Minneapolis protests TRANSCRIPT: 5/29/20, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Angela Conley, Val Demings, Melvin Carter, Vanita Gupta

  CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": This is our moonshot, Ashish, we got to do this. Let`s get the schools, get them back into the schools. Love my kids, but let`s get them -- get them back into the schools.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Ashish Jha, thank you --

DR. ASHISH JHA, HARVARD GLOBAL INSTITUTE: Can`t even keep our schools open, what are you doing? So --

HAYES: Yes, thank you. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

JHA: Thank you.

HAYES: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.

Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour.

As we come on the air tonight, a mandatory curfew has just this minute gone into effect, for the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, in Minnesota. This is a live shot of what we are looking at tonight in Minneapolis. And so, the curfew is not having its desired effect, at least yet.

The decision to announce this curfew to put these cities effectively under lockdown overnight tonight follows three straight nights of anguished and increasingly violent protests during which local authorities have struggled to maintain any semblance of control. It also comes on the same day that both murder and manslaughter charges were announced against the police officer who was seen kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, 46-year-old unarmed black man, father of two, who died after repeatedly pleading for his life from that officer and that officer`s colleagues on the scene. He was saying explicitly he could not breathe.

Again, the officer seen kneeling on Mr. Floyd`s neck has been charged with murder and manslaughter today. He is in custody. He has been arrested.

State and local authorities are apparently hoping that by imposing this mandatory curfew, a fairly drastic measure tonight, I think they`re hoping they will be able to lower the collective blood pressure in Minneapolis and in the Minnesota capital of St. Paul, neighboring city.

We have learned late tonight that a number of neighboring cities and counties around Minneapolis and St. Paul proper have also instituted curfews along the same lines as what we`re seeing in the twin cities tonight so it will that whole region of the state under what is effectively a very strict stay-at-home order tonight. As I say those curfews went into effect just moments ago, about two minutes ago, at the top of the hour, 9:00 p.m. eastern, 8:00 p.m. local time. The curfew extends from now until 6:00 a.m. local time tomorrow morning.

Both St. Paul and Minneapolis and as I mentioned again, surrounding counties and towns, have announced that this curfew will be in effect tonight, again 8:00 p.m. local time, 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, and we believe in Minneapolis and St. Paul that will be in effect again tomorrow night, same time, same restrictions.

According to the public orders that detail the terms of the curfew, while it`s in effect, people are banned from traveling on public streets or gathering in public places. The exemptions are people traveling to and from work during those hours. First responders, members of the media, people fleeing danger, or seeking urgent care, also people who are homeless and therefore have nowhere to go, they are exempt from the order, too, but otherwise, nobody is supposed to be out on the streets as of now.

Violations of the curfew are punishable by 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine but it now becomes an acute and present question as to how this curfew will be enforced. Earlier tonight, Minnesota`s governor, Tim Walz, signed his own executive order expanding on the guidance issued by the mayors of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minneapolis and St. Paul. He said peace officers will be on hand to enforce the curfew and to arrest people who don`t comply with it. That term, peace officers, allows the governor to sort of ally the specific question of which law enforcement and public safety agencies are going to be enforcing this curfew and how they`re going to do so. There are certainly a number of different authorities on the ground that we`ve been seeing over the course of today and into tonight, including the National Guard, out on the streets now.

National Guard interestingly put out public guidance today, reminding the public that they`re distinguishable from local law enforcement. You can tell they`re National Guard and not local police because they`re wearing military camouflage fatigues but because they wear U.S. army and air force patches and guardsmen and guards women have the U.S. flag on their sleeve. In a city burning with rage over the actions of the local police force, a different armed force on the street amid all of those protesters, wants to be sure people know that they`re not the cops who people are so mad at right now.

The National Guard is not supposed to be used to arrest people in the streets tonight. They are charged specifically with protecting the state capitol building, should protests devolve there in St. Paul. They are providing security for two different law enforcement buildings in St. Paul, so officers can basically stay on the job.

The National Guard is also tasked with escorting fire department personnel. So the fire department can respond to fires and other emergencies throughout the area, firefighters have been attacked when they have turned up to put out some of the many, many building fires that have been sent in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Earlier today, as I mentioned, the Hennepin County district attorney announced that the officer seen pinning George Floyd to the ground with his knee, that officer has been charged. Third degree murder and second-degree manslaughter are the charges. Those charges hold maximum penalties of 25 years and ten years in prison respectively.

The criminal complaint released along with the charges shows that the officer or alleges that the officer had his knee on George Floyd`s neck for close to nine minutes, eight minutes and 46 seconds. According to the complaint, the officer allegedly held that position for nearly three minutes after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive and stopped moving, even after one of the other officers on the scene reportedly, allegedly, felt George Floyd`s wrist for a pulse, and found none. Nevertheless, the officer who was charged today, according to the criminal complaint, kept his knee on Floyd`s neck for more than two minutes after that time, after they found that he did not have a pulse.

The county attorney who brought these charges today says the other three officers involved in the arrest are still under investigation. And that charges against them are anticipated as well.

But today`s charges against the officer at the lead of this arrest comes less than 24 hours after that same county attorney`s office said they needed more time to build their case, to make sure that these charges were warranted. That announcement, the failure to charge yesterday, seemed to provide accelerant to the protest last night in the Twin Cities, that are now spreading throughout the country, it means we really don`t know what to expect tonight in the twin cities but again, a mandatory curfew is in effect in Minneapolis and in St. Paul and the surrounding counties and towns.

I want to go to now live to my colleague and my friend Ali Velshi who was with us last night when things turned very ugly in the third police precinct and narrated through that as officers through flash grenades and tear gas.

Ali, what are you seeing now and where are you?

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Tear gas canisters are all over the place, Rachel. There`s been tear gas deployed. The police have spent the entire day cordoning off this area, putting the barriers in place.

And they have now been pushed all the way back here. You can see the crowd, constantly running back, and then pushing forward again. There are people moving forward in this crowd, Rachel.

In tear gas, without gas protection. I got to tell you, just to be able to breathe, a little bit of the gas gets in your skin, there are people there, they are exposed to tear gas. We don`t know what the end game is here.

At about ten minutes before the curfew, there are announcements that said you are in violation of your right to assemble, and unlawful violation and will be arrested and police walked back together. And now, they are completely disengaged. And they have gone back toward the overpass.

This is the police station that was taken last night. The police put barricades in front of it. Put the fence back up. And now it is all gone again. They`re back, the protesters are now here again, the police are flashing red lights and you can see the tear gas in the air right now.

So we`re not sure what they`re planning to do. This is a standoff now. The crowd has become much, much bigger over the last 90 minutes and we now have the National Guard and the police working together firing tear gas canisters which are still hot to the touch into the crowd -- Rachel.

MADDOW: Ali, you can tell us anything about how the national guard and police are working together? Are they a totally integrated force? Are they separate? And what kind of numbers are you able to see them out there on the streets tonight?

VELSHI: So, there are no Minneapolis police in front of us. It`s only state police, some other police forces and the National Guard. Typically, the National Guard has been at the sides and to the back, but in the last hour, as protesters started to approach the police, and integrated their lines, the National Guard closed ranks with them and filled in the spaces in between.

But it was obvious that the crowd has been sent the message. They will not disperse. And they didn`t wait until 8:00 local time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. It was about ten minutes before that. They`re firing the tear gas began and the police and the National Guard retreated.

Now, again, we don`t know where they`re going. We don`t know what is happening here. We`re trying to be as close to it, and not being in the middle of it too much but people are not being deterred, Rachel. They are walking toward tear gas right now, which last night they were deterred by. So something has happened. The crowd keeps on going and we can turn around and see people behind us, hundreds of people streaming toward us.

So what looked like a situation that the authorities had tried to get under control, for much of the day, allowing firefighters in to put out the fires, that had ended. And look at this, Rachel, it`s not, it`s not a protest, it`s a march, it`s a slow march. And we`re not seeing any violence right now.

But they`re walking backward, then they go toward the authorities. And that round of tear gas is basically at the demarcation line. Behind that, are the National Guard and the police, on the other side of the protesters, Rachel.

MADDOW: Ali, let me ask you, are the police and the National Guard, as they are there, are they defending a position, or are they trying to prevent marchers from going to a specific place? Or is this essentially them trying to create a perimeter to encircle the protesters?

VELSHI: We had the perimeter all day. They had managed, it seemed like the perimeter was around the police station, keep everybody two or three blocks away from it because that this is the center of activity for several days, this is the police station, in which those police officers involved in George Floyd`s death were based.

That, I don`t know what the objective is now. The point was, that they had a curfew, at 8:00 p.m. local time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, after which time you were not going to be out and you were going to be arrested. It`s not clear now what`s happening. Something has developed over here. It is not clear what`s happening.

We were surprised to the National Guard and the police, completely retreat. And walk backward entirely. It is not clear what they`re defending at this point. It does seem clear that the strategic decision was made yesterday, it has carried on to today, that police and the National Guard are not engaging with the protesters. And the protesters are giving out wooden shields to people to defend themselves against the police but we have seen no interaction between protesters and police despite a lot of taunting and agitation and hostility today, there is no direct contact.

So, this is what`s happening right now. At the moment, no direct contact. But the protesters seem to be moving forward. You can hear the loudspeaker. Just listen to that.

Saying you`re in violation. And you will be arrested. But there is no apparent arrests being made right now. You can see the tear gas becoming quite thick. Without a gas mask, this is very hard to exist in. That is what the police are hoping that the gas will stop people.

MADDOW: Let me ask you, Ali, I want to give you a chance to catch your breath and get your bearings in terms of your crew, but I`m going to ask one other thing before I let you do that, which is over the past three days, what we have been seen and what we`ve been able to describe is, basically, big peaceful protests, that didn`t seem like they were heading toward violence, every day, on Tuesday night, on Wednesday nice, on Thursday night, and until usually late at night, usually after dark, something clicked and things got much more confrontational.

I`m getting a different vibe from watching you right now in terms of how confrontational it is already, and it doesn`t feel like it`s shifting from one type of protest to another. That`s my view from here. But what`s your sense on the ground of that?

VELSHI: Look, there has been certainly some of that, most of the day, it was protests, speeches, definitely some animosity between the police and the protests, and in the last hour or so, it has changed. People are talking about tactics, about how they can stand together, should the police, what to do, what not to do, they are handing out milk jugs, which people believe pouring on your face after tear gas will help mitigate the effects.

There is definitely a sense over the last hour or so that this is going to be confrontational. And we`ve got masks to protect ourselves. But if I took this off for ten seconds, it would be burning my eyes and my throat. And that`s what you`re seeing a lot of the protesters are withstanding and literally going out with milk cans, (INAUDIBLE) to protect themselves.

So, the protesters seem to be indicating that they`re not shying away from a confrontation now, but you can see now people are streaming in this direction again because of the heavy crowd of tear gas. Unlike last night, Rachel, which is windy, there is very little wind here. So, this tear gas is hanging here, and people are having to move away in order to get out of it.

MADDOW: Yes, and as the police continue to use more and more and as that gets thicker and thicker, that may make it a more hostile event to keep standing there especially with cloth masks.

Ali, keep you and your crew safe tonight. We`ll be checking in with you. Ping us as soon as you need us to get to you, OK, my friend.

Ali Velshi on the scene for us tonight in Minneapolis.

What he is describing in terms of the use of tear gas, obviously, we can, there is not smoke, this is tear gas deployed by the police per Ali`s reporting, and for that duration of the time that we were talking to Ali about, we saw a lot of people, while the tear gas was lighter, moving in that area, with either just cloth masks on or no masks on, and now, it does seem to be having the effect that the police were trying to create, which was to render that part of the street as a place where people can`t stand and can`t stay.

Again, within the last 15 minutes, Minneapolis St. Paul, surrounding towns and counties, have gone into what is supposed to a legally binding curfew, where nobody is supposed be on the street. Between 8:00 p.m. local time and 6:00 a.m., local time tomorrow. There are obviously still a lot of people out on the street.

Joining us now is Angela Conley. She serves as a member of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. I should tell you that she was the first African American commissioner ever elected to that board. She represents the neighborhood where George Floyd was killed. She also lives just five blocks away from the place that he was killed specifically.

Commissioner Conley, it is a real honor to have you with us tonight. Thank you for taking the time.

ANGEL CONLEY, HENNEPIN COUNTY BOARD OF COMISSIONERS: Thank you so much for having me.

MADDOW: Let me just ask you about the immediate situation right now, we`re about 15 or 16 minutes into what is supposed to be a curfew on the streets of the Twin Cities tonight. Obviously, a lot of protesters are still out, and still very fired up, and seeming to be showing no intention of leaving.

What`s your reaction, your feeling about the curfew tonight and your expectations for the enforcement of that, and what that might mean over the course of these next few hours?

CONLEY: Well, I think the first thing that is on my mind is whether this is going to lead to mass arrests. And what we don`t need is hundreds of people being arrested, being shot at, because of the force that we see out there right now, with the National Guard and the state patrol.

What I`m also concerned about is that on the corner of 38th and Chicago, five blocks from my front door, where George Floyd was murdered, we have people who have been holding that space, it is a sacred space right now, and have been holding that intersection down. These are people who are peaceful, who are there to pray, who are there to contribute to his memorial, and to sing and to feed people who come by.

So there is a lot of community building that is happening throughout the city, aside from what we`re seeing right now, that I want to see protected. Overnight, all week, 24 hours, people have been protecting this space on 38th and Chicago. And I don`t want that to be disrupted either. I don`t want to see those people face a police presence, because so far, there hasn`t been a police presence on that corner. And that corner is very significant to our community right now, and we want to keep it safe. We want to keep it that way.

MADDOW: Let me ask, as the county commissioner who represents the part of the city where that has happened, has there been any -- have you been able to try to negotiate or open any sort of dialogue about carving out that space, as you described it, that sacred space, as an exemption from the curfew, or at least coming to some accommodation about perhaps allowing people to stay there, in the kind of environment that you were just describing, peaceful environment that you were just describing, even as every place else is locked down with the curfew.

CONLEY: Right. You know, I`m not expecting any special treatment. I have just got off the phone with Mayor Frey before, before this segment here, and my ask with that, there are people who are peacefully demonstrating, peacefully expressing their grievances, with their government, as protected, and it`s not, you know, it`s not violent. It`s not aggressive. This is people showing love for each other.

And that intersection, five blocks away, with I`ve been, all week long, is not a threat to the city of Minneapolis, it`s not a threat to armed forces. It`s not a threat. It`s love of community.

I want to see that space protected. And I don`t want to see any squad cars show up and intimidate people that are mourning at that intersection right now.

MADDOW: There`s been a lot of national speculation and anticipation about how the news of the arrest of this officer and now murder charges against this officer might be greeted, how that news might be received on the streets of Minneapolis, and particularly in your community, literally, as you say, five blocks, you are talking to us right now, five blocks from where this killing happened.

What do you think has been the impact of the announcement of that arrest, the announcement of those charges? What`s your reaction to looking at that criminal complaint and knowing that these charges have now been filed?

CONLEY: So what I`ll say to that is immediately, after the charges were filed, I knew that we were missing three other accessories, to murder, and so what the community has been saying, this isn`t justice, of course, he should have been arrested, because we all saw on video that he murdered a man, but there are they other people who are also responsible for his death. And so unless all four officers are brought to justice, it`s not considered justice in our community.

We need to be able to see charges brought on all four officers who were involved in the brutal killing, the brutal murder of George Floyd. Minnesota statute says that people who are with someone who commits a crime, such as murder, can be considered accessories to that murder, an because of which, you know, because of that very definition, they should receive the same punishment as the officer who had his knee dug into the throat of George Floyd.

So, while we see an arrest, as a first step and progress, it is certainly not enough. Our community will not be satisfied until all of those officers, all four of those officers are arrested, charged, and convicted.

MADDOW: While we`ve been talking with you tonight, we`re showing live images of some of what is happening in the streets, we are seeing police using what appears to be very large amounts of tear gas, to try to disperse very large numbers of people, who are not willing to be disbursed tonight. And this happens in the context of this new curfew, but this also happens as night four of what has been just absolutely anguish, and at times violent and at times dangerous very impassioned protests.

I just want to ask you, while I have you here, if you have words tonight for the people of your city, for the people of your community, who are in pain, and angered and also perhaps worried about what they`re seeing in the streets tonight.

CONLEY: I want everyone to know that they are so loved. And there are so many people that are looking out for them, and thinking of them, across the globe. We are in mourning. We are (AUDIO GAP) in various stages of grief, we hear you.

And I want people to think about what happened Monday night, what happened to all of our psyches, what happened to our mental health, what happened to the families of George Floyd, and what happened to George Floyd, and know that is murder, and we want swift justice.

(AUDIO GAP)

MADDOW: We just lost the feed from Commissioner Angela Conley at an incredibly inopportune time. Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley we`re just speaking with. I`m sorry we lost that feed. She is the county commissioner who represents the area where George Floyd was killed.

She lives and was speaking to us from about five blocks from that location, raising an interesting point tonight, that in the context of this curfew, which we have assuming that local authorities are trying to enforce here, there`s supposed to be a curfew that should result in nobody being on the streets in Minneapolis/St. Paul about 25 minutes ago, she is raising the issue about the fact that community members have created a space at the location where George Floyd died, and they have been holding that intersection peacefully, as a nonviolent site, as what she describes, basically a sacred site.

And there`s, to the extent that the curfew is going to result in a removal of those people who are holding that space, that could also not be a flashpoint but could be an important psychological touchstone in terms of what we`re going to watch happen tonight.

While we are seeing these confrontations tonight, we`re seeing a lot of use of tear gas tonight. I believe that we can, correct me if I`m wrong, control room, I believe we can go to bring in Morgan Chesky, if he`s available to us? We spoke with Ali Velshi moments ago just on the edges of this tear glass cloud from the state police and national guardsmen who are out trying to clear the streets.

Morgan Chesky is NBC News correspondent. He was also on the ground in Minneapolis.

Morgan, tell us where you are and what you`re seeing.

MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Rachel, we are back, a block away from the third precinct police station. That has been the epicenter for all of this chaos the past several days. The curfew will effect, as you mentioned, at 8:00 clock tonight.

But as you can see, people are staying put. There are several hundred people are gathering here in fact, and that is tear gas canisters being fired this way.

(INAUDIBLE)

CHESKY: That crowd continuing to move down the roadway here. This is actually moving away from the area where they were last night.

So, Rachel, we do know that 8:00 curfew is set into effect to last until 6:00 a.m. in the morning. However, at this point in time, any actual enforcement besides tear gas canisters has yet to be seen -- Rachel.

MADDOW: Morgan, we can only occasionally hear you over the ambient noise of what is going on around you. If you and your crew could just, if you can hear me, if you and your crew could just do a little bit of a 360, or a 270, and show us a little bit, ambiently, in terms of what we are seeing around you. If you could just spin, if your camera operator, thank you very much, so we can see a little bit more about what is happening besides you.

We`re trying to get a sense of the volume of people on the street, where people are coming from, where they`re trying to head to, and where they are ultimately going to run up against those police. That`s helpful for us getting a sense of seeing what is happening there.

Again, what we are watching for here. I was able to describe this earlier, and I can`t -- I mean, me narrating this for you, you probably understand as best as I can, but that -- what you can see there is that sort of underpass there, we believe there is where both state police and national guard have essentially formed a line to not have people passing. And this is not far from the third precinct in Minneapolis that we saw attacked, overrun and ultimately set aflame last night.

But these protesters are essentially walking away from the precinct house toward police and national guardsmen and women who are out in the streets tonight supposedly imposing this curfew but as of yet ineffectually.

Let`s ask the control room now, do we have Congresswoman Demings who we could talk to now? Is she standing by? Can we bring her into this conversation?

This is the perfect time. I`m honored to be able to bring into this conversation, Congresswoman Val Demings, who has a decades long career under her belt as a police officer, culminating in her time as the chief of police, for the great city of Orlando, Florida.

Congresswoman Demings, it is an honor to have you here tonight. Thank you for taking the time.

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Hi, Rachel. Thank you for the invitation.

MADDOW: Let me ask you, from where you are, speaking to us tonight, are you able to see the same images and hear these same things that we`re able to see that we`re broadcasting right now while we`re talking to you?

DEMINGS: I certainly am. I`ve been watching for a while. And it`s just a sad time for America, as you well know, but you know, Rachel, as I`ve been watching these images and certainly, I`ve seen, over the last three days, really, what was been going on, you know, there`s a quote from Dr. King that says a riot is the language of the unheard.

And so, you know, so people will take to the street, and do what they feel they need to do, to be heard, and to be noticed, and to get attention in a very serious matter. What happened to Mr. Floyd should not have happened. And so, it`s a sad time, but these are familiar images.

MADDOW: Let me ask you, from a policing perspective, if you could just reflect for us the challenges of what`s happening in these images, showing these live images constantly from Minneapolis right now where our correspondents are in the midst of this. We also just show some images moments ago, those were also live images from Atlanta.

As a former police chief of a very good-sized American city, thinking about the challenges of trying to enforce a curfew tonight that they have put in place in the Twin Cities, thinking about the challenges of trying to enforce some sort of order in cities that are lit up right now and enraged, and where they have been multiple nights and at times violent protests, what do you think we should take into these as national principles in terms of effective and justice-based policing?

DEMINGS: Well, Rachel, you know the safety and security of individuals is the top concern tonight, and during this time in our nation. And I do think it is important to make sure that people are safe and secure, but that they`re also permitted to peacefully and lawfully demonstrate their frustration, express their views -- and really, you know, we put plans in place all the time, but every plan should be flexible and I think should be fluid.

What happened a couple of days ago, as I said, was a tragedy, that should not have happen, and it`s painfully familiar from an incident that occurred in New York not too many years ago. I do like the idea of designating a location that has significant meaning for individuals to peacefully be able to gather and express their First Amendment rights. As long as it`s done lawfully, peacefully, and without a threat to human life, and so, I know that the city has taken the steps to, you know, based on the circumstances that they have there on the ground, but I do think they should consider how can they allow the protesters to, obviously who are very frustrated, with good reason, to be able to protest, but do it safely, and peacefully.

MADDOW: We are seeing fraught moments of confrontation right now in Atlanta. These live shots that we`re showing, protesters, eyeball to eyeball, right up in the face of riot police -- police officers in riot gear, with their face masks. It`s -- I mean, part of what is going on here is that we are looking through this with two different eyes, one of which is about this incredible pain and grief and outrage in our country and the danger of these -- the danger some of these protests that have been violent, we`re also looking at through another eye that sees this in terms of the ongoing pandemic, and people`s risk of infection, and whether or not people are wearing masks and what masks mean in this context.

Given the stakes and given the anxiety here, when the president effectively threatened military violence against protesters today, when he said what he said online, about looting and shooting, and then in the same breath talked about calling in the military, to deal with protests, I have to ask your reaction to that, and if you think that might make things worse tonight?

DEMINGS: Rachel, this president has had opportunity after opportunity to rise to an occasion in this country, and he`s failed every time. And yet again, he`s demonstrated that he is totally unfit for the office that he holds.

As we`re going through this public health crisis, with COVID-19, as we certainly all are watching and grieving with the Floyd family, America is on fire right now. And the president of the United States is walking around with gasoline.

Presidents during these times are supposed to address the nation, and exhibit strong leadership, and be a unifier, and a bridge-builder, and he`s supposed to do so in a compassionate and caring way, expressing his sympathy and empathy, for the loss that has occurred, and he just cannot. He`s incapable of rising to the occasion. So what he did today to suggest that property is more valuable than human life is disgraceful.

MADDOW: Florida Congresswoman Val Demings, former police chief of Orlando, Florida, Congressman Demings, thank you very much for being with us tonight. You`ve got really unique insight, and it`s an honor to have you here.

DEMINGS: Thank you so much, Rachel. Take care.

MADDOW: I would be remiss if I did not mention that Congressman Demings has also been reported to be under consideration as a possibility vice presidential running mate for Vice President Joe Biden and his presidential campaign this fall.

As we`ve been watching these live images tonight from the Twin Cities, from Minneapolis, and St. Paul, we`ve also started to look around at cities around the country that are also having some pretty intense protests tonight.

We just saw a lot of footage from Atlanta, where there is intense standoff going on between armed riot police and protesters, who are eyeball to eyeball with them right now.

This is Sacramento, California, the capital city of California, where we`re seeing protest.

We`re also keeping an eye on cities around the country tonight. There were significant protests in Louisville, Kentucky, last night, in denier, Colorado, and a number of other cities. We`re going to be watching these as they continue to unfold.

What these protests are, in some cases, for example, in Louisville, last night, that was a protest about a young woman, a young African-American woman, who was killed in her home by Louisville police, several months ago. Obviously, that is a protest that dovetails with these concerns about George Floyd`s death, in Minneapolis.

Protests are taking on local grievances that are parallel with the grievances of the community in Minneapolis that is grieving George Floyd. And so, these protests are essentially in solidarity, I think you can see this as a another night of national protests but in so many cities in this country, there are individual local people who have been killed by police who are being mourned and grieved, and whose deaths are being grieved with local anger that is specific to the dynamics in those communities. And that is going to fuel a lot of what happens both tonight and I think through the weekend and in coming days.

I want to bring now into the conversation our friend Ali Velshi who is -- excuse me, let me ask the control room, do you guys -- is Ali available? OK.

I have to ask you at home to forgive me. This is a developing story. Ali, tell me what`s going on right now and what you`re seeing.

VELSHI: I have my mask off, as you can see. There are protesters in front of me, moving, more than a mile from where we started, there is no tear gas to be seen, there are no police to be seen, and there is no National Guard to be seen. For whatever has happened here, that day-long effort to establish a perimeter is gone, the effort to maintain a curfew at 8:00 p.m. our time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, has failed. These protesters now in a much larger numbers than we saw earlier today, and quite possibly than I saw last night are just moving along, in the direction that the police and the National Guard retreated.

There is no, we don`t see police on high ground, we saw them earlier on a bridge, we don`t see that anymore. So, it is unclear what the plan is, these people are just walking at the moment. It is unclear whether the city has a plan to enforce this curfew.

There were conditioned announcements while I was on the air with you, from the police saying that you`re in violation of the curfew, and you will be arrested. They do not appear to have been any arrests made. There do not appear to be any confrontations with police.

So, we`re well behind the line. But we`re getting up to the front of it, and there is no police presence here, Rachel.

MADDOW: So just to be clear, Ali, so I understand what you`re sighing, where you`re walking right now is past the point that police and the national guard appeared to be defending and pushing people back from when we were talking to you moments ago. They left. And so, the crowd is just continuing in the direction from which the guard and police were retreated?

VELSHI: We`re half a mile from where we were the last time that you and I talked. And we are probably a full mile from where the police have been defending their line all day. And there seems to be no slowing up. There is no sign of tear gas. There are no more flash bangs. The last explosion of something I heard was over ten minutes ago.

So, again, unclear whether these protesters are just walking to show that they are not going to pay attention to this curfew unless three more arrests are made, that seems to be the sentiment that is growing here, or they`re being able to tell the police and the National Guard that your curfew isn`t going to work.

So at the moment, people are just walking, it seems at this moment, to have broken up as a protest, it`s a walk. People are walking. And not being stopped by police. Not being stopped by National Guard. Keeping an eye out just to see, but there is not any police or official presence around, Rachel.

MADDOW: Ali Velshi, we will stick with you over the course of this hour. Keep us apprised, my friend.

Ali, again, in the streets of Minneapolis right now.

I want to bring into the conversation right now the mayor of the great American city of St. Paul, Minnesota, Melvin Carter.

Mayor Carter is born and raised in St. Paul, served on the city council. He was elected as city`s first African-American mayor three years ago in 2017.

Mr. Mayor, it is an incredibly difficult night in your city. Thank you for taking the time to be with us for a couple of minutes.

MAYOR MELVIN CARTER, ST. PAUL, MN: Thank you so much. It is an incredibly difficult week. It is an incredibly difficult year in our city and in our country right now.

MADDOW: Let me ask you about the immediate situation on the streets right now. You and your fellow mayor of Minneapolis, Mayor Frey, announced curfews today, that would have gone into effect within the past hour, and should have kept people off the streets by the letter of the you can few until 6:00 a.m. local tomorrow morning, and people are clearly in the street.

How is this going to work? What do you anticipate? How is it going to be enforced, if it is?

CARTER: You know, we`re looking at that right now. Obviously, there is an enormous amount of rage, the scenes that you`re seeing in Minneapolis and across the country right now, reflecting an enormous amount of rage. I want to acknowledge understandable rage at this disgusting video of the killing of George Floyd. The knowledge that he`s not the first person, he`s not the first man, he`s not the first name, he`s not the first hashtag, and this is the first time we changed justice for somebody, and not knowing that we have the confidence, based on any historical fact, that somebody is going to be accountable in our court and through our judicial system for that.

We`re seeing an enormous amount of rage. Unfortunately, it is manifesting in some horribly destructive and horribly negative ways that don`t help us build the type of future that we want for our families and our children. Our goals are really paramount right now. We have been working last night and throughout the day today, through our law enforcement, and community partners to both preserve the right for those protesters, the people who want to peacefully shout to the rooftops that George Floyd should still be alive, that those officers should be in jail and then we have to do everything we can to prevent this from ever happening again, and we want to do that peacefully, we want to protect their right to peacefully say those things. We want to protect the life and health and public safety, and ensure that we are avoiding human injury, and any chance that we can get, and those two things have to go together.

We`re working with our police officers, we`re working with our national guard, our first responders, to be able to implement the executive orders that we put into place, I think with some knowledge that not everybody is going to know about it, when we first, on this first day of implementation. And there will be some people, as you`re saying, who are going to ignore it. Hopefully, it gives our police officers, law enforcement agency, and first responders another tool to use, to help us restore calm in our cities.

MADDOW: It`s not just some people, Mr. Mayor. There`s more people out than at this time tonight, than there may have been this time last night, according to our correspondents on the ground. I mean, if the curfew can`t be enforced, without massive confrontation, will you abandon it? Should you abandon it?

CARTER: You know, I won`t try to speculate on any of those things, you`re right there, is a lot of people out, there is a lot of anger, and that anger is spilling over, and we`re seeing, hopefully, it is mitigated a little bit, by the one officer who was arrested today, and taken into custody. We all know there were four officers involved. And we want to see all four of them held accountable for their actions. It`s going to be difficult to quell some of that anger that exists across our country, and in Minneapolis right now, until we start to see that when something as egregious, something as blatant, something as obvious and something as well-documented as Mr. Floyd`s death happens, that somebody is going to be held accountable.

We`re using all of the tools that we have available to us and at some point this challenge that has included deaths nationwide, over the course of at least the last decade, but the truth is, the only thing that is changed in the last decade is camera phones, so our grandmothers an aunties will tell us this is happening for generations. This anger is boiling over and it`s going to be hard for any American mayor singlehandedly to stop it, outside of us figuring out as a nation how we ensure that we`re addressing not only the how people are protesting but the why people are protesting as well.

MADDOW: Well, we have been talking, while we have been talking, we have been seeing images of intense and at times physically confrontational protests happening right now, as we speak, in Las Vegas, and in Atlanta, we`ve seen large crowds, marching in Sacramento, and we`ve got Sacramento spelled wrong on the chyron there, if you guys could fix that. Also, Brooklyn, New York, we`re starting to see kick off a little bit.

One of the things, Mr. Mayor, that we`re sort of anticipating or thinking about how it may affect these things going forward, in your city, and in Minneapolis, and around the country, is both the question of whether or not there are going to be additional charges, whether the other three officers will be charged, we don`t yet know, the county attorney says he anticipates additional charges, but the other question raised by me from the criminal complaint is whether or not we will see the body camera video from these officers, that the complaint spelled out that they had body cameras on them and they were running and that inquires there is more very up close footage of Mr. Floyd`s death, of him being killed by these officers.

Do you anticipate that that footage will be made public?

CARTER: I sure hope so. I think we`ve set a precedence. Obviously that was the Minneapolis police department. But between Mayor Frey and Minneapolis and I, he and I have been very adamant that at times of these types of crisis, that we need to make those body camera videos available, as soon as we`re able to do that. Those things should be public information.

And so, you know, I think we ought to be erring on the side of transparency. We ought to be airing on the side of account ability and that can feel difficult, that can feel challenging in the moment. But in the long term, this is about the covenant that has to exist, that covenant of trust that has to exist between law enforcement and community.

My father is a retired St. Paul police officer. I have literally been hearing about that covenant every day of my life since I was very, very young. It is absolutely critical. And we have to maintain that covenant, we have to earn that trust.

The events of this week have set us back, not just in Minneapolis Police Department, but the events this week that have sent every American police department back years, they have spent a whole lot of time, we have a fantastic chief of police. We have a great police department who works hard to build trust. Our police chief always talks about the bank of trust and the fact that you have to make deposits for years before you find yourself able to make a withdrawal.

He asks our police officers every day three questions, were your actions reasonable, were they necessary, were they done with respect? And if so, we`re doing all right.

But as you know, a trust that takes a lifetime to be built can be broken in a moment and that`s what we`re seeing this week.

MADDOW: The mayor of the great American city of St. Paul, Minnesota, Melvin Carter, as he mentioned there, son of a St. Paul police officer himself, the first African-American mayor of St. Paul -- Mr. Mayor, the whole country is pulling for you, the eyes of the nation are upon you and your fellow citizens tonight, but everybody is pulling for you. Thanks for being with us tonight.

CARTER: Thanks for having me on.

MADDOW: All right, joining us now, I believe we can get over to Atlanta, to our camera in Atlanta. Periodically, over the course of this evening, we have been watching intense and emotional scenes in Atlanta, on the ground for us is NBC News correspondent Blayne Alexander, this is on the ground in Atlanta just outside the CNN Center there.

Blayne, thanks so much for being with us. Tell us where you are and what you`re seeing.

BLAYNE ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Rachel, I`m just a few, essentially right down that block is where the main entrance to the CNN Center is. And you can see, that right down that block is where you`re seeing the concentration of police activity. We`re seeing a lot of flashing lights.

I got to say, within the past 15 minutes or so, Rachel, we`ve really saw kind of an explosion of activity. Up until this point we have seen a number of protesters gathered in that area. That`s where this evening, we have seen the CNN Center, windows broken, the sign defaced.

At a separate entrance over my shoulder, there were videos over social media, of a police line standing inside, blocking protesters to keep them from getting in and some of them throwing lit fireworks at police officers. So, really, this situation has completely dissolved.

I have been out here since before 4:00 this afternoon and it started peacefully. There were several hundred, maybe a thousand people who were in the streets of downtown Atlanta. They marched less than a mile away, to the Georgia state capital, and then marched back.

But as the sun started to go down, as crowds started to come back here, that we really saw the shift from people protesting and people chanting to people climbing on top of police car, the main shift we saw out here is one police car was actually set on fire. We were standing here, and you can see, we`re kind of standing behind this fence, we were standing here, at a safe distance, but we could see the dark billowing smoke start to rise.

Soon after that, we saw flames shooting into the air, and it was a police car that was on fire. It was after that, that we started to see the videos of some people using chairs to break through the restaurant windows, and using objects to break into the CNN Center from a different angle.

So, you know, it`s really remarkable about this, Rachel, as I mentioned, just in the past 15, 20 minutes or so, we`ve seen this intense escalation here in streets of downtown Atlanta, but we`ve also heard from the Atlanta`s mayor, Atlanta`s police chief, even calling out some big Atlanta names, rapper T.I., rapper Killer Mike, all of them converging less than a mile away from here, at the Public Safety Center, on live TV, urging people to go home, urging people to come back to remain calm, and to come back with cooler heads that prevail.

So, you`re seeing this unbelievable split screen of the city`s leaders really calling for people to go home, stop damaging and trying to trash the city of Atlanta intersection, and protesters essentially escalating what we`re seeing out here tonight -- Rachel.

MADDOW: Blayne, if you can hear me, let me just ask, what you can tell us about, what seems to be the policing strategy on the ground in Atlanta. We`ve seen -- we`ve been watching some live images tonight, for example, from Las Vegas, where it looks like there was a lot of pushing and shoving, between protesters, and police, in Minneapolis live on our air tonight, we saw big volleys of tear gas from police and National Guard before those lines retreated and allowed protesters through without further confrontation.

What can you tell us about how the police are handling this, particularly given the sort of highly kinetic nature of some of the confrontations you`re describing?

ALEXANDER: So, Rachel, what I can say is that, honestly, since about 5:00 this afternoon, we heard police giving announcements either from loud speakers or from armored vehicles saying, hey, we need the crowds to disperse. We`re asking you to break up, we`re telling you to break up. If you do not break up, there will be arrests.

So, we saw a number of warnings before police officers before we saw them inch this perimeter forward and police line forward.

I will tell you that since I`ve been here out, I and some of my colleagues have seen a small amount of arrests, three or so, as people are throwing water bottles. Since this escalation has taken place, really we have seen, we have seen gas canisters flying. Can`t say they were tear gas but there was some gas they were hoping to use to disburse the crowds.

But we`ve seen this slow movement of police moving forward with shields and people kind of standing face-to-face. I got to say, Rachel, this kind of -- I don`t know if you can see this over my shoulder but when you see are the tops of police shields forming a very solid line with protesters squaring off, face-to-face, and they have been holding that position for the better part of 20 minutes or so.

So, there hasn`t been moving. There haven`t been arrests we`ve seen. They have been holding this stand off position. So, you know, I got to give you a little background.

I can`t say this without talking about the city of Atlanta. It always says it`s the city too busy to hate, right? It`s a city that birthed Martin Luther King Jr. It`s a city that birthed the civil rights movement. And so, leaders, mayors, police chiefs always take that into account when you`re dealing with protests like this, protests on own scale, this is the place where people come and protests were essentially birthed, peaceful protests.

And so, we know that leaders always try and take that into account, urge people to protest peacefully and arrest tear gas, any sort of more confrontational approach is always going to be a last resort typically here in Atlanta -- Rachel.

MADDOW: Blayne Alexander, we`re lucky to have you there on site. Be safe, you and your crew. We`ll be back with you over the course of the night. I know. Thank you. Blayne Alexander joining us live from the streets of Atlanta.

Tonight, we have been watching live footage of different protests from the around country. The full screen view you have is Brooklyn, New York. We saw pushing and shoving. Same deal in the daylight three hours earlier, thanks to time difference in Los Angeles right now.

We`ve seen some sort of intense scenes in the past few minutes out of Las Vegas and large crowds in Sacramento and again, of course, Minneapolis and St. Paul intense and large crowds in the street tonight despite what is supposed to be a legally binding curfew that went into effect an hour ago and supposed to stay in effect until 6:00 a.m. tomorrow.

This is the burned-out police precinct at -- the third precinct in Minneapolis, which was the home precinct of the four officers who were involved in the arrest that resulted in the death of George Floyd.

I want to bring into the conversation somebody who you should know if you do not already. Vanita Gupta was head of the Justice Department`s division that would consider cases like this under President Obama. Civil rights division of the Justice Department in the Obama administration. She`s now CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Vanita Gupta, it`s an honor to have you tonight. Thank you for taking the time.

VANITA GUPTA, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS CEO: Really good to be here, Rachel. Thank you.

MADDOW: I know that you`ve been able to see these images and watch this reporting as it`s come into our studio tonight. I want to ask your reaction, your top line reaction as you see these thinking about the cause of these protests, the scope of these protests and the challenge of these protests tonight from a justice and law enforcement prospective.

GUPTA: Yeah, I mean, I think the protests are about pain and the pain that people are feeling that black America is feeling, that Americans across the nation are experiencing at what they witnessed not only in the incident with George Floyd, but in recent incidents across the country but seeing that video and seeing the fundamental breakdown of any faith that our justice system is going to be able to do to provide justice at large I think is just what you`re seeing on this street.

You know, Dr. King said that true peace is not really the absence of tension but it`s the presence of justice. And, right now, America is feeling like there isn`t justice to be had. People are uncertain about the course. There was an arrest made today, of course, it`s the first step.

But there is a long history here and that`s what we`re seeing play out in streets across America.

MADDOW: We`ve seen statements from the U.S. attorney, the federal prosecutor in Minneapolis and indeed from Attorney General William Barr himself talking about this issue, this case being reviewed as a top priority in the U.S. Justice Department. Attorney General Barr addressed the prospect there might be federal charges brought against the officers in this case. He said today he would wait for the state to act first. The state has now charged one of the four officers involved in this arrest.

What do you think our expectations should be in terms of potential federal criminal charges and the involvement of the Justice Department? As the former head of the Civil Rights Division, what do you think it`s fair for us to expect right now?

GUPTA: Look, I think that for any of us that have been doing civil rights work for the last three and a half years and for years before that, people are right to be skeptical about what this Justice Department will be able to deliver on. The president, Jeff Sessions, Bill Barr have been uniformly focused on dismantling the police reform efforts that the Justice Department had been engaged in.

We weren`t a perfect Justice Department in the Obama era but there was a real sense of the role that the Justice Department plays in these kinds of situations. I think it`s important, though, that the Justice Department has opened an investigation and that the FBI and the Civil Rights Division and U.S. attorney`s offices are considering charges.

It`s a really high bar in the Justice Department for our federal case. It`s why people around the country have been disappointed at times with the lack of charges. It requires that federal prosecutors are able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer engaged in unreasonable force and knew what he was doing at the time was wrong and against the law but did it anyway.

I will say in this case, I think these facts as we know them that will be in an investigation meet that case. There is any number, the multiple camera views in broad daylight and multiple officers on Mr. Floyd`s body with, of course, Officer Chauvin on his neck for several minutes. He was already restrained in handcuffs, no physical provocation, saying he couldn`t breathe and in clear distress and witnesses around him saying that he was in clear distress.

These are the kinds of facts that should meet a federal conviction but I feel like it`s really important, Rachel, to make a point here, which is that there`s no question that there needs to be a criminal conviction and set of criminal convictions for the officers that both did nothing in the face of this and were actively involved in his death. But I don`t think it`s sufficient and this is where this justice department has really walked away from the role that it needs to play. This Justice Department should be strongly considering opening a pattern and practice investigation.

Criminal accountability can be pitched as a few bad apples in a police department but Minneapolis has a long history of problems that date back for years and the chief himself has been aware of this, has actually instituted programs in the city police department, but you`ve got a culture in the police department that has resisted reform and community activists and activists on the ground have been calling for reform for years. You had a police union president who last year when the mayor said to stop any training that could have promoted a warrior type mentality, the police union president actually went ahead in total defiance and paid for training in the warrior mentality.

This is the kind of culture that doesn`t get addressed through criminal accountability alone but actually requires systemic efforts to change police abuse practices and culture of policing, and I just think that is an important thing, and we have a president and have had two attorneys general that have really corroded that work, corroded -- in fact, in many ways in speeches and rhetoric created us versus them mentality between law enforcement and communities, and in some ways have also promoted police violence with the infamous statement that the president made back in 2017 about roughing up suspects and much more.

So there is reason to be skeptical. I hope this Justice Department will open a counter practice investigation but we got to be in this for the long haul, even outside of what`s happening in Minneapolis. What you`re seeing is pain around the country because we have to confront the history of state violence against black communities and communities of color and it`s going to take a lot of work. But this is the pain pouring out in the streets right now all over the country.

MADDOW: Vanita Gupta, the CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Justice Department under President Obama -- Vanita, again, an honor to have you with us tonight. Thank you for being here. Thank you for making time.

GUPTA: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Again, we`ve got live images tonight that we are keeping an eye on. You see that large crowd in Sacramento, California. They had stopped I think of their own accord to listen to one of their own leaders, one of their own activists among them speak just moments ago.

We`re watching tense confrontations unfold in Brooklyn, New York, in Atlanta, Georgia, in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was a night where obviously, all eyes continue to be on St. Paul in Minneapolis, where things have been so difficult for the past three nights with ongoing protests.

But this is a nationwide protest movement now of outrage and pain after the death of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of a group of Minneapolis police department officers, one of whom has been charged with manslaughter and murder.

Our live coverage continues now and through this evening. Do stay with us tonight.

My colleague Lawrence O`Donnell is taking over right now.

Good evening, Lawrence.

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