Return to Transcripts main page


Moments Leading Up to Police Shooting Captured on Video; Philippine Journalist Maria Ressa Convicted of 'Cyber Libel'; Beijing District in 'Wartime Emergency' After New COVID-19 Cluster; French President Discusses Easing COVID-19 Restrictions, Racism; Racing Star Di Grassi Helping COVID-19 Victims in Native Brazil. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 15, 2020 - 00:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers, joining us from all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes.


And coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, renewed protests against police brutality across America following the death of yet another black man at the hands of law enforcement.

In the Philippines, a blow to the free press after a prominent journalist critical of President Rodrigo Duterte is found guilty of libel.

And dozens of new coronavirus cases put one Beijing district on a wartime footing.

A warm welcome, everyone. Thanks for your company.

Right now, we are witnessing the 20th straight night of protests against racial -- racial injustice in the United States.

The killing of Rayshard Brooks at a fast-food restaurant here in Atlanta reignited the explosion of anger that began over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

These are some of the cities holding major rallies against police brutality.

And a newly-released autopsy shows that Brooks was shot twice in the back, according to the Fulton County district attorney. The first thing the officer said after shooting Brooks was, quote, "I got him." He's since been fired. The district attorney telling CNN's Fredericka Whitfield that he's now weighing murder charges.


PAUL HOWARD, FULTON COUNTY 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 incident, what we have to choose between, if there's a choice to be made, is between murder and felony murder. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: We're getting a clear look at the moments leading up to the shooting. The deadly encounter captioned on police body cam and other video. CNN's Boris Sanchez with more from the scene.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Large crowds of people have come and gone from this Wendy's in South Atlanta where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed on Friday night. Many of them protesting, some of them setting up a makeshift memorial.

What it is captured on camera of the incident Friday night paints a complex picture. Brooks at different points joking with police officers, engaging in polite conversation, but in one fell swoop, everything changes. We should warn you: some of this video is graphic and difficult to watch.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Responding to a call from a Wendy's in South Atlanta Friday night, Officer Devin Brosnan approaches Rayshard Brooks's car.

OFFICER DEVIN BROSNAN, ATLANTA POLICE: Hey, my man. Hey, my man. Hey! Hey, man, you're parked in the middle of a drive-through line here. Hey, sir! What's up, man? You're parked in the drive-through right now. Hey! Sir! Are you all right?

SANCHEZ: Asleep in the drive-through lane, police bodycam footage shows the 27-year-old does not respond right away.

BROSNAN: Are you tired? All right, man. Just -- I'm in my car. Just pull somewhere and take. All right. You good?



SANCHEZ: Brooks eventually wakes up and agrees to move his car before he appears to fall asleep again.

BROSNAN: Hey, man, you can't go back to sleep. You've got to move your car. You're going back to sleep.

SANCHEZ: Brook moves to a nearby parking spot, where the Brosnan asks --

BROSNAN: How much did you drink tonight?

BROOKS: Not much.

BROSNAN: Not much? How much is not much? You say one drink? What kind of drink was it?

BROOKS: I only had one little margarita.

BROSNAN: Any drugs today?

BROOKS: Absolutely. I don't do drugs.

SANCHEZ: Brooks struggles to find his license and tries to step out of the car.

BROOKS: I want to get out.

BROSNAN: No, just stay in the car for me. All right? It will just take a minute. Just remove your license.

SANCHEZ: Brosnan then radios for another officer to conduct a DUI test.

BROSNAN: He's pretty out of it. Definitely got something going on with him right now.

SANCHEZ: When Officer Garrett Rolfe arrives, Brooks denies ever having been asleep.

OFFICER GARRETT ROLFE, ATLANTA POLICE: The reason why we're here is because someone called 911, because you were sleep behind the wheel while you were in the drive-through. Right? Do you recall that?


BROOKS: I don't. I don't.

ROLFE: You don't recall that? You don't recall just minutes ago where you were passed out behind the wheel in a drive-through?

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're just doing your job.

SANCHEZ: When Rolfe tries to handcuff Brooks, he resists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, stop that!

SANCHEZ: Witness video shows Brosnan readying his Taser. Brooks grabs it out of his hand.


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.

Bystanders almost immediately begin cursing and shouting at the officers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both of your careers are definitely gone! You just shot a man for no reason!

SANCHEZ: A few minutes after he shot, Officers Rolfe and Brosnan begin to provide medical treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Brooks, are you breathing?

SANCHEZ: A short time later, Brooks is rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where he's later pronounced dead.

(on camera): And Officer Rolfe, who opened fire, has been terminated. Officer Brosnan, who first responded to the scene here, has been placed administrative duty.

And Erica Shields, the chief of police in Atlanta, resigned over the weekend.

Of course, there is an ongoing investigation, potentially with charges coming this week.

Boris Sanchez, CNN, in Atlanta.


HOLMES: And our next guest is former president of the Police Foundation. Former police chief Jim Bueermann joins me from Redlands in California. Thanks for doing so, sir.

I mean, when you look at the videos, you know, I'm curious on your take. It does seem to show there were choices made. What's your evaluation of the officer's decision to draw his weapon and fire at the moment that the suspect's back is turned, and he's fleeing?

JIM BUEERMANN, FORMER PRESIDENT, POLICE FOUNDATION: So I think this video shows how quickly what is starting out as a very casual, and a very cordial interaction between Mr. Brooks and the officers can just go right off the rails.

So the officers are talking to him. Eventually, they decide that they're going to place him under arrest. And one of the things I thought was a little surprising is they did not tell him, at least in the video I've seen, they did not tell him that he was under arrest. They simply grabbed him, told him to put his hands behind his back.

And he may have been -- it sounds like he had been drinking. That may have startled him. And then the fight is on, and he took off.

The decision for the officers to use their weapons really is going to be one that's framed around whether it was necessary and reasonable and whether the force that they used was proportional. And I think (AUDIO GAP) decided that probably wasn't true.

HOLMES: Yes, yes. I mean, one imagines you've got to be fearing for your own life, and it didn't appear that his life was under threat, the police officer's.

I mean, it's just such a tragedy that, you know, George Floyd died after passing a counterfeit 20-dollar bill. And Mr. Brooks died after falling asleep in his car at a Wendy's.

I mean, do you feel charges are appropriate, given what you've seen? And if so, what sort of charge?

BUEERMANN: So I haven't seen enough of this, but apparently, the autopsy has indicated that he was shot in the back. And so, again, whether this was necessary, whether it was reasonable and whether it was proportional, if Mr. Brooks is running away from the officers and he is not presenting an immediate threat to their life, then I think the officer is going to be incumbent upon the officers in their defense, if criminal charges are filed, to determine whether or not -- or to prove that they thought that they had a reasonable fear for their life.

And you know, I think when you look at that, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions. Obviously, some of the things that Mr. Brooks did were not right. He stole the gun from the officers. That's probably a felony.

But they knew who he was. They knew where to find him. And if they have to, they can let him go and then get him later on.

And so I think all of these factors are going to come into play. The officers are going to have their side of the story, and they're going to tender a defense if criminal charges are filed.

HOLMES: Yes. I guess, again, you're going to come back to that. Was the officer's life at threat? And it's pretty hard to argue that when when the suspect is running away.

It does all speak to -- and this has sort of been part of the discussion about reform. What sort of reform would help in that situation? What sort of training, de-escalation and treatment of a suspect?

BUEERMANN: So I think if you go back to the very beginning of this incident. It looks to me like they're probably arresting him for drunk driving.


So one of the questions might be -- first of all, you've got to tell him, and that's part of the escalation. You have to tell people what it is I'm about to do. When you put your hands on somebody and you don't tell them why you're doing that, especially if they've been drinking, they're going to panic sometimes. So that's part of the problem.

The other problem is -- and I think in this discussion about how we resolve low -- lower-grade criminal offensive, there are going to be some people who say, well, why couldn't they have just given him a ride home? He was not causing them any problems. He was cooperating. He was very polite to them. And I think even suggested that, if they gave him a ride home, or he could just go a few blocks and be home.

Of course, there are going to be other people, especially those who have loved ones who have been victims of drunk drivers, who are going to take a very different stance on that particular thing.

HOLMES: Just very quickly, I mean, there's a lot of talk about defunding at the moment. And of course, the notion of abolishing departments is -- is not really the argument about defunding. It's about diverting some budget to social services that could deal with -- with some issues police currently handle, from homeless people to mental health.

I mean, what do you think of that? I mean, are there situations -- maybe this wasn't the one -- where police probably don't even want to be handling it?

BUEERMANN: So I'm not sure this was one of those situations, but I will tell you, every cop I know -- and this would've been my opinion when I was still a police officer -- that cops don't volunteer for this stuff. I mean, society has decided that the police are going to be the first responders in those kinds of situations.

I think police chiefs and police officers all across the country are going to be very supportive of this idea of shifting that responsibility to other first responders that have better training, are better able to handle that kind of a situation. They don't want to do this. It is who we have decided as a society are going to be the first responders. And now is the time for us to change that.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, I think you hit the nail on the head. If only they'd said, Head off home. His sister lived a couple blocks away apparently.

Jim Bueermann, we really appreciate. Thank you so much.

BUEERMANN: You're welcome.

HOLMES: Well, press freedom in the Philippines put to another test. Coming up, the verdict in the libel case against award-winning journalist Maria Ressa. We're going to talk with her.

And Beijing doubling down on testing to make sure a new outbreak of coronavirus does not overwhelm China's capital. We'll be right back.



HOLMES: Welcome back. A court in the Philippines has found journalist Maria Ressa guilty of so-called cyber libel.

Ressa is a former CNN bureau chief and the founder and CEO of the news site Rappler, which has produced extensive coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte and his war on drugs.

Let's talk now to Maria Ressa. She joins us now from Manila. It's good to see you, my friend, and we'll call you my friend. In many

ways, considering how the government has treated you, it's not surprising. Where do you go from here? Do you think you've got any chance on appeal?

MARIA RESSA, FOUNDER AND CEO, RAPPLER: Wow. Well, first of all, Michael, thank you so much for having me. But you know, yes, today, I was convicted. But I don't think Ray and I and Rappler, we weren't the only ones on trial. I think today, also, the Philippine justice system was on trial.

You know, as you pointed out, I've been under attack by my own government for four years now, since 2016. And we were targeted by authorities after the government's weaponization of social media. So we were first targeted in 2016, with these exponential attacks on social media.

Well, today, the judiciary just became complicit in this insidious campaign, and it really is death by 1,000 cuts. And the end goal is to silence independent journalism, stifle press freedom.

But you know who I am. You know the work that we do. I think that part of the reason we come out of the stronger is that we know that there are deliberate efforts to stifle press freedom.

HOLMES: Yes. And there's no -- you know, hard-pressed to find a finer, more honorable journalist. I mean, and you have been targeted by this government at least 11 times.

And what sort of warning does what's happening to the media in the Philippines send to other countries run by populist leaders, not to mention here in the U.S., where the president calls the media the enemy of the people?

RESSA: Well, the president did that to CNN, and "The New York Times." Our president, a week later, called -- attacked us, also, as fake news. Right? So I think we're all connected.

And this is part of the -- I mean, when I was with CNN, we were never -- these times are extremely different. You went into war zones. When we would go into consulate, and you know exactly where the bullets are coming from, and how you can help protect yourself.

This time, it's coming bottom up on social media. Because when facts are debatable, we have no leg to stand on, and yet, our job becomes more important.

And then when those same lies are repeated top-down by our presidents, how do we deal with that? How do we evolve journalism?

I think this is an existential moment for journalism. Here in the Philippines, I think we are at the precipice of, you know, looking down, on the verge of losing our democracy, given everything that's going on.

Look, this charge is -- I am now facing eight criminal -- well, now I'm a convicted criminal, which was the narrative that was seeded on social media four years ago. It just took a while for the justice system to catch up. Now, "journalist" has been replaced with "criminal." It starts with the wording and the narratives.

But I still have seven other criminal cases. I have paid more in bail and bonds then Imelda Marcos, who was actually convicted in four different countries.

So I feel like where -- Actually, our managing editor, Glenda Gloria, wrote a piece that said where the Philippines goes, the United States follows. The kinds of -- the weaponization of social media is global, and we know that it has been used, that there's almost a dictator's playbook to use this to attack news groups and journalists and to water down facts. I think this is -- this is a big problem.


HOLMES: You know, you -- your -- your president once famously said, just because you're a journalist, you're not exempted from assassination. Where do you go from here in terms of your own work? Your important work? I mean, I -- you are incredibly brave, apart from anything else. What do you do now?

RESSA: We continue. We will appeal this. We will bring it to the next level, the court of appeals. I mean, there are two huge shifts of law that happened in this.

In order to even bring this case to court, there were legal acrobatics that had to happen, including changing the statute of limitations for libel from one year to 12 years. That's barely, actually, addressed in the verdict.

And then, the second one is this idea of continuous publication, republication, essentially because someone in Rappler changed a typographical error of a story that was first published in 2012, before the law we allegedly violated was even enacted.

Because we changed it in 2014, this is what allowed the case to go to court. So imagine, Michael, someone fixes a typo, you can go to jail for six years. That's -- this is insane, and I think this is why we need to fight it.

Where else do we have to go? Like -- like every journalist around the world, we have to hold power to account, and we need to get social media to a point where it is not spreading lies, facts -- faster than facts. This is a global battle. We will redefine all of this.

HOLMES: That was one of your first campaigns, was Facebook and misinformation, and so on and so forth. And had mounds of evidence of that.

Do you worry for yourself, Maria?

RESSA: I learned how to protect myself from conflict situations in CNN. You know, we've been in these places. I think the difference, now, is that it's fear of fear. Right? And

I've learned a lesson in four years. When someone -- when power, great power, tries to hang a Damocles sword over your head, if you allow it to affect you, they succeed. Because you're not doing the kind of journalism, the investigative journalism, we should be doing.

So what we have learned in Rappler is we swatted away, and we keep our eye on the ball.

It makes me wonder, and worry, what is the government afraid of? Why are they afraid of journalists? Why must they always make me feel their power?

I think I'm a nice person. I ask very respectfully. Our reporters are very respectful. But they just don't like the questions. And we need to get back to this idea of checks and balances.

HOLMES: As I said, you are -- you are honorable. You're a fine journalist. You are a very nice person, and I wish you all power, my friend. And keep at it. You're -- you're terrific. Thank you for spending time with us. Good luck.

RESSA: Thank you, Michael.

HOLMES: In just a few hours, a Russian court will pronounce sentence on Paul Whelan. He's that former U.S. Marine accused of espionage. Russian prosecutors asking for 18 years in a maximum-security prison.

Whelan has been in jail since December 2018 and has pleaded not guilty to all churches. The U.S. ambassador to Russia calls the proceedings a mockery of justice, saying, authorities haven't let him see Whelan and haven't provided U.S. officials with any evidence of alleged crimes.

Beijing is testing any patient with a fever for the coronavirus after a break-out of new cases at what is considered the largest food market in Asia. At least 51 cases linked to the market have been reported since Friday, breaking Beijing's 56-day record of no new cases.

Steven Jiang joins me now with more from Beijing.

Good to see you, Steven. Bring us up to date on these numbers and what other details you've been able to learn about this.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right, Michael. As you said, Beijing actually had not seen any new cases for almost two months, until last Thursday. And since then, they have now reported 79 confirmed cases. Almost all of them are linked to that market.

Now, the market, of course, has been closed down on Saturday, and with the authority sealing off the market and its surrounding neighborhoods, they're also placing a growing number of neighborhoods with reported -- with newly-reported cases under lockdown, as well.

Now, we are also seeing these obsessive health checks and screenings, making a strong comeback across the city. Remember -- remember, things were kind of easing off quite a bit in recent weeks until last Thursday.


You were seeing people take off their masks in public in many places, including tourist attractions, bars and restaurants, and shopping malls were getting more crowded again. Then, again, came this latest cluster. Now that's why now the authorities are conducting their extensive contact tracing, as well as mass testing.

On Sunday alone, they tested more than 76,000 people, including anyone who had been to the market since May 30, as well as their close contacts. And this testing program is continuing, as we speak.

And now of the people they have tested so far, 59 have tested positive. So they're expecting the number of confirmed cases continues to grow.

And then, of course, you are seeing schools who had just reopened now being -- with students being told they have the option of study from home again.

And another sign of how alarmed the authorities -- the authorities are, they are now saying the people who have been to the market and their close contacts should stay at home for at least two weeks for medical observation -- Michael.

HOLMES: Worrying sign. Steven, good to see you. Thanks for that.

Steven Jiang in Beijing for us.

Well, another family member -- another family member of another black man killed by police calling for justice. The wife of Rayshard Brooks is speaking out. That's when we come back.


HOLMES: The wife of Rayshard Brooks, that black man shot and killed by police on Friday, is speaking out.


TOMIKA MILLER, WIFE OF RAYSHARD BROOKS: I want them to go to jail. I want them to deal with the same thing as if it was my husband who killed someone else. If it was my husband who had shot them, he would be in jail. He would be doing a life sentence. They need to be put away.



HOLMES: Protesters, meanwhile, are building a memorial to Brooks outside that Wendy's fast-food restaurant where the shooting took place.

The restaurant was burned to the ground on Saturday night. Some critics say police failed to de-escalate that situation after responding to a call that Brooks was asleep in his car in the drive- through.

The conversation between Brooks and police eventually leading to a struggle, Brooks grabbing one of the officer's Tasers and running. Brooks shot in the back and killed.

The shooting, of course, fanned -- fanned the flames of anger and frustration that protesters were already feeling in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. One protester explaining the reasoning behind setting the restaurant on fire.


JOSETH JETT, ATLANTA PROTESTOR: Our mission is to get as many people out here and as many people speaking on this situation. As of right now that is going on. And that has caused this Wendy's right here to be burned down in the first place.

So yes, I do feel bad about people that have lost their jobs, but at the same time, we burned this building and not any other building around here. We burned this one specifically because of what happened here. You see what I'm saying?

And this goes back to what our mission is, making sure that there is justice served for the person that died over here at this Wendy's.

At the end of the day, the man ran. The man tried to escape. There was absolutely no reason why a gun needs to be pulled when a man is trying to run.


HOLMES: On Sunday, the medical examiner's office in the county where Brooks was shot and killed released the autopsy details, and it showed Brooks was shot twice in the back. He died of organ damage and blood loss. The death officially ruled a homicide.

One of the attorneys for the Brooks family appeared earlier on CNN and maintains it was a needless death.


JUSTIN MILLER, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF RAYSHARD BROOKS: What that tells us is that he was fleeing. His back was turned to the officer when the officer shot him and when the bullets entered his body, which is very problematic, because regardless of what else happened that day, him fleeing should have been something that the officers should have taken as a way out of the situation, so that he could have lived and the officers could have continued with their day, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police have now released 44 minutes of bodycam footage. Do you think this video helps your case?

MILLER: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't say it helps or hurts. It's the same case. I mean, they -- the footage didn't show us anything that we really didn't know already.

What we -- what we know is that that interaction should not have resulted in death. And so that bodycam footage really didn't give us anything that said otherwise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you see in that bodycam footage?

MILLER: So -- so there were three parts to that that were very crucial to us. The first part was the discussion between Mr. Brooks and the officer. The second part was the scuffle between the two. And the third part was Mr. Brooks when he was trying to get away from the situation.

So in the first part, when they were having their discussion, it was clear that Mr. Brooks was practically deferential to the officer, which is something that black men are taught to do to survive these encounters. That wasn't working. The officer seemed hellbent on taking him to jail, even though he was on private property, wasn't hurting anyone, didn't have a deadly weapon and, by all accounts, was sleeping in a car.

So that's -- that's the first thing that is problematic, and the bodycam didn't show us anything different.

The second thing was the tussle. And it did show them fighting. And it showed the officers trying to tase him, and he took the Taser. And so we didn't see anything different. He was, at that point, looked to be fighting for his life. And if he could be here today, he could speak for himself and say what he was doing exactly. But that's what it looked to be to us.

And then the third thing was he was fleeing. And that's the most important part, because at that time, the officer had the last best chance to stop that from happening. And he didn't take that chance, and instead, he shot him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. City leaders have taken action now. The officer who shot Brooks has been fired. The police chief has stepped down. What's your reaction to that?

MILLER: You know, we represent the daughter of George Floyd. We are local Georgia counsel for Ahmaud Arbery. We -- we are dealing with other cases, as well -- Alton Sterling -- where these things happen and people say, Well, how do you feel about, you know, something happening in the case?


And what I'll say is, it's good that changes occurred. It's good that people are taking steps to mitigate problems. But it's not justice, and we don't think it can ever be justice, because a man's life was taken. Children lost a father, and a wife lost a husband.


HOLMES: The county district attorney said a decision on whether to bring charges in the case will come in around Wednesday or so. And we will keep an eye on that.

We're going to take a short break.

New York was once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, but now it is reporting one of the lowest death tolls in the U.S. Still, the governor warns the state is not out of the woods yet.

And the French president wants to get his country's economy moving again after coronavirus. Find out what he has planned for the weeks ahead. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Brazil has reported another steep rise in coronavirus infections on Sunday. Health officials counting more than 17,000 new cases. At least 612 new deaths.

The daily death toll there thought to be the highest in the world. It's even higher than the U.S., where the outbreak is still getting worse in at least 18 states. But things have been improving in other parts of the country.

New York state, the former epicenter of the pandemic, has reported 23 new deaths, its lowest number since the outbreak began. Some cities they are now starting to reopen, of course, but the governor warning the process can be rolled back if there are too many violations of the reopening policy. He and other officials still urging Americans to wear masks.


On Twitter, the U.S. surgeon general said wearing masks could reduce the asymptomatic spread of the virus.

Now, select countries in the European Union are lifting internal travel restrictions on Monday. Countries like Greece and France will allow their people to travel throughout the E.U., but others like Spain are keeping their borders closed until later in the month.

Well, not all restrictions are immediately lifted. Local economies are desperate, of course, for a boost from summer tourism.

Meanwhile, in England, nonessential shops are set to reopen their doors in the coming hours, ending the three-month retail shutdown. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson signaling the move in May, giving time for stores to implement coronavirus safety measures.

President Emmanuel Macron of France applauding the efforts of French citizens and battling the virus on a televised address from Sunday. He announced the easing of more restrictions and briefly touched on recent anti-racism protests.

CNN's Cyril Vanier with more from Paris.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In his address to the nation, the French president announced the end of the initial phase of the coronavirus crisis here in France.

Mr. Macron significantly accelerated the reopening of the country. Cafes and restaurants in Paris can now fully reopen. A week from now, all students except high schoolers will have to go back to class. Local elections that will draw millions of voters across the country to polling stations will go ahead later this month.

Importantly, travel restrictions are also being lifted. Starting Monday, French nationals can travel to other European countries, and they will be able to travel outside Europe starting July 1.

While the president warned that the country needed to prepare itself for the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus, his focus is now turning firmly toward rebuilding the crippled economy.

And Mr. Macron also acknowledged the protest movement here in France against racism and police violence sparked by the death of George Floyd. He admitted that France has not done a good enough job of ensuring equal opportunity to all, regardless of the color of their skin. And he promised unspecified new measures to fight racism.

But he was adamant that France would not be taking down any statues or erasing any names from its history. Devoting a mere three minutes and 30 seconds of his speech to this topic, the president praised law enforcement and then moved swiftly back to his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.


HOLMES: Anne Rimoin is a professor at the UCLA Department of Epidemiology and the director of the school's Center for Global and Immigrant Health. She joins me now from Los Angeles.

Great to see you again. What do you make of what seemed to be some alarming spikes in a number of states and the causes for it? You know, what do you make of it?

ANNE RIMOIN, PROFESSOR, UCLA DEPARTMENT OF EPIDEMIOLOGY: Well, when we see these kinds of increases, they're really reflective of what's happened three weeks previously. So, you know, this is exactly what we were saying was going to happen, what many of us epidemiologists were saying was going to happen, was that we were going to see a spike a couple of weeks after Labor Day [SIC]. And that's where we are right now.

So whenever you see numbers increasing, it's not about what happened yesterday or the day before yesterday. It's about what happened two to three weeks prior.

HOLMES: You know, I want to ask you this, too, because quite apart from speaking of what -- what could come later; apart from the racial imagery of a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, what do you think of a rally at all right now? I mean, even the Trump campaign is requiring anyone who goes to legally agree they won't sue if they get the virus. And the health chief of that city wants it postponed.

Is the president jeopardizing the health of his base?

RIMOIN: You know, I think that any -- any gathering indoors, thousands of people, probably not wearing masks, very close together, shouting, screaming, chanting, is a terrible idea. I mean, these are the perfect conditions for spread of the virus. So I think that this is not advisable at this time.

You know, the thing is that the virus is here. There is nothing different about the fact that this virus is circulating. It is circulating everywhere here in the United States. We're starting to see numbers go up, and the idea that you're going to pull, you know, thousands of people together into a room at this point -- there's a reason that they're asking them to sign waivers not to sue if they get COVID.

HOLMES: Yes. You'd think, wouldn't you? And the top health officer in Tulsa saying, Please don't.

The American Medical Association said -- it was interesting. They said, quote, "Do not confuse reopening with returning to normal."

Health experts have been talking about a precipice ahead. And yet, you have a lot of governors saying, Reopening is fine, go ahead. One said there is no correlation between reopening and increasing cases. What do you make of the messaging at the moment?


RIMOIN: Reopening is directly correlated with increasing cases. When you have more people circulating, they are more likely to be exposed to people who have the virus and therefore get infected. I mean, those are just the simple laws of infectious disease transmission.

So of course, as we see, as we open up, we're going to see more people interacting, and the virus will spread. So it's just a logical -- it's just a logical conclusion.

And what the American Medical Association said is absolutely spot on. Reopening does not mean that things are going back to normal. They can't go back to normal. We still have -- we are still in the midst of a pandemic. We do not have therapeutics. We don't have a vaccine. And we're still struggling to have testing, tracing and isolating of patients, or of people who are infected. It's still a challenge for us here in the United States.

So -- so we are really at a -- at a very critical point in this pandemic. And I think we're going to be paying the price for opening too soon.

HOLMES: Yes. And you touched on something that is actually really important. And that is the -- the lack of tracing. And in particular, that narrative seems to be political, rather than medical. The White House hasn't even attempted to put in a test-and-trace regime on a federal level.

Are you concerned about that? How do you get through this without tracing?

RIMOIN: Well, I mean, tracing -- contact tracing is a key part of epidemic response. And so we must get our arms around this and improve. We need to hire more contact tracers. We need to be able to train them, and we really need to have testing available to everyone, and good testing.

So -- so that we really know where the cases are. This has been one of our biggest downfalls in why we have not been able to really be able to control this epidemic here in the United States.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes. It just seems that there needs to be some sort of federal coordination and control of that. And there is none. I'm wondering. You touched on this, and it's important, as well.

Are you getting a sense of complacency around the country? You know, there are a lot of people wearing masks and taking care. But I know in my own life, a lot of people are not. They seem to have become numb to the risk. They feel the danger is over. Or they're just bored with it. I mean, what are the risks of that?

RIMOIN: Well, this is a -- this is a problem in public health in general. This is not specific to this pandemic. People get tired of having to be vigilant. It's true with many things.

But here, in particular, this quarantine fatigue is real, and unfortunately, it's happening at a critical moment.

I try to tell people all the time, this is not going to be forever. So if we can really just hang on and do our very best. Everybody wearing masks, keep your droplets to yourself. Social distance. I know it's hard. But this won't necessarily be forever. We just have to take it, you know, a period of time, a chunk at a time. Right? It's how do you get the elephant? One bite at a time. And that's really what we need to do here.

We are in the midst of a pandemic. We all need to do our part. It will make a difference.

And so while everybody is feeling fatigued and tired of wearing a mask, and tired of social distancing, you know, I get it. But we have to hang on. Until we have therapeutics and -- and/or a vaccine in place, we really need to do our best.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, exactly. Anne Rimoin. Always good to get your thoughts, Professor. Thanks so much.

RIMOIN: My pleasure.

HOLMES: We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, Brazil has the second highest coronavirus death toll in the world. We talk to motor sports star Lucas Di Grassi and how he's helping to fight the pandemic in his home country and when he hopes to get back on the track. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: A powerful image there from Real Madrid superstar Marcelo after he scored a goal in Sunday's match. You see him there him showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, both kneeling and raising a fist.

Spain's La Liga returned to action this week after three months off due to the coronavirus pandemic. Players taking the opportunity to honor coronavirus relief efforts and the fight against social justice.

And Formula E star Lucas Di Grassi talks to us about the impact of coronavirus in his native Brazil. The driver joined CNN's Christina MacFarlane to share how he's working out while being a stay-at-home dad and how the pandemic has affected motor sport. Have a listen.


CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN SPORT: From what I've seen, you have been keeping fit in perhaps the most adorable way possible, which is with your son, Leo.


MACFARLANE: Does he enjoy working out with his dad?

DI GRASSI: He's one year and 10 months now. He weighs about 14 kilos. So he's a good weight for a workout. And at the same time, I keep him busy. And it's very funny. He's trying to replicate everything I do. I'm enjoying a lot this time with him. At least I'm -- I haven't been home for two months ever, even before he was born.

MACFARLANE: Do you look forward to the day when you can talk to Leo about the fact that he was blessed by Pope Francis?

DI GRASSI: Yes, yes. It was actually two years ago almost. That was, like, a magical moment. We didn't know if we were going to be able to see the pope or what was going to happen. Was he going to pass by and not say anything? And he was super kind. And he stopped by, asked the name, and then blessed him. And I was very happy to have that.

MACFARLANE: As we know, Brazil is in a bit of a desperate situation right now with the coronavirus. As you say, you were there in Sao Paulo. What is the situation like for you and your friends and family? And how fearful are you of what is -- what is going on in Brazil right now?


DI GRASSI: Well, to be completely honest, in Brazil, it's very hard to say, OK, let's have a lockdown, because 50 percent of people that live in the slums, they don't even have access to running water. So how can you say stay at home? They don't have food. They don't have money. It's not a developed world that a lockdown could work.

So here, it has to be much more of a strategy of trying to reduce as much of the contagion as possible. What I did, I went to the old people's home, the public azilams (ph), and I distributed the items for hygiene and decontamination, like some UPIs (ph), together with a partnership with a friend of mine that runs an NGO. We went, and we helped 20,000 elderly people.

Then, with the same money, I 3-D printed 2,000 face shields and I distributed it to some hospitals and put some heavy-duty workers that needed to work.

MACFARLANE: Coming back to Formula E, the season, obviously, was suspended in March. What discussions are going on right now about how Formula E can get back on track?

DI GRASSI: I think that's the same question that every sport and entertainment event in the world are having right now. When will we see a rupture with 100,000 people? When do we see a race with 20 or 30,000 people crunched together and celebrating like we had in Mexico last year?

At the moment, a solution, especially for motor sports, is to have a race without any crowd. And then when there is a vaccine, it should be out in the next few months to a year, then I think things should go back to normal.

HOLMES: On that note, thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. This has been CNN NEWSROOM, and there will be more CNN NEWSROOM after the break.