The Front Lines of Change TRANSCRIPT: 6/30/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Jacob Frey, Keisha Lance Bottoms, LaToya Cantrell, Eric Garcetti, Michael Williams

  CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, on a special edition of ALL IN: a nation in the grip of crisis amid a raging pandemic and a national reckoning on race and policing.

Tonight, for the hour, four mayors of four major cities tasked with leading their cities through this critical moment in American history.

This is "ALL IN America: The Front Lines of Change."

Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.

For the next hour, we`re going to be talking about the issues of policing and race amidst a crippling pandemic.

I will be joined by mayors from four major cities across the country. And I will be asking some of the questions you submitted online.

It`s never been a more important or difficult time to be a mayor of a big city in America. Over the last month, America`s mayors have faced a series of unprecedented challenges, a once-in-a-century pandemic. This forced mayors to make timely and difficult decisions, often amidst controversy and under tremendous pressure, decisions that, if they get wrong, could cost thousands of lives.

Then, in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, we have seen a once-in-a-generation movement, huge street protests and calls to end police brutality, but, more deeply, to fundamentally reorder the priorities, governing agendas of cities, to undo the decades of systemic racism that have resulted in everything from mass incarceration, to massive racial health disparities, to residential and educational segregation.

All of that is happening in this fraught moment. Because big city mayors are the ones navigating this, they are negotiating these calls for both safety and health and, above all, equity and justice that are being made.

It`s been over a month since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. There are still people protesting in the streets across America night after night for a month. The protests are not stopping, and they have created a cascade of policy changes at the local level.

In Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd was killed, there has been incredible tumult over the future of that police department. Last week, the city council unanimously advanced a proposal to allow the department to be dismantled. The mayor of that city, who ran as a reformer, was shouted down by protesters for not doing enough to reform police. There`s also been a spike in shootings since Memorial Day, with over 100 people shot.

Like many other cities, Atlanta also saw huge protests following the killing of George Floyd. And the tension in the city only increased after Atlanta police officers shot and killed a man named Rayshard Brooks in the back as he was running away, after he had failed a sobriety test and grabbed a Taser from an officer trying to arrest him. One officer has been charged with felony murder, and the city`s police chief resigned.

In Los Angeles, where, 30 years ago, the LAPD was the central focus of the last round of major unrest in the wake of police brutality, police also came under fire for using what seems like obviously excessive force against protesters. The mayor there recently proposed $150 million in budget cuts to the police department that have been met with outrage by local law enforcement officials. Los Angeles is also a city that is seeing spikes in coronavirus cases.

In New Orleans, a city with a very ugly history in policing, a police force that`s currently operating under a federal consent decree implemented by the Obama administration to clean up the force after years of corruption and brutality, that consent decree is now in its eighth year. And the mayor has called for it to end and has been talking to other mayors around the country about federal oversight.

And so we thought we would take some time tonight at this incredibly and perilous, perilous and important moment, to talk to some of the people at the center of this representing cities around the country, cities that are diverse in many cases and thriving, and also places that are currently struggling deeply as well, cities that are both engines of mobility and economic growth and cultures and jobs.

And also sites of intense segregation, intense deprivation, oppression, poverty, and violence, and now also battling against this pandemic and the fallout from public health measures that have put a strain on every single citizen and resident and every city budget and every government as well.

And joining me now are Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis, Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans, and Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles.

It is great to have you all. I have been really looking forward to this conversation. And it`s obviously an incredibly difficult, but incredibly important moment.

Mayor Frey, I thought I would start with you, because this moment in the reckoning around race, policing, racial -- police brutality started in Minneapolis.

And I wanted to ask about that moment that people saw on tape where you went out to a protest in a mask, and there were protesters who were making very concrete demands of you to sign onto an agenda that would fundamentally have essentially undone, right, sort of unbuilt the Minneapolis Police Department.

And you wouldn`t go along with it. You were jeered and booed.

And I think there`s a sense sometimes in these protests of a kind of which side are you on dynamic to you, to the other mayors here, right? You`re -- you`re a Democrat. I think you view yourself as a progressive.

You`re not Donald Trump. But you`re administering a city, and you`re the boss of the police department. The protesters say, which side are you on? What is your answer to them?

MAYOR JACOB FREY (D), MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: Mayors around the country, including myself, are on the side of massive structural change.

And I think, right now, we need to be heeding the calls of George Floyd`s family. And they said clearly that George Floyd is going to change the world. This can`t be half-measures. This can`t just go halfway. This can`t be minor policy changes.

This needs to be a full rethinking and reshaping of the way that our police department does business that has for decades harmed black and brown people.

And so, in terms of the shift that we want to see, if we`re talking about decriminalizing addiction, count me in. If we`re talking about making sure that mechanisms like more affordable housing and health care are prepared and ready, so that we don`t have crime, count me in.

If we`re talking about being open to other strategies beyond policing, absolutely, mental health co-responders, yes, social workers, absolutely.

But if we`re talking about just abolishing all law enforcement, no. Cities around the country, including Minneapolis, need law enforcement. We need to abolish the behavior. We don`t need to be abolishing the police.

HAYES: Mayor Lance Bottoms, in Atlanta, obviously, you have -- you have dealt with protests in your city. You have dealt with a very high-profile police killing of a resident of Atlanta as well recently.

What was your -- how was it communicated to you in the time that Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed what had happened? And what was your message to the police department in the midst of that, given that it came on the tail end or after weeks of these protests precisely against police violence against residents?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Well, first of all, thank you for having me.

The way it was communicated to me is the same way that I receive information about any number of noteworthy events in the city. I usually wake up to text messages during the night. I get them throughout the day.

And this came in as a police-involved shooting. And, initially, I was not told that Mr. Brooks was deceased. And I later found out that he was.

And so I immediately, the next morning, went into City Hall and gathered our police chief and our command staff. And we began looking at the videos.

And so I sat and I watched 40 minutes of the interaction with Mr. Brooks and the officers. And the most heartbreaking thing in watching that interaction was knowing that you knew how the story ended.

It was a lighthearted interaction. And there were so many other ways that this could have ended. And Mr. Brooks talked about his daughter`s birthday and wanting to be at her birthday party or giving his wife some money for her birthday party.

And I think, for me, it really -- looking at the ending of this really has called into question how we have these encounters with our police officers.

And within these encounters, black men particularly -- and we know, in the case of Breonna Taylor and so many others, it -- black women aren`t immune -- but that people are not humanized in these encounters.

HAYES: Well, let me just follow up on that.

BOTTOMS: And so that`s the biggest challenge in front of us.

HAYES: Yes, why -- I want to get to the other two mayors here, but I want to follow up on that, which is that lack of humanity, right, the sort of dehumanization that we see.

And we have seen so many different videos and testimonials from people, whether in consent decree reports from the Department of Justice of various departments or from social media, of these petty indignities, dehumanization by police officers.

What is your explanation for the root cause of that happening in your city, with -- under your stewardship, the first black woman mayor of the city of Atlanta, a city that has had an incredible legacy, is an incredible place, filled with incredible culture and diverse people? Why is that still happening in your police department?

BOTTOMS: Well, I`m actually the second African-American woman to serve as mayor.

HAYES: Oh, I`m sorry.

BOTTOMS: But, in this encounter, the encounter was a cordial, polite encounter, until it was not.

And so I think that is the question that we have to all ask ourselves. How are we training our officers? What are our expectations in outcomes when there are encounters like this?

So, we have already put into place things related to a requirement for de- escalation. But it doesn`t bring Mr. Brooks back. And I think that it goes to this larger conversation that we have to have across this country, that we are having across this country, on what it means for us to see each other as human beings, no matter our race and no matter what our title is.

And I think that`s a challenge, not just in Atlanta. And I think, if anything, it`s evidence that, if it can and it did happen in Atlanta, the cradle of the civil rights movement, then, certainly, it is something that can and will happen in cities across this country.

HAYES: Mayor Cantrell, your department has a particular history and an interesting one.

It was entered into a federal consent decree in 2010 under the Obama administration. There`s been lots of reporting to indicate that the department has improved along a variety of metrics.

Given that other mayors are fighting so hard to bring this kind of structural change to cities, given the sort of institutional impediments to that, why would you want to take the federal government out of supervising a department, if it has had a salutary effect on your department?

MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D), NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: Well, first of all, thank you for having me.

The consent decree has absolutely mandated practices that we have embraced 100 percent, as it relates to constitutional policing practices, of course, a culture of accountability, and also aggressively investing in social and community programs.

One is that, when you lean on that consent decree, it easily becomes politicized and one that you`re spending millions of dollars -- we spent over $55 million, over $7 million annually.

And the goalpost just continues to move as you`re making progress. We have turned the curve in the city of New Orleans. We have demonstrated our effectiveness. We have embraced the 8 Can`t Wait policies that our protesters have been asking for.

And we have gone above and literally beyond that. We created EPIC, Ethical Policing Is Courageous, for de-escalation, as well as duty to intervene. We have social workers embedded in our department.

So, my thing is this. And the residents of the city of New Orleans approved, voted to change the charter to have an independent police monitor, which is the foundation for continuing the success of the reforms that we have made, but wanting to satisfy the consent decree, so that we can reinvest those dollars back into public health, which is also public safety.

So, I don`t believe that cities across the country have to go and involve the DOJ in order to turn themselves around. They can make the improvements, leaning on one another, looking at best practices.

And we have demonstrated these best practices, teaching police forces across the country. But we do not need to -- beholden to DOJ and the level of dollars that we`re spending on the consent decree.

Mind you that, when you have a police monitor, it seems that they`re coming in town when you have good events going on, Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras, that sort of thing.

(LAUGHTER)

CANTRELL: So, we need to get away from that. I believe we are.

And I applaud the partnership with the judge and the monitor. But now it`s time to let New Orleans continue the reforms, but the sustainability of those reforms. We`re prepared.

HAYES: Mayor Cantrell just talked about some of the reforms to that -- to her police department under the supervision of that consent decree and her leadership, Mayor Garcetti.

It seems to me there`s a few categories here of the way people are talking about policing, changing it, right, training, changing the way that police are trained, what -- decriminalization.

There`s also the idea of, police departments are too big, they do too much, we put too many resources in the city to them.

You have just proposed a budget cut for the LAPD. It has been met with quite a bit of anger from some law enforcement officials and spokespeople in L.A.

What caused you to take that up? What is -- what do you think you`re doing in proposing that budget cut?

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Well, thank you, Chris.

And let me join the chorus of thanking you for doing this. And it is always an honor to be with my brother and sister mayors and all the viewers that have shown up tonight to take this conversation from a moment to a movement, and to make sure we meet this moment and not miss it.

Here in Los Angeles, we`re pretty resilient, not because we`re any better than any other city. We just went through this pain that other cities are going through in past years earlier.

Before we had camera phones, we had Rodney King. We had Watts before that. We had a Rampart scandal and a consent decree, just as Mayor Cantrell has gone through. And those things made us better and stronger and fairer, even if we still have a while to climb up to the peak. Maybe we`re midway up the mountain.

For me, this isn`t about punishment and just what we take things away from. We have thrown too many solutions on the shoulders of our police departments and our police officers.

And, yes, it is about accountable behavior. It`s also about making sure we don`t just hold bad behavior accountable, but lifting up good behavior.

But it also is about what we can make sure that police aren`t the solution to everything. That we can call 911, and as we`re doing here, working together with our county, to look at what we can do in a mental health crisis, to have trained health professionals who are mobile, just like police officers, who can roll out and maybe have better and more lasting outcomes than police officers going back and back, and sometimes tragically to these dangerous situations if that`s not what they`re best trained for.

It`s about gang intervention. We`ve cut gang crime in half in Los Angeles. Remember movies when most of us are growing up when Los Angeles was synonymous with gang culture? We`ve done that not by just strengthening and holding accountable the police department but moving resources from policing to gang reduction and youth development. Former gang members, people with lived experience, who can be the peacemakers when things flare up more effectively than police officers in certain situations.

I agree, we`re always going to need police for certain situations and we need to rethink that model and we need to kind of create that -- co-create that with communities of colors that bear the brunt of that disrespect when it comes. But we also have to look for solutions in side communities and make sure we broaden this out so this is not just a conversation about public safety.

If we care about black lives and the lives of the people that we represent, this has to be about wealth-building and health-building, too, because we know even with the most accountable police departments in the country, reimagining some of those models, most black people in America will have shorter lives or fine (ph) deaths because of health and economic disparities.

So, these have to be braided in together, if we`re going to make sure this moment doesn`t come and pass with just a few reforms, some pats on the back and everybody said, back to business as usual.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  I want to talk about all the ways in whose are braided together. We`re going to get to some of that.

We have much more to come on this special edition of ALL IN.

Next, how are calls being heard within law enforcement? I`m going to talk to the head of the Memphis police union about his -- how he`s responding, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE O`MEARA, NY POLICE BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION:  Everybody`s trying to shame us into being embarrassed about our profession. Well, you know what? This isn`t stained by someone in Minneapolis. It`s still got a shine on it. And so do theirs. So do theirs!

Stop treating us like animals and thugs, and start treating us with some respect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  That is the president of one of the largest police unions in the U.S. that represents officers in New York City. It is often the case that some of the loudest voices in the debate over policing in America are police unions, whose rhetoric tends to run very hot.

A few weeks ago, amidst nationwide protests against police brutality, the president of another New York police union said they would, quote, win this war on New York City. The head of the Minneapolis police union called protests in that city in the wake of George Floyd`s killing a terrorist movement. The president of a Cleveland police union which referred to the citizens of his own city as the dregs of society.

Police union leaders across the country talk like this all the time, as a reporter who covers them, as if they`re fighting a war against the very citizens their members are sworn to protect.

Unions are also often not particularly representative of the departments they represent. The New York City Police Department, for example, is 47 percent white. And as you can see, that is very different from the makeup of this group of union leaders and members.

In fact, of the 50 largest police departments in the nation, in which majority of the officers are people of color, only one, only one has an African-American at the helm of the police union.

That is Michael Williams. He`s a 20-year Army veteran who spent ten years as a uniformed patrol officer. Now, represents 3,000 officers and the president of the Memphis Police Association.

Last weekend, his union held a "Cops Against Injustice" rally, where officers showed their support for the fight for racial equality.

And Michael Williams joins me now.

And it`s wonderful to have you, sir. Thank you very much.

MICHAEL WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT, MEMPHIS POLICE ASSOCIATION:  Thank you much for having me, Chris. I appreciate it.

HAYES:  You know, let`s -- I want to start, I want to talk a little bit about your reaction to this moment we`re in, particularly the killing of George Floyd. But I want to talk on this question of police unions and their rhetoric, and the way they communicate publicly.

What -- what goes through your mind when you hear police union representatives talk about war and dregs of society and this very, very kind of aggressive language? Do you understand why that is alienating to a lot of people?

WILLIAMS:  I just think that a lot of individuals are very frustrated in this age and in this era. The advent of what happened to Mr. George Floyd was heinous. It was something that nobody wanted to see.

When you see someone that`s on somebody`s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, I don`t care if you`re a police officer, I don`t care if you`re a citizen of any city around the United States, that is heinous. And it should be treated as such, period.

I think that, you know, we have to get out of trying to defend wrongs that have been created or perpetrated by individuals, even if they are a part of the police structure.

We held that rally, "Officers for Injustice", because we had a lot of officers who wanted to protest, a lot of officers -- good officers in the city of Memphis, because we definitely try to stay in touch with the community.

Many of us are of the community. Fifty-six to 60 percent of the police department in the city of Memphis is African-American. The makeup of the city is approximately 65 percent African-American.

A lot of us were born and raised here, educated here. We still live in the city. And we care, because a lot of the individuals are our relatives in this city. So we definitely tried to maintain community police relations.

And a lot of the things that have happened all across the country, I can tell you have not happened here in the city of Memphis. So, we kind of approach it a little bit differently, I assume.

But I know that on all sides, you have police that are being injured since the incident with Mr. Floyd. You`ve had hundreds of officers that have been injured all across the country.

And sometimes people just don`t understand -- if you haven`t been in combat, if you haven`t been suppressed in life, or if you haven`t had incidents with the police, I tell the story whereas, you know, I became the police because I didn`t like the police.

And sometimes you have to change it from the inside as opposed to the outside. And that`s a lot of the things -- and I encourage a lot of the young people within the city of Memphis to become police officers. If you don`t like it, be a part of it. Change it from the inside.

Treat people the way that you want to be treated, as opposed to allowing other individuals the ability to police you. And that`s exactly what I did.

HAYES:  You just -- you just spoke about this -- this feeling of frustration, and I think a lot of police officers -- police officers I have spoken to even in the last week or two who feel under threat, they feel shamed, they feel misunderstood.

There -- there does seem to be -- and obviously police officers have come under verbal abuse and they`ve had things thrown at them and there have been actually several shootings that have happened throughout the country directed at law enforcement officials.

Do you -- what is your thinking about the psychology of your officers in these moments that they don`t send up -- essentially end up replicating the same kinds of indignities and brutality and violence and overreaction that has produced this moment? What are -- what are you saying -- what is a conversation like among police officers about that? Is there a conversation on that?

WILLIAMS:  There`s definitely a behind the scenes conversation that`s going on. As a matter of fact, I was on the phone with a particular officer for probably about an hour prior to me starting some interviews this evening, and they`re very frustrated. We`ve had 12 incidences where officers have been shot at here in the city of Memphis. This time last year, we had about 659 shootings -- or shots fired calls here in the city of Memphis. It has risen to over 1,500 for the same time this year.

Juvenile crime is up, violent crime is up. A lot of the individuals are operating under the auspices of what has happened to Mr. Floyd, unfortunately, and Mr. Tamir Rice and all of the other individuals around the country that have succumbed to their injuries or the incidences with police officers.

And we`re having individuals that are being stopped and they say, oh, you can`t stop me, or you can`t operate under the -- aren`t you guys not supposed to be doing these certain things?

So, you have officers that are very frustrated. You know, you`re getting calls to armed party calls. It`s 14-, 15-, 16-year-old individuals because Memphis is like the third most violent city in the nation per capita, per the FBI. So we have a lot of crime that`s going on in the city.

And officers are kind of confused, you know, because if they engage these 14-, 15-, 16-year-old individuals and they happen to kill them because we`re pulling SKSes, AK-47s, Dracos, automatic weapons out of a lot of cars around here, and it`s just a matter of time before something happens.

Nobody wants to happen what happened to Mr. Floyd or anybody else, that individuals are standing up for, but at the same time, we can`t let the pendulum swing too far to the left and overreact and put officer safety at risk or try to say that they don`t have the same constitutional rights that normal citizens have, because at the end of the day, they are normal citizens.

HAYES:  Right. But police officers are more than normal citizens. I mean, police officers have an authority that normal citizens don`t. Police officers have the elevated standing of essentially being the tool by which the state enforces its monopoly on violence.

They can shoot people. They can arrest them. They can do all kinds of things.

I can`t walk down the street and tell someone, I don`t like what you`re doing. Come over here, I want to talk to you for a second. I`m going to write you a ticket and put you in handcuffs.

And I think sometimes, it seems to me, there`s a mismatch between the perception of victimhood by police officers who understandably go through tremendous psychic distress in the job they do, and often face tremendous pressure, stresses, and dangers, and the authority they wield.

And is there a way to think about policing that doesn`t end up leaning heavily on that authority in a way that ends up taking people`s dignity away?

WILLIAMS:  Well, without order, there is chaos, Chris. And you have to -- you know, we all grew up afraid of somebody. I was afraid of my mother, OK?

So if we want to get to the point to where you`re not afraid of anybody, that means you can do what you want to do. Now, in saying that, I don`t think any officer should overstep his bounds. I don`t think he should use his authority in the wrong way or manner. And, if in fact, they do that, they should be held accountable.

I am one of those individuals that say we don`t want bad police officers.  If you`re not going to operate within the scope of your duties, you don`t need to be the police officers.

Within our community, we`ve probably gotten more officers to resign that don`t want to be the police officers.  But you`re also going to find in this environment a lot of the millennials or young people that are coming up now that have bachelor`s and master`s and PhDs, they don`t want to be the police; they choose to do something else.  There`s a shortage of police officers all across the nation.  And if we continue in this manner, it`s going to get even shorter.

So we have to make sure that we have a balance.  I have said there`s nothing wrong with reform.  Any time you don`t want to change, something`s wrong, because times change.  So therefore, you have to implement changes.  But at the same time, you can`t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

HAYES:  Yeah.

WILLIAMS:  You know, I had a conversation about 40 minutes about choking, that -- using choke-holds, here in the city of Memphis.  I asked the question, when was the last time an officer choked somebody in the city of Memphis or somebody died?  Never.

So we have uniquenesses throughout the country.  And everybody can`t use this cookie-cutter method to be able to address the issues in their particular cities.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS:  We have a crime problem.  We haven`t had those type of situations.  What -- I don`t know what`s happening in New York.  I don`t know what happened in Minnesota.  I don`t know what happened in other places, except for what has been shown on TV.

Police answered over 10 million calls last year.  Out of those 10 million calls, I think you -- the FBI said you had about 1,000 and some individuals that were shot.  Out of that 1,000 individuals, you had 400 that were armed -- or unarmed.  I believe you had 19 Caucasians that were shot and killed by the police last year.  You only had nine African-Americans that were killed by the police last year.

Now, don`t get me wrong.  Anybody that`s killed needlessly, that`s wrong and it needs to be addressed.  But at the same time, I think that we`re definitely putting a lot of emphasis on the police when we have, in this city, 222 individuals were murdered in this city last year.

HAYES:  Memphis Police Association president Michael Williams in the city of Memphis.

Thank you so much, sir.  I appreciate it.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you.

HAYES:  All right.  Stick around.  We`ll take a look at the idea behind a growing call in the national protests, defunding the police, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  We are back here with the mayors of Atlanta, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Los Angeles.

And I just wanted to get your reaction to some of the things that Michael Williams, the police union head there in Memphis said.

Obviously, an extremely interesting perspective, and unique, as I said.  Mayor -- Mayor Bottoms of Atlanta, you know, there`s -- I think this idea that he articulated, which I think is core to most of the police officers I`ve ever talked to, that without order, there is chaos, that essentially the police are the -- in the cliche -- the "thin blue line" that divides, you know, ordered civilization from, you know, complete mayhem.

And I wonder what you think of that idea, because it`s so central to police identity and so central to many of the big-city politics around crime and policing for decades?

BOTTOMS:  I agree with so much of what he said.  And like Memphis, Atlanta is full of good police officers, many of whom grew up in our community, many of whom I went to elementary school with.  And so by and large, I think, Atlanta is representative of what you do have across the country, police officers who get up each and every day looking to do an honest job and -- and have pure and honest interactions with our communities.

But the problem is this, that when you have officers who don`t have those same intentions, and this is happening repeatedly, and we are now seeing it, then there is a problem that`s before us that has resulted in what we are seeing across America.

And I met a couple weeks ago with some of the student activists, and I love what one of the young men said.  He said this is -- we`ve got to stop having a conversation about us versus them; this has to be a "we" conversation.

And so in the same way our police officers are concerned about the morale of officers, I think our officers have to also be concerned about the morale of the country.  We`re not making up what these things are that we are concerned about.

When my nephew was murdered, we called the police to solve his murder.  So I know the value of our police officers.  But to the extent that we are somehow getting it wrong and it is resulting in this excessive use of force that`s killing people before our eyes, then we have to have this "we" conversation and do this "we" work to get it right.

HAYES:  Mayor Frey, you`re nodding in agreement?

FREY:  I am.  This is a "we" conversation, and what we need to be focused on collectively right now is a culture shift.  You know, I`m a believer that culture eats policy for breakfast.  And to a certain extent, culture is about people; it`s about personnel.  It`s having the ability to bring in and retain good officers and having the ability to get the wrong officers with the wrong mentality out.

And right now, you have mayors and chiefs around the country that are hamstrung by several elephants in the room, whether it`s a police union or a collective bargaining agreement or an arbitration provision, which we have in Minnesota that, by the way, returns more than 45 percent of the cases back to the police department.

So in other words, the chief or I can discipline or terminate an officer and then, 45 percent of the time or more, that decision is then overturned.  That prevents the necessary culture shift that we need to.

And so, sure, we should be focusing on the policy.  There`s a whole lot of work that we could be doing unilaterally or that we could advocate for, but if we`re not focusing on that culture shift and we`re not precise in our terminology, we`re going to lose this opportunity to see that transformational change.  And nobody wants that.

HAYES:  But that culture shift -- Mayor Garcetti, let me talk to you.  Because Los Angeles went through this trajectory, right?

So it`s pretty clear, I think, that the LAPD is a different creature than it was, you know, in the early 1990s under Daryl Gates and the Rodney King.

It is still the case that you can talk to people of color in Los Angeles who can rattle off to you awful interactions they`ve had with police officers who have acted dictatorially towards them, who have robbed them of their dignity, who have assaulted them.

And the question is, when you think about the direction things are moving, is it -- the direction is correct and we just need to go further, or is there some core problem that`s not being gotten at, about this sort of "bad apples" problem, right, of the people who are in policing for the wrong reason or acting this way?  Which -- which of those do you think it is?

GARCETTI:  I absolutely think it`s both, Chris.  You can see changes we`ve made in policy and procedures the last five years.  We`ve seen fatal officer-involved shootings cut in half.  Those policies actually work, when people have to warn somebody they`re going to be shooting, when somebody is accountable for their use of force, when you daylight discipline; those things work.

But there`s a culture that`s independent from that, too.  And I don`t think you have to compromise between accountability and being deeply respectful of people who devote their lives to law enforcement.

I deeply respect law enforcement officers.  I`ve been with their families when they`ve lost their son to a shooting of a police officer.  But it almost means accountability should broaden this conversation out, so that we`re looking at that culture that isn`t unique to policing; it`s American culture.  Let`s be clear.  Racism doesn`t just exist in traffic stops; it exists in banks; it exists in housing; it exists wherever we are.

So, you know, instead of just talking about what we defund, I want to talk about what we re-fund.  Are we going to re-fund affordable housing that`s been cut in this country, schools -- you know, our public schools that have been cut, looking at a mental health system, both for officers and for communities of color that have gone through trauma, these are the things that I think you can look at the culture and the policies together.  And that`s certainly the way we have looked at it in Los Angeles.  You can`t just do one; you have to do both.

HAYES:  Mayor Cantrell, one of the -- one of the points that Mr. Williams made is another point that I`ve heard often, which, sort of -- it, kind of, theorizes a spectrum between, you know, going too easy and or going -- or over-reacting.  And somewhere in the middle is, sort of, the right place to be, in which you can police in a constitutional manner and still control crime.

And the idea behind it -- and you heard Mr. Williams articulate it; it`s a common view, I think, police officers, if you go too far; if you give people too many rights, if you`re too, you know, constrained, you will see disorder and crime and violence and mayhem.

Your city has had deep changes to the police department and has also seen, over a long period of time, a decline in crime.  How do you think about those two -- those two, sort of, twin interests?

CANTRELL:  Well, I think that, absolutely, balance is important.  You know, we are a destination city, hosting, you know, 18 million visitors a year and, of course, protecting and serving the residents of the city.  We do not want to be confrontational.  We, kind of, allow you to be, you know, who you are and -- and respecting that, you know -- and also building those relationships with community as well as with the police.

Much like Memphis, the city of New Orleans is majority African-Americans, 60 percent.  And over 50 percent of our force is African-American as well.  So you do have to -- we have different -- to deal with -- the nuances are different in terms of how we interact with our people.

And so I believe that accountability -- bottom line, that`s it.  You have to act swift.  You know, you have to act with haste and get the bad apples out of there.  That`s one of the policies for us, although it`s voluntary in terms of releasing our footage from our video, body cams, also cameras in the vehicles.  While we don`t have -- have to do it by law, we do it.  And we release it within 10 days.  We believe that transparency is very important.  And it goes hand in hand with accountability.  That builds trust in your community, and it has built trust within the city of New Orleans.

You know, when you have imperfect people, you`re going to have imperfections.  But, again, accountability; you can -- you have to stand up.

HAYES:  Mayor Frey, there has been -- there has been I think and Mr. Williams talked about an uptick in shootings in -- in -- in Memphis. In the wake of the -- the protests in Ferguson, there were a variety of critics who looked at uniformed crime reporting data and FBI data who -- who -- who coined the term Ferguson effect to say that look, this is what you have. This is what happens.

You demand the police treat everybody with kid gloves and all of a sudden crime spikes. And this was a very popular thesis, Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago essentially signed onto it. What is your understanding of that? Do you think that`s what`s happening right now? To the people who say, oh look what you`ve done. You`ve -- you`ve -- abandoned the streets to the protestors and now people are shooting each other.

FREY: Let me be clear that our officers are out there every day doing what they can to keep our communities safe. And the violence that we`re seeing now only compounds the grief and it -- is a distraction from actually getting the necessary culture shift and reforms that we all know are needed. And let`s also be clear that this is about more than just those eight minutes and 45 seconds worth of horror. You know, this goes back generations and decades and even centuries. This -- this all started with slavery to Jim Crow to reconstruction to intentional segregation and restrictive covenants that ran -- run with the land.

There is a whole lot that has compounded to ultimately reach this moment. And so what I think needs to happen right now is the violence needs to stop, first of all. And we need to harness that collective energy and sadness and grief and then channel it into something productive and specific. Because that`s the only way the change is ultimately going to come about.

HAYES: We`ve got lots more of -- to talk about and more of your questions at home. Do not go anywhere. We`re going to be back with some of them right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: We`re back with the Mayors in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Minneapolis. I want to get some of the questions from people who also live in those cities. Mayor Cantrell of New Orleans, we`ll start with a question for you.

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Mark Raymond and I live in New Orleans. I serve as the president of the A.P. Tureaud Legacy Committee and we restarted the movement to rename all landmarks that memorialize the confederacy and white supremacy. It is time for New Orleans to send a signal to the rest of the world that we are stepping away from our confederate shadow.

Mayor Cantrell, what are your thoughts about this movement and how can we do this work expeditiously? Thank you for your leadership in this challenging time and thank you for all you do for New Orleans.

CANTRELL: Thank you Mark for your leadership in even serving on the Regional Transit Authority Board representing our residents who are living with disabilities. So I appreciate you. Also when you`re leading this effort, you know that I just made an appointment to our City Council`s Commission formed for street renaming. And so that work is getting underway.

I fully support it 100 percent but you know I`m grassroots all the way. I came to this work as a community organizer. So I believe in bottom up. So any process that is driven by the community and really a reflection of the community, you will have my full support as I`ve demonstrated. So expeditiously, the process is underway and we`re going to get it done, but according to the residents of the city of New Orleans.

HAYES: All right. Mayor Frey of Minneapolis. Next question`s for you.

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Marsel (ph). I`m originally from South Carolina and my question is for Mayor Frey. Many Jewish people receive and still receive reparations as a result of the holocaust. Would you join some of your fellow mayors in petitioning Congress to approve reparations for black Americans whose ancestors endured the horrors of slavery and subsequent racial terror? Why or why not?            FREY: Marsel (ph), thank you so much for the question. And as a Jew who lost extended family during the holocausts, I -- I have been told stories about the impact that this has had on our family and -- and our lives. And yes, reparations need to take place. And we have seen over, throughout history and many generations systematic racism that has been put in place whether it`s around financing or housing or intentional segregation.

And we`ve seen black people systematically been deprived of both money and property. And if you look over time from generation to generation, that ultimately leads to significant wealth gaps, to gaps in housing, to gaps in ownership, to gaps in -- in businesses. And so, yes absolutely, we need to be making those changes. I would be happy to sign on to any petition that would go towards Congress to -- to be doing that at a national level. Again thank you for your advocacy. And I`m proud to stand with you.

HAYES: All right. The next question is for Mayor Bottoms of Atlanta.

QUESTION: Hello. My name is Diana Denelia (ph) and I`m from Atlanta and I`m also a college student here. I was wondering if there are any concrete measures taking place to combat voter suppression across counties and also if there are any measures in place to make Atlanta a more environmentally friendly city? Thank you.

BOTTOMS: Thank you for your question. So, as it relates to voter suppression, the reality is that we have a Secretary of State who refuses to accept that voter suppression is real and that it comes in different forms. And so what I would encourage you and all of our students and everyone across this country is to show up and vote in numbers so there is no margin for error. Because voter suppression comes in forms like purging people from the voter roles and also making people stand in line for six to eight hours as we saw during the last election.

And as it relates to what we are doing for the environment in Atlanta, we are continuing to place equity at the top of every single thing that we do. A part of that conversation is making sure that all of our communities including those with the highest asthma rates in the country have the same access to resources to one, inform our communities, to empower our communities, to make sure that our communities are a safe place for everyone to live, and that everyone has access to clean water and to clean communities.

HAYES: All right. Next question, a topic that I wanted to get to tonight and I think we can close out some of the rest of the time on it. This question is for you Mayor Garcetti and I`ll follow up afterwards.

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Julia Ursick (ph). I live in Los Angeles, California. And I`m immunocompromised due to lupus. My question for Mayor Garcetti is we have more new COVID cases each day here in L.A. than we did when you issued the stay-at-home order. So why aren`t we under a stay-at- home order now?

GARCETTI: Shall I follow up on that Chris?

HAYES: Yes. Please, no I`m going to follow afterwards. But I -- I know that you`ve made some pauses but I -- that question is to you.

GARCETTI: Sure. No absolutely. A hard pause and for anyone immunocompromised or who is over 65 we`re saying do stay at home. We`re seeing across not just our city where we actually have a smaller percentage of the county cases and the county which is now a smaller percentage of our state cases. That our aggressive testing, we`re the first city in the country to allowed testing for people with and without symptoms. The way that we, kind of, pioneered mask-wearing in the country is the first city to mandate that. There`s no question that we need to tighten this up.

Mayors, a lot of people sometimes don`t understand, don`t have our health departments. So those are coming from the county and from the state. But I`ve spoken to both our county leaders and our governor to support the closing of bars. To look at any other measures we need. These next two weeks, we`ve got to show what L.A. showed at the beginning which was that we saved thousands and thousands of lives and we need to do that again. And I`m so glad you asked because I strongly recommended last night that if you do have preexisting medical conditions, if you are over 65, these are two good weeks to stay at home and everybody else should stay at home whenever they can.

No more backyard parties. No more cheating. It`s like folks, who are eating at midnight every night and wondering why they aren`t losing weight on their diet. This is time for us to really get serious and to take the gains we won in the last two and a half months and to push them forward as well.

HAYES: Mayor -- Mayor Bottoms, I want to go to you on this because you`re in a state that does have rising cases. It`s in the Sun Belt. It`s not as bad as we`ve seen in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida but they are rising. Are -- how concerned are you about where this is heading right now?

BOTTOMS: I`m extremely concerned. I was looking at our numbers today. We are up almost 20 percent from seven days ago. And so it is, as you know, we were one of the first states to open up. And so I think that opening up so aggressively, we`re now paying for it on the back end. And when you look at the rates of asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, especially in black and brown communities, it puts Atlanta at even higher risk.

HAYES: Mayor Cantrell, quickly, your city is renowned for its nightlife and its bars. And there`s a lot of evidence to suggest that that is a key course of spread as cities opened up. You`re seeing them retrench as the first thing. How do you think about bars and nightlife in -- in the context of an epidemic?

CANTRELL: Well the city of New Orleans as you know was a hot spot for COVID-19. We flattened that right at 94 percent. I have been more restrictive than the state of Louisiana for a reason because we`ve been disproportionately impacted. We have allowed for bars to open at 25 percent.

I`m telling my folks, you know, we need to stay on track. And if we continue to do that. We`ll be just fine but if there`s any regression, you know, in terms of not -- non-compliance, we will close them down. And I`ve been very much upfront about that. But I`m proud though of the progress that we have made and we continue to make. But my issue is -- is New Orleans is an island right now, in the state of Louisiana and even in the south.

HAYES: I do not envy any of you navigating this period right now. It is an extremely difficult job for all of you and I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis, Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans and Mayor Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles, thank you so much. That was really fantastic.

GARCETTI: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END