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Police Taking Action Amid Calls to Defund and Disband; Rayshard Brooks in His Own Words; Masks Debate Heats Up as Covid-19 Spikes in Many U.S. States; Americans Divided on Social Distancing, Wearing Masks; Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson to Honor French Resistance Fighters. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 18, 2020 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Well, protesters here in the U.S. are demanding immediate and far reaching changes in the law enforcement system and measures to defund or even disband police forces around the nation have been put in motion. Police officers are now speaking out as well. CNN's Jason Carroll has more.


POLICE OFFICER: Blow, blow, blow, blow, blow, stop.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The former Atlanta police officer now charged with felony murder in the shooting of Rayshard Brooks. If convicted, that officer could face the death penalty. The possibility sending shock waves across police departments nationwide, already dealing with low morale in the wake of protests and calls for reform.

Darrin Porcher is a retired New York City police lieutenant. He says many officers now feel as though they are on trial.

DARRIN PORCHER, FORMER NYPD LIEUTENANT: They feel as if they're not wanted. They're not needed. Nor are they being accepted.

CARROLL: That morale is one reason why officers are resigning and, in some cases, joining together to speak out. In Louisville, Kentucky, police demonstrated over what they say is little support from city leaders and a lack of respect from the community. This after a police monument there was defaced.

GEORGE RODMAN, RETIRED LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY POLICE OFFICER: The fallen officers was vandalized due to the stand down order. That's a slap in the face to ever former, current and fallen officer and their families. My son's name is on that wall.

CARROLL: In South Florida, ten officers resigned from the department SWAT unit over safety concerns. The final straw, officers unhappy after commanders took a knee with activists during a demonstration. Officers in a statement saying they have been minimally equipped, under-trained and often times restrained by the politicization of our tactics.


In Minneapolis, the epicenter of calls for change, at least seven officers resigned from that department in the wake of protests over George Floyd's death. In Buffalo, 57 officers standing by their decision to resign from the forces' emergency response team following the suspension of two officers who appear to shove an elderly protester to the ground.

PORCHER: I think this is a time for a poignant discourse between community leaders, elected officials and police executives.

CARROLL: In New York City, change has already begun. The nation's largest police force is disbanding it plain clothed anti-crime unit. The unit is credited with getting illegal guns off the streets but has also come under scrutiny after a number of civilian complaints alleging abuse of power. The officers will be reassigned within the department. The city's chief of patrol supports the decision but also says good officers need the public's support.

DARRIN PORCHER, FORMER NYPD LIEUTENANT: Let's not forget that all police officers, they are human beings. They have the same stressors that we all -- we all have, the general public has.

CARROLL (on camera): Other than a national standard for how police should operate going forward, those that we spoke to say what needs to happen going forward is for police departments and the communities that they serve to get together and talk about what is the best way to move forward. And those that we spoke to say that is simply not happening right now.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: Well months before an Atlanta police officer shot him dead in a Wendy's parking lot, Rayshard Brooks gave an interview about his experience in the criminal justice system. Randi Kaye brings us Brooks' story in his own words.


RAYSHARD BROOKS, HIS OWN WORDS: Now, I'm 27 years of age, you know, a full-time carpenter.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): That was Rayshard Brooks in February this year, just months before he was shot and killed by an Atlanta police officer.

BROOKS: I've always been the type of person to, you know, if you do some things that's wrong, you pay your debts to society.

KAYE: Brooke shared his story about navigating the Criminal Justice System with a group called Reconnect.

BROOKS: Well, I just feel like some of the system could you know, look at us as individuals. We do have lives, you know, where you just -- a mistake we made, you know and you know not just do us as if we are animals. You know, lock us away. When I did get arrested, you know, it was for a false imprisonment and financial credit card fraud. I got sentenced to do one year in prison.

KAYE: When he got out, Brooks had no money, no car and a mountain of debt.

BROOKS: For one individual to try to deal with all of these things at one point in time, it's just impossible. You have court cost, probation -- just a lot of -- you would have to have a lot of money. And I'm fresh out of jail.

KAYE: Fresh out of jail and in need of a job.

BROOKS: You go to filling out your application and you get to this question -- have you ever been convicted of a crime? Or have you ever been arrested? You know, you sit in there like, oh my god, you know, it just breaks your heart. It's hurting us. But it's hurting our families the most. You know, so as we go through these trials and tribulations, we made mistakes. And it just causes our kids to be angry inside. You know, and that's -- that's -- that's a hard feeling to stomach.

KAYE: All of this Brooks says impacted his mental health.

BROOKS: It hardened me at a point, you know, to like, hey, you know, I have to have my guard up because the world is cruel. You know, it took me through seeing different things and you know, in the system, you know just -- just makes you hardened to a point.

KAYE: What Brooks needed most was help from the very system that locked him up.

BROOKS: Probation is not there with you every day, like a mentor or something. They're not taking you out to find a job. You have to do these things for your own, you know, and I feel like it should be a way for you to have some kind of person, like a mentor assigned to you to, you know, keep your track, keep you in the direction you need to be going.

We can't get the time back, but we could make up for it. You know, so I'm trying. You know, I'm not the type of person to give up. You know, and I'm going to keep going until I make it to where I want to be.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.


CHURCH: And you are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

[04:40:00] Still to come, more than three months into the coronavirus pandemic and Americans are deeply divided on wearing masks and other safety measures. We will explain the reasons why.


CHURCH: With new cases of coronavirus hitting record levels in many U.S. states, the debate over facemasks is heating up. Some officials want them to be mandatory, but there's a lot of resistance even in some of the hardest hit communities. CNN's Athena Jones has our report.


ATHENA JONES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite the message coming from the White House and its allies, the COVID crisis in the U.S. has not abated.

DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE HEALTH POLICY ADVISOR: It does seem that the administration wants to move beyond coronavirus, but the virus isn't going to cooperate.

JONES: In fact, new coronavirus cases are surging to record levels in several states that reopened swiftly, and experts say too soon or without sufficient precautions.

DR. ALI KHAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF PUBLIC HEALTH PREPAREDNESS, CDC: We've not changed the basic biology of the disease. The virus is out there. Ninety-five percent of Americans continue to be susceptible.

JONES: Reported infections now falling in 21 states and holding steady in eight but rising in 21 states, with 10 seeing a more than 50 percent jump in new cases, including South Carolina, Alabama, and West Virginia. Florida, Arizona and Texas have set records for new cases in recent days, with hospitalizations hitting new highs in Texas, North Carolina and Arizona, raising concerns for healthcare providers.

JULIA STRANGE, VICE PRESIDENT, COMMUNITY BENEFIT, TUCSON MEDICAL CENTER: This week we did hit our capacity in our COVID designated ICU unit, and so we have been participating in that surge line to transfer patients who we believe will need ICU care within 24 hours.

JONES: And as the debate over masks rages on, American Airlines asking a passenger to deplane from a flight from New York to Dallas after he refused to wear a mask.


In Montgomery, Alabama, a push for masks in the hardest-hit city in the state coming up short.

DR. KIM RUDOLPH MCGLOTHAN, JACKSON HOSPITAL: But until you actually mandate, because people won't -- don't believe the hype, we won't be able to stop it. JONES: The city council failing to pass an ordinance requiring them. Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott urging people to take precautions.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): COVID-19 hasn't suddenly magically left the state of Texas.

JONES: This as the mayors of Texas's biggest cities call on Abbott to allow them to require face covering.

And in yet another indication of the outsized toll the virus is taking on minority communities, a new Brookings study shows Blacks are dying at 3.6 times the rate of whites. While Hispanics are dying 2.5 times more than whites, according to CDC data.

(on camera)Those Brookings figures are stunning and they illustrate something that we've been talking about four months. Blacks and Hispanics are the most at risk from messaging and policies that downplay the risks of the coronavirus or the need for masks, social distancing or other precautions. It's a reminder that the truth is never more important than when it could save lives.

JONES: Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: And as coronavirus cases rise in the U.S., those choosing not to wear masks are paying a high price for ignoring CDC guidelines. CNN's Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Lynch's Irish Pub in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, Erika Crisp and more than a dozen other women had a night out recently. None of them wore masks and their all now paying the price. At least 15 of them have tested positive for coronavirus.

ERIKA CRISP, TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19: I think at the time it was more out of sight, out of mind. We had known anybody who had it personally. Governor, Mayor, everybody says it's fine. We go out, it's a friend's birthday. It was a mistake.

KAT LAYTON, TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19: My experience, we do feel foolish standing there in front of all of those people. We knew we were pushing it.

TODD: Crisp says she since been contacted by complete strangers who were at the same location at the time are now sick. The bar has shut down again.

In New York City, people crowded outside bars last weekend, several seen not wearing masks. On the Facebook page of a group called "reopen and see", a burn your mask challenge and someone cooks a hot dog over a mask.

Medical experts say there's apathy and outright fatigue at play. With millions of Americans who are dropping social distancing.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: We've told them for the last three months your connection is now through a computer screen, through Zoom, through phone. You can't see people. You can't see the expression of smiles on their faces because we're covering them. That's emotionally exhausting. That said, the virus doesn't care if we're tired.

TODD: But it's a tale of two Americans. While millions are shedding masks and crowding beaches and bars, millions of others are still staying home, wearing masks, distancing. The disconnect could partially be due to the mixed messages coming from the Trump administration.

Members of the President's coronavirus task force like Dr. Anthony Fauci warning this pandemic is by no means over, spikes are still occurring in at least 10 states and distancing is still critical even in places that are reopening.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Even when you do proceed according to guidelines, you've got to be careful to make sure that to the extent possible you physically distance yourself and you wear a mask literally at all times.

TODD: But at the same time the head of that task force, Vice President Mike Pence writes an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" saying there's no second wave. Blaming the media for inciting panic. Pence, Trump and others repeatedly attending events where they gather closely with people with no masks. And pressing ahead with plans for a rally in Tulsa, where tens of thousands are expected, masks, optional.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has a direct negative consequence on the public health of this country. It's disgraceful.

TODD (on camera): Dr. Jonathan Reiner says it's quote, criminal endangerment for the Trump team not to require people to wear masks at Saturday's rally. White House press secretary, Kaylee McEnany, says the campaign is taking precautions issuing hand sanitizer, giving temperature checks, handing out masks. But one official close to the coronavirus task force told CNN that the Trump team never asked the task force for its blessing for Saturday's rally. That official saying quote, they know better.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: We're going to take a short break. Back with more news in just a moment.



CHURCH: Emmanuel Macron will today make his first trip abroad since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The French President will visit the U.K. and meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They'll honor for men who played significant roles in the French resistance during World War II. But there are many current affairs to discuss as well. CNN's diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson is at 10 Downing Street. He joins me live now. So, Nic, it is bold first step. What all will be covered in this meeting between the two leaders?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well there is a bit of, you know, as much as you can have during COVID-19 pandemic, a bit of pomp and circumstance about it. The French President will meet with Prince Charles and Camilla. This is really the sort of reason for the visit, is to commemorate the World War II, 18th of June 1940 speech, 80 years ago today, by General de Gaulle when he fled France. Came to the U.K. and declared over the radio here a call to arms for the French resistance. So this is what the day is about honoring.

So there will be, you know, Boris Johnson and the French President will look at some World War II artifacts here. The coverings have been taken off of Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square temporarily. So that both leaders can view that it would appear. So I think that will be on the surface.

But of course, below that a lot of discussion undoubtedly comparing, contrast the country's performances with coronavirus.


Key issues here in the U.K., Boris Johnson faces criticism over two meters social distancing. The French have one meter. The French schools will open next week. Boris Johnson faces criticism for not getting British schools reopened until September. Of course, France went through the pandemic a few weeks ahead of the U.K.

But perhaps some ideas to exchange and very sensitive for the British Prime Minister as well as quarantine that's in place over anyone visiting the U.K. from overseas, a two-week quarantine -- French included. So the Prime Minister likely looking to try to get some what's being called here as tunneling between the two countries, if you will. There can be this corridor, better explained that nationals from both countries can come and visit each other's countries without going through a quarantine process. So this corridor will likely come up as well.

And undoubtedly Brexit -- although were not being told about that officially. A lot to be worked out over Brexit. And perhaps Emmanuel Macron wanting to offer some ideas to the British Prime Minister on that. Likely the conversation will go two ways on that.

CHURCH: All to be discussed in the middle of a pandemic. Nic Robertson, many thanks. Joining us live from 10 Downing Street.

And thank you for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" begins after a short break.