May 31, 2020
Atlanta Mayor Bottoms Interview Transcript: Trump Should “Stop Talking”
Jake Tapper: (00:31)
Mayor Bottoms joins me now. Thanks so much for joining us, Mayor Bottoms. On Friday night, you talked about a lot of things, including raising four black children in America today. How do you talk to your kids about what we’ve seen this week?
Keisha Lance Bottoms: (00:45)
It’s difficult, Jake. My kids have so many emotions, like so many of us have. It ranges from anger to fear. And the thing that I tell my children is what I have to remind myself is that we’re better than this. And this country has faced the ugliness of racism for over 400 years. But what I know is that as a people and as a country, we can do better. We will do better. And, I’m reminded of the words of Audre Lorde, “Revolution is not a one-time event.” And so I appreciate it, what Melvin just said. We’re asking for peace, not patients.
Jake Tapper: (01:35)
President Trump has been tweeting about the violent protests across the country. He vowed to step in and use “the unlimited power of our military.” And he suggested the local officials should “get tough and fight.” He’s also talked about threatening, the most vicious dogs and most ominous weapons I have ever seen to use against protestors in Washington, D.C. What do you make of the way the president has handled this crisis?
Keisha Lance Bottoms: (02:00)
He should just stop talking. This is like Charlottesville all over again. He speaks and he makes it worse. There are times when you should just be quiet and I wish that he would just be quiet. Or if he can’t be silent, if there’s somebody of good sense and good conscience in the White House, put him in front of a teleprompter and pray that he reads it and at least says the right things. Because he is making it worse.
Jake Tapper: (02:31)
You pointed out that more than half of the business owners in Metro Atlanta are not white, saying, “When you burn this city down, you’re burning down our community.” A rapper and activist, Killer Mike was with you on Friday. I want to play a little bit of what he said as well.
Killer Mike: (02:46)
We don’t want to see targets burning. We want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism burnt to the ground.
Jake Tapper: (02:57)
When you see these protests turn into vandalism of businesses, many of them owned by blacks or other minorities, what goes through your mind?
Keisha Lance Bottoms: (03:08)
What goes through my mind is what I thought yesterday. We weren’t talking about George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery, or Breonna Taylor. We were talking about police cars burning in our street. And what happens when we have these violent protests and uprisings in our city, we get distracted from what the real issue is and we need to get back to what the problem is, and that’s the killing of unarmed black people in America. And there is a history lesson that we find right here in Atlanta from the civil rights movement on how you effectuate change. And what I saw happening and what we’ve seen happening over the past few days in America is not the way that things will change in this country.
Jake Tapper: (04:01)
All of this of course is happening while we’re in the middle of a pandemic with the economic hardship, and then obviously, people gathering in large groups. You encouraged protesters to go get a coronavirus test last night. How worried are you that these protests could be serving as a way that the virus spreads and what might that mean for Atlanta and two, four, six weeks?
Keisha Lance Bottoms: (04:25)
Well, it’s interesting, Jake, yesterday around 11:30 last night, I realized that I hadn’t looked at our coronavirus numbers in two days. And that’s frightening because it’s a pandemic and people of color are getting hit harder. I am extremely concerned when we are seeing mass gatherings, and we know what’s already happening in our community with this virus, that we’re going to see the other side of this in a couple of weeks.
Keisha Lance Bottoms: (04:56)
And so again, we are losing sight of so many things right now, losing sight of the fact that there has to be change in this country as it relates to race relations in this country. There has to be change in this country when it comes to leadership in this country. There has to be change as it relates to our healthcare system and how our communities of color are receiving healthcare in this country. But right now, we’re talking about cars being burned and businesses being vandalized and there’s still so many issues that are right before us that we’ve lost sight of.