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CNN NEWSROOM

Dan Abrams, former host of "Live P.D." Discusses Show's Cancellation; Actor Sean Penn Discusses CORE's Mission to Bring Free Coronavirus Testing to New York State; Tulsa Police Handcuff Black Teens for Jaywalking; Tulsa Police Mayor: We shoot Blacks Less Than We Ought To; Interview with Pleas Thompson, President, Tulsa NAACP chapter. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 11, 2020 - 13:30   ET

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


[13:30:00]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And to recontinue the conversation, dan, last night, you tweeted about the cancelation about the show. And you said, "please now, I, we did everything we could to fight for you and for our continuing effort of transparency in policing. I was convinced the show would go on."

You saw some of the response to that. There was backlash from Ice Cube who wrote back, "A&E stepped up for the dignity of black people today and not perpetuating an on-the-hunt mentality and atmosphere in future law enforcement. America's love affair with jail and prison shows must stop."

I wonder what your reaction is to that.

DAN ABRAMS, FORMER HOST, "LIVE P.D." So, the vast majority of people who responded, responded positively to me agreeing with what I said.

I fear sometimes that people who criticize the show didn't watch it. Because very rarely was there specific criticism of things that happened on the show.

I understand that people want to sort of generalize about genres, et cetera. But that's why I thought it was important to explain to you the difference between a show like "Cops" and a show like "Live P.D." because live "Live P.D." at times doesn't portray police officers in the most positive light.

You can see shows where people say, I can't believe that officer did that. Why did that officer say this, et cetera. That's important.

We're in a society where we're talking about how important it is for accountability. And yet now, we are saying we want to shut down the cameras coming to "Live P.D."

So my perspective is different. But that doesn't mean you can't, at the same time, support the protester, support the protests, support the cause of what they're trying to do enacting change.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about something that "Tulsa World" did in an investigation earlier this year. Spoke to people who had not committed crimes but were featured on "Live P.D." And a woman said that the attention caused her great embarrassment.

What do you say to innocent people who have had their lives turned upside down by being on the show?

ABRAMS: Look, I think that's what happens in the news business in general. "Live P.D." isn't a news show but there are many people who are covered--

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: It is not a news show. It is an entertainment program.

ABRAMS: It may be, but the reasoning is still the same, which is people are sometimes brought into situations that they don't want to be involved in because of certain things that happen.

Meaning, when the police arrest someone -- for example, let's talk about a trial --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: These are people who are not arrested. These are people who are innocent.

ABRAMS: Yes. Again, there are people arrested who are innocent to be very clear.

Just because, again, someone I understand may not be happy there were I should say a number of procedures in place to protect people's privacy. The reason we had a delay on the show was to ensure we didn't release Social Security numbers, false allegations by a person against someone else, kids in the shots, et cetera.

Great lengths were went to -- that they went to, to try to protect the privacy of individuals.

There were certain people who were on public streets who were questioned, pulled over, whatever the case may be by the police. Again, I know you don't like the comparison but, in the news business, when you are on the street, on a public street, they can film you there. And that's the same thing that would happen with us.

But --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Dan, you know the news business. That is not the news business.

ABRAMS: Wait a minute. It is not the news business that we end up filming on street --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: You're telling me live TV is a news show?

ABRAMS: No. I'm telling you, if there's a news element to "Live P.D.," absolutely. It does not apply the same standards that a news show does but there's a lot of news elements.

The people in the control room who worked at "Live P.D." with news backgrounds, the shooters. This is a documentary-style show.

And I think it's unfairly dismissive to simply say it's an entertainment show because this is real life. These are police officers and real people involved. And we took all of that incredibly seriously.

KEILAR: I guess I just want to ask you now that you have -- look, what we have seen in the last two weeks, and a benefit of hindsight and know that the show emits key things, it doesn't show the whole picture.

If it's a -- I can't imagine a documentary at all that doesn't show when people are killed at the hands of police.

And I know you're saying that -

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: I know you say that's an A&E - or even the lead up because you know there's ways to communicate the truth of without what happens without showing it, but even the lead up to it.

But you seem to rely on an A&E policy and hanging your hat on that. And I just wonder with the benefit of hindsight what you think.

ABRAMS: It's horrible to have policies but that's the way you try to keep a show like this within certain parameters. There was a policy. Not to show fatalities on the air.

[13:35:02]

Again, I just told you that I think, in retrospect. we should have shown that. But this idea of a documentary would be totally different, a documentary every day they show certain portions, clip it and put it together. We do that far less.

We are riding along with them at times and not live when this happened. We weren't on the air when this happened. We didn't decide while we were on the air not to go to this.

Again, I think even on tape it would have been better now in retrospect to have shown the events leading up to it.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: But that is not a fair, in my view, an indictment on the whole of "Live P.D."

KEILAR: In making the mistake as you admit certain things should have been shown that weren't, does it make sense to you that "Live P.D." an adjudicated to not be something on TV because it made mistakes?

ABRAMS: Well, no. Again, I don't think that "Live P.D." is not on the air because of that incident. "Live P.D." not on the air, in my view, because there's a massive movement in this country, which includes for many people eliminating any programming involving police.

I think when it comes to "Live P.D.," that's a mistake. I think that we were preparing to have discussions about ways we could incorporate some of this recent activity, positive activity, positive change that's going on in the world, into the show.

KEILAR: You don't think the Javier Ambler case had anything to do with why "Live P.D." was canceled?

ABRAMS: I do. I do. But you said it was the reason it was canceled. I'm saying I don't think it was. I'm saying I think it was a piece. I think it was one piece.

And actually, I think, of all the reasons, that's not the right one. You know, if you want to create reasons not to like "Live P.D.," it seems to me that shouldn't be the one. Because if we had aired it at the time, we would have gotten criticism. I think we should have. But we would have been criticized for showing that event at the time.

I understand the concern about the retention of tape policy. Right? I get that. It's a hard thing to convince people of that actually it came from a good place of trying to avoid being an arm of law enforcement.

And I also get that, in retrospect, a year later we should have kept it. But none of that to me goes to the fundamentals of what "Live P.D." is about.

KEILAR: Have you seen, Dan, the family's reaction to the death of their son and wishing that this video had been out?

ABRAMS: I have. I have. It's a first thing I mentioned in the piece I wrote about this, was how heartbroken I was watching the family of Javier Ambler. And that I wish I, we, could do something to help them. And we don't have it.

But let's also remember, there's this body cam footage. This is not a situation where we don't know what happened. Where we can't see what happened. That's not to say, oh, therefore. you guys are totally off the hook. No. But there's body cam footage.

And the -- I wish that people were focusing more on the investigators in this case saying, wait a second, why didn't you ask "Live P.D." to hold the video. Why didn't you demand the video? Why didn't you use it as part of the investigation?

Those are the questions I think are the first round of questions. And then the second round of questions of "Live P.D."

But I'm amazed that's not the focus of the attention here opposed to on a program that promotes transparency in policing. KEILAR: That doesn't show the whole story. I want to be clear about

that, Dan. You leave stuff out.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: What does that mean, you leave stuff out? What does that mean?

KEILAR: You leave -- by your own admission, there are things that are not shown and communicating on the program.

ABRAMS: Right. Because we follow eight departments at once. And there's no way to do all of that at one time in a three-hour show. That is true. This event also didn't happen --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: The reason, Dan?

ABRAMS: What do you mean, the reason. Think about that. So when someone says, when there are three press conferences in the news event and someone says, how did you not play all three news events. And you say, well, we had to make a choice between the events. I know you don't like the comparison to news but that's a reality.

KEILAR: It is not a matter of liking. It is a matter of apples to oranges.

[13:40:00]

But to be honest, I guess, Dan, listening to you. I hear a legalistic argument which I guess I don't find particularly surprising. But we're talking about the death of someone and the video of someone. And, yes, I hear you saying there's other video of it.

Well, there are potentially other incidents not body cam video of something. And when "Live P.D." given entertainment value to go along with police officers, it just gives the sense of kind of hiding behind policies and washing your hands and not having sort of a social responsibility --

ABRAMS: Yes.

KEILAR: -- when your - I mean, you're sort of utilizing the people who are in -- right? You're using the stories of the people who are in these videos and I hear you saying it's transparency. I don't know that it's social responsibility.

ABRAMS: Then I think you are not listening to what I'm saying because, again --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Oh, I'm hearing you loud and clear, Dan Abrams.

ABRAMS: Let me say it again to make sure you hear me. So when we're talking about transparency for police, talking about the

reason you want body cams, the reason so many advocates are rightfully calling for body cams to be more uniformly used, process to be more uniform, et cetera, what we are saying is that we want to be able to see more of how police do what they do.

Your position is that, if you can't show everything, it's not worth showing. And I would just disagree with that as a concept. And again, I think that you are underestimating how much time and effort every show went into standards and practices associated with that program, same way that they do in the news program.

KEILAR: All right. Dan Abrams, we will have to leave it there. Thank you for coming on.

ABRAMS: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Right now, coronavirus cases are on the rise and so are the number of hospitalizations in at least a dozen states. As the nation gears up for a possible second wave of coronavirus, testing remains critical but many communities are struggling to provide the tests.

And Actor Sean Penn's organization, CORE, is teaming up with state and city governments to bring free testing to areas in need. His latest partnership is with New York State.

And Sean Penn is here now to talk about this.

Sean, thank you so much for coming on to highlight the work you're doing.

And if you can just tell me what kind of impact the surge has been having on your testing sides.

SEAN PENN, ACTOR & FOUNDER, CORE: First, thank you for having me. You do your job very well. Great to see you challenge that used car salesman selling everything and saying nothing about what's going on in the country right now.

So the test sites we started with CORE, on the test sites in Los Angeles, under the direction of Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti, that model was one we were able to move out throughout the country.

All of the people that work for CORE throughout the country are people from those communities who we trained and get -- try to make partnerships with governance and community groups and the case in New York.

Also we're, we're very, very lucky to be working with Governor Cuomo.

KEILAR: And I wonder as you are looking at what we have all been watching, right, some people have been marching here the last two weeks, thousands of Americans taking to the streets to protest racism, do you worry as you work on a coronavirus initiative that you're going to see more outbreaks because of people being so close together? PENN: The scientists are worried. And I'm prone to align with them.

The protesters themselves are that which protects our democracy so we owe them to protect them, as well.

So we are beginning a pilot program tomorrow, the 12th, in Washington, D.C., in coordination with the mayor's office as well as the movement for Black Lives and curative labs. That's an exceptional partner in the condition and doing protested testing.

And then again, looking at the dates here, 19 through 21 June, also in D.C. and hope to see a return on that in the sense that protesters participate, participate at six-feet distance in the lines with masks. And that we are able to offer them the assistance that they're offering the greater republic.

KEILAR: Last night, the vice president tweeted and then he actually deleted, it was a photo that shows a large group of Trump campaign staff not wearing face masks, certainly not social distancing, the opposite of what Pence's own coronavirus task force recommends.

[13:45:05]

I wonder what your reaction is when the person in charge of this showing behavior that isn't modeling his recommendations.

PENN: I think we should see by now that we're not going to get the lead from leadership. But we saw when the vice president came to the Mayo Clinic, for example, that he walked in without a mask.

In a relative sense, it's the same dynamic that happened with these passive police officers who allowed the horrible crime to take place. They have a moral and professional duty to stop it. The same thing that the clinic failed allowing Vice President Pence in.

This is time for citizens to take the lead. And, unfortunately, and particularly, citizens of color are taking that lead. Ad we are looking to support, assist, coordinate with them in every way that is represented by peaceful protest and scientific fact-based testing and support.

KEILAR: The task force for the coronavirus, the White House Task Force, is expected to be meeting later today, going to meet behind closed doors. We have heard less from the nation's top health officials, Dr. Anthony

Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, here in recent weeks.

And I wonder what impact you think that may have on the country as you say you want to align yourself with scientific opinion.

PENN: The first thing I would say is that any of us who are responsible are listening carefully enough that we do hear Dr. Fauci. He is on the record. He is working where the daylight between he and the leadership is something that I defer to his navigation of. But he's been a seminal lead in this.

I can also say, must say, that, like with any of these things -- and this won't be a popular comment for many people whom I otherwise agree with on many things, great people working in that task force and don't agree with the reluctance to speak out, but I do know that I can say that, within that task force, we have had assistance. The Navajo nation, 30,000 additional kits per month.

The leadership at large has to be the people. And we've got to take the value from those who are offering it in the way they can with their expertise from any office in this country,

And I applaud Dr. Fauci. And I think that, you know, I would just say that for anyone who has not heard his voice lately or heard it enough, he's on the record. And we're going to stay the course on the lane that he set.

KEILAR: Sean Penn, thank you so much. And thanks for coming on to tell us about the work you're doing.

PENN: Thank you very much.

Can I just do a quick shout out also to --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Actually, I have a shout out for you right here. If you would like to know more about what CORE is doing, go to the Web site on the screen, coreresponse.org/covid-19.

That's right, isn't it, Sean?

PENN: That's correct. And also check out World Central Kitchen. They feed the frontline staffers, protesters and elderly, all over the country. These partnerships are what make things work.

KEILAR: Thank you. We really appreciate you coming on.

PENN: Appreciate you. Thank you.

KEILAR: The president holding his first rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa, the site of the 1920's massacre of black Americans. The local NAACP will join me live to respond.

Plus, speaking of Tulsa, a police major under fire for saying that they shoot black Americans less than they ought to.

[13:49:47]

And a white NASCAR driver says he is quitting after the sport banned Confederate flags and symbols at races.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:53:44]

KEILAR: Two Tulsa, Oklahoma police officers are under investigation for their conduct while handcuffing two black teenagers for jaywalking. The officers' body came video captured the encounter. It was publicly

released following community uproar. It shows the young men walking during the middle of the street before, during and after officers approaches.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just chill out.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you guys doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing? Why you trying to choke his neck?

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Nobody's choking him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just chill out.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chill out, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why you putting your hands on him? Why you arresting him? Why you putting handcuffs on him?

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Because.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you putting handcuffs on my --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang on, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: All he was doing is jaywalking and we just want to talk to him and he wanted to act a fool like that.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: I appreciate you being cool, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just trying to tell you he has nothing on him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: The teen struggling with the officer was arrested. Tulsa police say the internal affairs unit is investigating this.

This, as another officer on the police force is under investigation for saying police are not killing enough black people. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

All of our research shows we're shooting African Americans about 24 percent less than we ought to be based on crimes being committed. Research is sound. That nobody's watching it ppt they're just looking at memes and losing their minds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And the teen seen there struggling with officer was arrested. Tulsa police say the department's internal affairs unit is investigation.

This, as another officer on the Tulsa police force, a police major, is under investigation for saying police are not killing enough black people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[13:55:03]

MAJ. TRAVIS YATES, TULSA POLICE DEPARTMENT (voice-over): All of their research says we are shooting African Americans about 24 percent less than we probably ought to be based on the crimes being committed. So, there is - this is Travis talking. The research is sound, but nobody is watching it. They're just looking at memes and losing their minds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Major Yates also defended there is systemic racism within the police force. He defended those remarks to CNN, Tulsa affiliate, KTUL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YATES: I'm not going to apologize because what I said was accurate based on the data. I cited the data. And said it's not me, it's the data.

I know we live in an era where everybody's apologizing but, quite frankly, my apology is not going to make anything go away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Pleas Thompson, president of the Tulsa chapter of the NAACP, joins me.

A black lieutenant on the Tulsa police force said that Major Yates, quote, "Meant what he said" on the radio show and suggested he was trying to appease a certain audience, specifically law enforcement."

What is your reaction to this and what the lieutenant said about him playing to an audience?

PLEAS THOMPSON, PRESIDENT, TULSA CHAPTER, NAACP: Are you talking to me?

KEILAR: Yes, I am, sir.

THOMPSON: Well, I think it's just further -- you know, people actually going on Sirius and police officers keep doing the same thing over and over and over.

There's absolutely no reason to stop two young blacks and say they were jaywalking. Especially the climate today with the recent killing of George Floyd.

And it seems to me police officers should be more sensitive about what's going on, especially that they're being filmed in everything they're doing.

KEILAR: And so that police major, who is essentially saying, if you look at statistics and crimes committed, actually, he's saying they are shooting black folks less than they should be based on statistics. And he doesn't understand why it is a problem that he said that.

What's your reaction to that?

THOMPSON: Once again, it just goes to show the ignorance of the particular officer. The whole idea of police officers are to serve and protect. And having a quota of how many blacks you can kill or not kill or shoot or not shoot, that's not -- that's not what it's all about.

And he's missing the whole point of the position he's serving in. He's supposed to be serving and protecting, not keeping track of how many people he can shoot.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about something different. Next Friday, on June 19th. The president will hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, in your town. And the date is significant, right, Juneteenth? This is so important when you're talking about slavery, the location, Tulsa.

This has stirred up a lot of emotion reaction because, of course, Tulsa was, of course, the site of the 1924 black Wall Street massacre where hundreds of black people were murdered and the entire town was really wiped out by a racist white mob. One of the worst racial atrocities in the U.S. And the 99th anniversary was just last week on May 31st.

What do you think of the president coming to Tulsa on this important day, this hallowed day?

THOMPSON: Juneteenth is a time when we celebrate the fact that we were free. And we had to cancel this year because of the virus is going on.

And then we had to cancel all the Juneteenth activities and we find out the president is coming to enhance his political campaign. So, most of us in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we're not happy about that. If we have to cancel our activities, how can the president hold a rally during the same period of time?

Personally, I don't think the president's sincere about trying to change the mood of the country going on right now. And I'm certainly am not happy about him coming here, holding a political rally.

KEILAR: Pleas, thank you for joining us. President of the NAACP chapter there in Tulsa. We appreciate it, Pleas Thompson.

[14:00:01]

THOMPSON: All right. Thank you.