Transcript: Ben Crump on “Face the Nation”

Credit: CBSNews
Credit: CBSNews

▶ Watch Video: Crump says trial of Derek Chauvin, cop charged in George Floyd’s death, expected to begin Monday

The following is a transcript of an interview with civil rights attorney Ben Crump that aired Sunday, March 7, 2021, on “Face the Nation.”

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. Today marks the 56th anniversary of the march to Selma, also known as Bloody Sunday, a landmark event in the civil rights movement. And last week, the House passed a policing reform bill named after George Floyd, who died in police custody last year in Minneapolis. Jury selection is scheduled to begin tomorrow in the trial of Derek Chauvin, who is charged in Floyd’s death. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is one of the lawyers that represents the family of Mr. Floyd and he joins us from Houston, Texas. Good morning to you.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Sir, there was a late development over the weekend in regard to the potential third-degree murder charge against this former officer in the state of Minnesota’s case. Will jury selection still begin tomorrow? Will things get underway Monday?

CRUMP: It is our understanding that the trial will get underway Monday. George Floyd’s family, as the victims who I represent have been informed that they have every intention of the trial going forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: In anticipation of that, we have seen protests in cities around this country. In Minneapolis, some businesses are already being boarded up in fear of potential violence like what engulfed that city last June. You’ve been with the Floyd family. What is their message to protesters?

CRUMP: Well, their message is thank you for standing up and exercising your First Amendment rights, but doing so in a peaceful way. I know Attorney General Keith Ellison, the first African-American attorney general for the state of Minnesota, is going to prosecute this case zealously. And that’s why they moved for the third-degree murder charges to be instated, because they want to make sure that the jury has every option to hold Derek Chauvin criminally liable for the torture, the inhumanity and the murder of George Floyd.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That is the state’s case. We know that often happens before a federal case gets underway. But there has been a grand jury impaneled in Minneapolis and the Justice Department has called new witnesses. I mean, do you have any indication as to how the Biden administration’s Justice Department is going to handle this?

CRUMP: Well, it is my belief that George Floyd’s civil rights were violated. I mean, you look at the video, you hear him say 28 times, “I can’t breathe.” The public is begging the police to take the knee off his neck. They say, his nose is bleeding. He can’t breathe. He’s going unconscious. You’re going to kill him. If there’s not a deprivation of his civil rights to live, I don’t know what is. And, MARGARET, my whole life’s mission as a civil rights attorney has been to be an unapologetic defender of Black life and Black liberty and Black humanity. And we saw that Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, took all of that away from a Black man who was restrained facedown in handcuffs. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: As a candidate, Joe Biden did speak with George Floyd’s family and he made promises. And I wonder what your understanding is in terms of what’s actually going to be delivered.

CRUMP: Well, President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with George Floyd’s family, as many of my other clients, Jacob Blake Jr. and Breonna Taylor’s family, while they were campaigning and they were sincere in saying they believe we need to have police reform, we need systematic change and reform in policing. And I know millions of Black people went out and voted in these cities like Atlanta and Milwaukee and Detroit with George Floyd and Breonna on their mind. And so it is my hope that President Biden, who said that this was going to be a priority for him to get policing reform, that he will not ever forget those conversations with George Floyd’s family, those conversations with Breonna Taylor’s broken-hearted mother, those conversations with Jacob Blake, who’s paralyzed because their lives matter, Black lives matter. And this would be something that he could deliver that will be a permanent brand for his legacy, that he did not forget those Black people who he talked to on the campaign trail once ascended to the leader of the free world.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And those political promises are often hard to deliver on when you look at the reality of what has happened with this George Floyd policing reform bill, which passed the House again this past week, but is now headed to the Senate, which we know in the past, it stalled there. What area is there for compromise? Can you stomach anything compromised on qualified immunity?

CRUMP: Well, we understand that politics is the art of compromise because we want to make progress. However, on qualified immunity, MARGARET, this has to be addressed because this is the thing that allows bad police officers to engage in reprehensible conduct like we saw with George Floyd and countless, I mean, hundreds of Black people being killed. And it shields their behavior. And we’re not saying that this qualified immunity reform will deny police officers their due process. But what we are saying–


CRUMP: –it will allow those who have been harmed to have access to court–


CRUMP: –and to be able to make sure we change the toxic-


CRUMP: –nature that some of us feel happens in policing. When we look at that George Floyd video. We can do better, America. We must do better.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will watch on that provision in particular. Thank you, Mr. Crump, for your time. We’ll be right back.