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States Reporting Spikes in Cases; Investigation into of Hanging Deaths; Trump to Hold Rally in Tulsa with History of Racial Violence; Supreme Court Ruling on Discrimination; MLB Commissioner on 2020 Baseball Season; NFL Players Test Positive for Coronavirus. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 16, 2020 - 06:30   ET



ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is not going to close the economy. Take a listen.


MAYOR CARLOS GIMENEZ (R), MIAMI-DADE: We're not going back to closing our economy because numbers inch up over a couple of days. What we're going to continue to do is to strictly enforce the rules and continue to watch the guiding statistics carefully.


FLORES: Now, here's what's interesting. The mayors of Miami and Miami Beach are also looking at that same data and they are concerned. They say that they could and are considering imposing restrictions. The mayor in Miami Beach going as far as saying that he might require masks to be worn all the time. The mayor of Miami saying that he's concerned because a portion of the spike is within the ages of 18 and 34, and he's concerned that these individuals might take it home and perhaps spread it to their parents and grandparents.

Now, according to Governor Ron DeSantis, this spike is due to outbreaks in agricultural communities. And the mayor here in Miami- Dade says that agricultural communities in south Miami-Dade, Alisyn, are going to be tested, that mobile units are going to be sent out, and those communities are just a short drive away here from Miami.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, that's really important context. Thank you very much, Rosa.

Well, the FBI and the Justice Department are now investigating the hanging deaths of two black men in California. We have the background, next.


[06:35:16] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: This is just a disturbing story. Developing overnight, the FBI and Justice Department are now investigating the recent hanging deaths of two black men in Southern California. The deaths of 24-year-old Robert Fuller and 38-year-old Malcolm Harsh occurred ten days and 50 miles apart. Both were ruled suicides. There are questions now.

Suzanne Malveaux has more.


DIANNA HARGRAVE, PALMDALE RESIDENT: They're lynching our black children!

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Residents of Palmdale, California, say it is the site of a modern-day lynching.


CROWD: Robert Fuller!

MALVEAUX: Twenty-four-year-old Robert Fuller was found hanging from a tree near city hall early Wednesday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a black man to be hung in a tree near city hall, that's a message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't understand our pain!

MALVEAUX: Residents were outraged Friday when city officials announced their initial findings.

CAPT. RON SHAFFER, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF, PALMDALE STATION: It appears that Mr. Fuller has tragically died by suicide. A full autopsy --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on. There it is.

ALEXANDER: He wasn't!

MALVEAUX: Now, five days after Fuller was found, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which oversees Palmdale, says it's taking another look.

DR. JONATHAN LUCAS, L.A. COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER-CORONER: The initial reports appeared to be consistent with a suicide, but we felt it prudent to roll that back and continue to look deeper.

CAPT. KENT WEGENER, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF HOMICIDE BUREAU: Regarding a chair or something similar found at the scene, there was nothing.

MALVEAUX: The sheriff's department announced it would begin reviewing seemingly basic evidence. WEGENER: Initially, we are going to do forensics on the rope that was

involved. We look to contact the witness who located him in the park and those who may have seen him in the past few days prior to his death.

MALVEAUX: But residents say more should have been done.

BARBIE MIMS, LOS ANGELES RESIDENT: If it was another race, if it was a white boy, they'd be on it.

CROWD: Justice now!

MALVEAUX: Just ten days ago, as Black Lives Matter rallies continued nationwide, another black man, Malcolm Harsh, was discovered hanged from a tree less than 60 miles from where Fuller was found. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department says it found no indications of foul play and that the 38-year-old hanged himself. Harsh's family, like Fuller's, says, no way.

NAJEE ALI, FAMILY SPOKESMAN: We believe that both of these two young black men were the victims of a possible hate crime.

MALVEAUX: Now the families of both men are calling for independent investigations, according to a shared spokesman.

ALI: Both families have stated, both men were looking forward to enjoying their life, and both hangings make no sense whatsoever.


MALVEAUX: The Justice Department, as well as the FBI Civil Rights Division, is reviewing both of these cases. City officials say they will cooperate with federal authorities.

But just to underscore the level of suspicion, I talked to many Palmdale residents who don't even believe that Fuller was hanged from that tree, that perhaps his body was brought there. It is a very small tree. No broken branches. It looks undisturbed. And having seen that tree for myself, you can certainly understand their suspicions. Just one of the many questions that need to be addressed.


CAMEROTA: We need much more information. Suzanne, thank you very much for that report.

Well, the Trump campaign is moving ahead with its planned rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday. Tulsa is a provocative choice from President Trump, with the city's long history of racist violence.

CNN's Abby Phillip investigates.


TIFFANY CRUTCHER, TWIN BROTHER KILLED BY TULSA POLICE IN 2016: We're twins, yes, three minutes apart. He came out first and he calls me his little big sister.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Before George Floyd, before nationwide protests against police brutality swept the country, Tiffany Crutcher's twin brother, Terence, was killed by a Tulsa police officer in 2016.

CRUTCHER: Terence just needed help that day.

PHILLIP: Crutcher was unarmed and the officer who shot him was charged with manslaughter, but later acquitted.

CROWD: Don't shoot!

PHILLIP: For Tiffany, the anger in Tulsa over policing dates back to 1921, when her great grandmother was one of thousands of black residents who ran for their lives as a mob of angry whites killed hundreds and burned down the black neighborhood of Greenwood, known then as Black Wall Street.

CRUTCHER: Same culture that burned down Black Wall Street and killed innocent people and ran my great grandmother from her home is the same culture, the same policing culture that killed Terence.

PHILLIP: Now, President Trump is coming here, at a time when black Tulsa residents still feel like their voices aren't being heard.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact that I'm having a rally on that day, you can really think about that very positively as a celebration.


PHILLIP: Most of the city's black residents are concentrated in north Tulsa, literally divided from the rest of the city by train tracks. A 2018 Human Rights Watch report found that black Tulsa residents are 2.3 times more likely to be arrested than white residents. The report also found traffic stops are more likely to happen in the black, poor parts of the city, tend to last longer, and are more likely to result in search, questioning, and arrest.

But it's not just drivers.

DAMARIO SOLOMON-SIMMONS, ATTORNEY FOR TULSA TEENS: My clients, who are 13 and 15, had been walking on this road, minding their own business.

PHILLIP: Earlier this month, in Tulsa, two black teenagers arrested for jaywalking in a neighborhood with no sidewalks. Their story getting national attention when police video of the incident was released.

Donna Corbitt lives just around the corner and also recorded what she saw. The video showing both teens in handcuffs, one struggling with officers and at one point an officer kicking him inside of the police car. And later, the teen demanding that they call his mother.

DONNA CORBITT, WITNESS: It really made me very sickened in myself, you know, and it's a great burden to see, you know, such brutality on a child like that.

PHILLIP: Tulsa police say the arrest is being investigated. Corbitt and the younger teen's mother returning to the place where her son was arrested.

TAWANNA ADKINS, MOTHER OF TULSA TEEN: And it just broke my heart that they felt comfortable harassing, abusing, and humiliating him.

PHILLIP: Echoes of countless other viral videos that have laid bare the pain of black America.

CRUTCHER: I just lost it. That's all I could think about is that baby thinking he was going to be the next George Floyd or the next Terence Crutcher.


PHILLIP: Now, Oklahoma's governor, Kevin Stitt, said that he spoke to President Trump yesterday about this visit. He said he encouraged the president to come down to the Greenwood District where Black Wall Street had been almost 100 years ago to take a tour. He also said that he asked the president to allot federal dollars for a memorial commemorating that race riot. However, that is a different memorial than the cultural center that has been here in Greenwood for some 25 years. And the folks I've spoke to -- spoken to here in the black community said that would be a pretty controversial decision if the president were to do either of those things, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Abby Phillip, thank you for reporting from Tulsa for us.

Meanwhile, an historic ruling from the Supreme Court to protect the gay and transgender community. One of President Trump's hand-picked justices wrote the surprising decision. That's next.



SCIUTTO: In a landmark decision, truly a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that gay, lesbian, and transgender workers are protected against discrimination by federal civil rights law. Truly remarkable, Alisyn. And, you know, we're used to this left-right split on the court, often in 5-4 decisions. Here you have a case -- and I believe we have Jeffrey Toobin now joining us, CNN chief legal analyst.

But, Jeffrey, I was going to say, we're used to this left-right split. You and I have talked about it a thousand times on so many issues. But here you have a ruling sought by liberals, opposed by the Trump administration, the Justice Department, written in favor by a conservative justice appointed by the president and joined by the chief justice. Just -- did you see this coming?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, after the oral argument, it was clear that Justice Gorsuch was leaning this way. But Chief Justice Roberts' vote is, to me, the real big surprise here because he was pretty skeptical of the plaintiff's arguments here.

But I think it's important to remember what this case is really about. It's not about what the Constitution means for gay and transgender people. It's really the interpretation of one word in one law, which is Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

And the question in the case was, what does sex mean? Traditionally, the courts have said sex only means gender. You can't fire someone because she's a woman. But what Justice Gorsuch decided was, the meaning of sex also includes sexual orientation and transgender status. He simply analyzed that one word, and he calls himself a texturalist (ph). And he thought, he decided, for six justices, that sex had that broader definition. It's an enormously important ruling, but I wouldn't draw too much into it about, you know, how the court is going to evolve. You know, there are -- there are even more controversial decisions coming, perhaps as early as next week, that may push the court back in a conservative direction.

CAMEROTA: Hmm. What was it about Chief Justice Roberts' response that so surprised you?

TOOBIN: Well, because Chief Justice Roberts has voted against the gay rights position in every case that's been before him since he's been chief justice, which is now quite a while, 15 years. I do think that Chief Justice Roberts, in the best sense of the word, though, is a politician. And he recognizes that in 2020 it's simply intolerable that, as was the case before yesterday, under federal law, you could fire someone simply because they were gay.


TOOBIN: You could -- you could walk into their office and say, you know what, you're doing a great job, but we don't want gay people here and you're fired. That was the position that the Trump administration supported. I think Chief Justice Roberts recognized that the world has changed too much for that to be a permissible position for the American legal system.

SCIUTTO: It is -- and it's good for you for highlighting that, Jeffrey Toobin, just the idea that that might have stood, right, in the year 2020 is just, it's remarkable in this country, or in any country in the world.


TOOBIN: You know, there were a handful of states that prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation, but not even half of them. So, in more than half of the states, that was the law. And it's not the law anymore. And it's really a very important day in American legal history, the fact that that kind of poisonous discrimination is no longer legal.

SCIUTTO: It is indeed. Good to have you to mark that day.

Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much. TOOBIN: All right, man. See you.

SCIUTTO: Another question we're following this morning, will there be a 2020 baseball season? Major League's commissioner and players at odds still about all the details, particularly money. We're going to have all the news coming up in the "Bleacher Report."



CAMEROTA: Negotiations between Major League Baseball and its players hit a new low, putting the chances of a 2020 season in jeopardy.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

What's happening, Andy?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I mean, Alisyn, it is so sad that the sport that social distances the most can't get back on the field because they're fighting over money.

You know, last week MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he was 100 percent certain that they were going to have a season, then he walked back those comments last night on ESPN.


ROB MANFRED, COMMISSIONER, MLB: It's just a disaster for our game. Absolutely no question about it. It shouldn't be happening. And it's important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you describe your feelings as confident that there will still be a season?

MANFRED: I'm not confident.


SCHOLES: Now both Manfred and the Baseball Players Association are accusing the other of negotiating in bad faith. Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark says players are disgusted right now, adding, this has always been about extracting additional pay cuts from players, and this is just another day and another bad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign.

All right, six months ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league had moved on from Colin Kaepernick, but now Goodell's encouraging a team to sign him.


ROGER GOODELL, COMMISSIONER, NFL: If he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then, obviously, it is going to take a team to make that decision. But I welcome that and support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that.


SCHOLES: All right, finally, pending government approval, the United States Tennis Association is expected to announce the U.S. Open in New York will start as planned on August 31st, but without fans. That's according to "The New York Times." Big question, how thin is this field going to be? Of course, you have so many international players having to travel for it.

And, Jim, you know, Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou, told CNN that if she's got to be away from her daughter for up to three weeks, he doubts she'd participate.

SCIUTTO: Wow. That would be a very different tournament.

Andy Scholes, thanks very much.


SCIUTTO: Also developing this morning, several players for the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in Dallas with details.

I mean this could have enormous impact on the NFL's plans in the fall as well.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Jim. Well, you know, the NFL has the luxury of a little bit of time, compared to the NBA and Major League Baseball, as you've been talking about, in that the season doesn't start here for the next couple of months. But this is -- the report now is that we don't know the number of players or the extent to which the coronavirus is widespread within these two organizations, but the Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys say that they cannot comment on the specific report, talking about these players that have been infected with coronavirus. So we don't know the extent to which the infection is rampant, but the commissioner of the NFL says this will have no effect on how the season rolls out here in the months ahead.


ROGER GOODELL, COMMISSIONER, NFL: So, none of those players were in the facilities. All of those players, fortunately, have had either mild symptoms or were asymptomatic. And I think our protocols are working. And, again, we expect that we're going to have positive tests. That's part of the increased testing.


LAVANDERA: And just a few days ago, the NFL started allowing the coaching staff and up to 100 employees of each team to return to the training facilities. Those are some of the protocols that the NFL commissioner is talking about there. But he insisted, Jim and Alisyn, that there won't be that many changes, or they don't believe that these diagnosis of these players will affect how the season rolls out here in the months ahead.

Jim and Alisyn.

SCIUTTO: Well, it is tackle football. Hard to see how they can keep a lid on that reliably.

Ed Lavandera, thanks very much.

And NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many more protests will it take so that we can finally end the suffering of police excessive force?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was running away. He didn't pose a threat to the officer.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Going to have some solutions. We will do better, even better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This executive order by the White House will involve some credentialing guidelines for police departments, some data collection.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You're seeing all across the nation the virus actually increasing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a definite concern that people have let their guard down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rise we're seeing in individual states is more from the reopening.