tv Firing Line With Margaret Hoover PBS July 17, 2020 11:30pm-12:01am PDT
>> how do a series of ises make a first-term mayor a tovice presidential contende this week on "firing line." >> stay home. listen to the scientists. >> with atlanta hit hard by covid-19, the city's mayor, keisha lance bottoms, responded. >> our state openeup too soon and we are paying the price for it. >> after t death of george floyd and the protests that followed, some destructive, she said this. >> if you care about this city, then go home. >> then came the death of rayshard brooks in atlanta at the hands of a white police officer. >> it didn't have to endhat way. >> and over july 4th, a devastating surge in gun violen >> it's got to stop. it has to stop. >> mayor bottoms' response to crisis is fueling speculation that joe bay pick her as his running mate. she al just announced that she has covid-19.
what does mayo keisha lance bottoms say now? >> "firing lineth wi margaret hoover" is made possible in part by... corpate funding is provided by... >> welcome to "firing line," mayor keisha lance bottoms. >> thank you for having me. >> you are the 60th mayor of the city of atlanta, anyour national profile has risen as you have faced more crises in the past several months than many politicians face in an entire lifetime. from the pandemic to these fatal shootings, both at the hands of polic and civilians in your city, to the protests that rocked your city in the wake of the murder ofeorge floyd. you are also considered to be a top v.p. contender for a biden ticket. and so we have a lot to talk about.t rst, i want to talk to you about what happened more than a week ago
en you tweeted this out to the world... how are you feeling now, mayor? >> you know, i feel good. across the countryt's happening and there's so much death and ckness, i count myself very fortunate. my husband and i don't have underlying health conditions, thankfully. so he is sleeping more than i've seen an adult sleep, and my child is asymptomatic. i'm just a little fatigued, but i can't tell if that's covid or if that's just this very stressf job that i have. so we consider ourselves fortunate. i think the unfortunate rt of this is that the story of our family is a story of wha.'s happening acrosamer we were tested on june 29th,ou justne tesng. i was getting tested.
decided toet my family that was on a monday. by the end of the weekend, i just noticed that my husband was sleeping more than usual. we still didn't have those results back. i was able to get tested again through emory universi, again, just decided to have the entire family tested. three of us tested positive at that time. on mday the 29th, had we gotten those results back in a timely fashion, that we had an asytic child in our house. it's disappointing becausenc we areraging people to get tested, but we can't go out and sell to the public that the testing is the end-all, be-all and it's readily available. go and get it done and then not be able to deler on that. and i think that's where we are failing nationally and certainly where the of georgia is failing us here. >> so how has your experience of testing positive chged your understanding of this disease? >> it really highlights a lot
of things that i alrnew. i always felt as if this temperature checking was a false sense of security. i woulhave made it through a temperature check. and my husbandld likely wave as well. the other part of that is the testing is only as good as it is at that point in time. on monday the 29th, when i got those results back eight days later, i was negative. and my husba was negative. the following monday, and so for usitive. to make real progress with this covid testin you're going to have to be able to get people tested, get their results back to them quickly, and you're going to have to be able to offer it to them frequently because certainly even within a week's time, you can be exposed and become positivend asymptomatic. >> so you took a little bit of heat from youlocal press corps a press conference while you were waiting for that covid test that you just described.oo
as youback on that experience, is there anything you'd do differently this time or knowing what you know now? >> and i had a conversation with a local newspaper about that. i think they misundetood the series of events. but there was nothing to make me think that i needed to quarantine at that time. one, i would never intentionally and reckless put anyone in harm's way. ayit'she reason that i a wear a mask in public, equently wash my hands. and even with that press conference, i had on aask up unl i was standing at the microphone alone. but again, i think it really speaks thow easily and quietly this virus can be spread. i think we alleed to be very careful, escially when we are out public, so that we don't inadvertently put people in harm's way. >> and how about everyone yocame into contact with in that intervening time?l have they en tested? >> well, i did my own version
of conta tracing. i've called everyone who i've come in contact with. thankfully, no one on my senior team who i met with during the week has tested positive.my another and my three other kids so thankfully, thus far,. nobody seems to have been exposed from me. and again, i think it's because of wring my mask. but i'll tell you, just the sense of comfort we all tend get, even before i was retested, i was in a car with my mother, and thankfully, my mother kept her mk on. but while were driving around, i took my mask off and ankfully, she tested negative. but we can't get comfortable with this >> well, we're we're glad to hear that she's okay and she didn't get it. you got covid and your state e eriencing a spike, a surge in covid cases. newly reported cases
in georgia have incread since the middle of june, hittina record last week of more than 4,000 newases in a single day. that was july 10th. hospitalizations have been increasing in your city and the death toll surpassed 3,000 this week. d whyou attribute the surge to, mayor bottoms? >> reckless reoping. it's plain and simple. we opened without any regard to science, without any regard to da and metrics. and when georgia reopened, cellphone data shows tha f other peopck to our state. and so it's not a secret. i was looking at the numbers today, and it just shows that the governor dinot follow the data and the science, because if he had, we'd be on a trajectory like other states like new yk, perhaps, that got on the other side of is and was able to flatten the curve. but we did everything wrong that possibly could be donehe
intate of georgia. >> well, the state of georgia reopened, as you well know, without following even the white house coron task force guidelines. i mean, you have said that your family is personallpaying the price for this reckless reopening. do you lay the blame t at the feet governor? >> i certainly do. and i think every single person who has tested positive in this state can lay the blame at his feet because we haven'tl been thoughtout it and we are running out of hospital beds iour icus. many hospitals are already at capacity. our black and brown communities, our senior communities are being especially hard hit. and the story continues. and for what? that's the question i continue to ask myself. was this about reopening the economy? because if it was, we failed at that because now we're having to go back and encourage people
to stay at home because we are in the middle of another surge that didn't have to happen in our state. >> so you're doing what you can as mayor. you know, you have announced plans f to mandae masks in public. you've also announced that you are going to revert back in atlanta to phase one, which is essentially a stay-at-home order. he's what vernor brian kemp had to say about your new actions... what's he talking about? >> i have no idea what he's talking about. but what i do know is that when i talk th healthcare professionals, when i talk with people who are working in nd running our hospitals and people who aional
experts on infectious disease, they are telling me that wearing masks in public is a way to slow the spread. i didn't make that up. i got that from the scientists and the public health experts. ow what the governor is basing his decision making on other than talkingts pond recommendations >> just a few mont, you had said that you and governor kemp had a good working relationshipc but tainly seems like that has changed. >> well, we continue to work together on those things that we can work together on. but as it relates to covid, i will, every single d do what i think is best for the people of at so i take no joy in being at odds with the gov on this, but we're going in the wrong direction. so how detrimental to progress for the pandemicav isg a different set of messages than the governor of your state? it it slows the progress in this state anlows
the progress in our country because we don't have very clear guidelines. some of us are making decisions based science and data and recommendations from national health experts, and others are making decisions based on nothingore than their willingness to put people at risk so that we can reopen our economy. i support having a robust economy we have a large toindustry in atlanta. it's suffering. people are out of wo. we are hurting in this city but also people are dying. >> how often do you guys talk? how oftedo you and the governor speak? >> it's been a couple of weeks since i've spoken with the governor. but that's not unusual. >> a couple of weeks? >> i know thatur chiefs of staff have communicated. but i don't talk to the governor weekly, and i don't have an expectation
to speak with him weekly. but unfortunately, there has been a complete breakdown i relates to covid and our communications at this point. and we are where we are. but again, there's a finite ayof energy that i have as, and i don't choose to use that ener taking swipes at the governor. what i choose to do, use that energy is to put it towards making sound decisions on behalf of the people of atlanta. and that's what i'll continue to do. >> i want to move on to schools because you brought up sools. you have this hysterical tweet where you said... [ chuckles ] look, it makes us all chuckle. but atlanta is in the news as one of the cities that is likely not to go back to school, in addition to los angeles and san diego and to start virtually.
so howong do you expect atlanta schools to work virtually? en >> the superinte has pushed back that opening until later in august, ywhich is still pretty ea compared to a lot of other school systems and is taking a nine-week approach. first nine weeks -- virtual arning only. i think that's a smart approach. it gives an opportunity for the superintendent b and schord treassess after the nine-week period. but just to tell you how difficult this is on so many people, someone was sharing with me that whws a friend received that that she burst into tears beuse she's a single mom and just the added stress and thought of going back into the fall with kids at home made her cry. it's not where any of us want to be. and i found myself yesterday just so disgusted that we are here h all of spring. we had all of this summer
to get it right, for our childrent to be able to go back to school in the fall. and here we are not ready and not prepared to safely send them back the classrooms. >> mayor, how do you also think about the fact of pediatricians has notation the mental health ldren,f but also the widening raciald onomic gaps that happen because kids aren't in school.ey ay... as a mayor, how e you thinking abouthat dynamic? >> it's heartbreaking. you have children in our communities who don't have accessto roadband. they don't have access to tablets. so we are attempting to make have what they need. kids but it is certainly a challenge.wh 's mt heartbreaking
is that our reports of child abuse are down. and the reason they are down is because our children aren't physically presenting themselves in school where quite often teachers are ab to assess what's happening with our kids. so it is -- it's heartbreaking on a number of levels.'s and isappointing that the united states of america is failing its people as it relates to covid-19. >> i want to ask you about another tragic set of circumstances thatas roiled your city, and that's the increase in shootings in atlanta. 31 people were shot during july 4th weekend alone.th 20 percent increase from over the same time last year. and among those killed as you know very well, s an 8-year-old girl, secoriea turner, who was ine r with her mother very near the wendy's where rayshard brooks ot. you have said that the increase in gun violence in your city is
"a perfect storm of distress in america." help us break down. what are the components of that distress?what is -- why is thisg in your city right now?re >> tre so many factors. people are distressed about covid-19. they are losing loved onespl and watching pdie. theyre losing their jobs. th are losing hope.ol and ce is often a byproduct of that. there are systemic issue in the way in which they do. and including we've talked a lou during covid to healthcarety access in black and brown communities. but you adon top of that, almost nonexistent access to meal healthcare and covid, that need to be addressed,ings these systemic issues, and i believ
it's what dr. king referred to, this fierce urgency of now. we don't have the luxury of wting to provide resource and access to healthcare and mental health services for our communities. we have to do it now are suffering and innocent people like secoriea turner are on the other side of what's boiling over in our streets. >> i want to play for you a clip of what you said at that press conference on july 5th, the one where you didn't know that you had covid. here it is. >> well, we are shooting each other up on our streets in this city. and you shot and killed a baby. you can't blame thisn a police officer. u can't say that this is about criminal justice reform. this is about some people carrying some weapons u who sha car in the car.ar-old baby for what?
and i wish thai could stand here as mayor and tell you what the answers ard what the solutions are but it's simple. just... we got to stop this. we are doingach other more harm than any police officer on this force.ur >> of , you've dealt with police brutality your time as mayor. not very long ago. but in this case, you place the blame on the community. and you refused to take the bait and blame the police force, which caused quite a bit of protesting.ou dotand by that? >> you know, there are -- i understa that people took exception with that. and what i would say is this. perhaps i should have made this me clear. there's a period at the end of each of those sentences. issues and challenges with our police department are real,
period. issues and challenges of racial as it relates tojustice our interactions with people in ahority continue to be a problem, period. there is also problem that we have in our communities, and that is violence that'sti er within our communities, now, do i believe - i think that there isnv a gence of frustration and anger and all these things that i talked about. and i think this is the byproduct of it.al but know that when this is happening withinur own community, we have to take responsibility for what's happening within our own community in the same way we are demandinl that oure officers take rponsibility for what's happening with interactions with our communities. one does not cancel out the other. one does not negate
the importance of the other. they are are both problematic. of secoriea turneridn'the family matter which one it was. at the e of the day, their daughter was dead. the irony of it was that she was killed near the wendy's where rayshard brooks was killed. that was the reason that i mentioned them together. this was supposed to be about protesting and honoring rayshard brooks' life. w and heare talking about the death of an 8-year-old child who was killedby omebody from the community who was supposed to be in the area honoring his lif >> you have instituted several reforms since the shooting of rayshard brooks and the murder of george floyd. there are reforms to the police, is a citizen's review board. and this idea of a citizen's revw board was actually first debated as a policy solution
in 196on this progra here is an argument that william f. buckley jr. i made again >> there is a general feeling where civilian review boardsca nave been instituted, it has clearly b the result of political pressure and that nothing very much was accomplished, ceainly nothing positively but almostertainly, at least in some cases, something negative. for instance, rochester after the riots there. one city with an outside review board, the police were so careful to avoid accusations ofr impronduct that they were virtually paralyzed. >> so a lot has happened with citizen review boards since 1966. you didn't institute one. forgive me. you actually expanded the powers at the cizenreview board. and the argument that it can paralyze the police force, how do you tackle that argument or that aspect of the policy? >> well, it's not just
as it relates to our citizens review board. that's what we're facing th our police department in particular, and we're seeing it across the country. ckand i've heard that feed i've heard everything from our officers feel afraidto and paralyzehey are simply confused about what the policies are. and this is a tough conversation that is happening with police departments throughout america. it's going to take thoughtful consideration and input from all sides. i had a meeting with some student activists, and i love what one of e students said. we've got to stop having a "we versus" -- an "us versus them" conversation. it has to be a "we" conversation.ve soin the recommendations that we're going forward withoo orng at implementing with reforming our police department, we're going to get input from our police officers because that's going to be extremely important. y have really catapulted to national prominence, by the way you have handled the crises in your city. and you were on team biden
long before you caught the eye of the nation. why was it so clear to you that he was your candidate much as a year ago? >> i'm so glad that the rest of t nation has se what i saw and knew back in june of 2019, and i said it very simply. i know joe. we know joe. and it always struck me d so many other african-americans across this country and i thk is even more significant with where we are in america.an this ilder white man who was willing to stand beside and behind a younger african-american man. and many people may not have recognized that significance, but for communities of color, it spoke volumes to who he ilu and what he . and he is the candidate that we need for such a time as this. he has eathy.
he has compassion. he's shown leadership. he is everything that donald trump is not. and i knew i was right last year, but i'm just glad that the rest of the democratic party now agrees with me. >> you have reportedly been in conversations with the vetting can you confirm that?p. >> no, i've referred all questions regarde vetting to the biden campaign. >> as any savvy pol would. listen, if you were to be chosen, do y think that your experience as a mayor qualifies you to serve as aia vice presidecandidate? >> absolutely. >> what about it makes you prepared to potentially be president? >> well, for me personally, i've served in three branches of government. i've served as a judge. i've also served on our city council. and i'm now mayor of the city that is the anchor
of the largest -- 10th largest economy in the united states. and we really are representive of america. we have all of the challenges before us on a dai basis that faces all of america.ce being a resident, every vice president is a first-time vicedent up until re-election. and so what i've dealt with as mayor, there's been handbook for this. it's been about leadership, and the same leadership that gives you the ability to navigate challenging issues in a major city in america tis the same leadership t you've taken to the white house. you have to deliver for people each and every day. and i think that's important for anyone who wants to lead this country. >> mayor bottoms, thank you very muchor your time. thank you for coming to "firing line." and we wish you best of luck continues to face.s your cit >> well, it's an honor to have joined you. and thank you for having me.
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