Return to Transcripts main page


America Reckons With Racism As Trump Digs In; U.S. Surpasses 2 Million Cases, Model Projects Steep Rise In Fall; Tulsa Police Officers Arrest Black Teens For Jaywalking. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired June 11, 2020 - 07:00   ET




So this morning, what history should we venerate? What history should we honor? What historical legacies should we change?

America is saying one thing this morning. The president seems to be saying another. So. overnight, a statue of confederate President Jefferson Davis was torn down by protesters in Richmond, Virginia. NASCAR has banned confederate flags from all of its races and venues.

But the president says he won't even think about, won't even discuss renaming army bases that are named after confederate commanders, some of them horrible racists.

Sources tell CNN the White House is working on an executive order for the president that will address the crisis in policing in this country.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: Also this morning, the U.S. just passed 2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus. And one prominent expert predicts there will be 100,000 more deaths in this country this summer.

A different key model forecasts nearly 170,000 deaths in the U.S. by October, but the potential range of that on the high end goes up to 300,000. And they say we could see a bigger than expected second wave of the coronavirus in the fall, when the daily death count could be as high as 4,000 people. So we'll get some information on all of that for you.

But first, America at an inflection point with racism. Joining us now is Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, and CNN Early Start Anchor, Laura Jarrett.

Mayor Morial, I want to start with you. Good morning. And everything that John just ticked through, for all the changes that we're seeing at NASCAR, at the NFL, the army, different T.V. networks canceling different T.V. shows, then there's businesses like CrossFit, I could on. Does it feel like to you as if we're at the start of a sea change in this country? MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: I believe it is a sea change and it's a long overdue movement against hate and racism in this country.

And it's occurring organically. This is not being led any political leader. This represents the people acting on their own, institution leaders, following their conscience. And I think that's what makes it so powerful, is that no one stood up on a platform and said, let's start a campaign against hate and racism, although many of us have been working against hate and racism. Many have for many, many, many decades since the founding of this country.

But I think that's what makes it so special, is that it has an organic nature. I had an opportunity to go down to the protest in Washington, D.C. yesterday and the tapestry of people. We met a family, a Latino family from California, all of them, five, three children and two parents who said they had come on their own, because they wanted to be a part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

So you're seeing this incredible organic, up from the neighborhoods, up from the communities effort that says enough is enough, it's time for change. And the Floyd death, I think, has sparked this and has spurred this in a way that no one could have predicted.

BERMAN: Mayor, I want to play some of your testimony yesterday in Congress. Listen to this.


MORIAL: It's important to understand this bill is about reforming policing, which is a pillar. There's a separate discussion and an additional discussion that needs to be had about how we do all the other things. And I want to work with you all on that.

But don't confuse the two. I mean, that's the thing. People want confuse the two. And just I'll say, respectfully, bad family situation didn't kill George Floyd. Sir, that's an outrage.


BERMAN: That's just part, I think, of a really emotional day yesterday, Mayor. And it was interesting to me. The context of this larger discussion, you seem to be saying, don't confuse all the issues. They all may be connected now, but fix policing, Congress. If you're going to talk about this, just keep your eye on the ball here.

MORIAL: That's exactly what I was saying. And I think it's important, because when people began to confuse issues, it creates a reason and a rationale for being dilatory, for distracting, and, therefore, dissuade. We have to fix American policing. And it starts with a powerful step by congress, not a token bill, not an executive order but a statutory, if you will, blueprint that begins to change policing, or accreditation, or limitations on the use of force, changes in the accountability system in the civil and criminal justice systems, and those measures are contained in this bill. The other issues that we've worked on at the National Urban League, and many have, economic inequality, racial wealth gap, health disparities, they are important.


Let's focus on what we need to do immediately, but let's continue the momentum of this movement to eradicate and unravel many of the structures of racism that have existed in this country forever.

CAMEROTA: We've had the opportunity to interview George Floyd's brother, Philonise, here on this program. And we're just always so struck by even in his grief, how reasonable, how rational, he is -- what he's calling out for is what every American -- I mean, so many Americans want to see also. And there was just another example of it yesterday. So here is a moment.


PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: George called for help and he was ignored. Please listen to the call that I'm making to you now, to the calls of our family and the calls ringing out on the streets across the world. Honor them, honor George and make the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution and not the problem. Hold them accountable when they do something wrong. Teach them that deadly force should be used rarely and only when life is at risk.

George wasn't hurting anyone that day. He didn't deserve to die over $20. I am asking you.


CAMEROTA: Mayor, what was it like in that room?

MORIAL: You know, it was very emotional to be there, to listen to him. And like his brother, he was a gentle giant. And he spoke clearly, he spoke unambiguously. And I think it struck the members of the committee on both sides of the aisle.

You know, to give a personal face to George Floyd, for people to understand, you know, he had a family, people who loved him. You know, he's a symbol, but he was an unassuming person. And his brother, I think, captured the essence of who he is, but also the essence of the moment.

And it was a tearful plea in many respects. A heartfelt plea to fix this situation and honor the life of not only George Floyd, but the many, many others who lost their lives due to police violence over the years.

You know, the numbers are stunning, 1,200 African-Americans have been killed by the police since 2015. That's a stunning number. That's a large number if you break it down.

So it was an honor to be able to be there yesterday, with all of the witnesses who did, I think, a great job telling the story of police violence, but also focusing on the remedies and the fixes we need.

BERMAN: So, Laura Jarrett, the White House says the president will sign or will be presented with ideas for an executive order soon on how to address some of this. We don't know what's in it. Frankly, we do not know a lot of what the president is actually for, what proactive programs or changes he wants to make.

We know a great deal now about what he is against. And that in and of itself speaks volumes, right? The administration will not acknowledge the notion of systemic racism in policing. And now, the president has stated clearly that he won't even discuss -- he's against even discussing renaming major military installations that are named after confederate generals, you know, some of whom just spewed just horrible racist ideology.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: I think we do know what the president is for, because he's told us what he's for. I mean, this is that president that got up in front of a group of police officers and said, don't be too nice when you're putting them in the squad car. You don't need to put your hand on their head. He said that years ago and we are still having this conversation. So we don't know what exactly this executive order will look like. It's interesting.

There really isn't any reporting out there, perhaps because it hasn't been fully fleshed out yesterday, as aides are recognizing that leadership is needed in this moment, but they may be having internal resistance within the White House.

And so I think when you look at the tweets yesterday on the confederate generals, people talk about P.C. culture, this is not about that, symbols matter because they send a message to the world about what we valorize, who matters. and those confederate generals were pro-slavery. I mean, let's not sugarcoat it. These are people who actually wanted to keep slavery the land of the law.

And oh, by the way, they lost. But now the president is holding them up as some sort of fable to be valorized.

CAMEROTA: Some of them were actually like horrible generals. Despite what they stood for, they also just weren't good at their jobs. But just to prove your point, the president is calling -- he doesn't want the names of military bases after confederate generals to be changed. He really doesn't want it. He's really on the side of the confederacy.

I mean, he couldn't be more clear. He says it has been suggested that we should rename as many as ten of our legendary military bases, such as ft. Bragg in North Carolina, Ft. Hood, Ft. Benning. These monumental and very powerful bases have become part of a great American heritage and a history of winning, victory and freedom.


And so, Laura, is it your understanding that the president must sign off on the renaming of these, or can the army say they do what they want to do and rename these? JARRETT: That's a good question. I'm not sure that that's actually been tested yet. But I think it's interesting to note that he doesn't even want the conversation to take place, right? The reporting had suggested that at least Secretary Esper was going to hold some conversations around that. And it would be interesting to hear, actually, what people in the military actually think about this.

Because you can just imagine, what is it like for a black soldier who is serving this country to have to look at those names, when they leave from Ft. Bragg to know what that general actually said about black people, about them not being equal.

And so I think it's interesting, you know, I would really like to hear what people who are actually serving in the military have to think about this.

BERMAN: That's right. And the history of Ft. Benning, it's great because of the soldiers and the troops it produced. It's not great because of the name. It's not great at all because of the name. There's never -- there's not an ounce of greatness in Henry Benning, who was a vile racist or Jackson Bragg who fought the confederacy.

Anyway, Mayor Morial, Laura Jarrett, thank you both for being with us.

MORIAL: Yes, thank you for having me this morning.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

Okay, now to coronavirus. A dozen states are seeing hospital cases rising this morning. And an alarming new figure points to a resurgence of coronavirus earlier than we had thought. What does all of this mean for us, for cities, and schools?



BERMAN: So, overnight, the U.S. passed more than 2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus. One key model is now showing a potentially devastating resurgence in cases in the fall. One expert now says we could see 100,000 new deaths by September.

Alabama is among 18 states at this point seeing an increase in new cases over the past week. In fact, the average rate of infections has really not dropped there in weeks.

Joining me now, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed. He's the first African- American mayor in a city known as the birthplace of the civil rights movement. We'll get to that in a moment.

First though, on the pandemic, Mayor, I've been looking at the daily confirmed new cases in Montgomery County, Alabama, over the last few weeks, and, really, just no drop at all. In some cases, a little bit of a rise over the last week. Why?

MAYOR STEVEN REED (D-MONTGOMERY, AL): I think it's because we opened up too soon. I think that we have COVID fatigue right now, and people are trying to fast forward this process in order to get things back to the way they were before the COVID-19 pandemic really changed everything in this country, if not, the world.

BERMAN: There was one picture, I think, that may illustrate a little bit of what you're saying. It's Vice President Mike Pence, who is in charge of the coronavirus task force. He tweeted out a picture of him visiting the Trump campaign headquarters. I think we have that picture, and he's surrounded by a crowd of people not wearing masks, not, in any way, social distancing. Is this what you mean by opening up too early and rushing things?

REED: Absolutely. I think that much of the community has taken their cues from the top and they believe that if the president or vice president are not wearing masks, then why should they? Unfortunately, it has become a political football as well. And that has really stymied our progress in this battle with COVID-19.

And so what you have is, you have people who believe that the virus can be deadly. You have people that are wearing their masks when they're out in public. And you have many people who are staying at home. You have people that are practicing social distancing.

But on the other side, you have people that are asymptomatic or just don't believe they are going to be impacted by the virus, who are not. And that is a major problem, and that's behind part of the spike that we've seen.

BERMAN: The statistics that concern me the most today is that hospitalizations are up in a number of states, nine states. One on the reasons new case numbers have gone up in some places is we're seeing more testing, which is actually a good thing. More testing will identify more cases, many of them asymptomatic. But hospitalizations, that's not about people who are asymptomatic, that's about sick people.

So in these states that are red here, not Alabama, but nearby in Mississippi, you also have North Carolina, South Carolina, the number of hospitalizations are going up. People are getting sick there.

REED: Well, they are. And they are getting sick right here in Montgomery County. And what we're seeing is a rush to get back to things. And what we're trying to do is just trying to keep people patient. And I understand we've been in this since March and people are ready to get back as they see other communities in other parts of the nation open up, but we aren't there yet.

And that's why we're still under a curfew here that we instituted back in March to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. And we are really trying to work with our small business owners and work with our community members to educate them and inform them about where we are in this process.

Montgomery should not be 10 percent of Alabama's total cases. We should not have the level of cases that we have had spike month over month and week over week when we look at our numbers. There's still a problem here. And, again, we have not factored in all of the post- Memorial Day testing that will come in and what those results will show us.

So there's a lot of work that we have to do, not only in Montgomery, but the State of Alabama, but also, I think, throughout this country. And as infectious disease experts have warned us before, we cannot decide when this is over. The virus will decide that.

And we have to make sure that we're doing everything that we can as leaders to inform our public of where we are with our hospital beds. As in Montgomery, we're only 2 percent of our ICU beds are available. That's problematic. It's manageable, but it's not sustainable.

BERMAN: And, look, and as you said, we don't know the effect that the protests will have, when there were a lot of people out near each other, not necessarily wearing masks. We haven't seen those numbers yet. That could increase things even more.


About the subject they were protesting, you've just signed on to the eight can't wait prescription, which is a number of proposals to address policing now, including banning chokeholds and other things of the like. So what do you hope this accomplishes?

REED: I hope this is the first of many steps that we have to take in order to correct policing in all of our cities and all of our communities. But in particular, as it relates to people of color and black men and women particularly, we have to teach the history of policing in our communities.

And I think if we're willing to open things up and open up the files, we'll see a record that's been there prior to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, we'll see a record that's been there for decades, if not, longer than that.

And we have to make sure that as we're having the conversations, we're also taking action and we're taking those steps as policymakers.

And one of the things that our protesters wanted to see us do, was they wanted to see us make changes right now. And that was the first of many. We will be instituting a citizens review board and we want to make sure it's one that has teeth and one that gives the citizens of this community confidence not only in our police department but in how we train and we operate here in Montgomery, Alabama.

BERMAN: And some people note that Minnesota, Minneapolis had actually instituted a number of those things on the eight can wait list already, but that didn't stop the killing of George Floyd. So what do you say to people who say, this isn't enough, we need more right now?

REED: Well, we have to really drill down into the history of systemic racism in this country, period. It's not just in policing. It's in our criminal justice system, it's in our legal system. We have to look at that as it impacts our educational system and as it impacts the economic divide, as well. So we have to make sure we are talking about this from a macro level. But certainly as it relates to mayors and police chiefs, we have to make sure that we aren't just getting people who want to be police who want to carry a badge and a gun that aren't psychologically prepared to be guardians of the community, who want to be policemen of the community.

What I mean by that is, they want to use force. They want to use the tactics in the way they have as the police department, as a weapon. Those are people we have to try to root out. We have to make sure that our reviews are very fair, very regular, and we have to make sure that we're taking action when someone does something on the force while also training our police officers, I believe, in a much different way.

So they're right, there is no one step or one silver bullet for this. There's no panacea other than for us to get in and do the work consistently and be willing to adapt and adjust as we see issues arise.

BERMAN: Mayor Steven Reid, thanks for coming on this morning. A lot to discuss, obviously. I appreciate it.

REED: Always a pleasure.

BERMAN: So, police body cam video of this arrest in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has now led to an internal affairs investigation. Wait until you hear why police took two black teenagers into custody. That's next.



BERMAN: So, this morning, an internal affairs investigation is underway in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after police officers detained two black teenagers for jaywalking. Just released body cam video shows the teens walking down the middle of the street last week, where there is no sidewalk. The officers approach and you can see an officer force one teenager on to his stomach before arresting him.

The second teenager is also handcuffed and is heard repeatedly telling his friend, it's not worth it to fight back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why you putting handcuffs on me?


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All he was doing was jaywalking, we just want to talk to him and then he had to act a fool like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he have anything -- hey, sir, does he have anything on him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I appreciate you being cool, man.


BERMAN: The Tulsa Police Department says they cannot comment while the investigation is underway.

We should note that the penalty for jaywalking is like a fine, a small fine, $500. Unclear why in what universe or why this kind of arrest would even be necessary.

CAMEROTA: And why is it jaywalking if there are no sidewalks? Okay, we'll follow that.

Meanwhile, this, of course, feeds into the calls that are growing across the country for police reforms in the aftermath of George Floyd's death. In Albany, New York, the mayor signed an executive order outlining some new reforms, but Albany's police union calls her action insulting.

Joining us now is the President of the Albany Police Union, Greg McGee, and Albany Councilman, Owusu Awani. Thank you both for being here. I really appreciate it.

I want to start with you, Mr. McGee. So here is what the mayor has outlined in this executive order. Ban the use of chokeholds, ban the knee on the neck holds, establish a duty to intervene, if excessive force is being used from another police officer, additional training on de-escalation and implicit bias, and require officers to take a course on the history of racism in the U.S. Why are any of those insulting?

GREG MCGREE, PRESIDENT, ALBANY POLICE UNION: Good morning, Alisyn. Thanks for having me on. Thank you, Councilman, for joining me this morning.

What was insulting to the members when they reached out to me about this executive order was that pretty much Albany is leading the way, I think, on the foremost end of it. Albany is years ahead of other municipalities in terms of our training and our tactics. We lead the way in terms of 21st century policing. Our community policing model is -- other agencies come to us to see how and why it works so well.

So when you see the things, such as banning chokeholds or neck restraints, you actually go back in our policy, there was an actual training bulletin that was already issued in 2014 by then Chief Cox.