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CNN NEWSROOM

Atlanta Hawks Coach, Lloyd Pierce, Discusses Being Black in America; Black Flight Attendant Shares Conversation with White CEO; High-Profile Cases of Black Americans Killed by Police; Several Alabama Football Players Test Positive for Virus; Trump Administration Ends Social Distancing. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 5, 2020 - 13:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Multiple celebrities and high-profile public figures are speaking out of the death of George Floyd and the protests in this country, including several members of professional sports league.

The head coach of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks is one of them. Lloyd Pierce took to Instagram to share his thoughts about being black in America.

He wrote this: "There is an appropriate fear being a black man in America. Feeling safe, protected is not an option for me. To think #justiceforfloyd can easily be #justforlloyd. And it's because we look alike to those who discredit our existence. We are recycling hashtags and protests to no avail."

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Atlanta Hawks' coach, Lloyd Pierce, is joining me now.

Thank you for being here.

LLOYD PIERCE, HEAD COACH, ATLANTA HAWKS: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: When you posted this, you took an up-close photo of yourself for a reason and it was effective. Tell us about this.

PIERCE: The underlying theme that a lot of people may recognize me as the head coach in Atlanta but if you zoom into the picture, you don't get an opportunity to identify who I am. I wanted to share that.

I am still a black man and I have been a coach for two years. But I have been African-American 44 years of my life and I've dealt with injustice and inequalities not only for myself but other African- American men.

I wanted to represent that because I think people are reacting and seeing George Floyd and the incidents that occurred and it's hitting home because we see it camera. We don't see it until it hits home. I wanted to share it in the people of the platform that I can reach. KEILAR: You are hosting a companywide workshop on race right after you

get off the air here. Can you tell us a little bit about this and what you plan to say?

PIERCE: I plan to say that we have a major problem in the United States and that's racial profiling and discrimination and murder of African American men, particularly by our law enforcement. And there's a white issue and it goes into this, acknowledging that we have that problem.

And for our organization, we want to be very transparent of where we stand and the fact that we need to acknowledge this is a real problem in our country.

And you know, Atlanta is the birthplace of civil rights. There's a lot of forefront leaders that come out of this area. And I think we have to be one of those organizations that addresses this and addresses the origins of the problem and keeps the conversations going.

That's what the town hall is about and I am going to speak to the entire organization.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about the NFL recently did, which was passing an expansion of the Rooney's Rule. I think people look at that and think there should be more coaches of color. The majority of NFL and NBA owners are white, the vast majority. What about that and may be if that's part of the problem?

PIERCE: Well, acknowledging that you need to put in a rule to grant access is the problem. We are trying to figure out how to overcome a history of oppression and put in a rule to say we are going to allow two more opportunities or one more opportunity shows the problem still exists.

Yes, we need more black owners. It is the fact that we don't have the same access to those opportunities economically, systemically, and whatever the case may be.

We got to address the real issues and that's where I think some of this is start to come about. We are knowing that and seeing that. That's why people are protesting.

KEILAR: It has been four years since Colin Kaepernick first kneeled during the national anthem protesting against police brutality. He was borrowing a tactic from the military taking a knee. When the NBA resumes, do you expect NBA players may be kneeling during the anthem?

PIERCE: I can't speak for the players. I believe they're going to something. They want to do something and they should do something to keep the conversation alive.

What Kaepernick did was bring the topic of racial profiling and murder of African Americans in our country to the table. And so regardless of what form of protests we take, we have to keep the conversation alive and we have to address it is a real issue. I know our players and coaches, we formed a committee to address this

issue and trying to impact change. We have to keep this conversation alive and not when it is emotional.

KEILAR: Have you thought about what you personally may do in that situation? Do you think it is important for you to kneel? If you could shed light on sort of your internal thoughts on that.

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PIERCE: Well, I am doing it. I am on CNN. We are working at the Coaches' Association. To me, it is not the act. What are we trying to do? We are trying to keep the conversation of a systematic racism and blatant racism, we are trying to keep the conversation going.

The act is not important. It is the action that's really we are called upon. And we all have a platform and the players have a platform, the Coaches' Association has a platform. Our leagues, we all have a platform to where we can impact change and bring people together to address the issue.

That's all we are trying to do. That's all the kneeling and protesting was all about. We want to keep that conversation going.

KEILAR: Well, thanks for keeping it going with us, Lloyd. It is so important to have you on talking about this. Lloyd Pierce.

PIERCE: Thank you.

KEILAR: A reminder that CNN is teaming up with "Sesame Street" for a special to help you talk to your kids about racism, the nationwide protests we're seeing, and how to embrace diversity. You can submit questions on CNN.com/sesamestreet. "COMING TOGETHER, STANDING UP TO RACISM" airs at tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Be sure to watch that.

A black flight attendant has an emotional conversation with a white passenger and only learns who he is at the end of the flight. And, boy, was she surprised. She's joining us live.

Plus, a search is underway for a white cyclist who rages at young teens for holding Black Lives Matter signs. See what happened.

And reporters upset as the White House stopped social distancing at the president's event today.

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KEILAR: You know those interactions between flight attendants and passengers go viral because someone acted poorly. This isn't one of those stories.

JacqueRae Hill, from Dallas, Texas, has been a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines for 14 years. When protests turned violent on the night of May 29, she was overwhelmed. Driving into work, she prayed for hope and understanding and peace.

Some of those prayers were answered after an incredible conversation with a passenger named Doug Parker, who she later learned is the CEO of American Airlines.

JacqueRae Hill joins me now.

JacqueRae, thank you for coming onto talk about this.

Tell us what happened on this flight.

JACQUERAE HILL, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Well, we board like any other flight. I saw all the passengers. And at the end there's a guy that comes on that I know has a book, "White Fragility" by Robin DiAngelo. I made it a mental note that when I finish with my service that I am going to talk to him.

At the end of the flight, I go to the back. He was sitting near the window. And I asked him about the book, so how is the book. He's like, oh, it is great. It tells us that it is our fault. We have to have those conversations.

And he goes -- he keeps on talking and I respond and I just -- all the tears came out because I had to bury that to be a good flight attendant.

I know all the stuff that's going on in the world and I had to bury that to put on a good face to be a flying attendant that day. All that came out.

He was so gracious in the way he dealt with me. Dumping all this stuff on him. I appreciate him for that.

And we talked and it was a great conversation. And then at the end he's like, oh, what's your name, and I go, oh, Jacquerie, I'm sorry, I didn't tell you my name. And he was like, oh, he said, I Doug Parker, the CEO of American Airlines. I'm like, oh, oh, my goodness.

And I reached over and gave him a hug. I told him, I prayed for you this morning. I didn't know what I was praying for but I literally prayed for you this moment and I appreciate you for that.

KEILAR: JacqueRae, I know you are talking about how important that interaction was for you. I think of how important that interaction was for him. If he's trying to seek out information and he's in charge of this giant company, then he must be looking for something too.

HILL: And I think is crazy. The only thing that brought us together is in the sky. It is crazy that in that moment he's doing the same thing that I am doing for him. He does not have to educate himself. He can run by me without having to pay attention to those things and that speaks to who he is and that I am so thankful for it.

KEILAR: How important is it that people in positions of power and authority and who control the employment of so many people are trying to educate themselves and understand what's going on? HILL: It's important. It's important on all sides. It's important for

him because he has to manage people. It's important for me because I have to understand and then grace and forgiveness have to come when people realize, which I'm noticing now, is I have to offer grace and forgiveness because people are just realizing it.

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I thought it was a choice at one point, if you didn't want to see what we've been saying for so long. But people really did not know. And that is something that I have to shift my mind towards and that's what he did for me, too. So it's just so important for all of us to learn from each other.

KEILAR: Certainly is.

JacqueRae, thank you. I can hear your phone.

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KEILAR: It's your friends. They didn't know it was going to be so big. I know you didn't.

Thanks for sharing with us.

HILL: Thank you for everything, just, thank you so much for what you're doing.

KEILAR: Thank you. Thank you, JacqueRae. Thanks.

George Floyd is just the most recent high-profile case of black Americans killed at the hands of police. And right now, we want to remember some of the others.

Shaun Bell was 23 when New York police officers shot him outside of a Queens bar on the night before his wedding in 2006. Three officers are indicted but later cleared on all charges. New York City settles a lawsuit with Bell's family for more than 7$7 million.

Oscar Grant, 22 years old, shot in the back by a bay area transit officer while lying face down on a platform at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland. It happened on New Year's Day in 2009. The officer later receives a two-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter.

In 2014, Eric Garner, who uttered the words, "I can't breathe," is tackled to the ground by a New York City police officer while allegedly selling cigarettes illegally outside of a Staten Island store. A grand jury decides not to indict the officer who used a department-band choke hold. Five years later -- took five years in 2019 -- the NYPD fired the officer.

Michael Brown was just 18 when an encounter with a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, ended up with him fatally shot in August of 2014. The grand jury in this case also decides not to indict the officer. Days later, the officer resigns. And 12-year-old Tamir Rice was playing outside a rec center in 2014

when a Cleveland police officer mistook the child's air gun for a real firearm. The entire incident unfolded within two seconds. The officer fired but cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

And also in 2014, 17-year-old Laquon McDonald is shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer. Dash cam video showed him walking down the street with his hand but strolling away from the officers. The officer who jumped out of his car and shot McDonald is currently serving a six-year sentence for second-degree murder.

In April of 2015, Walter Scott is stopped by police for a broken break light in north Charleston, South Carolina. Cell phone video later shows Scott running from the officer, directly away from him, as the officer shoots him in the back.

The officer is charged with first-degree murder. But his state case ends in a mistrial. And he later pleads guilty to a federal charge of violating Scott's civil rights and is sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Also in April of 2016, Baltimore police arrest 25-year-old Freddie Gray on a weapons charge for having a knife in his pocket. He suffers a severe spinal injury as he's being transported by police. He falls into a coma and later dies. All six officers indicted in the case are eventually cleared.

In 2016, Philando Castile killed during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb. His girlfriend live-streams the aftermath and says he was reaching for his I.D. Following a two-week trial and a day of deliberations, jurors acquit the officer of all charges.

Also, 2016, Alton Sterling is confronted by officers outside a Baton Rouge convenience store. Cell phone video shows him pinned down to the moment that they shot him. Police say they thought he was reaching for a gun. Louisiana's attorney general later says an investigation determines the shooting was justified.

And Breonna Taylor was killed inside her home two months ago. A nurse who had been on the frontlines of COVID. Officers broke down her door in the dead of night as part of a drug sting. And, according to a police warrant, they believed that a man was using her home to traffic drugs.

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Over the course of the raid, Taylor was shot at least eight times, according to a lawsuit by the family. Those officers are currently on administrative leave. And today, June 5th, would have been Breonna Taylor's 27th birthday.

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KEILAR: Several University of Alabama football players have tested positive for coronavirus after arriving on campus. This is according to "Sports Illustrated." The school would not confirm the cases because of privacy concerns. CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is joining me now.

And, Sanjay, tell us, how should the school be handling this?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, if this is true, it's not that surprising, right? I mean, we're now in this process where people are returning to campus. You're testing people. We know the virus is out there. So the idea that people are going to come back and have a positive result is not that surprising.

The second thing is that -- and we hope this is true -- that these players will remain asymptomatic. They are not likely to get that sick.

So those are the two sorts of first pieces of how to look at this.

I think now, what to do about it, is the big question, right, Brianna? I think the players, clearly, who tested positive are needed to be isolated. They need to figure out what kind of contact did they have with these other players.

These were supposed to be physically distanced workouts. What does that mean exactly? What about the few days before they tested positive? Family members, friends, how's that all going to be handled?

Ideally, the players, again, would be isolated. Their close contacts would be quarantined. But how big a concentric circle is that going to be?

We know Coach Saban is taking this seriously. And other coaches have said, look, if we start to see outbreaks or clusters, we're going to have to shut things down.

Are we going to see these stutter starts, Brianna? We don't know. This is one of the first examples we see now of what's happening as people return to campuses.

KEILAR: I want to ask you something that we saw, about something we saw at the White House. Referenced how they were sitting close together. But look at these before-and-after pictures.

Because the White House -- if we can pull those up. Do we have those pictures?

All right, we're trying -- we're putting them up here.

So the White House rearranged the chairs deliberately trying to avoid social distancing. How problematic is this?

GUPTA: I mean, this flies in the face of the CDC guidelines. It flies in the face of the advice given by all of the top officials on the Coronavirus Task Force. I mean, we know that it's impossible to have not done that.

So the pluses, it looks like the majority of people wear masks, they're outside. We know that's a positive. We know that the majority of people, though not everybody, gets tested on a regular basis.

The problem is, why wouldn't you do everything you can to mitigate the exposure as much as possible? I mean, the guidelines are very clear on this.

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We are learning, as we go along. But in situations where it is possible to physically distance, to wear the mask, to be outside, all those things make a difference.