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Leaders, Mayors Take on Urban Violence; Eric Garner's Family Renews Call for Justice; Mayweather Wins. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 3, 2015 - 07:30   ET



[07:31:02] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour now. I'm Victor Blackwell live in Baltimore.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is calling for a statewide day of prayer and peace today. It's hoped that today will bring calm following some arrests in Baltimore overnight. Police arrested a number of protesters who stayed out in the streets, despite the city's 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew. Community members want the curfew, which has been in effect since Tuesday, to be lifted now. We'll see if that happens today.

Meanwhile, hundreds of community leaders and more than a dozen mayors met at the second annual convening of Cities United, it's a national organization dedicated to eliminating, quote, "violence related deaths of African-American males." The meeting comes in the wake of several disturbing incidents. The controversial deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and Freddie Gray here in Baltimore. It sparked a national debate about immediate and pressing issues in our country about race, urban poverty, and policing.

We have with us Karen Freeman-Wilson. She's the mayor of Gary, Indiana, and attended that conference.

Madam Mayor, thank you for joining us this morning. And I wonder if there is one overarching decision or consensus how to approach this problem that came out of this conference.

MAYOR KAREN FREEMAN-WILSON, GARY, INDIANA: I think the consensus that you'll find is that there are a number of underlying issues. You sort of talked a little bit about them. The concept of racism as it plays out in our urban communities.

The issue of unemployment, of challenge school systems. All of those underlying issues lead to frustration among many residents, particularly among African-American males. And you see some of the manifestations through violence, and not just the demonstrations, but protests that really underscore at a loud volume what the sense of disenfranchisement and sense of hopelessness that many feel.

BLACKWELL: You know, there is a piece in "The New York Times" this morning by Nick Kristof says since the edge of forehead Freddie Gray, we treat them as if they are some like a natural disaster like a hurricane that was imposed on us. But, instead it's a consistent choice, it is a reflection of socioeconomic decisions that had been made over the time. I wonder if the approach, though, is tailored to each city or each population, or is there an approach that works for every urban area?

FREEMAN-WILSON: I think that certainly you have to tailor certain aspects, but there are certain themes, there are certain areas where we have to focus and I certainly agree with that concept.

We have decided that it's too hard to deal with some of the issues. I mean, who wants to talk about race on a consistent basis? Who wants to engage those who feel that they have been at the brunt of racism? Who wants to talk about individuals who have been -- who have not even entered the employment market and those who have been out of it for so long, they don't ever see a prospect of a job?

And in talking about it, you have to do something about it. You have to provide the training. You have to provide the education. You have to acknowledge that you are failing some people in our educational systems.

[07:35:00] And there are broad themes that apply to many cities that if we begin to develop solutions, they can be applied in a city- by-city basis and tailored to the needs of those communities.

BLACKWELL: All right. Madam Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, I thank you for being a part of this conversation this morning. I think people appreciate that this is being discussed but what they would appreciate more is that there is some action planned and actual action to combat it. But I thank you so much for joining us and we'll continue the conversation.

Ahead at the top of the hour, we'll take a closer look at how policies and politics have played a role in the situation, more about what Nick Kristof called this morning a consistent choice of socioeconomic policies over a period of time.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All righty. Hey, thanks, Victor.

Listen, we have new disturbing information into a story we first told out new day about a mother reunited with her daughter years after she was told after she died during childbirth. Now, 18 other moms who were also told their babies were dead are wondering if their children can be alive.

And chances are, you stayed up last night watching the big fight, right? Mayweather, the big winner. But was Manny Pacquiao at 100 percent? Some are asking.


BLACKWELL: OK. Twenty minutes to the top of the hour now.

And with all of the attention here in Baltimore, the family of Eric Garner is now renewing their call for justice. You'll remember, he is the 43-year-old who died while being held down by police last summer in New York. Now, Garner's widow, also his mother, noting the similarities between his death and the death of Freddie Gray.

Sara Ganim takes a look at the cases.


SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The arrest of six Baltimore police officers in Freddie Gray's death has renewed calls for justice for Eric Garner, the 43-year-old father who died after apparently placed in an apparent chokehold by an NYPD officer last year.

[07:40:08] ERIC GARNER: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

GANIM: Garner repeated the phrase 11 times during his arrest. Now, we learned the 25-year-old Gray also indicated to police officers that he, too, could not breathe. Garner spoke about the similarities between her husband's last moments and Gray's.

ESAW GARNER, WIDOW OF ERIC GARNER: The same way the man was screaming for medical attention and they refused to get it or delayed getting it was the same way that my husband was screaming, "I can't breathe," and they did not let the EMS workers do what they needed to do for my husband to survive that incident.

GANIM: The grand jury's decision not to indict the officers involved sparked huge demonstrations in New York and reignited a national conversation on police brutality that continues. In both cases, paramedics were called too late.

But law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes says it's hard to criticize officers for not immediately calling for help.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, the problem is, and having made many, many arrests when I was a street cop myself before joining the FBI, is that that's kind of common that you hear people being arrested that are resisting in any way, say they can't breathe or they can't walk or, you know, claiming ailments that they don't really have.

GANIM: In Garner's case, the Department of Justice is currently investigating civil rights violations. His family called for justice in a press conference on Saturday.

GWEN CARR, MOTHER OF ERIC GARNER: People in Baltimore, South Carolina, their prosecutor -- they did the right thing and that's what we need. We need someone to step up and do the right thing.

ESAW GARNER: It's been ten months and there has been nothing done to these police officers in regards to Eric Garner and I'm happy for the other families that they are getting justice, but we need justice here in New York for Eric Garner.

GANIM: But the difference between the two cases make it hard to draw comparisons.

FUENTES: In the Garner case, Garner's resisting lawful arrest. If he would have complied, he would still be alive today and bad things wouldn't happen from the wrestling match they ended up having on the sidewalk.

In the Gray case, it turns out even the arrest itself was completely unlawful and then everything bad happens to him afterward, but he shouldn't have been in police custody for anything else bad to happen.

GANIM: Regardless of the outcome of Garner's case, protesters here believe his death added to the national conversation of police brutality, even though justice for Freddie Gray may not mean justice for Eric Garner.

(on camera): Now, of course, it's hard to compare cases, but protesters here told me when they heard that Freddie Gray said something along the lines of "I can't breathe," just like Eric Garner, that gave them renewed hope that the DOJ investigation may lead to some charges in the case of Eric Garner -- Victor.


BLACKWELL: All right. Sara Ganim, thank you so much.

We've got CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos with us here.

Danny, Tom pointed out the differences between these two cases, between Freddie Gray's case, also Eric Garner's case. The family believes that justice for Eric Garner would be charges at least against those officers. Any options here? Any probability that they will get what they consider to be justice?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, the interesting thing in the garner case is that a grand jury declined to indict. But in this case, there have been charges filed but there has not been a determination of probable cause yet, either by a grand jury or by a judge in a probable cause hearing. So, in a way, we are not quite there yet. That could potentially happen in this case. It really remains to be seen.

But ultimately, Victor, law enforcement is an entity of limited resources. While it would be nice to have the option to look over every case of excessive force with a fine-toothed comb and scrutinize it, we just don't have those decisions in law enforcement and decisions have to be made. Even if there is a claim of excessive force, if a grand jury, for example, doesn't indict in another case, maybe the resources aren't available to have a second look at each and every instance of excessive force.

But that is why we have the civil system of justice because if you believe that you've been the victim of excessive force and the government will not investigate it, then you can get a private attorney and pursue those claims. It may not be true. It may not satisfy that need for arresting the people that people believe are responsible, but it's all they have.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it may not fit their definition of justice in this case.

But in the Garner case, are you saying that it's specifically based on resources, or that they have exhausted the system when the grand jury came back without the decision to indict?

CEVALLOS: Well, there are limited options. I mean, the local law enforcement can investigate. The federal, the Department of Justice can investigate.

[07:45:01] BLACKWELL: Yes.

CEVALLOS: Once those things are complete, other than either one of those government entities making a decision -- well, let's take a second look at this. It's not very likely because, again, government is limited in its resources.

BLACKWELL: All right. Danny Cevallos, thank you so much.

All right. Christi?

PAUL: All righty. Thank you so much, Victor.

Listen -- there was one tearful reunion between a mother and her now grown daughter. And it has more than a dozen other moms happening what happened to their children. Eighteen moms who were told their babies were dead now wondering if that reunion between mom and child could happen to them, too. We are talking to the attorney who wants a full investigation.


PAUL: Forty-eight minutes past the hour

And it is a story we've been following for weeks at CNN. Eighteen African-American women, all mothers, who were told decades ago their babies died shortly after birth at a St. Louis hospital. Well, they now believe their children are alive and that they were stolen just moments after they were born.

We're going to talk to the attorney for some of them in just a moment. But, first, Joe Johns tells us what happened to spark that new hope.


BRENDA STEWART, MOTHER: I have always said for the last 50 years that my child is somewhere.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brenda Stewart is one of many fearing her child may be alive after being told her child died at a St. Louis hospital years ago.

STEWART: I just sit straight up when I seen it.

JOHNS: That was her reaction when she saw the TV reunion of 76- year-old Zella Jackson Price and her 49-year-old daughter Melanie Diane Gilmore on a local newscast. Their story hauntingly similar to Brenda Stewart's. Zella had also been told her baby died after giving birth in 1965 at the same hospital Brenda Stewart gave birth, Homer G. Philips Hospital, which closed in 1979. Hospital staff allegedly took the infant from Zella.

DNA records linked Zella as Melanie's mother years later.

[07:50:00] Little known to Zella, her daughter had been placed in adoptive care. Their past finally crossed when Melanie began seeking out her birth mother. The story all too real to Brenda Stewart who now wonders if her child is still alive.

STEWART: As she came out, she cried. She was crying. They held her up for me to see her.

JOHNS: Stewart says she was never given an opportunity to hold her child and that the hospital staff allegedly returned to say her child was dead. Even more when Stewart's parents arrived at the hospital, staff allegedly told her parents they could not see the body because Stewart signed papers stating the body would be donated to science. Stewart denies signing such paperwork citing the fact that she was only 15 years old at the time.

STEWART: It still hurt me to know that my baby is out there because I never have believed that she was dead.


PAUL: Al Watkins is joining us now. He's representing some of the women who believe their babies may have been stolen.

Al, thank you so much. You talked to some of these women. Help us understand emotionally where they are with this, because I just cannot imagine.

ALBERT WATKINS, ATTORNEY FOR WOMEN WHO BELIEVE BABIES WERE TAKEN: These are women that have spent the better part of their adult lives with a gnawing feeling that they simply can't shake. When they saw the reunion of Zella Jackson Price with her daughter 49 plus years following their separation at birth, they were struck -- it was like opening a wound again, only it's not picking at a scab, it's a gaping head wound.

And it is something that -- we have to understand, these are not individuals who have seen a bus accident and are running on to the bus to say they have a claim, too. These are older, generally late 60s and 70s and some in the 80s, infirm, some gravely ill, and African- American women who had children in the '50s and '60s in St. Louis at a time when the city was extraordinary segregated.

And even up until 1955, this hospital, Homer G. Phillips Hospital, was the black hospital. They had a white hospital and a black hospital, and every one of these girls that went into the hospital, they're 15, 16, 17, 18 -- they were young, they were very alone. And when they started calling in to Zella Jackson Price and to subsequently, us, the stories that were related had key similarities and nuances which indicated that they were -- they had experienced something that Zella Jackson Price had as well, and with Zella Jackson Price, we had her baby, though.

PAUL: Right. They were most -- most of the births were in the 1950s to 1960s, all African-American, these were all poor, young moms.

I understand you're in Indianapolis because you believe you have a lead there. What is that, and can you help us understand what evidence might there still be to move this forward?

WATKINS: Sure. The evidence procurement process is going to be challenging, but it's not going to be so daunting that we can't get it done. The hospital itself is closed.

PAUL: Right.

WATKINS: It was owned and operated by the city of St. Louis. The records retention protocol with that hospital is something that's problematic. The city of St. Louis is giving us the assistance it can, given its limited resources and access to those records.

But we know in the cases of the adoptive children or adoptive families or in foster care situations, there are legal files, there are adoptive care and foster care files, both with the city which used to run the foster care system, and the state, which subsequently took it over.

So, in the case of Zella Jackson Price, the reason this came unwound is because Zella Jackson Price's child was hearing disabled, and at some point instead of being successfully sold through adoption, that baby came back and they couldn't give that baby to Ms. Price because they told Ms. Price that her baby was dead.

PAUL: Dead, yes.

WATKINS: They had to put her in the foster care system which opened up a whole new paperwork.

PAUL: My goodness.

WATKINS: Which permits us to get at it.

PAUL: All right, all right. Well, we are certainly hoping that this happens. We, it's fascinating, it's heartbreaking and we thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. We'll be talking to you again certainly.

WATKINS: It's my pleasure. It's vital that -- it's vital those in the country outside of St. Louis know about it because it has been 50 years and people have moved all over.

PAUL: No doubt, no doubt. Al Watkins, thank you so much for all the work you are doing and for talking with us about it.

And we'll obviously keep you posted as we continue to learn more about that.

Meanwhile, Ferguson had some of the same problems that Baltimore is now going through, and that city was able, it seems, to turn the corner. How does Baltimore enact change? We're going to talk about that coming up in the next hour of NEW DAY.

[07:55:02] And when we return, Mayweather wins, but did the fight live up to the hype? We're taking you live to Las Vegas for the morning after.


PAUL: It was called the fight of the century. It was years in the making. Did the battle between Mayweather and Pacquiao live up to the hype?

We want to find out from someone who was there. CNN's Coy Wire is live in Las Vegas.

All right, Coy. What's the feeling there this morning? What's the buzz?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: It's a little dull this morning. I mean, you can see behind me, everybody is kind of wrapping up, packing up and going home.

And I've got to say, the fight did not live up to the hype, Christi. It was like watching paint dry, and in the beginning it was the energy, the enthusiasm was there. You felt it. It felt good.

But as the fight wore on, you just saw that these two fighters were not getting any reaction, the stuff fans paid all those big dollars to see.

I think the talk today, Christi, is more about what came out after the fight. There was news that apparently Pacquiao was not his normal feisty ferocious self because he had a shoulder injury. Three weeks ago, he injured it in training camp, and he was taking an anti- inflammatory that was approved by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

But then when he went to take it before the fight, the Nevada Gaming Commission said, no, you can't take it. So, apparently, he was playing with this -- not play -- fighting with this injured shoulder that was holding him back. He wasn't that pit bull and red bull like we used to see from him. So, that has a lot of people talking this morning, Christi.

PAUL: Wow. All right. What celebrities were there watching? Who did you see?

WIRE: Oh my gosh. You name them, and they were probably there. Beyonce, Jay-Z, Jake Gyllenhaal, some of our producers' favorites. And also, Mark Wahlberg, and Sean Puffy Combs were there, they each bet $250,000 on this fight. Marky Mark, he said Manny was going to win, and put a quarter of a mil on that, sorry, Marky Mark.