tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN April 21, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PDT
unintentional second-degree murder, guilty. third-degree murder, guilty. second degree manslaughter, guilty. >> say his name. >> george floyd. >> say his name. >> george floyd. >> say his name. >> george floyd. >> i feel relieved today that i finally have the opportunity for hopefully getting some sleep. >> hello and welcome to our special coverage of the derek chauvin verdict. i'm victor blackwell live in new york. it's been called only a step, the first step, but a monumental one on the road to racial justice and police
accountability. former minneapolis police officer derek chauvin guilty on all three counts against him in the death of george floyd. the verdict has prompted peaceful demonstrations and memorials in minneapolis and other cities across the country. the jury deliberated for a little more than ten hours over two days. chauvin showed no expression as the judge read those verdicts. watch. >> we, the jury in the above entitled matter as to count 1, unintentional second-degree murder while committing a felony, find the defendant guilty. this verdict agreed to this 20th day of april, 2021, at 1:44 p.m. signed juror foreperson, juror number 19. same caption, verdict count 2. we the jury in the above entitled matter as to count 2, third-degree murder perpetrating an eminently dangerous act, find the defendant guilty. this verdict agreed to this 20th day of april, 2021, at 1:45 p.m.
signed by jury foreperson, juror number 19. same caption, verdict count 3. we the jury in the above entitled matter as to count 3, second degree manslaughter, culpable negligence creating an unreasonable risk, find the defendant guilty. >> and then chauvin was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. he faces up to 40 years in prison on the most serious charge. the judge will announce his sentence in eight weeks. now, in the end, jurors did not agree with the defense's claim that chauvin's kneeling on george floyd's neck for more than nine minutes last may was a legitimate use of force. floyd's death sparked what some have described as the largest protest movement in u.s. history and a catalyst in the fight for the end of systemic discrimination and racism. let's go now to minneapolis and cnn's adrienne broaddus is there.
there were a lot of really quiet exhales and sighs across the country as that verdict was read. tell us about what has happened over the last few hours there where you are. >> reporter: things have calmed. it's quiet here, and people are really decompressing and thinking about what has happened, what has transpired over the last 11 months. if you think about it, george floyd's family has not had the chance to grieve the way many of us would grieve if we were to lose a loved one. soon after they found out floyd died at the hands of police, that family started fighting. they've been fighting every day up until today, and they said the fight isn't over. they will still continue the fight for other families. but the headline in the star tribune sums it up. it says "convicted". this is what will be on newsstands across the twin cities today. this is what people will wake up
to in their inbox who subscribe to the paper. and some folks i heard from said, wow, this is what they hoped for, but they didn't expect. i spoke with members of floyd's family in the last hour. listen in to what they had to say. >> even if he gets 40 years, i would be fine with that. 40 years, it's pretty much a life sentence, you know. 70 years, 47 years. the most important thing is that he is guilty. >> mm-hmm. >> a verdict was reached. >> reporter: floyd, his name has been seen and heard all around the world. and today derek chauvin was taken away in handcuffs. i wanted to know what the family thought. how do they move forward? so i followed up with another question, citing that they lean on their faith.
listen in. >> as believers, how do you forgive derek chauvin? >> well, that's what has been instilled in us always. i mean i've been raised in the church, and i know for me to make it into heaven, you have to forgive people. we don't have to forget because none of us will ever forget. >> no. >> but you have to come to a place where you can forget, and it may not be today or tomorrow because it takes time because we're all still hurt. today was the only day that we saw chauvin kind of look surprised, like, oh, i did do something wrong. you know, there was some sort of emotion.
>> reporter: so the family talking about finding forgiveness in their heart. and, victor, i think about that memorial day. i was living here in the twin cities, and one of my family members said, a.b., you got to look at this video. and i remember saying, no. i don't want to see it. it's probably old. it only has about 300 views. we're in the middle of a pandemic, and there's too many people standing around. nobody is outside. well, soon after, i learned that video was taken that day, and it's the video that darnella frasier took. and she and i traded messages on facebook throughout the night, and her plea was that the media would tell the truth. and she told me the police are trying to cover this up. and i still have a copy of the news release, media here in the twin cities received that day. we were told not only in the news release about in an overnight news conference that a man had died in police custody because of a medical condition.
well, video, video shot by a teenager, showed something else. victor. >> thank god for darnella frasier and recording that and having the courage to do it and then share it. adr adrienne broad us, thank you for your work over these last months in minneapolis. thanks so much. president biden, he called the floyd family soon after the verdict was announced, and he vowed to push ahead with police reform. >> nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there's some justice. >> right. >> and, you know, i think of gianna's comment, my daddy is going to change the world. he's going to start to change it now. >> amen. you're an incredible family. i wish i were there to put my arms around you. we've been watching every second
of this, and the vice president, all of us, and i'm just -- we're all so relieved. not with just one verdict. we're going to get a lot more done. we're going to do a lot. we're going to stay at it until we get it done. >> hopefully this is the momentum for the george floyd justice and policing act to get passed to have you sign. >> you got it, pal. that and a lot more. >> now, in a televised address, the president said the verdict was too rare of a step forward for black americans, that much more needs to be done. he called systemic racism a stain on the nation's soul, and he said it must be dealt with. >> so we can't leave this moment or look away thinking our work is done. we have to look at it -- we have to look at it as we did for those 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
we have to listen. "i can't breathe. i can't breathe." those were george floyd's last words. we can't let those words die with him. we have to keep hearing those words. we must not turn away. we can't turn away. >> cnn legal analyst areva martin is a civil rights attorney. she's with us now from los angeles. areva, listen, we were on when we first heard that there was a verdict that had been reached. first, your reaction. this is our first time now talking since we know the result. your reaction to it, and is it what you expected? >> oh, it's what i hoped for, victor. i'm not sure i can say it's what i expected, you know, given the history of in this country, the difficulty in convicting a police officer. i was always cautiously
optimistic, i would say. i know how our jury system works. i know how jurors revere police officers. i know the bias inherent in, you know, jurors as it relates to finding an officer that kills a civilian in the course and scope of his or her employment -- i know the difficulty that jurors face in doing that. so i was cautiously optimistic, but i was so incredibly relieved to hear guilty not just on one count or two counts but all three counts. so i think like the rest of the nation, i'm -- i won't say celebrating because i don't think that's the right word. but i'm breathing a sigh of relief. >> yeah, because again, george floyd is dead, and we all watched how he died, slowly and under the weight of derek chauvin. adrienne broaddus a couple moments ago praised darnella frasier, who recorded the video. if not for that video, what we
would have is body camera, yes, eventually, but also that police press statement from the minneapolis police department saying that this was a medical episode. i'm paraphrasing here. how without the cell phone video do you get to moments like this because there won't always be a camera, areva. >> and the reality, victor, is it's difficult. it's incredibly challenging to get to this moment without that kind of video. and i think that's what people know who have been involved in these kinds of civil rights, civil justice issues. we know that it shouldn't be that way. it shouldn't take the 17-year-old producing that 9 minute, 30-second video in order to bring a police officer that is using excessive force, to make that person accountable. but unfortunately that is the moment in history that we find ourselves, and hopefully going forward things will change. but you're right. that brave, courageous, 17-year-old girl.
i think back to her testimony when she testified at the trial and how she talked about the guilt she had, staying up at night apologizing to george floyd because she didn't do more to intervene. so i have to imagine that this was an krincredibly special day for her to know that chauvin was held accountable. what she couldn't do in terms of intervening physically, this jury was able to do in terms of holding derek chauvin accountable for what we now know is murder. >> we heard the president promise to the floyd family that is pushing forward on legislative changes through the senate, already passed by the house, it would create a national registry of police misconduct, ban choke hold, no-knock warrants, overhaul immunity protections for police officers. i mean it's unlikely that this will get the ten senators -- the ten republicans to support it that it needs to get to his desk for signature, but if there's one element i just listed that's
most important, which is it? >> i think it's the choke holds. that -- you know, it's kind of unthinkable that police officers in today's society can use that choke hold. we learned a lot about subdual restraints. we learned a lot from the experts in this trial about how dangerous putting someone in a prone position, using a choke hold, putting pressure on their bodies in the way that we saw in this case. and we learned how dangerous that was. we've got to re-imagine policing in a way that police are able to obviously deal with people who are a threat to the community and threat to officers. but also respect the sanctity of life. we heard the police chief in this case talk about that, and in some ways it was aspirational because we know his police department isn't there yet. but i think we've got to think about how we use physical force to police, particularly in communities of color that have historically seen an overpolicing and an overuse of
force when it comes to interacting with everyday citizens. >> areva martin, thank you. >> thanks, victor. >> george floyd's death sparked months of global black lives matter protests. after these guilty verdicts, what's next in the fight for racial justice? coming up, i'm going to speak with one of the black lives matter organizers. >> times, they're getting harder every day. ten miles away from here, mr. wright, daunte wright, he should still be here. we have to always understand that we have to march. we will have to do this for life. we have to protest because it seems like this is a never-ending cycle.
today is a pivotal moment for america. it's something this country has needed for a long time now. >> yes. >> and hopefully today is the start of that. when i say a pivotal moment, we need change in this broken system. it was built to oppress us. >> that was george floyd's nephew, brandon williams, speaking to reporters after derek chauvin was found guilty on all three charges. floyd's relatives have called this verdict a victory, the turning point, a moment to keep fighting for systemic change. malina abdullah joins me now from los angeles. she is a black lives matter organizer and professor of pan african studies at cal state l.a. professor, thanks for being with us. let me start. i want to hear a little more from the floyd family before i come to you with this first question. this is george floyd's brother, philonise floyd, after the verdict.
>> i get calls. i get dms. people from brazil, from ghana, from germany, everybody, london, italy. they're all saying the same thing. we won't be able to breathe until you're able to breathe. >> that's right. >> today we are able to breathe again. >> how do you feel after this verdict? >> um, i feel a sense of relief. i feel i gave myself permission to feel a sense of joy, a sense of appreciation for all of those who stood up in the name of george floyd, for the family, for darnella frasier, and for black lives matter organizers around the globe. >> is this what you expected? because i've heard in conversations here on-air and anecdotally off-air, there were some, because it's so rare to, one, have an officer charged first and then, second, to get a
conviction, that this, despite the video, was a surprise to some. what's your feeling there? is this what you expected? >> right. i wouldn't say that it's what we expected. it's what we hoped for. it's what we prayed for. we wanted this conviction. we wanted this verdict, and we also know that way too often, almost always black folks find ourselves facing injustice, not justice through the criminal legal system. and so i think this is a testament to our organizing and the collective will of the people. >> let's talk about that organizing because we saw millions, tens of millions potentially of people at rallie world, for the first time. listen, in missoula, montana, there were black lives matter rallies and protests. for those people who went to their first rally, for their
first protest after seeing this video, i imagine for you, this does not tie a nice big red ribbon around a solution to racial injustice and systemic discrimination, and it's done. what would you tell those people who still believe that things need to change that they do now? >> yes. one, we want to say thank you. and, two, we want to say that the work is just beginning. the conviction of derek chauvin is just a step. it's a step forward that has to be appreciated, and it should be also a call on us, a recognition that the entire system of policing is rotten to the core. and so we have to be willing enough, be courageous enough to engage in the ongoing work to transform the system of public safety, to invest deeply in community-driven solutions, and, yes, defund the police, who
continue to steal the lives of our people, most recently with the murder of 15-year-old ma'khia bryant in columbus, ohio. we have to do work in george floyd's name. >> so that's the work you want from the people. let's hear from the politicians. control room, let's play vice president kamala harris on her comments about confronting racial injustice. >> here's the truth about racial injustice. it is not just a black america problem or a people of color problem. it is a problem for every american. it is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all. >> and what do you want to hear from the white house? what do you want to see from this administration, from the elected leaders? >> so we want to remember that george floyd's tremendous spirit has cracked the world wide open.
it gives us an opportunity to be courageous and bold and visionary. and that means making sure that we go back and understand that the system of policing in this country hails from slave-catching, understand that policing does not keep our community safe, understand that we have an opportunity to invest in things like housing and mental health resources and health resources and education and divest from a policing system that keeps us unsafe. so we're asking policymakers to be courageous enough to look at legislation like the breathe act rather than relying on old systems and old practices that steal the lives of our people like george floyd, like adam toledo, like ma'khia bryant. people like wa keisha wilson and daniel hernandez, who were killed here in los angeles but may have not gotten the same media attention as others. a thousand people die at the
hands of police every single year, and that system has to be fundamentally re-imagined. >> yeah. as the vice president said -- and i'm paraphrasing here -- not just black lives matter, black education matters. black families matter. but those are words. there needs to be some legislation and movement behind them to make them real. professor melina abdullah, thank you. >> thank you for having me. >> certainly. cnn spoke with donald williams. he was a witness to george floyd's death. police body cam footage shows him in the crowd. you see him there. he was pleading with police to check floyd's pulse once he lost consciousness. williams says that he has carried the weight of what happened that day with him. and now it's been lifted. >> i just feel that, you know, me as a human being and, you know, the people that grew up around my personality, what i stand for, sticking up for
people and what i'm teaching my kids have been shown to the world as a black man, you know. and it just means a lot to me. a lot of weight has been lifted off my shoulders. it's been some really long nights, really long days, and a really long year of being able to, you know, just have weight on my shoulders. today, you know, it was a lot of weight off my shoulders for me and my family, but not only my family but the george floyd's family in the world. i want my son and my friends' kids and my son's son's kids, my daughter kids and my nieces, my nephews, i want them to be able to be understood as a black human being in america. i want them to be able to have justice if their rights are being broken. >> we have much more on our special coverage of the derek chauvin verdict, including what the chauvin verdicts mean for police accountability in the u.s. and what activists say
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erected after floyd's death and what we watched there. it's located outside the cup foods store where he took his final breaths there on the street. for more on the jury's decision to convict derek chauvin, here's cnn's josh campbell from the courthouse. >> reporter: as one of two reporters who were inside that courtroom here tuesday in minneapolis whenever the verdict was read in the trial of former officer derek chauvin, i can tell you that the tension in the room was simply palpable. chauvin sat at the defense desk with his attorney waiting for the judge to read that verdict. for their part, the prosecution appeared somewhat filled with anxiety and anxious as they sat there, eyes darting around the courtroom, fidgeting, waiting again for that verdict to be read. but i can tell you one of the most emotional moments that occurred in that courtroom was from someone who you could not see on-screen. that was philonise floyd, the brother of george floyd, who sat in the back of the courtroom. he spent almost the entire hearing in prayer, looking up briefly to look at derek
chauvin. but as the verdict was read, guilty, guilty, guilty, he sat in prayer, his hands shaking uncontrollably. afterwards, he stepped outside the courtroom and received a phone call from president biden and vice president harris. biden telling the floyd family that he was proud of them for serving as such champions for racial justice, saying that his administration will be working to enact real policing reform. i asked floyd afterwards what it was like being in the courtroom and what he was praying for. he said he was praying for a guilty verdict. he said as an african-american, we rarely get justice. finally, who could forget that moment as an officer approached derek chauvin, he asked him, mr. chauvin, please place your hands behind your back. a handcuff went on the left hand. a handcuff went on the right hand, and chauvin was taken out. the very criminal justice system where derek chauvin used to work prosecuting him and convicting him for murder. josh campbell, cnn, minneapolis. >> josh, thank you. for george floyd's family, the
verdict is a pivotal moment after a long journey since his death last year. his cousin spoke to cnn's anderson cooper and explained how she felt when she saw derek chauvin being taken away in handcuffs. >> it was -- it was wonderful. i was glad to see that. you know, him actually going in to begin to have some accountability for the actions that he took on that day. you know, i don't know that he would ever acknowledge that he did something wrong. i certainly never saw any shift in his demeanor or, you know, any indication that there was any remorse for what had happened. and so today it was -- it was a good day for our family to be able to see him once and for all being held accountable for what he did on may 25th, 2020. >> let's bring in now a senior staff attorney with aclu's criminal law reform project. thanks so much for being with
me. let me start with the statement that the aclu put out after the verdict. while today's verdict is a step forward in the fight for police accountability and may help heal a grieving community, the systems that allowed a police officer to murder floyd, ripping him away from his family and the communities that loved him so much, remain fully intact. so what are the steps to change that? we've discussed what people want from protesters, from the activists, from ordinary people on the street. the law needs to change. what do you do there? >> that's right. so thanks for having me. i agree that this is a small step forward for accountability, but millions of people didn't march nationwide for a single verdict in a single courtroom in minnesota. they marched for systemic transformation. so how do we get there? you know, there are better measures of accountability. surely we can do things like getting rid of qualified immunity and making it easier to keep officers like derek chauvin
off the force for good. but the simpler way to get rid of so many of these encounters is to eliminate them in the first place. get police out of the business of low-level enforcement so that they can't inflict this harm from the outset. >> yeah. i had a conversation with marilyn mosby, who is baltimore's state attorney, and she made the decision, which i'm sure you're aware of, that her office will no longer prosecute low-level crimes, some drug possessions, prostitution, other crimes. there's a list of them, and it's happened during the pandemic, and there's been a reduction of violent crime. is that the path you're suggesting taking here, not just sending different responders to certain events but simply not pursuing certain crimes? >> that's right. and i think i wouldn't leave it
up to individual prosecutors because for every marilyn mosby, there's too many out there who have just not seen the light and are still stuck in a tough-on-crime mind-set. so we need legislation. we need money from the biden administration to encourage programs that find smarter alternatives to police responses across the board. we're talking about responses to mental health crises, getting armed police out of traffic stops entirely. daunte wright would be alive today if we didn't rely on armed police to enforce things like air fresheners in the window and expired tags. so we appreciate the efforts of prosecutors like that. we would go much further. >> let's listen to president biden today. >> systemic racism is a stain on our nation's soul. we can't stop here. in order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must
do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen or occur again. >> i understand that a lot of this is strategic pressure that a group like yours places on an administration. talk to me about the work you're doing with and the work you're doing to put some of that strategic pressure on the biden administration to do more than what we've seen to get some of this legislation, including the george floyd justice in policing act, passed. >> that's right. you've got it right. we appreciate the president's words. we know that the administration is largely aligned on broader principles. but they and everyone in a position of power can do so much more. for example, just last week in a news announcement that wasn't highly touted, merrick garland lifted the ban on consent decrees, right? so the civil rights division,
hopefully headed by vanita gupta soon and kristen clarke can once again be in the business of holding entire police departments accountable and not just individual actors like derek chauvin. but they can go so much farther. they can impose remedies that empower the communities that they're investigating instead of pumping more money into police. similarly, the justice in policing act can do more to take funds out of what we know is a broken system and reinvest them in people so that, again, instead of looking backwards and enforcing backwards, we can be building up communities looking forward. >> all right. thank you so much for being with us. >> thank you. the floyd family's lawyer says that painfully earned justice has arrived. we're going to hear from him and george floyd's brother about what this verdict truly means. dually-adjustable, i,
are angry. we are tired of dying. and today makes history. >> understandable emotion there in atlanta, and we saw and heard similar things across the u.s. after the verdicts in the trial of derek chauvin. a jury on tuesday found the former minneapolis police officer guilty of all three charges against him, including murder in george floyd's death. after that, this group gathered at the georgia capitol next to a mural of floyd. earlier george floyd's brother and his family's attorney spoke with cnn's don lemon about their satisfaction with the verdict and the relief that they felt. >> oh, man, it was -- it was just so much of a relief, don. just constant nights of me just being up constantly getting three and four hours of sleep. but today i won't get that time to sleep because i'm going to
stay up and celebrate because to me, this is a day of celebration. i'm happy, man. i'm really happy. >> i want to take you back to the courtroom if you will allow me because this verdict, as you know, was historic. what was it like for you to be there? >> oh, it was one of the times that i actually panicked. i was walking back and forth, pacing back and forth, man. attorney crump was like, hey, just do whatever you need to do to be comfortable. and i did. and when i had to go to that courtroom, i sat in there 30 minutes before the jurors came out and the judge came out. but the entire time i prayed, for that entire 30 minutes. >> what was that 30 minutes like? >> oh, man, it was like an eternity. but all i could know was like in my mind, i seen george. i seen my lord and savior. he was just talking to me. and all i heard was, guilty,
guilty, and guilty. i was extremely excited. words cannot describe because african-americans, we don't get justice. we just think it's just us. it was such a beautiful day, historic. so many african-americans, just people of color, people all around this nation, they all celebrated because one thing they can always say is justice for george, it means freedom for all because it had been time that you would be worried, what would i have to do if i get pulled over? you think about so many things. the world has sparked and lit up with a blaze tonight, and it's a celebration. >> let's hope this is a new
pr precedent in america where marginalized minorities, especially black people, don lemon, that we can get full justice, not just partial justice, not just civil justice under the seventh amendment, which we control, and be denied justice under the tenth amendment, which the prosecutors control. where keith ellison and his amazing lawyers did, they said, no, no. we too are american citizens, and we too deserve full justice, and we should expect it. >> we'll be right back with continuing coverage of the chauvin verdicts and the reactions to it after a break. stay with cnn. >> i didn't really even allow myself to feel what it would feel like if it went in the right direction. i was shocked and overwhelmed because i hadn't thought about what my emotional response would be to accountability because we don't see that.
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welcome back. civil rights leader bernice king says the guilty verdict in the derek chauvin trial is a turning point in the movement for justice and equity. she's the daughter of the late reverend dr. martin luther king jr. she spoke to cnn about her feelings leading up to the verdict. >> i was nervous. i was anxious because for 400
years, we've gotten it wrong. and i think we approached this moment just believing that we couldn't -- we wouldn't get it right. and thank god that the verdict was just right. it was the right verdict. and god knew how much we could bear. >> former u.s. president barack obama and former first lady michelle obama have praised tuesday's verdicts in the derek chauvin trial, but they emphasized that more work must be done to achieve justice. they say -- and this is part of their statement -- true justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that black americans are treated differently every day. it requires us to recognize that millions of our friends, family, and fellow citizens live in fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last. and it requires us to do the sometimes thankless, often difficult, but always necessary work of making the america we know more like the america we
believe in. reactions also came from professional sports. nba analyst and former player dwyane wade said he had a physical reaction to the news, not believing the three guilty verdicts at first. >> i was sitting in front of the tv watching the verdict come down, and my hands started sweating. my body started shivering, and my heart started pounding because i was nervous. i was nervous because i didn't believe, right? i'm sitting in front of the tv, and i didn't believe. and even when the verdict came down and all charges, you know, that we wanted was met, i still was staring at the tv listening to the judge because i was thinking there was an out coming because we've never seen this. >> never seen it. thanks to darnella frasier for recording that video. i'm victor blackwell. our coverage continues on "early start" with christine romans and laura jarrett.
rely on the experts at 1800petmeds for the same medications as the vet, but for less with fast free shipping. visit petmeds.com today. welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. this is early start. i'm christine romans. >> i'm laurenne jarrett. it's wednesday, april 21st, 4:00 a.m. here in new york. >> we the jury in the above entitled matter count 1 unintentional second degree murder find the defendant guilty. count 2, third degree murder, find the defendant guilty. count 3,