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Biden to Meet with Family on Anniversary of George Floyd's Death; 13 Mass Shooting in 8 States this Weekend, 13 Dead, 70+ Hurt; Belarus Accused of "Hijacking" Plane to Grab Dissident Journalist; Arizona Secretary of State; Conspiracy Theorist's Group to Help Staff Arizona Election Audit; Colbert, Fallon to Welcome Full Audiences Back in June. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 24, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Among other actions they will set up a national registry of police misconduct.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: But so far the Floyd bill has been stuck in the Senate over the issue of qualified immunity for officers. The White House says President Biden remains hopeful.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is still very much hopeful that he will be able to sign the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law. And we are, of course, are very closely engaged with the negotiators, while also leaving them room to work.


CAMEROTA: CNN's Joe Johns joins us now from Minneapolis. So Joe, how is the family feeling about their trip to Washington now that they know this legislation is in limbo?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I'm hearing anger, impatience, urgency. It's not really directed at Joe Biden, if you think about it, because there is an expectation that he's going to sign a bill once it gets to his desk.

But the concern here is about police reform specifically, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Because people here say one of the major things they want is a bill with teeth. They don't want the Congress to rush through and send something to the president's desk just for the act of doing it.

The other thing I think is important to say is, while there is an awareness here in Minneapolis and in many other places that people have talked for a year about change since the death of George Floyd, the fact of the matter is, we've had a number of high-profile, questionable, controversial situations where people have died in police custody or at the hands of police across the United States with no satisfaction to the families.

Which is something Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney who spoke here was also for a while a representative of the family. He read some of the names of the people across the country who have died, and he also said this, listen.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: What is it about a black male running away from the police that is the most dangerous thing in America? That's what we have to answer because we know that it's not lack of training. It's not lack of professionalism. The police can de- escalate just fine when they want.


JOHNS (on camera): So, that speech was at the rally and march yesterday here in Minneapolis. Tomorrow there's going to be a candlelight vigil. Also as you said at the top, the family of George Floyd going to the White House to meet with the president on the very same day, the anniversary of the death of George Floyd. Back to you.

HILL: Joe Johns in Minneapolis. Joe thank you.

Well from police reform to gun reform, after yet another weekend of violence in this country that has left at least 13 people dead and more than 70 others wounded. At least 13 incidents in eight states, all within the span of the last 72 hours. And this is part of a rising trend in this country. The gun violence archive says there have been 7,500 people, more than 7,500 people shot to death in 2021. That is a 23 percent jump from the same time last year.

My next guest has made it her mission to help end the tragedies resulting from gun violence. In 2014 a stray bullet hit her son when he was at a birthday party. DeAndra Dycus has spoken about what happened after that moment at the Democratic National Convention last year. Take a listen.


DEANDRA DYCUS, MOTHER OF SHOOTING SURVIVOR: One shot changed our lives forever. Today my Jerry does not talk, he does not walk. I know he knows me by the smile he shows. But the child that I birthed is not able to live his dreams. And that hurts. Every day we're reminded he may never be the same. We are not alone. In every town across America, there are families who know what a bullet can do. That's why I'm a mom who volunteers to stop this.


HILL: And DeAndra Joining us now from Indianapolis. Thank you for being with us this afternoon. You know, when we look at where we are again on this Monday, a weekend of at least 13 mass shootings, one of the victims who was killed, a 14-year-old in South Carolina. I can only imagine what it's like for you as you are trying to tackle this every single day.

DYCUS (on camera): Well, thank you so much for having me. It's extremely difficult. When you're impacted by gun violence, your life is never, ever the same again.


And you hear about it over and over, it's heart-breaking for parent to relive it. And not just to relive it, but to see other parents and the pain because we now know the journey that they're on.

HILL: Yes, you know that journey all too well. When we look at where we're at as a country -- I mean, we're seeing this rise in violence. We saw a real spike in gun sales over the last year as well. And we are seeing what feels like consistent inaction, specifically in Washington. A number of people that I've spoken with have said, it's time to stop looking to Washington to help here and to find answers and pass meaningful legislation. And it's time to focus at the local level, at the state level. Do you see some opportunities there?

DYCUS: I absolutely do. We know that we need change in federal legislation. We know we need our Congress to step up and go alongside what has been called the strongest gun safety ticket or gun safety president in American history.

But at the same time, we need things to change in our states. We need to make sure we have red flag laws in place. We need to make sure we are closing the boyfriend loophole when it comes to plans that are working with getting illegal guns off the street. This is a collective effort from the federal as well as the local level.

HILL: What do you think is missing from the conversation at this point? Why do we seem to be stuck?

We seem to be stuck -- you know, I can only -- I can only speak from, you know, the things I see and the things that I have lived, but we seem to be stuck because people are making this a party -- an issue of party lines. And this is about public safety. This is about a public health crisis. And most importantly, it's about saving lives. It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or Republican. What matters most is in this age, in 2021, no one is exempt from being shot by a gun.

HILL: When you put it in that perspective, I'm just curious, in what has become really your life's work since your son was shot, how have addressing those conversations, where do you find hope in this moment in the conversations that you have? Because I imagine the hope is not having to talk to yet another mother who has now experienced what you have.

DYCUS: No, that is not the hope. You're very right in saying that. But I find hope in having these conversations with you that the public is listening. I find hope that we had enough strength to go out into the polls in record-breaking numbers, electing a ticket, gun sense candidates, not just for our federal level but also on local levels.

Right here in my city of Indianapolis, many individuals were elected that were gun sense candidates, so that gives me hope. It gives me hope that, you know, we're reactionary so often, but a lot of times when you see these things happen, it does bring a collective unit of families together, politicians together, pastors together, community leaders, to keep going. Because one thing is for sure, we are not giving up and that gives me hope.

HILL: We do need to keep the conversation going. As we see more violence, as there are rising questions about are more police officers needed on the streets. There is cutting of funding. What are police officers being tasked to do? How are they doing their job? There's so much and it's a lot to unpack. And DeAndra your voice is so important as we all try to figure this out and keep it safer for every child. Thank you so much.

DYCUS: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: OK Erica, what a conversation.

Meanwhile, coming up, the government of Belarus facing international condemnation after it sent a fighter jet to intercept a commercial plane, forced it to land and then arrested some of the passengers. One of those detained is a journalist and he's just appeared in a video. We have details on what he said next.



HILL: The White House is condemning Belarus after it sent a fighter jet to intercept a commercial airline -- airline flight in midflight. That plane was forced to land in Belarus, and a journalist on board was hauled off and arrested. Belarus is defending its actions saying the forced landing was in full compliance of international rules. The White House called the incident a brazen affront to international peace and security.

CAMEROTA: Countries around the world are also condemning this incident. The CEO of the airline even called it state-sponsored piracy and hijacking.

HILL: CNN's Matthew Chance joining us with the latest development. So Matthew, as I understand it, the journalist, Raman Pratasevich, actually just appeared in a video. What more do we know about that?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's extraordinary, Alisyn, because you know this story has been absolutely mind-blowing. And it's getting even more incredible every sort of hour that passes.

Within the past few minutes, really, Raman Pratasevich, who's that sort of dissident journalist in Belarus, he was captured, as you mentioned, over the weekend after the plane he was on, flying across Belarusian airspace. Was forced to land after the Belarusian authorities told the pilots they had a sort of inflight emergency and there was a possibility of a bomb being onboard. It landed in the airport in Minsk, the Belarusian capital. All the passengers were taken off. He and his girlfriend were detained

and are now under arrest. He then disappeared into the fog of Belarus. Then suddenly, you know, he's popped up on this social media platform, which is very pro-government, we understand, basically saying that he's being well treated.


You know, he looks relatively calm. There aren't any injuries that are visible to at least our first look at it. And he's basically sort of saying he's being treated well and he's cooperating with the authorities and he's confessing, he says, these are his words.

Confessing to organizing mass riots, and of course, it's because of that that he's so detested by the Belarusian authorities. It was the work that he did, along with the co-founders of the Telegram, sort of Nexta Channel, that it's called. That was so instrumental in organizing the anti-government protests last year following elections, presidential elections that were widely panned as being rigged.

They also did a lot to expose the kind of brutal tactics the Belarusian police force used and authorities used to sort of crack down on those protests. And so, so ever since then, he's been in exile from home country. And these are just extraordinary measures the Belarusian authorities have used to bring this wanted person, this dissident back to Belarus so they can put him in prison and put him, presumably, on trial as well, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Matthew Chance, you're right, that does sound very strange. Obviously, you'll stay on it and we'll look for developments. Thank you.

HILL: Up next, Arizona's controversial ballot audit getting started again today. And we're learning new details about a Trump ally who's involved in deciding which volunteers are doing the counting.



HILL: Republicans across the country continuing to push the big lie about the 2020 election in Georgia. Another audit of ballots is moving forward in the state's most populous county after a judge ruled absentee ballots in Fulton County can be unsealed for examination.

CAMEROTA: And in Arizona that so-called audit in Maricopa County is restarting. The Arizona Secretary of State says that the voting machines being probed will need to be replaced at taxpayer expense all because of the lie that the former president keeps peddling to protect his ego.


KATIE HOBBS, (D) ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Across the board voters in Arizona, across political party lines, realize that this is really making a mockery out of our elections and a mockery out of Arizona again. When the people in charge of our elections running the elections become more focused on the outcome than the process we're in huge trouble.


HILL: For more now let's bring in CNN's Dianne Gallagher. So Dianne, I understand there are some developments in Arizona on tying a well- known conspiracy theorist to this, as Alisyn put it so well, so-called audit. So what more can you tell us?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So Erica, a Trump- supporting fundraising organization that was launched by a nonprofit run by the former CEO of Overstock, appears to be organizing staffing for that partisan Senate run audit. Now Patrick Bird is a very well- known Trump supporter. And he has amplified the former president's big lie that the 2020 election was somehow rigged against him.

Now here's sort of how it seems there's some involvement. For several weeks now the Arizona audit's page has said that there are no staffing positions for volunteers. Well, now it redirects to, which is that fundraising organization's page.

And on there is a volunteer application, notifying people that the Senate will do a criminal background check and also check social security background. And they have a list of questions that you have to fill out with answers like did you live in Maricopa County for the past ten years? And did you vote in the 2020 election?

It also interestingly adds additional shifts. Asking if people would work a double shift, and there's an option for a shift that currently doesn't exist which would go until 1:00 in the morning. That's probably, Erica and Alisyn, because the audit itself, the so-called audit is very far behind schedule. They've gone through a quarter of the roughly 2.1 million Maricopa County ballots at this point, and they are supposed to be out by the end of June.

HILL: Oh, my. Yet another day. Dianne Gallagher thank you for those developments.

Still to come, the Secretary of State headed to Jerusalem right now as a fragile ceasefire holds between Israel and Hamas, but can the U.S. help work out any long-term political solution?



CAMEROTA: OK, Erica, another small sign that life is getting back to normal. Late night TV will welcome back full live audiences next month. "The Late Show" with Stephen Colbert just announced it will return to regular shows June 14th but only for people who have been vaccinated. Only they can get ticket.

HILL: So we can go together, perfect.

CAMEROTA: That would be awesome. HILL: Same for "The Tonight Show," we're learning that Jimmy Fallon

has had a limited audience the first of March. That's made for some interesting moments.


JIMMY FALLON, NBC, THE TONIGHT SHOW: I'll hold this out here. We've got to be six feet away. Don't mess around. David, this is great. Stay there. Stay there, yeah, and I'll just hold this. It's for COVID reasons I think.


HILL: Clearly that works well.

The good news is they are going to pack the house starting early next month and jimmy Kimmel hoping to have a live crowd sometime in June. So we can just make the rounds.

CAMEROTA: Let's do that, but I must say that I have really enjoyed Stephen Colbert has been broadcasting from his attic and his wife has been making cameos. I'm going to miss that. I've liked the kind of peeled-back version of all of this.

HILL: Maybe there's a way to keep some of that peeled-back magic when they go back to the studio.

CAMEROTA: Because I bet they like the unplugged version also. I mean, Jimmy Fallon did it with his kids hanging around for a while.

HILL: Yes.

CAMEROTA: I bet that they are going to miss some that have.

HILL: Yes. It's like, you know, it's the real thing. It's not so bad.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it's not so bad. OK, so you and I will go together. That'll be great. The Lead with Jake Tapper starts right now.