George Floyd protests spread nationwide

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Fernando Alfonso III, Daniella Diaz, Jessie Yeung, Steve George, Ivana Kottasová and Nick Thompson, CNN

Updated 8:56 p.m. ET, May 30, 2020
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11:09 a.m. ET, May 28, 2020

St. Paul police chief calls death of George Floyd “dehumanizing” 

From CNN's Elise Hammond and Adrienne Vogt 

CNN
CNN

St. Paul, Minnesota, Police Chief Todd Axtell said he made all of his officers watch the video of a Minneapolis police officer putting his knee on the neck of George Floyd, calling the incident "disgusting" and "dehumanizing."

"It is something that absolutely has to stop and I want to challenge all of our officers, not just in the St. Paul Police Department, but throughout this country, to really check our humanity, really check back on why we became police officers in the first place. We're here to protect people," Axtell told CNN on Thursday. Axtell added that the incident was not "acceptable police behavior."

"We're here to serve people. We are here to be the guardians of our community. Not to choke people up," he added.

He said police departments rely on what he calls a "bank of trust."

"Every positive interaction, every right thing that a police officer does, makes a deposit into that very important bank of trust," he explained.

Axtell said incidents of violence like this can destroy the trust officers work to build.

"Unfortunately, one incident like you saw in Minneapolis can just take that entire investment not only in that city, not only in St. Paul, but throughout this entire country and it is just unbelievably hurtful, all the great work going in, and a few can destroy that in a matter of seconds," Axtell said.

"The actions of very few can really take us back generations of trying to build up trust and confidence with all of our communities within the cities we serve," he added.

Watch here:

10:33 a.m. ET, May 28, 2020

George Floyd’s brother on protesters: "They have the same pain that I feel"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Philonise Floyd
Philonise Floyd CNN

The brother of George Floyd — the man who died after pleading that he couldn't breathe while a police officer held him down with his knee — said that he wants justice for his brother’s death after a second night of protests. 

“People are torn and hurt because they're tired of seeing black men die constantly, over and over again,” Philonise Floyd said in an interview with CNN’s “New Day.”

Parts of Minneapolis were burning Thursday morning after a chaotic night of rioting and clashes between law enforcement and protesters.

“This is not a one-time thing. It's going to last forever. … I’m never going to get my brother back,” Philonise Floyd said while wiping away tears. 

“I understand and I see why a lot of people are doing a lot of things around the world. I don't want them to lash out like that, but I can't stop people right now. Because they have pain. They have the same pain that I feel. I want everything to be peaceful, but I can't make everybody be peaceful. I can't. It's hard,” he said. 

Philonise Floyd cried as he spoke about watching the video of his brother being held down by a police officer and other officers not intervening. 

“I watched the video. It was hard, but I had to watch the video,” he said. “And as I watched the video, those four officers, they executed my brother. The paramedics, they [dragged] him across the ground without administering CPR. They showed no empathy, no compassion, nobody out there showed it. Nobody,” he said. 

Watch more:

10:24 a.m. ET, May 28, 2020

Author cries while discussing Floyd’s death: “It’s just so much pain…I’m raising a son. I have no idea what to tell him."

From CNN's Elise Hammond

CNN
CNN

Bakari Sellers, an author and CNN commentator, cried on air while discussing George Floyd's death saying "for those of us who have a mistrust of the system, it's hard for us to do anything else other than to just cry this morning."

"It's hard being black in this country when your life is not valued and people are worried about the protesters and the looters. And it's just people who are frustrated who for far too long and not have their voices heard," Sellers said in response to the protests.

He said the protests are about getting "white people in this country to have a sense of understanding about the pain and trauma that it is to be black in this country."

Sellers said that while he has respect for law enforcement "many black men, in particular, are being looked at as something as less than human and they don't give us the benefit of our humanity. And if they want us to stop rioting…then they have to stop killing us.”

He said it is hard for him to find the words to explain racial violence to his two kids.

“It’s just so much pain," Sellers said. "I’m raising a son. I have no idea what to tell him. It's just, it's hard being black in this country when your life is not valued," he added.

"I keep telling my children they can be free," Sellers said. "I want them to be able to be a United States senator or president. But what happens if they get pulled over and they comply?"

He added: "How do you raise your children in this America to understand you're free when we see these images of them being gunned down in the street and the knee in the back of the neck for eight minutes like a dog? So I don't have that answer other than every day I just tell them I love them. That's all I can do."

Watch more of the interview here:

9:12 a.m. ET, May 28, 2020

Floyd's friend says he found out about his death from the video: "It just destroyed me"

Stephen Jackson in 2008
Stephen Jackson in 2008 Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Former NBA star Stephen Jackson talked to NBC’s Craig Melvin about his friendship with George Floyd, saying he found out about his lifelong friend’s death when his girlfriend’s mom texted him the video.

Jackson said at first he didn’t realize that was Floyd, until he saw another message from his friend asking him about it.

“I jumped up, screamed, scared my daughter, almost broke my hand punching stuff because I was so mad, because I’m the type of guy, I get mad and I get into a full face of tears when I see a homeless man on the street that I can’t help, so let alone my best friend on TV for the world to see getting killed over a fraud charge, a fake $20 bill,” Jackson said. “It just destroyed me and I haven’t been the same since I seen it.”

Jackson said it hurt to hear Floyd call out for his mother and children in the video.

“It hurt, man, it hurt because I knew that was a cry for help. I’m a black man and I’m a strong black man and I know Floyd. That’s a cry for help. We don’t scream our mother’s name like that unless we know something is wrong and our life is in jeopardy and we have, we can’t control it. That was a cry for help,” Jackson said.

Jackson also said that Floyd would be happy the protesters are fighting for him, but he would rather that the people responsible for his death are penalized. 

“He’s not the type of person to promote violence and stuff like that. He used to baptize people, so what we’re seeing right now, this is not what Floyd would want,” Jackson said.

9:55 a.m. ET, May 28, 2020

Minneapolis mayor thinks Floyd's death was murder

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos

Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP
Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told CBS that he thinks George Floyd's death was murder. 

"Do you think that was murder?" CBS's Jeff Pegues asked Frey.

"I do," Frey said. "I am not a prosecutor but let me be clear, the arresting officer killed someone. He would be alive today if he were white." 

 Frey also said he thinks race was a factor in his death.

"The facts that I've seen, which are minimal, certainly lead me down the path that race was involved," Frey told Pegues.  

Watch here:

10:04 a.m. ET, May 28, 2020

George Floyd’s family wants to do an independent autopsy

From CNN's Carma Hassan

CNN
CNN

George Floyd’s family attorney Benjamin Crump told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that the Floyd family is waiting for the medical examiner’s office to complete their autopsy so they can “give him a proper funeral and also to have an independent autopsy because they do not trust…the city of Minneapolis.”

“Is it two justice systems in America? One for Black America and one for White America? We can’t have that, we have to have equal justice for the United States of America and that’s what I think the protesters are crying out for,” Crump said.

 Crump said the officers should have been arrested that same day Floyd died.

 “So every day that passes, Alisyn, it’s like another day of injustice,” Crump said.

 “They executed my brother in broad daylight. People had to film that. People had to see that,” Philonise Floyd said, wiping tears from his eyes. “People pleaded for his life.”

 Floyd said he didn’t want protesters to lash out, but he can’t stop them because they have pain.

 “I want everything to be peaceful but I can’t make everybody be peaceful, I can’t, it’s hard,” Floyd said.

Watch here:

8:22 a.m. ET, May 28, 2020

George Floyd's girlfriend: "We demonized him and killed him"

From CNN's Gregory Lemos

George Floyd's girlfriend told CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues that the video of Floyd's death makes it clear to her that he was murdered. 

"This was nothing but an angel on earth. We demonized him and killed him," Courtney Ross told Pegues on Thursday. "I don't know if I'm sad or mad." 

Ross called Floyd a "gentle giant and a loving father" and the man she "loved for three years."  

"You know, I just want to get on the phone and call my baby and hear his voice," Ross said. "He cannot die in vain."