Return to Transcripts main page


Holiday Security Heightened Amid Terror Threat; Tight Security At National Mall Ahead Of Holiday; Beaches On High Alert After 10 Attacks; Law Enforcement on High Alert for July 4; Body of 4-Year-Old Washed Ashore Near Boston; Police Van Sign Under Scrutiny in Baltimore; Greece Divided Ahead of Referendum. 8-9a ET

Aired July 4, 2015 - 8:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Law enforcement officers out in force, large numbers and they are asking everyone to be vigilant on this 4th of July.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Plus, shark attacks, ten attacks down the east coast already on this busy weekend. Should people be afraid to go into the water?

BLACKWELL: And check out this sign telling cuffed passengers inside a police van to enjoy the ride. A city that has a real struggle right now between police and its citizens in some respects now investigating this.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: Happy 4th to you. I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

KOSIK: As millions of Americans celebrate the 4th of July, officials are warning be vigilant.

BLACKWELL: Yes, states across the country, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Washington ramping up security efforts bringing in extra officers, even spotters and sniffers. Snipers as well as officials warn celebrations could be the target for terror attacks.

KOSIK: The concern is being felt overseas as well as embassies and consulates meet with security teams and review their efforts to stay safe. In fact, one U.S. air base, one U.S. Air Force base in England actually called off its celebration today because of increased security threats.

So far there haven't been any specific threats, but intelligence officials say there has been an increasing chatter in the days leading up to our nation's birthday.

BLACKWELL: Sunlen Serfaty joins us now from the National Mall in Washington, the site of a major, major celebration every 4th. Good morning, Sunlen.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Victor. That's right. Hundreds of thousands will be out here on the National Mall to celebrate. While this sort of major security presence is nothing new for Washington during the 4th of July, but officials are certainly on edge.

Much of that stemming from that joint bulletin issued by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warning about potential attacks by ISIS pinpointed to this weekend. The big concern even though there is no specific threat they say is these potential lone wolf attacks.

Now this is something that the D.C. police chief says that she is taking very seriously especially as they patrol here on the mall today.


CHIEF CATHY LANIER, WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN POLICE: You think about the significance of the holiday, the significance of Washington, D.C., and honestly, in all honesty we think about that every single day. It's not just on Independence Day, July 4th, this is the nation's capital.

So with what's been going on around the world and the radicalization and some of the other incidents we have seen, this is something we don't take very lightly.


SERFATY: And here in D.C., there are special patrols today at Washington landmarks. There is also an increase of heavy police presence authorities say in seen and both unseen ways as well. There's also a team here monitoring social media, web sites and looking out for any watch words -- Alison, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Sunlen Serfaty there from the National Mall, thanks.

KOSIK: And from the National Mall to Penn Station where Boris Sanchez is covering the security efforts in New York. Boris, good morning to you. I know this living in New York, security is tight on most days, how is this different with the holiday?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a very large law enforcement presence here at Penn Station, about 42 million people will be traveling this holiday weekend. So officials are focusing on travel hubs like here at Penn Station.

Yesterday the governor of New York announced that he was adding extra patrols and staff to the Emergency Operation Center. In addition, law enforcement has told us that they have snipers and spotters in key strategic locations around town, watching crowds for any kind of suspicious activity.

We also know that teams are scanning for explosives and any radioactive devices from land, sea and air. There are also 7,000 cameras in New York City focusing on anything that looks out of place. Officials tell us they have to be ready for any kind of attack. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MILLER, NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: You always have to take into account what is the unknown threat. What are the possibilities out there, whether it is lone wolves or while we focus on ISIS? The al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, its network has not gone away so we are focused on that, too. What we ask of our officers is heightened vigilance and heightened counterterrorism awareness.


SANCHEZ: The governor is also asking New Yorkers to stay vigilant. If they see anything suspicious, to contact law enforcement right away. We are seeing a very big presence here at Penn Station. We will likely see one through the holiday weekend -- Alison.

KOSIK: Boris Sanchez, thanks for that.

BLACKWELL: All right, for more, let's expand this conversation with CNN law enforcement analyst, Cedric Alexander. Cedric, we see New York and we see the big cities, but they have resources.

[08:05:09] In smaller towns like even outside of Atlanta, they have to determine which landmark, which celebration to go to. How do they make that determination?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that determination is going to be based certainly on a lot of intel information that's being received. But in addition to that, really in a big city or moderate sized community or small community both state, federal, and local are all going to be working together.

For example, you take here in DeKalb County, we have one of the most famous, beautiful parks in the country, Stone Mountain Park. We are expecting over 100,000 people out there today and we'll have resources.

We are going to be accompanied by local, federal and state law enforcement. Even in the city of Atlanta, you have the Peachtree race today, which is going to be a huge event.

And other events that are going on across the country as well too, but all resources are going to come together to keep the community safe. But it is very important, Victor, that I remind Americans in this community and around the country as well too is that one of the best resources we have are the citizens themselves to keep their eyes and stay alert and everybody stay vigilant.

BLACKWELL: That is always difficult for some people to do. In some people's words, snitch on a neighbor or a friend or someone who you see in a public place.

ALEXANDER: Well, you can't look at it in terms of snitching. You have to look at it in --

BLACKWELL: Some people do. ALEXANDER: And some people may, but the fact of the matter is we must be in this community and this nation and this United States together because we all know we have outside of forces trying to do harm to hurt us.

This is a time so in our history, more so probably than never as we move into the 21st Century, is that as communities and police continue to work together with our local, state and law enforcement partners, our tribal partners across the country it makes a safer nation and a safer America.

As we celebrate today, it is just really the hallmark of why we are here. This is wonderful country and wonderful people. The diversity of it, we have a wonderful history in this nation and as people move forward and we do harm or they try to harm us, we have to continue to remember that we are United States of America and we must do that as one nation.

BLACKWELL: You know, we saw with the hatchet attack in New York that often as law enforcement, they are not just there to protect others, but they become targets, a symbol of government that if they have -- if a person has a hatchet or a gun, they can go up to that person as a statement against the government. What -- and you're a psychologist as well, what is that level of preparation especially on a weekend like this for law enforcement?

ALEXANDER: Well, for all of us, certainly, we have heard the threats both to military and to law enforcement as well too. But for all of us that are in the law enforcement profession, I would say this is probably relevant to military as well is that we all going to be very hypervigilant.

And we all are going to be very attentive to where we are, our whereabouts, and making sure that we take care of the citizens out there in which we are sworn to protect. So yes, it becomes a little taxing, if you will.

It certainly does raise a little anxiety, but if you think about it, the men and women are out there doing this every day, Victor, are doing it in a way that we are all proud of and so is our military.

So any time anyone wants to threaten our military personnel, our law enforcement personnel, and all of us in this nation, must stand with them and we must be vigilant together.

And I'm more than confident that is going to be the case. It has been the case and will continue to be this case.

BLACKWELL: All right, Cedric Alexander, thank you so much.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for being having me.


(VIDEO CLIP) KOSIK: Quite the terrifying moment as a fisherman swims for his life after his kayak is flipped over by a shark. We are going to show you the video and hear from the kayaker coming up next.

Plus, out of control fireworks. Several people hurt when malfunctioning fireworks fly into the crowd at a Colorado town display.

And this story has been shared over 25 million times on Facebook, a mystery behind the death of a little girl. Police are asking the public for help in finding out who she is and what happened to her.




KOSIK: OK, that's safe to say that's pretty terrifying there. Video of a man swimming for his life after a shark flipped him off of his kayak in the middle of the ocean. Ben Chancey was fishing for grouper when the eight-plus-foot bull shark knocked him into shark filled waters off the coast of Florida.

The quick thinking captain swam to safety on a support boat, but for some reason, he's crazy. He hops back into the kayak to finish what he started and unhooked the shark. He spoke to CNN last night about his adventure.


BEN CHANCEY, CAPTIAN, CHEW ON THIS FISHING CHARTERS: I made it to safety and we flipped the kayak back over. At that point in time I felt like the shark had won the battle. I thought I was winning, but when he flipped me over I felt like I lost the battle and it was an indication to hop back in and finish it off. It's like when you hop off the horse, you better hop back on.


KOSIK: He's got guts. Chancey didn't let the near death experience shake him at all as he was back in the water yesterday.

BLACKWELL: So this incident comes at a time when the east coast is already on heightened alert, ten attacks specifically along the north and South Carolina coast. That's higher than the average of six attacks per year off the coast of those two states.

Nick Valencia joins us live along Wrightsville Beach this morning. So what is the advisory is there is one? Are they just swimming at their own risk at this point beyond the risk you'd expect on an average year?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems to be a perfect storm for this type of thing to happen. Sharks have been spotted closer to the pier, close to shores. I was out with some locals last night, Victor, talking to them about this, what seems to be a very active shark bite season.

And some say it is not a general concern, but it's certainly something that's on everyone's minds here.


VALENCIA (voice-over): A rash of shark attacks off the Carolina's coasts. This year already at least ten attacks, that's nearly double the yearly average for North and South Carolina in one month.

[08:15:11] Another 11 attacks have happened in Florida. The shark bites so frequent they could surpass last year's totals in the United States.

PATRICK THORNTON, SHARK ATTACK SURVIVOR: It actually must have come in the wave because I didn't see anything.

VALENCIA: Survivor, Patrick Thornton tells CNN's Anderson Cooper he was swimming in North Carolina's outer banks with his 8-year-old son when he was attacked.

THORNTON: I started shouting, shark! Shark! Everyone out of the water! At the same time I'm punching the shark to get him away from me and went over to grab my son.

VALENCIA: A contributing factor? Perhaps a perfect storm of environmental and biological variables, some sharks feed on turtles and small fish close to shore. Scientists say drought conditions can also play a role among other things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly warm water this year, higher salinities. Lots of bait fishes in the water. It's turtles nesting season. Those are all factors that would promote more sharks on the beach.

VALENCIA: One of the attacks this summer happened near a pier in North Carolina. Too close for comfort for the 4th of July weekend surfers and holiday goers.

GARRETT OKUN, SURFER: The other day we saw a 5-foot sand shark and it was within 8 feet of me, but it stayed out in the water. It's his natural habitat. It is hanging out there and we are in its home. So you have to be aware of your surroundings and be careful.


VALENCIA: Now if you think that there is a high probability of being bitten by a shark? Think again. The likelihood of you being bitten by a shark is more like 1 in 11 million. You are more likely to be struck by lightning or become president of the United States.

Even still experts say to avoid that happening, swim in groups and avoid swimming at dawn and dusk when sharks are most active -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Nick Valencia, thank you so much.

KOSIK: So just how big is the threat for shark attacks? Should you be afraid to get into the water or are you safer than you think? Joining me now is Andy Casagrande, an Emmy Award winning shark researcher.

Andy, I have to ask you this, good morning to you first of all. I'm new at surfing. I get out there and surf in the water. I'm a little afraid hearing about all of these reports of these shark sightings and attacks. Is it rational to feel this way or is the threat as big and real as it seems?

ANDY CASAGRANDE, SHARK EXPERT: I think it is irrational. I mean, the likelihood, as you said and many say is pretty low. You often hear the term shark infested waters. The reality is that they are human infested waters. Sharks belong in the ocean. They are predators.

It sounds like, you know, a lot of people have a good grasp on what is happening. There's an increased number of bait fish, drop conditions and increasing salinity, lots of people in the water.

Anytime you have predators and prey potentially interacting, you know, sharks may investigate people. So you are way more likely to get killed in a car crash on the way to the beach or mugged or whatever it is.

It is tough for people because it is a really traumatic and sensational idea to be consumed or bitten by a predator. But it's the fact of life.

Sharks live there and we are essentially visitors. I wouldn't worry about it. I mean, I'd worry about, you know, getting knocked out by your surfboard if you are not really skilled at surfing yet.

KOSIK: I'm learning. I haven't been knocked out just yet. You know, you mentioned that the conditions are pretty much a perfect, quote, "storm" for these sharks to be around people right now.

So is this becoming the new norm? I mean, everybody is saying it is unusual to have this many shark bites, but the conditions of the water, climate change, you name it, is this the new norm that we have to get used to?

CASAGRANDE: I don't know if I would say it's a norm. I mean, obviously the increased incident of attacks in North and South Carolina is, you know, a little unsettling. But worldwide, ever since humans entered the ocean sharks have investigated, bit, attacked, whatever you want to say. They are simply predators.

I wouldn't worry about it. If it is murky water and you see lots of bait fish, you just get that sharky feeling, stick to the swimming pool because it is common sense. It's just like walking down a dark alley where you think you might get mugged.

Sharks are not malicious, but they are predators and just reacting to instinct. If the water is murky or they see splashing, they may come to investigate.

I mean, it's pretty critical to note that none of these attacks have been fatal. None of them have been consumptive where the sharks are trying to eat the people. So it's most likely mistaken identity or investigation.

So you know, you get a cool scar, have a cool story. We really do not want to demonize sharks and make it look like these waters are shark infested because like I said it's not the case.

KOSIK: Well, I certainly don't want that sharky kind of feeling, but I may just go back in the ocean. Andy Casagrande, thanks so much.

CASAGRANDE: You got it.

[08:20:08] BLACKWELL: So take a look at this scene, pretty frightening at a fireworks display.


BLACKWELL: When they start going off on the ground, you know there's a problem. There are people who have been injured this morning. We have details in a moment.



BLACKWELL: All right, 23 minutes after the hour, let's take a look at stories making headlines now.


KOSIK: Scary stuff there, nine people were injured in Colorado after a fireworks shell malfunctioned during a 4th of July show. This happened last night. Earlier, we spoke with the town manager who described what happened in the moments after the incident.


VIRGINIA EGGER, TOWN MANAGER OF AVON, COLORADO (via telephone): It was, you know, middle evening when the accident occurred. Everything was secured and our fire district and the producer of the event immediately went to work to try to determine what the cause of the accident was.


KOSIK: And the town manager there noted that this is the first failure in the show's 29 year history. The injured were treated for minor burns and released.

[08:25:04] BLACKWELL: All right, let's bring in meteorologist, Ivan Cabrera now because there will be some flashes in the sky long before the shows tonight.

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, in fact, it's already happening. Good morning. It's already occurring across the borders of the southeastern United States. We are talking about a line of showers and storms right here and this is a four-hour loop on the radar with the storms moving a little.

So what that means for us today is that we have the threat of flooding. In fact, an additional 1 inch to 3 inches on an area that is already received upwards of 6 inches in the last of couple of days. That's going to be a problem.

Where you see the red are flash flood warnings. Rivers and streams can be dealing with dangerous situations here. The green that you see these are flash flood watches. Conditions are favorable for flash flooding later on this afternoon as thunderstorms bubble up.

And they are not going to move that much. You see from Arkansas through portions of Mississippi, Alabama, and into Georgia as well. That is more of the focus for flooding it's going to be. You see some rain across the northeast.

That's going to be an issue for the fireworks, but I think we'll be able to clear that out in time between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. so get to some clearing there. But in the south we continue to get wet.

This is a two-day event so through tomorrow for your activities outside. You're going to be grilling. It's going to be wet and some of the yellows here representing anywhere from 1 inch to three inches of rainfall so soggy 4th of July weekend for some of us.

KOSIK: A lot of people watching fireworks on TV.

BLACKWELL: Ivan, thanks. So we know that cities across the country are stepping security this July 4th, but how do authorities and the military prevent lone wolf attackers from setting their sights on holiday events and military bases? We'll have more on the threat, next.

KOSIK: All right, I want to look at your TV screen right now, do you recognize this girl? Police made this composite sketch after her body washed ashore near Boston. The DA says they need to figure out who this girl is and they need to figure it out in a hurry. We'll explain why.

[08:30:23] BLACKWELL: Security across the nation is ramping up this morning. New York's governor adding manpower and enhancing monitoring operations for July 4th. Officials across the country are boosting security at fireworks shows and landmarks. Concerns are much higher this year with the terrorist networks taking to social media to urge supporters to carry out attacks.

And among the fears this holiday, the threat of a lone wolf attack or someone who is not working in concert with ISIS but instead is inspired by ISIS to attack soft targets -- those places most vulnerable to attack. Officials worry that there will be attacks similar to the recent ones in Tunisia and France.

Let's bring in CNN global affairs analyst retired Lt. Col. James Reese and CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes. First thanks to both of you for being with us. Tom I'm starting with you. How do police protect these soft targets? We've talked for years now about the vulnerability that is inherent with places like the National Mall or even an airport or malls?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Victor, the only way to protect soft targets is with good intelligence that an attack might occur. That somebody is going to go do something bad and try to find them before they actually try to penetrate a hard target. By definition a soft target is soft which means that you don't have to go through a checkpoint to get to that target.

We have people getting on metro trains, buses, taxis, walking down the street. And as they approach a checkpoint, they're in a soft target. When they get to the checkpoint and go inside, that becomes the harder target. But, you know, you have to get to the hard target areas that are being protected and there's going to be an area and you hop that in that case the police respond. They can't really stop you in a soft target.

BLACKWELL: Lt. Col. Reese, a British air base used by American airmen in western England canceled its Fourth of July celebrations given the rising security threats. We also know the state department is ordering all diplomatic posts, the embassies, the consulates to review security. What does that look like?

LT. COL. JAMES REESE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Victor good morning. You know, a lot of this stuff especially with England, they're taking their cues from the elements of what is happening in the U.K. Tso they're getting a lot of their intelligence from that piece as well as from DOD in the states. The State Department goes through this all the time.

This is a new normal for us. We've been doing it for years, everyone knows about it and they have to react to it. Over in the Middle East because of Ramadan, the State Department held their Fourth of July celebrations early to respect the Ramadan thing.

So this is a new normal but everyone will watch and be vigilant during this time. But again, like I said, this is not heightened because of the chatter. It's the normal chatter we've seen throughout the years since 9/11.

BLACKWELL: So Lt. Col. Reese, early this week, we reported on a soldier who was arrested for carrying a rifle, AR-15, he had a Kevlar vest on into a North Carolina mall. Officials say that Brian Wolfinger took that semiautomatic weapon in order to have pictures taken with it. I want to get reaction -- he was charged with going armed to the terror of the public.

REESE: Yes, I mean it's unfortunate Victor. I mean a lot of these young kids, you know, they call them Rambo shots. They want to take their picture with all their what we call their kit -- put their kit on, put their rifle, put it up in the air and then throw it on Facebook. You know, to show everyone what they are doing. They're proud of what they're doing. But at the same time in today's day and age, it also shows a concern.

You know, in North Carolina where I live it's an open carry state. And I'm driving down the road and I will see someone driving their motorcycle with a pistol riding on their hip. That concerns me and I watch that very closely as I see that person come by. Some things we have to look at. And you know, again, it's the new normal for us and it's something we've got to watch but it also shows where people are being vigilant today. When they notice these things and report them very quickly to law enforcement.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we've said it many times. Can't say it enough -- if you see something, say something even in that case. Thank you both -- Lt. Col. James Reese and Tom Fuentes.

FUENTES: Welcome.

REESE: Thanks.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN HOST: This next story is being shared by millions on Facebook. People wanting to help police find out what happened to a little girl, her body washed ashore along the Boston Harbor last week. And police don't know who she is or what happened to her. And they hope this computer-generated sketch of the girl will help identify her.

[08:40:03] The little girl's body was found wrapped in a zebra-striped blanket inside a trash bag. According to police, she showed no obvious signs of trauma and they've received thousands of tips. But still they haven't been able to identify the girl. And the Suffolk County D.A. explains why it is imperative she is identified as soon as possible.


DANIEL CONLEY, SUFFOLK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We also worry that if her caretakers, her parents, her providers have other children in the home. It's important for us to find out they are and to make sure that there are no other children in a hope that need our protection.


KOSIK: Back with us is CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander. Just listening to what that official just said about the need to find out who the caretakers are or who the parents are possibly, why is that important?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it is very important any time you have a homicide investigation. That is what this will be deemed. The sooner you are able to gather information the higher the likelihood of finding resolve to that case. Now there's going to be clearly some challenges to this case but what is going to be very important in this case is going to be the autopsy itself because from the autopsy they're going to be able to make much more clear determination maybe around the time of death, cause of death and even though they're reporting no visible trauma, autopsy of course will reveal more information if it's there. So it is a very, very sad case. And there in that community, where you hear the D.A. and the police asking people in that community around that country if a child that you would normally see that would show up, if for someone reason they are not there. I mean a tip as simple as that, report it because right now it appears that they're operating with absolutely nothing whatsoever.

KOSIK: Yes, I mean it feels like they're on a fishing expedition --


KOSIK: I mean you look at the Massachusetts State Police using social media, using their Facebook account, their Twitter account, putting the sketch out there trying to get anything.

ALEXANDER: That's right.

KOSIK: What is it about this case that's so hard to sort of find any connection?

ALEXANDER: Well, I think what is very painful for all of us -- for any of us, and of course, any homicide is painful. But this is a four-year-old innocent child that we need to identify. And if they were to identify that child would be a start in the investigation of this case.

But here's what I believe and what I have learned over time, if they just continue, the police continue on the trail that they're on. And even if they don't appear at this point there are not any leads, what we would typically find over time if we continue to press forward. Something is going to come forward. We're going to get a tip. Some physical information is going to come up. An autopsy report can lead us to something that we had not known about before.

So it's just a matter of time and hopefully we'll find the identity of this child.

KOSIK: Right. We can only hope. And you can go on to the Massachusetts State Police web sites and on their Twitter account and Facebook and check out that number there. If you know of anything, go ahead and call that number on your screen.

Cedric Alexander -- thanks so much.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.

KOSIK: Victor.

BLACKWELL: So let's take you to Baltimore now where the city is still dealing with tensions related to the death of Freddie Gray. But now there's a new controversy emerging after a sign was found, this one inside a police van. Officials want to know how this got there.


[08:41:59] BLACKWELL: There's an investigation underway now in Baltimore, specifically within the police department there, after photos surfaced showing a police van sign that one official describes as concerning. It reads, "Enjoy your ride because we sure will" -- a seeming reference to the so-called rough rides or the claim that police drive recklessly to intentionally injure suspects.

Concern about rough rides surfaced after the death of Freddie Gray. You remember this story. He died in April while in police custody. Gray was not buckled in to the seat belt there in the transport van -- a violation of protocol.

Let's talk about this. Bernard Kerik, the former New York City Police Commissioner is here with us. Bernie -- good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: Here's what we have to start with, the authentication of this photograph. The Baltimore police department says to CNN that they cannot authenticate the photo. However, just days ago, our affiliate WBAL reported that the photos were authenticated by -- the phrasing they used -- the police department officials. Why seemingly this backtrack?

KERIK: Well, I don't know why the backtrack. You know, the sign itself is just stupid. I don't know who put it up there and I'm sure they -- if they follow protocol, they should be able to figure out where the signs came from because these vans should be inspected by every cop that is assigned to them before and after their use -- they're placed in use during the tour.

They may also have to be inspected by a first line supervisor. I'm sure they'll figure out or narrow down the time span where the sign came from. But it's just stupid. Whoever put them up is moron.

BLACKWELL: And took time to do it because this isn't, you know, a sharpie on a door. These letters, they look like just the sticker letters you have to line up and they're all, you know, placed properly. I wonder what the context is for you depending upon if it was pre-Freddie Gray or post-Freddie Gray when this was put on the door.

KERIK: You know what, Victor, it doesn't make any difference to me because the reality is you then, you know, in a circumstance like this, if you have an incident where somebody gets hurt in the back of the van, you know, the automatic assumption is it is all about the rough ride. And then you turn the suspect into a victim. The sign shouldn't be on the door. They shouldn't have been there pre-Freddie Gray or after. It is just stupid.

BLACKWELL: You know, there are, I know a lot of people who that the six officers who have been charged should have been charged. But we heard from the Fraternal Order of Police there in Baltimore that they believe they should not have been.

Explain for us, I guess, sense of resentment that comes toward out of the system or the suspects after something like this that might led to someone to put that sign in that van.

[08:45:03] KERIK: You know what -- you have a, especially in Baltimore right now where the cops have been sort of bashed in the aftermath of this Baltimore incident. You know, you've got cops out there that are angry. They're upset. They feel like they are not backed and supported by the administration. Maybe that's where the signs came from.

But whoever put the sign -- if that's the case and those signs were placed post Freddie Gray, you know, these guys aren't thinking. Whoever put that sign up there is just -- it's making it worse because there's a perception that it is all about the rough ride. And the reality is, it's not. And it shouldn't be.

BLACKWELL: How does this likely play into the DOJ investigation?

KERIK: Well, honestly, I don't think it does. I think the DOJ investigation is all about the civil right. Look, you can take this sign and turn it into anything. I just personally, I just think it's some idiot that put him on there, you know, they should be reprimanded.

BLACKWELL: All right. Bernard Kerik -- thank you so much.

KERIK: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Fourth of July -- you know, the imagery comes with fireworks. You've got to have them. Well, in the next hour we're going to talk about how this annual tradition can trigger episodes for veterans with PTSD.

And tomorrow marks a critical day for the future of Greece. There's this referendum on a bailout that's set to happen. The big vote is on its way but the nation is deeply divided. We'll break it down, next.


[08:50:13] KOSIK: This morning Greece is deeply divided ahead of a critical vote tomorrow on a referendum for a proposed new bailout -- the referendum taking place against a backdrop of protests. This one that you're seeing is against the measure drawing an estimated 20,000 people in Athens last night. The same number turned out for a rally in favor of the measure -- that was nearby.

CNN's Richard Quest joins us now live from Athens. What do you think, Richard? How is this vote going to go? Is it going to go yes or is it going to go no?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is way too close to tell. The opinion polls have now finished. Under the law, there's no opinion polls before the vote and the day before. And the numbers are roughly 50/50 at the moment within the margin of error. And there's a large percentage of people who are undecided.

And what this is really coming down to, Alison, is the fear factor. On the one hand, the government says people are being made to fear saying no. But on the other hand, the yes vote says people are being made to fear the European option. Whichever way it goes, one thing we can say absolutely certainly, Alison, all economic decisions for this country in the future will be unpleasant. Greece has got some extremely tough times ahead.

KOSIK: Does a no vote against the austerity that in this referendum -- does the no vote mean Greece would leave the Eurozone. Would that be an automatic?

QUEST: No, absolutely not. Let me be totally clear about this and that is part of what the Prime Minister says. He says that the yes campaign is scare mongering, trying to convince people that voting no would mean they'd have to leave the euro. Possibly it would we don't know. The Europeans are sort of saying that they'll be very difficult to negotiate with the Greek government if there is a no vote.

But it is not an automatic exit from the Eurozone if Greece votes no tomorrow. The government says that will be the mandate they need to go in for hard negotiations with Brussels.

KOSIK: Richard, why should Americans pay attention to this referendum?

QUEST: Oh, I think you pay attention to it for all sorts of reasons. Not only because Greece is a democracy, and here you have a democratic vote about the future direction of this country. But if there is major disruption in Greece, it will transmit itself to the Eurozone, the largest trading partner of the United States.

And as President Obama himself said in the White House when he was with the President of Brazil, he said, you know, he's spending a substantial amount of time over this because if there are problems with the economic situation in Europe, then yes, it will hit America, too.

KOSIK: All right. Richard Quest, we'll be watching the turnout of that vote and what the answer is. Thanks.

People across the country are being asked to stay vigilant this Fourth of July. Officials are warning of lone wolf terror threats that could put holiday party goers at risk. Coming up we're going to tell you what to expect as you get set to hit the streets.


[08:56:52] BLACKWELL: All right. Here's a look at stories making headlines this morning.

KOSIK: A pilot was killed when his medical helicopter crashed moments after takeoff in Colorado. Witnesses described seeing the relatively new helicopter spin uncontrollably before crashing to the ground and exploding. The two other crew members on board had significant injuries. They remain in the hospital. The FAA and the NTSB are investigating.

BLACKWELL: And it's going to be a busy July 4th for more than a half dozen presidential candidates. They are spending Independence Day trying to win votes in primary states -- key states. Hillary Clinton, GOP candidates including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie -- all spending the day's company in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, Democratic challengers, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley. Their campaigning in Iowa. We'll take a live report on this busy day of campaigning coming up later this morning. Also two big competitions this holiday weekend other than the political ones. Today is the annual hot dog eating contest.

KOSIK: I love this. Don't love it, kidding.

BLACKWELL: You know, they're eating as many as possible. This is Nathan's hotdog eating contest. Joey Chestnut going for his ninth straight victory.

KOSIK: I don't know -- you know, I covered this once and the smell I'll never forget. But, you know, if you can't stomach watching all that gorging, you can cheer on the U.S. Women's soccer team as they take on japan for the World Cup tomorrow. That's where Coy Wire of CNN Sports is right now outside of D.C. Play Stadium in Vancouver. How is it looking, Coy?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Good morning, Alison and Victor. It's looking great here. Let's talk about game plan. Look, the most important part of the game plan for the U.S. isn't how they approach the match that strategically but how they're going to approach it mentally. They can't overlook Japan. The U.S. already bet their most formidable foe and the number one ranked German team, so it would be really easy to start thinking they got this thing locked up. That would be a huge mistake.

Japan is the reigning champ and they have proven that they can beat the U.S. as an underdog as they did in the last world cup final.

And speaking of dog, guys, you touched on it. Let's flip the script real quick. The game is not until tomorrow, so the quote/unquote big sporting event today is the Nathan's famous eating hot dog contest in Coney Island, New York. Joey chestnut the number one competitive eater in the world is going for his ninth mustard yellow belt in a row. He holds 38 competitive eating records from Jalapeno peppers to Apple pie. Chestnut looks to be a lock to eat his weight to gustatory greatness. That gets going at noon today. I read how these guys put on 20 pounds in on competition and then I promptly -- lost my appetite like forever -- guys.

KOSIK: Although something tells me that they do something after they eat all that -- they just -- it comes up.

BLACKWELL: Why do we have to talk about that?

KOSIK: Because something tells me they do.

BLACKWELL: All right.

KOSIK: They don't gain all that weight. BLACKWELL: Thank you -- Coy. Just the smell of hot dog (INAUDIBLE) to me is enough to just end that idea.

KOSIK: That's why you put it on the grill. There's no water involved.

BLACKWELL: Yes and you have to burn it. Burn it.

KOSIK: Little sauerkraut and mustard.

BLACKWELL: Yes, there you go.

All right. Thanks for watching this morning. So much to tell you about.

[09:00:00] KOSIK: CNN NEWSROOM starts now.