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George Floyd TRANSCRIPT: 6/5/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Alicia Garza, Phillip Atiba Goff



RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: One last thing to tell you tonight. You heard them screaming there, "Go, Johnny! Go, Johnny!" Johnny Johnson, he is a father of seven. Today, Johnny Johnson was discharged from Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx where the nurses and doctors gave him round after round of applause in part because Mr. Johnson has been at that hospital fighting COVID-19 for 76 days, 21 days on the ventilator.

And today he went home to his wife, Maritza (ph), and their kids. He told us his first order of business was going to be a really long bath. Mr. Johnson, I hope you got the bath and a big welcome home from all of us. That`s going to do it for us for now. Our coverage continues now on "The Last Word" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ali. I`m sorry, I went into your hour there.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: That was a good reason to do it, Rachel. You have yourself a great weekend. We`ll see you on Monday.

MADDOW: Thanks, Ali. Appreciate it my friend.

VELSHI: Tonight, we begin with an almost two obvious point. This is the wrong president for this moment. In a 53-minute press conference this morning, the president demonstrated repeatedly and tragically just how ill- suited he is to understanding and addressing the systemic racial problems facing the United States.

In turns, he was both willfully ignorant to and oblivious of the pain and suffering that people of color have been enduring since long before he took office. And he seemed to believe that his band-aid level fixes at best were enough to help people who`d been pleading for substantive and deep changes to how this nation handles the issue of race.

Tonight, as the 11th night of protests around the United States in response to the police killing of George Floyd, we are monitoring the protest and will go live to reporters on the ground across the country during this hour.

The people at these protests are crying out for help. They are crying out for reform. They are crying out for protection. And sadly those cries are falling on deaf ears at the White House.

Today, President Trump called for an amped up police protest -- police response to the protest. Protests that we should remind you that are against racism and police brutality. And he said he hoped that George Floyd was "looking down" and seeing this "great thing" that is happening for our country.

Now, we don`t like to play a lot of sound from the president and I know you don`t sometimes like to hear it, but it is important in this case to hear just how out of touch his words are.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Call in the National Guard. Call me. We will have so many people. More people than you have to dominate the streets. You can`t let what`s happening happen. It`s called dominate the streets.

You can`t let that happen in New York where they are breaking into stores and all of the things, and by the way, hurting many small businesses. You can`t let it happen.

Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender or creed. They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement. They have to receive it.

We all saw what happened last week. We can`t let that happen. Hopefully, George is looking down right now and say this is a great thing that`s happening for our country. This is a great day for him, it`s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.


VELSHI: Is it ever a great day for a dead man? A man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pinned his neck to the ground and choked him for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

Let`s note for a moment that Trump`s reference to George Floyd runs counter to an appeal by the Reverend Al Sharpton who said this during George Floyd`s memorial service.


AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: For those that have agendas that are not about justice, this family will not let you use George as a prop.



VELSHI: Now, Donald Trump claims that every American should receive "equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement." But at no point did he explicitly bring up whether the problem in achieving that goal, a lack of just treatment by law enforcement was caused by systemic racism.

Trump just reiterated the need to dominate any violent protesters despite rising concern about violent arrests and alleged assaults by police on demonstrators. And as those demonstrators flood streets to demand racial equality and policing reforms, Trump has ignored those demands.

After all, why address important societal issues when you can dodge and evade and talk about the economy instead. When PBS News Hour`s Yamiche Alcindor, who will join me in a moment, asked the president for specifics on the plan to address the violence against African Americans by police, he shushed her. He actually shushed her.


YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, why don`t you have a plan for systemic racism? And then why haven`t you laid out a plan to address systemic racism?

TRUMP: I`d like to sign this bill.


VELSHI: Trump wanted to celebrate a surprising jobs report as the unemployment rate in May dropped from that of April. He didn`t want to talk about police violence. He didn`t want to talk about race. But what the president fails to grasp is that race and prosperity in this country are inextricably linked.

As the "Washington Post" reports, "Of particular concern to economists as the country has seen an outburst of protests about racism, black Americans saw their unemployment rate already higher than white people increase.

Whereas the unemployment rate for white people went down from 14.2 to 12.4 percent, the unemployment rate for blacks ticked up, from 16.7 to 16.8 percent."

There is no acknowledgment by the president today about the unevenness of employment gains, no acknowledgement that what`s good for one group isn`t necessarily good for others. And when Yamiche Alcindor confronted him on that point, Trump once again did not answer the question and instead he chose to disrespect her.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, how would a better economy -

TRUMP: I`d like to sign this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, just to follow-up, how would a better economy have protected George Floyd?

TRUMP: (Inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. I`ll ask after. Will you take questions after, sir?

ALCINDOR: Black unemployment went up by 0.1 percent. Asian-American unemployment went up by 0.5 percent. How is that a victory?

TRUMP: You are something.

ALCINDOR: How is that a victory?

TRUMP: Thank you very much.



VELSHI: You might have heard just before Yamiche asked her question, another reporter shouted a question to Trump. The reporter asked, how would a better economy have protected George Floyd? The president did not answer that either.

Joining me now, Yamiche Alcindor, the White House correspondent for Pbs NewsHour and Zerlina Maxwell, the senior director of progressive programming at Sirius/XM radio and the author of the upcoming book, "The End of White Politics: How to Heal our Liberal Divide." Both are MSNBC political analysts.

Welcome to both of you. Thank you for being here. Yamiche, in and amongst all the back and forth with Donald Trump, you were actually trying to get to the heart of an important matter. The economy, which the president depends on for his popularity insofar as that continues to exist, doesn`t work the same for African Americans.

And we have all the statistics to prove that. So you were asking a question about racial inequality and he was asking with the economy. You didn`t get what you were looking for there.

ALCINDOR: That`s right. The president even though it has been several days where we`ve seen protesters take to the streets in all 50 states, the president has never ever really talked about systemic racism and his plans, his specific plans for peoples` concerns.

What we saw today was the president takes a victory lap on the economy and say that we`re getting better when in fact he was ignoring the fact, as you pointed out, that black Americans and Asian-Americans saw an up tick in their unemployment.

And when we talk about systemic racism, it`s about the fact that George Floyd was killed by a police officer. It`s also about the fact that black people live in neighborhoods that are policed differently than the more affluent neighborhoods where white people live.

And then of course the schools in those neighborhoods then turn out to be places where they are not equal. So what we see here is a confluence, almost a perfect storm of all sorts of racist practices that then turn into the fact that the police end up shooting a black man more - or should say, disproportionately than they would a white man.

So what we see in the president is him not showing really compassion -- critics say to the victims of policing, but he is also not doing what protesters are demanding, which is actually giving them solutions and talking about what needs to change. He just hasn`t done it yet.

VELSHI: But Zerlina, Donald Trump continues to tell everybody that he is better for African Americans in terms of prosperity. Listen to what he said today.


TRUMP: For black, the best unemployment we`ve ever had.

Black poverty levels are the lowest ever recorded in the history of our country.

No president has done more for our black community.

One of the things I`m most proud about is what I`ve been able to do for the African American community. The lowest job numbers in the history of our country.

We`ve never had so many African American jobs ever, ever in the history of our country by far.

Nobody has ever done for the black community what President Trump has done.


VELSHI: And that of course, that last comment was made today, but this is really over the last four months or so. Zerlina, who believes him?

ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No one. Especially not black people. And I think that one of the reasons that the president does this, it`s almost very cynical. He is not trying to win over black voters and he is not trying to win over our support by demonstrating all of the things he has done for us.

One of the things he is doing because partially his rhetoric is overtly racist, he is trying to demonstrate to his supporters that they can feel okay about themselves. That supporting him does not make them racist, because see, Donald Trump said he is helping the black people.

Additionally, I think he does this to suppress the vote and continue to do what he has done in 2016. So I think there is sort of a two-pronged thing. It gives cover to the racist policies that he has been implementing since the beginning of his presidency.

Now, I think the pandemic and protest movement that is built out of the police killing of George Floyd is an interesting moment to think of in a through line that goes back to the protests against the Muslim ban, the protest against the child separation policy.

And the fact that what we`re really experiencing here is a generational shift, and I don`t think it`s a coincidence that parents and a lot of college students and young people have been quarantined together for months and they are seeing and able to discuss at least some of these inequities and systemic problems that Yamiche had referenced and asked the president about today.

VELSHI: Yamiche, is there anybody inside the administration? We have seen op-eds and comments from people outside particularly Republicans outside the administration being critical of the president. Is there anybody inside the administration sort of giving him guidance about the fact that there might be a different approach to this moment in American history, which we are looking at pictures of right now on this bridge?

These are protesters in Denver. W got cameras across the country. There is, as Zerlina says, no question that this is an important and historical moment in America and the president continues to finds himself on the wrong side of it. Is he getting any guidance to switch tactics?

ALCINDOR: Right after the president made those remarks, I ended up talking to a couple of White House sources about this approach. And they said, look, at the end of the day the president is going to do what the president wants to do.

And that`s been the story of the Trump administration on any issue. And now of course, it`s the same story when it comes to racism and systemic racism in this country. I will say that the president has done this thing as Zerlina said that he`s appealed to African Americans.

But he`s also and sometimes slipped up in a way that some people especially critics of the president say reveal what he`s really trying to do. So, just recently the president said MAGA loves black people. He was talking about them, the people that make America great crowd, his supporter.

That indicated to many people and it`s pretty plainly obvious that the president was saying that the African Americans are excluded from that group. And that is the fundamental issue that President Trump continues to run up against when he tries to -- even tries to sympathize with African Americans.

They just don`t believe him in both cases. He doesn`t have the credibility on these issues. And maybe that is why he is not taking questions because of course, this one he really has not engaged in a real conversation about all of the things that are going on.

And Americans are taking to the streets. They want change. And at this point, the president is just shying away from even having the conversation. He is not even trying to open it up at all at this point.

VELSHI: And yet, Zerlina, Americans of all colors and backgrounds are having this conversation. I want to play for a moment what my colleague, the Reverend Al Sharpton said at the George Floyd memorial yeserday in Minneapolis because it`s being heard across America. Let`s listen to him.


SHARPTON: The reason why we are marching all over the world is we were like George, we couldn`t breathe, not because there was something wrong with our lungs, but you wouldn`t take your knee off our neck. We don`t want no favors. Just get up off of us and we can be and do whatever we can be.


VELSHI: Zerlina, what`s different this time? Black men have been dying at the hands of - some black women have been dying at the hands of police forever. Why is there a moment now that Americans are feeling? What are they relating to that is causing everybody to get on this?

MAXWELL: Well, I think this pandemic actually contributes to the number of people that actually watched that video of George Floyd being killed by the police and the fact that there was a video of Amy Cooper in Central Park putting a black man who was not in the video mind you, in physical danger by threatening to call the police.

Those two things happened in the same week of time. And I really think that opened up the flood gates because, one, people didn`t have any other distractions. They were in quarantine and they had their phones and their devices and so that was circulating all - not just in America, but throughout the world.

The fact that we are seeing protests against police brutality and specifically police brutality committed against black people in London is amazing to me because I have never left my house to go and protest the leader of another country.

And maybe I should, but I think it demonstrates that people understanding that black people are not fully free until they are able to live healthy in safe communities without the threat of police violence killing them and nobody being held accountable for that.

VELSHI: And maybe there is some sense that none of us are free if they are not fully free. Thank you to both of you for the work that you do, Yamiche Alcindor and Zerlina Maxwell. Joining us now from Los Angeles Gadi Schwartz. Gadi, what`s going on in Los Angeles right now?

GADI SCHWARTZ, : Ali, a really remarkable scene. There was a press conference out here in front of LAPD headquarters. That`s where the press conference was over there. The chief was addressing a small crowd of community leaders.

And then all of a sudden about a thousand people came from a protest over in this area. They came up to the fence. They were yelling and chanting and saying that they didn`t understand why they weren`t invited. It seems like a closed event.

Now, the police chief is right over there. He is still meeting with people. In fact, he was just speaking with some people over here. So, we`re going to see if we can chat with him.

I know that the chief spent some time speaking with you. I know you`ve got a sign here that looks like you are holding a sign with two men on this. Their face is right there. Can you tell us what happened here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jason Tayshaun (ph) Bronson, he was murdered by Culver City police, August 4, 2000.

SCWHARTZ: So this is 2000 case and this is a 1990 case. Did you know them?


SCHWARTZ: And what ended up happening with these cases, do you remember?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This police officer in this case, they walked away. And in this case, this police officer walked away as well.

SCHWARTZ: I know that your main concern it sounded like what is you want some of these cases to be looked at. What did the chief tell you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said basically that Inglewood and Culver City, they both handle in their jurisdictions these types of cases differently.

SCHWARTZ: Did you feel like he was listening to your concerns? What do you think about --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like he did a political approach as I expected him to do.

SCHWARTZ: So, were you expecting the answers that he gave you?


SCHWARTZ: What are you hoping happens?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope that, you know, in this time, that these types of cases can be reopened and retried and looked at and put under a fine microscope, a very fine scope because these police officers that killed these two young men, took their lives very young.

You know, when they take the lives of people, they also affect the families and the people that love them that are far attached to them. So to this day, his mother has been trying to find justice in this system, to this day for her son.

SCHWARTZ: And that`s the year 2000.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This had been 2000.

SCHWARTZ: Twenty years ago. This one is 30 years ago. So, it`s not just about the cases we`re seeing today.


SCHWWARTZ: You want to see cases reopened from the past.


SCHWARTZ: Thank you so very much for speaking to us. I`m coming right back here in just a second. I want to hear from all of you guys. So, that`s a little bit of what we`re hearing, Ali. Interestingly enough, today there was a lawsuit that was filed against the police chief as well as LAPD for some of the events that have transpired during the protests.

Protesters and Black Lives Matter saying that many people were detained against their constitutional rights. They say that they had problems with the curfew, problems with the way people were cheated. The chief over there, I got to tell you. We listened the pres conference just for a little while and there was a moment that a lot of ears perked up.

In fact, I saw two officers in uniform, they kind of looked at each other because the chief made it a point, he said several times that this was a murder.

And again, Ali, you know what that means. In the law enforcement community, this is a case that hasn`t been adjudicated and yet the chief of one of the biggest cities in the country said murder when it comes to a case that we are watching and it has not gone through the court system.

So, it`s going to be interesting to see if there is any fallback within the rank and file, but for now the chief continues to speak with some of the protesters that are aligned here in front of LAPD headquarters. The night is very young and we`ve got a lot more people to talk to so we`re going to check in with them, Ali.

VELSHI: It`s 7:19 p.m. in Los Angeles. Gadi, thank you. We will continue to follow this and the other protests going on around the countruy. Gadi Schwartz for us in Los Angeles.

Coming up, we`re going to take a look at what the protesters want and some of what their action has won in the last week and a half. That`s next.


VELSHI: As protesters gather across the country for the 11th night, we are looking at live pictures here of Sacramento, California, 7:23 p.m. Paacific time. This is a die-in. People memorializing the death of George Floyd by acting as if they have died, by lying flay and still on the ground to send a message to those who are following these protest.

Die-in in the capital of California. Some cities have started to implement changes, however, involving law enforcement. Tonight, the Minneapolis city council approved a ban on the use of neck restraints and chokeholds by the city`s police officers. It also now requires officers who witness those actions to report it to superiors.

Also today, Manhattan`s district attorney announced the office will not prosecute anyone arrested for unlawful assembly or disorderly conduct related to the protests across the city. This is important because the majority of arrests over the last week in New York have been for violating curfew.

On Wednesday after widespread criticism, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti cancelled a budget proposal that would have boosted the city`s police department budget by 7 percent next year. And while these changes are progress, activists say that reform needs to be more widespread.

Vox reports "protesters are demanding life itself be changed, that policing being fairer and kinder, that biases be inspected and corrected, that lasting policies be implemented that erase inequality, and that all people be able to move through the country without experiencing existential dread."

Joining us now Alicia Garza. She is the creator of Black Lives Matter and principal at Black Futures Lab. She`s also the director of Strategy and Partnerships for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Phillip Atiba Goff. He is the co-founder and CEO of the Center for Policing Equity and a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Alicia, on one hand we have examples of some progress. We`ve seen images of some police officers and chiefs taking a knee or marching with people. I saw one in Chicago on Tuesday night. On the other hand you have 57 members of the Buffalo Emergency Response Team who`ve resigned from the unit in the height of cowardice.

They actually haven`t resigned from the police force so they don`t lose their paychecks. They have just resigned from their unit because two of their fellow officers were suspended for knocking down a 75-year-old man and seriously injuring him. So, there are a lot of police in this country who are just on the wrong side of history right now.

ALCIA GARZA, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK LIVES MATTER: It`s true. And frankly, you know, one of the things that we know is that this is why tinkering with what exists does not work. Frankly, the activists and the organizers and the folks who are in the streets right now are not just asking for reforms.

Reforms are important. But ultimately, you need people to oversee those reforms and implement them. And time and time again what we see in states across the country is that these kinds of laws will be passed. No choke holds, no this or that, but yet, there is not a way to implement them.

And so the protesters in the streets right now are actually calling for us to change the way that we distribute our resources. Frankly, our budgets from cities all that way up to Congress are bloated in relationship to punishment, in relationship to policing.

And that needs to change. The only way to avoid the kinds of cases that we see, in the case of Breonna Floyd - sorry, excuse me - in the case of Breonna Taylor, in the case of George Floyd, in the case of so many names that we now have a CBS long list of people who have died at the hands of the police, not just by guns, right, but people who have been beaten, people who are tortured in jails.

The only way for us to address this is to limit the scope, the scale and the role of police in order to change the role that policing is playing in this country right now.

VELSHI: So Phillip, we`ve heard and I`ve seen for the last week and a half signs that say defund the police. Is that what that means or is it a reallocation of resources so that the police have a smaller set of responsibilities in which they cannot be nearly as lethal to African Americans?

PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, CENTER FOR POLICING EQUITY: Yes. I think you see people who need a range of different things. So some people are literally saying abolish the police. No police


-- which is essentially that our priorities are way out of whack, right? Law enforcement is sometimes the only public resource that gets any funding going into black neighborhoods. So we don`t see hospitals, we don`t see groceries with fresh food. We don`t see medical centers, substance abuse centers, mental health.

All we fund is punishment. And if all you fund is punishment and punishment is what responds when you`re suicidal or your marriage is in trouble or your kids are having a hard time. That`s a terrible life to look at.

Listen to those protester demands. People should be free to move about this country without the existential dread. How was it that we have to demand that? How is that not already the values that we have and the lives that we`re trying to live.

I think part of what I am hearing from the protesters that I speak to is that this is more than just policing. Policing is the spark, but the reality is what we are seeing is the past due bill for the unpaid debts owed to black communities for hundreds of years.

And if we don`t have a set of responses, if we don`t have a set of answers to that, then frankly, our answers are too small. If we fixed everything in policing, it still wouldn`t be proportional to this moment that we are seeing.

VELSHI: Alicia, African Americans are between 13 and 14 percent of the population there. Economic and political influence is generally speaking even less than that. Economic studies show that you need 11.5 black families to make up the wealth of the median white family.

So, whose problem is this to fix and how does it get fixed? I get the sense that the last 11 days has indicated to white America that this is their problem too. If this doesn`t get fixed, it`s bad for everybody.

GARZA: That`s absolutely right. The disparities that are attacking black communities due to a deliberate disinvestment in the things we need to live well, is everyone`s responsibility. Look we live in a country that promises us liberty, freedom and justice for all and yet there are too many of us who don`t have access to the things that we need in order to access those values that this country promises us. So when we talk about "Black Lives Matter" we can`t just think that`s something that`s nice to do for black people.


GARZA: People in America, black and white lack access to health care. Please in America, black and white lack access to jobs. And whose responsibility is that, the people who represent us, the people who make decisions about where resources are going. And the people who continue to defend rules that are rigged against our communities.

VELSHI: I want to remind everybody that while the unemployment rate in the country went down this morning, the unemployment rate for African Americans went up. Alicia, thank you. Alicia Garza and (inaudible) thank you for joining me tonight. Coming up it has been an intense and emotional week of demonstrations across the country and clashes with police and military.

I have been out in the field reporting with so many of my colleagues trying to make sense of the situation that is changing minute to minutes, sometimes literally before the smoke clears. Coming up next, three of my fellow reporters and I are going to take a step back and share some of what we have experienced that doesn`t always make it during breaking news.


VELSHI: Protestors are demanding racial justice and then end to police brutality for the past 11 days and nights sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In Minneapolis, last Friday night, as many of you saw live during Rachel`s show, I was hit by teargas a couple of times and then on Saturday by a rubber bullet. I was in the crowd that police were firing upon but my final confrontation came as we were retreating from the scene.


VELSHI: Nobody was doing anything. They told them - they open fire, look at them. They are aiming their fire now and they are walking towards us. Get back, get back, get back, get back, your head, your head. He`s hit. Step back, step back, I got it, I got it. Watch it guys. We got gas here. All right, back up, back up, back up, back up. All right, they are now moving towards us. They are now moving towards us. There was - yes, they are shooting us guys. Put your helmets on. You guys stay with me. Okay. We got gassed.


VELSHI: Moments after that I was hit in the leg with a rubber bullet while still on camera and sometime after that having just been shot at and teargas too without any protesters around us, my team and I, and a foreign TV crew attempted to retreat encountering police and National Guard at another intersection. We approached slowly with our hand in the air announcing we are media. They heard us and they responded with we don`t care and they opened fire again.

On Tuesday in New York City, I asked police why a perimeter line had been established just West of Union Square where you see us here. There was no evident risk to anyone safety. And us getting closer to cover the removal of quiet calm protesters who had been arrested for breaking curfew.

The police officers response suggested that if I did not move back and I was already on the right side of the line I might be arrested in New York City for covering the transfer of peaceful protesters who are under arrest and zip tied into a van. Several of my colleagues from NBC and other outlets encountered danger in the last 11 days. All of us went back in the field because we exist at journalist to bear witness and to hold power to account. We bear witness to what is happening out there on the streets of America and that is how we hold power to account.

Joining me now to talk about our experiences covering the live events is NBC`s Shaquille Brewster, who`s been in Minneapolis the whole time while we were covering the story and MSNBC`s Cal Perry who`s been covering Louisville, Kentucky and he`s covered real war zones and NBC News Capitol Hill report, Garrett Haake in Washington D.C. also hit with the projectile while live on TV over the weekend.

And Garrett, let me start with you, because unlike me I was just covering the protests. You were navigating covering policy, things that the White House was doing and the protests. I want our viewers to take a quick look at this. Then I want to talk to you on the other side.


GARRETT HAAKE, CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT, MSNBC: This is an extraordinary escalation on the streets in front of the White House right now. It`s in the last 15 minutes mounted police have been coming down the street. You are going to see them in the frame now, using flash bangs in front of them and mounted police to clear what has been an entirely peaceful protest. Not 90%, not 99%, but a 100% peaceful protest here today. There was no throwing of water bottles there was no throwing of objects. But short time ago mounted police officers began clearing the street.


VELSHI: And subsequently Garrett, you got hit by something. How do you manage the idea that you were covering a protest and you are covering the action of the police and National Guard who you and all of us are depending on for our own security in some cases?

HAAKE: Yes. I mean, it depends on the circumstance. You know, I got hit with a projectile the night before. And that was a situation where I didn`t feel like I was being targeted, I was just, sort of, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Caught between protesters and police who were trying to clear out a space and, you know, we just, sort of, were stuck.

The tape you just played from Monday afternoon, this is the incident of the clearing out of Lafayette Park in 8th Street which has become an enormous political issue. Just tonight there was an interview that came out with Bill Barr, the Attorney General in which he denied ordering the clearing of that plaza.

The park police has also repeatedly denied that they used teargas. They quibbled about the type of material that they might have used. You know it`s a case where our cameras were rolling and the things we saw and what I breathed all of it affects the policy side of it. I mean, we heard from lawmakers repeatedly since that about they want hearings. They want investigations. You know, they want to get to the bottom of exactly what happened in that particular incident in Lafayette Plaza and so do I.

And our video will tell part of that story and I think it helps to prevents gas lighting from the White House. For example they talked repeatedly at the first briefing after that about the idea that bricks and frozen water bottles are been thrown at these officers, as part of the motivation for clearing that plaza. Joe Biden mentioned that tonight. Nobody who was there saw it. So that`s where these things combine I think.

VELSHI: Cal Perry, you are in Louisville, Kentucky, March 13th, just after midnight police executed something called a no knock warrant they rammed the house of an emergency worker, Breonna Taylor they got into a gun fight with her boyfriend who had a legally licensed firearm and she is dead today. Tonight would have been her 27th birthday and that is fuelling some of the protests on the street of Louisville.

CAL PERRY, CORRESPONDENT, MSNBC: Yes. Tonight is peaceful, tonight is a little bit like a party out here, there are kids out here but last week was not that. The Security Forces, National Guard and police were here on the streets and decided to confront the protesters. And so there were these running teargas running battles across the cities specifically in the square but unfortunately after midnight we`re ending in real gunfire in live ammunition covering a protest with live ammunition going off, sort of, right in the corner.

What`s changed here is that the National Guard and the police have withdrawn, they are out of sight. And it has made all the difference in the world, they has calmed the protesters down and it has kept things peaceful. They`ve removed the curfew. They have taken away any of the ability for people to confront the police to confront the security forces it`s made all of the difference in this city, Ali.

VELSHI: Shaq, you were in Minneapolis when I got there, you have been there the whole time. And one of the things that happened this week was the news that the three other police officers have been charged. We were there I think together on Friday when we found out one police officer was been charged. What was - let`s actually just play the response and then we will talk on the other side.


SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, POLITICAL REPORTER, NBC NEWS: We have seen so many young people here, people who are brining this children they are saying this is going to be your fight, that you have to face them. Again they got back to that young lady that I saw he said. This is why we are fighting, this is what we wanted.

And they feel like they have gotten and that`s what they`ve been looking for and what they`ve been following for. Mind you, if you talk to a lot of people they say, just left their home several days ago. But they are happy with what they are seeing right now (inaudible). We got the charges, now we need a conviction. Their fight for justice is not over.


VELSHI: Shaquille, you have seen every piece of the emotional roller coaster that people in Minneapolis have gone through since you got there. What do we not know? What do you want to tell us about what you are seeing there?

BREWSTER: Yes. You really saw an evolution in the messaging from the protesters. I arrived here on Tuesday. The morning that we woke up to the video I immediately drove here to Minneapolis and the messaging and feeling that you had there with that, it was a feeling of anger. We were still several days away from officer Chauvin, who was the one with the knee in the neck of George Floyd, we are several days away from him being arrested. We were over a week away from all four officers involved in his death from being arrested.

So people were frustrated they were angered by what they were seeing and they were deeply skeptical that something was going to happen. And each day, that you had that period of three nights of consistent violence where it would start the peaceful protest by day, you`ll have some clashes with police in the evening and in those three nights of complete chaos, frankly. After those three days and after the actions started to come about, you felt the shift in tone. And it really culminated with that clip that you saw there where people were being relieved. They were celebrating the fact that they got what they wanted.

And they made clear it was the first step in what they wanted. They believe that those officers should have been charged initially, they should have been charged on day one and they finally start to achieve that. Today we have the news that Minneapolis City Council banned the use of chokeholds and they instituted a policy that requires officers to intervene or report other officers when using excessive force. I was at another protest where someone yelled when they announced that someone yelled. That is what we want it. That is what we are fighting for. So you saw that evolution over the course of the week, Ali.

VELSHI: I think that is an important point, people are actually looking for solutions. They want solutions, they are not out there protesting for the hell of it. Thanks to three of you. Stay with me, I want to continue the discussion on the other side. We got to take a break. And when we come back, I want to talk about the real experience of being in these protests day after day. Up next.


VELSHI: For the past 11 days, thousands of people in cities and towns, tens of thousands really across the country have been taking part in what have been for the most part peaceful demonstrations, and while we have shown you a lot of the chaotic moments as they were happening live on our air, we want to take some time now to talk about the peaceful moments and conversations that our reporters have had with a diverse group of people about why they have been coming out to participate in these demonstrations.

We are back here with our panel of reporters, Shaq Brewster in Minneapolis, Cal Perry in Louisville, Kentucky and Garrett Haake in Washington D.C., Garrett, let me just start with you because like Minneapolis where you were got very, very hot at moments, but in between your live reporting and teargas and mounted police, there were real people that wanted real change?

HAAKE: Yes. That is absolutely right, Ali. I found a way that sort of, through a visual stuck in my head this whole time after the first night of the protest here someone spray painted the side of a building right here in Lafayette Square, we`ve showed you that image, why do we have to keep telling you that "Black Lives Matter`.

And every person I talked to here, gave me is very similar mixes of anger but also exhaustion at just how long they`ve been having this fight. And in my head I was thinking back to, you know, Michael Brown in Ferguson or even all the way back to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Well, that building that that`s spray painted on, I learned just today from a "Washington Post" story used to be slave quarters at the Decatur House here in Washington, D.C.

It just floored me, this whole concept that how long this fight is. Is quite honestly it`s not something that I had really gotten my head around until this week from all the people I talked to sharing that exact sentiment.

VELSHI: Shaq Brewster on TV on Thursday night with Brian William I was describing how this was a mostly orderly protest. What I was saying was that the majority of people there were orderly, but somebody set fire to the building behind me. And a lot of people were very critical of how can you call it orderly when there`s fires burning and entire city blocks burning down. The fact is I don`t know what your experience was in Minneapolis, but most people I met in Minneapolis were peaceful protesters.

BREWSTER: Definitely. And you know, the big thing that you have to remember in that, I continue to try to remind people is that when you - during the day you have thousands and thousands of people who have participated in protests. Even today you had thousands of people walking up to six miles to participate in a protest and have that demonstration. That`s the majority of what you see. But the problem is it takes just a few of them, and it might be even a separate group. It just takes a small amount of people to cause that chaos and cause those scenes and to start a fire that burns and demolishes a building.

And that`s the problem that you see where, yes, you have the peaceful protests by day. But then you saw those scenes of destruction and pure devastation by night. You know, one thing that stuck out with me, that first night that I came here, there was a gentleman who had a sweatshirt on that said "I Can`t Breathe" and it was the night that we saw that video.

And I thought for a second, wait, that`s a - you made that sweatshirt really quickly. And then I went up to him, and he reminded me, no, I actually bought this several years ago when Eric Garner died. And that is something and that`s the frustration.


BREWSTER: That speaks to the anger that people had the reason why people were out there, that they`re fighting the same fight over again.

VELSHI: Cal Perry, you and I have worked together several times in our career, and you are the international guy. You have covered these things in real war zones, in real parts of the world where you would need a flak jacket and a helmet and a gas mask. I have never taken my bulletproof vest and worn it in America. I`ve never had a gas mask in America until this week. I never wore a helmet while reporting in America. This is all new.

PERRY: It`s been completely surreal, and it`s been totally and entirely emotionally draining. And I have to constantly check myself and ask myself how would I report this if I were overseas. And here`s what it would sound like. Authorities put down peaceful protests in streets. Blood in streets, President makes opposition party criminals. President threatens protesters as thugs. When I saw Garrett Haake put up pictures of unmarked authorities in D.C., alarm bells went off. Like you and I would be calling back to New York if we were overseas saying, okay, this is the moment where things go bad.

Unmarked, secret police on the streets of a capital to put protesters down is unimaginable. But that`s how we would report it overseas. And the bigger picture is even more convoluted, it`s more confusing. It`s the United States President is casting doubt on the democratic process.

America used to be the country that would monitor elections and I`m standing here in a square in an American City that was overrun with tear gas, people running and screaming, rubber bullets being fired, and I`m asking myself who`s going to monitor the process here if things really get out of control because the rhetoric that is coming from the White House is the kind of rhetoric that we hear in authoritarian regimes.

And it doesn`t happen overnight. It`s a slow crawl. It started on inauguration day when Sean Spicer came out and lied to the media and showed fake pictures, called us liars, said that we were all full of it. And from that moment on, it`s been this slow slip and slide. And we`re about halfway through. This is not chapter one in the authoritarian playbook. This is chapter six. The end of this book is the democratic process that falls apart. So I am constantly checking myself on how would I report this overseas because it is completely surreal, Ali.

VELSHI: And that is our job, and thank you to the three of you, Shaquille Brewster, Garrett Haake, and Cal Perry. You represent - you are here symbolizing the work of all journalists at NBC news, and I don`t just mean the reporters but the cameramen, the engineers, the sound technicians, the security, and all journalists who have been out there bearing witness no matter what organization they work with. So thank you for the work you are doing. It is important to democracy. We`ll be right back with some breaking news about the 2020 election.


VELSHI: We have some breaking news before we go tonight. The associated press has just declared that Joe Biden has reached the delegate total needed to formally win the democratic nomination. So it will be Joe Biden versus Donald Trump on the Presidential ticket 151 days from today. That is tonight`s last word. I`m Ali Velshi.

You can catch me tomorrow morning starting at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Muhammad Ali`s daughter, Khaliah Ali will join me with her grandson who is following in her footsteps as a Civil Rights Activist. I`ll also interview the New York Attorney General, Letitia James and Houston Chief of Police, Art Acevedo. Hope you have joined us "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams begins right now.