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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Interview With Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo; Climber Found Dead on Oregon's Mount Hood; Racism in America
Aired December 18, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. Thanks for joining us tonight.
There is important news coming in to CNN all the time. Tonight, we are choosing these top stories for a more in-depth look.
On the "Top Story" of the day: lost on the mountain. The search going on right now for climbers missing on Oregon's Mount Hood -- plus, some new clues about the challenge those climbers faced on the stormy slopes of that mountain.
Also, our continuing look at racism in America -- tonight, the Colorado congressman who caused an uproar recently by comparing Miami to a Third World country. I will ask him just what he meant by that.
Plus, the "Top Story" in health tonight: sleep paralysis -- new insights into a frightening disorder millions of us suffer from. Find out why your body won't react to threats your mind is convinced are real.
Our "Top Story" tonight is the increasingly grim search for two climbers missing on Oregon's Mount Hood. Within the past hour, we learned that the body of a third climber, Kelly James, has just been brought down from the mountain. It has now been 10 days since the men ran into trouble. A series of storms, some of them packing snow and 100 mile-per-hour winds kept searchers from reaching their location until now.
And Dan Simon is following the search. And he joins us with the very latest tonight -- Dan.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, the first part of the mission today was completed. And that was recovering the body of Kelly James.
The second part, searching for the remaining two climbers, is still ongoing.
SIMON (voice-over): After a week of storms, the weather on top of Mount Hood cleared up, and continues to look good. And, today, the mountain began giving up some of its secrets.
JOE WAMPLER, HOOD RIVER COUNTY, OREGON, SHERIFF: That they actually summited. SIMON: The three climbers reached the mountaintop on Friday, December 8. But, because of bad weather, they immediately ran into trouble when they tried to come down.
WAMPLER: They broke off the east side of the mountain. All three together dropped down about 300 feet straight above the Newton Clark Glacier, about -- about 300 feet below the summit, dug a cave that probably housed all three of them on the Friday night.
SIMON: A body discovered in that cave yesterday is that of 48- year-old Kelly James of Dallas, Texas.
FRANK JAMES, BROTHER OF KELLY JAMES: They did provide me with a number of details about the climber that was found in the cave. In particular, they identified a ring with my brother's initials on it.
SIMON: The two other climbers apparently left the snow cave on Saturday, December 9. After backtracking along the summit, they dug a second shelter into the side of a steep slope. Searchers discovered climbing tools there, along with empty slings anchored to the snow and ice. Rescuers now fear both climbers may have fallen.
WAMPLER: It's a 60 percent, 2,500-foot fall there. Historically, we have had a lot of problems in this area, if there's -- in the event of a fall. And that's really what we're looking at today.
SIMON: As the search continued on the 11,000-foot mountain, it was cloudy and gloomy at the base camp, where families of the missing climbers came to thank the rescue teams.
ANGELA HALL, SISTER OF BRIAN HALL: We sincerely appreciate the efforts and the perseverance to attack that mountain again, on behalf of the rescue workers who are attempting to bring our other two loved ones home to us.
MICHAELA COOKE, WIFE OF JERRY "NIKKO" COOKE: Kelly, Brian and Nikko shared a passion and reverence for climbing. And the bond forged between them will last throughout eternity.
SIMON: Authorities confirmed that they are scaling back the resources devoted to the search tomorrow, which, Paula, unfortunately, suggests that optimism for finding those other two climbers alive is fading -- back to you.
ZAHN: So, help us better understand, Dan, what the searchers think might have happened to the other two climbers.
SIMON: Well, one of the operating theories is that, when they were trying to descend the mountain, they may have fallen and gotten buried in the snow. Obviously, if that happened, there is no way they could have survived.
And, Paula, we're also getting a better understanding tonight as to why Kelly James was alone in that snow cave. It turns out he had a broken arm. So, that suggests that he was unable to go with those other two. He was left alone in that snow cave. And they attempted to go get some help -- back to you.
ZAHN: How sad.
Dan Simon, thanks.
We should probably everybody that Mount Hood is the highest mountain in Oregon. At 11,235 feet, the summit is more than two miles above sea level. Now, while there are literally dozens of taller mountains in the U.S., Mount Hood is the second most climbed mountain in the world, after Japan's Mount Fuji. It's named after British Admiral Lord Samuel Hood, because explorers from the British Navy were the first Europeans to see it, way back in 1792.
The most popular time to climb it is between May and mid-July. But climbing is allowed all year-round. Specialized members of the U.S. military are helping out in the search tonight, including staff sergeant Joshua Johnston and Captain Chris Bernard of the Air Force Reserve's 314th Rescue Squadron.
Thank you so much for joining us.
Captain Bernard, at the news conference today, we heard the sheriff mention you may start an avalanche-type search soon. What exactly does that entail?
CAPTAIN CHRIS BERNARD, 304TH RESCUE SQUADRON, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE: You have to repeat that again. Something about an avalanche? I didn't hear.
ZAHN: That -- an avalanche-type search, what -- what does that involve?
BERNARD: An avalanche-type search.
I think what he's referring to is that they can do some searching on the ground, you know, outside of any avalanche areas.
ZAHN: Staff Sergeant Johnston, we just heard our reporter in the field saying that some of the optimism seems to be crushed at the moment. How hopeful are you, as you carry on in the search for these two other climbers?
STAFF SERGEANT JOSHUA JOHNSTON, U.S. AIR FORCE RESERVE: I'm quite hopeful. We're just -- we're going to scale back to standby mode. We're going to regroup. And I still have hope.
ZAHN: And what does standby mode mean? How many people will be involved?
JOHNSTON: That's to be determined. They're going through a meeting right now. And we're going to figure out exactly how many personnel are going to participate tomorrow.
ZAHN: Now, Captain Bernard, I think the...
BERNARD: Presently, right now...
ZAHN: Oh, please, carry on.
Yes, I was just going to say, presently, right now, we're working for the county sheriff. And they're evaluating the information that the pararescue men found up there today, in -- in terms of the situation, any additional information. And the county sheriff then will advise us what -- where he needs us to posture for further activities.
ZAHN: And, Captain Bernard, I understand you're bracing for another storm. So, what kind of a window do you have this turn -- this time for this phase of the search?
BERNARD: Probably right up to that storm is our window.
As you saw last week, with the storm, it really brings in the weather and the wind. And neither man nor machine can penetrate that storm at those altitudes, usually above 7,000. And that's -- that's where our victims are likely to be.
ZAHN: So, both of you can chime in on this one. What, then, are the biggest challenges you will face as you try to -- to beat the clock with this latest storm?
JOHNSTON: I would say, just the biggest challenges are every one of us being prepared and being more -- more rested than -- than anything, just -- and the weather. The same challenges that -- that are always on the mountain.
ZAHN: Those -- and those conditions, Captain Bernard, must be so darned frustrating for so many of you who have been working around the clock for many days now.
Many people have been working since last Sunday. I, myself, started last Monday. It has been frustrating, especially those first -- first four or five days, when we -- we just couldn't penetrate the area that we thought they were at.
And, fortunately, we did have the break on Saturday, and covered a lot of ground. That's when we made our discovery. And, today, you know, we prosecuted the mission to recover the body. And we continued with the search, also.
ZAHN: Well, we appreciate both of your taking time at this critical time of the search to talk with us tonight.
Staff Sergeant Johnston, Captain Bernard, again, thanks. We're going to move on to our special coverage of racism in America now. Coming up next, I am going to ask a white congressman why he compared Miami, Florida, to a Third World country.
And we're going to hear what Miami residents think of him.
And, then, a little bit later on, the mayor of a Texas town responds to critics who say black people aren't welcome, especially after dark.
ZAHN: Tonight, we're also following a "Top Story" in health. In a little bit, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the latest on a sleep disorder that leaves millions of people literally paralyzed with fear.
But, first, if you have been watching our show lately, you know we have been doing a lot of special coverage on racism in America. And it started with comedian Michael Richards' profanity-filled rant aimed at African-Americans.
And that incident brought an awful lot of feelings out into the open about racism in America. Our coverage is generating an overwhelming response from all of you out there. So, we're staying on the story and broadening it.
So, tonight, there is a new controversy involving a white congressman who says Miami, Florida, resembles a Third World country.
Before we talk with him, our John Zarrella has some background for you.
ENRIQUE SANTOS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Whoa, whoa, whoa, broadcasting with that type of English? (SPEAKING SPANISH)
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Enrique Santos doesn't sugarcoat how he feels about Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo.
SANTOS: The real problem is people like him that -- that -- and they're racist. He's a bigot.
Miami-Dade County. Broward (SPEAKING SPANISH)
ZARRELLA: Santos and Joe Ferrero are the irreverent hosts of a Spanish-language radio show in Miami.
SANTOS: How we feel of him coming to the Third World country called -- that he so-calls Miami.
ZARRELLA: Since last month, when Tancredo, a California Congressman and outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, likened Miami to a Third World country, the radio hosts have blasted him, and defended Miami's salsa flavor. (MUSIC)
SANTOS: We may come from Third World countries, but we built this city of what it is. Our grandparents have...
JOE FERRERO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST (singing): We built this city on rock 'n' roll
SANTOS: We built the city on not rock 'n' roll in this case, but on (SPEAKING SPANISH) and (SPEAKING SPANISH). And we're proud of it, damn it.
ZARRELLA: Tancredo's remarks had Florida's Republican governor steamed, too.
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: What a nut. I'm just disappointed. First of all, you know, from a -- he's -- he's from my own party.
ZARRELLA: But it didn't end there. Now the feud between Tancredo and Miami has boiled over again.
The congressman was supposed to be the guest speaker Thursday at a Rotary Club luncheon in Miami, but he was canceled, because of concerns over safety and possible protests, which only further Tancredo's opinion of Miami as both Third World and intolerant.
REP. TOM TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: There is something Third Worldish about, you know, politicians being threatened with bombs, and -- and when -- and, certainly, in Havana, you -- there are -- the situation is that you cannot say certain things, that you are prevented from talking about things that are -- that -- that the ruling clique there in the city feels is unacceptable.
ZARRELLA: Tancredo says, Miami is Third Worldish because there's no pressure there to be an American or to assimilate into this country.
TANCREDO: We end up balkanized. We end up a -- a sort of cultural, linguistic, political Tower of Babel. And I think, to a large extent, Miami is -- and Miami-Dade reflect that.
ZARRELLA: Tancredo says his feelings on bilingualism and diversity have nothing to do with race or bigotry. It's about the ingredients needed to hold the American fabric together.
TANCREDO: And one of those things, by the way, is -- is a common language. It is the English language. We need it, in order to communicate our differences.
ZARRELLA: Tancredo should have been given the opportunity to communicate his differences of opinion, says Bill Coffman, the president of the neighboring Miami Beach Rotary Club.
BILL COFFMAN, PRESIDENT, MIAMI BEACH ROTARY CLUB: If you believe in democracy, when somebody says something that you absolutely disagree with, you first have to defend their right to say it. And, so, we wanted to defend a right to say it.
ZARRELLA: Coffman says they have not formally invited Tancredo to Miami Beach. But his club is looking into putting together a forum where the congressman can have his say, and Miami can explain why he's wrong.
John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.
ZAHN: And joining us now, Representative Tom Tancredo.
Thanks so much for being with us, sir.
TANCREDO: It's a pleasure, Paula.
ZAHN: As you know, you have offended a lot of people by the comments you made about Miami looking like a Third World country. And people are accusing you of being a racist. Are you?
TANCREDO: No, I'm not. And I have heard this, of course, since I have started on this issue, I mean, since -- it has now been over eight years that I have been in Congress. And I have been talking about immigration and immigration reform and the problems that are attendant to the fact that we are not assimilating people into the country.
And, ever since I started talking about it, people call me things like racist and xenophobe. The issues have nothing...
ZAHN: But you clearly have a problem with...
TANCREDO: ... to do with race, nothing to do with race. Nothing.
ZAHN: All right.
Help us better understand that, because people hear what you say about multiculturalism. And you have gone as far as to say...
TANCREDO: A cult of multiculturalism.
ZAHN: ... that it poses a threat to the United States.
ZAHN: How is that not racist?
TANCREDO: Because, of course, what I'm talking about here is not just the, you know, the enjoyment of the differences.
Enjoying diversity and that sort of thing, that's fine. It's great. It's wonderful. To be multicultural, in that sense, is great. To be multicultural, to the point that it is the only thing that defines you as a society, is not good.
ZAHN: But what is the specific problem that you think exists here, that people speak Spanish, and they're not speaking English?
TANCREDO: Yes. Yes, that is a very important part of it.
To be multilingual is a -- well, that's an advantage for a lot of people. And it's -- it's great for an individual. It's not good for a nation. It's not even good for a community, I think, in this respect, because it's an indication of that lack of assimilation that I was talking about.
Look, Paula, we need to be able to communicate in this country. We need to be able to communicate our differences, among other things. We have to tell each other why we disagree with each other. It is important. It is a unifying factor. There are a million things in this country that pull us apart. We have to have a few things that hold us together.
I don't care where you come from. I have absolutely no concern in the world about the color of your skin. When you come to the United States of America, as an immigrant, especially as a legal immigrant, you know, all -- legal, I say, legal immigrant -- I -- I expect you, I want you to actually become part of this American mosaic. And millions have.
It's something that you can do. And I don't know how else to talk about this, except to say it as straight out as I possibly can, and that -- and, then, the ones that want to start throwing words around like a nut, or -- or a racist, you know, it's because they want to change -- either they have run out of any intellectual argument, which is certainly a possibility, especially some of the people we're talking about, or they simply want to change the debate.
That's it. They don't want to focus on what the real issue is here.
ZAHN: All right.
TANCREDO: And I can't help that. I cannot help it if people -- if people say things like that, or -- or call me those kinds of names. All I'm telling you is that they certainly are not true.
ZAHN: Do you think you owe the Hispanic population of Miami an apology?
TANCREDO: Absolutely not. It has -- because, of course, I was not referring to the Hispanic population. I was referring to the people -- it's not -- you know, there -- there are other people there who, again, don't intend to assimilate. They don't want to. They are happy about the fact that they don't have to, that -- that Miami allows them this sort of -- of -- of freedom, if you will, I guess, is one way to put it, to not assimilate.
And, if I were the governor of that state, I would not be happy about that situation.
ZAHN: He's actually quite proud of the multiculturalism that exists in his state, and not too happy about what you had to say.
But we have got to leave it there tonight, sir.
TANCREDO: That's what makes politics.
Representative Tom Tancredo, thank you so much for your time.
TANCREDO: You bet.
ZAHN: Appreciate it.
TANCREDO: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: And our discussion of racism in America continues. In just a minute, I will ask a special panel about Miami and if Congressman Tancredo is right when he says his comments aren't racist.
And, then, a little bit later on: South Carolina prosecutors confront a troubling question. Was what happened on a rural road a fight or a lynching?
ZAHN: And welcome back.
We are focusing in on racism in America and Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo's comment that Miami, Florida, resembles a Third World country.
Now let's hear what tonight's panel has to say about the congressman's comments on Miami. Joining me now, Errol Louis, columnist for "The New York Daily News," Cathy Areu, publisher of "Catalina" magazine, which focuses on Latina women in the U.S., and Amy Holmes, Republican strategist and former speechwriter for outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
Glad to have all of you with us.
CATHY AREU, PUBLISHER, "CATALINA": Thank you.
AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you.
ZAHN: So, Cathy, your parents are Cuban immigrants.
ZAHN: Do they think what Congressman Tancredo had to say is racist?
AREU: Well, it's funny, because my mother disagrees, but she said, in a way, it's true. A lot of people in Miami were saying, yes, it is -- it's almost like a Third World country. But it's funny, because I think she's an immigrant. But it's almost like the musical chair philosophy. She has a chair, so she doesn't mind who is standing, which I hate to say that about mom.
But I think a lot of immigrants in this country don't mind saying, yes, "Oh, immigrant, who cares, who cares?" Because we're here now. So, those left standing, sorry.
ZAHN: How much do you think what Tom Tancredo had to say reflects what a lot of Americans in general feel about Latinos?
ERROL LOUIS, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, there are some Americans who feel that way.
I think what he did was extremely ill-advised. And you see Jeb Bush and other national Republicans are going to be running from him at the speed of light.
ZAHN: Running from. He called him a nut.
I mean, listen, the -- the Hispanic vote went from 40 percent -- the Republicans got 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. It dropped to 30 percent. In 2008, that could amount to over one million votes. And we have had the last two presidential contests decided by thousands of votes.
So, it's not in anybody's interests in the Republican Party to have anything to do with this guy. Now, he will -- he will get his speaker's fees. He will -- a certain kind of conservative will bring him out. He will make a little money. He will probably get reelected in his little district in Colorado, but that is not the future of America or the Republican Party.
ZAHN: But, interestingly enough, a lot of people on the radio call-in shows, in spite of the ones you heard at the top of the piece that said he was a bigot and a racist, actually agreed with him, that -- that these are folks, they say, who need to better assimilate.
ZAHN: Why -- why aren't they speaking English?
HOLMES: I think Jeb Bush said it well, when he said that he was a nut. And he's using very incendiary and provocative language.
But at the heart of it is a serious issue. We have 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants living in the shadows. And this is an issue that we need to deal with. And the problem of unsuccessful assimilation -- Fred Siegel, who was a policy adviser to President Clinton, I met with him just a year ago, and he said, third-generation Latinos are now falling behind the -- their parents, in terms of educational attainment. Unwed pregnancy is going up.
So, this is a real problem. Americans see it, and they want to solve it. And I think they want to solve it with humanity, not with Tancredo's bomb-throwing.
ZAHN: We had a guest on last week who -- when you look at the -- the growing Hispanic population, by the year, what is it, 2037, they will represent the majority of our population here, but that -- that was basically saying Hispanics have become the -- the new blacks, in a way, in terms of how they are targeted for racism.
AREU: It's the largest majority in the country. And they did unite for this last election.
I mean, let's -- let's face it. They united. For the first time, you could see that the Hispanics were voting for Democrats. So, they are a voice in this country.
So, what he said was totally wrong. And I think he really hurt the Republicans in the last election. And I don't think people agree with him. And I think people who are here are happy to be here, but let's not forget that we should be polite to immigrants, legal and illegal, who want to be in this great country.
ZAHN: But he looks at it very clear. You know, what he does is, he looks at it statistically, and says, look at the poverty. Look at the corruption rate.
AREU: Well, he does. And so did Teddy Roosevelt, when he was talking about immigration from Eastern Europe by now American Jews.
So, I think he needs to be a little bit more careful about that, that we have heard this rhetoric before. And, oftentimes, it is a cover for xenophobia.
LOUIS: And let's keep in mind, look, this is New York City, where we have our own problems with corruption. The -- the mafia crime families that everybody knows about from the movies are all based right here in the city.
AREU: Are we Third World?
LOUIS: We have got...
ZAHN: Yes, I was going to ask the same question.
ZAHN: ... did not finish the sentence...
LOUIS: Well, we have -- we have -- we have got poverty -- we have got poverty issues as well. But New York, actually, just this week, was ranked as the safest of all of the big cities. So, they -- they -- these things don't go together. And I actually looked at Tancredo's speech -- the speech that he wanted to give, this eight-page -- and...
ZAHN: Had he been allowed to.
LOUIS: And it was -- it was -- it was really just a bunch of nonsense.
I mean, it was the same kind of slogans that he was giving to you in your interview, but not -- not even a hint of a policy solution.
And -- and that's what's really so irresponsible. We have got a -- a question of work visas that needs to be worked out. We have a question of a path to legalization that is being talked about. And, of course, we have border security. He's not talking in any serious way about any of those issues.
ZAHN: All right.
HOLMES: But a serious issue is English proficiency...
AREU: And he never has.
HOLMES: ... which he's raising, and, hopefully, we can talk about with a little bit more sensitivity.
ZAHN: And we will continue to do that right here.
ZAHN: Thank you all. I want you all to hang around, if you would. We have got a lot more to talk about tonight.
Our coverage of racism in America recently turned a spotlight on a Texas town and longstanding allegations that black people aren't welcome there. Coming up next, hear what the mayor is saying in his town's defense.
And, then, a little bit later on: A fight involving some teenage boys in South Carolina, were authorities right to call it a lynching? Our racism panel will be back to weigh in on both of these very controversial stories.
Please stay with us.
ZAHN: Our in-depth look at racism in America continues with the latest in the controversy over the east Texas town of Vidor, infamous for its reputation as a place where blacks have not been welcome, especially after dark. Now, if you've been watching our special coverage on racism you know our Keith Oppenheim has been covering Vidor's past and present and his reports have been getting a lot of reaction. So we proposed a town hall meeting where ordinary people could face each other and speak their hearts and minds about what has or has not changed in Vidor.
We're going to have that meeting tomorrow night. And we've asked Vidor's mayor to join us, but he's declined. And today he held a news conference to talk about it.
Keith Oppenheim was there and he joins me now with the latest -- Keith.
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I'll bring you though all of it, Paula.
First, let me just say where I'm at. I'm in Beaumont, Texas, which is the bigger city just up the road from Vidor. And behind me is the Jefferson Theater. And you can take a look inside with our camera in there. You can see that crews are busy getting ready for the town hall meeting tomorrow night which you, Paula, will host.
In general, though, people here have been very anxious, particularly in Vidor, about this event. We originally wanted to host the town hall meeting in Vidor. And at first, city officials were welcoming the idea. Then they had second thoughts.
MAYOR JOE HOPKINS, VIDOR, TEXAS: We thought this would be a good opportunity to be able to show the country that areas can change.
OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Joe Hopkins, mayor of Vidor, Texas, told us he wanted to defend his city's reputation.
My original story reported that Vidor's present was haunted by its past, that to this day many blacks who live outside Vidor still associate it with the Ku Klux Klan, still think of it as a place where blacks once were warned not to be caught after dark.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're trying to live down something from 40, 50 years ago. And once convicted, you're a convicted felon. You know, you can never put that aside.
OPPENHEIM: City officials argued the perceptions were outdated, that even though very few African-Americans currently live in Vidor, the city has made great strides, that attitudes are largely changed.
And they were angered by the story's inclusion of this area resident who said she wanted separation from blacks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, as far as mingling and eating with them, all that kind of stuff, I mean, that's where I draw the line.
OPPENHEIM: Despite his unhappiness with the story, Mayor Hopkins was in favor of taking part in a live town meeting in Vidor moderated by CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are new developments tonight regarding the national attention that's being given to Vidor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The city is calling off the town hall meeting.
OPPENHEIM: But by Saturday morning, it was front page news city officials changed their minds.
Mayor Hopkins told us he was under the impression the audience would be made up of Vidor residents only.
HOPKINS: I thought it was going to focus on Vidor and what Vidor -- what strides Vidor has made.
OPPENHEIM (on camera): But, in fairness, how can one talk about racism if one doesn't include communities from outside the city, especially given that Vidor is mostly white?
HOPKINS: I don't understand how people who don't live in Vidor are qualified to speak about what happens in Vidor.
OPPENHEIM (voice-over): The Vidor officials say they were also concerned about security and the number of seats the city would be given for their own invited guests.
HOPKINS: Seeing how the original report ended up being presented over the air, no, I didn't feel like we were going to be given a fair shake by CNN at any point during this process.
OPPENHEIM: Some residents were clearly backing the city's decision. Others wondered if Vidor was missing an opportunity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think the town of Vidor needs to come together and show everyone, especially with it being CNN, nationwide that's not us.
OPPENHEIM (on camera): Paula, as of yesterday, we were under the impression that Vidor city officials were going to come here to Beaumont, that they would be on a panel in part and would participate that way. But as of today, the mayor says no, no participation at all. They just don't feel comfortable.
We do hope to get Vidor residents and a dialogue, both regional and national, to talk about those who feel that there has been great progress in this area with racism and others who feel that racism in this part of the country and perhaps others is alive and well -- Paula.
ZAHN: And Keith, we heard you talking to a couple of residents in your piece. And I know you talked to a whole lot more. Do those folks feel unfairly singled out? OPPENHEIM: They do. They feel singled out by the national media in some cases and by the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, many people said to me, Paula, that during the few rallies that have taken place over the years, they feel that the Klan targeted Vidor and held their rallies there, that marchers were generally not from Vidor. So they're tired of being viewed as a symbol.
ZAHN: Keith, thanks so much. Look forward to seeing you there tomorrow night. And you should know we're dedicated to having our ground-breaking town hall meeting tomorrow night, although it will not be in Vidor, as we just heard Keith explain.
Our invitation to Mayor Joe Hopkins and the people of Vidor, Texas is still open. We'll have to fill that hall.
And we hope they'll change their minds and join us for tomorrow night's special, "Out in the Open: Racism in America", as ordinary people tell us how they deal with the issue in their everyday lives. Our town hall meeting will be held in nearby Beaumont, Texas. And you can see it live and unedited getting under way at 8:00 Eastern, 7:00 Central.
South Carolina is the next stop in our special coverage of racism in America. We're going to take to you a rural road where a group of teenagers got into a fight and authorities had to ask themselves, was it really a lynching?
And later, tonight's top story in health. Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells us about a sleep disorder that leaves people absolutely terrified but unable to move at all.
ZAHN: Our look at racism in America moves on to an ugly part of this country's history, the crime of lynching. Thousands of innocent blacks were hanged by white mobs over the last century, before anti- lynching laws were finally passed. But right now, five white teenagers are behind bars in South Carolina after being sentenced in what prosecutors say was a modern day case of lynching. But was it? Here's Rick Sanchez.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a case that recalls a darker era in the South. Last summer, a black teenager, Isaiah Clyburn, was walking along a country road near Gaffney, South Carolina. He had been playing pool with a friend. Several pick-ups trucks passed him. The 16-year-old told Clyburn would later tell investigators that one of the youths shouted a racial slur at him.
(on-screen): It was early July of last year. Isaiah Clyburn had just been dropped off right about here by one of his friends. Isaiah was walking in that direction. His friend continued driving in this direction, when he says he suddenly looked in his rearview mirror and he saw three pickup trucks surrounding Isaiah.
He says he then turned around again and he saw four or five boys beating Isaiah, some of them kicking him, while he was on the ground, he says.
(voice-over): Stanley Yeargin, Sr., is the father of the boy who dropped Isaiah off.
STANLEY YEARGIN, SR., FATHER: He just said they stopped. He saw a couple get out, and then more got out, and they had jumped on Mr. Clyburn.
SANCHEZ (on-screen): Started beating him up?
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Yeargin's son turned around and rescued Isaiah from his assailants.
(on-screen): Kind of saved him, didn't he?
YEARGIN: I would think so, I guess. I don't know. I don't know how serious it was. It seems to be serious now, though.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): So serious, in fact, that five teenagers are about to appear in this South Carolina courthouse charge with lynching, yes, lynching. They faced up to 20 years in prison, but after pleading guilty, a judge handed the defendants sentences ranging from 30 months to six years.
One of the teenagers, Chris Kates (ph), seen here entering the courthouse with his family, says it was just a fight. He says he stopped because Clyburn made an obscene gesture at him and then the other teens jumped in.
Isaiah's father, who spoke to us only after we agreed to conceal his appearance, says that's not how it happened.
STEVEN CLYBURN, ISAIAH'S FATHER: We didn't cause this. I didn't cause this action, nor Isaiah cause this action. And I just wish it never happened.
SANCHEZ: If it was just a fight, he asks, why then did it involve four other teens?
CLYBURN: They didn't really have to like him. They could have called him what they wanted to and just left.
SANCHEZ: Was Clyburn singled out because he was black? That question will never come up in court because the suspects all pleaded guilty. South Carolina's past, like that of much of the south, is filled with episodes of violence and bigotry toward blacks. Yet it remained one of only a handful of states in the country without a hate crime law.
What happened to Isaiah Clyburn, say civil rights leaders, is reason enough to change that. Rick Sanchez, CNN, Gaffney, South Carolina.
ZAHN: Time to get our panel's thoughts on the case. Once again, Errol Louis, Cathy Areu and Amy Holmes. Welcome back.
So Errol, I think when most of thought that lynching had disappeared many, many years ago, how shocking was it for to you hear those kids admitted it?
LOUIS: Well, look, whether it's a lynching or not, five on one is not a fight, so clearly it's a mob attack and it's of a kind that we've seen. It happens up north. It happens down south. It happens in a lot of different places. I think it's a mistake to remain in denial as a lot of people seem to on the issues and say it was just some kids. It's a serious thing. It was serious 40 years ago, it was serious 10 years ago. It's serious today.
ZAHN: How do you stop it?
HOLMES: Well I think in this case, though, one the differences between lynching and what I think was what happened here, is that the authorities did the right thing. The judge, you know he threw the book at them. The leader of this mob is going to be going to jail for six years, five years probation. So we have, you know, come from, come forward from that point, so putting it in a little bit of context.
ZAHN: So really simply the enforcement of the law you think has changed.
AREU: Had it been called a hate crime, it would have had enforced even more. They would have had more years behind bars. So that was a problem. Was it a lynching or was it a hate crime? And they weren't allowed to ask if it was because he was black.
ZAHN: We have focused the last couple of weeks on the show an awful lot about the racism and prejudice you see just under the surface. And tomorrow I am hosting with my team a town hall meeting in Beaumont, Texas.
You heard a little bit about the controversy of the mayor of Vidor, Texas, which was a sundown town. The mayor points out many, many years ago and he says it's been very hard for this town to live down that legacy, although he says it's a changed place.
Talk about the perceptions of those kinds of towns that are sprinkled across America.
LOUIS: Well, look, they exist. They exist. If people say that they won't go there because they don't feel safe then that's real and the mayor of Vidor and everyone else needs to recognize that and really take you up on your offer to set the record straight on national TV.
If they want to change their image, they know how to do it. If it was any other kind of issue, they would know how to do it. Towns do this all the time. They go out and try to make themselves a tourism destination or otherwise try and change their image.
Somebody who is over 60-years-old says that happened 40 years ago. Well, you were an adult back then. You've seen the changes, maybe you need to change a little bit more.
ZAHN: But this mayor says he has nothing to defend, that this town has over the years proven it's a different place than it was 20, 30 years ago.
HOLMES: Unfortunately you had some clips of people expressing attitudes that would say two steps forward but one step back. I'd take the mayor at his word that the law is not enforced, that the authorities are not actively engaged in these racist laws. However as we all know it's alive and well and you scratched the surface and there it is.
ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about how that affects Latinos across the country.
AREU: When you're a minority, you feel it, you know it. You walk into a room, you know when someone wants you there. You know when someone doesn't want you there. So if I were to go to this town, I'd probably feel it. So they can say whatever they want to say, but I'd feel that.
ZAHN: Is that racism? What is that?
AREU: Well surely I'm not welcomed. You could feel racism. I don't know how to explain racism, but I can feel racism.
HOLMES: When you're followed around in the department store by the sales lady who won't take her eye off of you because they think you're going to steal something.
LOUIS: You can go beyond those kind of subtle things. Every week over 500 complaints of racial discrimination are filed with the equal employment opportunity commission. There's over 26,000 just racial complaints just every single year. The number isn't changing. It's not going down. It's actually going up.
So if you think about what it takes for somebody to file basically, make a federal case out of, and that's just one category of alleged discrimination involving the workplace, we've got a serious problem and it never goes away by pretending it's not there.
That's what concerns me so much about the folks in this little town. Don't pretend it's not there. Bring it out, talk with people, and you can maybe make some changes that way.
ZAHN: That's something we're going to attempt to do tomorrow night. Errol Louis, Cathy Areu, Amy Holmes, thank you all for joining us. Appreciate your time.
And then we're going to move on right now to tonight's top story in health. We're looking into a sleep disorder that's common and very frightening next. Why your mind may be sending danger signals, but your body is unable to respond.
ZAHN: Time now for a quick "Biz Break".
ZAHN: Next stop, we change course to our top story, "Vital Signs" and a mysterious experience we've all had at least once, if we can remember it, a dream so terrifying that you want to scream but as hard as you try, you can't make a sound. It's disturbing, but when you wake up it's over in an instant.
But imagine having that paralyzing feeling happening every single night. Doctors have been able to actually look deep inside the brain of some people whose nightmares never end.
Here's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to find an intruder standing in your bedroom. You try to react. You try to scream. But your body is literally paralyzed. All you can do is watch in fear.
That's what Shelley Carson experienced night after night for three months when she was in her twenties. She was on a new assignment as a flight attendant, flying all-nighters across the country, sleeping at odd hours of the day and of the night.
SHELLEY CARSON, HAD SLEEP PARALYSIS: It was about 4:00 in the morning and I saw a man standing in the frame of my door looking into at me. He was back-lit from the light in the hall so I couldn't really see his face. But he was looking at me.
GUPTA: As vivid as the intruder's presence felt it was actually a hallucination.
CARSON: This was my worst nightmare. Somebody has broken into my apartment and I am absolutely paralyzed and I can't move. This happened night after night, somewhere between 20 and 30 occurrences over a three-month period.
GUPTA: The hallucinations were a rare symptom of sleep paralysis, a common disorder in which the mind is partly awake while the body is still caught in the dreaming stage of sleep called REM sleep.
The body remains immobile except for the eyes, which are actually wide open. It usually lasts for seconds or minutes at the most. About 30 percent of us have at least one episode of sleep paralysis in our lifetimes. RICHARD MCNALLY, HARVARD PARASOMNIA SPECIALIST: The person's wide awake. They can see the room. But they're still paralyzed and they notice that they're still paralyzed. And this can be quite a startling, frightening experience if you don't know what's going on.
GUPTA: Scary and disorienting, especially for the five percent of sleep paralysis sufferers who have extremely vivid hallucinations. The most common vision: an ominous presence in the room. That's most likely expression of the fear created by being paralyzed.
MCNALLY: The mind is sort of creating some sort of a situation to match the mood of fear.
GUPTA: A study by McNally's team also found that people claiming to have been abducted by aliens probably experienced sleep paralysis instead.
MCNALLY: People will hallucinate different things that are congruent with the culture. The aliens coming into one's bedroom and abducting oneself is merely the latest contemporary gloss up on a universal psycho-biological phenomenon.
GUPTA: We're not sure why sleep paralysis happens, but researchers suggest that during non-REM sleep, the brain releases the neurotransmitters normally active during this period. But it also continues to release its REM sleep neurotransmitter. That results in a combined state of wakefulness and paralysis. Even though the brain is sending a signal down the spinal cord for the body to move, those signals get confused and the body remains immobile.
MCNALLY: They're emerging into wakefulness and the motor neurons are still inactive. And you happen to notice that fact.
GUPTA: Sleep paralysis does not have direct negative effects on the body, but extreme cases can interfere with sleep and can treated with certain antidepressants, better sleep habits. And avoiding daytime naps and night shift work can bring lighter cases under control.
As soon as she stopped flying overnight, Shelley's bouts of sleep paralysis ended with only occasional episodes since then. But being able to put a name to her episodes helped her manage her fear.
CARSON: If it were to happen to me tomorrow, I probably wouldn't be afraid of it all. I might look at it as an adventure.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.
ZAHN: What an adventure.
We're minutes away from an all-star edition of "LARRY KING LIVE". Guess who's joining him tonight? Well, you would never know. Angelina Jolie, Robert DeNiro, Matt Damon: they tell Larry about their new movie. And they're live. All that, coming up at the top of the hour.
We'll be right back.
ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here tonight.
Thanks so much for being with us.
Tomorrow, I'm heading for Texas along with my team for a special town hall meeting called "Out in the Open: Racism in America."
It was originally scheduled to be in Vidor, the town where some blacks say they aren't welcome after dark. Since the town has made it clear to us that we wouldn't be welcomed to host that meeting in their town, we're going just down the road in Beaumont, Texas.
Our invitation to Mayor Joe Hopkins and the people of Vidor, Texas is still open. And we will assure you we'll treat everyone fairly and give everyone a say about this very important issue of race.
We're committed to keeping this dialogue going about racism in America, no matter what.
Thanks again for joining us tonight. Hope you will join us tomorrow night.
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