Transcript: St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter on "Face the Nation," May 31, 2020

St. Paul mayor: Some protesters "intent on sparking violence"
St. Paul mayor: Some protesters "intent on sp... 05:01

The following is a transcript of an interview with St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Melvin Carter that aired Sunday, May 31, 2020, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: Nicole Killian at the White House, thanks. We turn now to the mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, Melvin Carter. Good morning to you. 

ST. PAUL MAYOR MELVIN CARTER: Good morning. Thank you for having me on. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Mayor at the White House says that Antifa, a far left extremist group, has been infiltrating American cities. Is that who is instigating the violence that you're seeing?

CARTER: Thank you for having me on and I appreciate it. We're seeing an enormous amount of rage and frustration and anger on the ground. Much of that is totally understandable as the gruesome images of Mr. George Floyd's murder has created a- a groundswell in our community of anger and frustration. Our concern is that it seems very clear that while some of our folks are out there in the streets just crying out to be heard, that they believe that George Floyd should still be alive, that all four of those officers should be held accountable for their actions and we have deep soul searching work to do as a nation to stop this pattern from happening over and over and over again. 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.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have any idea who those instigators are?

CARTER: We're working to get to the bottom of that right now. Our law enforcement partners, our police department and I know our state law enforcement partners are working very hard to get to the bottom of exactly who that is and what exact agenda is behind that. The focus for us has been on our curfew to make sure that we're able to separate the folks who are here specifically to start trouble from those who need to be heard. And the most disturbing, disgusting piece about all of this is the fact that, one, these folks are drowning out the voices that we need to be hearing. We need to be having a conversation right now about how we stop this from happening. We need to be having a conversation right now about how traumatic it is to our communities to see George Floyd killed in the gruesome way that he was, how critical it is that we change the culture of policing for once and for all in our country. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to--

CARTER: And those who are expressing that anger in a disgusting and destructive way are taking the focus away from what it should be while destroying our community institutions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I- I want to just I want to ask you about that in the case of George Floyd. According to the AP, Minneapolis city records show that there were 17 complaints that had been filed against the now former officer who is charged with having murdered George Floyd. 16 complaints were closed with no discipline. How is that permitted to happen?

CARTER: That's, I think, the- one of the most important questions here. Right here, 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. My father is a retired St. Paul police departments, so I've heard- St. Paul police officer, so I've heard all of my life how important it is to lift up that badge and to not- not- not damage it, not damage- tarnish its reputation. And so what we've seen when officers fall far below our expectations, police chiefs, it's happened in St. Paul, it's happened in Minneapolis, it's happened across the country, who tried to remove those officers, who tried to terminate them, end up being forced to pull them back on the force through arbitration. So our request for our young folks is to take this energy which can- which has consumed our nation this- this- this past week. It's a fire that could destroy us, but could bring us together in a way that we've never been together. Use it not to destroy our neighborhoods, but to- to tear down those laws, to tear down those legal precedents, to tear down those police union contracts that make it so difficult to hold officers accountable--

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

CARTER: --for their actions. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Mr. Mayor, thank you and good luck. 

CARTER: Thank you very much.