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THE SITUATION ROOM
Moment of Arrest, Shooting of Rayshard Brooks Caught on Body Cam; Interview with Martin Luther King III about Rayshard Brooks Shooting; Interview with Montgomery, Alabama Mayor Steven Reed about Protests Against Racial Injustice; 20th Day of Nationwide Protests Against Racial Injustice. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 14, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. This is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.
Tonight, as nationwide protests continue for the 20th day against racial injustice in our country, a homicide investigation is clearly under way in Atlanta after a police officer shot and killed 27-year- old Rayshard Brooks outside a fast food drive-thru.
The breaking news we received only a few minutes ago, the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office now saying Brooks was shot twice in the back by police and the report says Brooks died from organ damage and blood loss from the two gunshot wounds in his back.
The fallout was immediate following that incident. Atlanta's police chief stepped down. The officer who killed Brooks was terminated. And today, the district attorney announcing he's considering murder charges for that officer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL HOWARD (D), FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I can tell you definitely that probably sometime around Wednesday, we will be making a decision in this case. I believe in this instance what we have to choose between, if there is a choice to be made, is between murder and felony murder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: This comes as the Atlanta police released body camera footage of the fatal incident. CNN's Boris Sanchez walks us through what those videos show and we want to warn our viewers some of the footage you're about to see is disturbing.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Responding to a call from a Wendy's in south Atlanta Friday night, Officer David Brosnan approaches Rayshard Brooks' car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's up, my man? Hey, what's going on, man? Hey. Hey, man, you're parked in the middle of a drive-thru line here. Hey, sir. What's up, man? Hey, you're parked in a drive-thru right now. Hey, sir, you all right?
SANCHEZ: Asleep in the drive-thru lane, police body cam footage shows the 27-year-old does not respond right away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you just tired? All right, man. I'll move my car. Just pull up somewhere and take a nap. All right. All right, are you good?
RAYSHARD BROOKS, SUSPECT: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
SANCHEZ: Brooks eventually wakes up and agrees to move his car before he appears to fall asleep again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My man, it doesn't mean go back to sleep. You've got to move your car. You're going back to sleep.
SANCHEZ: Brooks moves to a nearby parking spot where Brosnan asks --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much did you drink tonight? Not much? How much is not much? You say one drink, what kind of drink was it?
BROOKS: Maybe that's one little margarita.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about -- are you on any drugs today?
BROOKS: I don't do drugs.
SANCHEZ: Brooks struggles to find his license and tries to step out of the car.
BROOKS: I'm going to get out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, just stay in the car for a minute. All right. Just stay in the car, man. Just look for your license.
SANCHEZ: Brosnan then radios for another officer to conduct a DUI test.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's pretty out of it. Definitely got some good amount on him right now.
SANCHEZ: When officer Garrett Rolfe arrives, Brooks denies ever having been asleep.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason why we're here is because somebody called 911 because you were asleep behind the wheel while you're in the drive-thru, right? Do you recall that?
BROOKS: I don't. I don't. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't recall that? You don't recall just
minutes ago where you were passed out behind the wheel in the drive- thru?
SANCHEZ: He agrees to a breathalyzer test, says he can't remember how much he had to drink and then he tells police --
BROOKS: I know, I know. You just doing your job.
SANCHEZ: When Rolfe tries to handcuff Brooks, he resists. Witness video shows Brosnan readying his taser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to get tased.
SANCHEZ: Brooks grabs it out of his hand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands off the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) taser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop.
SANCHEZ: Breaking free, Brooks punches Rolfe who fires his stun gun as Brooks takes off. And here's the moment the altercation becomes deadly. We slowed this down for you. You can see Rolfe chasing Brooks, each man now carrying a taser. Watch as Rolfe moves his taser from his right hand to his left and reaches towards his handgun. That's when Brooks turns and fires the taser. And Rolfe shoots, firing three times at Brooks as he flees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop. Stop.
SANCHEZ: Bystanders almost immediately begin cursing and shouting at the officers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both of your careers are definitely done because you just shot a man for no reason.
SANCHEZ: A few minutes after he's shot, Officers Rolfe and Brosnan begin to provide medical treatment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Brooks, keep breathing.
SANCHEZ: A short time later Brooks is rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he's later pronounced dead.
BLITZER: Our special thanks to Boris Sanchez for his reporting.
Joining us now to discuss, the global human rights leader Martin Luther King III, the son of Atlanta's iconic civil rights leader. Martin, all of these events happened near where your father was born.
The Ebenezer Baptist Church where he worshipped and preached for many years. Sadly, and it's very sad, you and I have had this conversation many times before. But what's your reaction right now to what's happening in Atlanta to what you're seeing unfold?
MARTIN LUTHER KING III, GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS LEADER: I think my first reaction is my condolences to the Brooks family and all his family members. I feel very bad for his daughters. But the first thing I guess that comes to mind is after 40 years almost of African-Americans being in leading positions in politics there still appears to be a systemic problem around race in Atlanta Police Department which also pretty much covers the nation.
And that's why we've got to immediately find a way to address this issue. Police have to be allowed to do their jobs but it's hard to understand, you have a driver's license, you have a vehicle, this man was running. I don't understand it. I just don't understand it.
BLITZER: Yes. A lot of people don't understand it, myself included. You quoted your father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as saying, and I'm quoting him now, "A riot is the language of the unheard." Seemed that after George Floyd was killed society was beginning to start to listen to all of this. But then we saw more violence in Atlanta Friday night, and what we saw unfold yesterday and continuing to unfold today.
What do you believe it will take to get past this? Will we see it in your lifetime?
KING: Oh, I'm convinced we're going to have to see it in my lifetime and in our life and our lives. I -- there's got to be some engagement, a different kind of engagement. I mean I wish I had a magic wand so I can reprogram, repurpose, the attitudes of police because this is -- as I said, this is pervasive. It's structure. It's inculcated in the structures of most of the police departments. And so until we change that, we're not going to address this issue.
And that -- that takes maybe some time, but I'm convinced we can do it. Actually we don't have a choice. You know, there are some who are calling for economic withdrawal from some of the major corporations and something like that happens, black folks spent a trillion dollars last year. If black folk decide to economically withdraw in some way, then you may see corporations taking different positions to make sure this kind of thing is changed.
But it's the attitudes universally programmed that we have to address. I know constructively the issues can be addressed. We've not seen it up to now, but it can happen.
BLITZER: We see folks moving on the streets here in Washington, D.C. The protests continue in Washington, in Los Angeles, in Atlanta. Other cities as well.
The attorney L. Chris Stewart, he lives in Atlanta, he's representing the Brooks family, as you probably know. I want you to listen to something really important he said last night. Listen to this, Martin. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
L. CHRIS STEWART, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF RAYSHARD BROOKS: I can just say we want justice. But I don't even care. I don't even know what that is, and I've been doing this for 15 years.
I don't know what justice is anymore. Is it getting him arrested? Is it getting somebody fired? Is it a chief stepping down? I know that this isn't justice, what's happening in society right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You relate to how he's feeling? Obviously, he's very, very moved by what has -- what has unfolded.
KING: I certainly do, and I concur that it is very difficult to define what justice is. You know, tragically, a building was burned down and -- but that building can be re-erected. How do you re-erect a human life? That did not have to be displaced, did not have to -- there was a choice that was made to really, you know, gun this young man down. And we as a society are far better than this.
I don't know what is going to happen to change the souls, a whole metamorphosis is going to have to occur. And we've got to define concrete ways to address this and we've got to address it now, all of our nation, so that we can become the nation we ought to be.
BLITZER: Yes. We're showing our viewers now live pictures from Los Angeles. A big crowd has gathered there as well.
Martin, if your father were alive today, what do you think he would be saying about the situation that has unfolded over these past few weeks?
KING: I don't know that any of us can actually state what he would be saying, but what I do know is that he would be in the forefront of working to bring people together to address this issue for once and for all. And, you know, again, I think we're all at a point where we don't know what specifically we must do. We know that we need action and we need constructive action immediately. Not next month. Not, you know, because this thing could -- this could happen, tragically, again, because that mindset seems to be there as it relates to policing and the black and brown community.
There has to be a dramatic, drastic change and an effort put into changing this behavior. And it really is going to take a lot of us coming together and getting on the same page.
BLITZER: It certainly is. Martin, what makes me so sad is that, as I said, you and I have been having these conversations for years and we're still having these conversations. I would have hoped we would have moved on by now, but clearly, we have not.
Martin Luther King III, thank you as usual for joining us. Good luck. KING: Thank you.
BLITZER: And stay safe.
We're looking at these live pictures coming in from Washington, D.C., right now. The protesters, they're marching, unclear to me where they're heading, but we're going to check in to see what's going on. We're also going to check in with the first African-American mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, and we'll discuss how to keep the peace while not putting it all on this effort to achieve justice for all.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: The protests are clearly continuing all over the country right now. Look at this. These are live pictures coming in from San Francisco. This is the Bay Bridge. The westbound traffic has now completely shut down as protesters are standing there. There's a clear standoff. The traffic heading into San Francisco from the Bay Bridge completely shut down. We'll watch this together with you. We'll see what unfolds. A significant development out in San Francisco. \
We've also seen protests in Washington, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. We're also following the latest details from the autopsy of Rayshard Brooks, shot and killed Friday night in Atlanta. The Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office now saying Brooks was shot twice in the back by police and died from organ damage and blood loss from those two gunshot wounds to his back. And that led to swift action from the Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA: I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Joining us now, the mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, Steven Reed.
Mayor Reid, thank you so much for joining us. Certainly the killing of Rayshard Brooks Friday night in Atlanta unfolded at the height of these national protests against police brutality here in the United States. So what's your reaction to these details and the continued calls for justice? How's it impacting the folks in Montgomery?
MAYOR STEVEN REED (D), MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: Well, what people want to see us do is talk less, listen more, and then act on what they are saying with us. That's why the protests have been as organized, that's why they have been as continuous over these last few weeks, because I think leaders in the past have not listened enough and have not implemented enough changes when it comes to police reform. We still train our police to use force. We don't train them well
enough on how not to use force, in particularly deadly force when it comes to black men and black women in particular. We have to do a much better job across this country and it starts certainly with those that we hire, how we train, and the policies that we ultimately implement.
BLITZER: Yes. You're absolutely right. You're getting some advice, I understand, from the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Had these protests been a catalyst for you to take a proactive approach in your city?
REED: Absolutely. There are things we wanted to do but certainly after the killing of George Floyd, we thought we should rearrange our priorities and it was up to us to make sure that we got out in the streets and listened to the protesters, to listen to our community leaders, and to find out exactly what they wanted and everything from citizen review boards to restructuring, how we train our officers, and even how we police the community.
Those are things that they've been asking and so in my conversations with Brian Stevenson, we've talked about everything from understanding the racial history of policing in all of our communities. We all have a past, but I don't think many of us have chosen to share that. And we also have to make sure that we really talk to our policemen about how important it is that they represent the community and that they get out into the community so they can build a relationship and a level of trust that exists because once you do that, you're in a much better place to get information but also not to escalate situations that may come up on a daily basis when one is on their duty as a police officer.
BLITZER: We're showing our viewers, by the way, Mayor, these live pictures coming in from Washington, D.C., where the protests clearly are continuing.
You mentioned, Mayor, a citizen review board to oversee police actions. But is this something based on your experience that police are willing to listen to?
REED: I think it all comes down to the details and at this point, we have to make sure we're listening to our communities and our communities are asking for not only citizens review boards, for -- many cities already have those, but they're asking for subpoena power. They're asking for national databases for those policemen that have misconduct in their past so that they can be removed from the pool itself.
They're also looking for policies related to qualified immunity for police officers. So they're looking at a number of things that we really have to try to do on a local level, at the state level, and at the federal level, and I think the most important thing is we have to make sure we're also combining that with our investment in the communities, in our investment in people that feel left out. That are on the margins and feel like they don't have a chance because of the neighborhood and because of their zip code.
If we don't invest in social services and if we don't do a better job of organizing around our people that live in the communities, then we're going to see this happen over and over again. It's not just enough for us to choose a policy that matters right now. We have to change practices that are going to impact the future going forward and that's going to take time, but it's also going to take courage for us to do that.
BLITZER: Well, good luck, Mayor Steven Reed of Montgomery, Alabama. Appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much.
REED: Always a pleasure.
BLITZER: A quick programming note to our viewers. Join Laura Coates tonight with four of the nation's top mayors. Washington, D.C.'S, Muriel Bowser, Atlanta's Keisha Lance Bottoms, Chicago's Lori Lightfoot and San Francisco's London Breed. "THE MAYORS WHO MATTER: A CNN TOWN HALL ON RACE AND COVID-19." That's live tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern right after our special SITUATION ROOM.
We're continuing to monitor nationwide protests now for the 20th day here in the U.S. but also staying on top of the coronavirus pandemic as health officials are urging protesters to remain cautious as they demonstrate.
Live pictures coming in from Washington, D.C., the nation's capital. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: You see the protests continuing here in Washington, D.C. People are continuing to march. Brian Todd is joining us on the phone right now.
So, Brian, update our viewers, what's happening in the nation's capital?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, Wolf, these protesters are marching downtown. They have expressed the attempt to march toward a bridge. We heard a couple protest leaders say we're going to take over the bridge. What that usually means is that they'll march probably onto 395 South, we think, we're not positive, like they did last night and possibly march onto that highway which connects the district to northern Virginia via the 14th Street Bridge. So they could be going toward the 14th Street Bridge, we believe.
And you know, they have told their followers to not engage with the police. If the police, you know, are around, which they will be, to not, you know, cause any trouble, to make this peaceful. So if the pattern holds, Wolf, they will probably march onto 395. They will probably block traffic for a few minutes and then either turn around as they did last night or possibly take an exit off the bridge before it actually heads over the Potomac River. Because once they get on the other side of the river, if they choose
to go that far, it's a bit of a -- it's a very -- it's a very kind of congested industrial area. There really wouldn't be any place for them to go to make their point. So we're going to see where they head. Now I have to remind you of what happened last night, they did almost the same thing. They went onto 395 South, they took a knee on the highway. They blocked traffic for a few minutes and then they turned around and came back downtown.
This is a group whose numbers have really thinned out from earlier today when we were with them in Lafayette Square. We had actually two protests, two groups of protesters, kind of coalesce into one. One group was called reject fascism which was calling for the ouster of President Trump and Vice President Pence on the occasion of Trump's 74th birthday. That's why they called that protest today at Lafayette Park.
And another group was the Alpha Phi Alpha, the African-American fraternity, which marched several miles through the Memorial area today and then ended up at about the same place in Lafayette Square and in Black Lives Matter Plaza, you know, singing songs, making speeches, doing prayers. So some of these people we believe are, you know, kind of remnants of those two groups and that you see them here. They're marching with us and they're going downtown. Possibly toward the 14th Street Bridge.
In fact, they're heading basically in that direction, Wolf. We're going to see how far they get and whether they're able to block traffic. And again, you know, my experience is that everywhere except for Philadelphia one night, the pattern is the protesters go up onto the highway, traffic is stopped, they make their point and they exit fairly quickly. We'll see if that happens tonight.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We did see last night in Atlanta, I-75, the interstate there in Atlanta, that was blocked for quite a while. We'll see what the protesters in D.C. do.
All right, Brian, thank you very much.
As we continue to monitor nationwide protests across the country, the number of states -- a number of states are seeing a surge in coronavirus cases. As of Saturday, 18 states were trending upward in new reported cases. A reminder that this pandemic which has infected more than two million Americans over the past three months or so is not over yet.
Joining us now, Dr. Celine Gounder, she's the former New York City assistant health commissioner and host of "The Epidemic" podcast.
Dr. Gounder, thank you so much for joining us. What do you make of what we're seeing in these states where the cases are rising? How careful should the folks out there be? Because apparently a lot of folks think it's over. DR. CELINE GOUNDER, FORMER NEW YORK CITY ASSISTANT HEALTH
COMMISSIONER: Well, Wolf, this fits exactly the timeline that any epidemiologist or infectious disease specialist would have laid out which is about three weeks after you start to see lifting of social distancing, so about three weeks since the Memorial Day weekend, that you would start to see cases emerge. And it's really basic simple math.
It's the time that it takes to get exposed, plus the incubation period, plus the amount of time it takes to get sick. And so, you know, this is -- this is really very predictable. And it has me highly concerned that people are still not taking this seriously.
BLITZER: We're showing our viewers, by the way, Dr. Gounder, live pictures in the Bay Bridge out in San Francisco. Westbound traffic seems to have shut down as protesters are out there as well. We'll watch what's happening in San Francisco.
As you know, Dr. Gounder, a Chinese company said today its experimental coronavirus vaccine caused the body to produce antibodies against the virus. They don't know, though, if these antibodies actually will protect people from infection. But how significant potentially is this?
GOUNDER: Well, I think, you know, we're still looking at about at least a year away before we have vaccines widely available. And I think we need to really keep our eye on the ball on what needs to happen in the interim. Yes, vaccines will eventually really bring this pandemic to an end. But I think about it in three phases, Wolf. So you have the first phase which is about lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, you know, whatever you want to call that.
But that was supposed to be timed during which we're preparing for the second phase. And that's really about the mass testing, the contact tracing, figuring out who's infectious and separating those people from those who are not and making a plan for how do you isolate them. So, you know, if somebody's infectious in a family, I mean, our own Chris Cuomo ended up infecting members of his own family.
And so how do you separate that person from the rest of their family in a way that they get what they need and they're not infecting everyone else? And we --
GOUNDER: -- frankly have surrendered. We are raising the white flag and we're not making plans for that. We're just waiting for a vaccine a year from now.
BLITZER: Yes, it's still a huge, huge problem. All right. Thanks very much Dr. Celine Gounder for joining us.
Important quick programming note right now, later tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern, meet the scientists investigating whether bats could hold the secret to COVID-19. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: In a lab nearly 6500 miles from Wuhan, researchers in Berkeley, California, are looking to bats to find clues on how to help humans fight coronaviruses like COVID-19.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think in a way there's actually a lot we can learn from bats. This group of animals has been around for millions of years. How can we look at their history with viruses and take that knowledge and think about therapeutics and treatments for ourselves?
COOPER: Scientists believe that understanding of bats' immune systems can help develop a human battle plan for fighting these diseases on a global scale.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an opportunity. What is it about the bats' metabolism, unity, physiology, that they've got that we could use?
COOPER: Bats might actually hold an answer for treating viruses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If bats can handle thousands of different viruses at a much higher load than humans can, let's find out why and use that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Learn more about these fascinating animals in the CNN Special Report, "BATS: THE MYSTERY BEHIND COVID-19." That starts at 10:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight.
Coming up, as we continue to see nationwide protests across the country for the 20th day, we can't talk about racial inequality in this country without talking about economic inequality at the same time.
We're going to discuss that and more when we come back.
BLITZER: It's been nearly three weeks of protests across the country over police brutality and racial inequality, and that inequality has only been magnified by the coronavirus pandemic which has disproportionately impacted communities of color.
Compounding the racial inequities is the economic crisis spurred by the pandemic. The former acting U.S. secretary of Labor, Seth Harris, is joining us right now.
Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. How much does economic inequality in our country play into this broader protest movement that we're all witnessing?
SETH HARRIS, FORMER ACTING LABOR SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's an incredibly important backdrop for the protests that we're seeing, although the protests are focused on police violence against communities of color, the backdrop is significant disparities in income, significant disparities in unemployment, significant disparities with respect to housing ownership, respect to wealth.
The COVID crisis really disclosed to a lot of people the situation of African-Americans in our economy where African-Americans were more likely to be displaced because they were more likely to be in the industries that were hit hardest by the COVID pandemic. They were also more likely to be essential workers who were forced to work during the COVID crisis and, therefore, were more likely to get infected and die as a result of the virus.
So, the disparities are there. They have been there for a long time and they persist in this pandemic crisis.
BLITZER: Are there any immediate economic policies, Mr. Secretary, that can address the systemic racism?
HARRIS: There's a tremendous amount that we need to do, Wolf. Raising the minimum wage would benefit African-Americans disproportionately. Overtime protections. More unions. African-Americans disproportionately benefit when there's a union in the workplace. Fairer housing would make a big difference. Significantly expanding, for example, the public housing stock in our country.
But also a focus on equal opportunity. Much more aggressive discrimination enforcement. More expansive laws to guard against discrimination. All of those things would make a difference, but the biggest change that we need to make right now because we're in an economic recession, potentially heading for a depression, is significant investments in the parts of the economy where people are being hurt most.
In the public sector. In those essential jobs that we've all been applauding every day but really have not been making an investment in. Significant investments in manufacturing and transportation. Other industries where African-Americans have been able to climb, claw, their way into the middle class.
Those kinds of big systemic investments, changes in the way our economy works, would make a tremendous difference.
BLITZER: Well, there's talk now, as you know, Mr. Secretary, of another $2 trillion economic package focusing in on manufacturing, among other things, but you think there's bipartisan support right now to take the steps you're advocating?
HARRIS: I don't, and that's unfortunate. The House Democrats passed a $3 trillion package that I think would do an immense amount to help people who've been most disadvantaged by the pandemic, but it will only really address the problems that are caused by the pandemic. It's not going to get at the larger systemic challenges that we face. And in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, has really made no move to propose any additional help. For example, the Democrats have proposed a trillion dollars for local
and state governments. Senator McConnell has said that he doesn't want to see any additional money going to state governments. He'd rather see them declare bankruptcy. That will cause immense pain in communities around the country and it will result in even more public sector workers losing their jobs. A million and a half public sector workers have lost their jobs in the last two months. We need to recover from that, if we're going to see the economy recover overall.
BLITZER: Yes, absolutely right. Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.
Seth Harris, the former acting Labor secretary. Appreciate it very much. Good luck.
HARRIS: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Coming up, the NBA star Dwight Howard caused some waves in the sports world when he said there should be no more games until there is justice. The former NBA star Caron Butler, he's standing by live. We'll discuss that and more as we see these protests continuing in Washington, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta.
Much more of our coverage right after this.
BLITZER: No justice, no games. That's the message from NBA star Dwight Howard. Howard who plays for the Lakers is from Atlanta. He says now isn't the time to restart the season and let a chance for genuine racial justice slip away. He told CNN through his agent, and I'm quoting now, "Basketball or entertainment, period, isn't needed at this moment and will only be a distraction. What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families. No basketball until we get things resolved."
Of course, our country has been trying to resolve things for decades. So could players force the NBA to postpone games even further while we see protesters out on the streets?
Caron Butler played in the NBA for 16 years. I saw him often when he played for the Washington Wizards, my team. He's now an author, an activist.
Caron, thanks so much for joining us. Do you agree with Dwight Howard? Is this the wrong time to restart NBA games?
CARON BUTLER, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Thanks for having me, Wolf. Think that he made an excellent statement and he drew a line in the sand saying that -- and he has the right to say this, and I think a lot of people feel this way as well, as you see Kyrie Irving and so many more, just explaining that, look, we feel like our energy and our efforts should be still with the social injustice, with the systemic racism and all those things. [20:50:05]
And, you know, I echo those sentiments. You know, I think it's very important that we keep our energy and our focus on that. However, the game and playing in Orlando, the NBA has already went full steam ahead with making that happen and the announcement came out. But you can understand his emotions and his feelings. And I feel the same way right now.
BLITZER: Yes, I know you're involved also with LeBron James in More Than a Vote campaign, Caron. It's focusing in on energizing black voters. Do you think the protest will lead to increased turnout, for example, in November?
BUTLER: Absolutely. I think the momentum has to continue, and I am so glad you brought that up, Wolf. When you think of More Than a Vote, it really is that. And collectively, you know, I've been working with the very institute for quite some long and we've been addressing mass incarceration, immigration reform and all those things in our respected space. However, collectively, it is a we thing. And we have to come together to move the needle on this thing.
So with myself, LeBron James, Carrie Champion, Jemele Hill, Skylar Diggins and so many more across the nation, everyone is engaged. And we're just trying to make sure that we use our platform to, one, educate and inform -- properly inform and then make sure that not just on a county level and city level, but the state level and ultimately up top, you know, at the presidential level that we have a true impact.
BLITZER: More Than a Vote is supposed to provide black voters around the country, Caron, with the ability to make their voices heard at the polls. How do you turn the energy behind the protests that we've been seeing in cities all over the country into direct action?
BUTLER: Well, I think that you continue to inform and educate as I just touched on. You know, pivoting to one of the biggest and the hardest things for a long time is to convince, you know, young people that you have to have sweat equity in this space. You have to show up and show out. You have to exercise your right to vote and sometimes things don't go your way, and you are kind of deflated by the result and the outcome.
But now seeing the state of our world, seeing the state of our economy, seeing the circumstances with the policing and seeing the outcomes, it is not good for us right now. And we have to drive real change. And I love the energy that you see on the frontline throughout the state and nationwide, globally with the protesting. And now we have to take that same energy into November and collectively exercise our right to vote and move the needle.
BLITZER: Finally, before I let you go, Caron, in your article in the "Players Tribune," you write, and I'm quoting you now, "Anyone without something real to say by now as far as I'm concerned that means they are part of the problem."
What do you want NBA fans to say to the owners, the commissioners, Adam Silver, and to the country right now?
BUTLER: I mean, look, it's beyond being politically correct. And I stated that in the article. This is a we thing. And in our community, in the black community, in the Hispanic community, in the Latinx community, we've all collectively came together. But we're going to need more people that -- you know, that come from different walks of life to understand, one, that the circumstances, and, you know, the trauma that --
BUTLER: You know, us as black people have been through all these years that continue to get swept under the rug and address those traumas and those issues and really come out and vote. And one last thing, Wolf, when you look at the world that we live in, there is arrest made every three seconds in the United States. That's 10 million people per year. So that is a real issue. So we don't want to continue to have the same outcomes.
BLITZER: All right. Caron, good luck to you. Caron Butler joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much.
BUTLER: Thank you, brother.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer here in Washington. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. "MAYORS WHO MATTER: A CNN TOWN HALL ON RACE AND COVID-19", that starts right after a quick break.
But before we go, I wanted to show a moment from my interview Friday night with Dr. Anthony Fauci. It's a telling response from the country's top infectious disease expert. When I just asked how he was doing, how he and his wife were dealing with all of this, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, as you know, Wolf, I live here in Washington, D.C. It's exhausting, Wolf. I don't want to say, I mean, but it's the adrenaline and the know the cause of which you're trying to do drives you. So I am, I'm chronically fatigued. I don't get a lot of sleep. As you can hear from my voice I am constantly breathing, talking, doing things, hopefully getting the right cause out.
I'm living a very simple life like most people are. I do my job. I go out in the evening after all of this and try to get exercise every day. When I am outside I wear a mask. I don't go into restaurants because in Washington we are not at the phase of opening restaurants. It's outdoor. I like to support the restaurants that I like around my neighborhood. So I do takeout. I go there with my mask, I take out, I eat home. And that's it.
So I think, you know, getting some exercise, trying as best as you can to get as much work done and just moving on. You know, it's the life I've chosen. And I have no regrets about it. But it is exhausting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Dr. Fauci's exhaustion is one shared by so many people fighting this pandemic. And they are pushing their bodies to the limit trying to heal the sick and keep the rest of us safe. And we are so, so appreciative of all of them for what they are doing and for their effort.
To all of our viewers, thanks very much for watching. Have a good night and stay safe.