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At This Hour

Naomi Osaka Pulls Out of French Open to Focus on Mental Health; Biden Heads to Tulsa to Honor Race Massacre Victims; NYPD Urges Hate Crime Charge for Man Accused of Attacking Asian Woman. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired June 01, 2021 - 11:30   ET


DR. CRAIG SPENCER, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH IN E.R. MEDICINE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Because COVID is still in many places around the world, even if it's declining here.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: And you have been flagging this far before many, I have to say, what the impact is. It's a global pandemic. But what we do here and what it looks like elsewhere, how we all get through the pandemic if the entire world is not in the same place.

We know that President Biden has pledged to donate 80 million doses to the world by end of June. We don't know exactly where they're going to go. And I'm curious where you think vaccines are needed most. I mean, what do you think the White House should be considering as it becomes this leading vaccine producer in the world?

SPENCER: Well, I think we need them wherever they go. We need to get them out now. That promise from the White House was at the end of April for the AstraZeneca doses, so 60 million. Now ,they're waiting for clearance from the FDA to get those out. There was a promise of another 20 million and President Biden has said he wants the U.S. to be the arsenal of vaccines for the world. But what are we waiting for? There is a raging pandemic still and we need to get them out.

I would love to see the U.S. engage and donate a lot of our surplus, the Covax, the global vaccine equity facility, kind of co-run by the World Health Organization. But I also think we need to be nimble and we need to have a supply that we're able to rapidly allocate to places that are seeing a surge, to help cut that off. And so I think that there is a couple ways we can approach this.

The administration has done an incredible job in the U.S. It has adapted and have been flexible at different points with vaccine problems, hesitancy issues in certain areas. And I think they can do the same globally but we need to do it right now. We can't wait for the end of June.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it is truly. Good to see you, Doctor. Thank you. SPENCER: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: coming up, Naomi Osaka, she put her mental health first. She withdrew from the French Open. I'm going to speak live with former U.S. Tennis Star James Blake about Osaka's decision and what should happen now. That's coming up.



BOLDUAN: At this hour, sports stars are rallying behind Naomi Osaka after her surprising decision to drop out of the French Open, support that the tournament's organizers did not offer Osaka, as we've clearly seen. Osaka initially said she was just skipping press conferences and saying she is doing so because she needed to focus on her mental health. The French Open's response was eventually a big fine and the threat of expulsion.

And yesterday, Osaka took herself out of the tournament altogether and posted this on Twitter. She said, the truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018 and I have a really hard coping with that. I am not a natural public speaker. I get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world's media. I thought it was better to exercise self care and skip the press conferences.

Joining me right now, former top ranked U.S. Tennis Star James Blake. Thank you for being here, James.

What is your reaction to all of this?

JAMES BLAKE, FORMER AMERICAN TENNIS STAR: Well, my first reaction is a concern for Naomi, and I hope she is doing well, I hope she is okay, I hope she is taking care of herself. I think athletes are very often looked on as being sort of gladiators and untouchable and that they -- you know, they don't have this fragile side and many of us do. So my concern is for.

But as for what she's done, I'm hopeful that she gets the final results. I don't know if this is the way she meant it to go with having to pull out with creating so much attention. But I hope she gets some sort of progress where there is maybe a mental health expert on site every week or they really can make some sort of exemptions for players that aren't naturally able to comfortably speak with the press or whatever needs to be done to make those feel comfortable in these situations.

It is a much more serious issue than just this one event. So I hope she gets that publicity and shines a light on it for a positive effect.

BOLDUAN: James, you've sat through these various same press conferences. I mean, how difficult it is? What has been your experience?

BLAKE: Yes. I mean, you do get -- I heard so loud and clear, and so when they asked the same question over and over again. And I still remember it. And I think it depends on your mental state when you go into them, when you lose and you're expected to win, they really try to drag you down a lot of times, not all of them. I don't want to paint with broad strokes and say that everyone does this. But you're getting that same question over and over about, you know, what does this mean for your career because you just lost this match? It's such a tragedy.

And very often it actually -- for me, worked in the opposite direction. Because I thought, you know what, they're going to make this seem it's the worst thing in the world. But, hey, if this isn't the worst day I'm going to have, I'm doing okay. Things are going to be all right.

And then when they try to build you up because you just beat a Roger or someone that, hey, I'm still ranked where I'm ranked. I'm not at that level. I feel like a lot of times the press, and it's part of their job and sports media is to sort of exaggerate the situation, what does this mean on the high side, what does this mean on the low side. And for someone that is not comfortable with that and can kind of take that bait, I agree. It can be dangerous. So it's good that she's going to let people know that these things go on.

BOLDUAN: It also, you know, kind of raises -- and I've heard a lot of like former tennis stars kind of bring this up as well, which is what is the responsibility of the French Open and what is the responsibility of each individual player when it comes to interacting with the press?


Did it have to get to this point?

BLAKE: Yes. I think the French Open and all the grand slams response was kind of what they had to do. They had to make this an extremely strict penalty where they can't let this become a pattern. And I understand that from their side because if this becomes a situation where anyone that can afford the fines decides, you know what, I'm not going to do press and I'm going to have that extra hour to myself to recover, to worry about my next match, it can become an advantage for anyone.

I mean, there is already an advantage when you have more resources, you're going to be able to have a trainer, nutritionist, whoever you want. But to give another added benefit of just saying, hey, I can skip this every time I want to just pay a fine, I understand why they can't do that. But I just want this to be something where there can be a compromise.

This maybe is just the starting point of a conversation about what can be done to somehow meet in the middle, because the tournaments can't let all of the top ten players decide to not do press because that's going to make it much less of an enticing product. If fans want to hear from the players, from the top players what they felt in their match, how they're feeling, what they were doing, what they're changing in their tactics, what they've changed in the off-season, things like that, they want to hear that.

And so I think that the tournaments did what they had to do and now let's figure out a way that we can get to meet somewhere in the middle, I think.

BOLDUAN: Let me play something for you that tennis great Chris Evert said this morning about all this.


CHRIS EVERT, TENNIS HAL OF FAMER: Remember, these athletes are teenagers and in their early 20s. And they can't cope with what a 45, 50-year-old golfer can cope. You know, you have -- the press really have to have some compassion and some respect for the questions that they ask because it's really putting a lot of the players off.


BOLDUAN: Do you think Chris has a point?

BLAKE: Yes. I mean, I love Chris. She makes a great point. And what I think we're seeing is we're seeing Naomi grow up in front of our eyes. And we have seen that with plenty of other athletes, the Williams sisters, we see it with Rafa, we've seen them grow up in the public spotlight.

And as Naomi said, she is not a natural public speaker. When she won her first title in Indian Wells, to go back and watch that speech, you could just tell how comfortable she was playing tennis and then how uncomfortable she was with the microphone in her hand giving that speech. And she's come a long way.

But like Chris said, she's still in her early 20s. And to grow up in that and for so many of us to think back to that time and think that we need to be judged on every single interaction we have at that time, a lot of us would feel a lot of anxiety and would feel that that's a pretty difficult situation to be in when you're still really growing up.

BOLDUAN: Yes. James, thank you so much. It's great to have you here.

BLAKE: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Still ahead for us, 100 years since one of the worst acts of racial violence in our nation's history, the Tulsa race massacre. I'm going to speak live with the chairwoman of the Tulsa city council next.



BOLDUAN: Right now, President Biden is heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to mark 100 years since a white mob obliterated Black Wall Street. The district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, full of thriving stores, hotels, theaters, all black-owned, all burned to the ground.

On this anniversary, let me bring in right Vanessa Hall-Harper, she is the chairwoman of the Tulsa City Council. Thank you so much for coming in. I really appreciate your time.

With President Biden coming to commemorate this solemn anniversary, if you have the opportunity to speak with him one-on-one when he's on the ground, what will you ask?

VANESSA HALL-HARPER, CHAIRWOMAN, TULSA CITY COUNCIL: I will ask that he do all that he can as a president to ensure that reparations are made, not only for Tulsa but there were multiple cities in the southeast of this country that started in 1919 known as Red Summer, and all of these communities were massacred in very much the same way and very much for the same reason, the blaming of a black man doing something, looking, winking, something to a white woman.

That was the justification for them to go in and create -- and do these massacres on citizens. And so I would ask that he, as the president of this country, do all that he can to make sure that reparations are made, that these things are not forgotten, that they are not hidden like it has been in Tulsa.

I grew up here, born and raised my entire life, and I was an adult before I knew about it. I was not taught Tulsa public schools, sadly. But, please, do not forget and make reparations.

BOLDUAN: Is it important that the president is coming to mark the anniversary, this solemn anniversary coming to Tulsa today? How important is it?

HALL-HARPER: Absolutely. It's very important because it's an acknowledgement, right? Again, it's been hidden from our history books. The power structure in this country tried to hide these things. And they continue to try to hide them because they don't want to atone for them. And so we have to have that in order to move forward when we talk about justice, we can't talk about justice without talking about reparations. They are inextricably linked.

And so I just want to be very clear what reparations are. Reparations are land and cash. Everything else is just good policy. And I'm not saying good policy shouldn't take place.


We need that too because Africans in this country, since we came here, have been disenfranchised. No other group in society was considered cattle, right, slaves. And so because of the other policies, great, we need those things too. But when it but when it comes to but when it comes to reparations for the massacres and the stealing of land that took place again in so many cities in this country, we need that land and we need cash payments to survivors, we have three, but to descendants as well.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, and this gets to -- I was going to ask you, because Joe Biden is going to be announcing new actions that the administration is taking and the administration says will help reduce the racial wealth gap when put in place, moves to help black-owned businesses and to boost black home ownership. How do these align with what you're looking to accomplish in Tulsa?

HALL-HARPER: They absolutely align. But, again, they are good policy. Those are things that need to take place again, but that is for the overall disenfranchisement of blacks in this country since we got off the boat, I like to say. But for these specific massacres that took place, the land need to be returned to the community, in this case, the black community, which was destroyed, and there needs to be cash payments of reparations in order to atone for those things.

The policies go hand in hand. But we can't have one without the other. And I think that's how government today, certainly in my state, that's how they want to handle it. Well, let's just put some programs in place and then move forward. No, we want our land back. We had land ownership, and we want that land back. And then we want resources in order to flourish.

BOLDUAN: Vanessa Hall-Harper, thank you very much.

HALL-HARPER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Just in to CNN, on the same day that millions of LGBTQ Americans are celebrating the start of pride month, Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, he just signed a ban on transgender athletes in girls and women's sports. The governor says that the new law is based on biology and not ideology, claiming that it ensures fairness for women athletes.

But advocates are calling the transgender athlete ban, which is part of a wide ranging education bill an attack on transgender youth. We will continue to follow that.

Coming up next, an Asian woman attacked on the streets of New York City, you're going to see the disturbing video that has police calling for hate crimes charges.



BOLDUAN: An unprovoked attack in New York City is drawing attention to the dramatic spike in hate crimes against Asian-Americans across the country. We want to warn you, the video that you're about to see is graphic, it is disturbing.

An Asian woman walking outside a restaurant in Chinatown Monday when a man punches her in the face, and so hard it knocks her down to the ground.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is joining me now for more on this. Shimon, what more are you learning about this?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's just so horrific, right? She's just seemingly walking down the street yesterday, Monday, in Chinatown, around 6:15 at night when this man comes up to her and just punches her in the face.

Police arrested that man you see in the video. They identified him as Alexander Wright. He's 48 years old. We're also told that he has several, several arrests, some of them prior arrests for assault. Police believe that he's also homeless. So they are still looking more into his history.

They also, Kate, found synthetic marijuana on him, K-2, so that is also part of something they're investigating. He also was taken to the hospital where he was undergoing psychiatric evaluation. So, certainly, a lot going on for this individual, but really just a sad, sad story, and that we are seeing an increase in these kinds of attacks against Asian-Americans across the city and really across the country.

The NYPD, as you said here, urging the prosecutors to charge this man with a hate crime.

BOLDUAN: And you can really see the shock in the faces of people around. Like it's impossible to understand how this happens out of the blue.

PROKUPECZ: Right. And that's something that the NYPD here is really trying to understand. Certainly, the pandemic has brought in some new elements that they have been looking into, but this has been happening all across the city, so much so that the NYPD had to put together a task force to deal with this. So, still ongoing, and still something that the NYPD and really people in the city are grappling with.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, it's just like -- I'm sorry to use the language, it's always like what the hell is going on whenever we see all this stuff over and over again. Shimon, thank you so much.

Here is another incident we need to tell you about in San Francisco's Chinatown, another disturbing incident, a man wrestled an Asian police officer to the ground. The female officer was responding to reports of a man making racially motivated threats and then look what happened. She asked him to turn around and put his hands up.

Seconds later the man knocks her down, starts attacking her, jumping on top of her. And here is what is also important here. You see Good Samaritan after Good Samaritan, witness after witness coming up, coming to the officer's aid, jumping to the rescue, jumping in, to help the officer, take a listen to this.


MICHAEL WALDORF, ATTACK WITNESS: He's a big guy. He was not letting go. He had a death grip on her. He was not letting go. If we don't get him off of her right away, he could really do some damage.


I'm glad she's okay and I appreciate her service.