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CNN Tonight

New York City Mayor Announces Plan To Transport Migrants Outside The City, Nearby County Declares State Of Emergency; Source Says, Texas Gunman Legally Purchased AR-15-Style Weapon Used In The Attack; California Reparations Panel Recommends Apology, Payments To Black Californians; Chokehold Death Of Jordan Neely Sparks Protests In New York; Airlines To Compensate Passengers For Delays And Cancellations. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 08, 2023 - 22:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: People didn't talk about mental health and they're talking about it now. And that is a good thing. And we should also note it is May and May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it is important to continue to shine a light on this so that people can continue to discuss it because that's the only way that people can get better. I appreciate it.

PAM SHRIVER, FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: And, Dana, thanks for bringing it up on your show.

BASH: Thank you. And thank you so much for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" continues after a break.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I'll take it right now, Dana. Thank you very much. Great to see you.

All right, good evening everyone, I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN TONIGHT.

The U.S. is bracing for tens of thousands of desperate migrants to try to cross the southern border in a few days. That's when the Trump-era policy expires that allowed some migrants to be quickly turned away. Already, men, women and children are lining up for food, sleeping on the streets, more than 150,000 people are reportedly just across the border waiting to cross.

But it's the responsibility of Congress to pass new immigration laws. So, what can the Biden administration actually do?

Our panel has ideas. Plus, nobody wants to live in fear that we're only a day or two away from the next mass shooting. This past weekend saw another one, eight people killed, this time at a mall in Allen, Texas. The shooter was a 33-year-old who served in the military for three months. But a defense official says he was terminated years ago because of a mental health condition.

The shooter appears to have posted a photo of a patch on his clothing that represents a white supremacy group. Of course, these mass shootings make us all feel helpless. So, tonight, we'll look at a bill in the Texas House that could be getting some unexpected support.

And there's a plan to pay reparations to African-Americans in California. John Avlon is here with a debut of CNN TONIGHT's Reality Check.

But let's start with what we know about the looming immigration deadline. The repercussions of this are spreading across the country. New York City Mayor Eric Adams announcing a plan to send migrants away from his city to nearby counties, but officials there want no part of that plan.


ED DAY (R), ROCKLAND COUNTY EXECUTIVE: The mayor is engaged in human trafficking of the worst kind. He's talking out of both sides of his mouth about how wonderful he's taking care of people. And what he's doing, he's putting them in the worst possible situation.


CAMEROTA: All right. We've got a lot to talk with my panel. We have CNN's John Avlon here, the Los Angeles Times' L.Z. Granderson, Scott Jennings, who worked with Georgia bush in that White House administration, and the writer and comedian, Akilah Hughes. Great to have all of you. Welcome, Akilah, great to have you here tonight.

Okay, so, Texas does not know what to do with this amount of immigrants -- migrants, I should say. York city cannot accommodate, they say, this level of migrants. What is going to happen on Thursday night?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you have got a high chance of crisis, even though we're trying to marshal forces to stop the immediate flow. But the sheer number of individuals who are waiting for this to expire is a recipe for disaster, rather compounding what has been a rolling disaster.

But a couple quick things to keep in mind. First of all, Title 42, that Trump-era policy, was predicated on COVID. So, that's got to be -- where back to status quo. And the status quo force is broke. So, the people who are politicizing this, it should highlight the fact that we desperately need to deal with our border. We need a balanced comprehensive plan. At the very least, we should be putting forward a plan that Senator Tillis and Sinema put forward to be more aggressive about border enforcement in this moment.

CAMEROTA: So, L.Z., as you know, New York City for years gas prided itself on being a sanctuary city. Now, technically, that means will protect migrants from being deported by ICE. But there was a feeling that it was a safe haven, basically, for migrants. And, in fact, it was Eric Adams who tweeted before he was mayor, when he was running for mayor, we should protect our immigrants, period. Yes, New York City will remain a sanctuary city under an Adams in his station.

Well, now when he's confronted with, I think they've had something like 60,000 that they've had to deal with this year, he, I mean, I would say is changing that tone.

L.Z. GRANDERSON, OP-ED COLUMNIST, LOS ANGELES TIMES: You brought up New York. I immediately thought of a fellow New Yorker, I'm going to kind of paraphrase a bit, but everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth. That's Mike Tyson. And it's true. I mean, when you think about everyone's campaign promise, it's all based on information that they really do not have, because they're not fully on the inside getting day-to-day data, day-to-day information that you get as an elected official. So, they're taking a stab in the dark in a lot of ways.

But with that being said, we have got to be stop thinking about this as a domestic issue. This is a foreign policy issue because the migrants are coming from other countries. We're handling this issue from an American perspective. But if you really want to address the problem, we need to change our focus and the paradigm.


This is -- this is different countries, different cultures. We contributed by our guns and our need for drugs. We need to have a come to Jesus meeting and talk about this like adults, and stop thinking we need to stop the border, as if that's really the problem.

CAMEROTA: What do you think, Scott?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I agree. We're at the breaking point. There is not a single politician, you know, from Texas to New York, who knows what to do about all this. I mean, our political system has reached the breaking point. I think this is one the biggest political problems facing President Biden.

CAMEROTA: And what do you think he is supposed to do about it?

JENNINGS: Well, it is the federal government's responsibility to defend our border. I mean, there is a heck of a lot of Americans who see people coming across as an invasion.

CAMEROTA: Right, but you are allowed to apply for asylum. That is one of our laws.

JENNINGS: I mean, do you think that every single person standing, waiting to come in on Thursday, believes they are here for legitimate asylum or do you think they're just waiting to come in? I mean, I think -- look, I think the whole thing is broken. It's been broken. Yes, we've been punched in the mouth, but we've been getting punched in the mouth for years and years and years here.

GRANDERSON: But we started the fight too.

JENNINGS: And our political system has totally failed to deal with it. So, I'm thinking this is going to be a bigger problem.

And just one other issue on politics, political problems get real bad when there's video and pictures. We don't have people fighting what esoteric ideas. You can see what's happening. And so you can't go to the podium and say, oh, don't worry, we have it under control, which they have done, or, don't worry, it's not as bad as Republicans say, which they have done. The Republicans are going to pass a bill on Thursday out of the House. It's a good start. The president ought to talk to the Republicans if he's serious about solving it.

CAMEROTA: Akilah, here is the House bill -- I mean, the bill that Republicans want to, and will pass, on Thursday, increasing use of expedited removal, surge 1,500 troops -- oh no, this is Biden's plan. Let me start with a Republican plan, then I'll get to the Biden plan. So, the GOP immigration bill is keep the remain-in Mexico policy. Resume wall construction. Ban funds for migrant charities. Improve border surveillance technology and funding for more personnel at the border.

AKILAH HUGHES, WRITER AND COMEDIAN: I just don't see how any of that addresses the issue. I mean, these are all things that they have proposed in the past, they are things that they have funded in the past, the wall that whatever is there right now, it hasn't stopped anybody from trying to get here, having more of it isn't going to stop people from coming here. I think at the base of all of it is letting people come to this country with dignity. And I think that's, for me, as an American citizen, what seems to be the most fraught point at this point.

But people have always come here, seeking asylum, seeking citizenship, whatever. It's just now we have, you know, the political game book of let's put people on buses, let's ship them out, let's use them as pawns, and, frankly, I think people are tired of that.

CAMEROTA: But do you think that Mayor Adams is playing political gamesmanship? In other words, if he's saying his city, which is a sanctuary city, cannot accommodate them, is that political or is that reality?

HUGHES: I think he's always been trying to win points with Republicans based on his policies. I think he got elected --


HUGHES: -- largely because Republican support him -- I mean, a Democrat is always going to be the mayor of New York, unless -- you know, there's Bloomberg, but, I mean, come on.

GRANDERSON: But Bloomberg was --

AVLON: And Lindsey, and LaGuardia.

HUGHES: Right. You have to have a level of being very centrist and he ran on centrist ideas. And I think that if he was, you know, owning up to the fact that New York is a very diverse city, with millions, tens of millions of people in it, then he would just continue to be a sanctuary city. But he needs those votes.

AVLON: So, let me put on my old I used to work in city hall hat for a second. All right, so, the sanctuary city point is ironic. But remember, it stemmed from a concern about public health. The city has always been a nation of immigrants. The concern was that people wouldn't go to hospitals or schools, that they were afraid of the INS knocking on their door.

What Eric Adams is dealing with, I think, highlights the fact that this is a federal problem that needs a federal solution, and the mayor of New York has never dealt with this level of undocumented immigration, because all of a sudden he's seeing it influx on the border in a way that New York and other cities and states were shielded from. And that highlights the sense of crisis, and they are unprepared to deal with 60,000 migrants being dropped in their city to score political points.

JENNINGS: So, with a city as big as New York's unprepared to deal with it --

AVLON: Exactly.

JENNINGS: -- how about any small town, or any moderately-sized down along the Texas border? Terribly unprepared.

GRANDERSON: Andy, yes, this is why when you look at a state like Texas, right, which is way more purple than what I think the average person knows, but when they think about it, they think it's red. And why do these officials keep getting re-elected? Because Democrats are not having these kinds of conversations about this issue. And people who actually live on the border, people who live in these border states, there are real issues.

These are ideas that are floating in the air if you're living in New York, if you live in California, in the northern part of the state. These are real day-to-day issues. And you are talking about cities, like a city like San Antonio. If there were all of a sudden 1000 more people introduced in a city like San Antonio, I'm not quite sure what it could do. And that's a top ten city in terms of the U.S. population.


CAMEROTA: I mean, just look at the video of El Paso. I don't know we have it. But people are -- there are tent cities on the sidewalk. People -- they're having a hard time absorbing it. I mean, I hear what you're saying in terms of compassion, for sure, but the practicality is these cities don't seem to be able to have a place to put folks.

HUGHES: Well, that's 100 percent true. I think we can see it from the video. But I also think when you show the Republican talking points about how they would like to handle it, the border wall is not the solution. A wall is a symbol. It is not in practice stopping anyone from coming in. Having more personnel there, we've had more personnel there year after year after year. We're not losing people, you know, we're not losing that profession. So, I feel like we are just doing that thing where we put money towards enforcement of something that is not the heart of the issue.

GRANDERSON: Right, because it's not the northern border that we should be talking about, it's Mexico's southern border. It's like they're coming from Central America. And it's like there's a reason why, and we're contributing to those reasons why, and we're trying to have these separate conversations, but they're not intermingled, but they are.

AVLON: And that's a more comprehensive conversation that needs to be had, policy-wise, and the Biden administration has began saying, look, we need to invest in actually stability in some of these Central American countries. A lot of these migrants are coming from places like Nicaragua and Cuba, and it is a larger problem, fair point. But, look, every crisis contains an opportunity.

And Democrats need to understand that this is not, as you say, some abstract issue. This is fundamental, the folks are feeling, but the Biden administration needs to work with Republicans, and it may have more border security elements that Democrats might like, but deal with the problem. Deal with the problem, Congress.

JENNINGS: I think you're right. And I think just like on the debt limit, come Thursday, it will be the Republican Party in Washington that passed the bill on both of those issues, and Biden has done nothing.

GRANDERSON: Why do you that? We were having a substantive conversation on immigration and here you go with your drive-bys.

JENNINGS: (INAUDIBLE) the politically reality that Joe Biden is living in right now.

AVLON: False equivalence, my friend.

JENNINGS: You just said Congress should pass bills. They have passed bills on both issues.

AVLON: Which should also not default on their debt.

JENNINGS: I agree. That's why the Republican Party passed a bill to raise it.

HUGHES: I mean, we want to talk about everything Republicans are passing, because what about the guns? I don't think you want have that conversation.

CAMEROTA: We are going to have that momentarily. Okay, thank you very much. And we are learning more tonight about the Texas mall shooter. Of course, we've got an epidemic of gun violence. Of course, we are living in fear of the next one. So, what can we do about? We'll talk about it.



CAMEROTA: We are learning more about the gunman who killed eight people at a Texas mall. Sources say that he used an AR-15-style gun that he purchased legally. According to defense officials, he was removed from military service because of mental health issues. His social media included posts about right-wing extremist ideology and his obsession with guns. One post shows a tactical vest with the letters RWDS, which stands for Right-Wing Death Squad. That's a logo used by white supremacist groups. Another photo shows a stash of ammunition.

We're back with John Avlon, L.Z. Granderson, Scott Jennings and Akilah Hughes. So, so much of this sounds so similar, Scott, from all of the other mass shootings. Do you agree that whatever the U.S. is doing, or has done in the past few years is not working to stop mass shootings and, in fact, they are increasing?

JENNINGS: Yes. Obviously there are people who are at a minimum needed further review that are getting their hands on guns. This actually reminds me a few years ago in Texas, there was a shooting of a former military member, I think he was in the Air Force, and he had some issues there. And that information did not get transferred to the database. And he wound up -- was that the church shooting, I think, maybe?

And so similar deal where you've got a guy here who clearly had mental health flag somewhere that never made it into a system that would have been picked up by a background check. And when I hear Republicans say, look, we need to focus on mental health and we need make sure those things get flagged, obviously, this guy had a mental health flag. And so that's what jumped out to me about this.

CAMEROTA: So, Scott, I'm just sticking with you, because you are -- you talk to Republicans, you are a Republican, you're connected to Republicans. And so when the Fox poll from, you know, two weeks ago shows the majority of voters favor these proposals, background checks on all gun buyers, 87 percent, enforcing existing gun laws, 81 percent, legal age, going up to 21 to buy all guns, that's 81 percent of Americans who require mental health checks. That's 80 percent. We're not doing that now. Flag people, so, you know, red flag laws, they are danger to themselves, 80 percent, require a 30-day waiting period, not all states are doing that, 77 percent. Why aren't Republican seizing on this?

JENNINGS: Well, there are some Republicans who represent areas that don't share those views. I mean, that is a poll of Americans. But you get into some areas of the country that are represented by Republicans that are pretty red and pretty conservative, and they don't think that infringing upon the Second Amendment, their Second Amendment rights as a law abiding gun owner, that's the way they would see it, is a cure for somebody, some crazy person who goes out does something heinous elsewhere. And so it's a clash between national polling and I think individual constituent-based polling.

And I think if you ask most Republican members of Congress, they would say they hear far more from those constituents in their districts than they hear from others.

CAMEROTA: Akilah, your thoughts?

HUGHES: I think their Second Amendment rights are the same as every other Americans. And very clearly, it says a well-regulated militia. But we're talking no regulation, we're talking about states like Texas that are trying to allow more people to have guns with fewer regulations. And I think that those polling numbers show you that people take this seriously.

Like this isn't just an idea. Like the idea that we could go to the mall and not come home with all of our family members is a reality. There are people in the hospital right now. There's a little boy in the hospital who lost his entire immediate family.

So, when I hear about the gun rights that these people, you know, in their hypothetical, will they need to have an AR-15 in their house, why does that supersede the rights of a child to have a family? It is devastating. It is the biggest shame of this nation at this time. And I -- frankly, I want -- I hear you say the people in Congress, Republicans in Congress, cares about this issue, but what evidence is there that supports that?


JENNINGS: Well, they did pass -- I will just point out in the last Congress bipartisan legislation passed by a wide margin. You had top Republicans and top Democrats that joined together. And I think they went about as far as Congress has --

CAMEROTA: I know, but the problem is that it didn't address these things that so many Americans say, by 80 percent, they want.

JENNINGS: Yes, not everything was in there that some people wanted. That's absolutely true. But it was hailed at the time as one of the largest leaps forward in several years.

AVLON: It was progress on an issue that has been stalled by special interests for a long time. Those numbers you show, the super majorities of Americans, that was true after Sandy Hook, and yet nothing was done.

And if you look -- I mean, the American people's concern about crime is a concern about gun violence. This is rooted in fear. And the problem is that because of our rigged system of redistricting, a lot of politicians feel that they can ignore what super majorities of the Americans want.

But I do think that, look, this is about, as these gun laws have changed, they've gotten easier to get guns, more guns. And at that, not only to an involvement of fear, but also extremism in this case, extremist ideology, that is a deadly combination. We keep seeing evidence of that.

CAMEROTA: Oh, he had the entire trifecta of things that made it dangerous to have access to a gun in this one shooter.

L.Z., of course, on this program, we do look for small beacons of light where we can. And so in Texas today, there were two Republicans who joined with Democrats on a committee, okay, to vote a bill out of committee. So, this was basically procedural. However, it is a bill to raise the age in your home state from 18 to 21. They could have blocked that out of committee, but they did not. Who knows what will happen when it gets to the floor.

GRANDERSON: Who knows what will happen when it gets to the floor. It is a little beacon of light. I would have been a year after the massacre in Uvalde.

You know, I hate writing about these shootings. But I write about these shootings all these time because I would hate more not being affected by the shootings. And my biggest fear, really, is as the ineptitude of Congress continues on, that the public stops talking about it and that the we stop thinking that this is acceptable and then we normalize it.

And I start thinking about things like the internet, right? That was just, what, 20, 30 years ago. And now we have no control, whatsoever. And now we are trying to introduce artificial intelligence on top of the situation which we already have no control.

AVLON: It will get worse.

GRANDERSON: So, it will get worse. So, I think about guns, I just sit there and I'd just go, you know, at some point, Republicans -- and I hate picking on Republicans because I am an independent thinker. We just had a conversation that surprised both of us in the hallway. You know I'm an independent thinker. But the proof is in the pudding. It's Republicans that is effing this up, man. I'm just being real with it. And they've been dragging this on, and our children are dying in schools at a level. I grew up when we had metal detectors. So, children dying in schools was, in and of itself, shocking. But these numbers?

CAMEROTA: There's no denying it. There's no denying that's getting worse. There's no denying that kids feel like sitting ducks in their schools.


CAMEROTA: And that's our reality right now.

GRANDERSON: And Republicans, there's no denying they're the party most responsible for not having any progress on the list that you just presented.

CAMEROTA: What are you guys talking about in the hallway?


JENNINGS: Oh, well, we talk about a lot of things. But let me just address --

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, very quickly.

JENNINGS: Well, there is a fundamental disagreement between Republicans and Democrats over the root cause of violence. Republicans would say there are deep societal issues going on in America that have nothing to do with guns, but everything to do with societal issues and a fundamental lack of respect for human life and human dignity that transcends guns or any other weapon. Democrats, obviously, and liberals, believe it's the guns. They're just nowhere near crossing lines on the graph right now. That's the fundamental debate.

So, to say that Republicans are effing it up is to say I don't find your argument about the root causes of this valid. Just like on the immigration question we debated in the first segment. If I said to you everything you just said is invalid because I fundamentally disagree with you, that would not be a very productive conversation.

To me, where the rubber hits the road here is liberals are going to have to understand that there are people who take the Second Amendment and their individually right, according to the Supreme Court, to keep and bear arms very seriously.

And the conservatives are going to have to take what you said, and what everyone else has said here about the need for safety very seriously. Only then will anything move on this. And the poll numbers show the potential political will somewhere in the soup. But it won't ever gel until there is a fundamental validation with each other's arguments here.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we have to go. You have ten seconds.

GRANDERSON: Ten seconds. Greg Abbott, Governor Greg Abbott said mental health is the biggest issue driving mass shootings. That man cut $211 million from the department that handles mental health in Texas.


So, when I say Republicans are effing it up, I'm not taking it lightly, man.

CAMEROTA: Okay, thank you, I really appreciate it, thank you very much for all those perspectives.

Let's talk about this, a panel in California taking another step towards reparation payments to black residents. Each eligible person could get up to $1.2 million. How would California be able to foot the bill? Well, the devil is in the details. And John Avlon is here to bring us his Reality Check, next.

AVLON: We're going to do some math.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we are.


CAMEROTA: Okay. We've got a favorite segment bring you on CNN TONIGHT. John Avlon is here with our Reality Check. So, John, great to see you. Explain how California is dealing with reparations.

AVLON: Ali, it's great to see you too. Reality Check is back with you.

All right, let's talk about reparations. Now, the word is often used as a scare tactic from the right, or redistributionist fantasia from the left. But now, we've got something more concrete to work with, because California's official reparations task force just this weekend voted to approve its recommendations.


Now, their final proposal which should be submitted to the state legislature next month covers more than the cost of slavery to its descendants. Remember, this is an estate that was on the union side in the civil war.

Now, the package also proposes payments for decades of housing discrimination, health care disparities, and mass incarceration. Now, their calculations are based on equations that look like this. But the bottom line is that eligible individuals could receive up to $1.2 million each. And some economists estimate, get this, it could cost California taxpayers between $500 billion and $800 billion with a B.

Now, this is much bigger and then California's total budget, just currently facing a $22 billion dollar deficit despite having one of the highest state tax rates in the nation. So, that's a significant practical problem, right, compounded by the fact that reparations are broadly unpopular. Get this, a 2021 Pew study found that more than two-thirds of Americans oppose reparations. And that includes majorities of every age group, income range, and racial demographic, except for African-Americans.

Look, race is a fundamental fault line in our country, rooted in the original sin of slavery that extended through segregation. Massive resistance to multi-racial democracy is a recurring theme in our politics. But hundreds of billions in cash-based reparations, while perhaps morally appealing, are likely going to be counterproductive when it comes to uniting the nation going forward.

Dealing with enduring inequities will require a more inclusive approach. Like this, listen to what and then presidential candidate Barack Obama said to CNN back in 2008.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed. Strategies that invest in lifting people out of the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, but that have brought applicability (ph) and allow us to build coalitions to actually get these things done. That, I think, is the best strategy.


AVLON: And that's the reality check.

CAMEROTA: Just as good as ever, John. It's back with a vengeance. Well done. All right, let's talk about it. So, Akilah, that sounds like a nonstarter if the solution, the financial solution, is bigger than California's budget. How -- where do we start with that?

HUGHES: We start with the federal government. Look, there -- we saw the chart, black people support this because they are the descendants of the people who built this nation. There are companies that are still rich. Old money in the U.S. comes from slavery. So, this idea that black people are going to get that money back through good schools, I have not seen it. My grandma can't see it.

CAMEROTA: So, you don't like Barack Obama's idea?

HUGHES: Well, 15 years ago, you know, that looks like a totally different person. And I think he was running in a totally different climate in this country. Could he have been outward about his support for reparations at this point? I doubt it, you know. I think coming out of the Bush era, we didn't really have a lot of people talking about reparations.

We didn't have an internet that's as robust as it is today. Our democracy wasn't talking to each other about these issues like they are now. You know, the reparations issue in California became a big deal because of the George Floyd murder. So, I think that, you know, to reference something that old, while I appreciate reality check rules --


HUGHES: -- this doesn't seem necessarily like as pertinent as where we are today.


JENNINGS: Well, Barack Obama in 2008 is an agreement with 80 percent of the American people today. I mean -- by the way, if you worry about California state budget, wait until I talk to you about the federal budget. I mean, the idea of adding to this will be a total nonstarter with massive super majority of the American people. So, if you're willing to make an argument on guns, hey, we've got massive super majorities that want to do something, why aren't we doing it?

We've got massive super majorities that don't want to do this. And so, I'm curious about your thoughts on the political reality on moving on this. But in all that having been said, to most people, it's going to sound like a blatantly unconstitutional redistribution from one group of people to another group based purely on race, which --

CAMEROTA: Like slavery.

JENNINGS: Which is --


CAMEROTA: Which is exactly what slavery was for this country, right.

GRANDERSON: Which is the deficit, I think, is the most important. It isn't the state deficit, it isn't the federal deficit, it's the knowledge deficit. People don't know. People really don't know that Wall Street was built on the backs of black people. They genuinely don't know.

When the First Lady talked about the White House and the outrage that she dared knew the history of the White House, it's because our education system, one, purposely kept that information apart, and then two, some of the faulty schools didn't do an adequate job. And so, you have a lot of generations of Americans who don't understand what reparations actually are, or the fact that this country has already given reparations multiple times.


CAMEROTA: To whom?

GRANDERSON: Enslavers.

CAMEROTA: And they gave each after the civil wars, because when slaves were set free, they gave a cash bonus, whatever, payment I should say, to people who had kept slaves.

GRANDERSON: Lost property was what it was for. We were property. Shout out to you Second Amendment, that wasn't been for black folks, by the way.

AVLON: Look, I think the macro point here is, first of all, we need much better education, civics education about the full range of our history, right? But Barack Obama was talking about in 2008 was if you want to bring together massive legislation to try to deal with these structural inequities, you are going to need to be able to appeal across political and racial lines.

And so, it's got to be inclusive in a way that deals with some those economic disparities. The basic math of this proposal doesn't work. And it wouldn't work for the federal government because this is just California. But look, the conversation is evolving. This seems like a political and practical nonstarter, but it can be the gateway to a broader conversation about what we need to do and we need to invest in. But it's got to be broadly inclusive, otherwise politically it doesn't have a chance anymore.

GRANDERSON: Because it quantifies, at least it makes an attempt to quantify what we've been talking about anecdotally, which is systemic racism has purposely been designed to do this. And here are now numbers to support what we've been talking about.

AVLON: I think the other challenge is, and in this came up in some of the research, is that the vast majority -- the majority of Americans today, their families arrived, certainly in my case, after the civil war. So, that's part of the difficulty. When all the sudden, you're trying to say you're a person, the descendants' slaves, well, you know, who and what time? And then who pays? Because if it's the taxpayers, it's everybody. So, it's just one of the many complexities.

HUGHES: Yeah, but also, everyone benefited.

GRANDERSON: Right. Everyone --

HUGHES: I mean, even now, if you came here in 10 minutes ago, you benefit in America from slavery.


HUGHES: It's just a fact. Our entire economy was built, the strongest economy in the world was built for free for hundreds of years --

CAMEROTA: And why don't you agree with that?

HUGHES: So, how could that not be the basis?

AVLON: Slavery -- the legacy of slavery runs through American culture and our politics to this day. One of the things I said is massive resistance to multi-racial democracy is something that we still deal with today. But the idea that every immigrant family today in America is benefiting directly from the legacy of slavery, benefiting directly from the legacy of slavery I don't buy because the legacy of slavery is in the foundational roots of this country and this culture. But the idea that economically it provides a positive benefit for people who are new immigrants in this country --

GRANDERSON: Then why are they coming here if it wasn't economic benefit?

HUGHES: Right, and it was redlining not also something that, like, the neighborhoods that they're moving to, that they're able to gentrify. I mean, slavery was not like a stop, start, Juneteenth and now we're done. We are still in that.

CAMEROTA: All right, last word, John, I have to go. Do you have --

GRANDERSON: You say that a lot.

CAMEROTA: I know, I do. And I noticed you guys ignore it a lot. All right, you have five seconds of wrap up here.

AVLON: The direct cash payments that are being put forward here today are political and practical nonstarter. But the larger conversation is one we can and should have is a way of educating ourselves about our country.

CAMEROTA: And I appreciate that conversation that we've all had. And in fact, those numbers are a beginning of education. Because those are pretty mind-blowing numbers. That they -- quantifying it like that is really helpful to see. So, for that we thank California for being able to put it into, like, math of today that we can understand.

Thank you all very much. Be sure to tune in at the top of the hour when some of our favorite reporters are here to talk about the scoops they are covering, including new polling that suggests President Biden may have serious challenges heading into the 2024 election. But first, more protests tonight over the death of Jordan Neely, who died after being held in a chokehold on the New York City Subway. Will charges be filed? We are going to discuss the latest, next.


[22:40:00] CAMEROTA: Tonight, protesters on the streets of New York, railing against the chokehold death of Jordan Neely on a subway last week. 24- year-old Daniel Penny put Neely in a chokehold after Neely was reportedly shouting at passengers that was hungry, thirsty, fed up, and ready to go to jail for life.

Prosecutors still deciding whether to bring charges against Penny. Earlier, CNN's Omar Jimenez spoke to an eyewitness who saw Penny put Neely in a chokehold. He described Neely then as staring off and being limp after Penny released him.


JOHNNY GRIMA, EYEWITNESS TO JORDAN NEELY'S DEATH: I looked from the window and stuff, and I saw that his eyes were staring off and that he was limp. So, I went in through another door and I said to them to put him on his side so he doesn't choke on his own spit or something. And they flipped him over. Daniel Penny drew his arm out really rough like, threw him around like that. And then I went through another door, and I went to pour a little water on Jordan Neely's head, and Daniel Penny came up and told me to stop. He got over him and said stop. All right. And I should have -- I should have been more -- more on it, man, and not walked away, but I did.


CAMEROTA: My panel is back. John, do you understand why Daniel Penny has not been charged?

AVLON: I presume it's fact-finding, but he should be. There should be equal justice under law, a process should be applied. You know, this brings back, I think, memories or echoes of Bernard Goetz, who was the subway vigilante in the early 1980s. And the answer to any of these difficult questions is apply the law.


And it may not have the outcome that people wish to see, depending on your perspective, but you apply the law equally and fairly. But just a reminder when fear about public safety starts infecting people, that's where you see these vigilante moments occur. That is not to excuse them, but is a way of explaining them, and it is a cautionary tale because we cannot have that in a free society. We need to operate by law.

CAMEROTA: A source, LZ, familiar with Neely's case said that he was on the New York City Department of Homeless Services top 50 list for homeless individuals with acute needs. And that means that people with acute needs are on this list so they are basically looked out for, theoretically, by the Department of Homeland Service -- Homeless Services, so that they're recognized, they can try to get the help they need. I don't know what New York was supposed to do with Jordan Neely.

GRANDERSON: It's what all the cities are supposed to do, take care of its people, right? Like, that's -- there are empty buildings all around this country, you know. Empty office buildings, and I understand. I know what you are going to say, there are laws, there are policies.

AVLON: No, no, no.

GRANDERSON: There are, you know, there are things that, you know, we need to pass.

CAMEROTA: Because you did work in city hall, what are they supposed to do? What is the answer to this?

AVLON: Well, one of this that Mayor Adams is trying to do, which is quite controversial, is enforceable institutionalization for some people who are mentally ill. That might not look like taking care of people as some people might want. But one of things we're seeing in the wake of COVID is that institutionalization has helped -- has created an environment where people feel less safe on the street, and assaults are up even if murders and shootings are down in New York City this particular moment. That contributes to this environment. So --


GRANDERSON: This is -- this is what I mean by take care of its people. Do you know why he asked to go jail? Because it was the only place where he could get food, water, and shelter. He wasn't asking to go to jail because he felt as if he was bad. He was begging for food --

CAMEROTA: Well, that's an interpretation.

GRANDERSON: Its interpretation, but he's asking for food --

AVLON: There are homeless shelters all throughout the city.

GRANDERSON: But he's been arrested, what, 18 times, was it? 18 times?

CAMEROTA: Maybe more.

AVLON: So, that indicates a large problem. That's not, you know, jail is not the only place you can go for shelter and --

CAMEROTA: Hold, that thought. Akilah?

HUGHES: I just feel like if we're going to talk about why we have these issues and why people feel unsafe on the street, we also can't ignore the fact that our mainstream media talks about crime like it's in your house. Like, they're coming to your door. You can't turn down the wrong driveway without getting shot. You can't ring the wrong doorbell without getting shot.

CAMEROTA: But isn't, I mean --

HUGHES: You can't scream on the subway without being choked to death.

CAMEROTA: But these are real stories.

HUGHES: Yeah, this is real.

CAMEROTA: And I know that you're saying that the media has responsibilities.

HUGHES: Right.

CAMEROTA: We are reporting on these things that are happening.

HUGHES: Absolutely, and these are -- but those things are happening, you know, it's begetting itself at this point, right. Where people are so afraid of this crime that's going to happen, they can't ride a subway with someone who is yelling. They can't get off the subway when they hear someone yelling. They can't offer $1 or just move.

That amount of discomfort is enough to act. And I think you are right, we've created a system where there's a lot of inequality, which breeds crime, which breeds mental instability, which causes these problems. And then we also have that other side of it which is a mental instability of people who can't even handle to see it.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead.

JENNINGS: I think New York City has failed Jordan Neely. I think they're failing thousands of people every day. You see them on the street, walk around town and you encounter them. The difference is on this case if you saw him on the street and you felt like you are in an unsafe situation, you can cross the street.

When you are in an enclosed subway car, and you have a reasonable belief that you or others might be in danger, that to me is the different story here. I don't have all the facts. None of us were in the car. We don't know exactly the way Neely was happening, but I suspect there is more to learn.

HUGHES: No one else tried to strangle him.

JENNINGS: Well, I don't know who was on the subway car, but if you are in a situation in an enclosed box --

HUGHES: People move between subway cars all the time.

JENNINGS: Would you believe -- would you believe might be a danger to you and others?

GRANDERSON: But it is also a, to your point, a comfort level too. Like, I live in downtown L.A., Skid Row was not too far from where I lived. I saw a lot of homeless people, but I understood how to operate and not be panicky about it. But if you're coming from place in which you don't have the exposure and you come across someone who may be having a difficult moment, I can see why you would be fearful. But we can't have a culture in which your fear is allowed to take someone's life.

HUGHES: Right. I mean, murder is always illegal and I know it's a legend. But the point is, you can't just start strangling people because you are afraid of what they might do. GRANDERSON: Right. Right.

HUGHES: And I think, like, to be a person who is constantly online and hearing that, you know, it's an irrational argument that somebody being dead now because they were loud and someone was uncomfortable, that to me is like beyond anything this country can get fix. We need to be on the same page about murder being wrong, right?


CAMEROTA: All right, thank you all very much for that. And we'll be right back.



CAMEROTA: All, right we've all experienced airline flight delays and cancellations. President Biden thinks the airlines should compensate passengers when the carriers are at fault. His administration will propose a new rule later this year making it mandatory that airlines pay for meals, hotels, taxis, and other costs. I'm back with Scott and LZ about how they feel about this, and they for some reason switched brains. And now LZ, you think there should not be a law and then the free market should decide.


JENNINGS: I didn't (inaudible) hill and LZ stood for libertarian. I had no idea.

GRANDERSON: But as soon as I saw it, the first thing I thought of is I'm a constant traveler, we all travel constantly. And one of the conversations constant travelers have is about the airlines.



GRANDERSON: Who flies where and what to avoid.

CAMEROTA: So why don't you like this law?

GRANDERSON: Let the free market decide. If this airline is terrible, trust me, we'll stop using it, and it will go away. And something will come in its place. There is enough regulations in government right now.

CAMEROTA: And suddenly, Scott, you say no to the free market. You need government regulation.

JENNINGS: I so badly want to welcome LZ to the Republican Party. However --

GRANDESON: Hell no. JENNINGS: In this moment, I'm actually sympathetic to the president on

this because I think of airlines is already being quasi-public governmental agencies anyways because of the heavy regulations already under. And I do think passengers are fundamentally disrespected and they have their constitutional rights violated from the minutes they walk into an airport to the minute they walk out of it.

And so, I think we need a complete and total overhaul. I think this rule could be part of it. I think of rethinking of the whole TSA experience. I think from soup to nuts we have so royally screwed up air travel in United States, that some smart person in the next administration could sit down and say, how do we respect passengers, respect the Constitution, just get people where the heck they need to go.

CAMEROTA: And you don't get soup or nuts on airlines anymore. Thank you, guys, both very much. This is what you get on "CNN TONIGHT," a complete switching up and you never know what to expect. That was great.

JENNINGS: I'll get you Ron Paul's number.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.


CAMEROTA: All right, thank you guys. Coming up, some of our favorite reporters are here to talk about the stories they're working on for tomorrow. They're going to share their scoops with us, next.