A jury in Minnesota found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last May. Rep. Karen Bass of California is interviewed.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Senator Raphael Warnock, thank you so much for joining us this evening.
WARNOCK: Thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Shomari Stone is a reporter for the NBC station in Washington, D.C. NBC News 4. Mr. Stone shot this footage today as the country learned all at once, all together, what the verdict would be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, thank god!
SHOMARI STONE, NBC NEWS 4 REPORTER: How are you all feeling right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Woo!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Numb. Like you still feel sadness about it all, like, that we`re here.
STONE: What about you, ma`am, I see you have tears in your eyes right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel so relieved. I feel relieved. I don`t see how it could have been otherwise.
STONE: As an African American woman, what`s going through your mind?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An African American woman, I am glad that I have lived to see this in my lifetime. I never thought I would live to see it. And I am 91 years old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I am 91 years old. I don`t see how it could have been otherwise, but I know it could have been otherwise. That was in Washington, D.C., today.
This was in Minneapolis at the site where George Floyd was killed last year by police officer Derek Chauvin. The gentleman you see here has just heard the verdict and he is leading a chant of George Floyd`s name until he can`t anymore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Floyd!
CROWD: George Floyd!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Floyd!
CROWD: George Floyd!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today in Minneapolis, this is another scene from that same site at that same time, the place where Mr. George Floyd died last year. This is the moment when the verdict was reached.
You will see people here learning it in real time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: After the verdict was read not just on that first count, but all three counts, guilty on all three counts, what transpired in the courtroom went quickly. The prosecution asked for former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin to be remanded into custody while he awaits sentencing. The judge instantly agreed to that.
Mr. Chauvin then stood, put his hands behind his back. He was handcuffed and he was led away to custody. It is expected that he may appeal, but for now he is jailed awaiting his sentence. The sentencing guidelines suggest the sentence could be considerably more than ten years in prison. Mr. Chauvin`s sentencing will be in roughly eight weeks. We shall see.
It was not at all a certainty this would go this way. The reason the country was holding its collective breath today waiting for this verdict like perhaps nothing since the O.J. Simpson trial all those years ago, the reason the country was on eggshells today waiting for this verdict, the reason the anticipation was so thick you could cut it with a knife, was because even after that trial we all just saw, even after that blunt and overwhelming evidence, I mean, in this country how could you know it would turn out this way?
Like that 91-year-old come woman said this D.C. through tears of relief, I don`t see how it could have been otherwise, but I do know it could have been otherwise. We actually know from the public record that in the normal course of events, had there not been a very significant intervention by some everyday random civilian Americans, it`s not just that it`s unlikely that it turned out the way it did today. It really wouldn`t have turned out this way barring that intervention by those by standing Americans.
And we know that. We know that it wasn`t going to go this way in the normal course of events from the initial public statement that the Minneapolis Police Department released to the public after George Floyd died.
This was their statement to the public about what happened to George Floyd on that curb outside the Cup Foods in Minneapolis last May. Look at the headline. Man dies after medical incident during police interaction. Is that what you call it?
May 25, 2021, Minneapolis. On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 p.m., officers responded to 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South. Two offices arrived, 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. The man was transported to Hennepin county medical center by ambulance where he died a short time later. Quote: at no time weapons were involved by anyone involved in this incident.
That`s what was that released at the time. That was the official record of what had happened. Nothing to see here, no guns drawn, nobody got shot. This guy had an unfortunate incident. It`s a weird coincidence.
He was being questioned by police and he died. He died at the hospital after the police were very kind to note that he appeared to be having a medical incident so they called the police. Clearly, the medical distress had nothing to do with them. He died later. We just wanted to let you know.
That was going to be the official version of what happened. Man dies after medical incident during police interaction. That was going to be the public record of this incident. Except for the fact that there were witnesses who saw it, who confronted the police whale it was happening, who filmed what happened for real, who posted those videos of what happened for real, and who then ultimately agreed to testify as to what they saw.
That is the reason that ultimately this prosecution was able to happen at all. That is the reason that the prosecution could make this closing -- the closing argument they made to the jury in which they simply asked the jury, what did you see?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Why is it necessary to continue applying deadly restraint to a man who is defenseless, who is handcuffed, who is not resisting, who is not breathing, who doesn`t have a pulse, and to go on and do that for three plus minutes before the ambulance shows up and then to continue doing it? How is that a reasonable exercise in the use of force?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That closing argument could only be made to the jury. How is it a reasonable use of force, right? How is it a reasonable use of force? To apply deadly restraint to a man defenseless, handcuffed, not resisting, not breathing, doesn`t have a pulse, after the ambulance shows up they keep doing that for another three minutes. After he doesn`t have a pulse, and they continue doing it. How is that reasonable exercise in the use of force?
They could only put that to the jury because of the public record of what actually happened, because the witnesses who saw what happened who had the presence of mind to tape it and had the courage to testify about it in open court.
The young woman who shot the now world-known footage, the footage seen the world over of Mr. Floyd being killed by that police officer, you may remember her testimony at trial. She shot that video last year when she was 17 years old. Nevertheless, she agreed to testify in open court about the trial. She wept in regret that she hadn`t done even more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARNELLA FRAZIER, WITNESS: It`s been nights, I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Darnella Frazier, age 17 when she shot the video that basically led to this all counts conviction of this police officer today. That was her testimony at trial. Today on Facebook she said this. After the verdict was read, she said: Thank you, God. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Young Ms. Frazier and the other bystanders who tried to intervene, who pressed record on their cellphones, who testified about what they saw, the attorney general who brought the case, the clergy, the president of the United States all today credited those witnesses and thanked them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: The people who stopped and raised their voices on May 25th, 2021, old, young, men and women, black and white, a man from the neighborhood just walking to get a drink, a child going to buy a snack with her cousin, an off duty firefighter on her way to a community garden, brave young women, teenagers, who pressed record on their cellphones.
Why did they stop? They didn`t know George Floyd. They didn`t know he had a beautiful family. They didn`t know he had been a great athlete and they didn`t know he was a proud father or that he had people in his life who loved him.
They stopped and raised their voices and they even challenged authority because they saw his humanity. They stopped and they raised 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. They performed simple, yet profound, acts of courage. They told the truth and they told the whole world the truth about what they saw.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Such a verdict is also much too rare for so many people. It seems like it took a unique and extraordinary convergence of factors.
A brave young woman with a smartphone camera. A crowd that was traumatized. Traumatized witnesses. A murder that lasts almost ten minutes in broad daylight for the whole world to see. Officers standing up and testifying against a fellow officer instead of just closing ranks, who should be commended.
We saw how traumatic and exhausting just watching the trial was for so many people. Think about it. Those of you who are listening, think about how traumatic it was for you. You weren`t there. You didn`t know any of the people.
But it was difficult, especially for the witnesses who had to re-live that day. It`s a trauma.
As we saw in this trial from the fellow police officers who testified, most men and women who wear the badge serve their communities honorably. But those few who fail to meet that standard must be held accountable, and they were today. One was.
No one should be above the law. And today`s verdict sends that message. But it`s not enough. We can`t stop here. In order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will happen or occur again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Biden speaking today from the White House in response to the guilty on all counts jury verdict in the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota last year.
The president went on to call for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, as did Vice President Harris who spoke today. She was a co-author of that criminal justice reform bill in the senate. She spoke about that tonight and her remarks from the White House as well.
We are going to speak tonight with the lead author of that bill, talk about its prospects for passage, especially with the renewed energy to try to enact it.
But here we are. There was a conviction. And also, the near universal knowledge that it had to be this blatant, this severe, this, as the president said, a near ten-minute-long murder on tape for there to be any hope of conviction. And even still then, no one was sure.
Today, when the verdict had been read, President Biden called the Floyd family directly. He referenced fact that George Floyd`s 7-year-old daughter Gianna told him before her dad`s funeral last year that her dad was going to change the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIANNA FLOYD, DAUGHTER OF GEORGE FLOYD: Hello? Hello? Hi.
BIDEN: I`m feeling better now, and nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there is some justice. And, you know, I think of Gianna`s comment, my daddy`s going to changer the world. He`s going to start to change it now. He`s about to change it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He is about to change it now. Joining us now is Minnesota Public Radio reporter Brandt Williams, who has been covering the trial from Minneapolis and to start and joined us several times to help understand the progress in the trial.
Mr. Williams, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here tonight.
BRANDT WILLIAMS, MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO REPORTER: Thanks for having me back.
MADDOW: This is a big national moment. I don`t think there has been as much anticipation for a jury verdict in the last 20 years. And I`m -- I personally feel like I am not quite sure what to make of it. It may that the importance of this moment isn`t clear until it`s in history and we see what happens as a result of this.
But I just have to ask you, as somebody who saw this close up, both in the trial, in the courtroom, and from Minneapolis covering this case from the beginning, what is your take on the jury`s verdict today?
WILLIAMS: So, I think the outpouring of emotion that we have been seeing from George Floyd square and from downtown Minneapolis outside the courthouse has been a long time coming. There has been people that are very aware now. There have been several very also high-profile police killings of black men in the past that have not resulted in criminal charges, at least in and the very most convictions.
So what you are seeing is a lot of this built-up frustration and pain and emotion that people were releasing today. Now, I was taking a walk through -- by the courthouse minutes after the verdicts were read. I was seeing that same reaction. I was also seeing people saying things like, well, we need to get one more conviction, and they were calling about the killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center.
People are not going to take this as being an end of the story. This is just the beginning of many of them. And for many of them, and momentum going forward in efforts to stop this type of thing from happening again.
MADDOW: On the point of that momentum, I was struck today to see long cogent, I thought very well argued remarks from the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and to hear echoes of his comments from Vice President Harris and further echoes of it in the comments from President Biden, all directly trying to say that the momentum and the emotion and the feeling and the sense of possibility that people may feel because of this verdict should be channeled into a national policing reform bill that`s pending before the Senate right now, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that, this is what those elected political leaders are trying to say is the right next thing to do.
Seeing that from those high-level elected officials is one thing. Do you sense that there is momentum to support something like that among people on the ground who have been engaged in so much activism and also in the midst of this maelstrom around this case?
WILLIAMS: Yeah, there has been a push, local city officials, to bring about not just reforms to the police department, but to abolish -- not abolish, dismantle the police department, replace it with a public safety agency that would include people who are not armed, not sworn police officers to respond to certain types of events. There was just last week a councilmember proposed having a traffic enforcement division that would not be armed police officers to address the types of traffic stops that we saw that resulted in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright.
So there have been ideas going forward in Minneapolis brought about by council members but they have been restrict the by the city charter that needs to be changed in order for these things to happen, some are restricted by state law which restricts particularly when it comes to civilian review authorities, that there is a lot of basically restricts the subpoena power of the civilian review authorities that local officials have been trying to get back.
So it`s going to take different levels for people who are really trying to get some actual changes, it`s going to take reforms that are going to happen at the city level, state level, and, as you mentioned, some federal legislation as well.
MADDOW: Minnesota Public Radio reporter Brandt Williams, thank you for your time. Thank you for your help over the duration of the trial in terms of contextualizing it and what`s going on in Minneapolis in understanding the case. Thanks, man.
WILLIAMS: You`re welcome.
MADDOW: Today`s verdict does offer a measure of relief for George Floyd`s family. We know because they have said so today. But it is also bittersweet for some who have a very acute personal sense of what the Floyd family lost.
Like the women who have been called the mothers of the movement. Women whose children have been killed by police officers or gun violence. Women like Sybrina Fulton, Sequette Clark, Lesley McFadden.
Last week, a few of them gathered to speak out and embrace Katie Wright, the mother of 20-year-old Daunte Wright who was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago.
One of those mothers, Gwen Carr, offered these words of comfort from one grieving mother to another.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GWEN CARR, ERIC GARNER`S MOTHER: You are not in this alone. We are here. We are here for you. As these mothers reached out to you, I reach out to you. I embrace you. I empower you. I hold you in my heart because I know what it is you`re going through.
You don`t know which way to turn. You don`t know who to listen to. But pray. Pray to God. He will guide your footsteps.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen.
CARR: In my son`s case, I didn`t get a day in court, only a departmental trial, which was not enough. That`s why I fight -- I fight so hard. I don`t only fight for my child. I fight for everyone`s child because that could be any one of your boys any day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Gwen Carr is the mother of Eric Garner. Eric Garner killed in 2014 when a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold while arresting him on the suspicion he was committing the grave crime of selling a loose cigarette.
Eric Garner`s dying words, I can`t breathe, have become a rallying cry amid protests against police brutality against his death. As for the issue of justice and accountability in Mr. Garner`s case, a grand jury decided there was no probable cause to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner. As Mr. Garner just said there, though, as you heard, you`d get a departmental trial essentially. The officer faced a disciplinary hearing five years later and at least did end with his firing from the police force. But that was it.
Joining us now is Gwen Carr, Eric Garner`s mother, who has put herself out to support women around the country who have gone through similar tragedies.
Ms. Carr, thank you so much for being here tonight. It`s an honor to have some of your time.
CARR: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: I just wanted to know your reaction to the verdict in the Chauvin trial. You put yourself out there to try to support Daunte Wright`s mother when he was killed a couple weeks ago in Minneapolis, very nearby where this trial was held. There has been so much emotion and so much anticipation and worry in this country about this verdict.
What is your reaction to it today?
CARR: Yes. It`s so much tragedy that`s going on, one thing after another. And the -- today just to hear that they were going to do the right thing to charge this police officer with for the -- for the crime he committed, I was elated. I mean, tears came to my eyes when the verdict came down. I said, finally, we get a glimmer of justice.
That just doesn`t happen. It didn`t happen in may case. It didn`t happen in Sean Bell`s case and Michael Brown or -- none of our cases, you know. And it was like the evidence was there and with my son, it was a video just like in George Floyd`s case, but they decided not to indict. Adding indult to injury, they dragged their feet for five years before the DOJ said they weren`t going any further.
But, you know, we have to go further. As mothers, as families, we are going to go further. And that`s the only way that they are we are going to push them to do the right thing. That`s the only way I even got a departmental trial.
MADDOW: Ms. Carr, what gives you the power, the strength, the energy to reach out to other families, other mothers, who have gone through tragedies similar to what you have gone through with losing your son? I cannot imagine the toll that it has taken on you and your family. But to be able to endure that toll and then put yourself out there at your own expense and your own -- cost of your own energy and cost of living, all that trauma to support other women in similar circumstances when their grief is so raw, how do you have the strength to do it?
CARR: Well, first of all, I have to pray a lot. You have to pray before you got out here on this journey. And second of all, when you can make another mother a little more comfortable after she has lost her child with just embracing her or trying to listen to her story or trying to talk about her child in a positive way, it`s a form of therapy.
If you could just help one mother, which I try to help many mothers, but sometimes when the mother is not where you are, they are like bedridden, hospitalized, taken heavy medication, and some are even attempting to commit suicide. And if you could just talk these mothers down, if you could just say, like an enlightening word to them, and they listen and they could come back to you and say, what you said to me really helped me, you know, that`s therapy.
And it makes you feel better about yourself and it makes you feel like you are doing something for the country, doing something for the other mothers and you are doing something for yourself in helping your child`s name get recognized.
MADDOW: I am so sorry that that chain of empathy has to exist in our country. And that it never stops. And it seems like we can`t get a break in the momentum of it. But your willingness to pass that forward in that way and to offer the kind of support that nobody who hasn`t been through it can offer somebody else who is in those circumstances newly, it is a deep thing that you are doing for the country.
Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, thank you for being here.
CARR: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: All right.
We got to have much more to get to tonight. In just a moment, we`re going to hear from what George Floyd`s family, in terms of their reaction. We will speak with somebody who has been working with them the last year.
Were going to be looking ahead to the funeral of Daunte Wright, which is happening just two days from now.
We`re going to be talking about yet another police-involved shooting, apparently resulting in a fatality of a young African American teenage girl this evening, even as the verdict was being absorbed nationwide. Like I said, it does not stop.
But we`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Dear God, we thank you for giving us the strength to stand together. Sometimes we would question each other. Sometimes we would say this is just going to be a waste of time.
But somehow you touch news the midnight hours and teach us to hold on and that if we would be faithful over few things, you would give us the victory over many. We thank you because we know it was not any doing of ours, but your loving kindness and your tender mercy. It made tonight possible.
Bless those that worked, that made this prosecution something they couldn`t deny. Bless those policemen that got on the stand and testified against another policeman. Bless the jury that listened to the evidence and didn`t listen to those that may criticize them for doing this.
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I feel relieved today that I finally have the opportunity to, to hopefully get some sleep. A lot of days that I prayed and I hoped and I was speaking everything into existence. I said, I have faith that he will be convicted.
Ten miles away from here, Mr. Wright, Daunte Wright, he should still be here. We have to always understand that we have to march. We will have to do this for life. We have to protest because it seems like this is a never- ending cycle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is George Floyd`s brother Philonise Floyd speaking today after the verdicts were read with our friend the Reverend Al Sharpton. Now, you heard Mr. Floyd, Philonise Floyd reference Daunte Wright. Twenty years old, shot and killed by police during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb a little over a week ago. Reverend Al Sharpton is scheduled to the give the eulogy at Daunte Wright`s funeral which will happen in Minnesota the day after tomorrow.
Joining us is Reverend Al Sharpton, president the host of "Politics Nation" here on MSNBC.
So good to see you, my friend.
I just have to ask, first of all, how are you after this emotional day? How is Mr. Floyd`s family? I know you were with them today for this.
SHARPTON: Well, I`m feeling very good for them, but challenged to make sure that we turn this moment into a real change in terms of policy and law. I did the eulogy at both of George`s funerals that I`m doing Daunte`s. I did Eric Garner`s funeral.
And more importantly, we at National Action Network and other groups kept marching and kept going and then we saw groups just rise up on their own all over the world. And I think today, we won a round, but the fight is not over. We must pass the George Floyd federal bill, so we will not have to do it state by state.
There is a win in Minnesota tonight, but the law hasn`t changed. And there`s no federal law. And if we ought to really have change, we must change the laws of policing. Not anti-police. The policemen that testified at this trial showed that policemen understand that bad police must be subject to the law, not above the law.
MADDOW: What do you think the prospects are for passing that law?
I was struck today to hear you talk about the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, to hear Attorney General Ellison, in Minnesota, talk about it in his remarks, to hear Vice President Harris from the White House talk about not only her support for that law but its necessity and the fact she had a hand in writing it when she was in the United States Senate. We heard the president himself jumping with both feet hard saying that that needs to happen, that that must pass.
To take all this emotion in this what feels like momentum, what feels like a moment today in this country, and to push hard, that that is the right next step, made me feel different about the prospect of that passing today than I did before.
I know you are a student of politics as much as you are of anything else. Do you feel like the political reality is that it could pass?
SHARPTON: I do, because I think reality has to adjust to new realities. There is a new reality tonight. People feel that this can happen and people are going to, in my opinion, continue now to pressure the Senate.
I remember you said I`m a student. When I was a kid just joining the movement in the North, people didn`t feel you could get a voting rights act. President Lyndon Johnson told Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that we just got the civil rights act, we can`t go back to the Senate and the Congress and get the Voting Rights Act, and Dr. King told us we would have to go back South and march and make it possible for it to happen. And it did. The next year, the `65 Voting Rights Act.
When you have a movement of all kinds of people, intergenerational, interracial, it changes the political climate that the Senate and others have to operate. And that climate changed. I remember, Rachel, last August, Martin Luther King III and I called a march around the George Floyd bill and John Lewis bill in Washington, in the middle of the pandemic, the height of the pandemic. Over 200,000 people came and a third of them white.
And when we saw that crowd, when we saw the makeup of that crowd, intergenerational, interracial, and it was happening all over the world, we knew the possibility was there like it was in the `60s, a generation ahead of us, to really make change. But if it`s not legislative change, it will only be temporary.
MADDOW: Reverend Al Sharpton, Rev, thank you so much for being with us today. I know it has been a long, emotional, intense day. Thanks for being with us here. I appreciate it.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Congresswoman Karen Bass is going to be joining us next. We will take a quick break. But we`ve been talking so much tonight about the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which everybody involved at every level of this fight and of this case is talking about as the thing that might make a real difference nationwide in terms of policing, criminal justice reform, the kinds of reforms that might prevent this from happening again, that might at least slow the tide of these killings.
Karen Bass is the lead sponsor of that legislation. It`s now pending. She`s going to join us live next.
MADDOW: The ongoing, still being told story of police violence against people of color in this country is a story that largely gets told in terms of the individual lives lost, the individual police officers involved, the individual court cases that have or haven`t been brought against them. But even though this story is told case by case, police killing by police killing, the national movement that has risen up around this has inspired some federal lawmakers to try to address this systemically on a national level.
Right now, there is a bill pending in the Senate that would dramatically change how policing happens all over the country. It`s a bill called the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. And it passed the House in March on a mostly party line vote, mostly because one Republican did vote for it, though he later said he only voted for it by accident. Inspiring.
The bill, among other things, would require body cams. It would ban military equipment for police use. It would ban no-knock warrants. It would end the kinds of special legal protections that police officers have used in court to avoid accountability for excessive use of force and a lot more.
Like I said, this bill has already passed out of the House. The lead House sponsor of this bill, Congresswoman Karen Bass of California, says she`s now working with Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Republican Senator Tim Scott to try to pass that bill in the Senate. And today, more than any other time in the past, it feels like there may be momentum to actually do this.
Joining us now, Congresswoman Karen Bass of California. She`s a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. She is the lead sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Congresswoman Bass, it`s a pleasure to see you. Thanks for making time tonight.
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Thank you.
MADDOW: Let me just ask you about the verdict today and how much focus turned very quickly towards your bill being the next potential step that we could take nationwide to make a real change, a lot of people talking about that today. State level leaders, faith leaders, members of the Floyd family, national leaders saying this is the thing that we could do to really make a difference.
BASS: Well, absolutely, because we see case after case, and then there is word that another case happened today. So, clearly, we have to do something to transform policing in the United States.
I have been watching this and have been involved in this issue for decades, and it`s terrible that it took the world witnessing the torture and murder of an individual to bring about this type of change. But I do feel like we`re on the cusp of doing that.
So I am hopeful today. I don`t know what I would have done if the verdict turned out wrong, but it didn`t. And so, I am hoping that the measure of hope that we all got today will be enough to get us over the finish line and put a bill on President Biden`s desk.
MADDOW: I want to ask about the focus in the bill. The bill has a lot of different components. There is a focus on police officers getting training around things like implicit bias.
One of the things that I found just disheartening about watching the Chauvin trial was the focus over the course of the trial on just how much training he had had, how many hundreds of hours of training that he had had, and of course that played a role in the decision by the jury to decide whether or not he was following his training when he killed Mr. Floyd.
But I wonder if there is -- if there is reason to feel hopeful that some sort of different focus in training, some sort of national standards in training could make a difference in real life and not just on paper.
BASS: Well, I mean, I think it has to you. You also have to take into consideration what is the type of training he received? I mean, the woman that killed Daunte Wright had been on the service, on the force for 26 years. After 26 years, you don`t know the difference between a Taser and a gun?
So, you know, I would raise a question as to what is the type and quality of training. You raised a key issue. There are no national standards. We have 18,000 police departments around the country. No national standards. Which is why chokeholds is okay one place, another place it isn`t. No-knock warrants are okay. You need standardized accreditation and testing for officers.
We want policing to be like most other professions that have national standards, that have accountability. And so, when we looked at Derek Chauvin look at the camera when he was torturing George Floyd, he didn`t it with complete impunity because he didn`t think anything was going to happen.
We need to take that away, which is why qualified immunity is important and why we have to lower the standards to prosecute officers so we won`t see case after case that aren`t even prosecuted.
MADDOW: Congressman bass, in the Senate, there is this reconciliation, budget reconciliation process that allows for some legislation to get around filibuster from the Republican minority in the Senate if something is perceived as having -- perceived by the parliamentarian to have had a budget consequence, it can be passed through reconciliation. It if there won`t be 60 votes, the Democrats could pass some of this legislation by that reconciliation process. I am thinking specifically about the provision in your bill that would ban the transfer of military equipment to police departments around the country.
Are you thinking about some of those strategic factors in terms of how this might be able to pass in the Senate?
BASS: Well, no. What we`re trying to do is to come to a bipartisan agreement. I don`t know if you could pull out a section of the bill and see if you could do it through budget reconciliation. We haven`t considered that.
But we have been having bipartisan discussions. You noted the two leads in the Senate, Tim Scott and Cory Booker, and so, we do believe that we can reach a point where we will get 60 votes in the Senate.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Karen Bass of California, lead sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which has already passed the House. It`s great to see you, Congresswoman. Thank you for your time tonight.
BASS: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead here tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: If the history of this era is written, it will be written up as an era of protests and demonstrations, some of the largest in American`s history sparked more than anything else by the death of George Floyd on the Minneapolis street corner last year. His death today resulted in a three guilty verdicts for the officer charged with Mr. Floyd`s death.
For the better part of a year now since Floyd was killed, we have been on again and off again rolling state of protests nationwide and even worldwide. Protests against his killing as far away as Europe and Latin America and the Middle East. But the epicenter was George Floyd was killed by now convicted Officer Derek Chauvin.
One interesting key figure in those protests from the very beginning was a not expected one, a 6`8" 30-year-old pro basketball player, former NBA star and Minnesota native Royce White.
Mr. White`s activism started just after the video surfaced last year of George Floyd`s death. He saw that video, he sent texts to a group of high- profile Minnesota athletes, 30 of them. His own professional players, he told them it is time to get involved with the struggle, quote, enough is enough. Mr. White called on them to attend a march and they made a striking vanguard at that march.
That group of 30 quickly turned into hundreds and ultimately turned into thousands. The first march they marched into the U.S. Banks Stadium where the Minnesota Vikings play, down a major interstate, and over the Mississippi River.
Royce White has been a central figure in the ongoing Minneapolis protests over the death of George Floyd over since. He has recently been protesting in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, after the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.
Joining us now is activist, former NBA player, Royce White.
Mr. White, it`s a real pleasure to have you with us tonight. Thank you so much for being here on this night of all nights.
ROYCE WHITE, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Just tell me about where you were when you learned about the verdict today and the reaction to the jury`s findings?
WHITE: You know, when my son actually has been home sick from school the last few days, he had upset stomach, and we had to get him a COVID test. So, I was forced to be in the clinic when the verdict came down. But we have some people on the ground there, at the government center, and we`ve been watching this trial with great interests and heavy hearts with George Floyd and his family. We hope today`s verdict gives them some peace and that it serves as some legal precedents as we move forward.
MADDOW: We`ve been watching all night live footage from Minneapolis and specifically from outside the Cup Foods, which is now called George Floyd Square, where Mr. Floyd was killed and where there has been essentially a yearlong vigil there for him, and demanding justice for him.
How do you think that the verdicts will be received overall in Minneapolis? What do you see for your city and for Minnesota given all of the pain and trauma of that case, that killing, that case, and now ongoing other cases of similar police violence that are tearing the communities heart a new?
WHITE: Well, I can`t speak for what will happen. I can speak to what`s should happen. I think the pressure should continue. Obviously, we have talked about the bigger picture often, and since that first march here that you mentioned.
I think the defense of Derek Chauvin did a great job of laying out how the monopoly on violence that the state has is still well intact as far as policy goes. As you read their closing arguments, they made a huge emphasis on how police are trained, and the wording of the dialogue, the language that lies in those policies.
And the monopoly on violence that the state has is still well intact, we have to continue to push back against that tyranny.
MADDOW: What do you think the impact of the protests was in terms of the way that this case was perceived nationwide and the issue of accountability?
WHITE: Well, I think, you know, there was two threats, right? The city was so emotional and so angry that fires broke out, and our protest was to try to respond to the nationwide and global narrative around violent protests with rioting.
But I think, ultimately, the people view America as a corporation, and they view our police departments as corporate assets. And they also feel and believe that the value of a human life is no longer equal to those corporate assets, which is why people gather in those areas and react the way they do.
I think our protesting on the 35W Bridge, despite the semi-truck that, you know, charged on to the bridge, moved on to the bridge, and could`ve hurt citizens, thank God none were hurt, I think it made a bold statement that at the end of the day, we have to be prepared to respond to tyranny in a very dramatic fashion.
MADDOW: Royce White, activist, former NBA player, Minnesota native, Mr. White, thank you for taking time to talk with us tonight. It`s a pleasure to have you here, sir.
WHITE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Over the course of the hour, we`ve been looking at live images of people in the streets tonight in Minneapolis. There have been substantial numbers of people earlier at the courthouse where the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial and especially tonight now at the site where George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis last year. As I`ve said substantial amount of people gathering, entirely peaceful, people reacting to those three guilty verdicts on three counts against Officer Derek Chauvin.
That`s going to do it for me. I`ll see you tomorrow.
But now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.