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At This Hour

First Mask-Less Holiday for Many Americans since Pandemic Began; White Mob Destroyed Black Wall Street 100 Years Ago Today; China to Allow Couples to Have Three Children. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 31, 2021 - 11:30   ET


MAJOR JORGE AGUILAR, MIAMI-DADE POLICE HOMICIDE BUREAU: Yesterday, fell down and broke down in front of me that I could hardly hold her up.


And we had to get a group of people to hold her up when we have to tell her that her child is dead.

This violence is just senseless, okay? For you guys that are out there, if you are watching this and you are responsible for this, look at those victims that you don't take into account. Those victims are hurting, they are destroyed, their lives are turned upside down this morning. It's despicable.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I spoke with family members of one of the two people who were killed yesterday. They shared with me this photo, if we can show it, of their loved one. They tell me this is Clayton Dillard III in his 20s killed outside of that club.

Right now, there's still very limited information about why this happened, but police did tell us today that this is the result of an ongoing rivalry between two groups and police do say that they believe the intended target was standing outside of the lounge at the time, but it's unclear exactly who the intended target was at this point since there were a number of people standing outside and, of course, so many people affected by this, so many families affected by this right now, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Absolutely. Natasha Chen with the latest for us, Natasha, thank you.

Nearly two dozen families affected now, as we know it. And I just want to play really quickly again that video that Natasha shared with us which was just released. If you count, it is not even ten seconds from the time you look at that timestamp at the top there, they're leaving at 10:05:30 essentially and they are back in this car less than ten seconds. That, too, really just says a lot as, again, as that manhunt continues and two people dead, more than 20 wounded.

We shift gears now. This Memorial Day holiday weekend is the first mostly mask-less holiday in the United States since the pandemic began more than a year ago. Half of the adult population is now fully vaccinated and Americans seem eager to get out.

Today is likely to set yet another air travel record. New numbers from the TSA showing the agency screened more than 7 million people from Thursday through Sunday. AAA estimates more than 37 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more over the holiday weekend, that is a 60 percent jump over this time last year. Beaches, bars, restaurants many of them filling up for the first time in more than a year.

Joining me now is Derrick Henry, he's the mayor of Daytona Beach, Florida. Mr. Mayor, good to have you with us.

I mean, I remember ahead of Memorial Day last year, you telling my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, you were worried about what could be coming back in 2020. How are things different in 2021 over this holiday weekend?

MAYOR DERRICK HENRY (D-DAYTONA BEACH, FL): 360-degree turn. Last year, we were discouraging visitors, this year, obviously, we are open and encouraging visitors and we have been overwhelmed. We are delighted to be a city that welcomes over 10 million people annually and, therefore, we're delighted to serve our nation and our community in this way where we welcome visitors.

Our businesses are thrilled and, obviously, the visitors are happy to be able to get here as well as locals.

HILL: You say, overwhelmed, they noticed some tweets over the weekend that traffic was a bit of a headache. I can say I experienced some of that even on a rainy holiday weekend in the New York City area. How are the businesses holding up there? We've seen so many reports across the country about a shortage of employees that is impacting businesses as they reopen.

HENRY: Well, it's a challenge. The reality is that they do have a shortage, particularly in the service industries as it relates to our restaurants and bars of employees, but, you know, I've spoken to quite a few of them and they are hunkering down and they've got, you know, a lot of people having to work doubles. So there is a shortage. That's a real reality.

HILL: You mentioned this 360-degree turn from where you were at a year ago. These positive numbers when it comes to vaccinations across the country obviously are also comforting for a lot of people as they make their way sort of back into pre-pandemic life, if you will. How are things from a vaccination standpoint for you in terms of how folks are feeling in Daytona Beach as they begin to, you know -- as the summer kicks off here and folks are back?

HENRY: Well, the comfort level of understanding that the vaccines are working, they have been obviously, as we all know, amazing technology to be able to do this in a year's time. So they are working. So the comfort level of visitors as well as businesses is escalating on a daily basis.

You know, we are very happy with where we are and the reality that we also know how to live better with COVID.


We know how to respond to it for those who have been vaccinated and those who have not been vaccinated. So the knowledge base from a year ago is a lot greater as well as the confidence.

HILL: Mayor Derrick Henry, I appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you.

HENRY: Thank you. Thanks and have a great weekend, Erica.

HILL: You too.

Just ahead, today marks 100 years since a white mob killed hundreds of black people, burning down an important thriving community. Just ahead, a look at what really happened.



HILL: 100 years ago today the thriving community of Greenwood, Oklahoma, a corner of North Tulsa, known as black wall street, where black business, art and culture flourished, became the center of one of the deadliest and most destructive race massacres in American history. Tonight, a new CNN film, Dreamland, The Burning of Black Wall Street, takes a revealing look at what happened on that fateful day a century ago.

CNN's Abby Phillip joins us now. Abby, you traveled to Tulsa to give us a preview of the film and also a little bit more information on what actually happened 100 years ago because so many Americans have never learned about it.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Erica. This is a piece of American history that has been buried for about 100 years now and only recently are people finally starting to learn what the Greenwood massacre was all about. And the residents of Tulsa say now is the time to not only commemorate those who were lost and the lives that were shattered but also to find justice for the survivors who were still alive today.


REGINA GOODWIN (D), OKLAHOMA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Greenwood was exceptional, Greenwood was rare.

PHILLIP (voice over): The Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, once a sprawling community, a hub of black wealth and pride with a centerpiece known as Black Wall Street, is now this, one half of a city block that is almost entirely white-owned.

Greenwood is also a crime scene. 100 years ago, a 19-year-old black man was accused of assaulting a 17-year-old white elevator operator. No actual evidence emerged, but the accusation alone was enough to spark what is believed to be one of the deadliest and most destructive race massacres in American history.

GOODWIN: All hell broke loose, right? It was either you stay in your house and get burned to death because arsonists were going through, or you take the chance, you run out on to the street and die from a bullet wound, from a gunshot.

PHILLIP: Nobody knows exactly how many black Tulsans were killed, but some estimates put the number near 300. Greenwood, in all its excellence, was burned down and most of the bodies have never been found.

GOODWIN: I think when you ask why today is it not corrected, pretty much you still have racism today and you have a dominant culture that does not want to really own up to the heinous crimes that occurred.

PHILLIP: 107-year-old Viola Fletcher is one of three living survivors of the massacre.

VIOLA MOTHER FLETCHER, 107-YEAR-OLD SURVIVOR OF THE TULSA RACE MASSACRE: I don't remember what time it was but it was at night. We scrambled around and got ready to get dressed and we left in what you call it then a covered wagon or was drawn by horses, horse and buggy.

On our way out, we could see people running and people laying on the ground probably bleeding from being shot and killed and smell smoke with houses burning and heard the noise of airplanes flying. And so it was quite disturbing.

PHILLIP: No one has ever been charged with the murders of black residents or destruction of property in the Tulsa race massacre. Some black residents rebuilt with no help from the government or private insurance companies, but many others never returned to Tulsa.

GODDWIN: And everybody says, hey, don't blame me for what happened a long time ago. And what we're saying is that what happened a long time ago, you benefit from. You benefit from today, the generation of wealth that you have today, the land that you have today, all of that began with all that destruction.


PHILLIP (on camera): And what's so important to remember about why Greenwood and black wall street existed in the first place was because at that time in 1921, the black residents of Tulsa were subjected to racism and segregation. They had to create their own community in order to survive and then it was destroyed in a day of violence.

And, you know, Erica, when I talked to people in Tulsa now, they say the legacy of that racism is still there. North Tulsa, which is where some of Greenwood was, where a lot of black residents live, they don't have a hospital there, they only recently got a grocery store. There is still a lot of work to be done to make that city more equitable for its black residents.

HILL: Yes, it's the legacy of what came out of it, as we just saw in your interview with Representative Goodwin, what did not happen for so many people in Tulsa for the black residents of Tulsa because of that destruction, what did happen for white residents and what they were able to do.


And I think, Abby, you know, this really speaks to a larger reckoning that's been taking place over the last year that is long overdue in this country in addressing the reality of the history of the United States. And this is a very important moment in history that I think many of us -- I don't remember learning about this in school. You know, that has not been featured in not just -- not just being part of the black experience of what it's like to deal with systemic racism in this country, but the reality is this is part of the full history of the United States that hasn't been out there.

PHILLIP: It really has not. And so many people want to commemorate and say it was so long ago in the past, but what you hear from Tulsa's black residents and when you are there in Tulsa, you see that there is this legacy that has persisted where Greenwood, where it was then, is now just a fraction of what it was before. So much of the rest of the city that used to be owned by black families and business owners are now not. That wealth has been transferred to white residents of the city, to the city itself and those are the kinds of inequities that I think people this Tulsa say this is not just the past, this is the present. And if we don't do something to rectify, it could happen again.

You know, the tragedy of racial violence in Tulsa in 1921 is something that when I spoke to Mother Fletcher, 107 years old who you saw in that piece, she told me that she still thinks about it all the time. What if it can happen again? What if it can happen again? And it's more than just remembering it and saying it was in the past. It's making sure that something like this never happens again in the future.

HILL: When she said that to you, that she thinks about, you know, it could happen again, does she -- and I don't know if you two had this conversation so I apologize for putting you on the spot, but I'm curious did you get the sense that she feels it's more likely in 2021 or less likely?

PHILLIP: I think she thinks that it's still a possibility that -- you know, she has lived through decades and decades. She herself is someone who World War II was involved in the war effort, she lived through urban renewal in the '60s and the '70s, she's seen racism in a lot of different forms. And I think she believes that it's not -- it has not been eradicated. There are a lot of people in this country who believe that racism, that systemic racism, is something that is long in the past. She is clear-eyed that that is not the case.

And, you know, some of it also, Erica, is just her own trauma. She was seven years old when she saw a really horrific massacre, she witnessed it, experienced it and that trauma is something that she lives with, she looks over her shoulder, you know, proverbially even into her 100th year because of the trauma of that experience. So it's both the knowledge of racism but also what she actually experienced that keeps her vigilant about the possibility that these types of events can happen again if we don't as a society recognize them and try to stop them before they happen.

HILL: Yes, it's an excellent point. Abby, always good to see you, I appreciate it. Thank you.

PHILLIP: You too. Thanks, Erica.

HILL: And be sure to join us tonight for the premiere of the CNN film, Dreamland, The Burning of Black Wall Street. It airs tonight at 9:00 P.M. Eastern only on CNN.

Up next, a major policy shift in China, why the country is allowing couples to now have three children.



HILL: Big news out of China, couples will now be able to have three children, up from two, the new policy part of an effort to address declining birthrates and to help boost the country's economy.

CNN's David Culver has more.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: China easing its strict family planning policies, now allowing couples to have three children, this according to state media, and it's coming from the top, the Chinese Communist Party's leadership, including President Xi Jinping, making the decision just three weeks after Beijing published its 2020 census. That census showed China's population was growing at its slowest rate in decades.

Now, this is more than just about altering family planning. This signals that oppressing issue for China as the country tries to overt a demographic crisis. The declining birthrate, combined with increased life expectancy, is causing fears that there will not be enough workers here to support the aging population. But you have to keep in mind about China, is that economic stability and prosperity are deeply intertwined with social stability here.

State media did not say when this new policy regarding three children would be implemented.

David Culver, CNN, Beijing.

HILL: Up next, one of the biggest names in tennis making an expensive decision, why Naomi Osaka is giving the media the silent treatment.



HILL: Tennis star Naomi Osaka hit with a $15,000 fine, that fine coming from the French Open, for not participating in news conferences. The four-time major champion refused to speak with the media after her straight set victory on Sunday, citing her mental health.

In a social media post, she wrote, quote, we've often sat there and asked questions that we've been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds. And I'm just got going to subject myself to people that doubt me.

Osaka says she hopes the money will be donated to a mental health charity. The French Open warning that repeated violations could result in tougher sanctions, including being disqualified from the tournament.


Thanks for joining us.