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Protests and Coronavirus; Lasting Effects Police Killings Have on Communities?. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 1, 2020 - 16:30   ET



KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Everything you just played there, all that video, all of that widespread violence that we saw over the weekend, this is what the governor hopes to prevent, as well as the mayor of Los Angeles.

You're looking at the National Guard; 1,000 troops have been called up here in the city of Los Angeles. This may be an alarming sight to see all of these Guard troops here in the shadow of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

But the mayor has said that the goal will be to secure businesses. And you mentioned those early times that the curfew started, Jake, Beverly Hills, as well as Santa Monica, under curfew already in place. That started just 30 minutes ago -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Kyung Lah, thank you so much.

Coming up, a next to study exploring the long-lasting trauma caused by police violence on certain communities.

We're going to talk to the author of the study next.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, you might know their names, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown Jr., Walter Scott, and George Floyd, all unarmed African-Americans killed by police in very different sets of circumstances.

But one study published by "The Lancet" explored the many ways that police killings can cause long-lasting trauma for entire communities.

Joining me now is co-author of that study, David Williams. He's a professor of public health and African-American studies at Harvard University.

Professor, thanks for talking to us.

You found police killings don't just affect those close to the victims, but the entire community.


We looked at police shootings in the United States nationally. There are about 60 police shootings each year of unarmed African-Americans, most of them male. And African-Americans are five times more likely than whites to be killed by the police when unarmed.

And we linked that database on police shootings with national data at the state level on mental health. And we found that every police shooting of an unarmed African-American led to worse mental health, not just for the family, but for the entire African-American community in the state in which it occurred.

And that worst mental health lasted for three months. So we are looking at long-term negative impact on the mental health of the entire African-American community. And this was for the average police shooting. Not every police student gets national attention, like the ones that we are talking about.

TAPPER: OK, because that's what I wanted to ask, because the ones I listed have very different circumstances, Tamir Rice, a boy with a toy gun who was shot by a policeman.

Michael Brown Jr., the Eric Holder Justice Department ruled that that shooting was justified. Does it matter, the circumstances under which these shootings happen, whether or not they're justified or not, whether or not the policeman is disciplined or even tried or not, that there is this effect on the community?

WILLIAMS: That's correct.

In our research, it didn't matter. The one thing that mattered, we found that effect only for police shootings of unarmed African- American men. If, in fact, the African-American was armed, then there was no negative effect on mental health.

So it suggests that it's the perception of the shooting being unjustified and unfair, that's the aspect of it that seems to provoke the worsening mental health for three months. And that is significant. The mental health impact that we found for police shootings is similar to the mental health impact of having to live with diabetes, being a diabetic, a type 2 diabetic.

TAPPER: Explain what you mean by, the snowball effect that racism and these kinds of incidents have on mental and physical health for people in the community. How does it play out? How does it manifest itself?

WILLIAMS: So, more broadly, I have done research and have developed measures to capture racism, not just big things like police shootings, but even everyday discrimination, is a scale I developed.

It captures little things in your day-to-day life where often you are treated with less courtesy or respect than other people, how often you receive poorer service at restaurants or stores. And we find that about one in five -- one in five, one in four

African-Americans experience incidents like that at least once a week. So, these are not infrequent occurrences. We find the highest levels of everyday discrimination actually among Native Americans in the United States.

And what we find is that these experiences of day-to-day indignities leads to worse mental health and worse physical health. High levels of discrimination have been linked to cardiovascular disease, to the onset of cancer, to biological dysregulation, to poorer mental health.

And one of the challenges that populations of color face in the United States is that the stress of discrimination is just one more type of stressful life experience that they have to deal with.


So it's the accumulation of all of these negative effects that takes a toll on physical and mental health.

TAPPER: How does it take a toll on physical health? I can certainly understand how it can take a toll, facing discrimination, dealing with the inequities and injustices of life, I can understand that how that takes an emotional, psychological toll. How does it take a physical toll?

WILLIAMS: The classic negative effects of stress, where it leads to negative emotions, they lead to biological dysregulation that have adversely -- have adverse effects on health.

So, we can think of the classic, what we call the fight-or-flight response, when you are afraid or you deal with some very stressful experience. It begins as a psychological perception, but it has well- documented negative effects on biological functioning.

So, we find that higher levels of everyday discrimination links to higher levels of inflammation, links to higher levels of blood pressure, links to more rapid development of subclinical heart disease.

So the effects are well-documented, and I would argue that they are very similar to other types of stressful life experiences.

TAPPER: Professor Williams, thank you so much for your time, a fascinating study, an important one for all of us to understand. We really appreciate your time today.

WILLIAMS: Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Growing concerns about protests during the pandemic, as we learn it's been a while since President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci have actually spoken to each other.

We will have the details next, as we keep an eye on the protests building across the country.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, medical experts are expressing concern that nationwide protests could serve as a supercharging event that further fuels the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A top health official in the U.S. told me -- quote -- "Massive crowds packed together, multiple arrests with detainees crowded together in jails, recipe for major uptick in infections."

The American death toll from the pandemic now stands at more than 104,000 in the U.S., as CNN's Nick Watt reports.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Georgia opening bars and restaurants today, one of 23 states where new case counts are falling.

Nationally, a painfully slow decline in those numbers for now, as we seem to be taking social distancing less seriously at beaches, bars and elsewhere. As California reopens, cases have climbed 11 percent in just five days, another new daily highs at Sunday, 3,705 new cases reported.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We went from a really internationally terrible situation to where we're talking about reopening today, even New York City, where we're planning to reopen June 8.

WATT: Florida's Keys reopened to tourists today, after 10 long weeks, but Miami-Dade postponed its planned beach reopenings.

The fear? Protesters and rioters across the country are now spreading this virus.

REP. TIM WALZ (D-MN): I am deeply concerned about a super-spreader- type of incident that we have seen after this. We're going to see a spike in COVID-19. It's inevitable.

WATT: In the race for a therapeutic to treat this, today, we heard human trials will begin in New York of one of the drugs developed with the blood from people who've recovered from COVID-19.

DR. DAN SKOVRONSKY CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER, ELI LILLY AND COMPANY: It's important to have a few different antibodies to test. So this is the first. We have a few more behind it that will all be entering clinical trials really in the coming weeks.

WATT: When it comes to a vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci didn't like one developer, Moderna, putting out a positive press release he calls premature.

"What we would have preferred to do, quite frankly, is to wait until we had the data from the entire phase one," Fauci told STAT News. Fauci says the White House task force is meeting less often. He's meeting with the president less often.


WATT: And, in fact, Dr. Fauci, who is arguably the most visible member of that White House Coronavirus Task Force, says he last spoke to the president two weeks ago now.

Now, remember, on Friday, when President Trump announced he was cutting all ties with the World Health Organization, well, WHO leadership has now reacted. They said they first heard about the move in the media.

And, Jake, they are urging the president in the middle of this pandemic to reconsider his decision -- back to you.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Watt, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up: the powerful moments of peaceful protest. We're going to show them to you and discuss them with Jemele Hill. That's next.

Plus, protests are continuing to build across the country, as more curfews go into place.

Stay with us.






TAPPER: Protesters singing "Lean on Me."

We have seen mayhem and violence in the last week in the United States, but we have also seen the best of us. We have seen peaceful demonstrations. We have seen moments of grace.

There's a spontaneous moment in song right outside the White House last night. In Denver, protesters laid face down for nine minutes, chanting, "I can't breathe," the same amount of time George Floyd was face down with a knee in his neck, another moment of peaceful protest.

In San Diego, a crowd cheered as a protester and police officers shared a fist bump and then a hug.

I want to bring in Jemele Hill, who writes for "The Atlantic" magazine.

Jemele, these protests, yes, there are some ugly scenes of violence, but there are also opportunities for grace and for change. Obviously, some of the more violent elements take away from what could be a real movement here. [16:55:00]

JEMELE HILL, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, I think those moments only take away from it if you allow those moments to have more power than they're worth.

I mean, there have been plenty of reports that have suggested that a lot of those more violent moments are not coming from the people who went there with the intent of being heard, of making people understand the gravity of this problem in America, which, coming from that place, that authentic, original place, leads to some of those videos and moments that you just saw.

They're not coming there looking for violence. They're coming there because they feel ignored. They're frustrated, and they're angry. But I think we have seen enough demonstrations through social media, through general video being shown on your network to know that it is a small percentage of people who have come there with the intention of disrupting and not disrupting in a constructive way.

TAPPER: And, in fact, we have seen protesters protecting police.

And then, in Philadelphia, my hometown, we saw people standing guard in front of a store to prevent rioters and looters from getting inside. Watch what happened in New York City when rioters tried to tag a Target store with spray paint. You see the rioters that they're trying to make sure that -- I'm sorry -- the protesters making sure that the rioters can't get in.

They're protecting a Target. This seems really remarkable to me, the idea that you have some of the protesters making sure that they are delineating, differentiating themselves from the people that are there to cause violence and vandalism.

HILL: And I'm sure there just has been enough history and evidence that they have seen, as we have seen similar unrest and rebellions that have occurred after major national tragedies, you have seen that the method becomes what people want to talk about vs. the message.

And people who have asked me in recent days about what I think about the rebellion and the unrest and what we have seen is that what I think is what Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently said, is that rioting is the language of the unheard.

And we have seen people who have done this peacefully. We have seen them do it in a fashion that's more direct, like we're saying now. And in both cases, the method always becomes the distraction. So, I implore to people right now, if you're caught up on looting, if you're caught up on some of the underbelly of the -- what I think to be the -- represent the minor parts of what's happening in the country across the nation, then that means you just don't want to hear the message.

And there's a lot of people who, frankly, come from that position and I'm more concerned about property and other things than they are about why people are so frustrated and why they're feeling dejected and rejected by their own law enforcement systems. TAPPER: I also want to ask you about the NFL's response to George

Floyd's death. They issued a statement about it and about the protests.

You blasted them. You wrote, in part: "These tragedies inform" -- I'm sorry -- the NFL wrote: "These tragedies inform the NFL's commitment and our ongoing efforts. There remains an urgent need for action."

But, obviously, those words ring a little hollow to you.

HILL: Yes, I thought the NFL statement was, frankly, disgusting, because we saw, all of us witnessed them take away Colin Kaepernick's career for protesting peacefully over the types of incidents that we have seen lately, from Ahmaud Arbery to Breonna Taylor to now George Floyd.

That's what he was protesting about. He made that clear from the beginning. And the NFL did everything in its power to blackball him, to diminish him, and to erase him. The only reason that the NFL even cares about social justice issues is because of Colin Kaepernick.

So for them to put out this statement is, frankly, a slap in the face, and it just kind of brings into -- brings to light just the utter hypocrisy of this league, to you can't be fighting for social justice allegedly on one end, but then at the other end be willing to take a man's career for speaking out against people who've been brutalized.

TAPPER: And, in fact, in the quick time we have left, we saw a lot of politicians today talking about how they have no problem with peaceful protest. And many of these politicians were bashing Kaepernick just a couple years ago for his peaceful protests.

HILL: So, it's the same hypocrisy, Jake.

It's that, as I said, there's a lot of people who want to get caught up on method up. You protest peacefully, and they want to say it's not the time or it's not the venue or it's not the place. Then they see some of the disturbance and the unrest that we have seen over the last couple of days, and now that's not the time and that's not the place.

So, when is the place? Because that's never the answer that they have for you. They can never answer that question. When's the time, where's the place? And we will all show up and we will protest and the manner in which apparently would be more appetizing for you to take this issue seriously.

TAPPER: Jemele Hill, always great to have you on. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.