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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is Interviewed on Police and Covid-19; Advertisers Fleeing Facebook. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 1, 2020 - 08:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, the New York City Council has voted to slash the NYPD budget by $1 billion, a nearly 20 percent cut.

Joining me now is the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us.

Look, the number of shootings in New York City have risen dramatically since one year ago. Five hundred and three so far this year compared to 350 over the same period last year.

So given that, why is it the right time to cut money from the police department?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY, NY: Yes, John, we have been for years the safest big city in America and we continue to be. I take that issue very seriously about those shootings. We're going to have to fight that back.

But it was really important at this moment in history to say, we're going to take money away from policing and put it into the needs of our young people. That's what happened here, we shifted money to youth programs, to the kinds of things that nurture and support young people. And I think this is important to recognize as something much -- with much bigger ramifications. I said months ago, before even the coronavirus, our young people need to be reached, they don't need to be policed, but they need to be reached and supported and nurtured. And that's what we're doing. Not only $1 billion you're talking about, another half billion beyond that, to create recreation centers, places young people can go that are positive, to create broadband access for young people in public housing.

We've got to do a lot of things differently if we're going to change the reality for so many of our young people in the society. And one of the places we were able to find that money was in our police budget.

BERMAN: Why do you think the numbers of shootings have increased year to year?

DE BLASIO: Look, I think we have tremendous frustration and challenges out in our communities because of the coronavirus.


People don't have work. People don't have their normal routines. I think that is making everything more difficult.

Obviously, our court system is not working, so we don't have our normal criminal justice system dealing with people who have done something wrong. We've got to get that back up and running. That's something the state of New York runs. We've got to get that back up and running.

But we're going to fight back this challenge. The NYPD always fights back to the challenges it faces, but it's against a very complicated, charged dynamic with the coronavirus.

BERMAN: Talk about complicated. So, on the one hand, you have people asking, is now the right time to cut given the rise in shootings. On the other hand, you do have people saying, the cuts that you have made aren't real. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez of New York put out a statement that she said, defunding the police means defunding police. It does not mean budget tricks or funny math. It does not mean moving police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education budget so that the exact same police remain in schools. That is not a victory.

Your response?

DE BLASIO: Well, she's just wrong. The facts are we took money from the NYPD, put it into youth programs. We are reduce the size of the NYPD, but still in a way that can keep us safe. We found a way to keep our patrol strength consistent and keep people safe while saving a lot of money, reducing overtime costs, figuring out things that the NYPD should not do any more that could be better done by civilians. And, of course, constantly reforming the effort. We want to work differently in our schools. We've been doing this for years, reducing suspensions, putting restorative justice approaches into place that are much more humane and focused on kids and their needs, not just punishing.

This work's been going on for years. So I'm very confident that we can make this reform and keep the city safe at the same time.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about a court decision from last week. A federal court ruled that you and Governor Cuomo violated the Constitution by restricting religious services during the lockdown of the pandemic. The court said you openly discouraged religious gatherings and threatened religious worshipers and sent a clear message that mass protests are deserving of preferential treatment.

Essentially saying that you treated the protesters who were on the streets differently than the religious gatherings that were on the streets.

Your reaction?

DE BLASIO: No. Just wrong. We worked with the religious leadership of this city for months. Cardinal Dolan in the Catholic Church and so many other religious leaders who are in full agreement that it was not time to bring back religious services because of the danger it would cause to their congregants.

The protests were an entirely different reality. A national phenomenon that was not something that the government could just say, you know, go away, something that really came from the grass roots. And, obviously, it had profound meaning and we're all acting on the meaning of those protests. But it's really apples and oranges.

Our religious leaders were the first to say it was not time to bring back services. Now we're doing it carefully, smartly.

So I think that decision profoundly misses what the very religious institutions themselves were saying.

BERMAN: Let's talk about where we are in the country, and specifically in the city, in terms of the pandemic. Boy, it's a different New York City today than it was two months ago. The number of cases have gone way down. But as you look south, as you look west, how concerned are you that there will be people who bring this virus back to New York City?

DE BLASIO: Yes. John, I'm very, very worried. I mean, look, we fought a hard, hard battle. You saw it all. And we went through the worst in this whole country. And then we came out of it. New Yorkers have done an amazing job. They are wearing those masks. They are observing the social distancing. That's why every day the health care situation gets better and better.

But now we have a threat of the disease coming from our own country and coming back here and causing the resurgence. We're going to be really careful and people who come here from other places really should quarantine if they come from those states that had a lot of problems. We're going to support them in that.

We're also going to be really careful with the decisions we make and be cautious about how we reopen to make sure we keep people safe.

BERMAN: What do you think about indoor restaurants in New York City?

DE BLASIO: Look, we're going to have more to say about that at 10:00 today. But the bottom line is, that situation is causing a lot of concern right now because what we've seen around the country is those indoor restaurants and bars caused a huge increase in the coronavirus cases in a lot of places. Whereas outdoor -- here's a good news story, John. Outdoor seems to be where a lot of positive things are happening. So we start out outdoor dining on a vast scale a few weeks ago. It is going great. It is much safer. The customers love it. The restaurant owners love it. So we're going to double down in that direction.

BERMAN: You say you have an announcement to make in -- at 10:00. That's just an hour and 20 minutes. Why not tell us now? Should -- should I have any expectation that I would be allowed to eat indoors at a restaurant in New York City in the next month? [08:40:05]

DE BLASIO: John, you are an intrepid reporter, let's face it. I just will make it a positive, focus on outdoor dining. That is where people are the most safe and that's where people are going to have a great experience.

BERMAN: In terms of people traveling in to New York, the quarantines, you're saying, have you seen examples of enforcement? Is it really being enforced or is it just asking nicely?

DE BLASIO: Of course. No, of course.

Look, we take it really seriously. And we've created a huge test and trace apparatus in this city that can also ensure that anyone who needs to quarantine gets whatever support they need, health care, food, anything they need to stay in the quarantine so everyone's safe.

We need the names, and that's something the state of New York handles because they have the police at the airports, for example. But we -- once we have the name of someone or someone makes clear to us they're in the middle of a quarantine, we'll support them and we'll get it done.

BERMAN: The Broadway League has said no shows in 2020, which is tough to hear.

DE BLASIO: Yes. It is.

BERMAN: It's tough to hear. But, look, should we expect them in 2021 given, you know -- are you fully dependent on a vaccine to open Broadway theaters?

DE BLASIO: Look, a vaccine is going to change everything. That's the obvious fact. And -- and from everything I hear, a vaccine is not too far off in the future and we should be hopeful.

But I think what's hard for anything indoor is we're going to have to see the health care situation continue to improve consistently to feel good about indoor activity. Now that said, if you can do indoor activity at 50 percent or something like that in the future, there's a workable scenario so long as there's good social distancing, face coverings, et cetera.

But I think this is a step by step thing. If we can sustain how healthy New York City is now, I think a lot of things become possible.

BERMAN: Mayor Bill de Blasio, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much for being with us this morning.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: We await with bated breath the 10:00 announcement on restaurants.

DE BLASIO: There you go. BERMAN: Thank you.

We do have one quick programming note.

On Saturday, CNN has fireworks and the all-star musical lineup. Jewel, Barry Manilow, Don McLean, "American Pie" fame, and many, many more. Don Lemon and Dana Bash host CNN's "Fourth of July in America" live starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: We are following breaking news out of Seattle.

You see police here. They are moving into clear out the so-called occupied zone that you've heard so much about in recent days. About 100 officers in tactical gear moving into that protest area. They started moving in about an hour ago. Our affiliate COMO (ph) reporting Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order essentially declaring that CHOP zone, as it came to be known is over.

We're following along too with the Seattle Police Department. They noted that officers are wearing this higher level protective gear today because they're concerned that some people in the area are known to be armed and dangerous.

So as we're watching this unfold, we've also learned there have been about a dozen arrests according to the police department. And they're going to continue to stay in that area. They've also noted that for anyone who remains in or returns to the area, Seattle police noting they would be subject to arrest. Again, about a dozen arrests made just about 20 minutes ago or so. They began moving into that area in Seattle about an hour ago, about 100 officers in Seattle there with tactical vehicles at the ready as well.

We'll continue to monitor this situation for you throughout the morning.

In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves signing a bill into law to remove the confederate emblem from the state flag. That flag has flown over the state since 1894. A state commission will now develop a new flag design. One that will include the phrase "In God We Trust" and the folks in Mississippi will vote on that design in November.

BERMAN: Right now here is what to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: Soon, Vice President Pence travels to Phoenix.

10:30 a.m. ET, Congressional Black Caucus briefing.

3:00 p.m. ET, California Governor Newsom briefing.


BERMAN: All right, this morning, fleeing Facebook. The social media giant under growing pressure as new companies join the dozens who have pulled ads in protest. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BERMAN: Developing this morning, the list is growing. New companies joining the number of advertisers fleeing Facebook as the boycott against the social media giant grows. The three companies pulling their ads, just Tuesday alone, Target, Acura, Mass Mutual. Big companies who spend a lot of money.

CNN's Abby Phillip live in Washington with much more.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, this has been a big issue for Facebook for quite some time now but it seems that the moment has finally come for them to face this kind of pressure. I think the combination of the Black Lives Matter movement have really pushed many of their advertisers to say that the company needs to do more and they have announced some new changes but that has not stopped this avalanche of corporations, some Fortune 500 companies, from pulling their ads beginning today.


PHILLIP (voice over): The world's largest social media company now under unprecedented pressure from is advertisers to do more to stop hate speech online. Dozens of companies pausing advertising on Facebook in protest.

The debate touching the highest office in the land with Facebook coming under fire for leaving up these recent posts where President Trump appeared to threaten looters with shooting and spread false claims and misinformation about mail-in voting.


RASHAD ROBINSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COLOR OF CHANGE: As we watch Donald Trump, I think, become more and more volatile with his posts. The fact that these companies have sat on their hands and allowed it means that they are complicit.

PHILLIP: Rashad Robinson of Color of Change, one of the civil rights groups that have organized the Stop Hate for Profit boycott, says for business the choice is simple.

ROBINSON: Do you want your ads showing up next to white nationalist organizations? Do you feel comfortable having your ads next to their while you're also putting on those same platforms messages about why black lives matter.

PHILLIP: Civil rights advocates are pushing Facebook to do more, including removing content and groups that promote hate and disinformation, allowing outside audits of its content and advertising policy and giving advertisers refunds if their ads run alongside content that was removed because it violated the company's policies. With more than 98 percent of all of Facebook's revenue coming from

advertising, the pressure on Facebook's bottom line is only growing.

NICK CLEGG, VICE PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS, FACEBOOK: Facebook, we have absolutely no incentive to tolerate hate speech. We don't like it. Our users don't like it. Advertisers understandably don't like it.

PHILLIP: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who's been criticized for appearing to be too close to President Trump and his campaign, saying publicly that the company will put in place new policies to flag, label and even remove content that violates its rules, including from the president.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: If we determine the content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote, we're going to take that content down no matter who says it. And, similarly, there are no exceptions for politicians.

PHILLIP: Activists say Facebook is acting out of fear, worried that President Trump will attempt to regulate social media companies he claims are targeting conservatives online.

ROBINSON: At every turn, Mark Zuckerberg is worried about what Donald Trump will think.


BERMAN: No question that it's a moment right now, Abby. And we learned that Mark Zuckerberg recently did speak with President Trump directly about one of his recent posts. What went on here?

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, this was one of the key issues that made a lot of actually Facebook employees very angry. The day after President Trump posted when the looting starts the shooting starts, Mark Zuckerberg did speak to President Trump.

Now, it is not clear entirely what the nature of that conversation was, but it's believed to have been a conversation about what the White House could do in order to Facebook to not have to take action against this post. Ultimately, Facebook did not take any action against that post, which caused such a furor, and it really does feed into the sense, as you heard some folks talking about in the piece, that Facebook is worried that they could be targeted by the Trump administration because Trump himself has claimed that Facebook and other companies are targeting conservatives online while civil rights groups and detractors say it's not about whether you're conservative or not, it is about whether your speech is targeting protected populations, minority groups, LGBT groups. And also, in some cases, we're talking about actual white nationalists, white supremacist groups online that these groups are calling for Facebook to take stronger action on.

HILL: And it's not just -- some of these companies, it's not just Facebook. They've said they're pausing all of their social media advertising. PHILLIP: Yes.

HILL: What are we hearing from other social media companies, Abby?

PHILLIP: Yes. Lots of other companies dealing with the very same issue. So we know that on Twitter, Twitter has already started to take action against posts that they believe are misleading or are -- insight violence, including President Trump's.

But just this past week, Twitch, which is an Amazon company, that has taken off the Trump campaign account citing some of the same concerns. So you're seeing across the board this pressure.

Reddit, some very popular pro-Trump groups removed from the platform because of concerns about the content that they're posting.

All of these companies are facing this pressure to better moderate what kind of content is permitted on that platform. And it gets very tricky when it -- when it comes to political content. You know, conservatives say this is about free speech. But civil rights advocates are saying that what you're -- what you -- you cannot allow is for violence to be perpetrated against, you know, people of color, protected groups in this country. And you cannot allow the perpetuation of misinformation, falsehoods, disinformation, some of the likes of which we saw utilized in the 2016 election to sway key voting groups ahead of that election.

BERMAN: It will be very interesting to see how much money Facebook is willing to lose here. How far they're willing to take this.


Abby Phillip, thanks so much for being with us.

HILL: Time now for "The Good Stuff."

Iowa Coast Guard veteran Bob Boots (ph) has spent years restoring old glories, American flags that have seen better days and desperately needed a craftsman's touch.


BOB BOOTS, IOWA COAST GUARD VETERAN: Some of them are just absolutely shattered and they might be no color left in them or anything, something like that.


HILL: Boots estimates he has handled more than 11,000 flags since he first began repairing them in 2004. He just turned 88 and still takes great pride in breathing new life into the old stars and stripes.


BOOTS: There's more work than I'll probably ever get done on them, but I don't know who's going to take it over after I get done. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I love the sign there, flag man.

HILL: I know. I noticed that too. It's great.

BERMAN: We thank him for his efforts.

All right, we are following breaking news from Seattle. Police moving in at this moment to clear the protest zone. You can see them there in the back. CNN's breaking news coverage continues next.