ICYMI: Top takeaways from this week's "Face the Nation": Floyd's death reignites racial divides

5/31: Face The Nation
5/31: Face The Nation 47:03

This week on "Face the Nation" pain and anger following the death of George Floyd explodes into violence across a bitter and divided nation already reeling from the impact of the coronavirus.

Here's the big takeaways from Sunday's episode of "Face the Nation" with Margaret Brennan

1. Are there outside infiltrators?

St. Paul mayor: Some protesters "intent on sp... 05:01
  • As nationwide protests continued for the fifth day following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, local officials say certain demonstrators, many of whom are unfamiliar to local activists, are "very intent on sparking violence."  
  • What Mayor Carter said: "There also seem to be people in those crowds who are very intent on sparking violence, on breaking windows, on starting fires and on trying to convince those folks to- to engage in unlawful behavior. We're hearing very clearly from many of our historic advocates, the folks who were on the front lines after Philando Castile was killed. The folks who've been on the front lines of the Black Lives movement, not only do they not know the folks who are right there inciting violence, but they're seeing people jump out of those crowds to break a window and then go run back right back in and behind those crowds. It's very concerning for me."
  • What Mayor Bottoms said: "You know, I can't say who they are. I know that it was just- it was a very different protest than we are used to having in Atlanta. Obviously, we are the home of the civil rights movement. So we- we have a long history of protest in our city. But our organizers in Atlanta, many of whom don't agree with me quite often as mayor, were very clear that this, by and large, after things turned violent, was not an Atlanta-based protest. It looked differently racially in our city than our normal protests looked. And it was a different group. So we don't know who they were, but many of them were not locally based. I'll say that."
  • Why this matters: Advocates in the Twin Cities, including those who are active in the Black Lives Matter movement, don't recognize those in the crowds who are engaging in violence. "They're seeing people jump out of those crowds to break a window and then go run back in behind those crowds. It's very concerning for me," Mayor Carter said, adding that law enforcement partners are working to determine who the agitators are and what their agenda is.
  • Carter said protesters who have incited violence and destroyed businesses are "drowning out the voices that we need to be hearing" and overshadowing the need to end police brutality.

2. Chauvin's actions raise new questions about prosecuting police brutality

Atlanta mayor: Trump "making it worse," shoul... 05:21
  • After after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on George Floyd's neck for eight minutes as he pleaded that he couldn't breath, his death has since sparked protests nationwide that in some places have turned violent. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder Friday, and the other officers involved were fired. But for many, swift action against those who carry out police brutality against innocent Black Americans appears too little too late.
  • What Carter said: "We're totally understanding the anger and the rage that people have. Our call today and moving forward into the future is for peace, but not to be mistaken with patience. We cannot be patient. We cannot sit back and patiently wait while these things change on a slow and incremental basis. The point- the fact that you just pointed out says we have a lot more work to do on not just how we hire officers, but how we allow chiefs to fire officers when we see across the country officers who were under investigation, officers who are proven to have acted in ways that does not befit our badges."  
  • No justice, no peace: "60 in 6" correspondent Wesley Lowery told "Face the Nation" that in many cases, officers who get fired in these kinds of situations actually get their jobs back. 
  • "There's actually a belief that many of these officers in Minneapolis may get their jobs back who are fired. Right. So, again, what the activists are saying is that you all have not been listening to us, that- that this was in so many ways inevitable. Right. Again, the protest chant. Right. If we don't get no justice, there will be no peace,"
  • Meanwhile, Trump criticizes liberal governors and mayors for not taking stronger action. What is he asking them to do? 
  • Bottoms: "I don't know. And this is so reminiscent of Charlottesville when President Trump just made it worse. And there are times that you should just stop. This is one of those times. He's making it worse. This is not about using military force. This is about where we are in America. We are beyond a tipping point in this country. And his rhetoric only inflames that. And he should just sometimes stop talking."  
  • Do you have faith that the Justice Department at this time? Just weeks after her state saw the murder of Ahmaud Arbery , another unarmed Black man killed at the hands of a white perpetrator, Bottoms had this to say: "I don't have faith in this Justice Department, but I do have faith in America as a whole. So it is my hope that between the Justice Department, between the state of Georgia, that there will be appropriate charges that will be brought, that will be prosecuted and that there will be a conviction. And so, you know, I don't have faith in this Justice Department, but if this Justice Department does what it was created to do, then justice will be served. But we also have the backstop of the state of Georgia and the charges that can be brought here as well."
  • Why this matters: Americans as well as elected officials are growing weary over the Trump administration's lack of efforts to quell racial tensions in an already divided country. And with Trump placing the blame squarely on "Antifa" and "left-wing extremists" many feel the White House is missing the opportunity to adequately call out injustice against minorities. 

3. Crump says charges against officer should be elevated

Floyd family attorney: Officer should be char... 05:19
  • The family of George Floyd expects the independent autopsy report to be made public on Monday. Attorney Benjamin Crump said the family believes the charges should be elevated to murder in the first rather than third degree murder based on two elements: 1) an audio recording of Chauvin being asked and refusing a request by another officer to move a prostrate Floyd (2) the two men previously had met. Crump charges that reveals the intent was to kill George Floyd.  
  • What Crump said: "We don't understand how that is not first degree murder. We don't understand- we don't understand how all these officers have not been arrested. And, yes, his family has been notified by the owner of a club that Derek Chauvin was an off duty police officer while George Floyd was a security guard. And so they had to overlap. And so that is going to be an interesting aspect to this case and hopefully upgrading these charges to first degree murder because we believe he knew who George Floyd was."
  • Should the protests continue? "I'm not a politician. I'm the voice for equal justice for marginalized people in our society. And I proclaim that these riots that are erupting in cities all across America are an outward sign of righteous anger that Americans, especially black Americans, are feeling over the death of George Floyd, but not just George Floyd. He's just the latest tipping point in a string of killings of unarmed black people at the hands, or should I say in his case, the knee of the police and many elected officials have to understand that is not these protesters that started these fires across America. It is police brutality and a racist criminal justice system. And the only thing that can put out these fires are police accountability and equal justice. The Floyd family, nor I, agree with violence. Just like Dr. King, we don't try to justify it."  
  • Why that matters: Prosecutors say Chauvin had his left knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd was unresponsive for the last two minutes and 53 seconds, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.  
  • During the incident, one of the other officers on the scene suggested rolling Floyd to his side, but Chauvin allegedly rejected the suggestion, saying, "No, staying put where we got him," according to the complaint.

4. Will mass gatherings ignite COVID-19?

Gottlieb warns of uptick in coronavirus cases... 08:31

  • Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, warned Sunday that the protests that have erupted in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and brought tens of thousands to the streets nationwide could lead to a rise in coronavirus cases, just as cities and states begin easing restrictions.  
  • What Gottlieb said: "There's going to be a lot of issues coming out of what's happened in the last week, but one of them is going to be that chains of transmission will have become lit from these gatherings. And Minnesota, one of the hard hit states by the protests where you've seen large mass gatherings, that state has been seeing an uptick in cases to begin with. Even before these protests started, we saw rising hospitalizations in that state. So this country isn't through this- this epidemic. This is continuing to expand but at a much slower rate. But it's still expanding and we still have pockets of spread in communities that aren't under good control."
  • Why are Black and brown Americans disproportionately impacted? "You think of people from communities that are disadvantaged. They already lack access to health care. They lack access to testing. So they're not only at higher risk, they don't have the same health care opportunities. And so you try to bring the testing into those communities, into work sites. The other thing we need to do is make sure that COVID doesn't become punitive, that having a diagnosis of COVID disease doesn't mean you lose your job, you lose your wages. And so we need to support people through the illness. We need to encourage them to get tested and self-identify. And so you really need to focus the resources on the medically-vulnerable communities where this vi- virus is going to spread more actively."
  • Pulling out of the WHO: "I don't think pulling out was the right measure. We could have tried to reform the WHO from within, and we could've put pressure on China through the WHO, forcing China, for example, to admit Taiwan to the World Health Assembly. I think the net impact is going to see- be that we're seeing now this virus become epidemic in other parts of the world, particularly the Southern Hemisphere. It hasn't reached West Africa or South Africa in- in high numbers yet, but I think it will. We see it epidemic in Brazil, epidemic in India. The World Health Organization is a more important entity to a lot of those countries. It is their CDC. And so pulling out of the WHO right now and pulling away resources from that organization, I think is going to contribute to some of the adversity and hardships that these countries face as they try to battle COVID disease."  
  • Why this all matters: Americans in many states have been encouraged to wear masks to protect others and follow social distancing measures. But the protests against Floyd's death and other unarmed African Americans by law enforcement have brought thousands together in city streets.
  • The coronavirus has also disproportionately impacted African Americans, as well as Hispanic and Latino Americans, which Gottlieb said is a "symptom of broader racial inequities" that need to be resolved.

Missed Sunday's episode? Click here to watch the show. "Face the Nation" airs Sunday mornings on CBS. Click here for local listings.

  • Margaret Brennan

    Margaret Brennan is moderator of CBS News' "Face The Nation" and CBS News' senior foreign affairs correspondent based in Washington, D.C.