IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Massive protests TRANSCRIPT: 6/2/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Melvin Carter, Letitia James, Jalen Thompson, Susan Rice

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel.

We`re going to have Susan Rice join our discussion tonight. Obviously, we`ll talk to her about what seems, I have to say seems like another empty threat from Donald Trump. That threat about sending the American military into states where they have not been invited. Not something that any modern national security adviser ever expected to hear from a president. But here we are.

And we will also be covering obviously what`s happening in all these cities where our correspondents are tonight.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS":  All right, Lawrence. Well done, my friend. Thanks.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. Thanks.

We are going to begin tonight with reports from our correspondents in major cities where the protesters are still active at this hour. Many of them long past the curfews imposed in those cities and we`ll continue gathering those reports throughout this hour.

We`ll be joined, as I said, by President Obama`s former national security adviser, Ambassador Susan Rice. The mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, will also be joining us.

The attorney general of New York, Letitia James, will be joining us in very strong opposition to Donald Trump`s threat to send the American military uninvited into states like New York to seize control of the state. That appears to be an empty threat. But attorney General James greeted that threat with her open legal threat to Donald Trump. You will hear that from her.

Seventeen-year-old Jalen Thompson will join us from his small town in Missouri, where he organized the first protest that he has ever attended. And he got a turnout bigger than the protest that got national attention in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Joy Reid will be with us throughout the hour tonight.

And we begin tonight in Washington, D.C., where Garrett Haake is covering the protest there and has been covering the protest there for days. Joining us now from Washington, D.C., NBC`s Garrett Haake.

Garrett, you`re past the curfew there. What is the situation?

GARRETT HAAKE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Lawrence, this time last night, this street outside Lafayette Park was completely closed. That`s so police could install this nine-foot tall security fence behind me, between the edge of Lafayette Park and the White House.

Now, several hours after the curfew is officially put into effect in Washington, there`s still probably about 200 peaceful protesters out here, airing their grievances, particularly with this administration. The president`s decision to clear this park yesterday has visited a church had what was an unexpected effect for him yesterday. It galvanized people in Washington, D.C. who might not have otherwise thought this was their protest or their fight to come out here today.

At one point, we had probably closer to 2,000 people out on these very same streets today for what has been all day long a peaceful protest. Now, that said, the later we get into the night, the higher the percentage of people who come out for the purpose of starting trouble. So we have seen some plastic bottles and the like thrown at federal law enforcement, waiting in the park. But by and large tonight, the citizens of D.C. continue to be out. They continue to be peaceful and they continue to be watched -- so far just watched by this massively increased federal law enforcement presence all around the district tonight -- Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Garrett Haake in Washington, D.C., thanks for that.

We`re now going to go to Seattle where we`re joined by NBC`s Jo Ling Kent. Jo Ling Kent has been working the streets of Seattle for days.

What is the situation there tonight?

JO LING KENT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, so far, Lawrence, it`s been very peaceful. All of these individual protesters here, a lot of them have marched over from the emergency operation center in another part of Seattle about a mile away, peacefully walking over. And that is after they had a conversation about 1,000 people, perhaps more, talking with the governor -- or excuse me, the mayor of Seattle, Mayor Durkan. And there`s been a promise now that a new conversation about social justice, criminal justice, and police reform will happen starting tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. here on the ground.

But to give you a sense of the size and scope of where we are right now, this is far larger than what we experienced last night. Probably two times the size of this. And we can show you -- I don`t know if we can pan all the way over there, probably two or three blocks now. That is the east precinct, and that is where these protesters are directing their energy right now, and beyond the protesters, there`s a line of police followed by several more lines of law enforcement, along with the National Guard.

And they are in riot gear tonight. That is new. That is not what we saw last night or the night before. But overall, the idea here is that despite the fact that we are in a pandemic, these protesters want to come out to call for justice for George Floyd and -- and we have a couple of one of the organizers, I believe, right behind us. And you have a protester addressing a Black Lives Matter organizer saying they do not want to coordinate or cooperate with the mayor of Seattle. You have some pushback right now.

So you can see there is some internal conflict here, and there`s a little bit of division. We`re going to take a second to listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The thing is --

KENT:  How are you doing, David?


KENT:  We`re live on MSNBC right now. I just want to know --


KENT:  How are you doing so far right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A lot of this is actually not the group that marched towards the mayor today. I feel both inspired, they are not. They are not. They are not.


KENT:  We have some differing opinions here. And we`re going to get you guys work this out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It`s not unfortunately something that we can. What I`m hoping --

O`DONNELL:  OK. Jo Ling Kent, we will --

KENT:  Let`s send it back to you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Jo Ling Kent, for that report.

I think the audience can judge that the person who is there in a mask that`s completely hiding the face and the identity in every way of that person, which is not a medical mask. That is a, I am going to hide from everyone who I am when guy around with my megaphone telling stories about the other protesters who are protesting peacefully there. That is the kind of protester who is clearly not -- clearly not part of the respectful protest that has been going on in every city in this country that`s been having these protests where they are, at minimum, at minimum, 99 percent peaceful, 99 percent peaceful. Most of them are 100 percent peaceful in this country.

Joining our discussion now is Joy Reid, MSNBC national correspondent and the host of "A.M. JOY."

And, Joy, that was one of those moments live in a protest arena where we get to see some of the dynamic of what`s out there and some of what the genuine Black Lives Matter protesters are up against with people who want chaos and not protest.

JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Yeah, and you know what? I experienced that. I felt for Jo Ling out there, having covered the Baltimore uprising in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, who was killed by police, as well. That was the dynamic. You would have these formal organized protests, they were Black Lives Matter protests.

There was a specific theme, they wanted those officers to be arrested and charged with murder. It was very specific. There was a lot of camaraderie. People had a sameness of goals.

One of the things that is different now, there are a lot more white people marching. These are very, very mixed race protests which allows people to infiltrate, because people who are not part of it, everyone can blend in, because everyone is there at the cross-section of the country. But you would always have at a certain point in the day, the organized protests would certainly start to attract, because it`s a big crowd, it would attract other people, people who clearly hadn`t marched there together. They hadn`t marched with the crowd, they were just part of it and trying to use the cameras and use the presence of the media in order to get attention.

So we are seeing, and you`ve been reporting on it, as well. There are anarchists and other groups that are attracted and as the day goes on, they start to pop up.

O`DONNELL:  Yes, these are the people that could never assemble any kind of sizable protest on their own with their own numbers. But when they grab their megaphone and run into a live shot on television, suddenly their megaphone is on national television, which is the only hope they have of getting any kind of attention.

REID:  Well, and the thing that is infuriating about it, is that this -- the anger that you`re seeing, like even the protesters are angry for a very good reason. We have had -- I mean, you wrote this and I read "Deadly Force," I know that you though this. We have had hundreds of years of brutality toward black people, people are sick of it, and people are glomming on that and trying to use it for their own anarchist, ridiculous means and people need to stay on topic.

O`DONNELL:  Joy Reid is going to stay with us throughout the hour. We have some news to report today. This morning, on the "Today" show, Benjamin Crump, the attorney for George Floyd`s family, says he expects more charges against Minneapolis police.


HODA KOTB, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  One thing that`s being lost in all this are the other three officers. I haven`t heard anything about any charges. Have you heard that anything`s coming?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR THE GEORGE FLOYD FAMILY:  We heard that they expert to charge those officers. And now the autopsy -- the independent autopsy from the family that pays particular attention to the two knees at the back compressing his lungs, which is equally important as the neck compression cutting off the flow of air. He was dying for breath, Hoda. And that ambulance was his hearse.

KOTB:  So you heard those officers are, in fact, going to be charged soon?

CRUMP:  Yes, ma`am. We understand they will be charged. That is what the family is hearing from the authorities and he died on the scene, Hoda. That`s important to know.



O`DONNELL:  Today, the governor of Minnesota announced: Our Minnesota Department of Human Rights today filed civil rights charges against the Minneapolis police department and will investigate the department`s policies, procedures and practices over the past 10 year to determine if they engaged in systemic, discriminatory practices.

And after Donald Trump yesterday issued what appeared to be an empty threat of sending the American military uninvited by the states to police Americans, something the American military does not know how to do, and after Donald Trump ordered peaceful protesters in Washington tear gassed and pepper sprayed so that they could do a photo-op in front of a church where he was not welcome by the pastor of that church, today Joe Biden went to Philadelphia and said this.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The president held up the bible at St. John`s church yesterday. I just wish he opened it once in a while instead of brandishing it. If he opened it, he could have learned something.

They`re all called love one another as we love ourselves. It`s really hard work, but it`s the work of America.

Donald Trump isn`t interested in doing that work. Instead, he`s preening and sweeping away all the guardrails that have long protected our democracy. Guardrails that helped make possible this nation`s path to a more perfect union, a union that constantly requires reform and rededication. And yes, the protests from voices that are mistreated, ignored, left out or left behind. But it is a union, a union worth fighting for, and that`s why I`m running for president.


O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now is Ambassador Susan Rice. She is President Obama`s former national security adviser and former ambassador to the United Nations. She is the author of "Tough Love: My Story of Things Worth Fighting For."

Ambassador Rice, Joe Biden was reacting to what he saw the president do with that bible in front of that church yesterday, which was then condemned by the pastor of that church and other religious leaders in Washington.

What was your reaction seeing the secretary of defense out there with the president and tonight, the secretary of defense is trying to say, I didn`t know we were going to a church. I thought we were just going out to talk to the troops who were out there? What was -- what was your reaction to that photo-op and the administration officials who accompanied the president on that photo-op?


Let me begin by just making the obvious point, what we saw today from Joe Biden in Philadelphia is what presidents are supposed to do, what a president is supposed to say. He`s supposed to infuse his remarks with empathy, with compassion, with an understanding of the pain, the very real historic pain that so many African-Americans, including myself, feel in this country.

And contrast that with Donald Trump, where everything is a political stunt, designed to divide. For the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in combat fatigues, to stand up with the president after he`s given sort of Bull Connor type speech, and then brandishes a bible before an Episcopal Church, my faith, without the permission or the knowledge of the bishop or the pastor of that church, it`s all about trying to divide us and inflame us for his political benefit.

And, Lawrence, when you say that it`s an empty threat, I hope it proves to be an empty threat that he won`t deploy the military in the states of this Union. But here in the District of Columbia where I live, this is my hometown. We are living that nightmare last night and today, with thousands of federalized, armed forces on our streets.

Black Hawk helicopters buzzing peaceful protesters at very low altitudes. It`s very scary here. So we`re living that real time.

O`DONNELL:  I`m glad you mentioned the presidential quality of Joe Biden`s speech today in Philadelphia, because I want to show as much as we can of it throughout this hour, because it`s the only presidential level comment that has been offered to us at all during this crisis.

I want to listen to something else Joe Biden said today about the presidency, about the presidency being a big job and how he would do that big job. Let`s listen to that.


BIDEN:  Look, I look at the presidency as a very big job. And nobody will get it right every time. And I won`t either.

But I promise you this -- I won`t traffic in fear and division. I won`t fan the flames of hate. I`ll seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued our country. Not use them for political gain.

I`ll do my job and I will take responsibility. I won`t blame others.


O`DONNELL:  Ambassador Rice, you`ve been in the room with Joe Biden, in the room where the things really happen, the Oval Office, the cabinet room, the Situation Room. You know what he`s like in those governing chambers with the doors closed.

What would you expect of a President Biden this week, in the week that has followed since George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis?

RICE:  Well, if Joe Biden were sitting in the Oval Office this past week, he would be comforting and healing the nation. He would be speaking to the very real thing that so many African-Americans and other people of color in this country feel, given decades, generations, centuries in some instances, of violence and abuse, brutality.

And he would be putting in place very real policies, if he hadn`t already, designed to address those concerns. They deal with law enforcement. They deal with the criminal justice system. He laid out in his speech today a number of steps that should be incorporated immediately into legislation -- banning chokeholds, demanding accountability, having review boards and processes to ensure this stuff doesn`t continue to happen.

But Joe Biden also understands, Lawrence, this is not something that started a week or two ago, or with George Floyd`s tragic killing. This is a systemic problem of racism. And not just in our criminal justice system. But in our society as a whole, that is the vestige of slavery, and Jim Crow, and segregation.

We still live in a fundamentally unequal society where African-Americans and other people of color are treated differently simply by virtue of the color of their skin. And, Lawrence, it doesn`t matter if you`re me or if you`re somebody else, you know, if I`m driving a car or my son is out bird watching, or my nephew is out jogging, because of the color of our skin, we are at increased risk.

And so, we need to deal with the root causes -- the economic disparities, the lack of job opportunities, the poverty, the poor education, the inadequate health care, the dirty environment, terrible housing conditions, all of these things which perpetuate this inequality.

And Joe Biden would be in the business, as I trust he will be come January, of making sure that we finally and fully begin to address those disparities and make them right. That`s what he spoke to so eloquently today.

O`DONNELL:  Susan Rice, Ambassador Susan Rice, thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight. We really appreciate.

RICE:  Good to be with you, Lawrence. Thanks again.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

We`re looking at a live shot from Portland, Oregon. Those are protesters who have taken up a position on a bridge in Portland tonight, at this hour. That`s 7:19 Pacific Time in Portland. We will be covering the situation there and in other cities where protesters are still active tonight.

And joining us now with the latest on the situation in Los Angeles is NBC`s Gadi Schwartz, who has been covering the story here for days in Los Angeles.

Gadi, what`s the situation tonight?

GADI SCHWARTZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, Lawrence, we were on the backside of a large protest that was making its way around Los Angeles. You can see all these police that have formed up here. In fact, it looks like they`re headed somewhere else. They`re moving pretty quickly.

I want to show you what happened a few minutes ago. So there was a traffic stop, this was the tail end of the protest. There was some cars following behind, quite a few of them expressing, you know, solidarity with Black Lives Matter movement.

Come this way. I want to show you, all of a sudden, there was a motorcycle police that -- motorcycle police officer that stopped this car, then this car was swarmed with officers. They came in from all different sides. And then as you can imagine, there was a lot of protesters around.

So what happened was, the officers were making some arrests. They pulled a man out of that car and then a bottle flew over and hit one of the officers. The officers came back, took that man and things got extremely heated.

I want to take you over here, because the car started making movements like it was lurching forward. Immediately officers swarmed, they broke all the windows, and they dragged the occupants out. There were four people inside. They say they were just part of that protest. They say they were being accused of looting. They say they had no merchandise in the car.

So they are now -- appear to be taken into custody. And since that`s happened, the protests have moved on. They have gone down the street with officers, kind of hanging back in the edges and we understand that they`re going to be making a large amount of arrests as this curfew continues.

Back to you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Gadi Schwartz in Los Angeles, thanks for that report.

We`re now joined by MSNBC`s Shaquille Brewster live in Minneapolis.

Shaquille, what is the situation there?

SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Lawrence, we had a lot of updates today dealing with this George Floyd case. Let me start with what the governor announced earlier today. He announced he was filing a civil rights charge against the Minneapolis police department. He said they`re looking into a systemic discrimination and discriminatory practices. He said that includes not only looking at the George Floyd case and the death of George Floyd, but going back ten years, looking at the patterns and practices of the police department to see if there`s that systemic discrimination, and if they can find any.

The governor has almost credited the protesters that continue to come out peacefully here in Minneapolis. This is the scene across from where George Floyd died. You see people, plenty of them gather, there`s a 10:00 curfew, people are still gathering and bringing flowers and candles, doing what they can to commemorate the life of George Floyd. Here at this location, it`s a very somber move, but sometimes it`s a celebratory mood. The crowd just sang happy birthday to somebody about ten minutes ago.

So you have that scene here where George Floyd died. But then there`s also what the family is saying. We heard from Benjamin Crump saying he is expecting charges against the three remaining fired Minnesota -- or Minneapolis police department officers. He`s expecting those officers to be charged before George Floyd is laid to rest. We know his funeral or his ceremony will be on Tuesday in Houston, Texas -- Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Shaquille Brewster in Minneapolis, thank you for that report.

In his speech today, Joe Biden said this.


BIDEN:  No more excuses, no delays. If Mitch McConnell can bring in the United States Senate to confirm Trump`s unqualified judicial nominees who will run roughshod over our Constitution now, it`s time to pass legislation to give true meaning to our constitutional promise to equal protection under the law.

Looking ahead in the first 100 days of my presidency, I`ve committed to creating a national police oversight commission. I`ve long believed we need real community policing, more police officers meet the higher standards of their profession. Most of them do it (ph). All the more reason why bad cops should be dealt with severely and swiftly.


O`DONNELL:  On Monday, Joe Biden spoke with several mayors about community policing. One of those mayors was Melvin Carter, the mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, which is just across the river from Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers.

Joining us now is St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter.

Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I want to get your reaction to what Joe Biden said today about the action that he thinks is necessary. He wants to have a -- basically a national form of reviewing police misconduct, and he`s back to that old two-word phrase we`ve been hearing for decades, community policing.

MAYOR MELVIN CARTER (D), ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA:  Well, thank you for having me on. And I appreciate that.

I think the vice president`s words today were so critically important. Many folks know that I`m the son of a police officer. My father spent nearly 30 years as a St. Paul police officer and retired here as a sergeant. I saw community policing literally every single day growing up, because he was patrolling in the neighborhood that he grew up in, in the neighborhood that he was raising his children in, that he was living in, that he went to the grocery store in.

And there`s a level of just community policing, of community accountability that exists, when you live among the people who you`re serving. And I would see him helping people, I would see him using his badge and uniform as sort of a cape that would be sort of a super hero, as we would be in the house at midnight and someone would call and say I`m only surrendering myself to Sergeant Carter. He would jump up and go make that arrest safely.

I would see just the many incredible ways which he would intervene and help good outcomes happen on behalf of our community because of the way he knew our community. When we talk about community policing, I think of it as sort of -- as a repetitive phrase. That`s what policing should be.

It should all be community policing. It should also be community engagement. And the thing that we remind ourselves of here, as we have a police department who is really focused heavily on this, we have a chief who talks about our bank of trust, and this notion that if we`re ever going to make some withdrawals, we`re going to have to make some deposits way in advance of that.

Our chief always asks our officers about their actions, were they reasonable, were they necessary, were they respectful? If you can answer yes to all of those questions, you`re probably in a good place. If you can`t, you`re going to have a challenging conversation.

Community policing has to be the way that we go, because let`s face it, our lives are on the line with our police officers. We need them to be able to show up and help us fix what`s wrong in our communities within a moment`s notice. We`re all better off when they show up in the first place knowing what`s right.

O`DONNELL:  You know, I`m also the son of a police officer. My father didn`t have the dedication to the life behind the badge that your father had and stayed with it for 30 years. He ended up putting himself through college and law school, became a lawyer, handled some civil rights cases against police officers.

So he`s seen every side of -- my father -- so every side of this story. I know your father has, too.

CARTER:  That`s right.

O`DONNELL:  When you`re this close to it as you are, you know that community policing is something that really cannot be taught at the academy. It is about who you`re selecting for the job. I suspect that most of your father`s time as a real person serving the community, did not come from police training, or police training material. They came from who he was as a person.

How do you teach that, how do you recruit that into a police department?

CARTER:  I think there`s a combination. Our chief always says hire the person, train the skills. It starts with bringing police officers who are good people who understand our community.

We talk a lot about training. But I`ll tell you, when I look at the video of George Floyd`s murder, when I look at the video of Philando Castile`s murder, I look at those videos and I think, boy, let`s identify off the officers we have to train not to do that, they shouldn`t be officers in the first place. So, I think there`s a character component.

And this is why, as we talk to our neighbors, as we talk to our community about this concept that I`ve been talking about lately, which is peace but never patience, we`re calling for peace, but we`re not asking for people to be patient while we slowly and incrementally stem the tide of black and brown men and women who are unarmed, who are killed by law enforcement. We are saying we need drastic action right now. We need system level action right now that has to start with how we hire, how we retain, how we promote and entire police officers, because in this case, as we have seen Officer Chauvin had numerous things in his file over a long period of years and wasn`t able to be let go.

We see chiefs across the country who tried to fire officers only to see them return through arbitration, and see a whole lot of those, it has to be about how we train them, it has to be how we establish our use of force policies. St. Paul is the only agency on the planet that I`m aware of that has established our use of force policy in engagement with community. It`s got to be system level change.

O`DONNELL:  Mayor Melvin Carter, thank you very much for joining our discussion tonight. We really appreciate it.

CARTER: Thank you very much.

O`DONNELL: Appreciate it. Coming up, New York`s Attorney General, Letitia James answered Donald Trump`s threat to send the American military to police Americans with her own legal threat to Donald Trump. Attorney General Letitia James joins us next.


O`DONNELL: We turn now to MSNBC`s Ali Velshi who is in New York City tonight. Ali Velshi, where are you in the city and what is happening there?

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m at 14th Street and 5th Avenue, about one block west of Union Square. There`s been a group of protesters, separate groups of protesters around the city. There were a couple of thousand on the Upper West Side, a few thousand coming in over the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan.

What has happened is the police have effectively dispersed most of them. We`ve been sort of paying attention to the sort of chases going around the city, police stopping people at certain intersections.

You can see right behind me a row of about a dozen or more people who are under arrest. We have been hearing reports of arrests across the city, sometimes groups of 20, 25, groups of 40 or more. So a lot of arrests have been made.

I`ve spoken to a few protesters who have already said they have disbanded for the night in most cases. They`re going to try and regroup tomorrow. But the effectiveness of the breaking up of the groups seems to have happened right now. What we have here around Union Square is this intersection has largely been closed off by police while they conduct their arrests.

Hearing on the scanners a lot of calls for prisoner transports for people who have been arrested, and there are still some scenes of sporadic violence here downtown. You can still see a number of police vehicles coming around. But a lot of it is prisoner transport at this point. We did hear of some instances of some looting and groups that were doing that. But largely, they were peaceful and largely they have been broken up through the course of the day.

So at this point, two and a half hours into the curfew, from what we`re hearing, the police seem to have a relative handle on it. But there are still people on the streets and we`re still hearing that they`re going out there and stopping people and making plenty of arrests, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Ali Velshi in New York City. Thanks for that, Ali. And we`re now going to go to Chris Jansing. She is South of Ali Velshi in Lower Manhattan. Chris Jansing, what are you seeing there?

CHRIS JANSING, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, MSNBC: Well, I`m at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge on the Manhattan side, and about an hour and a half standoff between police and protesters has just ended.

I can show you the bridge is now largely cleared. There are police going on to make sure it gets clear. I was told by a commanding officer at one point, there were as many as 1,500 or even 2,000 protesters who tried to come over the East River from Brooklyn and they were told there is a curfew, you`re not allowed to enter, unless there`s an emergency reason.

And so, the protesters stood there, they chanted, large numbers of people came out. If I can have Dave turn around, you can see that the police are now following what is a large crowd of spectators. There was an announcement just about a minute ago, Lawrence, where they said everything`s over, the bridge is being cleared. Unless you`re press, if you are a pedestrian and you don`t leave right now, you will be arrested. The show is over. It`s time for you to leave. And so far, I`ve not seen anyone who has not taken that advice. People have been walking down into Chinatown and continuing.

Yes, there`s still, as you can see, a large police presence here, large police presence over there. What we have seen tonight, as we were driving here, there were still again about an hour and a half ago, some large groups of protesters marching through the streets.

They were being accompanied by significant numbers of police, but police were keeping their distance. They clearly were going to let them have their march. And then, as happened yesterday, some of them would start to splinter off and head out.

But overall, there have been very few so far we`re told arrests for people who have broken curfew, except over on the West Side Highway, where we have seen some pictures from social media of arrests. But overall, at times, this felt pretty intense with the chanting. But it`s all been settled very peacefully, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Chris Jansing, thank you very much for that report. Thank you. Let`s try to get what we`re seeing in New York City tonight in perspective. Perspective is the most difficult challenge we face in covering this, especially in television news because the camera sees what it sees and nothing else.

What that camera does not see and cannot show you is that about 9 million people will go to sleep tonight peacefully in New York City, and that a very tiny sliver of people that we have shown you with our cameras, the tiny, tiny group, relatively speaking, has violated the curfew. Some of them are being arrested for violating the curfew in New York City, a place that hasn`t had a curfew since the 1940s.

And so, let`s keep in perspective when we see these small groups of people in violation of New York City`s curfew that the overwhelming majority, way beyond a majority, way beyond 99%, nudging right up close to 100% of New Yorkers, are doing what the city of New York has asked them to do tonight.

Today, Joe Biden raised his voice in opposition to Donald Trump in what he called Donald Trump`s "Using the American military to move against the American people." Joe Biden said that the day after Donald Trump issued what appeared to be yet another of one of his many empty threats, this threat was aimed at Governors and the people of the United States of America.

Donald Trump said, if a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them. That, of course, would not solve any problem.

And there is probably zero chance of that ever happening for a variety of reasons, including legal reasons and military reasons. There is 100% chance that Donald Trump was just saying that to sound tough to people who want him to sound tough, which is a minority of Americans.

But if Donald Trump ever tried to send the American Military, to try to take control of New York City, he would be met by the Attorney General of the State of New York, Letitia James, who yesterday said, the President of the United States is not a dictator and President Trump does not and will not dominate New York State. In fact, the President does not have the right to unilaterally deploy U.S. military across American States.

Joining our discussion now by phone is Letitia James, the Attorney General of the State of New York. Attorney General James, what was your reaction when you saw this statement by Donald Trump yesterday?

Maybe we don`t have the Attorney General of New York by phone at the moment, or I`m hearing something in the control room. It sounds like possibly phone contact. Joy Reid is still with us. And so we`re going to switch to Joy Reid as we try to make contact with Attorney General James.

Joy Reid, I want to try to get the perspective; it`s my biggest struggle in this coverage. Our cameras see what they see. They are relatively narrow framed events. We`ve seen one arrest tonight in Los Angeles. A car pulled over, it`s the kind of arrest they make in Los Angeles every single night of the year, many, many, many, many times every night of the year.

But tonight it gets national TV coverage. And most people in the giant city of Los Angeles are not violating the curfew. They are doing exactly what authorities and the community has asked them to do and what they think is the best thing to do, and it`s hard to keep a hold of that perspective in this kind of coverage.

JOY REID, HOST, AM JOY: Absolutely, it`s the hardest thing of all and this happened during black lives matter as well. The camera gets attracted to one unique event and then that becomes the story. But that`s a piece of the story, it`s a tiny piece of a larger puzzle.

And again, if you watch these protests all day, you see these enormous protests. The one in New York had to have been the biggest thing I`ve seen since the protest against the Iraq war. These massive protests in DC, these massive protests even overseas in which the idea of acquiring decent human rights for black people is this universal principle that everyone agrees on.

And then, it gets darker and it gets a little later or you go to the fringe of the protests, where all the people aren`t marching and you see a different story, and we have to keep those stories separate

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Joy. We`ve established our phone connection with Attorney General Letitia James, the Attorney General of the State of New York. And General James, I wanted to get your reaction to - which we heard in writing anyway - to Donald Trump`s threat, which I am predicting - I don`t know about you, but I`m predicting it`s an empty threat that he will actually send the U.S. military against your will, against Governor Cuomo`s will, into the State of New York to take control of the State of New York.

LETITIA JAMES, ATTORNEY GENERAL, NEW YORK: I agree with you, Lawrence. I too believe it`s an empty threat, but I really want to focus on really what`s happening on the streets of New York City and New York State and all across this nation.

Our states and our city have reached a tipping point of anger and frustration, years of systematic racism and racially charged police violence. Our streets are reeling. The pain and frustration is palpable, and the loss of life of black people is really devastating. It`s a defining moment in the history of this country and it`s really critically important that we move forward with some thoughtfulness and with the vision of a constructive path forward.

And individuals must understand that you cannot silence a movement and we can`t allow other individuals to basically hijack the movement. This President is not a dictator. He`s not above the law of the United States Constitution. And President Trump cannot legally use the armed forces to enforce state law.

The Insurrection Act is intended to permit the federal government, to protect federal laws historically with the consent of the state government. And President Trump`s statements and his tweets make it clear that his intention is for military personnel to enforce state and local criminal laws, such as curfews and thefts and vandalism.

It`s important that everyone understand, all of your listeners understand, that the 10th Amendment give states police power to establish and to enforce laws, protecting the welfare and the safety of its residents, that states historically have had been sovereign in the area of law enforcement.

And so, for him to weaponize the military is nothing more than an attempt, again, to try to separate us, to feed red meat to his political base, and I will - and my message to President Trump is clear, that if in fact he invokes the Insurrection Act, he will be met at the doors of a courthouse by this Attorney General and other Attorney Generals who believe in the rule of law and who will seek to enjoin his actions.

O`DONNELL: Attorney General James, Governor Cuomo has been critical of the NYPD and how they`ve been carrying out their duties in New York City during these protests. What is your view of the way the NYPD has been performing this week?

JAMES: As you know, I`ve been tasked with the mission to investigate the events of the last few days. And so, at this point in time, my position is really focusing on ensuring that the rule of law is followed, and that we continue to do it thorough and thoughtful, and a fair investigation of the last few events.

It`s a standing order. We are continuing to monitor all of the protests and all of the events as a result of individuals who are standing up for the fundamental rights and humanity of black people in this country and in the states and city.

O`DONNELL: What do you need right now to improve - what do you think New York and New York City needs now to improve the way the police department is handling this continued protest situation?

JAMES: Well, at this point in time, as you know, the vast majority of the protests have been peaceful. They have been peaceful. But there have been individuals who unfortunately are seeking to hijack the movement, and it`s really critically important that individuals understand this.

And so I`m going to defer to the Governor and to the Mayor of the City of New York to keep the peace in the city and in the state. It`s important that everyone understand that violence has never, ever solved anything. And it runs antithetical to all that we believe in our value as a society and what we really need to do is move forward with an agenda to advance and to promote equal opportunity under the law for all of the citizens of this great country and this great state.

O`DONNELL: Attorney General Letitia James, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

JAMES: Thank you. I appreciate you. Be safe.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to take a break here. When we come back, you will meet your future. You will meet America`s future. A 17-year-old in Missouri who organized a protest in his small town that turned out to be bigger than the protest in Los Angeles on Sunday that got national television attention. And he got the local police chief to join him in that protest against the police killing of George Floyd.

You should probably start following Jalen Thompson on Twitter right now. Don`t wait till he becomes the United States Senator from Missouri or President of the United States. You can start supporting Jalen Thompson now, and you will meet him after this break.



JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know there`s enormous fear and uncertainty and anger in the country. I understand. I know so many Americans are suffering, suffering the loss of a loved one, suffering economic hardship, wondering can I feed my family tomorrow, what`s going to happen? Suffering under the weight of generation after generation after generation of hurt inflicted on people of color, on black, brown and native communities in particular.


O`DONNELL: 17-year-old Jalen Thompson is a member of America`s 2020 High School Graduating Class. He lives in O`Fallon, Missouri. And because he lives too far from St. Louis, he decided to try to organize a peaceful protest of the police killing of George Floyd in his town. He expected a couple of hundred people at most. He got about 2,000 people. Jalen Thompson marched arm in arm with the local police chief at that protest yesterday. The police chief explained why he was marching.


TIM CLOTHIER, CHIEF OF POLICE, O`FALLON, MISSOURI: To show that we support their cause. We do not agree with what happened. We do not want to condone the behavior of that one officer.


O`DONNELL: And we were just going to be joined by Jalen Thompson, but somehow that connection has been lost. I think we`ve got him back. The control room thinks he`s back. Jalen Thompson joins us now from O`Fallon, Missouri.

Jalen, great to see you, I`m glad that connection worked. So this was the first protest you`ve ever attended and you organized it yourself. What did it feel like to be marching arm in arm there with the police chief?

JALEN THOMPSON, ORGANIZED PROTEST IN O`FALLON, MISSOURI: So it was just a - it`s a surreal feeling. My friends and I decided to organize it just because we wanted the conversation in this (ph) area, and the police supporting us the way they did was not expected. It was a wonderful response to what we were trying.

O`DONNELL: And what was your mission when you started? You hoped to get a couple of hundred people. Why do you think you got so many more people than you expected?

THOMPSON: Well, (inaudible) we decided it`s going to be on Monday. It was on a Saturday we decided we were going to have it. So we posted about it, and by Sunday halfway through the day, a page re-posted it and there was like a thousand comments on page and it was a lot of hate. And people kind of showed up to support because they (inaudible) there were hundreds of shares, so they wanted to come and make sure that we knew that we did have way more people than we expected, and that`s exactly what they did, they showed up.

O`DONNELL: I wanted you to listen to something that Joe Biden said today about Dr. King. Let`s listen to that.


BIDEN: A few days before Dr. King was murdered, he gave a final Sunday sermon in Washington where he told us that, though the arc of the moral universe is long, he said it bends towards justice. And we know we can bend it because we have; we have to believe that still.


O`DONNELL: Jalen, it sounds like you still believe that. You still believe Dr. King`s words that we can bend this toward justice.

THOMPSON: Absolutely. Showing more now honestly, the marches that we`re seeing, the protests that we`re seeing, there are thousands of people who are white, thousands of people who are from different walks of life than we`ve ever seen before supporting people. This is - we`re more synonymous on this issue than we`ve ever been before.

And I think that`s why this is where we`re going to start to see a lot of changes because we`re all supporting each other now, and we all seem to understand that this is a problem that we need to solve so that we can move on and we can make our country even better than it is now.

O`DONNELL: So, Jalen, I`ve just gotten word your birthday is August 22. You`re going to turn 18. Does that mean you will be registered to vote in November and cast your first Presidential vote in November?

THOMPSON: Absolutely. I`m already registered. Everything is ready. As soon as I turn 18 and I will definitely and 100% be exercising my right to vote in November.

O`DONNELL: Well, they always say this is the most important Presidential election, and this time they really mean it. So you`re going to get to cast your vote and make history in November. Jalen Thompson, thank you very much for taking that initiative that you took this weekend to create that moment for everyone in your town, and thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: That`s Jalen Thompson. Keep an eye on him. We are joined now once again by Joy Reid, who has been with us throughout this hour. And Joy, that`s our future. I mean here`s a kid who, like you and like generations before you of black Americans, this problem has been with us every day of his life, every day of your life. It has been with us for every day that we have been a country.

We had slavery on this land before we formed a government on this land, and yet somehow he finds the optimism in himself to take that action this weekend. What is it like when you look into yourself, Joy, at this point in your life with another one of these events weighing down on you? What is it like for you personally to carry yourself through it as an analyst who helps us out, but also as a person who is suffering through this?

REID: Yes, this - and I`ve been talking with a lot of friends about this, you don`t feel the burden of it when you`re covering it, if there`s a delayed reaction to it. When I was covering Black Lives Matter cases in 2014 to 2015, I spent a lot of time really from 2012 to 2015 covering case after case after case, and it catches up with you after a while with - I have kids, I have kids that are young that I worry about, and I`m more afraid of police than I am of them in the world.

I`m afraid of police more than anything else. And for it to be back again now, as I`m watching this and covering it as an anchor, it is a burden. It feels like a burden, not so much as the people who have to obviously be the family members and deal with it, but it`s painful, and it`s sad for our country. We need to recognize we`re supposed to be a country that believes in human rights. We need to do better.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Thank you for all that you do for this network and all that you contribute to our understanding of events like this. Thank you very much, Joy.