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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/20/21

Guests: Tim Walz, Marq Claxton, Kirk Burkhalter, Joyce Beatty


The jury in Minnesota found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last May. Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota is interviewed. Today, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison who was in charge of the prosecution of Derek Chauvin thanked the witnesses on the street who became the witnesses in the courtroom and told the jury the truth of what happened to George Floyd.



And as was proven again today, there is no drama in the world quite like the return of a jury verdict. The suspense is always total. There`s no polling. There`s no hint. They don`t give signals.

The only indication we had was the relative speed of the verdict on something this complex with no questions to the judge at all. It certainly gave people like me the belief that there`s going to be at least one guilty coming out of this, if not all three. But when that moment comes there is nothing like it.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yeah. And the interesting thing about the coverage of this trial, with COVID restrictions, the public -- and the press being restricted from being in the room. And so being cameras there but that not being the usual means of business in that sort of courtrooms, or not showing the jury but allowing us to hear their words as they were pulled from the judge. I mean, that -- preserving the anonymity of the jury, the unusual way that we were able to access it in real time in that moment because of COVID allows for the cameras to be there, it was just so unique and like you said, there`s no drama quite like that. I felt like I didn`t take a breath for a very long time watching it.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, and what is so fascinating about what you just said is when you remove all of those visual elements from the trial that we were not allowed to see, never allowed to see jurors, it didn`t suffer. We still -- like this flawless radio play with all the drama, the sound alone could give us and it was as dramatic as any courtroom scene I`ve ever witnessed while being in the actual courtroom.

MADDOW: Yeah, absolutely right. And there`s an ongoing debate about whether or not cameras in the courtroom affects jurisprudence, whether they advantage one side or the other or when they -- if they degrade the quality of the judicial process in any way. The Supreme Court for instance has never allowed cameras inside, I think most of the Supreme Court justices vowed that will never happen.

But we`ve seen needs must, we`ve seen necessity being a mother of invention in terms of way to responsibly have cameras in the courtroom because of COVID. And the high-profile nature of this trial and the way that they were able to handle that right to the very end today preserving the anonymity of the jury and the anonymity of the witnesses who were minors. I think it will cost people to rethink whether or not a can be done in a way that opens the process to the public without hearing the trial process.

O`DONNELL: Yes, this is the perfect example of it. And you know, Rachel, I was watching our coverage this evening and Joy Reid had her hour and I felt that`s not enough for Joy, she has years of things to say about this. And so, I`ve asked her to come on and join our discussion in this hour because I for one want to hear more from her.

And we have the governor of Minnesota Tim Walz joining us tonight in this hour, and so that is how we will begin our coverage.

MADDOW: Get to it, my friend. Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

In the end, it came down to 12 people. About the same number of people who watch Police Officer Derek Chauvin murder George Floyd on 38th Street in Minneapolis, 12 people who had the same reaction that the people on the street had when they were watching George Floyd die.

Twelve people, randomly assembled by the state of Minnesota, a state sharply divided in the last presidential election when it seemed impossible to get 12 people in that state or 12 people anywhere in this country to agree, unanimously, on anything. Twelve reasonable people, 12 people who took an oath, evaluated evidence together, including the video of George Floyd`s death recorded by 17 year old, Darnella Frazier, and then, quickly, agreed, unanimously, to speak with one voice in the pronouncement of one word, three times, guilty, guilty, guilty.


JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY DISTRICT COURT: Verdict count one, court file number 27-CR20-12646: We the jury in the above entitled matter as to count one, unintentional second-degree murder while committing a felony, find the defendant guilty. This verdict agreed to the 20th April at 1:44 p.m. Signed juror foreperson, juror #19.

Same caption, verdict count two, we the jury in the above entitled matter as to count two, third degree murder perpetuating an imminently dangerous act find a defendant guilty. This verdict agreed to this 20th day of April 2021 at 1:45 p.m. Signed by jury foreperson, juror #19.

Same caption, verdict count three, we the jury in the above entitled matter as to count three, second degree manslaughter, culpable negligence creating an unreasonable risk find a defendant guilty. This verdict agreed to this 20th day of April 2021 at 1:45 p.m. Signed by jury foreperson, zero one nine.


O`DONNELL: In the closing arguments, one of the prosecutors left the jury with the words they clearly followed in their deliberations. You can`t believe your eyes.


STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: You can believe your eyes. It is exactly what you believed. It is exactly what you saw with your eyes. It is exactly what you knew. It`s what you felt in your gut. It`s what you now know in your heart.

This wasn`t policing, this was murder. The defendant is guilty of all three counts, all of them. And there`s no excuse. Thank you.


O`DONNELL: After the verdict was announced and the cheers were filling the air outside of the courthouse, there was one piece of business left in the courtroom, in a courtroom where video of George Floyd being handcuff was played countless times, a prisoner had to be handcuffed on live television and taken into custody.

Derek Chauvin will be sentenced in eight weeks. He is facing possibly more than 40 years in prison.


CAHILL: Is there a motion on behalf of the state?

PROSECUTOR: Your Honor, we would move to have the court revoke the defendant`s bail and remand him in custody, pending sentence.

CAHILL: Bail is revoked by this discharged and the defendant is remanded at the custody of the Hennepin County sheriff.

Anything further?

Thank you.

We`re adjourned.


O`DONNELL: After the verdict, President Biden and Vice President Harris spoke by phone to George Floyd`s family, and then, said this.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today`s verdict is a step forward. I just spoke with the governor of Minnesota. He thanked me for the close work with his team, and I also spoke with George Floyd`s family again. A remarkable family of extraordinary courage, nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back. But, this can be a giant step forward in the march towards justice in America.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here`s the truth about racial injustice, it is not just a black America problem or a people of color problem. It is a problem for every American. It is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all.


O`DONNELL: Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said this.


GOV. TIM WALZ (D), MINNESOTA: Police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder of George Floyd and was taken away, and sentencing will soon follow.

It`s an important step towards justice for Minnesota. Trial is over. But here in Minnesota, I want to be very clear: we know our work just begins. This is the floor, not the ceiling of where we need to get to.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.

Governor, thank you very much for joining us on this very important night and a historic night for your state.

What can you tell us about your phone conversation with President Biden today?

WALZ: Well, good evening, Lawrence.

Well, I think all of us know President Biden`s compassion and just basic human decency, certainly needed them (ph). And I think the two of us speaking after the minutes the verdict was read, I don`t know if a relief is it (ph), but I think I could hear in President Biden`s voice a hopefulness that we got something that I think as the prosecution said we all saw, we all knew in our heart. And I think President, just like I`ve been talking about it, is that as the Floyd`s family pain was -- laid bare to the world over this last year, so was Minnesota`s pain and our failings.

But we know we can do better. We know we have to do better and I think just listening to the point that this isn`t about black Minnesotans. This is all about Minnesotans.

And so, that conversation helped me. The president`s team has been working side by side with us, having those conversations with them, and now, the work has begun.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. You said that today. You said, we know our work just begins. So, what is next in that work?

WALZ: Well, I think one of the things is that there`s an acknowledgement in Minnesota. Minnesota is an exceptional state. We contribute a lot to the world and we ranked as I told people time and time again, at the very top in quality of life indicators -- life expectancy, personal income, educational attainment, homeownership. But when you disaggregate that, there`s not just a little gap, we go first to 50th if you`re black.

And that work begins of us, first of all, naming that and then making sure that our, for example, education equities are addressed. We got a plan called Do North Education Plan. If we`re going to follow that North Star, then we need to get that right.

And it starts with some of those things, but we have to take away the risk. We cannot have black youths -- we saw it again -- almost unimaginably to watch Daunte Wright die a week ago. We`ve got to make changes in our legislature that stiffen our post board, the training board, and those that oversee licensing of police.

We need to make sure that you don`t die for a traffic stop. We need to make sure there`s mental -- more mental health counselors out (ph). That we can`t let these things sat and not move, and I think that`s the work that has to happen.

So, we need to bring up all of those things, because it didn`t -- it didn`t start in the inequities when they ended up with police encounter. It starts when they`re born.

In this com -- we have the capacity here. We`re a wealthy state with resources, and the commitment of folks, it`s just this insidious nature that people don`t see it and it`s right in front of us. And I think that`s the work that needs to happen.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to some of what your state`s attorney general, Keith Ellison, who`s in charge of the prosecution said today.


KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I would not call today`s verdict justice however, because justice implies true restoration, but it is accountability which is the first step towards justice. We need true justice. That`s not one case. That is a social transformation that says nobody`s beneath the law and no one is above it.

This verdict reminds us that we must make enduring systematic societal change.


O`DONNELL: What can you do in conjunction with the attorney general on this?

WALZ: Well, first of all, I`d like to thank the attorney general. I think the -- you know, the country and the world saw the team that he assembled, just the talent that`s there.

I had the privilege of serving in Congress with the attorney general. We`ve been friends for a long time. And I think he`s calling us out for that, that we need to pass this legislation. There`s -- they`ve been moved.

Our House of Representatives in Minnesota, there`s a lot of folks in there -- the people of color, the indigenous caucus has to set up things that they want to see an omnibus bill around police reform. That needs to pass.

We have an opportunity with the American Rescue Plan to make investments in our schools, especially our communities of color, healthcare disparities and those types of things. I think that`s what he`s talking about and just changing this.

Again, we can do this. We have the ability to do it. It`s that societal change that makes it that we -- I think a lot of Minnesotans, Lawrence, and the country, the sense of dread that you`ve been feeling, the sense of we can`t have occupying, you know, large number of police on our streets all the time. That`s the feelings that black parents have when they send their kids to soccer practice.

And I think maybe it`s starting to -- starting to the dawn on some folks that unless this gets taken up now, we`re going to be right back here again. And I don`t think there`s anybody in this state or across the country want to end back here again.

So, I am committed now. I think this gives us the momentum to move these things. I hope we see that in the United States Congress to move some of the piece of legislation that are there. But this is what has to happen.

And just be candid with you, we can`t be denying the right to vote to black communities when they`re saying, thank God we`re able to vote for somebody like Keith Ellison to be the attorney general. Those are the things that bring real change. So, we`ve got work to do.

O`DONNELL: Governor, for you personally, what has been the most -- the biggest part of the learning experience for you in this subject in the last year?

WALZ: Well, you know, it`s listening to that. I fully admit being a -- you know, a middle age white guy who grew up in the middle America and a town of 300, and I knew everybody, trying to understand other communities, trying to make sure you`re out (ph) -- I started my teaching career out in Pine Ridge, at Wolf Creek. I taught fourth grade for a little while.

But trying to understand and hear these communities. And it`s really challenging in a state like Minnesota, where you see wealth, you see some success around and why you`re leaving folks behind.

So, for me, I come from the classroom. I`m a classroom teacher and just seeing how we set those expectations and we put things into play that set the destiny of these children long before they end at 38th and Chicago under the knee of a police officer.

And I think for me is they continue to listen, and then, this has been challenging on me, Lawrence. I just have to say, we`re trying to make sure we don`t see our cities burned. This is that catch-22. The more police are there, the more tension it is. The more tension it is, the more chance you have to get things.

This idea of getting away from the false narrative, it`s not about defunding police, it`s about having the community safe and in a way that works for them and has them a part of it.

And I think my job is going to be -- and I don`t expect it to be easy -- is to try and draw back away from those divisions that we have, because all -- just like you see across the country, Minnesota is divided and it`s divided geographically. It`s divided racially.

And we see that the end of all that is police in the streets, national guards in the streets, tensions, families ruined, and a city, state, and country on edge. And so, for me, it`s making sure I`m hearing those communities and making sure that we`re willing.

Let`s try something different. Let`s be bold. Let`s put things out there. And let the community show us the direction to go because they`re ready.

O`DONNELL: Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us on this important night for you and your state. We really appreciate it.

WALZ: You`re welcome.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Governor. Thank you.

Joining our discussion now, Joy Reid. She`s host of MSNBC`s "THE REIDOUT".

Joy, I was watching you at 7:00, you didn`t have enough time. You just weren`t going to have enough time tonight. You have years of things that you, I know, need to say about this. I want to give you an open mic at this hour with your reactions to this verdict today.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "THE REIDOUT": Well, thank you, Lawrence, I appreciated.

I mean, we sort of had an embarrassment of riches of great guests that I let do all the talking at 7:00. And, you know, I think like everyone else, I`ve been holding my breath through this trial. I tend to be very cynical about trials of police officers, I assume they always get off because the almost always do.

I didn`t start to even consider that there could be a guilty verdict until towards the end of the trial. I mean, the prosecution so outclassed the defense attorney who did all of the usual tricks. You know, the magical black man is going to leap from -- you know, rise from the dead because of the power of drugs that he was on, and become a threat, all of the usual tropes about dangerous black man. He tried everything.

But you just never know, right? You can never tell jurors. Once the jury came back quickly, and talking with a lot of police friends and prosecutor friends who all said if they come back within a couple of days, it`s probably a guilty verdict. So, when it was only 10, 11 hours, I was like, ok, it`ll be guilty, and as would happen. But tonight, having had a few hours to think about it, I just have two teenagers in my head tonight, Lawrence.

Darnella Frazier, and Makiyah Bryant. They aren`t that far apart in age, and Darnella being a teenage girl who is the reason why there was a trial at all.

You know, you have talked about her a lot on this show. She was brave enough to take in the trauma of watching a man died in front of her and filament. She`s the reason George Floyd, you know, went from being what Minneapolis police claim was someone who died of a medical incident, you know, in casual contact with police, they even lied about it, to being somebody who really could change the world, as his daughter said.

And Makiyah, who is a 15 year old who is dead tonight on the same night we got this verdict, that is such a relief to so many people, she called the police because there was an incident taking place at her foster home, and now she`s dead because police shot her in the chest and killed her.

So, I`m half relieved. I`m partly exhausted emotionally. And I`m not sure where this gets us long term, because police are still police, and they`re still doing the same thing.

O`DONNELL: I`m glad you mentioned Darnella Frazier. I`m going to have more to say about her at the end of the hour, and we`re going to listen to some of her testimony at the end of this hour tonight and let her get the last word that way.

Let`s listen to some of Joe Biden`s phone call today with the family.


BIDEN: We`ve been watching every second of this, the vice president, and we are also relieved. Not just one verdict but all three, guilty on all three accounts. And it`s really important. I`m anxious to see you guys, I really am. We are going to get a lot more done. We`re going to get, we`re going to do a lot. We are going to stay at it until we get it done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully this is the momentum for the George Floyd justice and policing act to get past and have you sign.

BIDEN: You`ve got a, pal, that and a lot more. Not just that, a lot more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.

BIDEN: This gives us a shot at dealing with genuine systemic racism.


O`DONNELL: Joy, what was your reaction to that presidential phone call?

REID: You know, think ahead we have a warm blooded human being as president in this moment. I can`t imagine with this night would have been like the previous president in office, to be honest with you. You know, the best Joe Biden is empathetic Joe Biden. And he`s a real person.

He`s talked to the family more than once, he spoken to them multiple times since he`s become president. He actually is a decent man, and I think it was very kind of him to reach out to the family, for him to make a statement tonight, I think it was important. It was more like when we had President Obama, someone who can empathize as a human being with people who are feeling lost.

But Joe Biden does that in such a unique and profound way. You know, it`s ironic, I think, for a lot of people, Joe Biden wasn`t their first choice. Now, looking back on, that he feels like the only possible choice in this moment in history. He`s in the right place at the right time.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, my friend, get some rest, we will see you tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. on THE REIDOUT.

We know you will be sharing more of your thoughts on this then. Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Joy. I really, really appreciate it.

REID: Thank you so much, Lawrence.

O`DONNEL: Thank you.

Well, coming, up to former NYPD detectives who have been with us throughout the coverage of this trial, law professor Kirk Burkhalter and Marq Claxton, will join us next with their reflections on how this verdict could change policing in America. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: Today, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison who was in charge of the prosecution of Derek Chauvin thanked the witnesses on the street, who became the witnesses in the courtroom who told the jury the truth of what happened to George Floyd.


KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: They stopped and raised their voices, and they even challenged authority because they saw his humanity. They stopped and they raise their voices because they knew that what they were seeing was wrong. They didn`t need to be medical professionals, or experts in the use of force. They knew it was wrong, and they were right.

These community members, this bouquet of humanity, did it again, in this trial. They performed simple yet profound acts of courage. They told the truth and they told the whole world the truth about what they saw.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Kirk Burkhalter, criminal law professor at New York Law School where he is the director of 21st Century Policing Project, and Marq Claxton, director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. Both are former NYPD police detectives.

And, Kirk Burkhalter, let me begin with you.

This trial was unlike any we have seen before. This verdict came in relatively quickly. I think that was a signal to all of us about what the verdict was going to be. What are your reflections on what we got in that courtroom today?

KIRK BURKHALTER, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW CRIMINAL LAW PROFESSOR: Well, what we saw in this courtroom today was the way this trial began and ended, and you touched on it, Lawrence. It was with the video. The unrepeatable evidence that brave young woman Darnella Frazier shot.

And that was evidence the defense could not overcome. That picture will be drilled into our minds will she stud next to her nine-year-old cousin who were a teacher that said love. That`s something the defense can overcome. I think this outcome was to be expected.

The other outcome of the trial that stays with me is something the governor just stated, that this just didn`t start with a police encounter. It started with when George Floyd was born. This is what`s so many people of color have to bear in this country.

So, rather than this trial being an end all, to be all, it`s simply, hopefully, a beginning, and we have seen our elected officials taken it as such.

The final thing I will state is the manner in which the Minneapolis Police Department stepped forward, starting with Chief Arradondo, and the other members of the police department. I will be left that image of those police officers stepping forward, and stating with the rest of the world saw, was that this did not follow in any way, shape, or form, police protocol.

So, those are some of the few takeaways I saw from today. And, ultimately, seeing George -- I`m sorry, Derek Chauvin being led away in handcuffs. Well, he will have the benefit of a life that George Floyd will never have. He wasn`t led away in handcuffs on his belly. He was allowed to walk away. And that`s the one image that stays with me.

O`DONNELL: Marq Claxton, we did see police officers take the stand against a member of their own police department. But what would have happened if Darnella Frazier did not record that video, would the police story had been resisting arrest, something happened, maybe an overdose of drug and that`s the end of it.

MARQ CLAXTON, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Yes. I think most relevantly is what would have been happened had Chief Arradondo not set the tone early on. Of course, it was based on the video tape from Darnella Frazier so I think that`s hugely significant.

I think that Kirk has touched on is perhaps the most impactful and significant image moving forward that will have a direct impact on police behavior, individual police behavior, will be impacted by the image of Derek Chauvin being remanded, being re-cuffed and walked into the back to be incarcerated. That is what spurs significant movement from individual police officers and his direct relationship to the behavior moving forward.

think it is time and this may be the beginning of law enforcement of policing, acknowledging that we are at the beginning of the ice age if you will. And unless they are prepared to evolve, they will become extinct unless policing is prepared to move to more of a restorative, transformative justice model they will be replaced. And they have to be fully prepared to start walking back from what was the policing model of the 20th and the 19th century and to move more towards a public safety model, a holistic comprehensive public safety model that respects and honors the sanctity of human life.

O`DONNELL: Marq, you just touched on the thing that we three have been watching these kinds of cases, studying them and civil trials, criminal trials for decades. I`ve always been wondering when is the moment when one of these will have an impact on police behavior?

I think the image that you isolated, Derek Chauvin in the handcuffs. That`s why I showed it. That`s why I showed it at the beginning of this hour because that image, more than anything I have ever seen, in one of these cases is a form of communication to police officers unlike anything we have seen before.

Mark Claxton, Kirk Burkhalter -- thank you both very much. It is impossible for me to thank you enough for your service to us during this trial. We really appreciate it.


CLAXTON: You`re quite welcome.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Congressional Black Caucus chair Joyce Beatty who was with George Floyd`s family yesterday will join us next.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: "I can`t breathe." Those were George Floyd`s last words. We can`t let those words die with him. Let`s keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. We can`t turn away.

We have a chance to begin to change trajectory in this country. It is my hope and prayer that we live up to his legacy.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio. She is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. And Congresswoman Beatty, I know you were in Minneapolis yesterday with George Floyd`s family. Where were you today when the verdict was read?

REP. JOYCE BEATTY (D-OH): Today, I was right outside the House floor gathered with members of the Congressional Black Caucus as we were in the Rayburn`s waiting. We know all too close and too much about justice delayed is justice denied. So while we were hopeful until we heard the words, we just stood in silence waiting to hear what we wanted to hear and that was "guilty, guilty and guilty".

O`DONNELL: And how did that feel in that room today?

BEATTY: We were almost numb. We know that while this was justice, it is the only first step. As you know this is the verdict and we still have to get through the sentencing.

But it was a feeling of we could breathe. You know, when you watch that 9 minutes and 29 seconds 27 times, George Floyd saying "I can`t breathe". It was today we could for a moment exhale. Exhaled not only for black America but for America. We could exhale for all of the advocates, the street fighters, the legislators, the people of Minneapolis and of this great nation. But we still have to continue to be in the fight for justice.

O`DONNELL: And yesterday you were with George Floyd`s family. What did they tell you about what they have been experiencing so far through that trial as of yesterday?

BEATTY: The family is amazing. They are very spiritual. They were very calm, they have been prayer-full. And I think that helped to then get through. They were as concerned about the advocates and the legislators who were there as themselves.

But what for me was the most amazing was I asked his young daughter, Gianna, if I can just hold her hand and say thank you to her for her courage. And you know what, Lawrence, she leaned over and said her uncle was holding and she said thank you for being here.

And I left her with the words of her own, her daddy would change the world. And today, this verdict helps us begin to change the world. And we`re certainly going to need it.

I am headed back home soon and unfortunately at the time of the verdict, a 16-year-old in my district was shot by the police and killed today.

O`DONNELL: Yes. These stories are going to keep coming. And are we learning anything through this trial and this process about how to deal with these stories?

BEATTY: I think we are learning a lot. We have -- this sets a great examples that we`ve had police officers come forward and say that certainly this was not appropriate and yes, this is what killed him. It was the knee on the neck. And I think when people see that there are consequences, that it will hopefully help us as we move forward with this great first step.

But far too many lives have been taken, far too many names we are still calling out. And as great as this verdict is, it does not bring back George Floyd. It does not bring back Breonna Taylor and so many other names nationally and in my district with Andre Hill or as we look at Casey Goodson and now with Makiah.

So we still have to continue. We have to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. And we have to continue to be in this fight for justice because too many lives have been lost. And today is another indication that we are still having lives lost senselessly at the hands of police officers.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

BEATTY: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And coming up, Jelani Cobb was there today outside the courthouse in Minneapolis when the verdict was read. He will join us next along with Eugene Robinson.



KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Black Americans, and black men in particular, have been treated throughout the course of our history as less than human. Black men are fathers and brothers and sons and uncles and grandfathers and friends and neighbors. Their lives must be valued in our education system, in our healthcare system, in our housing system, in our economic system, in our criminal justice system.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Eugene Robinson, associate editor, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for "The Washington Post"; and Jelani Cobb, staff writer for the New Yorker and professor of journalism at Columbia University. Both are MSNBC political analysts.

And Professor Cobb, you were there today outside the courtroom when that verdict was announced. What was that like?

JELANI COBB, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there was a lot of tension beforehand, you know, as there has been for the duration of this trial. And people were very concerned about what the verdict would be.

And I was there. There were maybe 400 -- 450 people were at the rally. And as soon -- there`s a person with the bullhorn -- as soon as he said guilty in to the blow horn, this tremendous roar went up from the crowd.

There were people who were crying, people who were hugging strangers, you know, despite the social distancing prohibitions. George Floyd`s girlfriend had been out there for some time (ph). There was a huge crowd of people around her it was impossible to get close enough to hear what she was saying.

But there was, it was like a dam -- an emotional dam broke and you just saw people releasing emotions that has been pent up since May 25th of last year.

O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, I just want to give you an open mic opportunity to respond and react on this day, from George Floyd to the verdict, to the -- what we just heard the vice president say and the president of the United States.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Lawrence, if you think about it this crime, this murder was amply documented on video tape - - all nine minutes and 29 seconds -- of it from various angles. It was there, we could see it. And so we should not have to feel this enormous relief and almost surprised that justice in fact was done in this case.

And that says so much about the history of these incidents, the history of killings of African-Americans, the history of these denials of justice in the case of white police officers who killed black men in question.

And so one has to hope this is a beginning. One has to hope that this certainly is not the end of anything. One hope it is a beginning and an end, and an illustration that a police chief can testify against one of his officers and say he went too far.

If this is a weakening -- I won`t say an end -- but a weakening of the thin blue line of solidarity then that is a great thing for justice in this country and a great thing for racial justice in this country.

O`DONNELL: Professor Cobb, for me there`s a bit of pre-Trump feeling about this today. Because what happened was 12 reasonable people got together and reached unanimous agreement relatively quickly on something that involved some complexity of law that they weren`t familiar with but immediately schooled themselves on. And we had been living in an environment where the concept of 12 randomly-chosen Americans agreeing about anything unanimously had come to seem impossible.

COBB: Sure. I mean the people were keeping track of this. And (INAUDIBLE) about the place, you know, that this trial was being held and what happened in the previous election here. And you know, also some 10,000-foot analyses of how this might play out.

I would caution to add, though, that we`ve had a hard time getting convictions in cases of egregious injustice even, you know, long before Donald Trump came to office.

But -- and the last point I will say is that, you know, to your point, Lawrence, I fully suspected that this might wind up as a hung jury. When people would ask me what I thought would happen, I just thought that the countervailing forces of juries` reluctance to convict police officers with the abundance of evidence was just going to be a stalemate. And that`s not what happened.

O`DONNELL: Right. Guilty or hung were the only possibilities to me, watching that trial. And hung just means one. It just means one refusing to vote guilty.

COBB: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, Professor Jelani Cobb -- thank you both very much for joining us on this important night. We really appreciate it.

COBB: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, the Minneapolis Police Department lied to you in their first public report of what happened to George Floyd. It`s the kind of lie that American police departments have gotten away with not dozens of times, not hundreds of times -- but thousands and thousands of times in the history of policing in America.

But they didn`t get away with it this time thanks to a brave 17-year-old girl. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: Here`s what the Minneapolis Police Department told us on May 25th of last year after George Floyd died. "On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 p.m., officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress.

Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.

Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later."

End of story. End of police story. That was it. That was the lie they were going to get away with. That was the lie the police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd were going to get away with.

No police officer was going to contradict that story. Not one of those cops on the scene was ever going to tell the truth about what happened to George Floyd. Never.

But their story fell apart overnight thanks to one person. Darnella Frazier had been on this earth for less than half the time of Derek Chauvin`s time on this earth but at 17 years old she knew how to do the right thing.

Darnella Frazier aimed her phone at Derek Chauvin and George Floyd and held it and recorded every minute of what Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd. Even when Derek Chauvin threatened her with mace, Darnella Frazier held her ground and she kept recording. She then posted her video on Facebook and the police lie instantly began to crumble.


CHIEF MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Probably close to midnight a community member had contacted me and said, "Chief" -- almost verbatim but said "Chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man at 30th and Chicago?"

And so once I heard that statement, I just knew it wasn`t the same milestone camera video that I had saw. And eventually within minutes after that I saw for the first time what is now known as the bystander video.


O`DONNELL: Darnella Frazier changed the police chief`s mind about what happened on that street. And the next day Derek Chauvin was fired. When Darnella Frazier testified in the trial she said she wished she did more.


DARNELLA FRAZIER, WITNESS: When I look at George Floyd, I look at -- I look at my dad. I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles. Because they are all black. I have a black father. I have a black brother. I have black friends.

And I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them. It`s been nights, I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting, not saving his life. But it`s like, it`s not what I should have done. It`s what he should have done.


O`DONNELL: All three of the other police officers on the scene could have done more. Each one of them could have intervened and knocked Derek Chauvin off George Floyd`s neck. But they did not have Darnella Frazier`s courage. They did not have Darnella Frazier`s sense of duty to the sanctity of another -- the sanctity of life of another human being.

Derek Chauvin is in jail tonight awaiting a sentence that could leave him in prison for the rest of his life. And that happened because Darnella Frazier pressed "record" on her phone, because she knew something had to be done for George Floyd and that was the only thing she could do.

Tonight on her Facebook page where she posted her video of George Floyd taking his last breath, Darnella Frazier wrote, "I just cried so hard. This last hour my heart was beating so fast. I was so anxious. Anxiety buzzing through the roof. But to know guilty on all three charges. Thank you God. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. George Floyd, we did it. Justice has been served."

Darnella Frazier gets tonight`s LAST WORD.