Jun 8, 2020

Axios AM

🎬 Tonight on "Axios on HBO," at 11 p.m. ET/PT ... In a personal and at times raw interview, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tells Alexi McCammond that she fears for her own kids' safety — in her own city. See a clip.

  • Rep. Val Demings gives a blunt answer about being Joe Biden's running mate. See a clip.
  • Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry tells Margaret Talev about "holy rage."
  • Rep. James Clyburn, on how he felt watching video of George Floyd’s killing.
  • Plus, Columbia's Robert Fullilove talks to Dion Rabouin about the health effects of racism.

🗞️ Situational awareness: After the botched handling of an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton, New York Times editorial-page editor James Bennet resigned; deputy editorial page editor Jim Dao was demoted to the newsroom; and Katie Kingsbury, who was No. 3 in Times Opinion, will be acting editorial-page editor through November's election.

1 big thing: More black officers, yet killings persist
Data: Census Bureau. Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Over 15% of US. law enforcement is black — just above the African American share of the population, about 13%. But there's no hard evidence that improving diversity alone leads to fewer deadly interactions with the police, Axios' Courtenay Brown and Stef Kight write.

  • Why it matters: Like other changes intended to end police brutality, such as better training and changes to the law, representative police forces are just one step, criminal justice reform advocates say.

Local police forces can be overwhelmingly more white than the communities they serve — notably, in some places where there have been high-profile cases of police brutality.

  • In Baton Rouge, where Alton Sterling was shot dead by two white officers in 2016, half of the city's population is black, but black cops make up just 33% of its police force, according to 2018 census data cited by The Advocate.

The first permanent black police chief in Ferguson, Mo., where Michael Brown was fatally shot in 2014, was Delrish Moss, who took over in 2016. He tells Axios that it's important for black police officers to be prominent in black communities, so there's a cultural understanding of the people it's policing — but that other factors are also important in improving policing.

  • "The message sent down from the top of the department is very critical, saying you won't tolerate certain things," says Moss, who now works as Florida International University's police captain.
  • When he arrived, the Ferguson police department was largely white in a city that was 70% black, Moss says. Now, the department has 21 black officers — up from four when Brown was killed, the N.Y. Times reports.

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2. "Defund police" gains momentum

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is shouted out of a demonstration on Saturday. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

In the most dramatic sign yet of protesters' sudden push to defund police, nine of 13 Minneapolis City Council members told a crowd that they will "begin the process of ending the Minneapolis Police Department," the Star Tribune reports.

  • "Their words — delivered one day after Mayor Jacob Frey told a crowd of protesters he does not support the full abolishment of the MPD — set off what is likely to be a long, complicated debate."

The context: Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza told "Meet the Press" that calls to "defund the police" aren't about eliminating police departments, but about reinvesting funds toward "the resources that our communities need."

  • Why it matters: Some activists say the only solution to fixing systemic issues in law enforcement is to defund and dramatically scale back police forces nationwide. But some Republicans, including President Trump, have seized on the politically charged slogan to paint Democrats as radicals.
  • Video.

Go deeper: Some call for fewer police, even as streets erupt.

3. Mitt Romney: "Black Lives Matter"
Photo via Reuters

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah marched yesterday in support of Black Lives Matter, making him the first Republican senator known to do so.

  • "We need a voice against racism, we need many voices against racism and against brutality," Romney told NBC News. "We need to stand up and say, 'Black lives matter.'"

On Saturday, Romney tweeted a photo of his father, George, who was the governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, marching with civil rights protesters in the 1960s in a Detroit suburb, AP reports.

  • Above the photo, Mitt Romney wrote: "This is my father, George Romney, participating in a Civil Rights march in the Detroit suburbs during the late 1960s — "Force alone will not eliminate riots," he said. "We must eliminate the problems from which they stem."
4. Pics du jour
Photo Ben Birchall/PA via AP

During a Black Lives Matter rally in Bristol, England, protesters yesterday toppled a bronze statue of slave trader Edward Colston that had stood for 125 years, then hurled it into the harbor where his ships had once imported Africans.

  • The context: It's a sign of global solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
Photo: Maya Alleruzzo

Activists added "DEFUND THE POLICE" to the yellow "BLACK LIVES MATTER" letters on 16th St. NW just outside St. John's Church, near the White House.

5. Civil rights leaders call for more diverse oil and gas industry

Illustration: AĂŻda Amer/Axios

America’s leading civil rights leaders are calling on the oil and gas industry — dominated by white men — to hire more women and people of color, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" column.

  • Why it matters: The effort, led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and National Urban League President Marc Morial, has been underway for weeks, though the topic has taken on a new urgency in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

By the numbers: The share of African Americans working in the sector in 2015 was 6.7% — compared to 12.3% of the overall U.S. workforce.

6. D.C. shows virus disparity
Data: D.C. Government and Census Bureau; Graphic: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Low-income, majority-black neighborhoods in D.C. are getting hit hardest by the coronavirus — a reflection of racial and socioeconomic trends that have sparked mass protests only miles from these neighborhoods, writes Axios Vitals author Caitlin Owens.

  • The big picture: The virus's racial disparities around the country are a result of longstanding inequities in health, housing, employment, income and other aspects of society.

Go deeper: Our Deep Dive on systemic racial inequality and the effects of the pandemic.

7. Data du jour

Graphic: NBC's "Meet the Press"

80% of voters believe that things are generally out of control in the U.S., according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, including 92% of Democrats, 78% of independents and even 66% of Republicans. (NBC's Mark Murray)

8. Airbnb sees surge in summer demand

An Airbnb in FlorianĂłpolis, Brazil. Photo: Airbnb

"Antsy city dwellers seeking to escape their Covid-19 refuges are road-tripping to nearby vacation rentals in surprisingly strong numbers, showing the first signs of life for an industry that essentially ground to a halt in March," Bloomberg's Olivia Carville reports.

  • "Airbnb saw more nights booked for U.S. listings between May 17 and June 3 than the same period in 2019, and a similar boost in domestic travel globally."

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said: "People, after having been stuck in their homes for a few months, do want to get out of their houses. ... But they don’t necessarily want to get on an airplane and are not yet comfortable leaving their countries."

9. Last Civil War pensioner dies

Irene Triplett in 2018. Photo: Accordius Health of North Carolina via The Washington Post

"Irene Triplett, the last person receiving a pension from the Civil War, has died at the age of 90," the Wall Street Journal's Michael M. Phillips writes.

  • "Triplett’s father, Mose Triplett, started fighting in the war for the Confederacy, but defected to the North in 1863. That decision earned his daughter Irene, the product of a late-in-life marriage to a woman almost 50 years his junior, a pension of $73.13 a month from the Department of Veterans Affairs."
  • "Pvt. Triplett died in 1938 at age 92, days after attending a reunion of Civil War veterans, attended by President Franklin Roosevelt, on the fields of Gettysburg."
10. 1 smile to go: Rocky Mountain high

Forrest Fenn, an 89-year-old author and art dealer, announced yesterday that a treasure chest containing over $1 million in valuables that he hid in the Rocky Mountains a decade ago has been found, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican's Danielle Prokop.

  • He did not say who found it or provide a photo of the treasure, which at least five people have died trying to find via clues online and in his memoir.

But he's faced lawsuits and criticism from people who believe the treasure was found years ago — or simply never existed.

  • "I think his announcement is at least a few years, and a few lives, too late. But he has to live with that. I believe this was over much earlier than today," treasure hunter Seth Wallack told the New Mexican.

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