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Protesters Demand Release Of Body Cam Video In Andrew Brown's Death; Four Former Minneapolis Officers Indicted On Federal Charges; Tentative Bipartisan Agreement On Key Issues In Policing Overhaul; Out-Of-Control Rocket To Re-Enter Earth's Atmosphere Tonight; Cyberattack Forces Shutdown Of Large U.S. Pipeline Operator; Hundreds Of COVID Victims' Bodies Still In Cold Storage Trucks. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired May 8, 2021 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
All right. We begin this hour with calls for truth, transparency and police accountability. Right now, protesters are marching for the third straight weekend in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Demonstrators demanding the release of police body cam video in the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a black man killed as police tried to carry out an arrest warrant last month.
Brown's immediate family is now set to see parts of the footage on Tuesday, after a judge issued an order to grant the family access. Body cam video is not public record and cannot be released without a court order under North Carolina law.
And then just moments from now, also we'll be hearing from George Floyd's family for the first time since new federal charges were announced against the officers involved in Floyd's death. All four former Minneapolis police officers now facing federal charges for violating Floyd's constitutional rights. More on that in a moment.
CNN's Natasha Chen joining us now from Elizabeth City, North Carolina where people are gathering. Natasha, what more are you learning?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred. We're here with a number of clergy members from throughout the state of North Carolina. You can see all of them have lined up here, walking together, holding signs that ask for transparency, a special investigation, a special prosecutor.
And we know that on Tuesday the family is scheduled to view more body camera footage as ordered by a judge. But that is just to Khalil Ferebee, the son of Andrew Brown, and immediate family.
I'm standing here with some clergy members, local clergy members, Reverend Miracle Parker, here in Elizabeth City.
Reverend Parker, tell me about your reaction to the family getting to view some of this footage this week, more than two weeks since Mr. Brown was killed.
REV. MIRACLE PARKER SR., MARY HOLLY GROVE AME ZION CHURCH: My reaction to the family viewing the tape is astonishing. I could not believe the amount of tape that they were allowed to see. I believe that transparency should be the key to this investigation, so they should have been allowed to see all of the footage of their loved one being killed.
CHEN: And up to this point, we're talking about just 20 seconds of footage that has been seen by family. But on Tuesday they will get to see a lot more. Do you feel that that's a step in the right direction?
REV. PARKER: I believe that is a step in the right direction because we are marching for transparency. We are marching for truth. And we are marching for justice. You can't get justice until you treat all people justly. And I think that's what we're striving for today.
CHEN: I heard in the chants just now that you're all saying that you feel this video should be released to the public, right. We're hearing that right now. What is it that you would want to see if that is ever the case, if the tapes are ever released?
REV. PARKER: I believe the purpose of wanting the tapes released is so that justice can be served, so that transparency can be seen, and so that a bridge can be gapped between the community and the police force.
It is our responsibility as citizens who pay taxes to have these documents released unto us so that we can see the truth. We are only seeing it from a blind perspective. We need to see it from the other side of the fence, from their body cams. And that's the only way justice can be served today, I believe.
CHEN: I notice that you brought your children out here today. This is their first time walking in one of these marches, even though we've seen these daily peaceful protests for some time. What is it that you want your children to learn in this moment? What are you bringing them here for?
REV. PARKER: I'm bringing them here so that they can see their purpose in life and who they are. I am a black young pastor in the city, I have a black young son and black daughters. It is time out for being marginalized. It's time out for being a victim of systemic racism.
We have worth, we have value, we have something to add to society. And so I want to instill this into them, that they have a voice, that they have a purpose, and they have a plan, even in our city wholistically.
So it's important for them to not only just hear about situations like this, but to experience it and be a part of it.
[11:04:55] REV. PARKER: My oldest daughter, her and I, were a part of the protests that was happening in Norfolk, Virginia for the first time and that was a memorable experience that her and I shared. And I wanted to share that with my two youngest children as well.
CHEN: Thank you, Reverend Parker. Thank you so much.
And so we'll be hearing more from these clergy members on what they are demanding and how they are supporting the Brown family coming up, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha, we'll check back with you. Thank you so much there in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
National civil rights leaders are applauding the Department of Justice decision to pursue federal charges against the four officers involved in the death of George Floyd. Floyd family attorney Ben Crump says the charges send a very strong message to America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, FLOYD FAMILY ATTORNEY: Let's be honest, Don. We all know that when we watched that video for the first time that they had violated George Floyd's constitutional rights, because we have a right as the foundation of the United States Constitution to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And they deprived him of his right to life when they would not let him take another breath for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. So we think it's so appropriate what the Justice Department did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Omar Jimenez has more on the civil rights charges as we await to hear from the Floyd family out of Houston later on today.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Derek Chauvin and the three other former Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd's death now face federal civil rights charges. This federal indictment lists out three counts that all apply slightly differently to each of these former officers.
For Derek Chauvin, it says he willfully deprived George Floyd of his right to be free from unreasonable use of force by a police officer. But specifically count one singles him out, saying he kept his knees on George Floyd's body even after Floyd became unresponsive.
Count two focuses on former officers Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng and says they were witnessing what Chauvin was doing and failed to intervene. Count three encompasses all of the former officers, including Thomas Lane and says George Floyd was in need of medical care and they willfully failed to provide aid.
Now, we've reached out to the attorneys for all four of these former officers and Eric Nelson, the attorney representing Chauvin said he wasn't going to comment. Same with the attorney for J. Alexander Kueng. We haven't heard back from the attorneys representing the other former officers.
But we should also note this is different than the state cases currently playing out where Chauvin is awaiting sentencing and where we're awaiting their trial for the other three former officers, and different from the recently-announced Department of Justice probe into patterns and practices at the Minneapolis Police Department.
Not to mention, different from a separate federal indictment that came out Friday focusing on Derek Chauvin. This time stemming from a 2017 incident involving a 14-year-old and an unreasonable amount of force.
It's a two-count indictment. The first one says that Derek Chauvin grabbed this teenager by his neck and struck him multiple times with a flashlight. The second count says he allegedly put his knee on this teenager's neck, even after this teenager was prone, in handcuffs, and had stopped resisting.
Omar Jimenez, CNN -- Chicago.
WHITFIELD: And Derek Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson has also declined to comment on the 2017 indictment.
Omar Jimenez, thank you so much for that reporting.
All right. A police reform bill named in honor of George Floyd is finding some bipartisan agreement on some key issues. Sources say a group of Democratic and GOP lawmakers working on legislative efforts to overhaul policing appear to be finding some common ground on major parts of the bill.
For the very latest, let's bring in Daniella Diaz on Capitol Hill. Daniella, What more can you tell us about these negotiations?
DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Fred, that's exactly right. These negotiators -- this bipartisan group of negotiators are incredibly close to a deal on a bill on police reform that can possibly pass the Senate. You know, these three negotiators include Congresswoman Karen Bass, who was the former Congressional Black Caucus chair and a huge active person in this issues.
And then this also includes Senator Tim Scott the Republican from South Carolina, and Senator Cory Booker a Democrat from New Jersey. You know, these three have met and spoken countless times in the last couple of weeks to try to meet on this issue of police reform.
And look, we have just learned that they have reached an agreement on setting standards on no-knock warrants, banning choke holds except in life-threatening situations, and placing limits on equipment the Defense Department can send to police departments.
[11:09:58] DIAZ: You know, the last couple of weeks they've been trying to agree on some of these issues and they were now able to agree on these specific issues.
But of course, there are still sticking points. That includes the biggest issue, qualified immunity which protects police officers from Civil lawsuits.
You know, Senator Tim Scott has proposed shifting the responsibility from police officers to the police departments, but Democrats have said that officers and departments should be responsible and held accountable.
And, you know, another sticking point is this Section 242, which is a part of the federal law, which sets the standard for criminally prosecuting police officers. You know, Scott has told us several times that this is a red line for him.
But look, these lawmakers are racing to cut a deal by May 25th, which is the year anniversary of George Floyd's death and Congress has been in recess this past week but they are returning next week, both chambers, the House and Senate, to vote. And they will continue these discussions in person, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Daniella, thank you so much for that.
All right. And this now breaking news coming out of Afghanistan. Officials say an explosion near a high school for girls in Kabul killed at least 25 and wounded more than 50 years. At this point there are no details about what caused the blast.
The Taliban is denying any responsibility. And local reports say the explosion happened as students were about to leave the school.
And, of course, we'll continue to follow this breaking news and bring you any updates as soon as they become available.
Coming up, it's ten stories tall and it's headed towards earth right now. Out of control Chinese rocket could fall out of the sky this weekend. But when and exactly where?
Plus, hijacked. A major fuel pipeline temporarily shut down because of a cyberattack.
WHITFIELD: All right. Out of control and crashing to earth. A piece of a giant 22-ton Chinese rocket is expected to re-enter the atmosphere sometime tonight. China launched the rocket into orbit last month. It was carrying a new piece of space station.
But while most pieces are expected to burn up upon re-entry, there is a chance some debris could still fall to earth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN MCDOWELL, ASTROPHYSICIST, HARVARD-SMITHSONIAN CENTER FOR ATROPHYSICS: The Chinese have this new top of rocket called the Long March 5B. And unlike other big rockets, it litters space by leaving its big 20-ton core stage in orbit after it has delivered its satellite.
American rockets, Russian rockets, European rockets don't do that. They dispose of their core stage during launch in a safe location.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So the risk remains relatively small, say experts, and at this point it's still too early to tell where any debris might land. What we do know is that the possible impact encompasses much of the globe -- so anywhere.
CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is here with more on this. So Allison, why is it so difficult to determine where this rocket piece could come crashing down on?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. So Fred, the simple answer is because simply how fast it's moving. It's moving at phenomenal speeds. And in order to understand where it's going to land, you have to start with where it is now.
So let's take a look. At present moment it is kind of hovering over of South Africa, making its way off to the north and east up towards Madagascar. But again, this thing is moving so incredibly fast.
The good news is we've been able to narrow the window down a little bit more just in the last few hours. The estimated time of re-entry right now falls between 2300 UTC and about 0700 UTC. In other words, about 7:22 p.m. Eastern time and 3:22 a.m. Eastern time Sunday morning.
The center point of that, the dead-even spot is 0322 UTC or just after 11:00 p.m. Eastern time tonight, giving it four-hour windows on either side.
All of these blue and yellow lines you see here is basically where we can narrow down where this thing is likely going to make re-entry point.
Basically, this point right here where you see the letter CZ, that's where the best estimate as to where this object will be at 0322 UTC. The blue lines will be in the four hours prior to that point, the yellow lines are the four hours after that point.
But again, here is the thing to note. This thing is moving very fast -- 18,000 miles per hour. In doing so, even being off by just five minutes, effectively can change the course.
We talked about this point right here. That point is the estimated where it should be at 0322 UTC. But if we're off, say it comes in five minutes earlier, then it will actually fall over the Gulf of Mexico. A huge distance away.
Just earlier this morning, Fred, we were talking about potentially that it could have been over New Zealand or near or around that spot. At that same time, places like eastern South America, all of China -- those were still options. Those are no longer options now that we've been able to narrow this window down.
At the end of the day though the main focus is really going to be over the ocean. Over 70 percent chance that it's likely going to be over the ocean when it finally makes landfall.
So again, the good news here, Fred, is that the odds are still low, not zero, but still low.
WHITFIELD: Ok. That's somewhat encouraging. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
All right. Let's talk more about all of this.
Joining me right now is Juliette Kayyem. She's a CNN national security analyst and former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. Juliette, so good to see you.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: All right. So the U.S. says that it is tracking the rocket, we heard her Allison with the tracking too.
But at this point, you know, the U.S. doesn't necessarily have plans to shoot it down if it were to, you know, come over U.S. land and airspace. And at what point would officials kind of reassess that kind of decision or calculation?
KAYYEM: It's probably too late in the sense that it is moving so fast at this stage, and because as Allison was describing the variables will change, you know, just in seconds about whether it's New Zealand or Las Vegas.
So let's just be clear, the chances of you being harmed by this or any individual person are so negligible, I can't even come up with a statistic, the chances that something -- someone gets harmed are getting higher and the reason why is that this is -- this is a design flaw. This is not a mistake. This is not even negligence.
China knows that this is what is going to happen as they compete with us for a new space station that they're calling Heavenly Palace. There are --
WHITFIELD: And a design flaw because China is the only country that currently builds this kind of rocket that doesn't break apart.
KAYYEM: Right, fingers crossed, this is exactly how they do it, right. So they -- and they have ten more after this. So this is complete negligence on their part. They have ten more shuttle -- or rocket launches to their Heavenly Palace, their space station. So we're going to go through this again.
And so the design feature -- look at this from a national security and a sort of global security perspective, the design feature is essentially, you know, ten more of these. And so you're just increasing the likelihood, with no punishment, except for, you know, a hope that the Chinese government begins to act more responsibly.
As Allison was saying, Russia and the United States know how to design this feature, either it drops closer to earth so that there's no harm, or it's a controlled release. And this is just -- it's just like throwing trash out in space and saying, you know, fingers crossed. So if I sound annoyed, it's not a mistake on China's part.
WHITFIELD: You say there are ten more that the Chinese, you know, will be endeavoring here. In other words, there's no other country that can intervene. And then what about that culpability? I mean China --
WHITFIELD: -- you know how held responsible can it be made?
KAYYEM: Right. So there are conventions around space, around space debris, sort of international agreements through the U.N. that have been built up in the 60s and 70s related mostly to warfare.
I think these need to be, you know, as there's more both public and private industry going into space, as there's more space debris, which has been a bit of an issue of late, and we're culpable, too, in terms of space debris, the United States. We probably need to get greater conventions.
Not because you can stop it all the time, but because of for greater transparency about what is likely to happen.
In this case though it's very different. This is, as I said, this is -- excuse me -- this is China designing a global threat --
WHITFIELD: Yes. You say it was preventable.
KAYYEM: -- and that to me is the Chinese government and that to me is very different.
WHITFIELD: Yes. All right. So Juliette, let me shift gears now because --
KAYYEM: More good news.
WHITFIELD: -- there is also, yes good news, encouraging. There's more news coming out today that a cyberattack forced the shutdown of a major gas pipeline in the U.S. That pipeline transports 100 million gallons of gasoline from Texas to New York every day. We've seen similar attacks on U.S. infrastructure in recent months. So what, if anything, can be done to prevent -- you know, circumvent this from happening?
KAYYEM: Basically to protect the networks. What we're seeing now is what's called the back door attack. So in other words, in the old days right, if you wanted to go after a country's critical infrastructure, you would actually go over the pipes, you would go after the pipes or you would go after that infrastructure.
Here you have a back door through the cyber network, and so I want to commend the company. They did the right thing. Once they figured out that they had been infiltrated, and we don't know what kind of attack it is, we don't know if it's ransomware, we don't know if some country or entity was sort of just lurking.
Once they realized it, they shut the system down simply to purge the threat out. So, in other words, the enemy did not get into the system. That's good news. But we do see these vulnerabilities and these attacks are increasing because they're easier. It's much easier to get into wires than it is to get to pipes. So that's the first thing, is to protect the wires as much as we protect the pipes.
The second is, I think this is just exposing how vulnerable our critical infrastructure is, not simply for cyberattack, but that 45 percent of the Eastern Seaboard's, you know, distribution system is through a single company.
We just need to diversify a bit more. We can't have these sort of single points of failure where if one company goes down, you know, an entire part of the country is impacted. We saw this with Texas as well a couple of months ago.
WHITFIELD: Yes. That's going to take some major intervention because we're going cyber everything everywhere.
WHITFIELD: All right. And you underscore the vulnerability there well.
Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much. Happy Mother's Day Weekend.
KAYYEM: Thank you so much. You, too.
WHITFIELD: That, at least, is encouraging right, and uplifting.
KAYYEM: I get some good news. Some good news every once in a while.
WHITFIELD: That's right. We're going to find it. All right. Thank you, Juliette.
KAYYEM: You, too.
WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up next, refrigerated trucks turned into morgues. The New York City medical examiner says it's still storing the bodies of hundreds of coronavirus victims.
Plus, federal health officials are considering a seasonal coronavirus booster shot to prevent possible surge this winter.
WHITFIELD: All right. The bodies of hundreds of COVID victims in New York City are still being stored in refrigerated trucks on the waterfront. The city converted trucks into makeshift morgues at the height of the crisis, but that was over a year ago, and after all that time, they are still there.
Alison Kosik joins us live from New York with more on this. Alison, do we know what the plans are?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we're not entirely clear what the plans are. But what is clear is how grim of a reminder this is of the kind of strain that families are under still after losing a loved one to COVID and their need to bury their loved ones.
It's been more than a year since refrigerated trucks were used to store bodies of people who died from the coronavirus, but these were set up as temporary morgues, as these numbers of deaths in New York surged during the beginning of the pandemic.
New York City's morgues were overwhelmed. It's hard to forget those pictures of the refrigerated trucks, many of them parked outside of hospitals around New York City.
Well now, we're learning that the bodies of 750 individuals are still being stored in this long-term storage now located at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. This, according to a spokesman with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, who went on to say this, saying that the storage was created to ensure that families could lay their loved ones to rest as they see fit and that they continue to work with individual families on a case-by-case basis with sensitivity and compassion during their time of mourning. That's, of course, as families continue to sort out the plans of their loved ones.
But Fredricka, the spokesperson did not answer how long reunification will take or how long these burials will take. So still a lot of questions as we look at these really grim pictures.
WHITFIELD: Wow, yes. And you look at those pictures, that's a lot of lingering pain, too, for the family members. Alison Kosik, thank you so much.
All right. Let's bring in Dr. Anand Swaminathan, now in Westfield, New Jersey. Good to see you Dr. Swaminathan.
So the daily COVID death rate is far lower than a year ago, but we're also right now seeing a slowing of the vaccination rate. What are your concerns?
DR. ANAND SWAMINATHAN, EMERGENCY MEDICAL PHYSICIAN: Well, I think this is our opportunity to really get ahead of this pandemic by getting vaccinated. And there are still some understandable hesitancies or there were some understandable hesitancies from people.
People were worried about safety. We now have hundreds of millions of doses out there, so we have great data on safety.
People were worried about efficacy. We now have real-world data showing more than 97 percent efficacy for these vaccinations. And one of the other hesitancies has been in FDA approval, that this was an EUA. It wasn't FDA-approved. We might be getting ahead of that pretty soon as well.
And I'm hoping that all of these things are going to help people to make the right decision, which is to get vaccinated.
And Fred, we're still dealing with three groups out there. We have a group of people who want the vaccine, but are still having access issues. We're starting to fix that by getting more vaccines into communities, more vaccines into pharmacies.
There's a great service where you can text your zip code and it will tell you three places nearby you that have vaccines available.
We have a group that's kind of on the fence and some of these hurdles, those understandable hesitancies are going to help to convince that group.
And then we have the group that really says they don't want the vaccine no matter what. What we need to do with those last two groups is really reach out to community leaders and find out what people's hesitancies are and how we can address those.
We've got to align with people that are well-respected in those communities in order to do that.
WHITFIELD: The EUA for folks, the emergency use authorization, that's what it's had thus far. And perhaps next week it will final authorization and perhaps that will be encouragement for a lot of the people who had been hesitant.
So this also brings us to the issue of the booster shots. When do you see that that will indeed be something administered or encouraged that people will -- those who have been vaccinated already will need a follow-up, a booster shot, just in case for what could be a surge in the winter?
DR. SWAMINATHAN: There's so much data around this that we still need to collect. What we have at this point is about six months of data saying that the vaccines are still effective in people, that they still have a good response, and so we don't need boosters yet
But we need more data to collect to figure it out. I think most likely we are going to be recommending boosters. Whether that be at six months, at a year, we still don't know. What we do know, again is that even against the variants, our vaccines are still pretty effective.
So the big variant circulating right now, the B117, B1351 from South Africa, our vaccines are still very effective against those. Again, real life data telling us that. But I think boosters are going to be a reality. Whether that is at once a year like the flu vaccine, we just don't know that part yet.
And so what we need to do is really focus on maintaining that mass vaccination infrastructure that we have, boosting our ability to track variants, both at home and abroad, and expanding our collaboration internationally so that we can track these variants, develop boosters that are going to be effective to really help and support people's immunity.
WHITFIELD: And if there is full FDA approval as early as next week, what will it mean for the administering of the current vaccines? Will it change it at all the way in which it's conducted?
DR. SWAMINATHAN: I don't think it's going to change too much in the way it's conducted, but I think there's going to be big wins from getting FDA approval, both for that group that's hesitant that wants that FDA approval to feel a little bit more secure, but also for businesses and schools and colleges in how they're going to be requiring vaccination.
Once you get FDA approval, it's a little bit easier to work that in. I think a lot of school systems -- and we're talking about elementary, middle schools and high schools -- are going to be requiring that as part of their vaccine package.
Remember Fred, our schools already require vaccinations. This is just going to be adding one more into that. And I think we're going to see that coming down the line with that FDA approval, which is going to be a really big win for our kids, to not just get them into school, but to keep them in school.
WHITFIELD: And How encouraged are you about the lowering -- potentially the lowering of the age of those who are eligible? Right now in some places it's 15 and up, but potentially after much more testing kids can be much younger than that? Do you think in time for the fall?
DR. SWAMINATHAN: Yes. I think we're going to see -- I think we're going to 12 to 15 very soon. And then in the fall we might see it expanded to that under 12 age group.
I think this is a really important thing, especially as we see some -- our vaccines lagging and how much of the population we're getting to. This gives us a whole new population to get into that herd immunity, mixed, to getting to that vaccinated population.
There is this ethical dilemma that we're really grappling with in that, yes, we want our kids vaccinated and my kids will be first in line, or as soon as in line as they can to get that vaccine, but also with seeing our colleagues across the world and really higher risk individuals who can't get vaccinated, and we're grappling with that.
But I think what we need to do is, if the vaccines are available for our kids, let's get our kids vaccinated, but let's also really support efforts abroad with COVAX and other organizations and get the world vaccinated in order to really get ahead of the pandemic.
WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Anand Swaminathan, thank you so much. Always good to see you. Appreciate it.
DR. SWAMINATHAN: Thanks Fred. Take care.
WHITFIELD: All right. Right now we're going to take you straight to Houston, Texas. Attorney for George Floyd's family, Ben Crump, speaking now. Let's listen in, along with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, LAWYER FOR GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: The fact that George Floyd's family was very grateful when Attorney General Merrick Garland called them to notify them, Congresswoman, that they were bringing these indictments for the criminal civil rights against those officers for what they did to George Floyd.
And it was very evident, the first time you watched that video, that they had violated the constitutional rights of George Floyd, because at the very basic of our constitution is the promise of constitutional rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And you knew, watching that video, that they had violated George Floyd's constitutional right to life when they prevented him from taking a breath for 9 minutes and 29 seconds while those officers kept their knee on his neck and on his back.
And so when you think about this indictment, you think not just about George Floyd, but you think about the message this sends to other marginalized minorities, who believe they were denied their due process, that they were denied their day in court.
People like the family of Eric Garner, people like the family of Breonna Taylor, and people like the family of Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City, North Carolina who right now are battling with local officials to be transparent, to give them their due process and release the video of why he was shot in the back of the brain going away from the police.
That's what this action by the Department of Justice means. It means that the Department of Justice is hearkening back to the historical times when it was only the federal intervention that gave marginalized minorities, especially black people, protection that their constitutional rights would be respected.
CRUMP: I know you all are going to have a lot of questions, but we're going to have individuals give remarks and then we'll talk about not only what these charges mean and your questions -- but also what the charge -- the additional charge against Derek Chauvin for kneeling and brutalizing that 14-year-old baby, what that means.
But I think it's most appropriate that we hear from the representatives who represent Houston in the great halls of the United States Congress who have been directly responsible for getting the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act passed.
You know, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee would not sleep until they got that passed. Congressman Al Green was steadfast in their commitment to say that we have to have meaningful legislation passed because Rodney's brother and Brandon's uncle, blood is on that legislation.
So without further ado, I give you, first, my friend, my leader, a great stateswoman. I mean, they talk about her having a batter in her back for how hard she works for this community. We could have no finer representative than the Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Thank you very much, Attorney Crump. And it is an honor to be able to stand on hollow ground that is the nexus between too many homes and the people of this community. There is great history.
And first I want to thank Attorney Benjamin Crump for providing the most significant and powerful message to the 2021 graduating class that was just heard a few minutes ago.
I want to thank America's family, Brandon and Rodney, the George Floyd family, that has suffered pain, but has blessed us with their generosity and their fight.
And my colleague, the Honorable Al Green, for his collaboration and fight. Black people have had to depend in the course of history on outside forces other than themselves.
The entire 20th century in the backdrop of the freedom given in the 19th century, should have been the assimilation of black people into the culture and history and laws of this nation. It did not happen.
We continue to suffer at the hands -- at the hands of ill-fated laws and wrong-acting people, devastating conditions that resulted in our death. The most recent was our civil rights movement, when so many civil rights soldiers, if you will, died in the fight for justice. It was the Justice Department that allowed Martin King and John Lewis to march from Selma to Montgomery.
Today, with Attorney Crump, my colleague, the Floyd family, we announce that the Department of Justice is open for business and lives will be saved.
JACKSON LEE: I was stunned. I was moved to tears when the federal indictment came out, because I've known the mothers of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and others who suffered without justice. This indictment is again to raise up the specter that the constitution has a role in the violence against innocent persons, and you can not engage in bad police conduct under color of law with impunity and get away with it.
JACKSON LEE: I want to make this point. This is about police misconduct, bad conduct, because as we commemorate this month that honors law enforcement, we will not be tagged and tainted with an opposition to the laws of this land.
JACKSON LEE: But the indictment was so visual, as it indicated that Officer Chauvin in particular was willful and the reason, of course, is because at the end of six minutes, when it was apparent that George Floyd had no more life, Officer Chauvin did not move him, did not take him from his prone position, did not unleash him, did not seek to give medical care.
And the indictment is a glaring statement that you cannot act under color of law, you cannot violate the civil rights, you cannot violate the constitution when it comes to a fellow human being. That is where we are today. And it is the persistence of Attorney Benjamin Crump, not giving up on these cases, that made General Garland in the immediacy of his confirmation to go and begin this process. This is not an easy process.
A federal grand jury is not easy. And so in addition to Officer Chauvin, they've indicated that constitutional rights of George Floyd were violated by the other officers because they failed to render aid.
Please understand, this is embedded in the constitution. That's the distinction between the state cases and now federal cases, which do not negate the state cases, and the state cases cannot negate the federal cases.
The other counts, of course, included, shocking to us, painful to us, that a teenager was grabbed by the neck, hit in the head with a flashlight, and then kneed in the back. Thank God he lived. But he, too, provides number one and number two counts.
So where we are today is, as Attorney Ben Crump said, we have given light and hope to other families who have languished without relief. And I'm going to step a little bit out of my boundaries, a little bit out of my boundaries, because Rodney, I know the mothers that you have met. You have seen how often Eric Garner's mother comes every time.
So I'm going to raise the question with the Department of Justice as to revisiting cases like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice -- cases that have languished -- Trayvon Martin. Most of you think differently from me, but Trayvon Martin was under color of law because Mr. Zimmerman said that he was on a civil patrol. He was under the jurisdiction of a governmental entity.
So this opens the door for at least having the ability to bring these cases to the Justice Department and ask for reconsideration on new facts, new precedent in the law, new understanding of what happens when you're kneed, new understanding about a teenager's fear, like Trayvon's, a young boy in the dark of night.
These cases should be looked at and others. So I am grateful for this indictment because it means that, as a member of Congress, I have no influence on the DOJ, but as a member of Congress I can bring facts to the DOJ. And the DOJ now will look at those facts and make their own credible, independent decision. That is a sense of hope.
That is a sense of hope. Even for (INAUDIBLE) right here in Houston, Texas.
thank you to a now-open DOJ. Knock, knock -- the door is open. How grateful we are. This is a major, major decision.
CRUMP: Thank you so much, congresswoman, for proclaiming that the Department of Justice is open. That is profound.
Now, we will hear from her colleague, the great congressman who also hails here from Houston, Texas who has been a stalwart in the fight for justice for George Floyd, Congressman Al Green.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Hear, hear.
REP. AL GREEN (D-TX): Thank you very much, Attorney Crump.
Friends, the winds of change are blowing across this nation. The winds of change are blowing across the country as a result of one man whose daughter has said he would change the world, and that is exactly what's happening.
The winds of change are blowing. They're blowing because we have Attorney Crump. I can say to you without question, reservation, hesitation, or equivocation, he is the Thurgood Marshall of this generation because of his courage. He's go the courage.
There are many lawyers who see these injustices but they don't have the intestinal fortitude. That Malcolm X calls it chitlins (ph) to just stand up, stand up against injustice.
The winds of change are blowing because of Keith Ellison. Keith Ellison, the attorney general. Make no mistake about it, for us states rights have been states wrongs. We have always depended on the federal courts. We've always believed if we could just get to the federal court, we could get justice. Keith Ellison stands there with us in the state level.
CRUMP: Yes, yes.
GREEN: We now see the winds of change.
The winds of change are blowing because that jury declared a guilty, guilty, guilty. There are many times whenever this was there, but the jurors didn't have the courage.
CRUMP: Didn't have the courage.
GREEN: The winds of change are blowing across this country.
The winds of change are blowing because Jackson Lee refuses to let the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act go down in flames. She's still fighting.
GREEN: Still fighting for it.
GREEN: The winds of change are blowing across this country. This family, God bless you, dear brother, how you have been able to do this with the dignity that you have. It means something to know that you have not only suffered and you're suffering through the pain but you have demonstrated to others how to behave under extraordinary circumstances with extraordinary pain. The winds of change are blowing across this country.
GREEN: And with these winds of change, we now have a Justice Department that understands that it doesn't end at the state level. The Justice Department can pick these cases up and let us have complete justice.
CRUMP: Complete justice.
GREEN: With have some justice and that's good, but we want total justice.
GREEN: We want justice for George Floyd, but we also want justice for all of those who are potential George Floyds. If this change takes place, it's going to send a powerful message, a powerful message -- to those who believe they can act with impunity because they have the long arm of the law in their hands.
I cannot tell you what this means to me. I'm 73 years old. I have been waiting on this for a long time. And George Floyd's daughter, God bless her, her words are prophetic. Her father changed the world.
As I feel this gentle breeze, I know the spirit of George Floyd is contained therein.
GREEN: Because the winds of change are blowing across this country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they are. Thank you.
GREEN: Thank you.
CRUMP: Thank you, Congressman.
And before we hear brief remarks from Rodney and Brandon, we have Houston Councilwoman Evans-Shabazz to briefly address you.
CAROLYN EVANS-SHABAZZ, HOUSTON COUNCIL MEMBER: Thank you so very much. I am so very honored to be here at Texas Southern University in Third Ward, Texas where I just left the retouching of the mural in the street over on Alabama across from (INAUDIBLE) high school.
And I'm so very honored to stand here with the Floyd family, my esteemed congressman and congresswoman, and certainly this gentleman here, Mr. Crump.
And my sister told me to make sure that I told him that thank you for giving a voice to the voiceless.
EVANS-SHABAZZ: And so I'm going to say that, you know, we're fighting very, very hard to get these laws changed to bring equity, equality and fairness. But we also have a great challenge in changing hearts of men because the laws may be easy but changing hearts is very difficult.
And that is what is going to be required, certainly the laws will give consequences, but we certainly need to change the hearts to stop the actions.
And so I'm here, glad to stand with all of those that are here. I'm so very honored. I am a Texas Southern grad myself, masters and doctorate, and so I know that he imparted some great words, especially to those that will be severely impacted, because Texas Southern University is predominantly African-American and Latino.
And so certainly we're in the heart of Third Ward, Texas and the words and the actions of my colleagues and this family, who have stood strong -- and I can't imagine how difficult that can be.
I'm so very honored. I am Carolyn Evans-Shabazz and I am the council member for District D, which I call the District of Destination. And it's for places such as this and the people in these areas that I speak. So thank you so very, very much.
CRUMP: Thank you very much, Councilwoman. Now we will hear from the brother of George Floyd, who slept in the bed with him, I mean, across the street in Cuney Homes. And Rodney, Philonise, Zsa Zsa (ph), Latalla (ph), Brigitte (ph) -- all his brother and sisters and nephew Brandon.
They continue to be so dignified as they continue to fight for justice, whole justice for George Floyd.
RODNEY FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: All right. Yesterday we received a phone call from the attorney general saying -- and you can hear the sincerity in his voice. You can hear that he was very touched and moved by our brother's death and these police officers' conduct.
And I mean he spoke with us for about 15 minutes, I mean. And just explained to us, hey, we got indictment charges going against these four officers -- former officers. And it put a smile on our faces I know -- you know, just hearing how touched and moved he was that he's going to give this his all, 100 percent. He's going to hold these guys to their accountability.
And we grew up right across the street from Texas Southern University in Cuney Homes. And this is a big graduation day for these young men and women. And we're just happy and honored that we are invited here to this event.
And I mean it means a lot. Walking through this campus brings back memories of passing through here as a child, as well when I registered here, when started school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not too late.
FLOYD: It's never too late. But I mean, I was just saying these faces of these wonderful men and women, getting ready to go out into this world. They just spent a lot of time studying and training for what they're about to do and they're stepping into the road of two justice systems -- one for black African-Americans and one for the white folks.
And this right here is going to be very hard for them because this moment they are celebrating, happy smiles with their family. They want to go out into this world and do what they've been wanting to do, training and going to school for, but it's going to be a lot of obstacles ahead of them.
But they do know that. And it just -- but it's a beautiful thing. They are in good trouble, we're all in the good troubles together.
And you know, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee's been here for us every step of the way. Brother Al Green, every step of the way. Ms. Shabazz, every step of the way. They're one phone call away. They call us, they give us advice.
They tell us repeatedly our phone lines are open. They know this road. They know this road better than the Floyd family know this road, me and my brothers' wives. They've been down this road. They've been fighting so long.
And Mr. Green said it best, 73 years old, he's been waiting for a moment like this. Unfortunately, it had to come and we all had to meet in my brother's death but we would never would have met -- eventually in the way it goes but the fight these men and women have in them, hey, we're going to keep on fighting for our people, for equality.
CRUMP: Yes, sir. Good job.
FLOYD: Thank you, guys.
CRUMP: Thank you.
JACKSON LEE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good job, brother. Good job.
CRUMP: And now you will hear from a young man who talked to George on a daily basis because George was like a farther to him. Mr. Brandon Williams, his nephew.
JACKSON LEE: Brandon.
BRANDON WILLIAMS, NEPHEW OF GEORGE FLOYD: I just want to say thank you to everybody that's up here standing with us. Congressman Eric Green, always there, we appreciate you.