, I`ve been involved in these rallies, protests, demonstrations, for the past three days. Ninety-eight percent of the people have been peaceful, have been very succinct in their demands for justice, to have these officers arrested, and so, I think the small number of people who are creating the violence and the destruction, and none of these, none of these protesters will be satisfied until we get a charge in this case.

MADDOW: Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis Council vice president, Ms. Jenkins, as you say, I know you have been getting calls from all over the world right now, in part because of your visibility, your leadership, and your eloquence on these issues. I thank you for choosing to talk with us tonight and the whole country is really pulling for Minneapolis tonight. Thank you.

JENKINS: Thank you so much, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right, we got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Joining us now, I`m very pleased to say, is Keith Ellison. He`s former Democratic congressman, former deputy chairman of the National Democratic Party, he is now the duly elected attorney general of the great state of Minnesota, a state that is in absolute turmoil right now with these Twin Crises, a serious coronavirus pandemic that has driven record- high hospitalizations, and today a record high death count and of course the raging protest in the streets of Minnesota`s major cities in the response to the death of George Floyd in police custody on Monday night.

General Ellison, thank you so much for making time to be with us tonight. Thank you.


MADDOW: I -- this is a little bit awkward, because we are in remote cameras, we`re not in studio together, and there is a little bit of a delay, but a little bit of breaking news that I want to present to you, and I`m going to be seeing this at the same time you do, and it is a new video that appears to show a different angle of the arrest of George Floyd, it`s about a 15 second video, NBC News has obtained this, I`m going to be seeing it for the first time here.

If you wouldn`t mind, Mr. Attorney general, watching it with us, and then giving us your response, in terms of how you think this may affect either the case or the community response. Is that OK with you?

ELLISON: Will do.

MADDOW: All right. Here we go. Let`s go ahead and roll that.


GEORGE FLOYD: I can`t breathe, man. Please, please, let me stand (ph). Please, I can`t breathe.


MADDOW: NBC has just obtained this video, we believe that it is a second angle from the video that you have, the whole country, the whole world has now seen, of what appears to have led to George Floyd`s death. You can see in that video one officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd, you can hear him saying he can`t breathe.

The other officers that you can see there, it is sort of unclear to my view if they are kneeling on Mr. Floyd as well or if they`re kneeling next to him.

Mr. Attorney General, I just have to ask your reaction to seeing that second video, and what that may change about our understanding of the case, if anything.

ELLISON: Well, to me, it just confirms what we saw in the first video. It clearly needs to be examined. It clearly needs to be investigated more closely. But as I see that video, it looks like he is in a helpless position, handcuffed. And without any ability to move, and he`s pleading with the officers to bring some relief to him, now that he`s clearly within their custody. So that`s what I see in that video.

MADDOW: Let me ask you, sir, to explain for our viewers the role of various law enforcement agents, including yourself as the top law enforcement official in the state of Minnesota, as the attorney general. We`ve got the Justice Department today, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota saying that this will be a top priority for the federal Justice Department, you have the Hennepin county attorney pleading for patience, while everybody up to and including the mayor of Minneapolis is basically demanding that the county attorney bring charges against this officer.

As state attorney general, what is -- what is your role here? And how do you anticipate your role to change going forward?

ELLISON: Well, I represent every state agency in the state of Minnesota. That includes the Commission of Public Safety which includes the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. So I`m their lawyer. I am the lawyer for the constitutional officers, which includes the governor, and I am a statewide public official, who has a bully pulpit, and is often called upon to offer leadership to the state in various ways.

And so, all of those things I think are what I bring to bear. I will tell the folks listening that in Minnesota, the jurisdiction, primary jurisdiction for a crime is with the county attorney in the county in which the crime is alleged to have occurred, which is why Mike Freeman is the county attorney in this particular case, and the U.S. attorney is also prioritizing this case, and allowing the FBI but they are taking a slightly different look.

The state is looking at just a straight criminal investigation. The federal government is looking at what they call a color of law investigation, which is essentially a civil rights investigation. Did this case occur, did this homicide occur because of some protected class status that Mr. Floyd is in? Like did this happen because he was black?

Now, you know, this will mean, they will have to find evidence this was a motivator, this case was driven by a fact like that. So, that`s the roles everybody plays. The Minneapolis police are not investigating this case. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is a state agency, which does investigations and has now become the place where officer involved death, deadly force encounters with police are investigated not by the local jurisdiction but by the state. So, that the sort of how the landscape is laid out.

And, you know, we play an active role but we`re not directly the prosecuting authority, but we stand ready to help if anyone asks and we are glad to do so because we`re committed to justice in this matter. I may add that myself and the Commission of Public Safety convened a task force on preventing and stopping deadly force encounters with police.

We issued a report in February. That report called for training measures and updates, a new standard of use of force, commitment to sanctity of life, duty to intervene and a whole range of other things, as well. So, call -- convening the task force and calling for systemic change is another thing that we do.

MADDOW: Mr. Attorney General, while we`re talking to you, we`re showing live shots of people tearing down barriers and leaping up on barriers around a precinct house in Minneapolis. We know the scenes in Minneapolis and St. Paul over the last couple nights and what seems to be the still really live brewing anger as we head into night fall tonight is an active thing.

Let me ask you with state attorney general and the bully pulpit that you have, and especially with your history as nationally known official and the way that you have led on these issues, can you, with a full heart and without holding anything back, can you tell the people of Minneapolis, out there in the streets tonight, that the state agency that is going to be doing the investigative work in this as an officer-involved shooting can be trusted and can approach this in a way people should feel confidence in in terms of justice being done?

ELLISON: Let me just say, people have been disappointed in the past and so to tell them to believe in an institution that is disappointed them is a lot to ask of people. What I can tell them is that we have driven and pushed reform in the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. We have demanded they change. We have seen the changes occur.

They can trust that I will be watching like a hawk to make sure that this investigation is vigorous, is thorough, is expeditious and I believe that the Commissioner of Public Safety John Harrington (ph) will do the same and I believe the governor will do the same.

So asking people to believe when they have been let down a lot is a lot to ask but what can we do other than do all that we can and that`s what we`re going to do and I do believe because I believe in the people to hold me accountable and others, I believe that we`re going to get justice in this situation. I can`t have any other belief than that and I have to believe I have reason to believe that, as well.

MADDOW: Keith Ellison, Minnesota state attorney general -- sir, thank you for joining us. This is a very, very intense time. Thanks for taking time to be here with us.

ELLISON: Thank you, my pleasure. Thank you very much.

MADDOW: Let me ask -- appreciate it.

Let me ask control room with the awkward delay. Am I allowed to go to the reporter who I believe I just saw on camera as that was kicking off that police precinct house? Is this still that live shot?

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Rachel, I`m here, you see two police over there and one over there. This is the third precinct right now. Protesters have just reached it. There is a barrier around it that`s come down. They forced it down. They actually made their way into the police station.

You can see there they got inside and then police officers, you can see they are tossing things at the police station. Three police officers emerged with flash bang guns and fired into the crowd. This crowd moved away very quickly.

Now people are slowly moving back and I have to tell you, Rachel, this was completely calm until eight, nine minutes ago until you were talking to the attorney general. Somebody got over the fence and started rattling it and took it down. There was no fence here yesterday, by the way. This is brand- new. This is where the four police officers were stationed and this is where the heart of the protests were. You were looking at an earlier protest was, this is where most of it is.

You can see people continuing to throw things at the building. There is no police presence at all for most of the day without exception of one incident a few hours earlier. We didn`t know there was police still in there and when they breached the precinct, we saw the police come out again. They are now rearming the flash bangs and getting ready to push the crowd back if they come in closer.

But you can see that the third precinct continues to be -- there we go. That`s what`s going on there.

There are protesters here who are still saying despite the conversation you had a little earlier with the mayor that they`ve seen the evidence and they don`t believe there is any reason why the police have not been arrested yet. You can see now this is more like what it was yesterday, tossing things up there. You can see the police on top. They have now retreated and the crowd is now responding to the fact the police are now out of sight.

But they are continuing to fire flash bangs. You can hear that. This is become a very heated environment. There are bottles flying all over the place. And there are still police.

You can see them on top there. They are throwing another flash bang down. This is what was going on yesterday. We did not see this for most of today but the barricade that had kept people from the police precinct has now been breached. The police station has been breached. It does seem that the protesters have come out of there now with a lot of anger right now on the street between the police who are firing those flash bangs and the protesters on this side.

They are also making note of the fact that they don`t want to see the National Guard around here. You have not seen them in this area. I want to ask Miguel to turn around.

This is AutoZone completely burned down. Several buildings down there completely burned down. There is still a fire burning in the parking lot of the target over here. A caret was set on fire. They threw the pressure washer into the fire and he retrieved it.

This is the target the whole day. This is where the crowds have been and speeches have been. This has been breached.

The third precinct with the police officers fired for their involvement in the death of George Floyd were stationed here and they, the police are trying to hold on to this. There`s no operations going on here. There are no police cars anywhere around -- there are no police cars anywhere but there are obviously police in there.

We`ve seen three responding to this crowd right now. As you can see, the crowd is angry, they are protesting but it has been peaceful here all day. There has not been tension. This is the situation we got.

I don`t know what happens next. The perimeter has been breached. We have police on the ground, Miguel. They are firing from the corner of the building of the precinct where the perimeter has been breached. You can see the flash bangs all around.

This is the first time all day that we have seen police on the ground. You can see them now aiming the flash bangs. We have three police officers clearly in sight right now and we do have protesters approaching them.

So despite the fact there are police there, the protesters are banking on the fact that the police will not use live fire. You will remember last night they used rubber bullets and tear gas. It`s windy today. There is no tear gas in the air. There is tables set up around here with provisions including people who think that milk helps offset that.

We have more flash bangs coming now, a fair amount of activity. The police are firing in this direction. I want to ask Miguel to be careful. We have four, five police at the corner pushing protesters back.

It appears the most logical thing to happen is the police will do what they did last night. They will create and stand near each other and push the crowds back and determine that the crowds are not going to continue to push forward, however, I don`t know, we don`t have any tear gas, just smoke at the moment. Last night it was tear gas which is what disbursed the crowds.

We got a canister that we got a canister down there. I think we`ll start to see smoke coming this way. That`s the situation as we have it now. It seems to have calmed down for the moment.

This is the third precinct. This is in south Minneapolis. It is about some distance from where George Floyd was apprehended on Monday and where he passed. But this has been the biggest center of attention right now.

Again, I`ll bring you up to speed. There are now a group of police officers who have assembled at the corner of the third precinct on ground level. For hours, we`ve not seen police here. A lot of tension as you can see, in the crowd, Rachel.

MADDOW: Ali Velshi on the scene for us outside the third precinct in Minneapolis.

Ali, we will stay with you and keep that shot live again this is south Minneapolis. The third police precinct as Ali was saying this is the site of a lot of peaceful protests over the course of the entire day. While we were speaking live with the attorney general from the state, Keith Ellison, we saw somebody get up on the fence and the police precinct and not being used operationally, they have boarded up, boarded up over the windows.

We did see that perimeter get breached. We saw rocks and other things being thrown at the building. We saw police merge and firing flash bang grenades, which are basically fireworks, not exactly true. Not like they were firing grenades designed to fragment and cause shrapnel and injure you. The flash bangs grenades which are designed to be loud and something to make you leave the area.

We saw live there those having diminishing returns as police continue to do that from the roof. Now they are down on the ground floor, as well and that situation seems to be devolving quickly in south Minneapolis. Again, this is the third night of protest after the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, father of two in police custody as police officer kneeled on his neck. County attorney says he`s considering whether or not criminal charges should be brought against the officers involved there but he pleaded for patience while he makes those charging decisions, patience not in abundant supply tonight in the streets of Minneapolis.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Our coverage continues.


Good evening, Lawrence.

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