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Andrew Brown Jr.'s Family, D.A. Offer Different Accounts of His Car's Movement During the Fatal Police Shooting; Navalny Appears in Court for First Time since Ending Hunger Strike; Biden Pushing for Paid Family Leave as Part of $1.8 Trillion Bill. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 29, 2021 - 10:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: In Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the family of Andrew Brown Jr. and the local district attorney at odds over what led to the fatal police shooting of Brown last week. After the family was allowed to watch a 20-second clip, video clip from body cam footage of the incident, Brown's family and their attorney said that he was trying to drive away to save his life from gunfire. But the local D.A. says officers fired when the car Brown was driving actually went toward them.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So, a judge ruled yesterday that the family can view a little bit more of the footage but denied the media request to make that footage public for at least 30 days. North Carolina's Attorney General Josh Stein tells CNN that North Carolina's law is backward when it comes to releasing video or not. Listen.


JOSH STEIN (D), NORTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY GENERAL: The reason we have video is so that we can know what happened, whether the person was in the wrong or the police was in the wrong or nobody was in the wrong. That's what we have to find out and the video will tell us that. And transparency is critical.


HARLOW: of course, he said it's critical. He said he believes it's imperative that the Brown family see the videos, everything as quickly as possible.

With us now W. Kamau Bell, he is host of United Shades of America. And they do begin their newest season this weekend, that's on Sunday night.

Kamau, we're going to get to clips so people can see. But I want you to weigh in on the real lack of transparency and answers here for the public in North Carolina compared to what we've seen in terms of at least transparency in the tragedies and the shootings of Ma'Khia Bryant in Ohio and then Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST: Well, what it feels like as if the police in Elizabeth City don't want to have happen -- don't want to happen where they are what is happening around the world and around the country, is that police are now being held accountable. And the public is able to put pressure on the police department to hold themselves accountable and for the justice system to hold them accountable. It feels like they're trying to delay that.

And, you know, we talk about this in the episode. This is why we need to look at fundamentally how we do policing in America because police often seem like instead of trying to pursue justice, they're trying to protect their own power.

SCIUTTO: So this weekend in the season premiere of a new series of United Shades of America, you went home. You went to your home city of Oakland to look at this broader issue of police brutality in America, the toll it takes on communities of color. I want to play a short clip of it so our viewers can see it and then get your thoughts on what you found there. Have a listen.


BELL: Is this moment different as far as like where we are in America and specifically around law enforcement?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, it's just this moment of being a black man in a police uniform, right? And there are some problems, systemic problems that's been in policing for a very long time that you know need to be rooted out. And so you sit in this place where you're like, do I fit in, right? Sometimes I even ask the question, do I fit in? I'm a black man before I put on a uniform.

BELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm one when I take it off.

BELL: And even when you've got it on.



SCIUTTO: So the argument you heard there is that this is not an isolated problem or a collection of isolated issues, that it's part of a broader issue, a systemic issue. Tell us why they believe that and what you found.

BELL: I mean, I think wouldn't we -- you know, we filmed that last October, I believe. I'm asking is this moment different? We're still asking ourselves is this moment different? And I think that's because there are continually more and more specifically black men who end up dead at the hands of police officers and black women, I'm talking about Ma'Khia Bryant too, end up dead under circumstances that don't make sense to the black community and the greater community.

And so I think the fact is we keep asking ourselves, is this most different? And what a lot of the activists, academics and organizers talk about in the show is that the moment won't be different until we change the system of policing in this country.

HARLOW: What do you want people to walk away from this, Kamau Bell? Because you tell this story as black man in America about what is happening in race across America. What do you want people to walk away with?


BELL: Well, I tell it as a black man in America who is also nervous by the fact that he's talking, so (INAUDIBLE) about policing, if I can be honest with you.

HARLOW: Really?

BELL: Yes, of course. We are very clear about what we think is wrong or what I think is wrong. And, you know, I'm still got to leave my house and be a black man in America.

HARLOW: Yes, of course.

BELL: So, at the very least, what I want people to walk away with is an understanding of what the police movement is so if you hear it, you'll be able to talk about it intelligently instead of just being afraid of the hashtag.

SCIUTTO: That's a great point. Well, we'll see if there is progress on the Hill to address some of this.

W. Kamau Bell, thanks so much. I can tell you folks at home, you really do want to tune into the all new soon of United Shades of America with W.Kamau Bell. It premieres this is Sunday at 10:00 only on CNN.

Well, Kremlin critic and Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny appears in court soon after ending a hunger strike, describing himself as an awful skeleton. See what's happened to him during his incarceration, the details just ahead.



HARLOW: Well, Kremlin critic and activist Alexei Navalny appeared in court today for the first time since ending his hunger strike. He labeled the judge and the prosecutors traitors while blasting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, the reason he's in a penal colony is simply for challenging the Kremlin.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen joins us now from Moscow.

Fred, I mean, legal process influenced by politics there, to say the least, but what can you tell us about this hearing and what the next steps are?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, I mean, to say the least, yes. It look very much as though it was influenced. I think one of the main things that we can today was it was the first time that we've seen Alexei Navalny since he ended that hunger strike that he was on for several weeks, and certainly seeing him there. He did look still at least, as far as his body was concerned, fairly weak. We just saw some of the images of his head shaved. He was in that uniform that they use in that prison colony.

Also, we have since confirmed that he is actually on the tuberculosis ward of that prison colony. Of course, he has major health issues as well. And some of the things that he said in that trial, he says he currently only weighs about 140 pounds. This is a man that is 6'4. And he says he lost more than 40 pounds since he came back here to Russia. And, obviously, he has been on that hunger strike. And get this, since he's eating about five tablespoons of porridge a day currently.

He did have a short moment in the courtroom, though a personal moment. His wife was in the courtroom. He was via video link. He asked her to stand up so they could have a look at each other. That is one of the better moments in that trial. And then he absolutely ripped into Russian President Vladimir Putin.

I want to read a quote of what he said. He said, quote, you are all traitors and you and the naked king, referring to Vladimir Putin, are implementing a plan to seize Russia and the Russians should be turned into slaves. They're wealth will be taken from them. They will be deprived of any prospects, you have implemented that plan. No matter how hard you try, he went on to say, to steal the victory, you will not succeed.

And those are pretty bold things to say sitting in a prison colony and obviously in a state like Russia is. And not to anyone's surprise, guys, his appeal was rejected by that court and the original verdict was upheld, which was a slander case against the World War II veteran. Guys?

HARLOW: And, I mean, Fred, at the same time, as all of this is going on, Vladimir Putin is continuing to put the pressure on Navalny. What is the Russian government doing to him right now?

PLEITGEN: Well -- and I think you make a very good point, Poppy. And I think that one things that we're seeing is that despite all this, Alexei Navalny, despite being in that prison colony, he still is really trying to stand tall. And there is a lot of pressure on him, a lot of pressure on his organization. He is currently in jail.

Right now on this very day, there was also a trial going on that's going to continue later this month about trying to clear his organization into an extremist organization. It's already been ordered to suspend all of its operations. And then, get this, there is another criminal case that Alexei Navalny's organization learned about today against Alexei Navalny and two of his associates, which apparently had been opened in February but they just learned about today. So you can see it's almost like lead falling on Alexei Navalny's organization, as at the same time as we saw today despite his body being fairly frail or seeming that way, he still seems to stand pretty tall in -- by that video link in that courtroom, guys.


HARLOW: Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much for that reporting from Moscow.

Ahead, President Biden is pushing for 12 weeks of paid family leave. This is part of his American families plan. Someone who has been pushing Congress for a long time for paid parental leave, Reddit co- Founder Alexis Ohanian is here.



SCIUTTO: President Biden is going big right now, $1.8 trillion big on a new bill to reshape the lives of American working families, a plan that would include paid family leave, something my next guest has been pushing Congress for for years, this after learning the U.S. is the only industrialized country that does not mandate it.

And after he became a dad, Alexis Ohanian loves his daughter and he loves all of the time he had off of work to be with her after his wife gave birth. Just check out his Instagram back then. He writes, dad life is the greatest. And then there is this one, out of office, this is parental leave life. She is clearly dreaming of all the startups she'll start and grand slams she'll win. That, of course, a nod to his powerhouse, power mom wife, Serena Williams.

Alexis Ohanian is the founder of 776 and co-Founder of Reddit. Thank you for being with me.

ALEXIS OHANIAN, CO-FOUNDER, REDDIT: Thank you. Thank you for having me Poppy. I'm very excited to be here talking about this.

HARLOW: I remember a few years ago, you wrote in The New York Times this piece making the push for it. And the first line was this, when I was born in 1983, my father took a single day off work. He used a vacation day, mine too. My dad, I think, took an afternoon off work in '82 when I was born, my mom tells me. But it was a different time and it was not accepted then. And now it's -- now it's different. My husband took three months off when our son, Luca, was born. But you guys are the rarity.


I mean, that's the thing though, you love it and I love it but we are the rarity.

Before we get into policy, can you explain personally why it mattered that you were there? OHANIAN: Yes. Well, look, you know, candidly at the time, I was dog fooding our company policy at Reddit. Our V.P. people in culture, Katelin Holloway, had crafted this great paid family leave plan and I told her, look, send me down with one of the folks on your team. I want to use this like any other employee. You know, I set up my plan and I did it. And I really didn't think that much of it.

And then, you know, my wife and daughter had some pretty serious complication there during childbirth and emergency C-section and, you know, Serena was laid up for about the first month. And a lot of those childcare taking duties fell on me. And, you know, the first -- certainly, first few days in the hospital were traumatizing and that first month was definitely -- it was intense. But the whole time I kept thinking, I have every advantage imaginable. We have so much going for us. We're so fortunate. And yet this is still such an intense and stressful experience.

I could not imagine someone being in this situation, especially a father, especially of a first child, having to decide between their family and their career because there is no way you would have pulled me out of that hospital. There is no way you would have pulled me away from the home, like no chance, I would have gotten fired. But I was founder and that wasn't going to happen.

But I realized every American deserve this right, deserve this is opportunity, especially if we believe that the family is corner stone of society, which it is. And it's been great in the last few years to see more and more momentum. And now, hearing the president talk about it, it's pretty exciting.

HARLOW: There is a lot of research that shows what it means beyond those first few months with your baby. Can you talk about the science behind being an equal caregiver to your child in those first three months or longer -- as much as you can be? I understand you can't breast-feed your baby, but you know what I mean, and like what that does. And it helps close the wage gap for women.

OHANIAN: Oh, yes. And then, like let's talk about this on a few levels, right? We have -- there is the health benefits, not just for the child but also the mother, right, because it's more emotional support, it's more physical support, it's more just chance to rest. There is so many factors that show that especially fathers taking paternity leave, but just in general paid family leave increases the health outcomes for all involved, which saves money economically, but then also increases productivity when we are back at work.

And I think for men in particular, one of the reasons why this is so important is you're getting opportunity not just to ensure the health and well-being of your family, which is most important, but also you're able to do better work when you are back in the office, because this idea of like a work life and a home life being separate is a total farce. I think we all -- anyone who still believes that after now the pandemic knows these things bleed into one another. And more often than not, as was exposed during the pandemic, household responsibilities, family care responsibilities, more often than not tend to weigh on moms than dads. And, look, it's not to say that, you know, I'm not going to prescribe what is right for every couple, but every couple should have the opportunity to find that balance for

themselves and what works for them. And having an equal paid family policy is what's going to help us get there.

HARLOW: Paid family is the key, not just for fathers, but for same- sex couples, this applies partners up for adoption, across the board. But it comes at a big price tag, Alexis. What the president proposed last night is $225 billion over a decade to give 12 weeks of paid leave to every working American.

At Reddit, you guys paid for -- as a company, you pay for it. At CNN, they pay for it. We're lucky. Where do you fall on this? Should the taxpayer bear that burden? Should the taxpayer pay that bill or should companies have to pay bill?

OHANIAN: Well, so right now, there are a lot of progressive companies and my new fund, 776, also has 16-week paid leave policy. But I do think, you know, we have seen time and time again government play a role in providing a kind of floor of sort of decency, of morality, of civility for every American.

And I think when you look at the fact that one in four American women is back to work after giving birth ten days afterwards, and this includes women that have C-sections, right, the idea that these women are exposing themselves to, you know, the intense reality of being back at work so soon after, you know, giving birth is problematic for everyone involved, right?

We talked about the increased health care risks and costs and doing so. We talk about the fact that if we can set up families for success, this will pay itself back, not just in health care savings but also in increased efficiency and effectiveness of our workforce.


And so I do think this is an area where this will pay for itself in the long run. And, I mean, the fact that we're the last developed country to get onboard with this is just one more example why, you know, this is absolutely aligned with having a prospering economy.

HARLOW: Alexis, thank you. Thanks for standing up for a lot of us.

OHANIAN: I'll tell you, it's one of the easiest things I could be advocating for, because it's just right.

HARLOW: We got to go. We're up against a commercial. But thank you. We'll talk again.

And thanks to all of you for joining us today. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts right after this short break.