Return to Transcripts main page


Senate Holds Hearing on Police Reform; Jesse Arreguin is Interviewed about Police Reform; Capitol Police Only Looked for Anti- Trump Protesters. Aired 9:30-10a ET.

Aired April 22, 2021 - 09:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Mayor tells us why, next.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Next hour, the Senate is holding a hearing on police reform. This as we learn that a bipartisan proposal is now in the works that lawmakers hope to wrap up in a week or two.

CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill.

Lauren, we've been here before, after George Floyd's death last year. There was a real effort. They couldn't come to an agreement. I wonder, where are the areas of compromise this time and do leaders think they can get this to 60 votes?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, this is as promising as I've seen this negotiation over the last year. I mean it really has been in fits and starts.


But what you saw yesterday was kind of a breakthrough. Republican Senator Tim Scott, who is leading this effort on the GOP side, he floated this idea on qualified immunity. This is the inability of someone who is hurt by the police to go to a civil court and sue that police officer directly. What Tim Scott is floating is this idea that perhaps what you could do is go to civil court and sue the police department.

There does appear to be some openness from Democrats on this issue, although Karen Bass, a lead negotiator on the Democratic side from the House, said she might still want to see more on the qualified immunity piece. But that has been a key sticking point for the last year, Jim. But we should just note that these lawmakers are very close. Tim Scott, Cory Booker, these are people who are friends. They get along well. They feel like they have trust in one another. That goes a long way up here on Capitol Hill when you're trying to come to some kind of consensus.

But we still have a long ways to go. There's still no consensus on what to do about something like chokeholds, for example.

SCIUTTO: That's progress, though. And you know better than me that those personal relationships can be the things that get stuff over the edge on Capitol Hill. So we'll be watching closely.

Lauren Fox, thanks very much.

HARLOW: All right.

Well, as lawmakers work on national police reform, the city of Berkeley, California, is already taking its own action. In February, the city council unanimously passed a number of reforms that would include totally stopping police from even conducting low-level offense traffic stops like not wearing a seat belt or broken taillight or expired tags.

Unarmed Department of Transportation members would do that instead. Other reforms would include stopping police from asking about parole or probation cases in status in most cases, requiring written consent for searches, dispatching mental health workers instead of police to crisis calls. Berkeley's mayor, Mayor Jesse Arreguin, is with me now.

Thank you very much. I am fascinated by what you guys are trying to do.

You need the governor and the state to say yes on a lot of this, but you're already making changes. What are police no longer doing in Berkeley?

MAYOR JESSE ARREGUIN (D), BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA: Berkeley is ending police stops for minor traffic violations. And this is to reduce racial disparities and policing outcomes and to focus on public safety by making sure our police officers focus on genuine threats to public safety.

So we're not going to pull people over for having an air freshener on your rear-view mirror or having expired license tags or not signaling properly, and focus on those stops -- focus those stops on traffic violations that pose the greatest risk to public safety. I think this is smart policing and also will reduce racial disparities and reduce the tragic outcomes that we're too often seeing of people like Daunte Wright and Sandra Bland and Philando Castile who died due to police violence in routine traffic stops.

HARLOW: You have been candid, which I think is important about the concern that some of your law enforcement folks have on this, right? Not everyone is united behind this.

Can you -- can you tell me what they're most concerned about? Do you share their concerns? And how will you address it?

ARREGUIN: Well, the concern is -- well, this is a new proposal and there's a concern around safety. And there is no evidence, I'll just note, to suggest that traffic stops are an effective safety strategy and that we need to use data to make decisions on the type of policing strategies. And I think that we can reduce the likelihood of fatal encounters, reduce the budget implications of dispatching police at traffic stops and actually increase police response times to deal with more serious behavior and serious crimes.


ARREGUIN: So, you know, we do need to look at the issue of the relationship between police and civilian law enforcement. That is something that we're looking at. And making sure that, you know, when something escalates that our police are able to respond.

But I do think by freeing up our police time, to not pull people over for low-level offenses, they will be able to more easily respond to calls related to serious crimes.

HARLOW: And let's talk about those calls and serious crimes because they're up. I mean they're up in Berkeley. I was just reading some analysis from a few weeks ago in April. So far this year, six shootings there, 22 guns recovered, including some -- this reporting is from some routine traffic stops. So crime is up, but your argument is this -- this will address that more effectively?

ARREGUIN: Yes. You know, don't think it makes sense for our police to be sitting in cars and waiting to stop people for things like not signaling properly or having expired tags, but actually being able to be deployed to deal with gun violence, to walk beats in our communities, to build trust between our community and law enforcement. And by taking police out of routine traffic stops and having them focus on precision-based policing. I think that we'll be able to free up police time to focus on more serious and violent crime.


I'll just note that crime is going up, not just in our region, but nationally during this pandemic.

HARLOW: Right.

ARREGUIN: It's unfortunate. But I -- but we need -- we need more effective policing strategies, more community policing strategies. We also need to build the trust between police and law enforcement. Law enforcement and the community. We know that African-Americans in Berkeley are stopped six and a half times more than whites in our community. And that definitely erodes trust between our community and law enforcement. It makes it difficult for police to do their jobs.

HARLOW: Forty percent of the 911 calls that you guys get in Berkeley are for homeless or mental health issues. Forty percent.


HARLOW: That's a lot.

You've also, though, made clear that you do not think the answer is defund the police, right? You've talked about your concerns with that word.


HARLOW: But you guys have stripped $9.2 million away from the police department in Berkeley.

ARREGUIN: Yes, well --

HARLOW: Is that not defunding the police, and where does that money go?

ARREGUIN: I think that's reducing and reinvesting funds from our police department budget to focus on new approaches to public safety. It's unfortunate that the word defund has really taken over this whole discussion around reimagining public safety.

What we're focusing on in Berkeley is just that, reimagining public safety and looking at how we can create a safer community for all people in Berkeley. And that does include looking at new approaches to how our police respond to mental health calls. How they interact with the homeless. Looking at mental health workers to be dispatched to respond to those calls. That will reduce also police time to be able to focus on more violent and serious crime and to better serve our community and keep our community safe.

HARLOW: Well, Mayor, thank you. We hope that this means a safer Berkeley for everyone. And if it works, it could certainly be a model for the rest of the country.

Thank you for your time this morning and for getting up very early for us on the West Coast.

ARREGUIN: Thank you.


SCIUTTO: Still ahead this hour, new information on the events surrounding the Capitol insurrection. We're learning that Capitol Police were allegedly told to ignore Trump supporters and only look for anti-Trump protesters. Remarkable. We have a live report, next.



HARLOW: This morning we're learn pretty stunning new details. This comes from an internal review by the Capitol Police on the failures leading up to and during the insurrection on the Capitol.

SCIUTTO: Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, in a House hearing on Wednesday, described an account of a radio call from the morning of the attack in which a Capitol Police officer allegedly directed units on the radio, units outside the building, only to monitor anti-Trump agitators, not pro-Trump protesters, who, of course, we learned since, made up that crowd. Many of them have since been charged.

CNN's Whitney Wild joins us now.

So, Whitney, tell us exactly who delivered this order and to how many officers. Did they react to this order?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know. There are so many open questions here. But what we know is that this is an account from Representative Zoe Lofgren, that she read aloud in this hearing yesterday with the Capitol Police inspector general. We didn't hear the radio transmission. We only heard her reading of the account of the radio transmission.

So we've asked for the radio transmission. We're hoping to get more context there.

But what she felt like was important to expose here was that despite having ample evidence that there would be white supremacists in the crowd that were armed, that were pro-Trump, still, the Capitol Police felt compelled to focus on the anti-Trump element that they expected to come to this rally.

So here's what we have is this radio transmission account from, again, Representative Zoe Lofgren. Attention all units on the field, we're not looking for any pro-Trump in the crowd, we're only looking for any anti-pro-Trump who want to start a fight.

Again, this is a story that I'm doing with my colleague Zach Cohen. We have requested more context here.

But it's really important to show because it also -- it positions the mindset of Capitol Police as they went into that day. Capitol Police say, look, this was a radio transmission, 8:00 a.m., before anything got crazy out there at the Capitol. And, at the time, they felt like looking for these clashes between anti-Trump protesters and pro-Trump protesters was the logical conclusion because that's the kind of clashes we'd seen in the past, Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: It's remarkable guidance to issue there. And, of course, as we saw on those videos, pro-Trump protesters attacked policed and others.

Whitney Wild, thanks very much.

Hundreds of supporters arrested as outrage builds over opposition leader Alexey Navalny, his deteriorating health in Russian custody. These protests are remarkable and brave. You could pay a price for them in Russia. The U.N. is warning that his life is in serious danger as he remains behind bars. We're going to have a live report, next.



SCIUTTO: This next story is watch -- worth watching closely because in Russia you take enormous risks to protest against the government. Russian police reportedly detained nearly 1,500 supporters of the opposition leader Alexey Navalny at demonstration across the country on Wednesday.

HARLOW: This as the United Nations reports that Navalny's life is in serious danger as he sits in Russian custody. Now it's calling for Navalny to receive an urgent medical evaluation and evacuation.

Our Sam Kiley joins us from Moscow with more.

The Kremlin is saying essentially this is not their problem.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy and Jim, what the authorities here have done is kicked the ball over towards the prison authorities because they're trying to stress the idea that Mr. Navalny is a legitimate prisoner, following a legitimate trial in which he was found guilty on long standing embezzlement charges and probation violations, if you like.

Of course, Navalny is on hunger strike, just over three weeks into it now. There have been some leaked medical tests that found their way to his doctors who are saying that they indicate potential imminent renal failure and heart problems.


And, of course, we saw those widespread nationwide protests against his continued detention. And, I have to say, against the continued rule of Vladimir Putin across the country which, now, Jim, the numbers have actually detained people going up to about 1,800 nationwide.

Only about 30 here in Moscow, but there was substantial demonstrations domestically that are being supported internationally. It's not just the U.N. experts. It's the United States, the European Union, Britain, France, other powers, other members of the Security Council, all calling for Mr. Navalny to get independent medical treatment.

Jim. Poppy.

HARLOW: Sam, in Moscow for us, Sam Kiley, thank you very much. We'll keep a very close eye on that.

Minutes from now, President Biden will hold another round of talks with world climate leaders at this climate change summit. This as he tells the world about a huge American commitment to combatting the crisis.