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Thousands Gather for Free Speech Demonstration and Counter- Demonstration in Boston; Boston Police Maintain Peace During Protest and Counter-Protest; President Trump Tweets on Steve Bannon Leaving White House and Joining "Breitbart News"; Analysts Debate Confederate Memorial on Stone Mountain, Georgia. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 19, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] DEPUTY MAYOR CEDRIC ALEXANDER, ROCHESTER, NEW YORK: -- steps that they deem necessary under the circumstances that they would -- that they will see or experience.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Cedric Alexander, thank you so much. We'll talk again very soon.
ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. Again it's the 2:00 eastern hour. We continue to watch the assemblage of thousands of people in Boston. Boston police say the group known as the Boston Free Speech Coalition which had a planned and permitted demonstration, that demonstration has ended. You're looking at images from earlier today which appear to be part of the crowd control, a task of the Boston police. They were trying to keep members who were demonstrating on with one spirit and keeping them from interacting with demonstrators from another spirit.
Also there were counter-demonstrators counter to the free speech coalition who were there in Boston there in the name of unity and harmony. So again, we continue to watch even as demonstrators disperse. Still a lot of people on the street, and still you're seeing Boston police and the city at work trying to keep the harmony in that city.
Our Polo Sandoval is there on the ground in Boston. Our Sara Sidner is also there in Boston. First let's go to Polo Sandoval and what's taken happening from your viewpoint.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fred, earlier the challenge was just to keep these dueling protestors separated. And now it's about getting folks to eventually disperse. As you can see riot police here, the members of the Boston police department are walking the streets because, as you mentioned they took to social media a while ago that's in saying that this free speech rally is over, which was scheduled to end at 2:00. So everything seems to be on schedule.
However we have seen a few tense moments, including just down the street as we were told were some of these quote/unquote free speech demonstrators being led out of the area then potentially came face-to- face with some of these counter-demonstrators. So as a result police officers really having to shift into high gear to stand between these two individuals. In the process we've counted at least nine people been detained, appear to be counter-demonstrators as well.
So again, that's what happens happening right now in the streets of Boston just southeast of Boston Common where you are still seeing hundreds of people, mainly counter-demonstrators, still lingering in the streets. So now the one challenge is over. The next challenge for law enforcement here is clear the streets.
WHITFIELD: All right, Polo, thank you so much.
Let's check in now with Sara Sidner. From your vantage point, what are you seeing?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are still hundreds, if not thousands of counter-protesters here. You've got the antifascists here. They're pretty much breaking out. That crowd did a few speeches, people cheered, and then they decided that they were sort of done and people can hang out in the park if they'd like.
But you do still have a large contingent of the rally that was organized by Black Lives Matter. We are walking over to that right now. And just to give a little bit of history, Boston Common, as you know, is the first park ever to be created in the United States officially, if you will. And so it has a historical meaning to those who are here in Boston and to Americans as a whole.
This place right now is the scene of what was two different demonstrations, one the so-called free speech demonstration. One of the things why people were upset about that demonstration is because one of the speakers listed who was supposed to speak for that free speech, so called free speech rally, had also spoken in Charlottesville during the white supremacist rally. And so people saw it as basically a different name for a racist group.
The group itself has said, look, we organized this, and we are not racist. We are just here to be able to express our views and everyone in America should have that chance. But that is not how it was seen by obviously thousands of people in Boston who have gathered here.
I do want to talk about something that happened about 10, 15 minutes ago. There was a rally from the crowd. All of a sudden you saw people running, running towards a gate and a street. And what they were saying was they were chanting don't engage, don't engage. And it's remarkable because you've got thousands of people here. The person who was being detained from the police was from the free speech movement, and you saw him walking through the streets, and then you saw the Black Lives Matter group saying, look, don't engage. They don't want to see violence. An interesting juxtaposition there as you're watching this all go down.
I do know that there have been some from the counter-protest who have been in the streets and police trying to push them away, and some of them being detained as well because they want to keep the streets clear. But all in all, this has been a peaceful rally, a rally filled with people who wanted to show the world what Boston is about, a city that has had a long history of a racial divide and racially charged issues here. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right, Sara Sidner, thank you so much.
Let's talk more about some of the tense scenes that we were seeing, a collection of hundred hundreds, if not thousands of people.
[14:05:04] Cedric Alexander is the deputy mayor of Rochester, New York, and a former police chief. Page Pate is a CNN legal analyst and a constitutional attorney, and Tanzina Vega, CNN's national reporter for race and inequality, and Jonathan Wackrow, CNN law enforcement analyst. We've got a huge panel here. So Cedric, let me begin with you. As a former police chief, how do you think Boston is doing so far in trying to maintain the peace there?
DEPUTY MAYOR CEDRIC ALEXANDER, ROCHESTER, NEW YORK: Well, I certainly believe in comparison to last weekend they're doing an exceptionally good job. They had an opportunity to plan. They have experience in managing large crowds for a number of reasons over the years there in Boston.
And certainly you're going to always have a few people that you're going to have to contend with and maybe even arrest, but all things considered up to this point they seem to be managing things very well from all the indication of the reports we're receiving.
But it is a very tough and difficult job for them because they have the responsibility of making sure that everyone has an opportunity to exercise their First Amendment right peacefully. But in addition to that they also have to be ready to step in if there's indication or suggestion or intelligence that would indicate that things need to come to an end.
WHITFIELD: And Jonathan, you did a great job earlier describing what you were seeing and helping us understand what we were seeing when we saw police in all in black with their helmets and then using their bodies and also they had batons. They weren't hitting anyone but they were holding them up to help maintain a distance between demonstrators. So we're looking at that image again one more time. If you could describe for us the technique there and why that is so effective.
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. The primary goal is when you have a protest and a counter-protest groups that are converging on each other, law enforcement will -- always the methodology is to get in between those two groups and try to keep them separated to keep them separated from physical violence while still allowing everybody to express their First Amendment rights of free speech. Law enforcement wants to ensure that through that expression there's no ability to, from one side or another, to enact any violence upon each other.
So really great job today by law enforcement. They've had a little bit of time to plan for this and really talk to the different groups that they knew were going to be present today. So I think really great job by the law enforcement up to this point in time.
But right now, the official events are over, so this is a critical moment for law enforcement because as the groups disperse, what you don't want to happen is for pockets of individualized violence to occur between these groups around the city and all of a sudden you start disbursing your law enforcement assets across the city. So critical time right now for the Boston police and the Massachusetts state police to gather intelligence, understanding where the groups are going, ensure that there's still separation and that no violence occurs citywide.
WHITFIELD: And then Page, one of the demonstrations was billed as a free speech rally, and then you had counter-protesters who said they were there in the name of unity. So when you hear from some of the folks who were part of the free speech rally, if some of their jargon is free speech is under attack, it's under assault in America and that's why they are there, what is the case? Is free speech in trouble?
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we're seeing it play out across the country. And I don't think it is at all in trouble. In fact I think what we're seeing with the protesters and the counter-protestors is exactly how free speech is supposed to work in the United States. What is not supposed to happen is when it crosses over into violence.
So the things that you're hearing from these protesters, the folks that came out in the free speech protest, it's disturbing to many people, and it creates very raw feelings. And you can understand that temptation to push back. But as long as both groups can remain peaceful, they both have a right to say what they want. Even if you don't defend what the people on the freedom of speech side are saying, I defend very much their side to say it.
WHITFIELD: Right. So the issue of hate speech is protected, freedom of speech is a very big umbrella.
PATE: Absolutely. You cannot regulate the content of the message.
Now, you can regulate and you can punish when that message goes beyond expression, when it goes into threats of violence, enticing other people to violence, pushing back physically against other counter- protesters. That is a criminal act and you can punish that. But the message itself, even if it's full of hate, you cannot punish it as a crime.
WHITFIELD: And is it your view that -- we had a guest on earlier who said, you know, some groups are cloaking themselves, you know, with the names of constitutional rights and it's very deceiving and that is problematic too.
[14:10:04] PATE: It's not deceiving if they're going to limit their message to a message, to an expression and not to a threat of violence. Now, when you see a protester walking down the street talking about free speech, having a hate filled message and carrying a firearm or using a threat to injury someone whose in the crowd, that's problematic and that's a crime. And that's what Cedric is talking about. These police are out there watching for that, trying to prevent that from happening. But you cannot criminalize the message itself no matter how distasteful it is.
WHITFIELD: And Tanzina, how much of what we're seeing in Boston today, the spirit behind many number of people's motivation of being there, how much do you believe that is a microcosm of what is happening across this nation?
TANZINA VEGA, CNN NATIONAL REPORTER FOR RACE AND INEQUALITY: I think what we're seeing to a large extent are also fringe groups, particularly what we saw down in Charlottesville, et cetera. That's not to minimize their impact and/or their importance as part of this conversation unfortunately.
What I think is interesting and I agree with Page, is this revival of American civil disobedience in many ways. This is something I think a lot of generations haven't seen for a quite some time. And so we're seeing this resurgence and revitalization we saw it with the woman's march. We saw it with Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and we're seeing it now with these demonstrations.
And I think it's exactly that point that if we can have these rallies and these protests where we're not losing lives in the process and that essentially underscores our right to do that. But at the same time we are also at a moment in American history where we are reexamining and really taking a deep look at where we stand as Americans on critical issues of culture and really of our democracy.
WHITFIELD: And is there a feeling perhaps, Cedric, that this is the beginning of fairly regular, you know, demonstrations of this caliber, and if that is the case that even law enforcement is starting to reevaluate in which how it will tend to these?
ALEXANDER: Well, if these are going to be events that's going to expose and push back against evil and hatred and superiority of someone feeling because they're from another race, then I'm going to tell you something, in this democracy that we live in, then we should stand up and have a voice because it should not be accepted. It should not be allowed to be kept dormant anymore.
And I think if President Trump has done any one particular thing, he's allowed this nation to actually to confront this vial racism and hatred that is taking place. As we begin to talk more about it, as we confront it, as we learn to deal with it, hopefully it will make for a better nation, because this is something I think that every panelist there and yourself, Fredricka, knows that when it comes to issues around race and fairness and impartiality, we've been struggling with that in this country for a very long time.
So if nothing else, what these rallies are saying and what it's all making us very conscious of, whether we want to be conscious of it or not, we're not going to accept the fact, we're not going to escape the fact. It's an issue that still needs to be dealt with, and those who spew that type of hatred, we all as Americans, black, white, men, women, gays, Jews, whoever, none of us going to stand by any longer and people are going to have a voice. But we have to do it in a legal and lawful way.
WHITFIELD: All right, we're going to leave it right there for now. Stay with us my panel. Thank you so much. We'll continue to monitor the situation in Boston as crowds disperse. We'll be right back.
[14:17:36] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Live pictures right now out of Boston as we understand demonstrations are beginning to disperse there. Hundreds if not thousands of people have descended on the city with dueling demonstrations. Police even at one moment pushing back against protesters as tensions continue to rise. The objective, we understand from Boston police, was to try to separate one group of demonstrators from another group of demonstrators so that the two did not produce any unrest by clashing.
These protests come amid harsh backlash toward the president of the United States over his mixed messages on the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, clashes last weekend. All of this as the firing of chief strategist Steve Bannon is highlighting a dramatic shift in the president's inner circle. Trump is spending the day at his New Jersey golf course with no scheduled events planned.
Joining me right now is CNN's Boris Sanchez. Boris, the president is not on the scene, but apparently he has been tweeting. And what has the president been saying?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred. So far we've gotten no indication that the president is watching the events in Boston unfold. He has not tweeted about them specifically, and we've not gotten clarity on the White House as to exactly what the president is doing today, whether or not he's on the golf course or not.
But his tweets earlier today, two of them specifically referenced Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist that we learned yesterday was fired by the administration. The first tweet that the president sent out, he writes, quote, "I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service. He came to the campaign during my run against crooked Hillary Clinton. It was great. Thanks, S." That "S" of course referring to Steve Bannon.
The president later on several hours later went on to tweet, quote, "Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at "Breitbart News," maybe even better than before. Fake news needs the competition." So obviously Bannon is on the mind of the president, though it's interesting that in those tweets he didn't mention any of Steve Bannon's work in the White House in his position as chief strategist.
Beyond that, ironically, his other tweet today focused on a major point of dissension between Steve Bannon and other top White House officials, Afghanistan.
[14:20:04] The president tweeting about his meetings yesterday with top military brass in Camp David, saying that they came to some important decisions, one of them being on Afghanistan. Though CNN did reach out to the Pentagon and got a response, saying that there was no new announcements or information from the Department of Defense, so the president obviously keeping this information close. And as you said, Fred, he has no public appearances today so the press can't ask him about this new approach in Afghanistan, the firing of Steve Bannon, or these protests that we're seeing in Boston and elsewhere in the country this weekend, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Or even ask the president any further about the president and first lady not attending the upcoming December Kennedy Center honors, which is tradition for presidents to be in attendance and also host the reception.
SANCHEZ: You're absolutely right, Fred. That's another piece of information we got from the White House this morning. This is a big deal. This is only the fourth time that a sitting president is going to miss the Kennedy Center honors gala. And the quote that we got from the White House was, quote, "The president and first lady have decided not to participate in this year's activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction."
Now interestingly enough, several of these honorees, included Norman Lear, Lionel Richie, and Carmen de Lavallade had said that they would boycott that reception at the White House that usually takes place before the Kennedy Center honors gala. This is just one more instance of backlash against the president after his comments about Charlottesville.
We also saw the implosion of some of those special councils that he put together, the manufacturing council and the infrastructure council which didn't really get off the ground. We're also seeing several charities move events away from Mar-a-Lago, the Susan G. Komen foundation, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army as well. So this is clearly a trend of people moving away from the president, not limited to those within his own party. We saw several members of the GOP come out and call the president out by name, saying that he needs to apologize for his comments on Charlottesville going back to last Tuesday, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez in New Jersey, thank you so much.
And we'll be right back.
[14:26:21] WHITFIELD: It's been a rather tense day in Boston where thousands of people were marching against hate following last weekend's deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia. Many of the counter-protesters are still lingering there. Here's what one of them said about today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was down closer to the bandstand earlier, and I did not feel safe. There was quite a bunch of -- it seemed like yelling and physical pressure and aggression going on. And, frankly, I wanted to live that area and come up here because I didn't feel safe and I felt that there was too much of the kind of hatred going on that we're trying to protest against.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So you had at least two types of protests taking place in Boston, one saying it was there in the name of free speech, the other saying it was there in the name of stamping out hate. So CNN's Polo Sandoval and Sara Sidner are both there and live on the ground. Polo, first to you. Give me an idea of what's happening as crowds start to disperse?
SANDOVAL: Fred, behind me is really the last substantial -- the last substantial crowd that is still gathering here in Boston Common. I can tell you that the crowd has been thinning out for the last hour, hour-and-a half or so. We have seen today evolve significantly. Obviously the day started out very quiet, and then slowly we begin to see people make their way here to the heart of the city of Boston where police -- the police department's main challenge was simply keeping apart these two counter, these two dueling protests and we've been referring to them.
And then of course things changed significantly when some of those, quote, free speech demonstrators left the area, and then the challenge became for law enforcement is protecting them. And as we heard from some of those individuals, they had to move them out of here in police transport vehicles, but now here we are again. The last significant group that's still behind me, but really a major difference from what we saw a little while ago, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
Not far away, Sara Sidner. Sara?
SIDNER: So we're standing here where the remnants of the group that helped organize this is Black Lives Matter, and they've been giving speeches. They've been telling people to stand in solidarity with those who suffered in Charlottesville. They've also been talking about some of the other issues that affect this city in Boston. If you talked to some of the people of color in Boston, you will hear that they really feel that this city has a long way to go to deal with racism. This is a city that has a long history of racism, and there is a lot of speech about the fact that jobs are needed for people of color as well in this city.
I want to bring in young gentleman named Tony (ph) Thompson (ph) who supports Black Lives Matter, Cambridge. And you're from here. You grew up here. Can you tell me a little bit about what it's like being black in a city like Boston where a lot of people think as sort of liberal bastion, you've got the Harvards of the world here, and you don't hear a lot about the racism unless you hear about what happens to some who come to play for the Boston Red Sox or play against the Boston Red Sox?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's so many different experiences that are here that happened here when you're a person of color in Boston. And it's like, you would think that you're like me, I was raised here, and you're constantly seeing the gentrification of the neighborhoods that you're in. I was raised in Cambridge. I was raised in Newton Port, but when I come back and it's just Newtown Port now and I see people of color, and everything around it is now all white. The stores, the people, the everything is now all white. And even my boy Mike here, he's from Cambridge as well and he could tell you the exact same thing. He moved over to places like Mission Hill which used to be predominately a place of color, and now it's turning into a whole bunch of other people, and the rates are going up. It's difficult. It's very difficult.
[14:30:07] SIDNER: Can I ask you about what happened here today, how you would describe the people and the numbers? Were you surprised at the numbers of people who came out to stand up and say we don't want any sort of racism to continue in this city, and also stand against this rally that came?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be honest with you, no, I was not. It's actually kind of sad the fact that I was not. The reason why is because sometimes when it comes to things like this, it's unfortunate but it takes a white woman dying in order for it to get the national attention. Before this moment, it was something that was being, it was the rhetoric of it, saying that this is a problem. Police brutality is a problem. The pain, the disparity between the men and women is a problem. All these different things are a problem.
People want to say Black Lives Matter, and there's some people who say but, for some reason black lives don't matter even if they do. So then this protest happened in Charlottesville, a white woman dies, we got everybody's attention. It's just like I knew that once that happened, crowds would show up, the allies would show up, people are like, oh, my gosh, now there's a problem. There's always been a problem. As I think Will Smith said, racism has always been here. We're just now reporting it.
SIDNER: Do you feel like it's being reported more now than ever because of groups like Black Lives Matter, because there is more attention behind what is happening within America right now and because obviously because of the KKK and these groups trying to recruit and grow their numbers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it's a cause and reaction type of thing. I don't think it's because they exist and they need a reason to exist so therefore people are reporting and saying there is racism. No. What I think it is, is people don't believe us. People don't believe us. We say it's happening, and it's just like -- so we keep throwing the evidence at them. It's happening.
SIDNER: And so you're hearing someone with a passionate plea that there are issues that need to be worked out in this city and across America, and you have a large group of people who believe that. Back to you guys.
WHITFIELD: All right, Sara Sidner, thank you so much, and thanks for his perspective as well.
Let's bring back Tanzina Vega, CNN's national reporter for race and inequality, Niger Innis, national spokesman of the Congress for Racial Equality, and Michael Black, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. Welcome back to all of you. So Michael, I want to ask you as you listen to that gentleman and here from a number of people who have descended on and walked through Boston today, is this sort of a microcosm in your view of a type of awakening in this country?
MICHAEL BLAKE, VICE CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: There is certainly an awakening that's happening of people being active and mobilizing and not sitting on the sidelines. But let's be clear, you know, Charlottesville, Boston, New York, Chicago, wherever it may be in the country, we should all be absolutely denouncing immediately when we see what's happening here.
Let's make sure we're not continuing to promote a false equivalence between the two. These are one side, neo-Nazi white nationalists that are fearful and displaying hatred on one community, and everyone else that's saying, you know what, we want to stand up for equality and justice and opportunity in that manner.
I'm a black young man in Bronx, New York, who was an elected official, had to endure the challenges on a repeated basis last year of being tossed against the gate myself. If it wasn't for my name and title I probably don't know what happens in that moment.
And so the conversations are not just about a statue. It's about what are we going to do at this moment in history. The reason why people are mobilizing and saying it's time to rise and organize is saying there have to be changes across the board, there have to be changes in our policy.
When you think of DOJ standing up for mandatory minimum sentencing, when you see the rhetoric that is coming out of Donald Trump and his absolute appropriate silence today in sending out two tweets about Steve Bannon, why don't you send out a tweet about the people that are on the ground that are standing up for equality and leadership? We need leading, we don't need tweeting. What we need right now is a president that is going to stand up for all of us.
And so this is a moment for us to understand. This is bigger than just one day. This is bigger than what happened last week. And I also want to keep going back because I've heard this a few times since I've been here. We for some reason are continuing to speak negatively about the people of Virginia in saying the people of Boston have been responding better in terms of law enforcement. Let's be clear. The reality is we need to be mindful of the three lines of lives lost in Virginia last week. We need to be cognizant of what has been happening across the country. But let's take this time to say how do we move forward?
People are standing up in a way that we may have not seen before, and this is an opportunity for us to do something differently. But we cannot ignore, we are in this position in large part not just because of the tweets and the rhetoric that is coming out of Donald Trump. It has been a continuation of people feeling like in all different communities they are being disrespected and they want something to happen. They want a better deal for justice, a better deal for equality, a better deal for opportunity for all of us. WHITFIELD: So Niger, how do you see this potentially as a point of
renewal or a starting point off Michael's thought there?
[14:35:08] NIGER INNIS, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: Well, I actually contrary to my colleague, I want to applaud very much like Deputy Mayor Alexander who has been in law enforcement, his remarks were on point and were spot on. And I agree with them completely. In fact I said something very similar.
It seems like unlike Virginia the people of Boston and the people of Massachusetts, the law enforcement, the political leadership decided that we will allow free speech but we will not allow violence and we will not allow extremists from the left, from the right, from whatever point of view politically to express their First Amendment rights violently.
And so I want to applaud that. And I think the lesson that the president should get from this is to applaud law enforcement and the way that they deployed peacefully and deployed the peace. People can have different points of view. Obviously Michael and I have dramatic different points of view. I think most people are celebrating the fact that Donald Trump, or during the Donald Trump era so far, 1 million jobs have been created, because at the end of the day we can talk politics all we want, but most people, black, white, Hispanic, Asian want a good job, good wages, and a good future.
BLAKE: Absolutely. That's the reason why under President Obama, the last six months of president Obama more jobs were created than the first six months of Donald Trump. That's the reason why we've been standing up for criminal justice reform and saying that more people should have opportunities as opposed to what Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions are promoting of expanding minimum mandatory sentencing.
So for whatever reason, if we want to talk about the policies, let's do that. We can do that regularly. We can talk about how we are standing up for a better deal for everyone. That's why people are saying about rise and organize. It is not just about a protest. Niger, please answer Fredricka's question, what does this mean in this moment of time? This moment of time is that people are tired and sick and tired of what they have seen over the last six and a half months. So again, we can talk about the numbers --
INNIS: That's interesting, that's interesting that you're say that.
BLAKE: More jobs were created in the last six months of President Obama than the first six months of Donald Trump. Even this week when we talk about policies, the Trump administration moved forward on a policy so that young children that have parents lawfully and legally here from Guatemala, from Honduras, from El Salvador, now cannot come here, doubling down on the unconstitutional Muslim ban, doubling down on discriminatory rhetoric against women, doubling down about what's going on in this community.
And so this is an opportunity to say what do we do from here? Elections matter, everyone, from the school board to the Senate, from the city council to Congress from the state house to the White House. That's why you have to be engaged in what's going on in New Jersey and Virginia and Massachusetts and all across the board. Elections matter. Why? Because a year ago today Donald Trump said, what the hell do black people have to lose? When you see what's going on in the country right now, all of our communities have something to lose if we don't stand up and unite around a positive direction. It is time for us to recognize that we can't keep ignoring the rhetoric out of the Trump administration. It has to be something positive moving forward, and that's why we say we must rise --
WHITFIELD: And Tanzina, it's hard to overlook, not respond, not assess what transpired in Boston today and a week after what took place in Charlottesville. What do you suppose or what is your hope in hearing from the president of the United States on Boston, even though his remarks initially and then his later remarks on Charleston -- on Charlottesville made for a very bad week for the president of the United States. But we've heard from the president as it pertains to Steve Bannon in via tweet today. We heard a statement coming from the White House as it pertains to the Kennedy Center honors. But what about this issue right here on Boston and the collection of hundreds if not thousands of people. How important is it that the president say something?
VEGA: I think it's absolutely important. And I think the guest that Sara had on earlier on the ground in Boston said something really important and he said people don't believe us. And I think people of color, marginalized communities, black Americans, brown Americans have felt that for quite some time.
Again, racism isn't new. It didn't develop at Charlottesville last weekend. It's not developing this week. This is part of the foundation, unfortunately, of our country. And so for the past couple of decades, people have been saying there's something wrong. This administration, people of color and marginalized communities have been saying there's something wrong.
And I think the guest that Sara had on was absolutely correct when he said people are not listening. And that's one of the first things that I think when the president takes as long as he does to respond to these issues when -- it's not -- white supremacy isn't something you shake off, Fredricka. It's not -- the separation of power with Steve Bannon and all of these other folks that people have been calling for to leave the White House, that doesn't remove an ideology.
[14:40:06] In fact we saw the president today tweeting about how he thinks "Breitbart" with Steve Bannon at the helm is actually going to be a good counter for, quote/unquote, fake news. So I think that relationship, how much of it was actually -- how much of this firing shall we say was actually meaningful and whether or not that relationship -- was that just for show or was that something that's going to have an actual impact on the president's views I think remains to be seen. I think a lot of people won't really believe much that comes out of this.
Now, I do want to mention something that the other panelists were talking about, were talking about jobs. We often toss around the word jobs and the economy, and that's one of the things I study at the intersection of race and economics. And I've got to tell you guys, I'm sure you're aware of this. There are jobs and there are jobs. And so when -- and this has been studied by the Economic Policy Institute. African-American men and women, black American men and women who have the same experience and the same education as their white counterparts are often paid less.
So when we talk about jobs, are we talking about pay equity? Are we talking about jobs that have benefits? A lot of people in color and poor people in a lot of communities are struggling with low-paying jobs, jobs that have shift works, jobs that don't have benefits. So to say jobs are the solution. Everyone wants a job, everyone wants to be able to contribute to the society and to work. But I think at the end of the day it's really easy to look over the discrimination that, the covert discrimination that often shows up in a lot of our --
WHITFIELD: It's a reminder. It was at the core of the civil rights movement. As soon as you talk about that and make that reference, I can't help but envision the placards that "I am a man" on one of the demonstrators. It was about equality and that's what was -- what was the inspiration behind Martin Luther King's social justice plan here was about equality and leveling the playing field.
All right, Niger Innis, Tanzina Vega, Michael Blake, we're not done with this topic, but thank you for now because of course this is -- we don't know what juncture this is, but this is a continuation of a conversation and a crisis in America that seems to be ongoing. So thank you so much for now, appreciate it.
These protests in Boston are coming just one week after the deadly march in Charlottesville, Virginia. Now police are adding new charges against the man who drove his car into the group, leaving one woman dead and dozens more injured. Details next.
WHITFIELD: The man who allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of anti- hate protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, is now facing more charges. James Fields Jr. is charged with second-degree murder in addition to five new felony counts. CNN's Rosa Flores is covering this developing story for us. So Rosa, what more are you learning?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, good afternoon. We are learning more about those five felony counts which include two counts of malicious wounding and three counts of aggravated malicious wounding. These new charges are added to the slew of charges that James Fields already faces, which include one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of hit and run. Fields is in custody. No bond has been set pending a bond hearing and he has been appointed an attorney, and that attorney just happens to be the former county prosecutor, and his next hearing is set for August 25th. Fred?
WHITFIELD: And you also have some new reporting about Christopher Cantwell, that's the white nationalist prominently featured in that "Vice News" special that came from that rally. What more? FLORES: Indeed. CNN has learned from a senior law enforcement source
familiar with the investigation that other warrants have been issued, including for Christopher Cantwell like you mentioned. He's the white nationalist who was featured in that "Vice News" special report. And among many of the racist things that he mentioned, he also mentioned that the killing of Heather Heyer was more than justified.
As you know, Heather Heyer is the 32-year-old woman who died after a car rammed through a street full of counter-protesters. She died and 19 other people were wounded.
But again, as for those warrants from this senior law enforcement source, those warrants have been issued but at this moment they have not been served, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Rosa Flores, thank you so much.
All right, up next, the growing debate over the removal of Confederate monuments and statues across the country. I visited one of the largest memorials in the nation at a Georgia state park. Hear from visitors next.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think you can erase history. It happened. I think people have to learn from it because if you erase it people don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:51:25] WHITFIELD: Live pictures now out of Boston. We're keeping a close eye there where thousands of people have been protesting throughout the day. Police say the free speech rally is over but counter-protesters are still lingering. This just one week after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
And since then there has been growing debate about whether Confederate monuments should continue to stand across the U.S. The Southern Poverty Law Center says there are at least 1,500 that dot the nation. Last night in Winston, Salem, North Carolina, a Confederate soldier statue was defaced. In Durham, eight have been arrested for tearing down a memorial there, and the mayors of Baltimore and Birmingham removed or covered Confederate statues earlier in the week.
The nation's largest Confederate memorial is at Stone Mountain, Georgia, a place Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made reference to in his "I have a Dream" speech, remember "Let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia." Today it's a place of many uses and points of view.
WHITFIELD: With a bird's-eye view of Atlanta, just 20 miles away the nation's largest monument memorializing Civil War Confederate leaders. The 90-foot tall carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson prominently on the north face of Georgia's nearly 900 foot high Stone Mountain, the centerpiece of a state park attracting 3 million tourists, bikers, joggers and hikers a year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seeing the world from god's eye view.
WHITFIELD: And now, again, the carving here making it a centerpiece of discussions as hot as the August sun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm conscious of them.
WHITFIELD: Is it comfortably ignoring it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, pretty much.
WHITFIELD: Why is that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that stand for the old way the United States was. Now we're more a melting pot more than ever now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think you can erase history. It happened. I think people have to learn from it because if you erase it, people don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can voice your opinion but don't force it on somebody else.
WHITFIELD: Passionate views following the disturbing images 500 miles away at the white nationalist gatherings in Virginia involving a Confederate monument. The death of anti-hate protest demonstrator Heather Heyer laid to rest this week, and following the U.S. president's comments about removing Confederate symbols.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're changing history, you're changing culture.
WHITFIELD: And his tweets, the president asking, whose next?
On Stone Mountain, among those we talked to a resounding feeling that actions speak louder than symbols.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it's a really sad issue. I don't think the carving, taking the way of carving will change anybody's heart. You have to change the heart first.
WHITFIELD: And while this nation's largest monument to Confederate leaders may be a high point for other individuals and groups like this one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless America.
WHITFIELD: Posing with Confederate flags atop the mountain, posting on Facebook, and later saying they would defend the monument.
Is it etched into the consciousness of everyone who comes here?
JOHN BANKHEAD, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER: Not necessarily. A lot of the people that take advantage of what the park has to offer really didn't come in this area. WHITFIELD: John Bankhead, the public information officer for Stone
Mountain, says this summer for the first time in a long time it received a cross burning request by a group identifying itself as the Ku Klux Klan, a request denied this month.
How much of that is true?
[14:55:00] BANKHEAD: This request was made in May, and we had to go to the legal people here in Georgia, attorney general's office to get opinions on what we can do to deny it. And we never intended to allow that to go on here, giving, you know -- we know the history of this park, we know the history of this mountain. We're just not going to allow that to happen.
WHITFIELD: So has a request like that happened often this year?
BANKHEAD: No. First time. It's the first time it has ever happened other than 1962.
JOSEPH CRESPINO, PROFESSOR EMORY UNIVERSITY: Part of the memorialization was an effort to remember these men who had sacrificed during war. But it happened at the same time that a much broader political project was going on in the south in which the south, southern states had passed laws that were disenfranchising African- American and were restoring white rule.
WHITFIELD: In Georgia, despite a flurry of tweets urging the removal or sandblasting and the Georgia NAACP stating.
PHYLLIS BLAKE, PRESIDENT, NAACP GEORGIA STATE CONFERENCE: We as the birthplace of the civil rights movement must act in accordance with true American values.
WHITFIELD: Any change at Stone Mountain is complicated. Georgia state law has a clear mandate for the memorial, saying it should be, quote, "preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the citizens of this state who suffered."
The carving of this monument was a 60 year project, initially involving a sculptor of South Dakota's Mount Rushmore. Stone Mountain would be completed under President Richard Nixon's administration. Forth-five years later, under the nation's 45th president, Stone Mountain's carving and Confederate monuments like it, both landmarks and lightning rods.
WHITFIELD: And underscoring under perspective of Americans on the removal of Confederate statues in the U.S., this NPR poll shows 62 percent of those polled believe the Confederate memorials and statues should remain.
Thanks so much for being with us today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Newsroom with Ana Cabrera continues right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks so much for joining us.
Today thousands of people descended on the streets of Boston in dueling protests held in the wake of the Violence in Charlottesville. There were a few tense scenes as police attempted to push back protesters. Some of those protesters there for a free speech rally, others were there to counter them. Take a look.
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CROWD: Unite! Unite! Unite and fight the right! Unite! Unite! Unite and fight the right!
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CABRERA: Now this was earlier in Boston, wave after wave of people rejecting extremism, embracing unity, determined to stand up to hate after last weekend's deadly violence in Virginia.