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George Floyd's Death Sparks Protests; Over 40 Million Americans Filed for Unemployment; Minority-Owned Businesses Suffer; Twitter Fact-Checks Trump. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired May 28, 2020 - 09:30   ET



CHIEF TODD AXTELL, SAINT PAUL, MN POLICE: Can really take us back generations of trying to build up trust and confidence with all of our communities, within the cities we serve.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Listen, we -- we appreciate you coming on. And we know how tough your jobs are, right. I mean you've got to -- your officers have to face challenging situations and decisions every day.

You had a FaceBook post which kind of got to the core issue here. And I'm just going to read it because I think it's very powerful here. You said, as painful as this is, it's something we, as law enforcement professionals, must do, because when we lose our integrity, respect for all, compassion and empathy, when we stop seeing people and only see problems, we lose everything that is good about our profession.


SCIUTTO: What's happening here? Why do we see cases like that where folks seem to be losing that compassion?

AXTELL: You know, I don't know. We're dealing with -- with human beings. It's -- every police officer that I know, that I interacted with yesterday in the city of St. Paul, there was not one who felt that what they observed on that video in Minneapolis was in any way, shape or form acceptable police behavior. It's disgusting. It's dehumanizing. And it's 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. We are here to serve people. We are here to be the guardians of our community, not to choke people up.

HARLOW: Wow. Wow.

Let's listen to this. This is a critical exchange with the mayor of Minneapolis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that was murder? MAYOR JACOB FREY (D), MINNEAPOLIS: I do.


FREY: But I'm not a prosecutor. But let me be clear, the arresting officer killed someone.


HARLOW: Chief Axtell, do you think it was murder?

AXTELL: Well, I have a duty and obligation to make sure that the Department of Justice, the state of Minnesota, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension have the time necessary for me not to interfere with that determination.


AXTELL: I can just tell you, from a human being who happens to be a police officer and the St. Paul police chief, that I am deeply, deeply disturbed by about -- by what happened. And just as a human being. And we all are human and we all have to get back to that space of understanding why we're all here and what's the purpose of our lives in service of others.

SCIUTTO: Chief, it may be hard for you to do this, so I'm only asking from your view and your community, because you lead a number of police officers there and you're seeing challenges every day. I just wonder, are issues like this getting worse in this country? Are they isolated? What's your sense? I mean is there -- is there a portion of folks that just are going a different direction? I'm trying to get a handle about it because -- because Poppy and I, and our colleagues, will cover stories like this periodically and wonder what's happening, you know, because our impression is we're moving in a positive direction, but are we? What do you see from your perch?

AXTELL: You know, we -- we are moving in a positive direction throughout this country. Since 2014, President Barack Obama put together the 21st Century Policing Task Force. There have been so many advancements in law enforcement. The annual training -- in St. Paul we have annual implicit bias training, de-escalation training, crisis intervention training. We have a mental health team, co-responding with social workers to make sure that we are providing the empathy and service for all of our challenged communities in St. Paul.

We operate under the philosophy of the bank of trust. Every positive interaction, every right thing that a police officer does makes a deposit into that very important bank of trust. And, 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's just -- it's just unbelievably hurtful, all of the great work that's going in.


SCIUTTO: Yes. AXTELL: And a few can destroy that in a matter of seconds.

HARLOW: And, Chief, I understand that, and I think everyone's grateful for the training that has happened and the changes. But, candidly, frankly, you, Jim, nor I, can put ourselves in George Floyd's shoes. And this is not the first incident in Minneapolis. And, you know, these protests, they want answers and transparency and justice. And I understand withholding the body camera video for investigatory purposes, but I just wonder if you think transparency at this point trumps that? Do people need to see that video now?


AXTELL: Well, Chief Aridondo (ph) has done an incredible job so far with this incident. He's built -- he has a long history. Him and I started the same year. He started in Minneapolis, I started in St. Paul 31 years ago. He has a lot of trust with the community he serves. And he's doing a very unusual thing by firing these officers the day after the incident. That's really unheard of.

So he's doing a great job. He's being very transparent.

We know that there's a lot of hurt in our communities. So it's our job to make sure we strap in, we engage our communities, have those challenging, difficult conversations about how we got to where we are today and how we're going to move forward together between police and community to build up that bank of trust.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: Thank you. Thank you for your service and thank you for coming on today to talk to us, chief.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. Chief --

AXTELL: Jim and Poppy, thank you so much. Have a good day.

SCIUTTO: Chief, thank you for that message, Chief Axtell. It's an important message.


SCIUTTO: It really is.

HARLOW: Well, the economic toll of this pandemic on top of so much else, it also shows us that one in four American workers have filed for unemployment, and that is just the beginning of this story. Much more on that ahead.




HARLOW: Welcome back. Well, just a devastating indicator of just how big of an economic

impact this pandemic is having on this country. And 2.1 million more Americans filed for first time unemployment benefits just last week.

SCIUTTO: Yes, listen, I mean any single week of this, in any other time, would be heart-breaking, mind-stopping, you know, in its own right.


SCIUTTO: This is happening every week. Total now more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment just since mid-March.

Joining us now, CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

OK, so the -- the graph is coming down there. So the pace of new employment claims coming down.


SCIUTTO: But the total here just off the charts.

ROMANS: It's just so hard to imagine. Think of everybody who is working in the American economy, the mighty American economy at the beginning of March. A quarter of those people are not working today. A quarter. I mean that's just astonishing, One in four workers out of a job either furloughed or laid off.

And in some states it's even worse. Look at Georgia. Look at Kentucky. I mean some of these states have almost half of their labor market sidelined here and getting these unemployment benefits.

Now, these unemployment benefits really important to note. Congress knew this was going to be ugly and passed a huge, historic rescue. And in that rescue is $600 a week extra for people who have been laid off or furloughed. So, in some cases, people were pushed out by their companies, honestly, to be -- to get unemployment benefits just to get through this period. And they're getting this extra $600 a week. That expires the -- that -- that winds up at the end of July.

So then we have the big question of how -- how temporary are these layoffs and how permanent is the damage to the labor market? We've just never seen numbers like this. So there's no playbook. There's just no answer yet.

SCIUTTO: Christine, so good to have you on this story here, your perspective.

ROMANS: Thanks, guys.

SCIUTTO: And, obviously, one we're going to stay on top of.

Well, we've seen a lot of data showing coronavirus is killing African- Americans at higher rates, in some instances much higher rates, than any other racial group. On top of the health crisis, minority owned small businesses have suffered disproportionately in this crisis as well.

HARLOW: They really have. I mean it's a crisis on top of a crisis. "The Washington Post" crunched the numbers and their data showed that African-American business owners in the U.S., ownership in the U.S. has dropped more than 40 percent during this shutdown. And African- Americans already have the lowest business ownership rate in the country.

Joining us now to talk about this and what can be done is the founder of Suma Home Care, Mariama Suma-Keita, and also assistant professor of economics at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Michelle Holder.

And, Michelle, I know you -- you just wrote a whole -- a whole paper on this. So thank you both for being here.

Mariama, let me just begin with you.

You have 150 employees and you were denied one loan as I understand it. You got another PPP loan, but you don't even think it can sustain you guys.

MARIAMA SUMA-KEITA, FOUNDER, SUMA HOME CARE: Yes. Great. Yes. I am a nurse by profession and I am the owner of Suma Home Care. As a nurse and owner, with 150 employees, quality of care is priority to me, to make my employees safe at this point I am paying for premium rate for PPE. I am also paying hazard pay, which is very restraining to me at this point.

SCIUTTO: Michelle, you've been working on this for some time. I'm curious, it's a problem that Congress, lawmakers have been aware of for a number of weeks now. And there's been talk in the next phase of correcting some of these -- these issues so that small businesses, including those owned by African-Americans, find it easier to get funding. Based on what you're seeing, are these issues getting corrected?

MICHELLE HOLDER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Based on what I'm seeing, no, they're not. And I did want to point out that I think what's been missing in the narrative about job losses in America is that small businesses are a real engine of employment in the U.S., and particularly among minority owned and business-owned firms. Minority owned firms, particularly black-owned firms, tend to employ black workers and there are over a million black workers currently, you know. Well, not currently, but prior to the pandemic who were working in black-owned businesses.



HOLDER: So it's a real significant engine. And the Paycheck Protection Program really has to be more nimble to address these smaller businesses.

HARLOW: One of the -- one of the big concerns and -- what the data had shown is that it's, you know, without a lot of that money going to CDFIs and to some of these -- directly into these communities, et cetera, the lending process isn't just essentially. And so I just wonder what the -- what the long-term implication of this, you think, is going to be for America, if those jobs don't come back, if those minority owned small businesses that have been lost don't come back, what is -- how long is the tale of that for America and what does it mean more broadly for our economy?

HOLDER: Well, the tale would be pretty long. So as you all were pointing out earlier, you know, we don't really know when this will be over, right? And so the -- you know, unemployment and joblessness, those are lagging indicators. So even once we get the epidemic sort of as under control as possible, joblessness is going to not just bounce right back. So, unfortunately, I think particularly for minority owned businesses, who tend to have those types of businesses that provide personal service, barbershops, cleaners, salons, you know, shoe repair places, and they tend to be located in urban areas, this is really devastating because -- because it's going to take quite a while for those businesses to bounce back.

SCIUTTO: Mariama, can you turn it around? I mean if you get the help you need now, are you able to turn it around? There's a lot of concern that some of these jobs will not come back, some of the small business owners like yourself won't be able to survive this. And I'm curious what you need to bridge that and are you confident you'll get it?

SUMA-KEITA: So at Suma Home Care what I think we need to bridge this right now is for -- total forgiveness of the PPP loan, because with 150 employees, it's costing us a lot to buy the PPE to keep these employees safe at work. It's costing us a lot also giving them hazard pay. Also the forgiveness will be great. We don't have fancy lawyers, a bunch of accountants to help us navigate through this critical process.

HARLOW: I think that's such a good point because --


HARLOW: Because, you're right, like, you know, businesses that can pay those accountants to figure this all out, it's a hard process to navigate. You know, they have a much easier road here.

I know you got one loan, that's good. Hopefully the terms will change so that it is forgivable. But I understand you were turned down from TD Bank for one of your PPP loan applications. We reached out to the bank, our producers. They said they're more than happy to review your application again. So we just want you to know that in case that's something that you're looking to -- looking to do, Mariama.

SUMA-KEITA: Oh, that's very great. But one thing I have to say, I want -- I want to say thank you to Natalie Molina-Lino (ph), who actually, when I was denied from TD Bank, connected me with (INAUDIBLE) Bank, who was able to give me loan at the second attempt.

HARLOW: That's great.

SUMA-KEITA: So, TD Bank is the bank that I really bank with (ph). So I don't think -- second time around is great, but I think -- I needed it at the beginning of everything.


SUMA-KEITA: It's great that it could look at it now. It was critical for me getting my employees the equipment that they need, giving them hazard pay --


SUMA-KEITA: Getting them to work because all of these employees are from low socioeconomic communities, which is very important to me.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, we're rooting for you. We're rooting for the business.

And, Michelle Holder, thanks so much for the work you do as well.


SCIUTTO: Mariama Suma-Keita too.

HOLDER: Thank you.

SUMA-KEITA: Thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: President Trump is escalating his war now on social media companies after his favorite platform fact checked two of his tweets.


Also, a programming note for you. "Sesame Street," the "Sesame Street" crew is back on CNN for a new family town hall about Covid-19 and staying safe this summer. "The ABCs of Covid-19," Saturday morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.



HARLOW: Today the president is going to try to rein in social media companies through an executive order. This comes after Twitter fact- checked one of his tweets.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the first time they've done it. Overnight the company's CEO, Jack Dorsey, said that labeling the president's -- that is the U.S. president's tweets with fact checks does not make the company an arbiter of truth, and that the company will, though, continue to point out incorrect information.

CNN business reporter Donie O'Sullivan joins us now with more.

Donie, as you noted on this broadcast just yesterday, I believe, Twitter does not want to get into a war with the president. They're concerned about their business, frankly.

Tell us what message Jack Dorsey was putting out here now. DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, guys, it's been a huge

48 hours for Silicon Valley. Twitter fact-checked Trump's false claims about mail-in ballots in California. FaceBook did not. Trump is not happy with Twitter, but he is taking it out on all of Silicon Valley, saying big tech is anti-conservative and it is stifling free speech.

He is, as you mentioned, expected to sign an executive order today that -- about how social media platforms police comments on their services. And what attacks from the White House you might think that Silicon Valley would come together, but, no, Mark Zuckerberg actually went on Fox News last night to call out Twitter for fact-checking Trump.


Have a listen.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: We have a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this. You know, I just believe strongly that FaceBook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. I think in general private companies probably shouldn't be -- or especially these platform companies shouldn't be in the position of doing that.


O'SULLIVAN: And Jack Dorsey responded pretty much directly to Mark Zuckerberg late last night saying that what Twitter is doing is just trying to get voters accurate information about what's going on.

Now, our colleague, Brian Thung (ph), has seen a draft of the executive order that's expected to be signed today and, of course, this is a law that makes platforms exempt from being held liable what -- for what is being posed on their platforms. The ironic thing here is, of course, Trump has made false claims about Joe Scarborough. Twitter did not remove them. And that -- this law allows them to keep them up on the platform.


HARLOW: Yes. Yes. A huge -- huge. And we'll get into more on section 230, that you just mentioned, Donie, because it's a big deal if this were to all change in the days ahead. Thanks so much for the reporting.

O'SULLIVAN: Thank you.

HARLOW: One hundred thousand deaths in the United States from coronavirus, and finally, finally, within the past few minutes, the president responds.

That's next.