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At This Hour
Ronald Greene's Family to Join Rally at Louisiana Capitol Today; New Documentary Marks 100 Years since Tulsa Race Massacre; Ohio Teen Wins Full Ride for College in Vaccine Giveaway. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired May 27, 2021 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Marching for justice, marching for accountability, marching for Ronald Greene. Greene's family along with civil rights and social justice activists are demanding accountability, and this afternoon they're marching from the Louisiana state capitol to the governor's mansion to call for the state troopers involved in his deadly arrest to be fired, arrested and charged.
Body cam video captures troopers tasing, beating and dragging Greene that night two years ago, body camera video that did not become public until now, two years later, two years after his family was initially told, they say, that Ronald Greene died from a car crash.
Joining me now is Ron Haley, one of the family's attorneys. Ron, thank you for being here. It's my understanding that the Greene family is meeting with the district attorney this morning. What is the meeting about? What can you tell us?
RON HALEY, ATTORNEY FOR THE RONALD GREENE FAMILY: Hey, good morning, Kate. Yes, the family along with some of my co-counsel are meeting with the district attorney from the parish that the horrific murder of Ronald Greene took place. Since the band-aid has been pulled off this, folks have been scrambling out here to try to make this right.
It's my appreciation that the meeting with the district attorney is to discuss if possible state charges will be brought against the offending officers.
BOLDUAN: Ron, is this the first time that the family or your counsel or any of you have met with the district attorney about this?
HALEY: No. This is not the first time we've met but this is the first time that we've met since the public release of these videos and learning of the second video of Lieutenant John Clary essentially orchestrating and directing and condoning the brutality that faced Ronald Greene on that fateful evening.
BOLDUAN: Ron, do you take this meeting as a sign of progress? How should people read it?
HALEY: Well, listen, two years is never too late for justice. And so we are in the business of getting this family for Ronald Greene the justice that they deserve. And I believe that the awakening that has happened in the state of Louisiana over the past week or so as it relates to what happened to Mr. Greene are all steps in the right direction. But we want something meaningful. We want something that is going to make sense.
What makes sense to us would be a charge of homicide on the officers that put their hands on Ronald Greene and we want those also that participated in the cover-up that night and subsequently afterwards to face punishment as well.
BOLDUAN: Ron, do you have any indication, have you gotten any indication or sense from the district attorney if they also see this as a cover-up, as I know you do?
HALEY: I think it's evident that it is a cover-up. I think to the extent of the cover-up, that remains to be seen. But the fact that body cam footage was not released on that evening, that the commanding officer at the scene purposely did not turn his in, then you can see them on body camera basically telling them to obstruct justice by tapping their button to say, listen, hey, we're on -- we're being recorded. Let's not talk too crazy while we murder Ronald Greene. That in itself shows that there was a cover-up.
Now, to the extent that cover-up was limited to just those in Troop F or did that cover-up extends all wait to headquarters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, remains to be seen. But we're going to be diligent in making sure everyone that played a part of this is held accountable.
BOLDUAN: I do think it is quite significant, this meeting with the district attorney today, as you're pointing out. We'll see what does come from it. It may even still be ongoing right now with some of your co-counsel.
Talk to me about what else is happening today, the march. What do you hope and what does the family hope comes from this march from the state capitol to the governor's mansion?
HALEY: What we want is to show them collectively citizens of this state and our neighboring states, and brothers and sisters from around the country that are going to convene on Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is not standing up for this. No longer should this be the rule where officers can brutalize individuals of any color, in particular, black and brown people, hide it and go unscathed, go unpunished, swept under the rug. The rug has been pulled off.
And the collective voice from the thousands of people that are going to be here with us today is going to be something to see.
BOLDUAN: I'm curious as to what you read from -- when we learn that one of the officers involved is going to be fired, but not having anything to do with Ronald Greene's death, do you read -- do you read that as a bad sign about criminal charges, like that criminal charges are likely not to be coming? Your reaction to that and what you think it actually means.
HALEY: Well, I'm going to shift gears a little bit, Kate. What is really disturbing to me about that, right, I don't think has anything to do with whether or not criminal charges will or will not be coming. But I think what it really does show is why there needs to be transparency and accountability immediately. Because this officer who did something to Ronald Greene then subsequently did something to someone else because he was not held accountable at the time the incident took place.
And that's really the big story here, or another subplot of the story, is that the fact that when you do not rang in these bad apples, these are not isolated incidents. These things happen over and over and over again. And this is just one example of that.
BOLDUAN: Let's see what progress comes from today and from the big rally that will be happening with the family. Ron Haley, thank you for coming on.
HALEY: Thank you, Kate. Talk to you soon.
BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.
Coming up for us, did Ohio find the secret recipe to getting more people vaccinated? It seems like it's Vax-a-Million lottery may have done the trick. We're going to speak to one of the lucky winners next.
BOLDUAN: Monday marks 100 years since the burning of Black Wall Street, when the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, an oasis of black prosperity became the site of one of the deadliest massacres in American history. A new CNN film, Dreamland, the Burning of Black Wall Street, shows what happened then and what is being done now to set the record straight. Here is a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many people have said there were no bodies there. But, you know, all the black folk in the community, we believe they're there. Those stories were passed on to us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Inch by inch, crews start digging into the history of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Tulsa's mayor, G. T. Bynum, initiated the investigation to try and find if there are any victims buried in mass graves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a systematic cover-up of the event. It should not have taken 99 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to pay attention. We have to pick up the charred baton that has been left in our hands and figure out where the screams are coming from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Joining me now is Kristi Williams, chair of the Greater Tulsa African-American Affairs Commission and a descendent of the Tulsa massacre victims. Kristi, it's wonderful to meet you. Thank you for being here.
Why is it important to you to take -- to be part of this film? And what do you hope people take away from what happened in the city and to your family?
KRISTI WILLIAMS, CHAIR, THE GREATER TULSA AFRICAN-AMERICAN AFFAIRS COMMISSION: It was really important for me to be a part of this film because we need to tell our story our way. We need to tell our history our way. And while we have been silenced in this city for so long, and now that the attention is here, it is really time to just, you know, tell the truth about what happened and for me to also talk about what happened to my family.
BOLDUAN: You know, so many people in the film talk about how Oklahoma schools don't teach the Tulsa massacre in history classes. Why don't more people know this story?
WILLIAMS: You know, it's been hidden so long and I really believe that not only the city but the state of Oklahoma, you know, they want to be shown in a positive light. They don't want to look bad. So, for years, they just kept this under the rug. It wasn't taught in our schools. And just recently, our governor, Governor Stitt, signed House Bill 1775, where we can't teach about our history because it makes white people uncomfortable.
BOLDUAN: President Biden is coming to Tulsa on Tuesday to mark the anniversary. What do you want him -- what do you want him to see while he's there?
WILLIAMS: I want him to see the impacts, the negative impacts that the massacre has had to black people in this city. I want him to see how -- I want him to see how the Creek Freedmen descendent. I want him to see how the Creek nation kicked us out of the tribes in 1979 and the loss of land that we have had and, you know, just the fight for -- we're fighting for our humanity. We're fighting for our legacies on both ends with the tribes and with the city and state. And I want him to do something about it, especially now that the conversation of reparation has taken place. And there is no -- there's no better place to start with reparations than right here in Oklahoma.
BOLDUAN: And there are several times in the film where you can -- where they depict and they show Black Lives Matter painted on historic Greenwood Avenue, past and present kind of coming together and also making clear that the fight in the struggle is not over. What is your hope for the community of Greenwood now?
WILLIAMS: You know, my hope for the community of Greenwood is that we follow the blueprint that our ancestors of Greenwood left. Our ancestors built an economy within an economy right here in Greenwood. We built a community of strong community and where we didn't have to go outside and seek help from white people, from philanthropists. We did this ourselves. And if they can do it in the face of Jim Crow, we can definitely do it now. And it is so important that we -- that we understand that. And not only that we understand it but we do it.
And so that's one thing that I want to get out of this centennial. Everyone is celebrating like it's a celebration. It's not a celebration. It is a commemoration.
And for descendants like me, it is a benchmark to show we are still stagnant. We have not grown in the right direction. We haven't done the right thing. And so that's what this centennial reminds us of.
And we just want our voices to be heard and we're tired of being -- falling victim to the empty symbolism that is happening through murals, we have some park benches dedicated to us so we can sit and reflect about what happened, a tree dedication, and none of that is reparations. None of that is repair for the loss that has happened.
And when you talk about Black Lives Matter being on the street in the heart of Greenwood, we're the only major city that has taken up our Black Lives Matter mural. I mean, they took it -- it's -- so it just reminds us that we are still in a very racist city, in a racist state, and, you know, this is an SOS call for us as the centennial approaches
BOLDUAN: Kristi, thank you very much for coming on. I really appreciate your time.
And just to remind all of you, you can watch more about this story and be sure to watch the new CNN film, Dreamland, the Burning of Black Wall Street, that's on Monday at 9:00 P.M. Eastern only on CNN.
BOLDUAN: If protecting yourself against COVID isn't incentive enough to get the vaccine, how will winning a million dollars or a full ride scholarship to college? That is what two lucky Ohio residents are now enjoying all because they got vaccinated.
The state announcing the first winners of its vaccine lottery, a recent college graduate took home the $1 million prize and 14-year-old Joseph Costello won a four-year full ride scholarship.
Joseph is joining me now with his parents, Colleen and Richard Costello. It's great to see you, great to meet you.
Joseph, what an insane whirlwind for you. How did you find out that you'd won?
JOSEPH COSTELLO, WINNER OF OHIO VACCINE LOTTERY: My dad was driving me home from youth group, and then the people from the state government told me in my driveway that I had won the scholarship from the vaccine entering of the lottery.
BOLDUAN: What did you think when you heard that?
J. COSTELLO: I was pretty blown away with it that -- yes, really happy about it.
BOLDUAN: How weird is this, Joseph, one day you go to get a vaccine, and the next you're live on national T.V.?
J. COSTELLO: Very weird.
BOLDUAN: I understand that completely.
Colleen, tuition, room and board, I mean, that really is fantastic. What do you think about this whole thing? What does this full ride mean for your family?
COLLEEN COSTELLO, MOTHER OF OHIO VACCINE LOTTERY WINNER: It's really exciting. It means everything to our family. We've always wanted our children to go to college and made plans for that. So this was our hopes when we entered the Vax-a-Million contest, that maybe one of our children would win. So, yes, this is what we were hoping for and we are really happy.
BOLDUAN: You know, Richard, the point of this lottery is to convince people who might be on the fence, right, to get a vaccine, to kind of make them -- to push them over the line, to get them to get the shot. Your family is now an example for a lot of other families. What is your message to other families with teenage kids about this?
RICHARD COSTELLO, FATHER OF OHIO VACCINE LOTTERY WINNER: Right, two fronts, they have nothing to lose. A, there's a safety component, just being vaccinated. And B, the possibility of winning, you know, a scholarship or money, and so that's the way we see it. It's really -- it's a very good thing.
BOLDUAN: Colleen, did you think -- are you pinching yourself today?
C. COSTELLO: Yes, definitely. I said to my co-workers at lunch yesterday that my life could change because the Vax-a-Million drawing was going to be that evening and we were excited -- we were wondering if maybe one of us was going to win. So the fact that that actually happened, it's so hard to believe.
BOLDUAN: You guys should really be going out and buying some scratch tickets or some Power Ball. I mean, I'm feeling really good about being around you guys. If you could send some of that magical lucky dust my way, I would really appreciate it.
So, Joseph, one last thing, my friend, I heard one that of the schools you're considering is Ohio State. As someone who married into a Michigan family, I just have to ask you, can you please consider Miami-Ohio?
J. COSTELLO: Yes, I actually also was already considering that, so -- but I don't know. It changes sometimes. BOLDUAN: You've got plenty of time to worry about that and you've got a full ride. It's great to meet you guys. Thank you very much, very, very much, and congratulations.
R. COSTELLO: Thank you very much.
BOLDUAN: All right. From Ohio, we're going to actually focus still on Ohio. We're going to take a live look at pictures of Air Force One departing from Joint Base Andrews.
Joe Biden is heading to Cleveland, Ohio to make a pitch for the economy and for his massive infrastructure package. That, coming up later today.
That's all for us today. John King picks up right now.