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Biden Touts Mideast Ceasefire between Israel and Hamas; Video Shows Police Tase, Kick, Drag Black Man; Israeli Police Fire Rubber Bullets, Stun Grenades at Palestinians in Response to Riot in Al Aqsa Compound. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired May 21, 2021 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour. Good Morning Everyone I'm Poppy Harlow.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Jim Sciutto.
We are following this hour developing news out of the Middle East. This morning, new clashes taking place outside right there the dome of the rock, the third holiest site in the Muslim faith, this just hours after a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas ended their most deadly conflict in years.
HARLOW: 11 days of rocket attacks and airstrikes leaving more than 250 people dead in the region, including more than 60 children.
CNN is the first western network live on the ground in Gaza since the ceasefire went into effect. Our Ben Wedeman is there. We'll take you there in a moment.
But, first, let's go to John Harwood who joining us at the White House. Look, the White House was insistent, John, that their sort of quiet diplomacy and conversations with Netanyahu and that team would lead to this. And they believe that strategy was the best and it worked.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, they want to claim credit for effective diplomacy. In reality, it is very difficult to know how much of a role their diplomacy played both Israel and Gaza had diminishing returns the longer this carnage went on. Nevertheless, the president was -- and his team, was intensively engaged initially behind the scenes, then when they got impatient with the prime minister, they ratcheted up the public pressure and the carnage ended. It did not go on for 50 days, as it did in 2014. So that is positive.
And the larger positive for the administration is that they can put this conflict behind them, get on to their other domestic and foreign policy goals. The president vowed to help rebuild Gaza after the destruction that was rained down over the last couple of weeks. But the truth is that the underlying sources of the conflict have not been dealt with. It does not appear an auspicious time for a major peace process. So this is more limiting damage rather than a genuine breakthrough. And because President Biden has not put the Middle East at the top of his agenda, he didn't really come into office expecting otherwise.
HARLOW: John Harwood, thank you very much for that reporting.
This morning demands for justice, the family of Ronald Greene, a black man who died just over two years ago after a violent encounter with Louisiana State Police, says he was murdered. His family says he was murdered and there was a cover-up.
SCIUTTO: This comes after the Associated Press uncovered disturbing new body camera video showing those officers beating Greene until he was bloodied, tasing him, dragging him, begging for his life.
A warning, the video you are about to watch graphic, it's difficult to listen to and watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taser taser taser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands behind your back, behind your back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make sure he doesn't get rolling --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'd better not move.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Those are the sounds of a human being. This morning on CNN, Greene's mother says after viewing that disturbing video, she has had to relive the video every day since.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONA HARDIN, MOTHER OF RONALD GREENE: The fact that it was a cover- up, it's been a nightmare. We've not properly grieved. But we need to hold these people accountable. Someone needs to pay. Someone needs to go to jail for this. This is murder, what happened to my son, Ronny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: CNN's Nick Valencia, he has been following this, he has the latest on the investigation, what the family is saying as well. But I wonder, has there been any reaction from police, from local authorities, particularly to the contrast between what that video shows and what the initial police description of this was?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is a great question and something that we posed to the Louisiana State Police yesterday, but they said they're under an order, federal order, not to comment on the case because this is currently being reviewed by the feds.
There is certainly a lack of transparency here, according to the family. It seems as though, according to the family, that they have been misled all along. The sister was on CNN earlier and said that they have been strung along throughout the course of this investigation, saying that it's been more than 730 days since her brother was killed, she said, by police, and yet they still have no justice and no answers.
It has been two years. 2019 is when the incident happened. But it was just this week that the public saw the body cam footage for the first time. The family says that it has been two years of darkness, the mother telling CNN, that the life she knew before no longer exists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARDIN: It is horrific hearing my son. It's horrible that everyone has to see this. But at the same moment I'm so glad that it's exposed because of corruption. It is such a horrific level of corruption all the way up to the top.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: Horrific level of corruption from the governor on down to the state police, according to Greene's mother. She says the body cam footage shows what she calls a premeditated murder.
And in those three brief video clips first obtained by the Associated Press, you could see Ronald Greene say that he is scared. You could hear him say he's scared. He is repeatedly punched, tased and even dragged through the dirt.
We should mention as well, Jim and Poppy, that the FBI as well as the U.S. attorney and the civil rights division of the Department of Justice have opened a civil investigation, civil rights investigation into this matter. Jim, Poppy?
SCIUTTO: Nick Valencia, thanks so much.
Joining us now to discuss, Charles Ramsey, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, also D.C. Police Chief.
Chief Ramsey, it is good to have you on. I wish it wasn't this often, frankly, right, because, you know, I can't count the number of times you and I and Poppy have looked at videos like this one. Just speak about it as a police officer and a police commander, what led -- what could lead them or justify police to use that level of force on him in those circumstances as you watch the video play out?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there is no justification for that level of force. Allegedly, he engaged -- they were engaged in a high-speed pursuit, and even if that were true, there is still no excuse for using that level of force between the multiple tasings, the kicking and punching, leaving him in a prone position for an extended period of time, which we learned from George Floyd is very dangerous for an individual, grabbing the person by the heels and then dragging him. I mean, there is no excuse for it. And if it is, in fact, true that the original report is not consistent with the video, then you have another issue, which is actually, you know, lying and covering up what actually took place.
HARLOW: We have some more audio, so I'd like everyone to listen to this and get your reaction to it. This is an audio clip that was obtained by the associated press. It's a Louisiana State trooper that is picking up his body, talking about beating and choking Greene. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I beat the ever-living (BLEEP) out of him, choked him and everything else trying to get him under control. We finally got him in handcuffs when a third man got there and the (BLEEP) was still fighting and was still wrestling with him and we tried to hold him down. He was spitting blood everywhere and, all of a sudden, he just went limp.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: And the video we saw where you don't see it him fighting back at all, you hear him moaning. And now, on top of this, you've got the New Orleans FBI Field Office Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney's Office for the western district opening this civil rights investigation. What could that lead to?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, listen, thank God that the Justice Department has stepped in and the FBI has stepped in because, clearly, the state police aren't capable of investigating their own. Just because we are seeing it two years later doesn't mean the leadership of that department hasn't seen it and probably saw it right away after it occurred.
My understanding is there was some minor discipline handed out to some of the officers. You couldn't do that unless you saw the tape. And if you saw the tape and listened to it, then you knew you had a much larger problem than just perhaps excessive force even.
So, you know, I'm glad the Justice Department is stepping in. That is the only way you're going to get to the bottom of what occurred and have some consequences for the officers that were involved.
SCIUTTO: It strikes me looking at the collection of those incidents that you can make a good argument, you need a national standard to some degree for the use of deadly force or potentially deadly force.
I mean, we have the explanation in North Carolina just a few days ago saying a car under any circumstances is a deadly weapon, so you are justified to fire no matter what direction it's going, right? The George Floyd case, he was prosecuted and convicted, that was excessive force. Here you have a case, we don't know where it is going to go, seems excessive but he had fled arrest. I mean, these are the core issues being debated in this national police reform bill. And I just wonder what we're learning from this, right, and what standard needs to be applied and can you apply a standard to help prevent these kinds of things?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, certainly there is a need for some national standards in some areas. Most of what really governs police conduct is done at the state or local level. But, certainly, even with standards in place, if you've got officers whose mindset and whose attitude and behavior is what you just saw on the video, a standard is not going to make any difference. These are people that never should have been allowed to become police officers to begin with. They don't deserve the honor of wearing a badge or a uniform of a police officer or a trooper.
And so whereas, you know, you do need some standards, there is no question about that, but I also think that the Justice Department in this case needs to really step in because there has to be some serious consequences. I mean, remember, these guys are wearing body cameras and still not telling the truth. And what is unfortunate is that it paints the entire profession in a particular way and that is totally unfair because the majority of officers do not act like that and are embarrassed when they see something like that.
So we have to really, you know, weed them out of the ranks. It's going to be hard though because it's not that easy to fire police officers.
HARLOW: And just imagine if there were no body camera video.
HARLOW: I mean, it took two years, but imagine because no one else was there to take a video of it.
RAMSEY: Right. We would not be having this conversation. We would have read the original report, and that would have been it. And so thank God for body cameras, thank God for video, things like that do need to come to light. There is no question in my mind about that. But we have got a long way to go as a profession before we get to a point where you and I no longer have to have this kind of conversation.
SCIUTTO: Yes. To that point, had we read the initial George Floyd written report about he died after a medical incident without the cell phone video, right, obviously, it would have been a different outcome there too.
HARLOW: Commissioner Ramsey, thank you very much.
Well, CNN's Josh Campbell reports this is just the latest in a growing number of cases where video footage contradicts what police say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): George Floyd, Walter Scott, Breonna Taylor, Laquan McDonald, just a few of the names of black people dying at the hands of police officers, police whose initial narratives were found to be inaccurate once video surfaced telling the real story.
The official police report documenting the arrest of George Floyd simply stated, officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance, no mention of Floyd being handcuffed with a knee on his neck for over nine minutes.
Walter Scott pulled over by Police Officer Michael Slager for a broken tail light in South Carolina in 2015 was shot in the back five times. Slager initially claimed he shot Scott because he feared for his life after Scott grabbed his Taser. But video showed Slager shooting him in the back from 17 feet away, according to prosecutors, then dropping his taser by Scott's body.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we see again, time and time again, are officers punishing black folks who run, who don't comply, who don't comply quick enough.
CAMPBELL: Breonna Taylor, a black EMT, was shot and killed by Louisville Police officers in March of last year during a botched raid on her apartment. The initial police report stated there were no injuries and no forced entry. Taylor was shot at least eight times and police used a battering ram to execute their no knock warrant.
In Chicago, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot in 2014 when he walked away from police on a side street while holding a knife. Chicago Officer Jason Van Dyke initially said McDonald raised the knife at him. But at no point on the video that was released over a year later was McDonald seen lifting the knife in the manner Van Dyke described.
RAMSEY: The length of time it took to release the tape, the lying in the initial reports by the officers, all these things, that's part of a cover-up.
CAMPBELL: Without the emergence of eyewitness cell phone video and the public release of body cam footage, these officers' stories would remain the final word.
CAMPBELL (voice over): Now, Jim and Poppy, as our colleague, Nick Valencia, has reported a short time ago, the U.S. Department of Justice as well as the FBI are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the death of Ronald Greene there in Louisiana. We hope to get some greater insight about what actually transpired.
But as we've been talking about all morning, this is just the latest incident where you have initial police reports differing from what is later seen on video. It shows the importance of that body camera footage. But it's also worth noting when it comes to body cameras, Jim and Poppy, that there are still departments across this country that do not require their officers to have cameras. There is no national mandate.
And as this situation shows, even in incidents where someone dies in the custody of an officer, where that officer was wearing a camera, it can sometimes be months, sometimes even years before the public sees that video.
HARLOW: But the policing, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, would change that, right, Josh?
CAMPBELL: Some of the reforms that they are looking for, looking not only at national training standards but how do you look at what good departments are doing and try to generalize that? And as you mentioned, that includes more accountability. And, by the way, it's worth pointing out that I talk to officers all the time. Good police officers are in favor of body cameras as well because, if they are wrongfully accused of something, the video could show a different story.
HARLOW: Of course. Josh Campbell, thank you for that reporting.
Well, there were new clashes overnight as the world watches to see if a fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas will last. We'll have a live update next.
And Arizona secretary of state is urging Maricopa County to decommission and replace all of the voting machines that have been obtained and checked in this so-called partisan audit. There are major concerns now about the integrity of those machines. We'll discuss with an election official from Maricopa County ahead.
SCIUTTO: And now a GOP filibuster looms as the Senate could vote as early as next week on a bipartisan bill to create a bipartisan commission on the Capitol insurrection. That is right, a GOP filibuster of a bipartisan bill. How did it happen? We'll discuss.
HARLOW: Welcome back. We have more now on the developing news out of the Middle East. New clashes taking place in Gaza just hours after a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas ended their deadliest conflict in years.
SCIUTTO: CNN was the first western network live on the ground in Gaza since the ceasefire took effect. Let's get now though to our Nic Robertson. He is live right next to the Gaza border. Nic difficult getting live signals out of Gaza now, we are still working on that. But tell us in the hours since, is the ceasefire holding?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is. And, Jim, I think there are a couple big things to note here. One you saw in Gaza and you saw in Jerusalem in the Palestinian populations huge celebrations with this ceasefire, people out on the streets, a huge turn in the mood, people really elated that they felt they are no longer in danger.
Here where I've been out on the streets here talking to people, where they also feel thankful that they are out of danger, there is no celebration. I've talked to people here. I said, are you happy with the ceasefire? And they say, no. We should have gone in more, we should have sent tanks in, we should have crushed Hamas. They just feel that what they've gotten at the moment by the prime minister, Netanyahu, agreeing to the ceasefire is just a hold up. There will be more conflict in the future.
The people who live in the town of (INAUDIBLE) just down the road from where I am are often facing Hamas rockets, not just now, they got a lot more over the past 11 days but they're often facing them and they want a lasting solution. They want something that looks like real peace. I talked to a young lady and she said, my father tells me when he used to drive down to Gaza, have coffee with his Arab friends, come back, she said that is the future that I want.
And the reality is this ceasefire is holding there's nothing about it that's going to build towards that lasting, durable peace, the political leadership on both sides are not ready for it, in talking to a lot more people on this side today, you know, who are worried about Hamas rockets. That belief, that this is really going to last year's into the future, that just isn't there, Jim.
HARLOW: Right. And what has been lost is 250 lives and 60 children in the last 11 days. Nic, thank you so much.
We do have our Ben Wedeman is up live for us now in Gaza. Ben good to have you. What can you tell us?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, we are in front of a series of buildings that were hit in an Israeli airstrike on May 16th in what is called Wehda Street and these buildings, in them died 42 people at 1:30 in the morning during an airstrike.
It is not clear why the Israelis hit these buildings but one man was telling, who had lost ten family members in the building, that they did not receive the warning call that sometimes happens before an airstrike. He said that it's amazing that our lives are cheaper than a simple phone call.
Another woman who lived right down the street, she's a teacher with small children, told me that when she heard the blast, she thought it was judgment day. She grabbed her children and hid. But the state of shock many people, especially in this area, who were here when the bombing happened, is very palpable.
Now, right down the streets, we have what seems to be some sort of Hamas press conference or speech going on. Hamas is, of course, presenting this as a victory. If it is a victory, it is a hollow victory for the people who lived in these buildings. Hamas has long taken the position --
HARLOW: Ben -- that's our Ben Wedeman on the ground there in Gaza, again, CNN, the first western network live in Gaza after this ceasefire. Ben, thank you to you and your team for that reporting.
SCIUTTO: Yes, if you're in Gaza, you won't be able to get anywhere else right now.
Well, a GOP filibuster in the Senate is now likely to stand in the way of creating a bipartisan commission on the Capitol insurrection, a bipartisan proposal. So what is plan B for lawmakers who signed off on that legislation? We're going to discuss with one of them next.