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U.S. Deaths Near 120,000 As More States Reporter Higher Case Count; Interview With Oklahoma State Representative Ajay Pittman (D); Democrats Call For Investigation Into The Firing Of U.S. Attorney. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired June 21, 2020 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Don't hesitate to take that action as we have before, you will recall over the automatic early release of terrorist defenders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: But the real lesson for people here is quite simple. After coming out of so many weeks of lockdown, the only place that they can gather socially in small groups is outdoors, is outside.
That's going to be a concern for people here going forward. Are they safe?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right, Nic Robertson, thank you so much in London.
WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. Happy Father's Day. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin this hour with the U.S. closing in on another major milestone in the coronavirus pandemic. The total number of deaths is climbing, nearing 120,000 people. That is more Americans than Americans who died in all of World War I. Right now, 23 states are reporting higher new case counts than the week before. In Florida alone, officials are reporting more than 3,000 new cases in the last 24 hours.
But even as cases climb, President Trump held a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma with thousands in attendance where he said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you do you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people, you're going to find more cases. So, I said to my people slow the testing down, please.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Kristen Holmes is at the White House. So Kristen, the White House is defending the President's statements, saying he was joking.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fredricka, really brushing it off, and I do want to note, this isn't the first time that the White House has used that defense when President Trump has said something incredibly controversial.
However, this time it is raising a lot of eyebrows particularly as you said, we're coming up on that 120,000 deaths from coronavirus mark, so to use this as a joke, however, that is exactly what the administration is doing. An official telling us last night he was, quote, "obviously kidding."
And then Peter Navarro, the White House Trade Adviser was asked about this on Jake Tapper's show "State of the Union" and he really double down on that narrative. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: You know, it was tongue in cheek. Come on, now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Did the President --
NAVARRO: Come on now. That was tongue in cheek, please.
TAPPER: I don't -- I don't know that it was -- I don't know that it was tongue in cheek at all.
NAVARRO: I know it was tongue in cheek.
TAPPER: He has said similar things for months.
NAVARRO: That's news for you. Tongue in cheek. But we have got --
TAPPER: But he said similar things for months. Go ahead.
NAVARRO: Over -- there's 30 million people unemployed. And we've seen over 100,000 people die because of the China Wuhan virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: So, obviously his critics really hitting back hard on this. I mean, we have to keep in mind, his adversaries have been really saying this since the beginning of the pandemic that President Trump cares more about his appearance, meaning lower case numbers than he does about the American people, meaning getting more tests out there.
And it is interesting to note that he would even say this at all, or even bring up testing given that one of the biggest criticisms of the administration's response -- I'm talking about around the world, we're talking about state leaders, those in the health industry has all revolved around the issue of testing.
Now, it's no surprise that we have learned that Democratic organizations as well as Joe Biden's campaign, they are all pouncing on this. They've already started trying to cut that video. Get it into the ads, get it out on the airwaves -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, and then Kristen, you know, crowd size has always been really important to this President since inauguration, and Tulsa, the numbers on the Tulsa crowd size are far less than his expectations. What is the White House saying about this? How seriously, are they taking that?
HOLMES: Well, they're taking it incredibly seriously because this is something President Trump really cares about. You know, I would argue it even happened before the inauguration.
He used to go to those rallies in 2016 and talk about all the people that were there, all the people that were waiting outside, and the campaign really got out there.
They talked about the millions of people -- or the million people who had registered to go to the event. They were talking about the tens of thousands. Now, according to the Tulsa Fire Marshal, they believe there were 6,200 people there. That is the number that they are saying was there in the Bank of Oklahoma Arena.
The Trump campaign is hitting back on that. They're saying that number is wrong, that 12,000 people actually walked through the metal detectors. Now, either way that is a lot smaller than what they expected, which was to fill that Bank of Oklahoma Arena, which is about 20,000 seats and then have a huge overflow, which they eventually cancelled because they did not have anyone there, not the right amount of people there to be an overflow.
So they're now blaming this on what they're calling radical protesters and the media. They said that they were allegedly protesters trying to block metal detectors, trying to scare away people from getting into the arena.
Now, we did reach out to the Secret Service who said that there was one checkpoint that was closed down for a short amount of time, but as you know, Fredricka, we had multiple teams on the ground and they never saw any area closed out for a significant amount of time.
WHITFIELD: All right, Kristen Holmes at the White House. Thank you so much.
WHITFIELD: Meantime, officials in Tulsa County, Oklahoma are now reporting another record high for new daily coronavirus cases, the highest number of cases in the last five days.
CNN's Martin Savidge joins me now from Tulsa. So Martin, what more can you tell us?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Fredricka, yes, today the record number of infections of the last 24 hours, Tulsa County, 143. And just about every day this week, they have set a new record, which of course, was the concern of health officials saying it just does not make sense that you would hold a rally that would draw so many people into this community at the very time that Oklahoma, the state in general is seeing a significant rise, but this area in particular, was seeing a significant spike of coronavirus cases.
It wasn't a good day for the President when it came to the issue of coronavirus. It definitely overshadowed the rally in a number of ways. Number one, when he arrived in Oklahoma, the state surpassed 10,000 cases. That's not a good milestone to be there for and then on top of that just before he got here, it was revealed that at least six members of his advanced team it tested positive for coronavirus.
So clearly, not a good day in that regard for the President.
WHITFIELD: And then, Martin, CNN has learned that Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump are very upset with the Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale about his predictions of a much larger crowd than what actually turned out in Tulsa. What more are we learning about, you know, where the dispute over crowd size is going?
SAVIDGE: Yes, well, the dispute over numbers is nothing new with this administration. But I've been trying to talk to people to figure out what was it that may have impacted the real reason.
So you talk to people who were planning to attend, and some of them suggest that actually, they did heed the advice of health experts when they heard about coronavirus and when they thought about the prospect of cramming inside of the BOK Center there.
And then on top of that, the city officials who didn't want to be named say it may have been the administration itself with its projections of these huge numbers, a million people looking for tickets online, 100,000 expected to show up in a city and 20,000 crammed together.
Those are numbers that the people of Tulsa and in this area are not accustomed to. And in fact, it may be, at least according to some that it frightened them all. They saw so many people crowding together. Maybe it was best to just stay home and watch it on TV -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Martin Savidge. Thank you so much in Tulsa.
All right, right now I want to bring in Ajay Pittman. She's a Representative in the Oklahoma Statehouse representing Oklahoma City. She's also a surrogate for Joe Biden's campaign for President. Good to see you.
STATE REP. AJAY PITTMAN (D-OK): Likewise, thank you so much.
WHITFIELD: So, I want to first get your reaction to what the President said last night while in Tulsa that he wanted to slow down testing for the coronavirus. As someone who represents a state seeing an uptick in cases and as is also the case today, your response. Can you hear me okay?
PITTMAN: Yes, now I can. What was your question?
WHITFIELD: Oh, okay. Well, let me ask you -- let me re-ask the question then. I'm wondering what your thoughts are about President Trump who said in that arena, that testing should be slowed down for coronavirus and Oklahoma, you know, it has been seeing -- Tulsa in particular, county -- has been seeing an uptick in cases. What is your response to President Trump saying that? Slow down testing?
PITTMAN: That that is absolutely crazy. We cannot slow down testing. Some of my colleagues, my legislative colleagues, were one of the first to decide that we were going to vote by proxy as we finished out legislative session because we wanted to encourage our communities to stay home, especially minority communities.
We know that this virus is hitting African-American communities and communities of color at higher rates than everyone else. So, we cannot slow down testing. We actually need more testing. We need more swab testing so that we can adequately prevent the cases from rising. We cannot track cases if we don't know who has it.
WHITFIELD: Do you think that low turnout for the President's rally is representative of an apprehension, a real concern for coronavirus?
PITTMAN: I think it's that. I think it was that represented of the low turnout. It was compounded also with the outcry of our community, the outcry of people around this nation about the date of the rally and the location of the rally. It is --
WHITFIELD: You're talking about in being day after Juneteenth, and the President, his omission to address, say anything about Greenwood and the massacre of black people.
His omission about even -- there was an acknowledgment for changing the date because of pressure leading up to it but no words coming from the President yesterday in Tulsa, and you think that has something to do with the low turnout, too?
PITTMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. It has to, because we have seen not only in the State of Oklahoma, but across the nation, an outcry of people coming together because they want to see change.
This has become a movement. This has become a moment in time in history, where we have people that are black, white, Native American, Asians standing together for one cause, and our Commander-in-Chief does not even mention it at all, especially in a place that is so rich with history, and a place where he is standing on the ground where it is soaked with the blood of people who were slaughtered almost a hundred years ago.
That says that you are not worried about your culture, our culture. You're not worried about our community and you're not worried about your African-American supporters.
African-American supporters were a complete afterthought to him. And you can tell that they were not at the forefront of his mind as they even stood in the audience in that arena. WHITFIELD: So now, as I mentioned, you're a surrogate for Joe Biden,
the presumptive Democratic nominee tweeted after the rally simply this, "Speed up the testing." That was his response to you know, that other message I mentioned, that the President did carry out about slowing down the testing if Biden is elected. What do you believe his plan is to pick up the baton on coronavirus?
PITTMAN: I think he will immediately enact a Taskforce and listen to healthcare professionals, make sure that we have testing coming, make sure that it is in small communities, make sure that these healthcare workers that are on the frontline have the proper PPE that we need.
He has been wearing masks. He has gone out. He has been talking about the virus and making sure and encouraging people to stay safe. The whole team is working from home. The whole Biden campaign has been working from home, which means, he not only cares about his family, he cares about the family of his team, and he cares about all Americans.
So, I know that as soon as he is elected, he will make sure that we are creating vaccinations and we are seeing what a cure we can have for this or what testing we can get so that we can make sure that we are better prepared, so that if this ever happens, again, our economy and our people are not hit in the same way.
WHITFIELD: And then quickly, if elected, how do you see that Joe Biden is best suited to help lead what appears to be a real national reckoning as it pertains to race relations?
PITTMAN: I think his leadership as Vice President shows that. He stood by former President Barack Obama in lock-in steps, supporting him in every way. That's a bond we cannot go out just acknowledging that and saying that he has always cared about people of color, communities of color, and that if he is elected, he will work to unify our communities throughout this nation and that is what we need.
We need someone that will put people before politics and I feel like Joe Biden will do that every day that he is in that office.
WHITFIELD: Oklahoma State Representative Ajay Pittman. Thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it. Good to see you.
PITTMAN: Thank you so much for having me.
WHITFIELD: The family of Tom Petty has a stern warning for the Trump campaign.
Tom Petty's family filed a cease and desist notice over the use of his song, "I Won't Back Down" which was played at last night's rally in Tulsa. The family is saying in part, "Both the late Tom Petty and his family firmly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind. Tom Petty would never want a song of his used for a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together."
All right up next, the fallout continues over the firing of one of the nation's top prosecutors who was investigating President Trump's inner circle. Now one senator is demanding an investigation. Plus, Seattle Police say a violent crowd prevented them from helping a
shooting victim Saturday because the shooting took place inside the city's new police free zone. More on that ahead.
WHITFIELD: Democrats are now demanding investigations into the firing of a powerful Federal prosecutor who was investigating people close to the President.
Last night, the President fired Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The firing came after Berman refused to step down when the U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced that the prosecutor had resigned on Friday night, and today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Nixon had the Saturday night massacre, and now President Trump and A.G. Barr have the botched Friday night massacre.
Any investigation must examine the roles of President Trump, Attorney General Barr and anyone else who was involved. The bottom line is, we need an answer to two simple questions. What did the President know and when did he know it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN justice correspondent, Evan Perez joining us now. So, Evan, Democrats in the Senate and House are calling for investigations into this firing, but where does it go from here?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, you know the Justice Department has not really officially ever given an answer as to why now? Why did Geoffrey Berman have to go? We haven't seen any of that in the in the letter that the Attorney General wrote to Geoffrey Berman telling him that the President was firing him, which ended that standoff, the surreal standoff.
PEREZ: What we're told behind the scenes is this, that Jay Clayton, who is the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission was interested in the job. And we know that behind the scenes, Berman and Barr had a very strained relationship, and they thought it was the right time to move him out. They've been wanting to move them out for some time.
We've talked to people close to Jay Clayton, the SEC Chairman, who was supposedly -- who is the nominee by the way to take over this job. And they tell us that he had no idea that this was how it was going to go. He didn't know that Berman wasn't stepping down. They thought he was interested simply in a job that was going to be empty. So, the stories aren't really matching up behind the scenes. And as
the senator says, there's a lot of questions that still remain about why now and why this office.
We know that Berman's office has been investigating a lot of sensitive cases, including that of Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal lawyer, and it's one of those things that's always gotten under the President's skin.
So, a lot more questions and very few answers so far from the Justice Department.
WHITFIELD: And so Evan, do we know any detail about how Berman was notified that second go round? Because we know and we saw him when he walked into work yesterday on a Saturday morning, and he says, I'm not going anywhere.
And then the next thing you know, you know, the Attorney General says a letter was sent to him, you know, and he was speaking on behalf of the President. But then the President says, on his way to Tulsa that, you know, it's the Justice Department. I have nothing to do with it. So, how did Berman get the official word?
PEREZ: Well, he was sent that letter, officially notifying him that the President was firing him and for Berman, you know, the key here was appointing or having the President appoint his Deputy, the person who is inside the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office, which I think made everybody in that office feel a lot more comfortable. It is somebody from inside. It wasn't someone from outside being brought in, which was the original plan.
That's the plan that Barr first announced, it was that they were going to bring in a prosecutor that Barr is very close to who is the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey to run both offices, New Jersey and Manhattan. These are two huge offices.
It's kind of a surreal thing for them to try to pull off. It was a disaster all around, but it appears that that was the answer that finally had Berman decided that it was time to go.
WHITFIELD: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much.
WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, the city once considered the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic is set to enter Phase 2 of reopening tomorrow. We'll get a live update from New York City, next.
WHITFIELD: As the U.S. nears another grim milestone of coronavirus deaths, 120,000 lives loss, there is hopeful news in New York with infection rates down dramatically. Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York City is on track to begin Phase 2
of reopening starting tomorrow, and that includes nonessential businesses like hair salons, retail and repair services opening.
CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joins me now. So, Evan, what else can New Yorkers expect tomorrow?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, as you mentioned, the big thing you're going to expect is just a sort of change in attitude.
The city has been at the worst of this pandemic for so long and now is enjoying a world in which the Governor says the states had done a complete 180 and is now leading the country in terms of good news.
Starting tomorrow with that Phase 2 here in New York City, we're talking about restaurants reopening for outdoor seating, retail, some hair and nail salons being reopened, and then more beaches and parks available, once again, for the public to use.
Now, all of this comes with some different rules than happened before the pandemic, right? There's still talk of masks and things like that being part of life in New York City, but seeing things start to reopen is a huge, huge change here and one that people here are pretty proud of -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Also, Evan, I understand that New York has hired 3,000 workers for contact tracing. How successful is it going?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Well, that's right. That's a huge part of the future story here, as it will be across the country. These contact tracers, who are designed to track people who have COVID who they contact and make it harder -- I mean, make it easier to keep the disease from spreading again.
Here in New York, the public officials feel pretty good about these 3,000 tracers they have here in New York City. But I actually spoke to a contact tracer on the phone earlier today about her experience in the job.
She wished to remain anonymous because she didn't want to threaten her job. But she talked about how hard this job actually is. When you get contact traced, someone calls you on the phone and they asked you a long conversation 30 to 50 minute long call, she says, very detailed questions about your ethnic origin, your sex life, things can be very difficult to answer and you can find some people get turned off by.
Then the other kind of call is the call where they call you and say, hey, someone that you were with in recent days had COVID you may have come in contact with that person.
Now, because of HIPAA rules, they can't tell you who it is that you were in contact with. So, you immediately say, well, who was it? Who was the person? And then when that tracer can't tell you who they are, the person on the other end of the phone is not so interested in may be talking about it. So while it's something that the city feels proud of, and they've
added people to it. The difficulties in doing it could be a problem down the road according to this tracer that I spoke with.
The main thing about this tracing issue is that it requires that personal responsibility that have been such a part of this entire pandemic response process.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: When a tracer calls you, if you don't participate with what that tracer asks you to do, it makes it harder for the city and the state to trace the spread of this disease and prevent another spread -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Yes, I can see why maybe over the phone, you're not always getting really successful results. All right, Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much.
All right. Joining me on the phone right now to discuss, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Infectious Diseases Director at the University of Alabama and Birmingham, Doctor, glad you could be with us. So, you've said that contact tracing you know at this stage in the game is both impossible and impractical. Is that usually how it's done? How, even Evan was describing the phone calls that aren't always successful?
DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AND BIRMINGHAM (via phone): Right. So there are a whole cadre of people who are specialists in contact tracing, and we've used that approach for many years for communicable diseases.
The most common thing we use it for are sexually transmitted infections, or even tuberculosis to try to find out, you know, who is most at risk for getting this infection.
It's actually a very specific set of skills, and you may have seen some discussion about the fact that you can just sort of hire an average 22-year-old and just tell them to go out and do this because, you know, as you can imagine, there's a lot of sensitivity around this concept of, oh, I've been exposed to an infectious disease, what am I going to do? Who is going to tell me? How are you going to help me?
So, I think it's doable. There's a challenge of that skill set, but there's also a challenge of just the disease right now, burden being overwhelming, so almost impossible to imagine you could really deploy enough people to get out there and start contacting these hundreds of people that are finding out every single day that they're getting infected and trace their contacts.
So, the burden right now just seems to be way too big in most cities in the United States.
WHITFIELD: And then you have, shall we say, interesting messaging coming from the White House. I want you to listen to what White House Adviser Peter Navarro said this morning about how he thinks the virus originated. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Of course, we're preparing for a second wave in the fall.
NAVARRO: You prepare -- you prepare for what can possibly happen. I'm not saying it's going to happen. But of course, you prepare and I'll tell you what, we're a lot more prepared under this President than we were when China forced this on us to begin with.
And let's not forget that Jake, China created this pandemic. They hid the virus. They created that virus, and they sent over hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens here to spread that around and around the world, whether they did that on purpose, that's an open question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: How do you see this as helpful in the fight against, the treatment for, the answers to coronavirus?
MARRAZZO: Well, it's hard to know where to start with that set of comments, and to even try to glean a single grain of truth from what he was saying. I mean, it was a very dystopian picture. Much of that content has absolutely no basis in reality. And we know that. We know these viruses come from animal reservoirs. We know that they are easily transmitted in an asymptomatic period. So, it's almost really not worth addressing those.
I will say one thing I would love to comment on, and that's the second wave concept. In order to have a second wave, your first wave needs to have crusted and peaked, right? We never have had that in many of the parts of the country that are experiencing this right now.
So for example, in the southeast, we have been having a pretty steady flow of gradually increased infection. We are nowhere near the peak or the crest of our first wave and I think of it more like a swell. It's going to be a long swell for a long time. Maybe we'll peak, I don't know, this summer and maybe it will go down and we'll have another one in the winter.
But I almost think it's a distraction to talk about the second wave because of the dynamics of how this epidemic is progressing in various communities are really complex.
WHITFIELD: Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, thank you so much.
MARRAZZO: Thanks, Fredricka for having me.
WHITFIELD: Thank you. And new details about a shooting in Minneapolis overnight, which led to the death of one person and injury of 11. What police are saying about the investigation and whether it's connected at all to George Floyd's killing?
[15:38:56] WHITFIELD: A shooting in central Minneapolis overnight left one person
dead end 11 others injured. The shooting took place in the same area that was a scene of looting and destruction during protests over the death of George Floyd though police say there was no indication that this incident was related to George Floyd, his death or protest. No arrests have been made.
The family of Rayshard Brooks say they have invited Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard to Tuesday's funeral. Rayshard Brooks was killed by Atlanta Police in the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant on June 12th.
Police are also continuing their arson investigation into the burning down of the Wendy's and they are looking into possible links between the suspect and Rayshard Brooks.
Natasha Chen is following the developments for us -- Natasha.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Fred, yesterday, a warrant was issued for 29-year-old Natalie White for arson in the first degree.
Now, a source close to the case told my colleague Ryan Young that investigators are working with the idea that White may have had a relationship with Rayshard Brooks. And remember, there's a moment in the body camera footage from that night where her name comes up in conversation between Brooks and the officers.
CHEN: Beyond that, there are very few details about possible connections. In fact, the family is very upset and told me they do not know this woman. The cousin of Rayshard Brooks said that the family has never wanted violence or burnings in this city that they love. He said that such actions, they will not connect Rayshard and the family with such actions or this person.
So, a very tough time, obviously, for this family also preparing for the public viewing on Monday and a private funeral on Tuesday. As you mentioned, they invited the Mayor, as well as the DA and have asked Atlanta Police not to be involved with the security of that event, according to Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Police Department officers are really rocked by the charges that have been put against officer -- former Officer Garrett Rolfe facing 11 charges including felony murder.
At a press conference the police union gave today, one of the officials spoke and became very emotional about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're being attacked. These guys are brothers, and we're being attacked by Paul Howard.
We do the job to protect. We expect to be protected by our leaders, and they've all failed us -- all of them. So I appreciate you all being here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: Paul Howard is the District Attorney of Fulton County. Representative Doug Collins repeated there that he is calling for a special prosecutor saying it was inappropriate of Howard to have charged officers without first letting the Georgia Bureau of Investigation finish their report, but Howard has told CNN that his office is independent and can make their own decisions, independent of what the GBI produces -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Natasha Chen, thanks so much.
All right, one person is dead following a shooting inside of Seattle's Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, a police free zone in the city currently occupied by protesters.
Seattle Police just releasing this body cam video showing what they describe as a violent crowd of protesters blocking them from entering the area. Officials say, volunteer medics working inside the zone took two victims to the hospital before one of them died. The suspects are still on the run.
Joining me right now to discuss is Vince Velazquez, a law enforcement expert and a retired Atlanta police detective. Good to see you, Vince.
So police say they are investigating this incident despite the challenges presented by the police free protest zone. So what do you make of that situation?
VINCE VELAZQUEZ, RETIRED ATLANTA POLICE DETECTIVE: Yes, and that's got to be real difficult. Typically, I mean, when we look at a crime scene, we're looking for evidence, but that many people in there not even knowing where the actual scene is, it's going to make it extremely difficult for them to find out who did this without witnesses coming forward.
It's difficult on a sanitized scene. I could only imagine a scene like that with that much commotion, those many people there and then detectives basically trying to get in here to do their job and being restricted by the people who are inside.
WHITFIELD: All right, that's Seattle, which we're going to kind of adopt the map because there are a lot of situations in which to call upon your expertise. In Minneapolis, one person is dead, 11 others injured following a shooting there. The shooting took place just a few miles away from where George Floyd was killed by police, which was prompted -- had prompted, you know, calls to defund and dismantle police forces around the nation.
In fact, the City of Minneapolis has voted to dismantle its police department in the wake of George Floyd's death. So help people understand you know, how does this happen? Meaning a vote for disbanding, dismantling, but then also reassuring the public that there will be access to first responders or that people you know can feel that they have someone to call upon. VELAZQUEZ: Well, Camden, New Jersey is a perfect example of doing just
that. They've done a phenomenal job and that model, when it came in really was engulfed with community oriented policing where the police officers are able to get out of their cars and connect with the community.
In Minneapolis, it is going to be a difficult challenge. It's a larger city obviously. The police are distressed at this point. County services will probably take over and at some point, the irony is to defund a police department or dismantle a police department, you have to increase funding in another department to cover that city.
So, if it's the county, now that county will -- the county police department and Sheriff's Office will have to double in size. So, it's quite a task.
WHITFIELD: Yes, the Minneapolis City Council has voted to you know, spend the next year, you know, working with the community, other experts to determine what a new model of public safety you know should look like.
So, what might they explore in particular? More community policing? Or does it go much deeper than that?
VELAZQUEZ: I think -- I think it's a two-fold process. I think community oriented policing is important. And again, I use Camden, New Jersey as an example. They have significantly reduced their crime rate. They actually have barbecues where police officers are out there serving food to the public.
I mean, this is a whole new model and it is like a microcosm of, you know, what we think we should be seeing and I encourage any police department to look at that model and see what you can do.
However, with a city like Minneapolis and the crime rate there, it's going to be difficult for a while like residents are going to have to understand this is not something that's going to happen overnight.
This particular shooting, Fredricka, I read an article and irony is, one resident who owns a restaurant complained that it took the police too long to get there where the police responded within three minutes. So, on one hand you have residents, business owners who are, you know, concerned for crime and want the police to respond, and you have other people who want to dismantle the police, and it's going to take a collection of everybody, you know, forward thinkers to try to get this right. There is only one chance at this thing.
WHITFIELD: Let's talk about Atlanta now. You've got a police officer, you know, Garrett Rolfe facing 11 charges and that has also precipitated what has been reported as a real sick out, a lot of Atlanta police officers who have called out sick in solidarity, you know, to Rolfe, in protest of these charges.
You saw the tearful, you know, response coming from a police union representative there, so help people understand what is happening here? Officers who you know, take an oath, who are sworn to protect and serve and then, at the same time, call out sick in solidarity for a police officer who is facing charges for actions that led to the death of someone.
VELAZQUEZ: Absolutely. And you know, you're right, Fredricka. Police officers do take an oath to uphold the Constitution, the laws of the state and the city in which they're employed. In this particular case, his city is no different in Atlanta.
I saw the press conference, the officer was emotional, and there's two sides of this thing. I've heard officers complain about the charges against Officer Rolfe. And also, to this officer's comment, he mentioned Paul Howard, and the consensus of what I'm getting on the street is officers, the men and women are afraid to go to work because of the incompetence of this District Attorney.
And I'll tell you, in my personal and professional opinion, why that's so, the GBI is historically, for many years have been the agency that investigates all police shootings. In this particular case, the GBI was called in like they have in the past.
Paul Howard has really relied on that system. He was an advocate for it, and I was part of it as well. I met with this District Attorney in years gone by and we talked about the need for it to go from the Atlanta Police Department, to the independent agency. He was an advocate for it. We continue to move in that direction.
Except for this case, and here is an interesting twist that I think people should understand is. This is a DA who is going to fight for his reelection, first time ever being opposed and he is losing badly.
WHITFIELD: All right, but wait a minute, if you're a citizen, citizens who may want to call 911, and there may be some assistance they need. But perhaps assistance won't come or is delayed as a result of a sick out. That citizen wants to know, who can I count on? And they're going to be looking at the oath, the protect and serve mantra, do they want to hear about the politics that may stand in the way of a community who is looking for protection and service?
VELAZQUEZ: No, and that's -- to your point, absolutely not. And personally, I don't agree with it. I think officers as they take an oath, they should be out there answering those calls. They feel like the city has given up on them, but they shouldn't give up on the citizens, and that's what's most important here.
Whatever fight they have with the legal system, and Paul Howard is someone who is not, you know, going by his rules, then that's something to be challenged in court. So, I'd have to agree with you that these officers should be out there doing what they're supposed to do.
However, by his actions, he's hurt this case. There's a possibility the GBI comes up with evidence to the contrary, he may have handed these officers their own defense. And that tells me there, this isn't about justice, this is about politics. WHITFIELD: Yes. All right. All right, Vince. And you know, by the way,
Happy Father's Day, you know.
VELAZQUEZ: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
WHITFIELD: Yes, and I know we've covered the map here. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
VELAZQUEZ: My son is in Philly watching right now. So, he has been watching the show all the time.
WHITFIELD: Oh, okay. Very good.
VELAZQUEZ: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: What are your conversations been like with him in Philly recently?
VELAZQUEZ: Oh. My son -- listen, I have a unique position. My son has been protesting. He's been sprayed with teargas. I'm proud of him. He's speaking up, he is you know, exerting his amendment to -- First Amendment right to speak and he's speaking loud and I support him as a father because there needs to be change.
VELAZQUEZ: We have to have some change on both sides. Everybody has to be more understanding on one side and police officers, we need to change the training model and -- because we're going to keep seeing cases like this and know where to go. So for him, I support him in what he does.
WHITFIELD: All right, Vince Velazquez. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
VELAZQUEZ: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Californians are now required to wear facemasks in public settings where social distancing is not possible. The new order from the Governor went into effect on Friday as the state tries to reopen the economy at a time when cases are on the rise in California.
CNN's Paul Vercammen cannon joins us now from Gardena, California, just south of Los Angeles. So Paul, how will this new mask policy be enforced? How's it being received even?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's first start with those cases, Fred, as you pointed out, California just having a jump in cases again in recent days, and so now the total is more than 175,000 cases. And they've had almost 5,500 deaths in California.
But here in LA County, they've been pointing out, officials have been saying that there has been sort of a backlog in testing. So, not all the tests have been processed yet and they also are talking about the numbers.
They say they've seen stability in the number of deaths and the number of hospitalizations. So, they think that's encouraging.
Now as for law enforcement, we've heard from LA County, Sacramento County, other sheriff's organizations that they are not necessarily going to make this some sort of criminal citation that for right now, it's more of a situation of warning people who are not wearing masks at social gatherings. Back to you now -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Paul Vercammen, thank you so much for that. We have so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. But first, here's this week's global energy challenge.
TEXT: The Global Energy Challenge.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR (voice over): The auto sector faces an uncertain future, but there might be a bright spot -- electric vehicles. The International Energy Agency predicts 2.3 million could be sold in 2020, slightly more than last year.
That's good news for the environment, as the adoption of more electric cars is needed to drive down CO2 emissions and air pollution.
CHRISTIAN BOLD, HEAD OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT, BMWI: This decade, that's a decisive one to push electric mobility.
DEFTERIOS (voice over): There's growing pressure on governments to feature green energy initiatives in any coronavirus economic recovery packages.
TIMUR GUL, HEAD OF THE ENERGY TECHNOLOGY POLICY DIVISION, IEA: Actually the car market will need sustained and committed support by policymakers.
DEFTERIOS (voice over): The coronavirus pandemic will prompt challenge for most of the world. An opportunity for electric vehicles to drive a new chapter in our global energy transition that is taking shape.
John Defterios, CNN.