‘It Broke Me’: A Conversation with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s podcast for June 2

Within the wake of nationwide protests in response to the dying of George Floyd, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms candidly talk about race, outrage and the fears concerning the unfold of Covid-19.

You may hear in your favourite podcast app or learn the transcript under.

Alicia Smith, group organizer: It broke my coronary heart. It was devastating. There aren’t any phrases within the English language that might convey the despair that I felt watching that man’s life depart his physique and him scream out for his mom.

Protestor: I’m out right here to get justice for my metropolis. My metropolis has been going via quite a lot of ache. This isn’t the primary, second or third time. You see all this, all of the injury? It’s what we’ve got to do to get our voice heard.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Everywhere in the nation, individuals are filling the streets to protest police brutality and the dying of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis whereas a police officer kneeled on his neck. Disturbing video of this was seen all around the world.

George Floyd: Please. Please. I can’t breathe. … Please, man.

Gupta: We’re all seeing a lot ache and anger and outrage.

On this episode, I spoke with the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, about how she’s coping with the disaster as a pacesetter, as a mom of 4 kids. All of it unfolding towards the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic.

Most of America caught sight of her just lately. She gave an extremely highly effective press convention this previous Friday.

Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta: We’re higher than this. We’re higher than this as a metropolis. We’re higher than this as a rustic. Go dwelling. Go dwelling.

Gupta: Born and raised in Atlanta, Mayor Bottoms was a lawyer and choose, and has been in workplace since 2018. She’s solely the second girl ever to carry the job.

Bottoms: After I heard there have been rumors about violent protests in Atlanta, I did what a mom would do, I referred to as my son and I mentioned, “The place are you?” I mentioned, “I can not shield you, and black boys shouldn’t be out right this moment.”

Gupta: I spoke to her about this necessary second in historical past as black and brown America disproportionately face two lethal threats: police brutality and a worldwide pandemic.

I’m Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent. And that is “Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction.”

Thanks once more, Mayor Bottoms, I’ve very a lot been trying ahead to this. Let me simply ask, how are you? How are you doing over the previous few days?

Bottoms: You recognize, I’m doing OK. I feel I’m doing in addition to all of America is doing proper now. It’s a really tense and exhausting time for all of us. However I’m doing OK. Thanks for asking.

Gupta: Have you ever been apprehensive in your personal security or for the protection of the individuals that you simply love at all around the previous few days?

Bottoms: You recognize, Sanjay, that’s a great query. One I feel who I’m carrying heaviest on my coronary heart proper now could be my 18-year-old, as a result of he’s 18 and he very a lot needs to be in the course of every little thing that’s taking place, and I do know that there’s a lot that may go flawed and a lot that we’ve been watching go flawed throughout America.

Gupta: I wish to ask you a few questions on protests within the midst of a pandemic. I imply, we’re really going via one thing that’s unchartered right here. We don’t know the impression that these protests can have on the pandemic itself, the unfold of the virus.

There have been some highly effective moments of solidarity, although, in the course of the protests — individuals got here collectively. They sang. They hugged. They had been strolling hand in hand. These are the pictures lots of people will see.

At a time when so many individuals are hurting like this — are these moments value suspending the bodily distancing mandates?

Bottoms: You recognize, that is simply this convergence of the place we’re globally. Like, I don’t assume we, any of us will see once more in our lifetime. I’m getting a Covid-19 check right this moment as a result of every little thing that we’ve talked about over the previous two months, simply grew to become secondary or has grow to be secondary. So I simply, I, I simply hope that folks will get examined and can keep in mind that we’re actually, we’re nonetheless in the course of a pandemic.

You recognize our communities are sick they usually’re drained they usually’re dying. They’re dying from Covid-19, they’re dying from poverty, they’re dying from police brutality. We’re exploding.

You recognize, these forces seen and unseen, Covid-19 is the one which’s, that’s unseen and police brutality is the one which we are able to see.

Gupta: I do surprise how, how did you navigate the insurance policies relating to the pandemic in Atlanta particularly, which at instances appeared at odds with the governor? The information, for instance, within the state of Georgia didn’t present a 14-day consecutive decline, which was one of many gating standards for reopening issues. As an elected chief, how do you — how do you steadiness that?

Bottoms: On Friday, Governor Kemp referred to as and has requested me what do we’d like in Atlanta and what he can do to assist. And he’s supplied help from the state that we’ve wanted.

And I feel, , once you’re in management, you’ll be able to’t take issues personally. I didn’t like the choices made about Covid-19. And I’m positive the governor didn’t like my response to the choices he made.

But it surely didn’t cease him as a pacesetter from coming to me, asking me how we may assist and the way the state may assist. And I wasn’t too prideful to go to him and say, we’d like your assist.

Gupta: You’re the mom of 4 kids, Mayor, three sons and a daughter. You’re having conversations with them, I’m positive, as many mother and father are with their kids throughout America proper now. I heard you speaking about conversations you’ve had with your personal mom again once you had been a baby. Historic instances again then.

And it appears like these are historic instances as effectively. I really feel like typically you don’t know the way historic one thing is, the time you’re going via it. Does the gravity, does the significance of what’s taking place proper now, has it settled in with you and your loved ones by way of the conversations you’re having?

Bottoms: Now I requested my husband the opposite day, I mentioned: “What’s going to this second in time be referred to as?” And I don’t assume any of us know the reply to that. I simply comprehend it’s one thing extraordinary that we’re witnessing.

And I mentioned it in my remarks a few days in the past: What we’ve seen taking place throughout Atlanta, we didn’t see when Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] was assassinated. And so we all know that that is, that is one thing completely different. And never solely is it taking place throughout America, we’re now seeing it occur throughout the globe.

And the query can be: what would be the distinction on the opposite facet of this second? Will we proceed to see the disruption and all that we’ve been seeing over the previous few days? Or will this really be a revolutionary second? And I take into consideration the phrases of Audre Lorde fairly a bit, “Revolution is just not a one-time occasion.”

Gupta: Do you bear in mind the second once you first heard the information about George Floyd? The place had been you? How did you are feeling once you first heard that information?

Bottoms: Fairly actually, I don’t wish to, I don’t like to look at these moments. And I can let you know, if I weren’t mayor, , I don’t know the way a lot of it I’d soak up. And I feel that’s a coping mechanism as a result of it simply hurts a lot and it makes you so offended and it makes you are feeling so helpless.

Truly, I used to be speaking to one among my children once I watched the video and I used to be speaking to my daughter. She didn’t know what I used to be watching. And it simply — all the sentiments that everyone has it simply — it, it broke me and it … for a second, it was simply watching in disbelief. Like, I do know I’m not seeing what I see.

And I feel for as horrific because it was watching the officer together with his knee on his neck, what was extra disturbing was watching the opposite officer not do something about it.

Gupta: That was horrifying. I imply, I’ll simply say it. I watched it. I couldn’t imagine one human being was doing that to a different human being. I imply, there’s a purpose the phrase human is within the phrase humanity. We didn’t see that in any respect.

Bottoms: Yeah, and I stored trying on the different officer’s face, trying to see one thing, trying to see one thing in his face that confirmed he wished to assist or that he had some concern. However I simply noticed vacancy. The one factor he was involved about was ensuring that the bystanders who had been pleading for Mr. Floyd’s life didn’t get any nearer to intervene together with his homicide.

Gupta: Revolutions aren’t a one-time factor. However do you assume we’re going to be completely different after this, Mayor?

Bottoms: I already know they’re completely different. After I see white law enforcement officials taking a knee with protesters, I already know that there’s a distinction. The ache and the anger and the helplessness, not solely is it being heard, but it surely’s — there, there’s a stage of empathy that we’ve not seen with so many different killings throughout this nation.

And I hate that this man needed to be slaughtered on this approach. However I’d enterprise to say that he’ll go down actually as a martyr. There, there’s a change, and I feel that it’s incumbent upon all of us to articulate what it’s, what’s the tangible consequence we wish from all of this? What’s the level of satisfaction?

And the fact is, this gained’t be the final time that any person is killed by a police officer. However our response must be completely different.

Gupta: Proper. I despatched you a textual content message after Friday’s press convention, and I simply despatched you a easy textual content message, however I’ve to let you know that I watched your remarks a number of instances: rewound, performed, rewound, performed once more.

Did you consider, , these feedback that you simply’re making and the way they might be mirrored via historical past?

Bottoms: After I was carried out talking Friday, I didn’t know what I had mentioned. I needed to come dwelling and watch it. I didn’t know what I, what I mentioned on Friday. And as an elected official and I imply and I’m positive everyone can relate to this, you stand up and you set in your garments and also you go to work and there’s a — you current and you consider what you say and the way you act on this skilled setting.

And what you bought on Friday, all of that was eliminated, not only for me, however for all of us. And there simply occurred to be some cameras that recorded what I felt however I, , I assume it represented what so many individuals are feeling throughout this nation.

Gupta: Yeah, I imply, it touched on quite a lot of various things in a really private approach. I imply, I feel as a pacesetter, as a guardian, as a citizen, as a historic determine, , presently in our historical past, it was highly effective, Mayor.

Whenever you had been eager about how to reply to the protesters, the thought of implementing the regulation and but recognizing that this motion was taking place in America, this motion was taking place in Atlanta. How did you consider the right way to steadiness that in your personal thoughts?

Bottoms: Sanjay, this has been a extremely robust steadiness as a result of I really feel helpless. I really feel offended. I really feel annoyed. However the steadiness to that, I do know that there are women and men who placed on a uniform day by day who love and care about our communities. And who do it for all the correct causes and it’s the overwhelming majority of our law enforcement officials, in our metropolis a minimum of, they do it with a great coronary heart and with good intentions.

However then there’s all the time, , it solely takes one encounter, for it simply to throw all the nice work out the door. And a part of what I mentioned on Friday, once I mentioned, “I can’t shield you” — simply as a human being, I do know that there’s a breaking level for everyone. And all of us have completely different breaking factors, but it surely’s fatigue and it’s frustration and it’s anger, and particularly in Atlanta, we’ve got a various police power.

You recognize, our officers are black males who must take off their uniform after which stroll out the door as a black man in America. In order that they’re feeling all the identical issues we’re feeling, so it’s a, it’s a troublesome balancing act, and I can’t say that I’ve perfected it, however simply making an attempt to be cognizant of all of these sensitivities and simply doing and main with the guts that I’ve as a mom and as a daughter of town who loves this metropolis and every little thing that it represents.

Gupta: It’s a robust steadiness, I think about, Mayor, and I’m simply talking as a citizen right here of the, of the world. And I feel to myself that typically the thought of peacefully protesting, whereas it looks as if an eminently affordable factor to do, if it hasn’t labored — and also you see what occurred in Baltimore, with Freddie Grey; you see the end result of that entire factor — that there’s an injustice that isn’t being addressed within the ways in which it ought to be.

Bottoms: Yeah. And I feel that’s on the place that all of us are. All of us — we perceive it. What simply continues to concern me is that the message and the ache and the damage and the, and the necessity for change goes to get misplaced within the destruction. And I feel for all of us, , there’s going to be a necessity for us to actually examine the civil rights motion. There was a considerate group and plan and consequence that they had been looking for to realize, and what I noticed taking place in Atlanta on Friday was simply chaos.

What was the end result we had been in search of? And even once you see it throughout America, your, , companies are being burned down and destroyed, which is terrible in and of itself. However you’re burning down black companies, too.

In order that’s what I imply about us having to be considerate about what we’re making an attempt to realize and why we’re making an attempt to realize it. So once you burn down the nook retailer, you’re burning down the 10 jobs that go together with it.

And the overwhelming majority of those companies make use of individuals from within the group. That’s the half we’re not being considerate about.

Gupta: Mayor, I’m curious, once you mirror by yourself life, and I’ve heard your story, you’ve been very candid about your personal background and the way you had been raised. I’m questioning once you look again in your life, are there particular issues that you simply assume helped put together you for this second?

Bottoms: You recognize, I typically say that I stand on generational prayers. And I’d typically ask my grandparents simply to repeat their tales to me again and again. Simply this pure curiosity I’ve all the time had about my household’s historical past and my grandmother’s grandparents had been slaves in Crawfordsville, Georgia.

And in some unspecified time in the future throughout Reconstruction, I’ve heard that my grandmother’s grandfather served in Congress, they usually’ve all the time owned small companies and ultimately migrated to Atlanta. And on my dad’s facet, they… my dad was born on a sharecropper’s farm in Mississippi, and as a part of the Nice Migration moved to Chicago. And my dad grew to become a really well-known entertainer. Who, and I say this on a regular basis, is an effective man who typically made unhealthy choices and my dad went to jail, and every little thing about my life modified in that second.

And every little thing that I assumed was stable and true disappeared within the blink of a watch. And I feel that’s why I’ve, I’ve so many sensitivities associated to our, simply our struggles as an African-American group, as a result of I do know every day, our group is full of people that stand up and wish to do higher, they usually wish to get it proper they usually don’t ever cease making an attempt. And this life simply journeys us up again and again.

However all of those experiences and this legacy of my household in America, I carry with me and I stand on that.

Gupta: Yeah. I’ve lined quite a lot of tales all over the world, Mayor, , conflicts and pure disasters, and I all the time say once I come dwelling and I’m speaking to my spouse and my children, there are particular issues that I discover much more horrifying than others, and one of many issues that I put on the high of the record is when there’s quite a lot of despair.

When individuals are beginning to really feel determined as a result of it turns into very arduous then, to begin with, you are feeling for these people who find themselves feeling determined. There’s a sure empathy that we are able to’t — that you’ve as a human being.

However the different a part of it’s that issues grow to be unpredictable. We don’t know the way issues are going to play out. We don’t know the way individuals are essentially going to behave when there’s quite a lot of despair within the atmosphere. How are you feeling concerning the future proper now?

We’re within the midst of what’s taking place with these protests and this pandemic — what would you want to depart individuals with?

Bottoms: We’ve to have hope. We’ve to imagine that issues will get higher. If my grandmother’s grandparents, who had been slaves, who’ve seen the file of their worth — $1,500 for Shepherd Peek. If he had not believed that there was one thing higher on the opposite facet of him, he would have given up and died in a cotton discipline in Crawfordville, Georgia.

However even within the midst of no matter it was and all that he confronted as a slave, he believed there was one thing higher for him and for his kids and for his kids’s kids. And there’s a line from Maya Angelou in one among her poems, and she or he says, “I’m the hope of the slave.”

And that’s who we’ve got to imagine that we’re, that we’re this era of people that — so many individuals, whether or not it was the slave commerce within the Center Passage, and individuals who survived the Holocaust or any variety of hardships all through historical past, that there have been individuals who mentioned, “I’ve acquired to make it for my kids and my kids’s kids.” And that’s the place we’re, I imagine, on this second in time.

We’ve acquired a saying — in the identical approach that Dr. King and Pastor [Ed] Younger and C.T. Vivian and so many others mentioned, “I’ll not get to the mountaintop with you. However this simply ain’t about me, it’s concerning the future and it’s about what’s going to be higher for all of us.”

Gupta: Your phrases are highly effective. I imply, you typically, you make it look simple. And I do surprise for those who — and also you don’t must reply this — however do you break down ever?

I imply, you appear so robust. You speak about your mom sobbing. When she referred to as, you hadn’t seen her sob, apart from when there had been a loss within the household. How about you?

Bottoms: Not typically. Not, not typically. I … it’s not that I don’t really feel the feelings. I … You noticed that Friday. However, , there may be this supernatural power that I do know comes nothing however from the grace of God. I imply I’m drained, I’m irritable, I’m cranky. At the same time as we converse. However, , that is no time to be weary.

Gupta: Nicely, Mayor, thanks. I do know you’ve inspired protesters to exit and get examined this week, proper?

That’s one of many specifics that you simply’re recommending in by way of making an attempt to curb this pandemic within the midst of those protests. Is that testing going to be out there for individuals?

Bottoms: Yeah. I imagine it’s Denver who’s carried out a really coordinated effort to arrange testing websites for individuals who have been engaged in protest. So once I get a break this morning, I’m going to circle again with my workforce and see if we are able to’t do the identical factor in Atlanta.

Gupta: Nicely, Mayor, I hope we get to speak typically.

Bottoms: Any time, it’s my pleasure and thanks a lot. I’m so, so grateful for you.

Gupta: Yup. We’re all on this collectively. We actually are. So thanks.

Bottoms: All proper. Thanks. Have a great one.

Gupta: I’ve quite a lot of respect for the mayor — and I’m proud to be one among her residents. That was a dialog I gained’t quickly overlook.

We’ll be again tomorrow. Thanks for listening.

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