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tv   Craig Melvin Reports  MSNBC  April 21, 2021 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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up next, craig melvin picks up our coverage live from minneapolis. a good wednesday morning to you. a good wednesday morning to you, craig melvin here on the ground in minneapolis, minnesota. this is a city that is sharing a collective exhale this morning. it's also a city that's waking up to breaking news. in the last hour, attorney general garland announcing that the justice department will launch what's called a pattern and practice investigation into this minneapolis police department. here is part of what the attorney general said. >> most of our nation's law enforcement officers do their difficult jobs honorably and lawfully. i strongly believe that good officers do not want to work in systems that allow bad practices. >> it's a federal review of how the department does its job. we will go to pete williams in a few moments to dig into what
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this means. i will talk to a minneapolis city councilman about what he hopes to see from this investigation. people across the world watched this city as judge cahill announced derek chauvin was guilty on all three charges, guilty of murdering george floyd. i talked to floyd's brother in the hours after he learned about the verdict. >> i feel like this is a day that we all have been waiting for. >> the floyd family tells me they feel relief but they also feel a sense of purpose. they do not want this verdict to be the end of their story. they very much want it to be a part -- a start of the new story. i will talk to george floyd's cousin about the mission in a few moments. i want to start with pete williams following the announcement from the attorney general last hour. and shaquille brewster outside
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the maximum security prison where chauvin awakened this morning. he is being held there. it's 30 minutes east of downtown minneapolis. pete, explain what this means. what will they look for here in minneapolis? >> it's more than just a review. the attorney general said it would result in a report. this is a review with teeth. the attorney general said it will look at how the police handle force issues. do they use excessive force? do they discriminate? how do they handle people with mental health problems? how do they handle people during public demonstrations? are any of these things violating federal law or the constitution? is there a pattern or practice of this that's illegal or unconstitutional conduct?
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the justice department has had this power since 1994 after the widespread public protest over the televised police beating of rodney king. under this authority, the government can make recommendations and insist that the department make changes. if the department refuses, then the justice department can go to court and seek a court order requiring compliance. there have been 70 of these investigations since 1994. they have resulted in 40 agreements, either court enforced or voluntary with local police departments and sheriff's offices. today's announcement is a big turnaround in government policy. under the trump administration, under jeff sessions, he virtually shut the faucet off for the investigations. he thought they were bad for police departments and didn't do any good. just last friday, attorney general garland rescinded that, opening the door to doing these again. today, with the announcement that it will start and has started in minneapolis, talking
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to community groups, talking to people, talking to police officers to begin this investigation. >> shaq, let me turn to you. you have been covering the story from the start, when the video gained national attention. any word from the minneapolis police department in response to that doj announcement last hour? >> reporter: we reached out almost immediately. we haven't heard anything yet. it has only been about an hour or so since the announcement. we will let you know if we hear of anything from them specifically. we did hear from the vice president of the minneapolis city council, also the councilwoman who represents the area where george floyd was killed. she said she would welcome the doj to come in and help them reimagine and transform the police department. she says she believes there needs to be a national approach to how policing is done across this country. you and i have talked about this, craig. here in minneapolis -- i'm not
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in minneapolis, but in minneapolis, you really saw in the days after george floyd's killing, you saw a move to transform the minneapolis police department there. you saw a majority of city council members get on stage and say they were willing to disband and de-fund the minneapolis police department. they have shifted resources, moving about $8 million from the police budget to violence prevention programs. you see that shift that has been happening at city leadership. they have been focused on that. we know in november, it is very likely that minneapolis residents will have on their ballot an option to reform dramatically the police department here. this seems to be more momentum in what advocates have been calling for on the ground in minneapolis. >> legislatively, they moved quickly in minneapolis to make changes. shaq outside the prison where chauvin is being held. pete williams as well. thanks to both of you. i want to turn it tara
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brown, george floyd's cousin. she's also the director of the george floyd foundation. good morning to you. thanks for your time. your family has been through so much over the last 11 months. let me start with how you are doing this morning. how are you feeling? >> i'm feeling pretty good this morning. it's just kind of like a burden has been lifted. it's been such a buildup getting to this point. it's been quite a journey. >> how surprised were you -- maybe not surprised about the verdict but the speed with which the verdict came down as well. were you surprised? >> i was a little bit surprised. for me, the evidence was -- inaudible ]
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i was hoping the jury would get it. we predicted as a family -- we talked about it and we thought, this can't take very long. we thought before the end of the week. it did come a little bit earlier than we thought. >> we heard many times tuesday from attorney general ellison here, most notably, the guilty verdict is an important step for accountability, that it shouldn't be considered justice for your family. this announcement of a doj appropriate into the minneapolis police department, does that give you hope? what do you want to see come from this? >> absolutely. i think that accountability is definitely another layer to the justice that we are trying to seek. we started -- since we started this. i think it's a good thing. it's always a good thing to have
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quality checks. there's always room for improvement. i think it's a good thing that this is a good way to start. making sure that the policies are what they should be. this kind of behavior is not tolerated. i think i heard someone else saying, good police officers don't want to operate in a space where there are people not doing right thing. i think it's an awesome thing. hopefully, it will catch on, other departments will do the same thing. >> can you tell folks more about the work of the foundation that you are running now, the george floyd foundation that was started some months ago? folks who aren't familiar with it. >> one of our major commitments is, we are working on advocacy and social justice. so that is very important for us right now, especially since we have the momentum that we do.
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it's going -- we're going to push our efforts to get the george floyd policing reform act passed. there is a federal level. but we are also working at the state level in texas where we live and did have an opportunity recently to testify at the hearing on the state capital about a month ago. we are going to keep pushing our efforts to make sure we get those -- the bill passed so we can see the actual change. >> the name darnella frazier has come up a lot since she testified. the 17-year-old -- then 17-year-old, now 18. the young lady who filmed what was happening, who took out her cellphone so the entire world could bear witness to george floyd's murder. do you think we would have
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gotten that verdict -- your family would have gotten that verdict in on tuesday had it not been for her? >> absolutely not. she's one of our heroes, for sure. had it not been for that video and this pandemic where everybody just happened to be in a space where they were available to see it. she is definitely our hero. she was very brave to do what she did, especially at 17 years old. i have had an opportunity to meet her. she's a very darling young lady. honestly, seeing her on the stand, really broke my heart. because she's going to be affected by this for the rest of her life. that part, you know, really tugs at my heart. but i'm so proud of her bravery and her courage. she is definitely one of our
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heroes. we wouldn't be here without her. >> your cousin's murder launched one of the largest social uprisings this country has seen. how much a difference do you think those protests made last summer? >> the protests were very important because they obviously bring awareness and awaken -- i have had people say to me since this all started that there were times before this that they did not get it. being exposed to the protests and -- it just -- it was one of those things that just kind of pushed this movement forward. you couldn't help but see it. folks out there were so passionate and wanted to have their voices heard. people were frustrated.
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this was their way of getting the attention that we needed. we are forever grateful for all of the protesters and activists that came out and made those sacrifices for us. they put their lives on the line during this pandemic. they were out and in large numbers. >> are you at all concerned that now that the guilty verdicts have come down, the verdict has been rendered, judgment has been passed, that folks will move on, folks will say, we did our job, we marched, we protested, we got justice, time to move on to the next? are you at all concerned about that? >> not concerned so much because we don't have any plans to just sit around and have it die down. we're not done yet.
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this is part of the journey. we want to make sure we stay active, that we stay visible. we are going to keep pushing our efforts to make sure that no other family has to suffer what we have had to suffer. >> thank you and good luck with foundation. stay close. we want to make sure we continue to highlight the work of the foundation as well. this morning, i talked to george floyd's brother and the family's attorney on "today." he felt relieved and he actually got a good night's sleep last night for the first time in a while. here is a part of our conversation. take me back inside the courtroom tuesday afternoon. i understand that you were there before the judge and the jury got in and you were praying. then what? >> i prayed for 30 minutes. it took 30 minutes before the
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jury and the judge even stepped out. i always have faith. i say that over and over again. for me to just sit there and pray for 30 minutes and i hear guilty and i hear some more numbers and then i hear guilty again and i said, lord, please, please let it be another one. i hear guilty again. i was excited. i was excited. it was a pivotal moment for me, my family, the world. she don't know the words she spoke, my dad would change the world, and he did. hopefully, we can grow. >> the president called yesterday and he said among other things that the verdict should not be the end. it had you be the beginning. what should it be the beginning of? where do you want to go from
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here? >> it should be the beginning of this nation figuring out that we all can live with each other, we all she be ai believe to work together. we think about george floyd policing act. that is something that -- a bill that needs to be set on higher standards on. you have so many people who have their blood on that bill. you have breonna taylor, the no-knock warrant. she was killed, innocent, in her house sleeping. you have eric garner and my brother george, no chokehold, that needs to be in effect. you have the immunity. you have to have dash cam and your body cam on at all times. it's so much as you go on, they are speaking everything into existence. people really believe that we
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have freedom. it's freedom for all since justice was served for george. >> one of the things that strikes me is a year ago, you were driving trucks. >> yes, sir. >> now you have become the face and voice of this movement. how are you in this moment this morning? how are you in here? >> i feel better. i feel relieved. i actually went to sleep for like five hours last night. that was great, you know? i wanted to celebrate. i know that's something that i shouldn't have to do, celebrate. but it was historic. i had so many individuals walk up to me. they was telling me, you work hard. you and your family has set the tone for the standards that the world needs to be accountable and we are one. we are united.
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>> everyone from the floyd family to president biden making one big point. the verdict -- the verdict is not enough to make lasting change. we will talk about what impact the new doj investigation could have on the ground here in minneapolis. talk to a city council member about that as well. the moment the crowd on tuesday found out about the guilty verdict. ♪♪ the strength of a community. the bonds we build... should never be broken. ♪♪ because it's that strength that finds the courage to make something good,
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for nearly a year, minneapolis has been center stage in the push for racial justice. it has been intense for the people who live here, even more so for folks like donald williams who witnessed george floyd's murder firsthand and later testified for the prosecution. i talked to him this morning on "today." donald told me how he felt when he heard the verdict come down. >> it was a sigh of relief. a lot of weight on my shoulders and myself and my kids and family, it was relief, to hear the verdict came down the way it did. i won't say joy because there's work to be done but it was relief. >> i want to go back to your
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testimony for a moment. at one point you became visibly emotional on the stand talking about that day and what it was like to witness george floyd's final moments and feeling helpless. why did you become so overcome with emotion? what happened? >> the reason why i became overcome is because i kept it bottled in. i don't speak to no one about this case, no friends, family, anybody. outside my therapist. i don't watch the video. it's something you can't just keep going back and replaying because i seen it live. for them to put it up there, it was the first time i actually seen it and heard my voice and witnessed this video again and replaying and replaying in my head. it was very emotional. i try to keep my composure up there. it was very emotional. >> williams said he was relieved but leaders and activists in the
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city made clear immediately that one guilty verdict will not fix the problem. i want to bring in jeremiah ellison, a member of the minneapolis city council. he would should point out that he is the son of minnesota attorney general keith ellison who led the prosecution of derek chauvin. good to see you. thanks for your time this morning. i want to start with your reaction to the breaking news that we heard about the department of justice launching this investigation into the patterns and practices of the minneapolis police department. were you surprised by that? what would you like to see come out of that investigation? >> i'm not surprised by it. the state of minnesota, department of human rights started a similar pattern and practice investigation against our police department a year ago in the wake of the police response to protests back then. i'm not surprised by the doj investigation. i knew that with trump out of
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office, this level of oversight was going to return, thankfully. we invite it. we think that we do have issues in our department. but we also understand that this is not just a minneapolis problem. this is a broader problem all across the country. we are waking up to the news of the death of ma'khia bryant. i think this is going to continue to be something an and an issue we can't ignore. >> what are you feeling for your city this morning after the three guilty charges -- the three guilty verdicts? >> it's what should happen. it's the right thing for this time. it's the right thing for this case. i think that's one of the things that can be hard for us to wrestle with for those of us like myself who deal with the social consequences, sometimes it can feel a little bit like not enough. at the end of the day, this case
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was about the legal consequences for these actions that derek chauvin did for the murder of george floyd. with that framework, this is exactly the outcome that we should have been hoping for. this was the outcome that was just and deserved. i'm glad that the jury agreed. i also know the work is not done. we started some of this work a year ago to change the way that we are keeping our neighbors safe here in our city, because this current model we have, it isn't working. >> you and your colleagues released a statement as jury deliberations got underway. you said, we are acutely aware that justice for george floyd in our community goes far beyond the outcome of this trial. what do you think justice actually looks like? what should it look like? >> you know, justice should look like this not happening again. there were a lot of reasons for george floyd being put in the
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position that he ended up being in, which was at the mercy of a system that did not value his life, at the mercy of a department and an officer who did not value his life. he is not the only person who has been in that position. true justice looks like us examining that and undoing that practice of harm. i think when i think about this case, one of the things that does come to mind is the conviction of jason van dyke in chicago for the murder of laquan mcdonald. that happened in 2018. it didn't inherently prevent george floyd from happening, prevent breonna from being killed. it didn't prevent her killer from walking free without consequences. we know -- we have seen second degree murder charges, we have seen police convicted before. while those are the consequences that those officers deserve, our community deserves for this not
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to happen again. >> as you know, guilty verdicts for police officers, uncommon. this was by pretty much all accounts an extraordinary effort by the prosecution. legal observes say they presented quite the case. your vantage point different since your father led that prosecution. how proud were you yesterday of dad and his work? >> yeah. i was incredibly proud. in some ways i didn't expect anything less. my nanna who passed away from covid last year, we come from that cloth. we are cut from that cloth. my grandmother, who passed away a couple years ago, these are the women that raised him. these are the women that raised me. i understand the legacy that he is coming out of.
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i'm coming out of that as well. i was incredibly proud and at the same time didn't expect anything less. my dad knows every good outcome is going to come from collaboration. he built a good team with that in mind knowing he was going to need a diverse set of perspectives to win this case. that's exactly what he did. >> jeremiah ellison, we will leave it there. thanks for your time. be well. from minneapolis to washington, d.c., we are seeing growing pressure to actually change our policing laws. where do things stand with the george floyd justice in policing act? we will look at that and when it could get a vote. who is behind it? next. >> we have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country. it's my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy.
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the guilty verdict for derek chauvin, new pressure from president biden and now the justice department's investigation into the minneapolis police department. this morning, all of these factos add new urgency for congress to pass some sort of comprehensive police reform legislation. the house is already passed the george floyd justice in policing act. that bill would among other
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things ban chokeholds, it would ban no-knock warrants and end qualified immunity. it has not made it to the senate floor. take us where things stand in terms of reform. what are you hearing from senators about actually moving on that bill that was passed in the house? >> reporter: you set that up perfectly on the status. it passed the house of representatives. it has not seen the light of day in the senate. democrats warn that a guilty verdict is not a replacement for legislation. there is some concern among democrats that because chauvin was found guilty, that republicans might think that the justice system is actually working in all cases. let's listen to senator rafael warnock, a democrat from georgia, followed by republican senator tim scott and how they
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reacted to this. >> we have the george floyd act in front of us right now. i think that the urgency is as real today after this verdict as it was yesterday. >> this reinforces the fact that while we may need to grow our confidence in parts of the system, the truth of the matter is that this reinforces a commitment that we can have confidence that the justice system is becoming more just. >> reporter: with senator scott saying he has confidence that the justice system is working is what some are concerned about. senator scott is leading discussions with democrats on police reform legislation. he did this last year as well. this has been a priority for him really since walter scott was killed by police in south carolina six years ago. those discussions are very slow moving. they have not become more formal
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negotiations just yet. things, craig, are very slow moving on capitol hill regarding this issue. >> ironically, you mentioned the walter scott case. yesterday, a judge there in south carolina upholding that 20-year sentence for the officer involved in the case, officer michael slater. leigh ann caldwell, thank you so much. i'm joined by david henderson, a former prosecutor. david, let's talk about qualified immunity for folks who aren't familiar with the concept. i want to dig in deeper. based on conversations i have had with lawmakers, conversations with representatives from police unions, this seems to be the biggest of the sticking points, this qualified immunity. explain how it's used legally and why so many people view it as a critical part of any legislation on policing. >> craig, first and foremost, you are right, this is a sticking point. to put it in context, explain it
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this way. in the trial of derek chauvin, you have two types of cases that were filed. a case filed against derek chauvin in criminal court. you had a lawsuit against the city of minneapolis. qualified immunity applies to the lawsuit part of what happened here. basically, what it is is it is a legal doctrine that shields the police from liability when they violate someone's constitutional rights. i use the word doctrine because it's not in the constitution if you read every federal statute, you won't find any mention of qualified immunity. it's a concept the supreme court invented over time that has had a snowball affect to where it literally places police officers above the law. the reason it's a sticking point is because people like myself who practice civil rights litigation are going to say there is no meaningful police reform unless you eliminate qualified immunity and the senate made it clear -- the republicans in the senate that
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it's a deal breaking as far as police reform is concerned. >> ending qualified immunity was not part of senator tim scott's bill that he introduced. let's turn to the guilty verdict and what it means for derek chauvin. we got this booking photo of the convicted murderer from the prison where he is being housed. he will be sentenced in eight weeks. he could still file an appeal. i wanted to get your take on this idea that chauvin -- his apparent smugness, not just in the photo but in the courtroom, his demeanor did him no favors. what do you make of that idea? had he been or even appeared to be somewhat contrite, would that have helped him? was the evidence of that video too damning from the beginning? >> craig, overwhelming in the case. we have to have limited views of what this means for the future of policing and the types of
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convictions. you rarely have evidence that is this strong. you have a prosecution that is this committed to a conviction, it pours these resources into it a case. with that being said, i can't tell you how many times i have underestimated the impact that a realization that what you did was wrong can have on a court of law. it doesn't happen very often. i think there are two rules i have learned practicing law. one is for whatever reason, moms don't turn in their boys. the other rule is, people do not admit wrongdoing. i do think that had chauvin admitted wrongdoing and apologized for what he did, it might have had an impact on the jury. we are talking about the difference between being convicted of murder versus manslaughter in my opinion. >> possibility for appeals here, david. do you see some possible routes that his team could consider for an appeal? >> craig, this is like when people ask me whether you can be
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sued. i will say, it's america, you can always be sued. it's america, you can always find some way to appeal. i think the lookikelihood of an appeal is north of 100%. judge cahill got reversed on whether he could be charged with manslaughter. he was cautious over the trial. i think the likelihood of an appeal succeeding is almost non-existent. >> david henderson, we will leave it there. appreciate your analysis. more on the reaction from all across the country to chauvin's guilty verdict. first, new details about another deadly police encounter. a 16-year-old girl shot and killed in columbus, ohio. we will go to columbus next. beads could make her sheets smell amazing days later. boy was she surprised!
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this morning, another community about 700 miles from here in minneapolis is on edge after another fatal police shooting. this one happened in columbus, ohio, and it happened moments before the chauvin verdict was read tuesday. it involved a 16-year-old girl in foster care. county child services have identified the girl as ma'khia bryant. officials say police were responding to a call of someone armed with a knife. po portions of body camera video has been released. it's disturbing. >> what's going on? what's going on? get down. get down. josh lederman is in columbus.
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what do we know? what don't we know? >> reporter: the mayor of columbus is describing this as a tragic day for the city and an unimaginable loss for ma'khia bryant's family. the mayor is also saying that the police officer in this case fired his weapon to try to protect another young girl whose life could have been at risk. what we do know is that when police responded to this shooting, according to the interim police chief, they saw a confrontation. there was reports of someone armed with a knife. what they say the video shows is ma'khia bryant wielding a knife as she lunged at one of the two girls who you can see in that video just before the officer fired his weapon, ultimately
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killing her. what happens after that was witnessed by a lot of bystanders, including this neighbor who described what he saw in the moments just after the shooting. >> i see a young lady on her back shot. the police were giving cpr. i know she was shot four times. i heard the gunshots. the grandmother was hollering and screaming, very upset, saying that they didn't have to shoot her. >> reporter: that is the big question that this police force and this community are going to have to answer, craig. did the officer in this particular case have to shoot ma'khia bryant in order to prevent violence against someone else? we know that the police have an investigation underway, being conducted by the state's bureau of criminal investigation. they plan to release the full body cam video as well as the
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911 call later today as they try to put as much information out as they possibly can, very aware of how high tensions are right now and how much scrutiny this case is going to be under. >> transparency helps. josh, columbus, ohio, thank you. celebrations, feelings of relief and frustration that it is not enough. we will look at the reactions to the derek chauvin guilty verdict from all over the country next. ! ♪ your radiance comes alive ♪ i got in! ♪ i don't need the rain ♪ this mother's day, receive a free sterling silver bangle with your purchase at pandora jewelry. my plaque psoriasis... ...the itching ...the burning. the stinging. my skin was no longer mine. my psoriatic arthritis, made my joints stiff, swollen... painful. emerge tremfyant™ with tremfya®,
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millions around the world watched the derek chauvin verdict. we saw peaceful gathers in new york, pennsylvania and right here in minneapolis as well. we have reporters covering the action from cities across the country. vaughn, allison is in atlanta. vaughn, we will start with you, d.c.'s mayor mariel bowser created black lives matter
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movement. >> in the ten months since the murder of george floyd, these streets spoke for george floyd in this black lives matter movement. it was these streets that became black lives matter plaza officially here in washington, d.c. john lewis, kamala harris, mitt romney, they all came here. last night i met a grandmother of seven. she was making her way on the city bus just down the road when she heard the verdict was pending. she got off the bus and came back here. meet lisa robinson. >> justice is finally served. black lives matter. we need to be treated as people.
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>> reporter: it was these streets ten months ago where president trump cleared out people for a photo-op. ten months later just a few dozen folks, peaceful, quiet. and as you heard from lisa robinson, relief. and now a sign, walk humbly with your god. now down to atlanta. >> reporter: we met a man who served in the vietnam war. he said after the '60s, after the war he thought things were getting better for black and brown americans. he hopes this verdict at this moment in time is a giant step forward on a very long road. listen to him. >> it's about time. it has been over 400 years as
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far as the oppression for blacks and our people of color. it's time now for the senate to act. >> reporter: not long after the verdict, a group of about 60 marched up and down the streets of atlanta celebrating the verdict of officer derek chauvin. a murder in broad daylight. justice for one is not yet justice for all. mara is in chicago with more. >> reporter: here in chicago, community members attributed to activism that we saw worked towards a verdict of derek chauvin. that continues today.
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this isn't tied specifically to at the verdict of derek chauvin, but they are working towards the system of policing and overall police accountability. she said she hopes the verdict we saw yesterday has an impact on officers everywhere. >> maybe officers will think twice before they open fire. it's like the gun. you can't just open fire on every one. >> reporter: we are still hearing the sentiment of overall doubt and skepticism from members of the community. right here in chicago they are waiting for the investigation about the shooting of the 13-year-old which happened on the day the derek chauvin trying started. they are looking for justice in that case as well. that investigation is still on
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going. craig? >> maura, allison, vaughn, a big thanks to all of you. thanks to you for joining us and a special thanks to our crews in minneapolis, a long time away from their families. ong time aw from their families. power, we can harness the energy of the tiny electron. we can create new ways to connect. rethinking how we communicate to be more inclusive than ever. with app, cloud and anywhere workspace solutions, vmware helps companies navigate change. faster. vmware. welcome change. advanced non-small cell lung cancer can change everything. but your first treatment could be a chemo-free combination of two immunotherapies that works differently. it could mean a chance to live longer.
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good day. this is "andrea mitchell reports" in washington. today derek chauvin is behind bars, facing a possibility of decades in prison after being found guilty on all three counts in the death of george floyd. reaction outside the courthouse, white house and across the nation. the first black vice president announcing relief for criminal justice reform. today it was announced that the federal government will investigate the minneapolis police department for a pattern of civil rights abuses. >> it will include a comprehensive review of minneapolis's training and use of force.
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