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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Federal Jury Awards Nearly $11 Million Over Funeral Protests; Oklahoma Set to Crack Down on Illegal Immigration; Noose Outrage

Aired October 31, 2007 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: There's a lot going on. We have gotten word that there's a reporter standing by in Washington who is going to brief us on this latest Republican gay sex scandal. Yes, there's another one.
Also, the story we are going to lead with, though, is that of an angry father of a dead Marine. He is going to join us here for his very first television interview, after winning a lawsuit against these people, people who showed up at his son's funeral with signs screaming "Thank God for dead soldiers." Can you imagine that? This is another OUT IN THE OPEN exclusive coming your way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Cracking down in Tulsa. They want illegal immigrants out. And since the feds won't, they will. But going to jail for giving an illegal a ride in your car? Yes, they're that serious.

Nooses, no question, they're offensive. The man who owns this home was trying to hang a ghost for Halloween. Now they're trying to hang him. Are some people just too sensitive?

Why does this comedian think this is funny? I will ask him.

Caught on tape: a jet fighter losing it. We have got the details.

Kid commandos, this is a secret video, or it was -- all this, breaking news, and more.

It's time to bring it OUT IN THE OPEN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.

A court has just made a ruling on a case that we have been following for you from the very beginning. Imagine -- imagine the temerity of going to somebody's funeral that you don't even know and screaming obscenities. And now imagine the person that you're screaming at is the father of a dead Marine.

He was mourning his son, who just returned from Iraq, minding his own business. I'm going to tell you how a court has ruled in this case. But, first, you need to watch one of these so-called protests for yourself. Let's take a look at this thing. We can put it up on the wall and you will see it. There it is. Go ahead and take it. These demonstrators are members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.

They have been showing up at funerals all over the country with signs that say, "Thank God for dead soldiers," and blaming gays for the Iraq war and somehow mixing them up with the soldiers.

Finally, a father decides he'd had enough. He fought back.

And, just a little while ago, a jury awarded him nearly $11 million in damages for his efforts.

The Marine's dad is Albert Snyder. He's good enough to join us now, exclusively.

First of all, thank you for being with us. Thank you for your son's service. And our condolences to you.

ALBERT SNYDER, FATHER OF FALLEN MARINE: Thank you, Rick.

SANCHEZ: What did you think when these guys suddenly showed up at your son's funeral?

SNYDER: Well, I didn't think there was anybody in the world that would do that to somebody else, especially somebody labeling themselves as a church.

It was just -- you know, the day of the funeral, I tried to focus on my son. And that's where the main focus was.

SANCHEZ: Oh, I can only imagine. Did you think to go after them? And I'm telling you, you would have been excused if you had.

SNYDER: No, I didn't, but a lot of my friends and family did.

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: So, was there a confrontation?

SNYDER: No, there was no confrontations. Everything went off peaceful as far as the funeral went.

SANCHEZ: But you were hurt, I imagine, I mean deeply.

SNYDER: Yes, very much.

I mean, it's hard enough burying a 20-year-old son, much less having to deal with something like this. I mean, a lot of people don't think, when your children are in the military -- my son was killed. You have two Marines come tell you at your door at 9:00 at night.

SANCHEZ: Yes. SNYDER: And you wait for the body to come back. You don't know if you're even going to be able to see your son's body.

And then to have to go through something like this, it was enough. And...

SANCHEZ: God bless you.

What did they do? What did you see? I mean, don't -- explain to us as much as you possibly can, to make us understand what they were actually doing there.

SNYDER: Basically, what they were doing, Rick, was, they were carrying signs that said, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "Thank God for IEDs," "You're in hell," just "Semper Fi Fags," I mean, just really vile things.

SANCHEZ: Apparently, their whole issue is against gays. And it's kind of hard to make the connection between that and your son. Do you get it? Do you get them? Do you get their protest at all?

SNYDER: No. No, I don't. I don't understand, these troops that are coming back, I just don't get the connection between it at all.

SANCHEZ: Apparently, they're saying that our country has fallen by the wayside, and that everything bad that happens to our country is something that somehow we deserve. I believe that's what they're trying to say.

SNYDER: Yes. And it's kind of nutty.

SANCHEZ: And your question, I imagine to them, look, fine. Whatever you want to believe is fine, but leave me and my son out of this, right?

SNYDER: Well, that's right.

And it's not only that. It's -- my son has a lot of -- had a lot of friends in the military and all. And, you know, I thought about this lawsuit for two, three months before I even decided to do it. And, you know, I kept thinking, what would my son do if one of his friends had been in our situation and their parents?

I don't want to see another parent go through -- it's hard enough burying a child, much less having to deal with something like this.

SANCHEZ: I understand that you shed a tear today when you heard the award at this court case.

SNYDER: There's been many tears shed, Rick, most of them for my son, though.

And I knew, you know, the whole time I was just on every day in court, I would just think of Matt, and have him on my mind, and know that he was watching out for me.

SANCHEZ: I should share with you that we have reached out to the other side, Mr. Phelps, who, as you know, is founder of this church.

They had a sign up. And I would like to get your reaction to this. They had a sign up at their church today. It said: "Our message is, thank God for the 10.9" -- referring to the almost $11 million that's been awarded against them and to you -- "By that mechanism, the entire world will look over and see that America is doomed, and that, in doomed America, there is no such thing as religious liberty."

Your reaction?

SNYDER: Well, first of all, I don't know if I would even consider them a religious community.

All they talk about -- you know, I sat in this courtroom for a week-and-a-half, and all I heard these people talk about was the bad from the Bible, not one thing good.

I mean, my God is a loving god. And I never heard one thing out of these people's mouths about a loving god. It was all fire and brimstone, which I don't have a problem with, Rick. If you want to preach that at your church, go ahead and preach it at your church.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Yes, but leave me alone.

SNYDER: That's right.

And, I mean, as far as their picketing goes, they want to do it in front of a courthouse, they want to do it in a public park, I could care less. But they're not going to...

SANCHEZ: Yes.

SNYDER: You know, I couldn't let them get away with doing this to our military.

SANCHEZ: Well, we're going to be talking to them in just a little bit.

Albert Snyder, you fought a good fight. I mean, what better fight can you have than one for your own son?

Thanks for being with us. I appreciate it.

SNYDER: You're welcome, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Up next, we are going to hear from the Phelps family, the people involved in this church. Also, we are going to hear from others involved. Can they pay? Will they stop the protests? What is their reaction? How do they excuse their behavior?

We're back in 60 seconds exactly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SANCHEZ: Welcome back to OUT IN THE OPEN. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Let's get right back into this.

With me now on the phone is the leader of the protests at the funerals of U.S. service men and women, judgment passed against him today in a court, almost $11 million, Reverend Fred Phelps.

Thanks for being with us, sir.

FRED PHELPS, PROTESTING AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY: Sure.

SANCHEZ: I want to respect your opinion, as much as I possibly can.

But I think viewers would want to know, why in the world would you do something like that to a father, a good man -- you just saw him on our cameras...

PHELPS: Oh, hogwash.

SANCHEZ: ... who is grieving the son of...

PHELPS: You have been brainwashed.

SANCHEZ: I'm sorry, sir?

PHELPS: You have been brainwashed.

SANCHEZ: I have been brainwashed?

PHELPS: Yes, talking that way.

(CROSSTALK)

PHELPS: For goodness' sakes, all that was, was a protestation by the government of the United States against the word of God.

They don't want me preaching that God is punishing America by killing those servicemen. And if that's why he's doing it and sending them home in body bags, then the appropriate forum of choice would be their funerals. And there's nothing wrong with preaching respectfully, at a great distance, from the funeral when it's going on.

SANCHEZ: How, sir, can you call this respectfully, when you're using those kinds of words and those signs to a man who is doing...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Hold on, sir.

Sir, let me finish asking the question, and then I will give you your time to answer it.

PHELPS: You're... (CROSSTALK)

PHELPS: ... these loaded questions.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Why would you choose this as a venue, a man who is minding his own business, trying to mourn the death of his son, who many would consider a war hero?

Sir, go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

PHELPS: ... believe the truth, doesn't want to hear the truth. You're just a hysterical nincompoop, like all the rest of the them.

This is the 1st -- what you ought to be worried about is the loss of First Amendment rights in the United States, for which those guys claim they're over there fighting.

SANCHEZ: We're not talking about rights here. What we're talking about is a sense of...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Well, hold on. Let me ask the question, sir.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: We're talking about...

PHELPS: And that silly verdict will last about five minutes when it hurts the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

SANCHEZ: Mr. Phelps...

PHELPS: That is an abomination against God and against the country of the United States and against the First Amendment.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Mr. Phelps, if you will give me just a moment, I would like to ask you not about the law, but about any sense of decency that you may or may not have, by going and doing that at a man's funeral.

(CROSSTALK)

PHELPS: If you had any sense of decency, you wouldn't ask a question like that.

SANCHEZ: What is wrong with asking the question? Explain it to me.

PHELPS: Sense of decency, my foot.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Go ahead, sir. Tell me what is indecent about asking that question.

(CROSSTALK)

PHELPS: ... to spit in the face of God and tick God off, so that he's punishing this nation.

You talk about a sense of decency -- my foot.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Mr. Phelps, would you mind if I just get one quick question in, OK?

PHELPS: Yes, if it won't be so loaded, so silly loaded.

SANCHEZ: OK.

I will try my best, sir.

Nobody is trying to take away your right to worship your God.

PHELPS: You are.

SANCHEZ: Nobody is.

PHELPS: You are. The court was.

SANCHEZ: The point we're making is, why would you choose a venue...

(CROSSTALK)

PHELPS: The Army is.

SANCHEZ: The Army is taking it away from you?

PHELPS: The very idea of putting a preacher on trial for what he preaches, the very idea, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

SANCHEZ: All right, Mr. Phelps, we have tried to have a conversation with you.

PHELPS: No, you haven't tried to do anything but run your big mouth.

SANCHEZ: But, obviously, you have been more interested in making some of your own political statements.

We thank you, sir, for your time, as difficult as that has been.

Just a few hours ago, one of the toughest crackdowns, by the way, yet on illegal immigrants has taken effect. In fact, this is the story that we had been planning for you throughout the day. It's an amazing development in a story that we have been following. There is now breaking news, because a judge has stepped in. And there's a possibility that he may stop this. We will have it for you in just a little bit.

Also, how about the story about nooses? Are they off-limits for Halloween? What was this homeowner thinking when he put this one up? Well, his neighbors are saying he didn't do anything wrong. He's saying the same thing. We will bring you the very latest on that.

And then also, another sex scandal involving another Republican. The details include reports that he wore women's lingerie and set up a tryst with a young man. As we get this, we will be bringing it to you right here.

Also, breaking news in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it's on your way.

Stay with us. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: All right, there's breaking news, we're being told now.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a federal judge has just refused to block one of the toughest state crackdowns on illegal immigrants. Starting tomorrow in Oklahoma if you house, if you hire, or even just give a ride in your car to an illegal immigrant knowingly, you could go to jail for up to a year.

We were the first to bring you this story and to describe how frustrated local governments all over the country have decided to take the law into their own hands that's supposed to be handled by the feds. Now, this has caused a panic in Tulsa that has made as many as 30,000 people flee in some cases overnight.

Keith Oppenheim has been following the story for us. He's joining us now from Tulsa to bring us up to date on what's going on.

What is the breaking news, Keith?

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, let me just set the stage here, Rick.

There is a vigil going on right behind me by immigrant advocates. And what they were hoping today is the law that you're referring to -- and let's push in and take a look at these folks -- they were hoping that the law that you were referring to would be stopped by a federal injunction.

This afternoon, there was an injunction hearing in federal court, but about 45 minutes ago, a federal judge ruled that this law will go into effect at midnight.

And just to reiterate what the law is that you were referring to, is that anyone who knowingly gives transportation or shelter, such as landlords or employers, to illegal immigrants could face up to a $1,000 fine or possibly a year in prison. So, it's pretty controversial -- back to you.

SANCHEZ: The question here is, though how do you enforce something like this, and does it not lead to some type of selective enforcement?

OPPENHEIM: There's confusion about that.

In fact, I spoke to Tulsa's police chief, Ron Palmer, about this, this afternoon. And he says that there's not going to be a roundup of illegal immigrants, that they are only going to refer these kinds of cases to the district attorney, when, under normal other investigations, they come across people who are harboring and sheltering illegal immigrants.

But he also said, Rick, that it's not really clear to him that he's getting good guidance on how to enforce this from state officials.

SANCHEZ: You know, I'm wondering what's going on with the other side, because you're showing us a vigil. And I imagine many of those are Hispanics who have had this vigil. Has the other side been meeting as well? Because I know there's been a real push, right, a ground-roots effort to get this thing through.

OPPENHEIM: You got that right.

I mean, this bill sailed through the Oklahoma legislature a couple of months ago. And, in just a moment, we are going to hear from a guy who has strong support for this bill. It has brought support.

But we will also going to hear from immigration advocates now, who had some pretty tough words for state officials, who he claims is really creating panic in the Latino community.

SANCHEZ: All right, Keith Oppenheim following that story -- Keith, stay where you are. We will be checking back in with you throughout this newscast to find out how that story is developing and whether there are any changes.

And, certainly, if we get reaction from the other side, we would like to bring it out as well.

Now, take a look at this. This is a Halloween noose at a Florida bar. You see that? Is this racism or is it just a Halloween decoration? Are people overreacting to this? And, by the way, we have been in touch with the folks here at this bar, and they're saying they're not going to take it down.

Also, look at this. He's trying to be funny, but is it? I'm going to ask him, directly.

And then the latest on another sex scandal involving another Republican. Details include reports that he wore -- this is hard to say -- women's lingerie, and set up a tryst with a young man. It's embarrassing, but it's the real thing. And, tonight, there's both a police investigation and a resignation.

Stay with us. We are going to be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Here's the controversy that's really caught on.

Welcome back.

Call it what you will, a noose, a hangman's knot. This remains a powerful symbol of what some see as the most violent and shameful chapter in American history, recalling the lynching of innocent people, a reminder of terrible racial divisions and then what's happened over the last couple of months.

Come with me. Let's break it down for you. Obviously, the most famous case, or where it really all began, was in Jena, Louisiana, here, nooses hanging in a tree that led to charges that many call wrong, and several incidents since then, including this one. After the protest, remember, in Alexandria, a noose hung from a pickup truck there and a couple of teenagers as a result were picked up themselves because they were doing this in front of protesters who had gone to say this is simply wrong.

And, then not long after that, a noose hung from the office door of a black Columbia University professor. And that was the example of what it looked like there. That investigation, it continued as well.

But what about people who just use these types of nooses as Halloween decorations?

Here's where this thing has really gotten complicated, as Dan Lothian reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Halloween displays are supposed to attract attention, a frightening tradition of spiderwebs, skeletons and scary pumpkins. But throw in a noose and people start screaming for a whole different reason.

REVEREND JOHNNY GAMBLE, FRIEND BAPTIST CHURCH: A black man hanging on a noose, if they're going to do that, I don't know what they might have done to me.

LOTHIAN: This mock hanging is what offended Reverend Johnny Gamble. But the homeowner in Stratford, Connecticut, who bought the offending figure from an online site saw no harm.

JENNIFER CERVERO, RESIDENT OF STRATFORD: It was just a rotting ghoul hanging in our front yard.

LOTHIAN: Bowing to threats of public protests, she eventually removed the noose, but still thinks the whole thing is overblown.

CERVERO: It's unfortunate that now we are going to have to think twice about what we display because someone might be offended.

LOTHIAN: In Madison, New Jersey, a family took down its hanging dummy after complaints that it was reminiscent of a lynching. Controversy also erupted in Muncie, Indiana, when a sanitation worker placed a noose inside a city truck as a -- quote -- "Halloween decoration."

BARNELL VANCE, CITY TRUCK DRIVER: It was like where the mirror, the rear view mirror, it was like hanging down from that.

LOTHIAN: The city worker was suspended for 30 days without pay, was ordered to take a sensitivity course, and make a public apology.

RICHARD IVY, MUNCIE PERSONNEL DIRECTOR: There's a national climate. And, by all means, it was something that won't be tolerated here.

LOTHIAN (on camera): The list of these Halloween noose incidents goes on and on. And they took place all across the country. In most cases, it seems the offending displays were removed. While some say the public needs to lighten up, civil rights leaders say people must be sensitive, even on Halloween, to this powerful symbol of racial hatred.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Yes. And that's the catch, even on Halloween.

We want to know what you think about this, by the way. Go to CNN.com/outintheopen. Cast your Quick Vote, yes or no. Are nooses appropriate Halloween decorations?

By the way, we are going to be back in just 60 seconds -- so, stay where you are -- with a guy who took his Halloween nooses down. He doesn't think that he did anything wrong. Neither do some of his neighbors. One does. And a Florida bar that is not taking their decoration down at all. This is hot and heavy conversation with people who feel offended on both sides.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back.

Are some people just a little too sensitive about this noose controversy?

And a black entertainer who thinks the whole thing is funny.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Why does this comedian think this is funny? I will ask him. Caught on tape: a jet fighter losing it. We have got the details.

Kid commandos. This is a secret video -- or it was.

All this, breaking news, and more, it's time to bring it OUT IN THE OPEN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back once again.

The violent history of the noose makes it a powerful symbol. For some people, the noose is a living nightmare. Hang a dummy with a hangman's noose by the front door, and you're likely to get a visit from a police department these days. That's exactly what happened to our next guests.

Daniel Colacrai hung a Halloween dummy and two other nooses with Halloween decorations on his house in Staten Island, New York. He's dressed up for the occasion for us tonight. Chantal Dolata put up a hanging and bloody dummy in front of her biker bar in Florida. Now, that dummy stayed up even after the sheriff asked her to take it down.

My thanks to both of you for being with us.

Daniel, let's begin with you, but I will ask you both the same questions.

What exactly did you put up and why did you put it up?

Daniel, let's start with you.

DANIEL COLACRAI, USED NOOSE AS HALLOWEEN DECOR: Well, I'm very big with Halloween. And, every year, we put up these dummies. And I hang nooses on my house every year. This is the first year that we have had a problem. I'm really not sure why we had this problem in the first place. But we do it for the kids.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: When did it come to your attention that it was a problem?

COLACRAI: When I got a knock on the door from two officers, and they had said -- nice guys -- you know, they looked at what was going on up there, and they said, we don't want to you take it down, but you never know what can happen. So, I talked to my wife.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Were the dummies African-American? Did they look African-American?

COLACRAI: No.

SANCHEZ: Was there anything about them that seemed to represent African-Americans in any way?

COLACRAI: Well, actually, the dummy is to your left in the back. And

SANCHEZ: All right, let's go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

COLACRAI: He's got white hands.

SANCHEZ: Let's go tight on that, see if we can look at it right there.

So, that's it?

COLACRAI: That's the dummy.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: That's what caused the -- and you had a noose around his neck?

COLACRAI: That's right. And it was hung from the middle of my house, the center of the upstairs.

SANCHEZ: All right, Chantal, let's go over to you.

Describe to us what your decoration was and why you put it up.

CHANTAL DOLATA, USED NOOSE AS HALLOWEEN DECOR: Well, actually, there's a lot of decorations that we have in the bar. The two that are in the tree is, one is on a meat hook, and then the other gentleman is in a -- is hung on the tree, but there's also several other decorations that are throughout the bar.

SANCHEZ: Well, let's concentrate on that one, because obviously that's the one with the noose and that's the one that people seem to be upset about.

Could you ask your cameraman there if he can go tight on that, so we can see it?

DOLATA: Can you go tight on that, so that they can see it?

SANCHEZ: Go tight on that -- OK, so, that's it. I want the viewers at home to take a look at this thing. All right, that's it.

Is that supposed to be an African-American?

DOLATA: No. It's a Caucasian.

SANCHEZ: It is a Caucasian. Are your surprised...

DOLATA: It is a Caucasian.

SANCHEZ: So are you surprised, then, that some African-Americans are taking offense to this?

DOLATA: Yes, I'm really surprised. I'm surprised this has gone this far.

SANCHEZ: What were you thinking when you put this up?

DOLATA: We were thinking that we really just wanted to decorate our bar, as we do every year.

SANCHEZ: Daniel, how long have you been putting yours up? I see it on the left there. Is that something you have been putting up for a long time?

COLACRAI: Well, that's one of them.

You know, we're only here four years. We lived in Brooklyn for quite a long time. And I always hung a noose in front of the house, with a dummy, or with a few dummies, you know, scare the kids off. It sets off the holiday.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

COLACRAI: We didn't think it was a bad thing.

SANCHEZ: So, listen...

(CROSSTALK)

COLACRAI: And I still don't.

SANCHEZ: So, Daniel, you're here to say, look, I'm not a racist, and I was -- I had no racist intentions when I put this up, and I'm -- and I'm upset that people are upset?

COLACRAI: I'm upset that people are upset. I'm upset because I lost the feeling for the holiday now. You know, I don't understand why somebody would look up there and say OK, that was a black guy or whatever, you know. It's all wrong.

SANCHEZ: Chantal, let's go over to you. Your reaction ever since this began, this controversy that's going on.

CHANTAL DOLATA, USED NOOSE AS HALLOWEEN DECOR: Well, it's -- again, it's just absolute shock. I just truly can't believe that we've gotten this far. We only had six complaints out of, you know, a population of over 132,000. So obviously, you're not going to keep everyone happy all of the time.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

DOLATA: I just can't understand why people are making such a big deal. We seem to have lost our sense of humor and our spirit for Halloween.

SANCHEZ: And you're not taking it down, I understand. Is that right? DOLATA: We had told the sheriff's department, obviously it's not illegal what we're doing. So we told the sheriff's department out of respect for everyone that we will take it down tomorrow, as we would have anyway.

SANCHEZ: You, by the way, I'm curious. You have a bar. Do you have African-American patrons who frequent your bar, and have they -- since you've had this thing up?

DOLATA: Well, actually, fondly enough, we have an African- American in our bar as we speak. So, yes.

SANCHEZ: Was he --

DOLATA: And they have no problem with it.

SANCHEZ: They have no problem with it?

DOLATA: They have no problem with it. That's them actually cheering in the background in the bar.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and we hear the motorcycle. I understand a couple of bikers like to frequent your bar as well, huh?

DOLATA: Yes, we have a little bit of everyone here. It's a cool place.

Daniel Colacrai and Chantal Dolata, interesting development on this story. Our thanks to both of you for your time and for giving us that show and tell.

DOLATA: Thank you very much. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: All right. Let's go to Joyce King now. Thank you.

Let's go to Joyce King now. She's the author of "Hate Crime: The Story of a Dragging in Jasper, Texas." You know, Joyce, a lot of folks are saying -- are watching this at home and thinking, you know, those don't look like two really bad people. They look like people who are just putting up decorations.

It didn't seem that they had any racist intent in what they were doing. Why go after them? Why are people upset?

JOYCE KING, AUTHOR, "HATE CRIME": I think people are upset because, number one, the climate and the mood of the country right now, especially after Jena, Louisiana, especially after Genarlow Wilson has been freed, especially after noose incidents around the country, I think for people to say that "I didn't know there was this sentiment over nooses," means that they have not been paying attention to what's been going on.

SANCHEZ: So are you saying -- so are you saying then that no nooses should be displayed at all this Halloween?

KING: No, I'm not saying that because I know that people are going to send me hate mail and e-mail to my Web site and tell me all about freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

SANCHEZ: Right. Right.

KING: But you know, at the same time, Rick, I cannot tell a person passing by those displays what to think, how to feel their level of emotion. I can only tell you that I probably would not have called 911. I probably would have walked away feeling very sad that we are still dealing with this in this country. Before I came on the program, I --

SANCHEZ: But tell me -- but hold on.

KING: Go ahead.

SANCHEZ: Tell me, explain to me what you would feel when you look at that from an African-American perspective, that perhaps others wouldn't feel or see.

KING: What I would feel is horror. I know what the noose is symbolic of, even if it has not been taught properly in schools to people.

Over the age of 40, I'm over 40 and I grew up in the south. I know that's a symbol of hatred. It's a symbol of racism. It's a symbol of discrimination. It's a symbol of slavery.

And if we just look at lynchings alone, which we do not want to look at in this country, I have to tell you, walking through without sanctuary, which was a very controversial lynching exhibit that stopped in Atlanta when I was there to speak, I was so shaken by the exhibit. Five minutes later at the podium, I could barely give the lecture I was there to talk about.

SANCHEZ: Wow.

KING: So I don't think people understand that if they read a book like "Without Sanctuary," --

SANCHEZ: Well, see, that's all about the experience and two different -- two people can see the same thing and see two completely different things.

By the way, let me stop us for a moment. I'm being told now that there is another story coming in about this. CNN is just now getting word from New York's Long Island police, where in a place called Valley Stream, they're investigating a noose that was found on a black mannequin outside of a home there. Also attached to the mannequin was a piece of paper that had the "N" word written on it. Now, OK, that is a blatant example of racism, right?

KING: Yes, that is very clear. That's very specific. That's a form of intimidation. It takes you back to the old days, if you will, and people know exactly what they are doing.

I'm not talking about the two people who are not racist, who said that they have displayed this in total innocence. I'm talking about people who actually do this for the sport of it, who do it because they have been following the news. They would like to stir up more trouble.

SANCHEZ: And are probably just generally insensitive because...

KING: Exactly.

SANCHEZ: ... it seems like that would -- that's what it comes down to, respect and sensitivities of other human beings.

Joyce King, thanks so much, as usual...

KING: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: ... for being with us. We certainly appreciate it. We'd like to know what you think at home, by the way. Go to CNN.COM/OUTINTHEOPEN and cast your quick vote, yes or no.

Are nooses appropriate Halloween decorations?

Also, remember tomorrow night, right here. We're going to have a CNN special investigation. It's called "The Noose: An American Nightmare." CNN's Kyra Phillips investigates the violent history behind the noose and how it's making headlines today.

Now, as far as what we're doing here as we continue, we aren't done with the noose controversy because there's this entertainer, an African-American entertainer, who made a point of wearing a noose in public himself. I will ask him why.

Also, we're working to get the very latest from Washington State on this gay sex scandal, another one involving another Republican lawmaker. Hard to even say this word, but wearing lingerie, say reports. We'll have it for you.

Then pictures we weren't supposed to see, a teen commando's scary secret video. We'll have it for you. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: We get passionate about going through and finding specific videos to show you every day. We begin today with this one.

This is Lakeland, Florida. Police released this home video as they investigated this young man. He's a student arrested last month. This is his video. He shot this giving it to police.

The video shows the student had four others, with loads of fun with automatic weapons, even a taser at one point. The student is now facing a variety of charges.

There's the tasering going on. He was initially arrested after somebody tipped off police. The kid had shown up at school wearing a bullet proof vest. Whatever happened to the don't tase me, bro, guy? Remember him? Don't tase me, bro. University of Florida student. We did a lot on this. There he is. That's when the screaming actually began and they started tasing him. A lot of controversy about it.

He was tackled by police last month after his outburst during the speech by Senator John Kerry. Police moved in on him and eventually used the taser on him while he screams and pleaded for them not to.

Well, now, police have released new videotapes. There's a dash cam tape of Meyer in a police cruiser just after he was arrested. And listen to what he's trying to tell the police officer. Let's pick it up there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MEYER, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA STUDENT, TASERED BY POLICE: I'm so scared, you guys. I didn't do anything. Is this America? Is this America? Is this America? Is this Nazi Germany or is this America?

Honestly. Who's waiting for me? You're just doing your job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: It was bizarre to listen to, lasted for quite a bit. Some of the best clips we could figure out. Meyer was just given 18 months on probation. He's going to stay out of jail as long as he stays out of trouble during that time, so says a judge.

In written apologies, school officials, by the way, Meyer said that he was out of line and that he was disruptive. You can see more of my picks on our Web site, CNN.COM/OUTINTHEOPEN. They're there for you.

All right. Another Republican lawmaker saying I am not gay. So then the question is this. Why is he accused of picking up another man while wearing lingerie? We're going to be back in exactly 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: And welcome back. More trouble for Republicans tonight. Another Republican lawmaker resigns, caught up in another gay sex scandal.

Washington State Republican legislator Richard Curtis resigned today after reports that he had sex with a young man that he picked up in a neurotic video store. The editor of the local paper, "The Columbian" is Lou Brancaccio. He has been covering the story since the very beginning, and he is, I understand, the only journalist to speak to Richard Curtis since this story broke. He joins us now on the phone.

Before we even get into the details of this, this is a representative who was Republican and had a very stern record on the issue of gay rights, right? He voted everything that ever come his way against gays, right?

VOICE OF LOU BRANCACCIO, EDITON, "THE COLUMBIAN": Well, I'm not sure that I'd go that far, but he was certainly a conservative.

SANCHEZ: Well, I understand that he voted against gay marriage. He also voted against any kind of union among gays, right?

BRANCACCIO: Yes, that's correct. He certainly was opposed to gay marriage.

SANCHEZ: So I understand as well that you will describe to us now how he came in contact with a young man and then it ended up in some type of tryst, correct?

BRANCACCIO: Right, that is correct. He was out of town in Spokane, Washington, and he met up with a young adult in an adult bookstore, and it ended up back in Representative Curtis's room, where Representative Curtis admits to having sex with this other person.

SANCHEZ: Now, I understand that there were witnesses. We're looking at the adult book store right now. There were witnesses there in the book store. And is it true that one witness said that he was wearing, it even seems strange to say this but you can confirm it, that he was wearing women's lingerie?

BRANCACCIO: That's correct. There was a witness that said he often spends a little time in the bathroom to dress up in women's lingerie.

SANCHEZ: So what is -- what is he saying to you? I understand you've spoken to him. How does he explain this?

BRANCACCIO: Well, I actually spoke to him just as the story was breaking. There was some information out about the sexual encounter, but the real damning information had not yet been released. So when he returned my call, he basically denied it.

SANCHEZ: We're talking to Lou Brancaccio, newspaper reporter who has been following the story. When he denied it, did he say, "I'm straight, I'm not gay," as we've heard from another politician recently embroiled in something very much like this?

BRANCACCIO: Well, right. I asked him a couple of direct questions because I had enough information to ask the direct questions, and I did ask him if he was gay. He said, "I am not gay." I then asked him if he had ever had sex with a guy, and he said, "I have not had sex with a guy."

SANCHEZ: And I imagine police have been investigating because there's accusations being hurled on both sides as to whether this was done for money or whether somebody's trying to extort some money on the other side, right?

BRANCACCIO: Yes, that's correct. And from my standpoint, that's really the reason why this is a big story because you have the potential of someone trying to extort money from a state representative.

SANCHEZ: Lou Brancaccio, thanks so much for filling us in on this really bizarre story we learned just as we're getting ready to go on the air. We want to see if we can turn it around for you. We'll stay -- we'll keep in tabs with you. Thanks again.

BRANCACCIO: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: He showed up at the BET Awards wearing a noose. Coming up, I asked him why he would do something like this, especially as an African-American comedian. Was it supposed to be funny, or was he making maybe some type of statement that we don't understand?

Also don't forget to make -- don't forget your chance to make a statement. Go to CNN.COM/OUTINTHEOPEN, and tell us yes or no, are nooses appropriate Halloween decorations? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: All right. Let me bring you up to date on some of the videos that we've been going through today. As we scour, we find southern Oregon as where we begin.

It really looks like an empty field, but now watch. See that? Miles and miles and miles broken (ph) See, that is a levee that's right there in front of you. And what they're trying to do is restore the wetlands. So obviously, the only way to get the water back out of the lake and into this area you see here in the foreground, is to get rid of the levee so the water will pour back in.

It's a huge and massive project, but they say it's important to restore those wetlands.

Now, to Manchester. This is in England. Watch what happens when some joker in a (INAUDIBLE) outfit sets off a huge firecracker in a wine shop. Yes, those are fireworks all right. Scores of mini rockets just keep going off before the shop keeper manages to kick the whole thing out the door. You could see it go over and over the shop's windows.

The shop keeper's baby son was in the store at the time, and he had to be taken to the hospital. I mean, this is not bright. He was treated for breathing smoke. And you can see more of these takes, by the way, on my Web site, CNN.COM/OUTINTHEOPEN.

"BizBreak" time. Let's do it for you. The Dow shot up 137 points. The Nasdaq gained 42 points. The S&P picked up 18 points. Now, the market soared after the federal reserve cut the key federal fund interest rate by 0.25 of a point to 4.5 percent.

It was a record-breaking day all over Wall Street today. Gold traded above $800 an ounce during the first day for the first, I should say for the first time since 1980. Oil hit a new record high, though. That means pay more at the pumps, right? Closing at $94.53 a barrel, some analysts say it could hit $100 soon. A routine takeoff turns into well, anything but. We've got the story behind these incredible pictures. We're going to be sharing it with you.

And then there's still time to go to CNN.COM/OUTINTHEOPEN and tell us, what do you think? Are nooses appropriate Halloween decorations? Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: I want you to check out this video from Nagoya, Japan. Look carefully. You'll see on the right side of the screen, something's going on. Bang, that's it.

A new Japanese fighter jet on a takeoff but suddenly, it just plunges into the runway, skidding on its belly, leaving a trail of flame. Two crew members were slightly hurt. This is a test flight by the Mitsubishi, before delivering the plane to Japan's Air Force.

Also this, a little Halloween fun you might say from a senatorial standpoint. You have to say senatorial with a deep voice, you know. During the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing -- yes, that's Republican Chuck Hagel showed up with a Joe Biden mask. And then he started chanting "Biden for president!" before the hearing started.

Biden, of course, is running for the Democratic nomination as you may know. He's from Delaware. Even these guys -- by the way, one's a Republican, one's a Democrat. That's important to note. These guys do talk to each other once in a while, even have fun with each other.

More of our picks at CNN.COM/OUTINTHEOPEN. They're for the taking any time you want to go and see them.

Well, he did this in public. He wore that. And he's an African- American entertainer. He sits down and talks to us about why he did this, in "60 seconds." We might get a little confrontation. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Told you we'd be back after 60 seconds. Here we are. Remember this? Take a look. It's comedian Katt Williams. He wore a noose around his own neck on purpose. He turned it into a fashion accessory as he posed at the BET Hip-Hop Awards just a few weeks ago.

Katt Williams is brave enough to join us now to try and explain why he would do something like this. You know, we've had people on this show all day, and they've been telling us about the history of the African-American experience and how hurtful it is for them to see something like that.

You're an African-American entertainer, and you wore one. How can you possibly explain that, Katt?

KATT WILLIAMS, COMEDIAN: I don't. I'm a comedian. I tell jokes. So you could be mad at the rope if you'd like, but the rope certainly hasn't done anything, and I thought I was helping, actually, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Well, explain to me, and I'm all ears, man, I'm ready to understand how you think this was helping.

WILLIAMS: Because I thought that the races were lost because everywhere they put those nooses, it wasn't the black neighborhood. So I thought maybe they couldn't find the "N" words they were looking for. So I put it on one that I knew they could find. And I wore a pink suit so in case they were looking.

And so now that they know, I think that just solved everything, and we can go back to Halloween because I'm black and, you know, my decorations aren't politically correct either. I have a bloody knife and a Frankenstein with screws coming out. It's --

SANCHEZ: Yes, but, you know, --

WILLIAMS: We got to get beyond this.

SANCHEZ: You know what it is. And listen, I respect you for coming out here and talking about this.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: But you have to understand, right? That people will always say -- my dad always used to say this to me.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

SANCHEZ: How do you expect people to respect you if you don't respect yourself? And as an African --

WILLIAMS: And how do you think I disrespected myself?

SANCHEZ: Well, because you're doing something that is disrespectful of African-Americans and you are an African-American.

WILLIAMS: But I'm African-American.

SANCHEZ: Absolutely. That's what I'm saying, man, You're an African-American.

WILLIAMS: So the concern is that maybe I've offended myself? I am an "N" word. There are colored people. There are African- Americans. These people don't like the "N" word.

SANCHEZ: Right.

WILLIAMS: That's what I am. And so I'm letting them know in case they were looking for that, that's where this is and they can leave African-Americans and colored people and good white people alone with this because --

SANCHEZ: But don't you see how that gives --

WILLIAMS: Slavery didn't happening now. SANCHEZ: But don't you see how that gives the guy who wants to go after you and people like you an opportunity? You're opening the door to what --

WILLIAMS: They've been doing it forever, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Well, but that's a cop-out. Katt --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Right now, they're cracking down on illegal immigrants.

SANCHEZ: That's a cop-out to say --

WILLIAMS: Why would I need to cop-out?

SANCHEZ: -- well, they've been doing it in the past. No.

WILLIAMS: I'm African-American already.

SANCHEZ: To say that they've been doing in the past. I don't care what they do in the future. Don't you want to educate? Don't you want to help people? I mean, don't we all want to kind of --

WILLIAMS: No.

SANCHEZ: No. You don't?

WILLIAMS: No. I don't educate people that put nooses up.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you a question.

WILLIAMS: If you put a noose out, I'm not trying to educate you.

SANCHEZ: No, but you put the noose out, Katt.

WILLIAMS: I'm trying to talk to you.

SANCHEZ: You put the noose out, though. You put it around your neck, man.

WILLIAMS: That is correct. Yes, yes, absolutely.

SANCHEZ: Do you regret that?

WILLIAMS: Isn't that what they were insinuating that they wanted to do when they hung it?

SANCHEZ: Forget about they and them. Let's talk about you.

WILLIAMS: Oh, well, forget about me, too, then.

SANCHEZ: But, Katt, you did it.

WILLIAMS: Yes. SANCHEZ: Let me ask you point blank. All right. Point blank. I want you to answer this --

WILLIAMS: I'm on CNN. My mama is looking at this. I know I did it.

SANCHEZ: Search your soul.

WILLIAMS: I'm trying to figure out who's mad.

SANCHEZ: Search your soul. I'm not mad. I'm just trying to --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Search my soul?

SANCHEZ: Search your soul and tell me if you could do this again, if you could have that day back...

WILLIAMS: Yes.

SANCHEZ: ... would you show up wearing that noose around your neck that so many people like you find so offensive?

WILLIAMS: I was hurt. I was hurt. I was bothered. I'm a comedian. The joke is all that I have, but I wasn't joking at that moment. At that moment --

SANCHEZ: Yes.

WILLIAMS: If I could do it differently, I would change everything. I wouldn't have wore that stupid pink suit. I would have done my hair. But the --

SANCHEZ: All right. All right. All right. All right. We got it. We gave you the opportunity. Katt Williams --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Thank you, I appreciate it.

SANCHEZ: Thank you, nonetheless, for being on here, sir. Appreciate it.

WILLIAMS: And thank you for having me.

SANCHEZ: All right. Are nooses appropriate Halloween decorations? The results when we come back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Our question of the day. Let's put it up. How did America respond? Are nooses appropriate Halloween decorations?

Sixty-nine percent of you said, yes, they are for Halloween. Thirty-one percent of you said, no, they are not. Boy, busy show. We did it a little differently, a lot of segments. Thanks so much for being with us.

I'm Rick Sanchez. LARRY KING LIVE is coming up next. Hasta maņana.

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