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White House Won't Denounce Confederate Flag, Doubles Down On Trump Tweet; Around 800-Plus Hate Incidents Against Asian-Americans In California; Florida Lawyer Visits Beaches Dressed As Grim Reaper Warning Of Coronavirus; NASCAR's Bubba Wallace Responds To Trump Demanding Apology. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 6, 2020 - 14:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The polls are showing Americans do not agree with how the president is handling race relations in the U.S. right now.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, how could you agree with the way he's handling race relations. This is someone who does not have a history of being knowledgeable, of being sympathetic, or having any level of empathy or compassion for issues that deal with people of color in this country. He does not. He's ill equipped to handle this moment.

That is one thing, but to actually go full throttle and for the campaign strategy of this White House and re-election to go full throttle, we're in 2020. And here the president is being George Wallace 2.0. He's channeling his inner Lester Maddox and George Conor (ph) and George Wallace. Why is this the cases?

This is not a Democrat verses Republican thing. And I know that's weird to say with an election coming up in November. But this is a racist versus non-racist, a right versus wrong. And the White House is the on the wrong side of history in this debate.

KEILAR: Bakari, this is a tweet that just came from the president. Let's take a look at this. It's in support of the Redskins and Indians team names. "The name comes out of strength, not weakness. But now the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they're going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct. Indians, like Elizabeth Warren, must be very angry right now."

Bakari, we know Native Americans have been upset with the moniker that the president uses to describe Elizabeth Warren with.

And also these team names, they feel, do such a disservice to Native Americans.

SELLERS: I mean, if I didn't know the history of this president, I'd probably say he's drunk tweeting. You may not know this but the president has blocked me on Twitter. The country is ready for the stable hand. We were just talking about

embracing the Confederate flag this morning, asking for the lone black driver to apologize, and now he's offending another entire segment of the population.

Redskins is a derogatory term. And I'm not here to play the oppression Olympics. People want it to go down this path of saying Redskins is not as derogatory as this or that. I know you won't call a Native American that word to their face. So, you just need to shut up about it.

Dan Snyder is an awful owner, who needs to change the name of the Washington Redskins. The Cleveland Indians would do great by changing their name as well.

The president of the United States, I would think, with 100,000 people dying in the country due to a pandemic, would have something better to do.

As my 15-year-old daughter says when people get crazy on Twitter, sometimes somebody just needs to take his phone. I think that would be helpful.

KEILAR: I know. We should have her on. She could be an analyst with her common sense.


Art, to you -- right.

Art, I wonder if this might backfire, if the president is playing with fire here?

ART CAPLAN, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF MEDICAL ETHICS, NYU, LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER: Absolutely, playing with fire. And it seems to me he is quintupled down on racism today, trying to figure out any way to indicate and a way I don't think exists anymore that he's going to go for white supremacy and he is going to stand in defense of bigotry.

I think his moral capital today went to zero. He just doesn't have any ethical standing.

And I say that as someone, not just in health care, but someone who does ethics. You look at this and you have to say, he has betrayed the American people. He's out of sync of where the majority of the country wants to go.

And you know, I don't want to argue about the Redskins or who's going to make it. He has now firmly painted himself in a quagmire of racism. And it's ethically outrageous.

KEILAR: And so we see him on coronavirus, right, having this rally, still not wearing the mask. He's denying reality, pushing lies, saying that 99 percent of cases, you're totally fine with coronavirus.

And now you have people in his inner circle who are testing positive as he's holding these indoor rallies. What about that?


KEILAR: What does he stand to lose in terms of backfiring for that?

CAPLAN: Brianna, you know, his campaign slogan on the virus seems to be, vote for me, I haven't managed to kill you yet. He is basically not a role modeling. He won't push for simple things like masking, social distancing and hygiene. How difficult is this to say that's what we ought to do.


He's basically showing up on airplanes knowing people have been exposed and basically saying I don't care.

You look at the statistics. He can come up with any ginning up of the numbers as he wants. The hospitalization rates, the death rates tell you the story, the fact we're falling behind all our peer nations in controlling this thing.

His strategy is, I'm not going to take the blame. I'm going to ignore it all the way at the election. That means those deaths are on his hand.

KEILAR: And we heard the press secretary, Art, say the world sees the U.S. as a leader in the virus fight. We've had experts on who think that U.S. is a joke when it comes to the virus fight. People all around the world, I've heard this from.


KEILAR: What do you make of that claim?

CAPLAN: You know, maybe North Korea might see us as a leader. It's a pretty short list. Nobody takes us as a leader. That's farceable to even suggest.

You look at the rates in the E.U., the National Hockey League is moving its events in Canada because Canada has things under control. It's only Trump's totalitarian buddies in Brazil that can match our crummy numbers.

So, the notion that we have anything to teach the rest of the world on how to cope with this pandemic is just farceable.

KEILAR: Art Caplan, thank you.

Bakari Sellers, thank you so much.

California reports that the pandemic has led to a sharp rise in hate incidents against Asian-American. More than 800 since all of this began. We'll go there live.

Plus, I'll speak to a Florida lawyer who is visiting beaches dressed as the Grim Reaper. And you'll see the tense conversations that he's having with people who do not appreciate his warnings.



KEILAR: This holiday weekend, California, seeing a significant spike in coronavirus cases. While several of the most populated counties closed their beaches, a few were open, like this one in San Diego county, where there were big crowds ignoring desperate calls to mask up.

CNN national correspondent, Sara Sidner, is in Los Angeles for us.

I mean, looking at the pictures, it kind of stresses one out, I would say, Sara. What are officials worried about the most?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, they're really worried about the number of hospitalizations of coronavirus-positive patients they've seen, 40 percent more over the past three weeks.

California tried to reopen some and the virus has come back with a vengeance. They saw the highest single-day total of coronavirus positive cases on Friday, with more than 3,000. And over the past four days, it's been about 11,000 or more people across California who have tested positive for coronavirus.

And as they're looking at this, the health officials are saying, look, if this keeps going the way it is, and the hospitalizations keep spiking the way they do, they could be out of ICU beds in the next couple of weeks. So, by the end of July, they could be out of ICU beds. They would be filled.

And that's one of the greatest concerns is not having the amount of space for people who really need treatment for coronavirus and who need that help.

And that's why they're trying to get people to go back to what they were doing before things opened up, to mask up, self-distance and, if you can, to stay home as much as possible -- Kate?

KEILAR: And tell us about this hate crime spike we're seeing in California because of the pandemic. What's going on there?

SIDNER: Yes. The Asian-Pacific Policy and Planning Council has looked into this. And they've been getting reports for several months and say they've got about 800 reports.

And this is everything from assault to workplace discrimination, you name it when it comes to Asian-Americans. And they're being targeted because of coronavirus. They're being treated poorly because they're being blamed for coronavirus.

Here in California, with a very large Asian-American population, and they say it's disgusting and they don't know what to do about it, but they want help in dealing with it. I spoke with the executive director of that policy council, and she

talked to me about just how far this is going, from rural California to urban California.


MANJUSHA KULKARNI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ASIAN-PACIFIC POLICY AND PLANNING COUNCIL: Being harassed add a grocery store on a walk, being denied service at a post office or pharmacy, there have been incidents of workplace discrimination, being even physically attacked.

And sadly, the first case we learned about took place here in Los Angeles against a middle school child before there was even a single confirmed case.


SIDNER: And that child, she says, was bullied. Another child said, go back to China, you brought coronavirus here, and commenced to beating the kid up. It turns out the child wasn't from China in the first place.


Nevertheless, she says this is spiking as well as coronavirus and something must be done about it.

KEILAR: Sara Sidner, thank you so much, in Los Angeles.

In Florida, cases have now surpassed 200,000. ICU beds are filling up. And one Florida lawyer has been trying to warn about the virus in pretty stark fashion, literally, dressing up like death itself, popping up on beaches across the state in a Grim Reaper costume.

We should make it clear that these are beaches are open to the public. So folks are not breaking any laws. And some of them were not too happy to see him.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, it's not the flu but I don't think it's that much more severe than the flu.

UHLFELDER: You have the right to believe that but I disagree.

JAMES RIVERA, U.S. MARINE CORPS VETERAN: You're coming out here dressed as the Grim Reaper, you know, saying you're dead for being out here, I think that's a bit much. Let's not give everything up because we're sick. As crazy as it sounds, OK, that's a bit too much.


KEILAR: The man behind the costume, the so-called Grim Reaper, is attorney, Daniel Uhlfelder, and he is joining me from Jacksonville.

And you're not just out there protesting. You've filed a lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis to close beaches. Why did you decide to go to such lynches and specifically target the beaches?

UHLFELDER: There's been a lack of leadership in our state and most places. Back in March I filed suit against Governor DeSantis to temporarily early close our beaches and issue a stay-at-home order.

The beaches are drawing people from all over the world into coming here and spreading the virus and increasing the virus.

In fact, when I filed suit against the governor, there was about 500 cases, and 10 reported deaths. And 108 days later, today, as I file suit March 20th, there were over 200,000 cases in Florida and almost 4,000 deaths.

So, it's a lack of leadership going on in our state. And there needed to be a voice for people in Florida.

I filed suit against the governor. I have a social media campaign. And now I've got this Grim Reaper tour I started when the beaches and the state reopened on May 1st.

KEILAR: So, some of the video we've seen of you -- and maybe you can speak to this -- sometimes it seems people are practicing social distancing. It seems you may be on a beach and they're not incredibly crowded, like some of the beaches we've seen. We have video up right now.

In these instances, where seems like people are being careful, what's your issue there?

UHLFELDER: I travel beaches all over the states, starting May 1st, and I've seen beaches, in my end, in Jacksonville, north Florida, and there are places where people are practicing some social distancing.

The problem is that the beaches are what are drawing people from all over the world to our state. And they are drawing them here, they're getting infected, they're going to other places where they're spreading the virus.

So, that's the concern is the beaches are drawing people to our area and drawing people getting infected, and they're going back home and spreading in that fashion.

So, that's my concern is that the beaches are basically a magnet for people to come from all over the world.

Where I live in north Florida, I live in a small county that has about 60,000 to 70,000 permanent residents. But we have four million visitors a year from Tennessee, Texas and Louisiana, and New England that are hot spots. So, our concern is there's not sufficient infrastructure.

Today, Miami-Dade closed their restaurants. They're closing starting Wednesday. No more short-term rentals. They've closed their beaches in Miami-Dade.

It's not necessarily the act of being on the beach. You're right, some people I've seen -- I've seen a lot of beaches and they are social distancing. They're getting fresh air, exercising, and I don't have a problem with that type of conduct.

It's the fact people come to Florida to use our beaches. And the way the governor of Florida is not exercised proper discretion in managing our state as a whole that has caused, in my opinion, Florida to become a new epicenter.

Unfortunately, when I started the work about in March, I had a bad belief this is going to get really bad. Unfortunately, my predictions have exceeded what I though. We're now leading cases. And Florida is a higher percentage than any other state.


Miami-Dade is having problems taking care of their hospitalizations. Where I live in north Florida, cases are going up and up and up. We don't have a comprehensive state plan to deal with this.

Because the governor has decided to defer to the local areas, like cities and counties, to make the decisions, which are tough decisions. And I believe those decisions need to be made statewide. And our governor, for one, like the governor of Texas, he needs to issue a mask order. So that -- masks work.

And I was in south Florida two weeks ago, and people were wearing masks. I was in Jacksonville. But what is happening is the governor, Ron DeSantis, is making people on a local level make the decisions.

KEILAR: Daniel, thank you so much. Daniel Uhlfelder, we appreciate it. We know you have gotten some pushback, as you could imagine, when some people are on the beach and they don't want the Grim Reaper showing up. But we appreciate the conversation.

Thanks for joining us from Jacksonville.

UHLFELDER: Thank you for having me. Thank you very much.

KEILAR: Just in, NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace, responding to the president's demand that he apologize, and attacking NASCAR for banning the Confederate flag. Hear his powerful words.



KEILAR: We have breaking news. NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace, just responding to President Trump's tweet this morning calling for him to apologize after a noose was found in his garage stall before the race at Talladega.

And moments ago, this is the message that Wallace shared online. I want to read this in full for you. It says, "To the next generation and little ones following my

footsteps, your words and actions will always be held to a higher standard than others. You have to be prepared for that. You don't learn these things in school. You learn them from trials and tribulations, the ups and downs the crazy world provides."

"You'll always have people testing you, seeing if they could knock you off your pedestal. I encourage you to keep your head held high and walk proudly on the path you have chosen. Never let anybody tell you can't do something."

"God put us here for a reason. Find that reason and be proud of it and work your tails off every day toward it."

"All the haters are doing is elevating your platform to much greater heights."

Last thing, always deal with the hate being thrown at you with love. Love over hate every day. Love should come naturally as people are taught to hate. Even when it is hate from the POTUS, love wins."

"Signed Bubba Wallace."

Coming up, Miami-Dade County is rolling back some of its reopening plan as cases continue to surge.