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Family of Javier Ambler Pleads for Justice; Joint Chiefs Chairman Apologizes; Aired 9:30-10a

Aired June 11, 2020 - 09:30   ET



BRE GAMBLE, MOTHER OF JAVIER AMBLER'S SONS: And we need solidarity. What's hard about that?


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you heard her plea there. This was Javier's plea. And a warning, this video is, frankly, disturbing.


JAVIER AMBLER: Sir, I can't breathe.

OFFICER: Flat on your stomach.

AMBLER: I can't breathe.

OFFICER: Flat on your stomach.

Flat on your stomach.


SCIUTTO: I can't breathe. Of course not the first time we've heard those words. George Floyd, Eric Garner, now Mr. Ambler. Tragically identical to the other times we've heard this. Ambler was unresponsive shortly after that. His son is now struggling to deal with life without his father.


DEAVION GAMBLE, JAVIER AMBLER'S SON: It was hard. (INAUDIBLE). It (INAUDIBLE) -- it was hard to graduate. It took (INAUDIBLE) school.


D. GAMBLE: And I -- and I can't -- now he can't see me in my cap and gown, right? He can't see me -- I can't -- you know --

B. GAMBLE: This is the type of pain that they cause when they do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: Joining us now is the mayor of Austin, Steve Adler.

Mayor, we appreciate you taking the time here.

And I want to be clear that this chase of Mr. Ambler began outside of the Austin city limits in neighboring Williamson County, Williamson County Sheriffs involved here ended within, as I understand it, the city limits of Austin.

But given your position there and your attention to this issue, tell us your reaction as you see his treatment there and particularly note why police were chasing him in the first place and that's simply because he didn't dim his headlights when he passed police.

MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D), AUSTIN, TEXAS: You know, it's eerily familiar and outrageous. I don't know a lot about it because it involved the Williamson County deputies and not Austin's police department.

But from what we all see, this is a -- this is a man who died because he didn't dim his headlights. And that's not a crime that should have a death penalty. That fact alone is as disturbing as the videos. And what's more disturbing is it's not unique. And that's why really what feels like systemic killing of black Americans has to stop.

SCIUTTO: Systemic. You know, you've heard that word used about racism among police and disputed, right? I mean you've heard the attorney general deny there is systemic racism among police forces.

Do you disagree?

ADLER: Absolutely. There's institutional racism in everything that's happening because of a -- of a 400 year history.

You know, people get caught up in that word and it's unfortunate because it -- it then obscures the action that needs to be taken. You know, the fact that there's a ten-year differential in life expectancy if you're in a -- in an Anglo community versus an African-American community. What we're seeing here with the Covid virus, where the chances of dying are much higher among black Austinites, going into the hospital much greater among Hispanic Austinites.

The systemic racism is not unite to police. It's in access to capital and housing and education and health care delivery. And that doesn't mean that everybody involved in each of those systems are racists, but what it does recognizes is that everybody is not starting with the same advantages and certain people and certain classes of people have burdens to overcome.


Now, the body cam footage we showed earlier of Mr. Ambler's death, that actually came from Austin police department officers because they arrived at the scene as the Williamson deputies were struggling with him here.

I know that the Travis County district attorney, which encompasses Austin, has been looking into this but has said that the sheriff's department has not cooperated.

Where does the investigation stand and is there still a possibility that the officers will be charged?

ADLER: You know, I don't know that because I'm not -- the district attorney's a separate, elected official. The Austin Police Department arrived on the scene late. We have made public and turned over the body cam footage that we had.

I don't know. I hear now my district attorney and the sheriff in Williamson County pointing fingers at one another. It needs to be investigated. There needs to be accountability for this. This kind of thing just should not happen.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I do want to ask you, you raised coronavirus outbreak. "The Dallas Morning News" reports that hospitalizations across Texas have hit new record highs now three days in a row. This after Texas, of course, like many other states, reopening.


And, to some degree, more so than other states.

Did Texas reopen too early and are you concerned about the consequences of that?

ADLER: I am real concerned about the consequences. We had a huge spike in hospitalizations in our city yesterday. Our number of new cases are going up more rapidly than our testing going up. I'm real concerned. And with the -- with the Memorial Day holiday, and then with folks gathering in close proximity in the demonstrations, I'm real concerned about what I'm seeing. And we have a community that is acting in real significant measures as if this was over, and it's not.

We're not getting, I think, the messaging we need from the state that this is still real serious, that people have to social distance, they have to wear their masks. And it's I think kind of put us in a -- in a real horrible place here in the next couple of weeks when it's going to be necessary for us to pull back or do something different from this opening of the economy and that's going to be horrible.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and maybe even hard to do.

Mayor Steve Adler, of Austin, thanks so much for joining the show this morning.

ADLER: Jim, thank you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, important warning from him for sure.

OK, up next, this is a big surprise. Airbnb is seeing a huge uptick in travel in the middle of this pandemic. We asked the CEO, Brian Chesky, why, next.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

Well, this morning, a new model shows U.S. coronavirus deaths may reach 170,000 by October. Overnight, the number of confirmed cases in this country topped 2 million. And this comes as at least a dozen states have seen spikes in their hospitalizations for Covid since Memorial Day.

What's really interesting is that despite all of this, Airbnb is seeing a surprise surge in travel. Listen to this from Airbnb cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky.


HARLOW: Are people traveling again?

BRIAN CHESKY, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, AIRBNB: They are, especially in the United States. You know, a couple months ago, travel really did come to a global standstill. I have never seen anything like it in the 12 years since we started Airbnb. We started Airbnb in the global recession. And though we were really small, I know enough to say this was so much worse than 2008. And it wasn't clear when people would travel again.

And to our surprise, over the last month, people collectively across the United States have really collectively said that they're feeling stuck in their house and they want to get out. And the evidence of that is that between May 17th and June 6th, a three-week period, we had as many people use Airbnb as that period of time one year ago. So, clearly, people want to travel again.

And we don't think this means there's a travel recovery because this could be pent-up demand. But we do think this says that people do want to travel for sure.

HARLOW: So -- OK. So a few weeks ago, like three weeks ago, you used the words "potential economic depression" about the state of the U.S. economy.


HARLOW: Do you still feel like that?

CHESKY: I mean, I certainly I want to qualify by saying, I'm not an economist, obviously. But it does suggest to me -- well, I can speak for travel. I'll speak for travel. Travel is one of the largest industries in the world. It's a multitrillion dollar industry. Travel is resilient. I think the travel industry and people's desire to travel is more resilient than any of us thought even just four or five weeks ago.

That may be true of the broader economy. One of the new pieces of news we have is that we are now partnering with local governments and destination marketing organizations to promote destinations that want more travel. So, for example, we just did a partnership with the National Parks Foundation. There are over 400 national parks in the United States.

Most Americans live within a couple hundred miles of a national park and yet most people have not yet visited a national park. We are seeing signs that will be a lot of interest for national parks this summer and so we're going to work with the national parks to promote very popular parks on Airbnb's and Airbnb's around them.

HARLOW: So, a, do you have concerns that as people travel more and use your platform to travel more, they could be getting sick and they could be making other people sick? Do you think about that? And, b, how do I know the Airbnb I'm renting is as clean as a hotel room would be, right? Uniform safety in terms of sanitizing these homes.

CHESKY: Yes, I mean, our number one priority is health and safety. We feel like there's a certain amount of travel that's responsible and we're comfortable promoting that. But we want to make sure that we're responsible in helping take precautions.

Now, as far as making sure that the stays are clean, we just announced a partnership with a former surgeon general of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy. And what we developed was an enhanced cleaning protocol. What it really means is that we're working with our hosts, we have millions of hosts, and we're providing education resources for them to learn about the proper cleaning protocols on Airbnb.

HARLOW: A few weeks ago it was off the table it sounded like from you that Airbnb would go public this year.


HARLOW: But now it doesn't sound like it's off the table. Will Airbnb IPO this year?

CHESKY: It's not off the table, but we're definitely not committing to anything right now. So we're going to keep our options open.

HARLOW: It's really, I think, important for us to spend some time talking about what has happened in this country in the last three weeks since the killing of George Floyd. Darren Walker, who's the president of the Ford Foundation, told "The New York Times," quote, corporate America has failed black America.


Do you think he's right?

CHESKY: I know Darren and I have an immense amount of respect for him. And I think that -- I think that what is happening right now is I think many of us are realizing we could have done so much more. Companies have significantly more responsibility than businesses. I think that too many companies, too many of us have been not outspoken enough on this issue. And not just that there's been silence, but there's not been enough actions. I think the time for boldness is now and it's got to be -- we've got to take significantly more actions.

HARLOW: Yes. CHESKY: It's important that we look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves, are we part of the problem or are we part of the solution?

HARLOW: Three and a half percent of your workforce as of 2018 was African-American, the most recent numbers available. And you have one black board member right now. I put those numbers out there to ask you about this. You know Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian stepped down from his board position and said, you need to replace me with a black person, and they have done that. He said, I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now.

Is Airbnb considering that move, replacing some white members, whether it be on the board or leadership, with African-Americans, or adding to the board or leadership?

CHESKY: So I'll say two things. The first thing I want to say is, the person who joined the board of Reddit is a person named Michael Siebel.


CHESKY: Michael Siebel was my first mentor. Had it not been for Michael Siebel, I'm not sure Airbnb would be here today. Michael Siebel brought us into Silicon Valley, brought me into Silicon Valley, along my co-founder Joe, and showed us the ropes and got us into Wycomidator (ph). And I have immense gratitude for Michael. So I just wanted to first say that about him.

The second thing is I think we have more -- we have more room to add board seats on our board. You pointed out we have Ken Chenault, he's the former CEO of (INAUDIBLE). He's been another mentor like Michael was to me many years. Ken is to me today. And I would love to add more board members of color to Airbnb, absolutely.

HARLOW: So that sounds like that's going to happen?

CHESKY: I mean, it -- I would love to. We have three women on the board. We have Ken Chenault. We would love to increase -- further increase the diversity of our board. You know, we're kind of playing by ear how big we want our board to be and how frequent -- how quickly we want to add members.

But, absolutely, we'd like it to be even more diverse and get more perspectives.

HARLOW: And what about in top leadership, because when you look at your whole senior leadership team, you have a lot of women, but you have one black member, a black woman. Does that need to change as well?


HARLOW: Because, Brian, you look at a lot of Silicon Valley and, frankly, some of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley have no African-Americans in leadership. CHESKY: It's a big, big problem in Silicon Valley and, you know,

again, we are not nearly where we need to be. I would love for us to, at some point, not just have -- I would love -- the basic principle we have is that the demographics of a company should map to the demographics in society, especially where you operate. And we are not yet even a mirror of the demographics of society, let alone even more diverse than that at the most senior levels. And I think that is something that we not only -- not only have aspiration to be, but I think it's an imperative to get there.


SCIUTTO: We have this breaking news just in to CNN.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military adviser to the president, making a very public break with the president on that photo, now iconic photo, of the president marching to the church across from Lafayette Square, across from the White House, with General Milley there in his combat fatigues. He has said in an address, I should not have been there.

Our Barbara Starr has been following these developments now.

Barbara Starr, this is yet one more very public disagreement between the president and senior military leaders. The president has not apologized at all. In fact, he thinks he did the very right thing walking across there surrounded by military leaders. Tell us about the significance and what General Milley has said beyond that.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's important, first, I think, for all of our viewers, Jim, to understand what has happened here at the Pentagon this morning. Reporters had received an advanced embargoed copy of what General Milley was going to say in a prerecorded video. CNN was fully in accordance with that embargo and did not break that embargo.

A short time ago, "The New York Times" published General Milley's -- essentially his comments that he was saying that he should not have been in that photo. And now that "The New York Times" has published it, we want to bring the same information, of course, to our viewers.

It is all about this photo. General Milley is to say in this prerecorded video to air in a little while to military students, let me quote from it.


He says, as many of you -- as many of you saw, the results of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week, that sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society. I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned uniform officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we can all learn from it.

Very important to say, Milley was only seen in the walk crossing Lafayette Park. He did not appear in the photo op once the president got to St. John's Episcopal Church and held up a Bible. Defense Secretary Mark Esper was pulled into that photo op and he, too, has noted publicly that he tries very hard to stay out of these types of political events.

For General Milley to issue this statement, with the sensitivity surrounding the embargo, is extremely significant. He's the top military adviser. He is a symbol to the world of the non-partisan profile of the United States military.

He has been very concerned, we know for a fact, about the criticism over the last several days. He has taken it quite to heart and feels very strongly that he wanted to make this statement. So what we have this morning is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs saying, I shouldn't have been there.

I should not have been there. It raises questions about civil military relationships that the military does not want to be part of. The military, very sensitive to the president, threatening to invoke putting active duty troops on the streets. General Milley and Secretary Esper had been against the move at the time. They said it wasn't necessary. That the National Guard could handle it.

The fundamental question was and remains that that entire operation took on military overtones. General Milley wanting to say to the world today, he shouldn't have been part of that.


SCIUTTO: By my count, Barbara, and I think this is notable here, this is one of three now very public disagreements between the sitting U.S. president, commander in chief, and senior military officials.

One, General Milley on what we could call the walk to the church, now also on renaming U.S. military bases named for confederate generals, but also the deployment of active U.S. military to respond to the protests, which, of course, the Department of Defense -- the secretary of defense, rather, Mark Esper, publicly disagreed with the president. That's a significant rift, is it not?

STARR: Well, I think where we are at the Pentagon right now is you have a defense secretary and a chairman of the Joint Chiefs who appear very much at this point to be determined to speak their mind, to be respectful of the role of the commander in chief, but to speak their mind.

Now, on the question of renaming those bases named after confederate generals, that the president says he's not even willing to talk about. Esper, Milley and Ryan McCarthy, the civilian political appointee, Army secretary, had all, until late yesterday, until the president spoke out against it, been pursuing the notion that there should be a bipartisan national conversation on how, if, when to rename these bases.

I think underlying all of this, you can come up with a lot of examples where the Defense Department, the Joint Chiefs are moving in advance of the president on the question of racial equality and racial inclusion.

All of the joint chiefs have now issued messages, social media messages to the troops that the U.S. military will not tolerate racial inequality and the Joint Chiefs are very fine-tuned to American politics. They know when they issue these messages to the troops, they know these racial messages against inequality are seen around the world. They know there is a much wider audience.

General Robert Abrams, who commands all U.S. troops in South Korea, held a -- a FaceBook town hall, out of uniform, civilian clothes, with his black service members to hear their concerns.


STARR: In many places, the U.S. military moving very far ahead of the president, who factually has remained silent on all of this.

SCIUTTO: Conscious, of course, as you know, that many members of the service, men and women, are African-Americans. But, Barbara Starr, thanks so much for following this. We're going to stay on top of it. We're going to have much more on these developments in just a moment.



SCIUTTO: A notable shift for Nascar as it bans confederate flags from all its events and venues after the sport's only full-time African- American driver, Bubba Wallace, he called for change. And last night the 26-year-old Wallace raced in a car with the words, you see them there, Black Lives Matter, written across it. He's been outspoken about equality in the wake of George Floyd's death. Wallace learned after last night's race that Nascar had granted his wish to make the sport more inclusive.


BUBBA WALLACE, NASCAR DRIVER: Sorry. Bravo. Props to Nascar and everybody involved. You know.


HARLOW: Good for him.

Nascar released a statement saying, in part, quote, the presence of the confederate flag at Nascar events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry, bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special.