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Black Lives Matter TRANSCRIPT: 6/12/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Dean Slidelinger, Bradley Hardy, Betsey Stevenson, Alencia Johnson, Marx Claxton

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You might have heard a little noise today about Trump national security adviser John Bolton teasing the content of his new book. You know, remember that John Bolton refused to testify or handily avoided testifying during the Democratic-led impeachment proceedings against Trump late last year.

He`s now written a book in which he says he included everything he would have testified about had he been man enough to actually get up there and swear under oath and say his piece when it mattered.

The anger John Bolton being willing to do this for money for his book rather than doing this under oath has been absolutely palpable all day long.

But I`ll tell you early next week, we are going to be speaking to a former senior government official who I am very much looking forward to hearing from who may be a little bit of the antidote to John Bolton, and that is Robert Gates.

Former defense secretary Bob Gates is going to be joining us here live here on Tuesday night as his new book comes out. I couldn`t be happier about it. All right, that does it for us tonight. See you again on Monday. Now it`s time for "The Last Word" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. Thank you for that. We look forward to watching that interview with Gates next week and have a great weekend.

MADDOW: Thanks.

VELSHI: All right, one week ago I sat here and said to you that Donald Trump is the wrong president for this moment. And since then, the reality of that has come into even sharper focus.

To be blunt, the president makes bad situations worse and he`s woefully out of touch with the majority of Americans on matters of critical importance to our equality, health and well-being.

Trump is simply incapable of addressing the issue of race in any substantive way. The death of George Floyd has been a turning point in our culture.

Nearly three weeks after his death, we`re still seeing protests across the country and those protests are starting to lead to small but meaningful changes.

City and state officials and individual police departments are taking action to update a century`s old cycle of inequality in policing for black men and women. And we`re going to have more on those specific changes coming up.

But where is the president in this discussion? Virtually absent. While local leaders are doing the tough work, Trump is having trouble with taking even superficial or symbolic steps in the right direction.

Yesterday, for instance, he held an event in Dallas on race and policing, an event that failed to include the city`s police chief, the sheriff and the district attorney, all of whom are black.

Today Trump made a bizarre claim in an interview with Fox about what he had done for the black community.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think I`ve done more for the black community than any other president and let`s take a pass on Abraham Lincoln because he did good, although, it`s always questionable. You know, in other words, the end result --

HARRIS FAULKNER, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, we are free, Mr. President. He did pretty well.

TRUMP: But we are free. You do understand what I mean. So I`m going to take a pass on Abe, Honest Abe as we call him.


VELSHI: Well, we are free, Mr. President. "The New York Times" might have put it best when it said that the president, "increasingly sounds like a cultural relic on issues of race." But public opinion is shifting quickly on racism in America and even some of the most cautious leaders in institutions are talking openly about discrimination and reconciliation.

Meanwhile, as the "Times" quotes it, Trump, "has never appeared more isolated on a dominant social and political movement in the country, hunkered down at the White House, tweeting conspiracy theories about injured protesters."

It should come as no surprise then that in a new NBC report, Trump told aides, "These aren`t my voters," during a discussion about protesters. So much for unifying America, I guess. He can`t even pick the low hanging fruit.

Trump can`t even support renaming military bases that bear the names of long, dead confederate soldiers whom I might add were rebels against the republic and on the losing side of the war, the side that wanted to keep slavery.

They fought against the very United States military that uses those bases, military officials and even some Republican senators are open to the purely symbolic move of changing base names.

But Trump just sends out dog whistles about the names being those -- the names of those racist confederates being too important to American`s history. And if it`s failures on race weren`t enough, the president has gone silent on the coronavirus pandemic at a time when infection rates are now on the rise in many states.

Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he`s no longer in frequent contact with Trump and the daily coronavirus task force briefings long ago faded into the distance. But hospitalizations in at least nine states are on the rise and several states have seen their biggest one day rise in new cases this week.

The federal response to that is almost nonexistent. Think about it. We just hit two million COVID-19 infections in the United States and the president said nothing about it.

The president`s inabilities to meet the moment on two of the biggest and most urgent crises of our day are vividly illustrated in a single event that he is holding next week.

Donald Trump is holding his first campaign rally in months in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a city infamous for the 1921 burning of Black Wall Street. It`s going to be held, by the way, on Juneteenth, a day of symbolic significance to the struggle for black civil rights in America. What`s more, the Trump campaign is not requiring face masks or social distancing at the rally.

But it does have a disclaimer at the bottom of a registration page for the event that reads, in part, "by attending this rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. liable for any illness or injury." In other words, don`t sue us if you get sick or die. This is what the president had in mind when he said, make America great again.

All right. Leading up our discussion tonight are Zerlina Maxwell, the senior director of progressive programming at Sirius XM radio and the author of the upcoming book, "The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Liberal Divide."

Also joining me, Jonathan Alter, a columnist for "The Daily Beast." Both are MSNBC political analysts. Thanks to both of you for being with us. I don`t think I`m going to play it again, Zerlina, because I just played a little bit of the Trump interview on Fox News.

But he talked about being great for the black community and sort of accepting Abraham Lincoln because he`s not too sure of his performance. I`m just puzzled because I`m not really puzzled that a lot of our viewers think that`s true or a lot of African Americans think that true, but I am puzzled as to what he gets for saying that.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think that it`s a voter suppression strategy, but it`s also a strategy to comfort his base of voters. So no -- none of his voters want to think that they are racist. They may harbor views for people of color or black people.

They may say things like, well, I wish, you know, the protesters wouldn`t loot or be violent or break windows. I mean, I think it`s bad, that video was sad, but I`m not racist but I do support Trump because of the tax cuts, right.

So, they articulate sort of a policy reason for supporting Donald Trump while ignoring all of the racism. And in this particular moment, it`s very clear that you have to pick a side on, you know, on this issue of racism in the United States and the origins going back to our founding.

And Donald Trump essentially is making his base feel okay with supporting him. So he says things like, well, I`ve done so much for black people. And what his base hears is that, you know, black people who complain about Donald Trump they`re just ungrateful for all he has done. It`s basically to give his base cover for being labeled as racism for supporting Trump.

VELSHI: That`s interesting. I hadn`t thought about that. Jonathan Alter, this has come full circle for Joe Biden who started his campaign for president with a video, a very vivid video about the Charlottesville images and a reminder that that`s not who we are.

I wouldn`t have thought -- in fact, some people thought that message got away from Joe Biden because we had sort of moved away from that moment. But, in fact, George Floyd and the movement about police brutality and the movement about institutionalized racism that seems to be picking up steam amongst Americans who are not black and are not people of color goes right back to where Joe Biden said we want to go.

So, the alternative message to make America great again is this is not who we are. This is who we are. Let`s be that.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it turns out, Ali, that Joe Biden has, who knew, the perfect message for 2020 of reconciliation, rights, restoring the soul of America. He`s been saying that since the start. And it seemed like kind of a dated message when he started with this last year, but it turns out to be perfectly in tune with where the country is.

And then when you have him stepping up and showing leadership as he did yesterday in introducing a very sophisticated and potentially very effective plan for confronting the COVID-19 crisis and for opening up the economy, he realized we have one candidate who is a leader who wants to bring reconciliation, and we have a president who wants to make America hate again.

That`s all that he really has to offer. You know, he has not been able to make America great. Everything that he promised he would do starting with Mexico to pay for the wall he has not accomplished. We are the laughing stock of the world. We have completely failed to lead both (INAUDIBLE) and so the only play he has, the only move he (INAUDIBLE) right.

His problem, he`s in deep political trouble, Donald Trump is. His basic problem, Ali, is he has nowhere to go to make up the room, to make up the gap. Where does he get the new votes that he needs to win? It`s not clear at all today.

VELSHI: Yesh. And I wonder, Zerlina, whether being quiet is not just a better thing for him. I mentioned the renaming of bases that are named after confederate generals and confederate heroes as low hanging fruit. They`re all dead. They were in the losing side of a war and those are bases on which the U.S. military operates, the U.S. military against which confederate soldiers fought.

This is not complex. This is not the hard part of this. It is actually only symbolic. I don`t know that anybody`s life gets better because you rename a base after -- you change the name of a base. He can`t even get his head around that.

MAXWELL: But I still think, you know, at the end of the day, he`s always talking to his (INAUDIBLE), you know, the defense of keeping the names as they are as a signal to his base, again, that he`s with them on this issue and that he hears them when they say keep the statues up, we need to appreciate our "southern heritage," right?

And I think that, you know, it`s a lot of gaslighting going on. Donald Trump is the gaslighter-in-chief. He`s always been that way since the beginning. But I think that, you know, this is a moment where none of that is going to work.

You have the pandemic in the backdrop of all of this and so every single one of his deficiencies are on full display. And you have somebody who essentially is a reality star play acting as president and he is not competent in leading the federal government through the response, which actually requires attention to detail and pulling the different levers of power.

He just is not equipped to do any of that. And I think that`s so fully on display in this moment. So all he (INAUDIBLE) is racism. That is the only thing, that`s the only card. He`s not -- it`s like when the Republicans criticize, you know, black people for playing the race card.

Donald Trump plays the racism card and he`s playing the whole deck. He`s playing the whole deck. Going to Tulsa on Juneteenth is a message to black people. It is a threat to black people, going there on the day that we celebrate our freedom and going there with his essentially supporters who are very overtly racist, right?

I mean, and Stephen Miller is writing the speech and he is a white nationalist. Going there is sending a message to black people that you are not free. We do not agree with black lives matter and what you are saying in the streets declaring equal justice and rights. We are on the other side of that. So for the rest of us, we need to be clear on where we stand and then make sure we can demonstrate that at the ballot box in November.

VELSHI: Jonathan Alter, Donald Trump has an unusual relationship with the military. He`s never served in the military, but he has some sort of fetish with the military. And tomorrow morning he`s going to deliver the commencement address at West Point.

And it seems as sort of a strangled effort. He`s going to have this remarkable backdrop. But what`s really happening is that some of his own military leaders and former defense secretaries and former military officials have all distanced themselves from the actions that he`s taken over the last few weeks, including getting federal troops into the streets or at least calling for the idea that federal troops going to the streets.

He`s sort of -- he`s missing the moment entirely. He`s going to seem out of place there tomorrow.

ALTER: You know, this is one of the most fascinating political developments of recent times, the sort of unwarring of the Republican Party from the military. I`m not saying that Biden is going to carry every vote.

But it is astonishing when you see the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, basically denouncing the president, saying that he embarrassed him and the Armed Forces by politicizing that event when he held up the bible.

You see Jim Mattis who is in the cabinet, who has immense respect. General Mattis is the most revered person in the military in recent years. When you see him denounce in very clear terms the president of the United States and say that he is a threat to our country and our values, this will have an effect within the military.

That`s why I think, look, Trump can win. It`s a lot that can happen, but more likely that there is a Joe Biden landslide than there is a Donald Trump victory because he is -- when you are on the wrong side of the commissioner of the NFL and chairman of the Joint Chiefs, you got a real political problem.

And the question now is whether with Trump on the defensive, the Democrats can get their act together enough to have a big victory where they really clean out the stables, clean out all the Trump enablers, all the Trump apologists, send them packing.

Then next year our country can come together because we have already in some ways come together in this moment. This is a moral imperative, Ali. You know, this was a time of choosing. As Zerlina said, there was moral power in what happened not just those comments from those military leaders, but what happened in the streets.

And people power, moral power, that`s what changes the world. So I have actually been very encouraged by what`s happened. As painful as it`s been over the last couple of weeks, the country is coming together, rejecting Donald Trump and drawing a (INAUDIBLE).

VELSHI: The country was born of protests. The civil rights movement was born of protests. Some of the finest things in this country have come of protests and that is what we have seen in the last few weeks. Thanks to both of you as always for helping me kick off the show. Zerlina Maxwell, you`ll be back with me in a little while. Jonathan, good to see you as always.

Coming up, we are still in the midst of a pandemic, despite the messaging coming from the Trump White House. Coming up next, I`m going to talk to the health commissioner of Oregon where despite a very low infection rate, they`re taking a pause just out of precaution.


VELSHI: The United States is still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, averaging 20,000 new cases and hundreds of deaths every day. More than 115,000 people have died so far of the coronavirus. And while the situation is improving in some of the hardest hit -- I`m sorry, the hardest hit cities in the northeast, there is an alarming rise in cases in the south and the west as states move to reopen.

Florida and Texas both reported record daily high numbers of cases this week. And today Tulsa County, Oklahoma reported its highest ever daily increase in cases.

Tulsa is where Donald Trump plans to hold a campaign rally one week from tonight in an outdoor arena, even though Trump`s own CDC just released new guidelines that say that the highest risk of coronavirus is in "large in- person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least six feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area."

That might be why the campaign is making attendees sign waivers saying they can`t sue if they contract coronavirus. Meanwhile, the White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, down played the virus numbers today.


LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: I spoke to our health experts at some length last evening. They are saying there is no second spike. Let me repeat that. There is no second spike.


VELSHI: All right. In Oregon, we`re seeing a different kind of leadership, even though the state has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. The seven-day average of new cases has increased by 190 percent in the last 14 days, 190 percent in two weeks. Today, the governor, the Democratic governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, announced that she is pausing her state`s reopening for a week.


KATE BROWN, GOVERNOR OF OREGON: Today`s decision to pause as a state is a clear reminder that we need to double down on the simple but effective precautions each of us should take to reduce the spread of the disease. I know how frustrating it is to move slowly.

We all wish this re-opening could be happening faster. My job, however, is to make tough decisions even when they are unpopular, and when it comes to the health and safety of Oregonians, the buck stops here.


VELSHI: Joining us now is Dr. Dean Sidelinger. He`s the Oregon State health officer and epidemiologist. Dr. Sidelinger, good to see you. Thank you for being with us. Tell me how these decisions get made because what we have been hearing literally for three months or more is a sort of a push and pull between political and economic interests and public health interests.

DEAN SLIDELINGER, OREGON STATE HEALTH OFFICER: I think these decisions get made looking at the data. As you showed, we had increased cases here in Oregon and we`re seeing increase Oregonians presenting to the hospital for admission, those two things together indicates that the disease is still circulating here in Oregon and we want to make sure this trend doesn`t continue.

And if we can take a pause, not reopen additional counties to additional activities, see what the data shows over the next week, we can make some data driven recommendations to Governor Brown and we can come up with some decisions that will keep the health and safety of Oregonians first and foremost in our minds.

VELSHI: All right, so you may not be ready for the recommendation stage yet, but what does the data tell you about what`s going on here? How is it different than what you would have expected to happen if you hadn`t seen the spike?

SLIDELINGER: I think, you know, Oregon began opening some of our rural counties three weeks ago and we knew that that wasn`t without risk. As people moved out and participated in more activities, we knew the risk of transmission would go up, that we would likely see more cases and potentially more hospitalizations.

We had a wonderful, beautiful late Memorial Day weekend, and we know that many people gathered with friends and families that they hadn`t seen before. So what we`re seeing now is what happened two and three weeks ago.

We are seeing the results of some of those social gatherings with cases among those clusters of friends and family. We`re also hit by large workplace outbreaks. So, agriculture is very important here in Oregon, so our agriculture workers are impacted and some of our food processing plants.

So those two things together along with increased movement, you know, with people around the state, we`re seeing these increased cases and we want to make sure that doesn`t continue.

And if we can work together, repeat to Oregonians that they have done an amazing job flattening the curve, that taking those steps to protect themselves, staying six feet apart, wearing face coverings, staying home when they are sick, these are all things they can do to protect themselves, their families and their fellow community.

VELSHI: Fortunately, your numbers, your raw numbers are not large. I just want to put on the screen the graphics showing coronavirus hospitalizations in Oregon, but you can very, very clearly see on the right side of that graphic, the increase.

Multnomah County which is where Portland is has never gotten to phase one. It was the one place that didn`t get to the phase of opening. That of course is the economic center of the state.

SLIDELINGER: That`s correct. And, you know, we have to take these decisions. We know that staying closed with many businesses closed, those economic impacts on employees, small and large businesses are tremendous and those economic impacts have health impacts.

But we also want to move forward cautiously to prevent the spread of the disease acutely. So there is still things people can do in Portland. They can get out and enjoy the outside, enjoy the parks. Most stores are open and they can do so physically distanced. They can order takeout and bring food home.

So there is still many things available to people of Portland and we want to work quickly to get those companies, those industries back to work as safely as we can moving forward and we think this one week pause, re- examining the data next week, coming toward with plans how to do that safely in Multnomah County as well as some of the other counties that have prepared applications to move to phase two, we can do that moving forward together and we can do it safely here in Oregon.

VELSHI: Dr. Dean Slidelinger, while not everybody listens to you health officials, to some of us you are heroes in this time and we are grateful for the work that you do. Dr. Dean Slidelinger is Oregon State`s health officer and epidemiologist. Thank you, sir.

I want to bring in Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist, global health policy expert and affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington Medical Center. He is an NBC News and MSNBC medical contributor and has been with us from the beginning as we have covered this coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Gupta, good to see you again. Again, I mean, Rachel said this about an hour ago and that it seems like we`re in a time warp. It seems like we`re having some of the same conversations again about PPE, not getting the nursing homes about the federal government telling us the things that we are seeing happening are not happening.

And in fact, the surgeon general of the United States has said that we have flattened the curve. And I guess I just want to ask you, is that true?

VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Ali, always good to see you. And pointblank, no, it`s not true. You know, at this point, there are a few tools we have in our tool kit to deal with a public health crisis. And one of those, the most powerful is messaging and consistent messaging from the top.

And if you have a privileged position like being U.S. Surgeon General, for example advising the president, you shouldn`t be sitting next to the president in Dallas yesterday saying the curve is flattening just as the next day headlines are saying Texas is suffering from its highest daily infection rates ever since this pandemic began.

It`s just the cognitive dissonance and the distortion of reality is mind numbing and it shouldn`t come from the surgeon general. What happened to do no harm? So it is irresponsible. It angers a lot of us in public health that are on the front lines on the inpatient wards because we don`t expect that from him.

We expect him to tell the truth. And that`s the problem there. Here`s the truth, 22 states are not flattening the curve, some of our most populous, California and Texas to name a few. We`re seeing in Arizona ICU beds are not available, Ali.

They`re simply not available. I`m an ICU doc. That`s a nightmare scenario. We are -- this is a five alarm fire here and the surgeon general needs to alert us to that and that`s why this is such a problem.

VELSHI: Why do you think this has happened because, I mean, it had to be a month and a half or two months ago that you and I were talking about right here in New York and places in the northeast not having the hospital beds available and not having ventilators for people.

We know you got hit earlier in Seattle in Washington State. What`s happened? This has fallen out of the news. The White House doesn`t hold these coronavirus briefings anymore. Dr. Fauci says he hasn`t talked to Donald Trump in some while. They`ve just lost interest.

GUPTA: I think you basically diagnosed the problem here, Ali, is that we haven`t had consistent messaging and we need that consistent messaging day in, day out because this takes time.

The fact of the matter is we were projecting that we needed until the end of June really to root this out. That time line got extended and now here we are -- most states have reopened.

So, part of this is patience. We all understand that in the world there is -- the people that want normal see anything. I could (INAUDIBLE) do that, because what we worry about is we open up too soon and we open up in the wrong way, we`re going to have a much stricter lockdown, we`re going to have a lot more outcomes when it comes to health, disease morbidity and mortality.

Things are going to look a lot worse if we don`t do it the right the first time around. That`s what we`re seeing now. So there is the collective lack of patience as exacerbated by poor messaging at the top. So that`s why this is happening. We just don`t have the patience and the leadership to keep us on track.

VELSHI: Dr. Gupta, thanks again as always for being with us. You`ve been with us for a long time and I suspect you will be with us for a lot longer until we get to the bottom of this. Dr. Vin Gupta is a pulmonologist and a global health policy expert and an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington Medical Center.

Coming up, the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, we`re about to hit a perfect storm of economic relief coming to an end at the time that bills have been paused (INAUDIBLE) due again. It`s going to disproportionately hurt minority and low-income communities who`ve already born the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic. We`ll talk about that on the other side.


VELSHI: The stock market suffered its worst week, this week since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March as `The New York Times` reports, "Financial markets are suffering from a shift in sentiment this week as investors have seemed to acknowledge the risks to the economy from pandemic related shutdowns earlier this year and the prospect of a second wave of coronavirus infections as government lifts restrictions on activity.

The Federal Reserve this week forecasted a slow economic recovery with employment still over 9 percent by the end of the year and in a report to Congress today the Fed warned that the most severe job losses caused by the pandemic are disproportionately impacting minorities and low wage workers.

The unemployment rate for black Americans has tripled during the pandemic, from 5.8 percent to 16.8 percent. That pain could worsen as emergency economic measures come to an end this summer. Politico reports that, "The ban on evictions which applies to rentals that are backed by the government expires in a matter of weeks. Black and Latino people are twice as likely to rent as white people so they would be the most endangered if the protection from the removal is ended."

And BuzzFeed notes that this will coincide with the end of a valuable financial lifeline. "On July 31, the $600 federal unemployment payments going to unemployed people every week will end. Many Republicans want to replace them with nothing at all. So income for tens of millions of households is likely to nose-dive in August."

Joining us now Betsey Stevenson who served as a member of the President`s Council of economic advisers and was the Chief Economist at the Department of Labor in the Obama administration as well as Bradley Hardy, Economist and Associate Professor at American University, a non-resident scholar - senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

Thanks to both of you for being with us. Bradley, let me start with you. I`ve covered the Fed for more than 20 years. I`ve never actually heard such a specific statement from the Fed to say the thing that we all know and have been talking about for three months that people of color are generally speaking, disproportionately hit hard in recessions but in this particular case, more so.

BRADLEY HARDY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Absolutely and - and this is just so troubling Ali. I`m glad you`re covering this topic. Look, we know for - for many years, many decades, we`ve seen the data. We know that black families are more likely to be working in low wage labor markets.

Frankly, more likely to be on the front lines right now, working at our grocery stores, our drug stores, you know working as social workers and health care workers and so they are overly exposed and right now I think this really calls for kind of a reappraisal of the social policies.

How might we protect these families? How might we think about the social safety and housing assistance, liquidity, food assistance, all those things need to be on the table in the coming months.

VELSHI: Betsey, The Washington Post on June 4 wrote an article in which it said, "The black-white economic divide is as wide today as it was in 1968. In 1968, a typical middle-class black household had $6,674 in wealth compared with $70,786 for the typical middle class white household according to data from the historical survey of consumer finances that has been adjusted for inflation.

In 2016 the typical black middle-class household has $13,024 in wealth verses $149,703 for the median White House old an even larger gap in percentage terms."

And Betsey, you`ve seen other statistics that use different numbers but the spread is the same, the proportionate difference is the same. In the same way that white Americans have seen the injustice that Black Americans face at the hands of police, do you think they are starting to see this too that the injustice occurs in economics, in policing, in social policy and economic policy?

BETSEY STEVENSON, FMR MEMBER, PRESIDENT`S COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: We absolutely see disparities and in the economy and in the experiences that people have in the labor market. You know, you just heard that Black Americans are disproportionately in lower wage jobs and as a result they tend to disproportionately have lower wage income.

Lower wage incomes lead to having less wealth. And another reason they have less wealth is the statistic you started with. Unemployment has tripled right now at the rate for Black Americans as for White Americans. When they face higher rates of being unemployed, they`re going to dig into their savings more just to get through tough times.

It`s going to make it hard to accumulate savings over time and their friends and family, neighbors and loved ones, there you have, one in five, one in six, one in seven people in your community, those kind of numbers unemployed, it`s not surprising that people are spending everything they`re bringing in to keep everybody afloat.

And that`s going to prevent the accumulation of wealth but that leads to further racial disparities down the line because it makes it harder to start a business, to make a leap, to do the kind of things that you can do when you have a big cushion, safety net to rely on.

VELSHI: Bradley, I think, it might have been Andre Perry Brookings, I`m not sure where I got this particular stat from but another way to look at this is you need the wealth of 11.5 median black households to create the wealth of one white household and that`s got to do with wages, it`s got to do with property values, it`s got to do with home ownership rates.

At some juncture, for a little while during the presidential campaign while there were a lot of candidates, there were people putting forward real policies that were going to change that. How does back get fixed when the protests died down, when we get past this moment and maybe even get past a Trump presidency?

This has been with us for decades. What - what - what do we do to solve that?

HARDY: Sure. It`s - it`s a great question and to your point, this has been years and years, decades and decades, hundreds of years really in the making and so frankly, I think public policy was part of the problem that caused these racial wealth gaps. Inequitable access to home loans, inequitable access to the educational system, historical labor market discrimination.

That`s the public policy that has led to this moment and I think policy and robust interventions are where we can go, moving forward. So for example, you can think about programs including baby - baby bonds. I thank Senator Booker has proposed those.

You know there`s quite a bit of great energy in terms of thinking about ways to promote wealth across the population to disproportionately help black Americans, frankly robust income support, revamping the nation`s safety net.

You know so many Black families and families in general have so much of their monthly budgets taken up in rising housing costs for example that frankly they`re drowning and so you know we do have to take this moment, we do have to think a bit bolder and frankly this is part of the expectation that you know frankly families expect economic security.

They also expect security to their law enforcement systems and I think when all those things break down, you have - you have real cause for concern.

VELSHI: Thank you to both of you for joining me tonight. These are important discussions that we need to continue to have even when the heat is off of this topic because for these Americans of color, the heat never stops being on them. Betsey, thanks a lot for being with me again.

Betsey Stevenson, Bradley Hardy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University. All right, coming up, a new poll shows that the Black Lives Matter movement is now a majority opinion in America.


VELSHI: For the better part of the last 18 days, hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country have united to protest the killing of George Floyd. A new poll shows that a majority of Americans, 53 percent support Black Lives Matter. That`s reflected in the demonstrations in cities like New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles but also in suburbs, small towns and rural areas like Garden City, Kansas; Starkville, Mississippi; Alpine, Texas.

As Senator Tim Scott, the only African American Republican in the Senate put it, "Without question, this is different, feels different. It sounds different. The protesters are different. I look out my window in Washington and I see 10 protesters, seven of them are white and three of them are black."

Joining us now Alencia Johnson, former National Director of Public Engagement for Senator Elizabeth Warren`s presidential campaign. Alencia, great to see you again. Thank you for being with us. I have to say, I was out in the streets for several days for about a week and I saw what the senators talking about.

There are lots of people out there, a lot of - a lot of black people but a lot of white people too. Something does feel different this time. I was talking to Eric Garner`s mother and she thinks something feels different too. What do you make of it?

ALENCIA JOHNSON, FMR NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT, WARREN 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: You know, I think that this movement is finally catching up to the conversations that we`ve known from our culture experts, able to - has sent, leading effort in Hollywood.

You`re seeing more images of Black Lives but this has been a consistent effort from organizers over the years, showing that Black lives are actually to be dignified and the reality is more people are understanding that.

Instead of trying to reform the system, a policing system that has been around for hundreds of years to oppress black people, it`s time to move resources into communities, whether it`s healthcare, education, mental health services, domestic violence intervention because we know those are proven solutions to actually create more safe communities and healthy communities and it`s time to actually get rid of the policing system as we know it.

VELSHI: I`m going to ask my control room to put up various charts and polls that we`ve got, all of which show the same thing and that is that support - first of all, Americans understand that African Americans face something different at the hands of police than white people do.

Support for Black Lives Matter has increased according to this chart, you`re looking at as much as it has in the last two weeks, as much as it has in the last two years. A majority of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement by a 28 percent margin, up from a 17 percent margin before the recent waves of protests started.

At some juncture, I`m getting emails from kind of every business I have anything to do with. They`re actually saying the words Black Lives Matter in their - in their emails, in their statement. Starbucks is now saying that employees can wear Black Lives Matter you know insignia if they need to.

It`s symbolic but it means something when people are understanding that to say Black Lives Matter, to have that shirt, to have that signed on your lawn isn`t actually a controversial matter.

JOHNSON: Right and what you`re seeing is that people are actually taking action and the people who at - the people in the organizations and the infrastructures that have power within this country are actually using their power to shift the conversation to Black Lives. I think it`s encouraging to see more white people out there on the streets protesting for black folks.

We have been protesting from the very beginning since some of our ancestors have been here under enslavement and so I think as you`re seeing this collective movement, hopefully you`ll see even more policy changes. Fortunately, the Minneapolis police department - excuse me the Minneapolis state council voted to figure out a way to divest from the policing department.

You see Los Angeles reducing their police budget by around $100 million to reinvest in communities and it`s become a unifying conversation. Now I want to be clear. It`s still going to take a long time of sustained effort for us to actually have major nationwide wins.

I mean you see that in the abortion rights movement, you see that in so many movements that have overwhelming support. However, we still have to have the sustained effort to ensure that we have the right elected leaders in office.

VELSHI: Yes, the work is not done that we have Black Lives Matter painted on the streets and on our T-shirts but it is a beginning. Alencia, thank you, always good to see you. Thanks for being with us Alencia Johnson is the former National Director of Public Engagement for the Warren 2020 campaign.

Coming up, in tonight`s Last Word, we`re going to reflect on the remarkable speed and scope of police reform that started happening in the 18 days since George Floyd uttered the words, I can`t breathe.



PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD`S BROTHER: People of all backgrounds, genders and races have come together to demand change, honored him, honor George and make the necessary changes that make law enforcement, the solution and not the problem. Hold them accountable when they do something wrong, teach them what it means to treat people with empathy and respect.


VELSHI: That was Philonise Floyd, the brother George Floyd, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday during a hearing on a landmark police reform bill. It`s just one of the major policy actions that`s been taken in the 18 days since George Floyd`s death in Congress, at the local level and within police departments themselves.

Joining us now is Marq Claxton. He`s a retired New York City police detective and Director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. Marq, I have to say thank you to you personally because you were on TV probably as much as I was when these protests were going on. You were creating some real context around some of the things we were going to have to do after we got through the immediacy of the clashes between police and protesters and police and journalists.

And - and in fact in Minneapolis, where this all started, they seem to have taken some strides in the right direction.

MARQ CLAXTON, DIRECTOR, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: Oh absolutely. I think what`s been happening at warp speed has really been a push for reform but just to think about it. Minneapolis may be the catalyst for much of the activity that`s been going on from the governmental response immediately terminating the police officers.

Government response demanding additional prosecutions of the police officers themselves. Then most recently decided not to negotiate with police unions in regards to operational and management issues in department. That`s going to be significant around this nation. That move alone.

But then moving to New York and the legislation that was just signed today and disclosure of police offices just for their record, banning chokeholds, et cetera and then the overall package in Congress in the House of representatives.

All of this happening within the course of 2.5 - three weeks, it`s just an amazing, amazing, amazing progress.

VELSHI: Talk to me about the union situation because this has been a tricky and frought one for me personally because I`ve grown up always being in support of unions and the things that they allow their members to do in terms of collective bargaining and not being treated unfairly.

But police unions in many cases do seem to be a bit of a problem in keeping bad apples on the job.

CLAXTON: Yes and I like you, I`m a big supporter of the unions, always have that I come from a unions family but I think what`s happened in regards to law enforcement and the police union specifically is that over a course of time in decades, they`ve begun - they have been allowed to infiltrate and influence management and operation decisions in these different agencies.

So they`re no longer just negotiating on pay and benefits but actually how disciplined is meted out, what kind of information can be disclosed and other operational issues and they`ve been empowered by being given that kind of access. I think it`s time and I think what`s going to happen across the nation is that different jurisdictions, they`re now going to say, listen, we can continue to talk about the benefits to health packages, the pay salaries - the salaries, et cetera but we`re no longer going to have you negotiate with us on how we mete out discipline, when we mete out discipline and other operational issues.

VELSHI: And in fact in the case of Minneapolis, that`s a really interesting matter because there`s a reform minded police chief but the President of the Union is the one to whom a lot of the police officers seem to turn for guidance on how to do things and that`s actually created a conflict in how the department is run.

CLAXTON: Yes absolutely and keep in mind, the unions in large part are the ones who guard the local police culture and often times these - it`s a toxic police culture but the unions are on the forefront of keeping everybody aligned, keeping everybody in lockstep.

Maintaining that us against them mentality. If you look at Buffalo Police Department and the Union reaction on encouragement for those officers who resigned their positions, that`s all about keeping this police culture intact and maintaining their power and control.

But times are changing and reform is in the air.

VELSHI: You`ve helped us understand these difficult times Marq. Thank you for being with us. Marq Claxton - Claxton is the Director of Black Law Enforcement Alliance and a former NYPD detective. Thank you Sir and that is tonight`s Last Word. I`m Ali Velshi. You can catch me tomorrow morning and every weekend morning starting at 8 A. M. eastern.

Congressman Val Demings, a former police chief is going to join us. I hope you`ll join us too. The 11th hour with Brian Williams begins right now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again. Day 1240 of this Trump administration, 144 days to go until the presidential election.