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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Law Enforcement Focuses On New Area In Search For Escapees; Source: Escaped Prisoners' DNA Found In Cabin; Witness Reports Seeing Inmate Fleeing; South California Government: Time To Remove Flag; Walmart To Stop Selling Confederate Flag Merchandise; Has Hate Gone Mainstream?; Pres. Obama Uses The N-word To Make Point About Racism. Aired 9:00-10:00p ET.
Aired June 22, 2015 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, AC 360 HOST: Good evening, 9:00 P.M. here in New York. A lot happening and quite a lot of front starting with the search of two killers and evidence -- hard evidence -- DNA evidence that they might not have gotten more than a few dozen miles from the prison that they first broke out of.
Not much territory, we hope for searchers to focus on the plenty of ground for us to cover including new information about how the killers got their tools.
Let's just say, it will make you think about hamburgers and a totally new way. We begin tonight with Jason Carroll.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Searchers calling it one of their strongest leads yet, test now been run on materials found inside a cabin located in a wooded area a little more than 20 miles west of the Clinton County Correctional Facility. Sources tell CNN that DNA matches that of escaped cons, Richard Matt and David Sweat. State police are still cautious about the findings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. CHARLES GUESS, NEW YORK STATE POLICE: We have recovered specific items from that cabin. We forwarded them to the appropriate laboratories and reached conclusive determination but we're not prepared to release that evidence at this time.
CARROLL: Search teams descended on the area, road block set up, alerts put out warning residents to be vigilant.
And on Saturday, nearly 300 miles away, word of another possible siding of fugitives near the New York-Pennsylvania border in the town of Friendship.
GUESS: We conducted a thorough search that is now ended. We have declared that area clear.
CARROL: Also, becoming more clear, how the men gathered materials to make their escape.
A source familiar with the investigation tells me investigators are looking at whether tools or other contraband was hidden inside frozen hamburger meat, passed on to Matt, just about a week before the escape, that meat did not pass the metal detector which is a violation of prison policy.
Officials are also looking into whether Joyce Mitchell, the prison employee, now facing charges for her alleged role in the escape may have convinced a guard to pass now the frozen meat. Several guards now under investigation including Gene Palmer. He worked on the so- called honor block where Matt and Sweat were housed. His attorney says Palmer did not know of any escape plans.
ANDREW BROCKWAY, GENE PALMER'S ATTORNEY: Client says it's 20-20. Right now, he sees things that have happened throughout the past year to two years that have opened up his eyes. He's a very proud individual. He thinks that he has information that will be helpful.
CARROLL: Palmer knew both inmates for several years. He accepted several paintings and drawings Matt made for him. Investigators question Palmer for nearly 14 hours, Saturday.
BROCKWAY: Gene was extremely truthful and forthcoming. He wants these two individuals to be caught and anything that he can do to help law enforcement do their job, he's going to cooperate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Jason joins us now. Do we know more about this relationship between Gene Palmer and the two inmates?
CARROLL: We do. I mean, Gene Palmer was one of those people who has influenced by Joyce Mitchell. Of all people, she said to Gene Palmer that these were good guys, that they could be trusted and Gene Palmer would use them from time to time as a source, Anderson. When something was going wrong in the prison, he could go them and find out who was about to cause trouble, and so he would use them in that capacity.
And let's be clear, Joyce Mitchell still very much the key figure here. As I said, she influenced not only Gene Palmer in vouching for these two inmates saying that they were good guys, but also she vouched for these two inmates to other guards who were at the prison as well. Anderson?
COOPER: Jason, appreciate it. Just a short time ago, local sheriff wait in and what searchers are up against, but also what the killers are facing if indeed they are in that massive and virtually untamed state part. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN MULVERHILL, OWL'S HEAD SHERIFF, NEW YORK: Well, even in the area where, you know, we think they were last seen, it's a very rough terrain. It's not easy to get through. It's not easy to traverse. There aren't any year round residences. It's all season residences in that particular area. And yesterday, the weather was just totally against the detail and against those inmates as well, you know heavy rain, you know heavy winds. It's been a rough slide so to speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's Alexandra Field interviewing that sheriff. She joins us now. So, he talked about the rough terrain. What else did he say about the search?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're understanding from the sheriff is that while there are tremendous amount of law enforcement resources that have been brought into Franklin County, more than a thousand law enforcement officers helping with the search that local knowledge unit could be key to this search Anderson, not just from local law enforcement officials but also from the public.
[21:05:09] We learned from the sheriff that in order to navigate this terrain, you've really got to have people on the ground to know what they're dealing with. The rangers have been out in the woods here, they are helping with the investigation. We know that investigators are going literally from tree stand to tree stand let alone going door to door, cabin to cabin as they continue to try and track this two fugitives who they believe were in this area tied to that cabin that we have been talking about.
They're also soliciting help from the public though asking for people who have trail camps which are very popular in this area, they're used by hundreds to train -- turn in any video that they may have picked up on those cameras, since this escape has happened.
And again, they're appealing to the public who lives out here, who lives in those woods to notify police if they're seeing anything unusual because, Anderson, you'll remember, it was a witness who was out there in the woods who saw someone running near the cabin and alerted the police that help police found the cabin were they believe that these two fugitives had pulled up for some period of time.
So the sheriff out here telling people, you know, "If you haven't seasonal cabin go check on it. If you see anything out place, a garden who's out of place, it is worth making that call. In this case seemed to have helped, Anderson.
COOPER: How likely is it that the inmates could have navigated it on foot from the prison to that cabin?
FIELD: Yeah. It's the question on everyone's mind, because since this search started there was some degree of confidence that perhaps the inmates hadn't gotten too far. Where we are right now is about 22 miles west of Dannemora, the maximum security prison that they broke out of.
And if you take a look around out here, Anderson, it is really dens forth dens wood you would have imagined that you have no way and navigate out here if you didn't really know the land. But the sheriff is telling me that there are abandoned rail beds that there are power lines and that there's snow mobile and ATV trails that could essentially take you on that trip from Dannemora all the way out here to Owls Head.
So, if they were able to hook in to one of those trails one of those rail beds one of those power lines that they might very well be able to follow those leads and make their way right here.
COOPER: All right. Alexandra, I appreciate the reporting. Thank you. More now on the investigation. Deborah Feyerick joins us again tonight.
In terms of the person who saw -- who's cabin this was who went to check on the cabin or I guess one of the owners of the cabin saw somebody running wasn't sure if he was one of this inmates but DNA showed up, we know there's peanut butter, there was water that was used, we don't know though what may have been taken if anything. Do we?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's all part of the investigation to determine exactly what was in that hunting cabin, because there could have been knives, there could have been weapons, it's a very sort of basic kind of cabin but still the investigators have to keep assessing and reassessing where are these guys, what may they -- what could they have attained as they're running, you know.
And one -- all -- another game changer is the fact that these two inmates may well understand that now their cover has been blown. They have been identified, they have been spotted, they knew somebody's coming towards that cabin and that means that they have been identified out of particular location that was something that had not happened until really this past weekend.
COOPER: And I understand your sources are saying authorities maybe concerned that this two could be monitoring communications?
FEYERICK: That's another premise that investigators are working on this scenarios where cellphones do not work very well, some of this cabins do have scanners inside so there are portable scanners and so back have been that they dig it access to, there's a question of what other kind of communications even television were radios or something to that affected they could be listening to as well.
And again, all this plays in to how investigators go after them and try to choke them off from this area.
COOPER: And the truths of the Correction's officer who's being interviewed. Do we know more about him? Is he the person who Joyce Mitchell's believe to have given these frozen hamburgers?
FEYERICK: Well, that's exactly right. And Joyce Mitchell, seems to have a very deep connection with these two inmates. She had relationships...
COOPER: Right. FEYERICK: ... apparently with both of them. And it appears that she may duped this prison guard Gene Palmer into transporting caring this meat into the facility and these the -- on their block that they had, they do have hot plates so the inmates could cook for themselves, and so whether she said, you know, this is not a problem but she may have essentially dupe him into a knowingly carried in particular weapons, you can get, you know, this, this jab saws in that are about six inches long, you can get cutters in, you can even get cellphones. Cellphones are widely popular contraband in...
FEYERICK: ... prison even money. So it's unclear specifically what kind of contraband that they are looking at the possibility that that it was some kind of a tool.
COOPER: All right. Deb Feyerick, I appreciate it. Thank you. Coming up next, what our panel of criminal justice experts make of the new evidence, the closeness to the prison where it was found, what it says about what these two killers could be up to.
[21:13:25] COOPER: The breaking news tonight. DNA evidence in the search for two fugitive killers found in a cabin now far from the prison that they broke out off. An eye witness in the escapee and escape tools possibly smuggled into the prison inside frozen hamburger meat. The corrections officers suspended a lot of moving parts to the story.
Joining us now, Joe Lo Templio, staff writer for the Press-Republican, a local paper. Joe, your newspaper's reporting that the cabin is actually owned by a group of Correction's officers. Now, we have not been able to confirm that independently. CNN hasn't.
Can you say where you're getting that from? And do you have any reason to believe it's anything but a coincidence?
JOE LOTEMPLIO, PRESS-REPUBLICAN STAFF WRITER: As far as I know, it is just that, a coincidence because there are several -- many of those hunting camps in that area and many of them are own by Correction officers. If they're not owned, they are often leased by parties, groups of people together that lease them for the hunting season. And for what I'm told that this group of COs leased this hunting camp in this area that they're looking.
COOPER: The attorney for Mr. Palmer, one of the Correction's officers being interviewed, the attorney told us he didn't know if Mr. Palmer was one the people who lease this cabin. Do you have any know knowledge of whether he is involved in this?
LOTEMPLIO: No. I don't believe he is.
COOPER: OK. In terms of who allegedly discovered that something was amiss at the cabin, what that person claims to have seen. Can you walk us through what you know? LOTEMPLIO: Yeah. From what we were told from our sources that know this party in this individual that went to the camp.
[21:15:05] He went to check on the camp sometime Saturday, was alerted to something that somebody was or something was going on, saw something on the porch that wasn't right and saw a two figures inside the hunting camp.
We're told that he ordered them to come out and hand a weapon with him and he saw a two individual's exit the front of the camp which was actually the other side. He came in from the rear and -- but he did not -- could not say for sure if it was the individuals that everybody's looking for.
COOPER: So he actually is -- your understanding is he actually saw a two individuals in that cabin because on the DNA evidence...
LOTEMPLIO: Right. And...
COOPER: ... before (inaudible) both men inside.
LOTEMPLIO: Yeah, that's what we're told. Again, it's not, you know, it hasn't been confirmed definitely by law enforcement yet. And we're also told that the items found in the cabin were a jug of water and a jar of peanut butter that were out on the table in the camp that this individual saw.
COOPER: Have you - do you have any sense of how long authorities believe this escapees might have been inside the cabin and if there were any weapons or supplies inside the cabin that they could had access to?
LOTEMPLIO: Yeah. It's uncertain how long but we do know that there is a whole string of these camps in that area and theoretically these guys could be hopping from camp to camp to camp and I'm told that there is a lot of can goods in these camps. Some have a lot of alcohol in them, some may have weapons but most hunters don't leave their weapons there when they're not in hunting season in. Hunting season around here, you know, is primarily in the fall September, October, November. And so they're be empty for a long time.
COOPER: Yeah. Well, Joe -- Joe LoTemplio, I appreciate you've been on tonight. Thank you.
I want to bring in our panels, CNN contributor and forensic scientist Lawrence Kobilinsky of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Also, John Cuff is back former head of the Northeast Fugitive Investigation Division at the U.S Marshal Service, and former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole.
Certainly, John, on the deciding the DNA you called this a game changer.
JOHN CUFF, FMR. HEAD OF THE NORTHEAST FUGITIVE INVESTIGATION DIVISION, U.S MARSHAL SERVICE: This is a huge a game changer, Anderson, I mean it's a big significant break for a law enforcement. This is the closest to scent that they've had since those dogs last week. So the DNA found in the cabin along with the possible sighting of these two individuals certainly reenergizes this law enforcement effort on the hunt. And also, it allows the law enforcement to cast the net out in that area there just two perimeter work in that type thing.
COOPER: Professor Kobilinsky, I mean the DNA it was seems to been identified pretty quickly often it seems in a lot of this cases we hear well you can't get DNA for a week or two?
LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, first of all these are convicted felons, therefore, their genetic profiles are on CODIS, the national database. So we have that background information on both of them.
Now in terms of the technology, it's extraordinary. What we can do nowadays, there's a piece of equipment called rapid that can actually get a genetic profile in 90 minutes.
KOBILINSKY: I don't think they used it in these case but one day is not unusual if you really prioritize and you put your people there day and night.
COOPER: And any of you have the genetic profile of people already on.
KOBILINSKY: Absolutely. Absolutely. What you need is biological evidence so apparently that's what they find in the cabin, we don't know exactly what. I mean at first I was thinking it might be a toothbrush or a hairbrush or a comb, or an item of clothing they can scrape clothing for DNA.
We're not sure about that but whatever it is, it certainly led to...
COOPER: You just scrape the clothing for DNA for like for dead skin?
KOBILINSKY: Absolutely. Wherever clothing comes in close contact with the skin with his friction, for example the collar on a shirt, your going to be able to scrape it and get as much DNA as you need to get a profile. No problem.
COOPER: And how long they were there? That's obviously not something you can tell for the DNA.
KOBILINSKY: Well you can't do it with DNA. You can't tell when DNA was deposited. There maybe other ways of determining when they where in that cabin by the food they ate and other factors but not through DNA.
COOPER: Mary Ellen, with law enforcement I mean seemingly closing in on them, if this in fact them. How does that affect fugitives' behavior if they know police are on the trail which they - I mean they certainly must assume that police are on their trail. Is there a pattern?
MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FBI PROFILER: Well, for these two people and particularly for the one, Richard Matt, he's still dealing with -- I mean he's still a psychopath and what his not going to be as fearful as someone who doesn't have those personality traits.
[21:20:04] He also has very unrealistic goals and thinking that he can get out of these. So those two things are really going to dominate and his not going to give up willingly. He also believe -- he's very optimistic and he thinks that he can beat this. So, they're not going to be as fearful as you would expect someone else to be.
And, one of the first things that he would have been thinking about when he got away from the prison is knowing that plan A, she was about there to meet them presumably is obtaining weapons of some kind so that he would have those in the event that he needed them.
COOPER: Does it surprise you, Mary Ellen, that they are still together?
ELLEN: In some ways it does. But they needed each other. They're not together because they are the best of friends.
They need one another particularly, Matt. And at the point where Sweat would have been a problem or wouldn't have gone along with it, he would be dispensable. They -- he would have gotten rid of them.
But right now they really did need each other because this has been a 24 hour around the clock situation and someone had to sleep while someone else was looking around to see if there were other people, so they are using each other which is classic psychopathic behavior.
COOPER: Mary Ellen O'Toole, I appreciate it, John Cuff as well, Professor Kobilinsky, thank you. Just ahead, we have new details about the shooter in the Charleston Church massacre. When his racist views began taking shape and what influenced them or who influenced them.
Plus, major development stating the battle to remove the Confederate Flag from South Carolina's Capital grounds, we'll talk to the State lawmakers who is introducing legislation to get it down.
[21:25:40] COOPER: In Charleston, South Carolina, funeral plans are being made for the nine people murdered inside the historic Emanuel AME church.
On Friday, President Obama's going to deliver the eulogy at the funeral service for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, their pastor and a widely respected state senator.
On Wednesday, Senator Pinckney's casket will be at the state house in Columbia for public viewing. And the push to remove the confederate flag from the state house grounds accelerated today. We have more than that ahead. But first investigation and new details about the confessed killer, who told police he wanted to start a race war.
Martin Savidge joins me now. So talk to me about what you learned about the shooters history with racist ideology.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know it's interesting. It's obvious a self-evolution of hatred that he had because those who knew him growing up, friends say that he didn't seem to be this firebrand of a racist then. And if you believe that manifesto that it's his writing, he says that he wasn't raised by a racist family in any way.
He said that with the George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin tragedy, it really changed him. He went online right across a racist website. He said he hasn't been the same since. So that was kind of his patriot awakening.
And then, we know, moving forward to this year, he started his own racist website. He got a gun and then he began kind of this weird journey through all these spots across South Carolina. The notorious one's dealing with slavery and the revered one's dealing with the confederacy. He was drinking and his friends also say he's taken pills and he was getting angrier.
And then we know, last Wednesday, he showed up at the side door of Emanuel AME Church. So that's the journey. And a very sick one it is.
COOPER: And about President Obama's trip on Friday, do we know details?
SAVIDGE: Well, we know of course that the President is coming. We're told that the first lady is coming as well and the Vice President. I mean that's really significant to have all three with the Vice President and the President in the same place. And as we pointed out, the President will deliver the eulogy because this was just a victim, this was a person he knew, and of course, he's a representative as well as being a reverend.
So in many ways, he is the epitome and represents all of those who died but of course, you can bet that the President will be recalling all nine victims. Many are wondering if he'll come to the church himself. Anderson.
COOPER: Martin, thank you for the reporting.
Two big pieces of breaking news tonight. We just learned that Mississippi House Speaker, Philip Gunn, a Republican, now says the Confederate battle flag emblem should be taken off the state flag. That is it right there.
And earlier say, the worlds' biggest retailer made a very big announcement. Walmart is removing all confederate flag merchandise from its stores and there's not the only development in the wake of the Charleston tragedy.
With the Confederate flag still flying full staff on the ground to the Capitol, Republican Governor Nikki Haley, flanked by-law makers including Republican Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, said it was time for the flag to go. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. NIKKI HALEY, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will to say its time to move the flag from the capitol ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Senator Graham put out a statement reading a part, "In the worst of tragedies, we have seen the best of South Carolina. Today, I am urging that the Confederate battle flag be removed from state house grounds to an appropriate location." Republican Party chairman quickly endorsed the move in a stringer GOP candidates would be candidates also got onboard.
Joining me now is South Carolina State Representative, Doug Brannon.
Representative Brannon, I appreciate you being with us. I know you were a friend of Senator Pinckney and I'm sorry for your loss.
Can you explain to me why you believe it's important that the Confederate flag now be taken down form the Capitol grounds?
DOUG BRANNON, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: In honor of the Senator and the other eight people that were so tragically murdered the other night, its just time. It's no longer --that flag can no longer be on our state Capitol ground. That Capitol ground needs to be a place of progress for everybody and right now, its not.
COOPER: I know the Post Courier newspaper on Charleston have been reaching out to everyone on the state legislature to see how they vote. And it seems to me, they're reporting that as of this evening, roughly half of all law makers have yet to return their calls or e- mails. The majority of those who did talks that they support removing it. Seems like a lot of representatives still kind of want to dodge the question or not be on record right now. What do you say to that?
BRANNON: Well, you know, I'm not going to speak for any member of the House except for myself but I knew and I said this yesterday. My desire to introduce this bill was going to make people take a stand. And I'm so thankful for Governor Haley's announcement today and for Senator Graham and Senator Scott taking the positions that they've taken. It's not just this bill. It's those voices that are making these people take a stand. And it's time to take that stand.
COOPER: You said earlier though, you think you could lose your reelection because of this?
BRANNON: Yes, that's very possible.
COOPER: You're -- I mean certainly you're a Republican, to the Republican presidential candidate who say this is not worthy of a national discussion. Some candidates as you said have taken a stand, others have said, this is not something that a presidential candidate or a president should weigh in on. What do you -- do you believe that, that this isn't something that they should weigh in on?
BRANNON: No, I don't believe that. Anderson, I'm not really a politician, I'm an elected official. And I'm not a politician because I'm not going to say what I think you want to hear, I'm going to say what I think.
So, if you ask me what I think about the flag, I'm going to tell you, I would ask the presidential candidates to do the same. Do I think they have to? That's up to them, but I wish they would take a position.
COOPER: The fact that you have Governor Haley, you have Senators Graham and Scott, they are all now saying, "Look, take down the flag." Do you believe that this actually will happen? Would you think is a tipping point?
BRANNON: I'm not going to predict, but I know that the current is significantly swifter today as I talk to you than it was Friday when it was released that I had a bill that I wanted to introduce.
So, I certainly believe there's momentum. I think there's enough votes in the house to get the two thirds. I hope there's enough in the Senate. I know that standing next to Governor Haley was Senator Leatherman who is without question the most powerful senator. He was there. That's got to mean something. So I'm hopeful that we've got the votes in both bodies.
COOPER: Well, Representative Brannon, I appreciate your time tonight, we'll be following it closely, thank you very much.
BRANNON: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: Just ahead, Drew Griffin tracking down the guy behind the website, of the hate group that the Charleston church shooter credited in his so-called manifesto.
[21:36:35] COOPER: The 21 year old man has confessed to murdering nine people in South Emmanuel AME Church told friends and also police he wanted to start a race war. We aren't using his name or pictures of him because we don't want to give him any more recognition.
But, by now, you've probably seen the pictures of him wearing patches featuring the flag of Apartheid-Era South African Rhodesia. He's also posted a rambling manifesto filled with racist rants.
In it he writes on the Trayvon Martin case was a turning point for him. He also credits the website of the Council of Conservative Citizens for changing the way he saw the world.
Drew Griffin has been digging into this group the CCC. He managed to track down it's webmaster and joins us now.
So the Southern Poverty Law Center, they identified the CCC as a hate group, what did you learn about them. DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: They a re a group that believes that the white race is under attack, is being under attacked both in Europe and the United States and really across the world.
And it post on its website, or at least it has, kind of showing all these black on white crimes. List after list of black on white crimes, trying to emphasize their point that white people are the actual victims in all that's going on across the world.
And you mentioned Kyle Rogers, he is the webmaster, one of the leaders of the group according to the SPLC, who lives just about 20 miles north of here. And when I went to his door today to try to see if he'd repeat some of the claims he made in some rallies that were posted on the Internet. He basically shut the door in my face, handed me a piece of paper and told me - on paper, told me to call the spokes person who is outside of Washington, D.C., Anderson.
COOPER: And you did talk to the spokesperson and his name is Jared Taylor, what did he tell you about the shooter being motivated by their website?
GRIFFIN: He said that the website, the Council takes absolutely no responsibility for what the shooter did in this church behind me. But says that, "Listen if we post the facts on our website and somebody takes that information and acts upon it, what can we do about it." Basically I want to tell you he said, "We absolutely condemn what that person did, but it does not detract from the legitimacy of his position."
So this group and other groups like it, although they are very tiny, very small, Anderson, they have a white nationalistic agenda and we believe based on his own writings that the shooter visited this website and self proclaims that he was inspired by what was on this website. Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Drew , I appreciate it. Thank you. Joining me now is Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Also Christian Picciolino - excuse me Picciolini, former Skinhead and author of Romantic Memoirs of an American Skinhead. He's also Co- founder of Life After Hate.
Richard you say that although this group is known as extremist, to many they actually been politically active for a long time even though they may be the largest White Supremacist group in the nation.
RICHARD COHEN, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: It's right, that's incredible, Anderson. You know, up until the mid 2000s, you know, scores of Republican politician would routinely go to their meetings, address the group. Eventually most of them are embarrassed but not all.
Kyle Rogers, the webmaster for the CCC at least as late as 2013 was a member of the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of his county.
[21:40:05] And one of Nikki Haley's member of her Steering Committee on the reelection in 2013 was also a Council Board Member.
So the council is an unusual, you know, kind of hate group. It's repugnant and racist to its core yet it's had some mainstream acceptance unfortunately particularly in the deep South.
COPPER: Christian, you at one time as we said, you were white supremacist, I think at the age of 14, what were some of the ways that you found yourself being radicalized? I mean, was the web critical for you?
CHRISTIAN PICCIOLINI, CO-FOUNDER OF LIFE AFTER HATE: Well, Anderson it was pre-internet largely. So I was a member from 1987 to 1995, from the time I was 14 until I was 21.
And, you know, the way that these recruiters radicalize these people is that they put the fear of God them. They think that they say that the white race is being attacked from all sides. They always placed the blame for what's happening in your life elsewhere with minorities, with Jews, with blacks.
And, you know, some of these kids who join these groups, I mean these young people who join these groups think that they're doing it for the right reason. They think that they're going to help their family, they think that they're going to help themselves and they feel like they're patriots but they're misguided and their -- these recruiters, these extremists know how to target these young people so that they believe this ideology right away. So that they jump in head first and then they radicalize them.
COPPER: Richard, it's interesting and I read this guys, you know, so- called manifesto and it's basically just kind of -- the kind of racist parable, the racist boiler plate that's been spewed by -- I mean, by racists for a long, long time about black people, about Jews, about other minority groups.
It's amazing to me that -- I mean, given this day and age that it's kind of just base racism still can take hold with somebody.
COHEN: Yeah. You know, but I think Chris is right. We see some marginalized young people who are adrift, had no read connections with others and are looking for reasons outside of themselves to explain their failure.
And suddenly they realized that, you know, they can be heroic if they, you know, strike a blow for the white race.
At the end of this -- the Charleston shooter's manifesto he said, "Hey, you know, I might not be worth more than a speck of dirt but, you know, I'm going to do something good for society." He said, "I'm the one brave one." So instead of being a down and out kid with no future, suddenly he's a hero to the white race.
COOPER: Christian, I mean, as you read the manifesto, are there similarities in the type of rhetoric that this guy used that you were being told as a teen by other White supremacists? PICCIOLINI: You know, I just published my book in April, Anderson, and he literally could have torn out pages from my book and post it online and it would have played exactly the same way.
The rhetoric is the same, the belief system is the same, the ideology becomes extreme. It's always about blaming other people. This is something that had -- the recruiting methods haven't changed in 20 -- in 30 years. And he could have taken a page exactly like thousands of other kids that are recruited and there -- I think that there are other people just like Dylan Roof out there that are waiting to be radicalized, that are becoming so extreme that they think that their only way out is to cause mass violence.
COOPER: Christian Picciolini, I appreciate you being with us, Richard Cohen as well. Thank you.
Up next, President Obama uses a racial slur in an interview making a dramatic point about racism. What he said and what others are saying about his use of that work when we continue.
[21:47:27] COOPER: Well, just days after the shooting of nine African-Americans at Charleston's Emanuel AME Church at the hands with confessed killer who support white supremacist, President Obama says the United States has not overcome its history of racism and used the N-word to make his point. He said it during interview with the podcaster Marc Maron. Now, even if you agree with the point Mr. Obama was making, we might still find the language hard to take.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Racism, we are not cured of it, clearly. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination. We have -- societies don't, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: It's got a lot of people talking, certainly joining me New York Times Op-Ed columnist and CNN political commentator Charles Blow, Cultural critic and writer Michaela Angela Davis and former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.
Charles, do you think it was appropriate for the president to use it?
CHARLES BLOW, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: Well, I think it was, it's a context issue right. And that he was using to be illustrative and to say how bad it is in fact to use it publicly but it was not used as an invective and I think that is the real point where you have to draw the line. And in fact, when we look at other presidents in how they have use it and has been as an invective.
Second, he was saying it into mic. He was very conscious of the fact that he was saying this would be recorded, it's being broadcast. The other presidents were not doing that. They were doing it behind close doors. Never with the many probably most all would never know knowing that he would ever be see the light of day.
And I think that that kind of being forthright not easy as an infective using it as an instructive tool is actually a context that is important to have. Could he have made the same point in by saying N-word in that context just he would what we have also been talking about it all day.
COOPER: No, not at all. Sunny, you disagree.
SUNNY HOSTIN, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do and I hear what you're saying and you're my friend but bottom line is I think it is beneath the dignity of his office. I think that you can have an open and honest dialog about race and about racism without using racial epithets.
COOPER: But to Charles' point we probably wouldn't be talking about his conversation on this podcast about race in America had he not use this word.
HOSTIN: I think on balance, it wasn't worth it because what happens when we have the president of the United State using that term. That now gives license to other people to -- for other people to use it.
HOSTIN: Wait a minute. And what we all could hear from races what we also often hear from other people is well black people use it all the time. Rappers use it all the time. Why can't we use it and no one should use the term that big issue.
COOPER: Michaela, what about that, is the president allowed to use that word given the context he was using it?
MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, CULTURAL CRITIC AND WRITER: Well, first of all, if you Google Obama being called the N-word, pages come on, right? So this isn't the first license, right? People have been calling him that all the time and I wish those same people would have been open arms when someone called the President an N-word as they are with him using it, right? And that they would spend as much attention to the people to whom it refers as they are doing with this word. They are so obsessed with the N-word and not obsessed with black people.
HOSTIN: And perhaps that's why no one should use it.
COOPER: But if there was a white president using that word...
COOPER: ... using that word, they were not...
DAVIS: No. And this is a very modern president, right? First of all, he's in a podcast in a garage.
Wait, wait, let's finish. No, this is that basic rule if you are not it, you cannot say it.
HOSTIN: See. And I think that...
DAVIS: So there are groups, right? If you are black, if you are gay, if you are woman, if you are overweight, there's the beauty of language that it can be fluid and have duality be complex...
HOSTIN: Words hurt, Michaela. Words hurt, words matter.
DAVIS: When they are used with the intent to...
COOPER: One at a time. One at a time.
HOSTIN: To say that African-Americans can use the term but white people can't, I think is really being intellectually dishonest. The bottom line is no one should be allowed to use the word. We need to retire the word. We are the only group of people...
DAVIS: That is not true, Sunny.
HOSTIN: ... that use racial epithets...
COOPER: OK. Charles.
HOSTIN: ... to describe ourselves. I don't hear Spanish people doing it. I don't hear Asian people doing it. I don't hear...
DAVIS: You need more friends.
HOSTIN: I don't hear gay people using it trying to reclaim...
DAVIS: James Bolster (ph).
BLOW: I don't know what...
COOPER: OK one at a time. Charles.
BLOW: Like I said, you're my friend but I don't know where you've been, Sunny.
DAVIS: I'm here (ph).
BLOW: But, you know, the...
HOSTIN: I've been alive and well and the subjects ofd that word.
BLOW: ... but the idea... COOPER: OK, let Charles do respond.
BLOW: ... but the idea of the reclamation of language and the N-group usage of language that is meant to hurt you and playing around with it in order to make it less harmful to you the next time that you hear it has a very long history and it is not just black people, it is all the groups that Michaela just pointed out.
And whether or not you can debate whether or not that is the proper way to deal with the painful part of that language, but you cannot say that it does not happen and you cannot say that that we can extract these words because in fact they're important to the language.
And so, it's all for you. And if you use them in a way to educate people as a president I believe is attempting to do in this -- at least to a several times, he's basically saying that this is a word that we don't say...
COOPER: Wait, what about -- OK, what about -- Michaela, what about rappers using it in, you know, in...
DAVIS: In artistic way? Yeah, sure.
COOPER: ... rap songs.
DAVIS: I mean, I wouldn't want to take that.
HOSTIN: See, so it's all OK.
DAVIS: Wait, wait, I wouldn't want to take that word away from Kendrick Lamar. I wouldn't want to take that word away from Jay-Z. I wouldn't want to...
HOSTIN: We have a million words in our language.
DAVIS: ... but here's the thing.
HOSTIN: Why can't we take that word away?
DAVIS: Here's the thing, the way that the President used it for -- the way that the President used it is showing us that we can't keep talking about race in this simplistic margins, right, by just a word or a symbol that we are getting to structural systemic racism. And that if we only keep it surrounded by this word, we're going to be lost in that shuffle.
BLOW: And Sunny, I said I believe what you're saying is incredibly dangerous...
HOSTIN: And you can't, of course, out of culture.
BLOW: ...to language.
HOSTIN: What I am saying is incredibly dangerous using the word is incredibly dangerous. Words matter, Charles.
BLOW: No, no, no, the President...
HOSTIN: You know that.
HOSTIN: You are a wordsmith, so is the President.
BLOW: And let me -- and I'll tell you exactly what I'll tell you.
HOSTIN: He was trying to be provocative and I thought it was inappropriate.
BLOW: The President used that word many times in his own memoir...
DAVIS: That's right.
BLOW: ... because it was instructive to the history and the meaning of the word at the moment, I wrote a memoir, I use that word several times in my memoir because it was important to be instructive to the history and the meaning of that word in that moment, how it was used to hurt me, how people used to reclaim it. The idea that we should exercise worst from the language I always find danger.
BLOW: I believe that we need to use it in exactly the way their President was attempting to use it which is to be instructive to say that...
HOSTIN: As an attorney...
COOPER: ... rappers, rappers using it every...
BLOW: No, I would take you to the artistic thing and I'd say, look at our archive if you want to look at it. We -- what we've done...
HOSTIN: Look, you're talking about freedom of speech though.
BLOW: We've done nudity...
HOSTIN: Talking about freedom of speech.
COOPER: Let him answer this one.
BLOW: ... we've done nudity in art when it was not appropriate to walk down the street naked and we took our kids to museum, they saw naked -- statues of naked people. We do things in art as expression that it separate from how we conduct ourselves civilly on the street. And I believe that that is a separate conversation from this conversation.
COOPER: OK. Sunny.
HOSTIN: I hear what they are saying but I am so surprised that my friend is so smart, so insightful are defending the use of a word...
HOSTIN: ... that -- of a word. Any of our civil rights leaders historically have shun, have instructed people not to use them. We are embracing a word that is so painful, so hurtful.
[21:55:00] And I of all people as an attorney, always defend free speech, but when you're talking about this particular term being used by rappers, being used now by the President and now by the way being played over and over again on CNN which is also shocking to me because we've had reporters have to apologize for using that term yet now, because the President of the United States used it, I have probably heard it 10 to 20 times on this very network.
BLOW: I think you dead wrong to say that he embraced it.
DAVIS: That's right.
HOSTIN: And there is a problem, there is a problem with that. He has embraced it and now everyone...
DAVIS: And everything that you say...
BLOW: You're completely wrong about that. He did not embrace it.
DAVIS: If you say freedom but, anything after but doesn't make sense like you can't have freedom of speech.
HOSTIN: Of course, you can.
COOPER: We got to leave the conversation there. It's a fascinating one. We will have again no doubt. Michaela Angela Davis, Charles Blow, Sunny Hostin. Thank you very much, we'll be right back
COOPER: Some more details now on the move to take the confederate battle emblem off of the state flag in Mississippi tonight, Republican state House speaker Philip Gunn became the first in his party to publicly call for it. In his state, he said, "We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us."
The debate in Mississippi begun shortly after the Charleston murderer has no reaction yet speaker Gunn's statement from Governor Phil Bryant who himself is a Republican.
That does is it for us, we'll see you again one hour from now 11:00 p.m. eastern for another edition of 360. I hope you join us. CNN Tonight starts now.