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CNN NEWSROOM

March for Our Lives; Brexit Campaign Claims; French President Holds Security Meeting. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired March 25, 2018 - 02:00   ET

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


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CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, I'm Cyril Vanier at the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta. And it's great to have you with us.

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VANIER: A group of defiant teenagers grabbed the world's attention on Saturday, spearheading a march in Washington, D.C., and other cities in the U.S., demanding tougher gun laws.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators there in Washington, a show of force, standing with the Stoneman Douglas high school students who survived a mass shooting last month when a gunman opened fire at their school, killing 17 of their peers. They say enough is enough.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hereby promise to fix the broken system we've been forced into and create a better world for generations to come. Don't worry. We've got this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My friends and I might still be 11 and we might still be in elementary school but we know, we know life isn't equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This needs to change. We've been fighting for this way too long and nothing has changed and we need change now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here on this stage today and I'm here working every day for my 17 fellow Eagles pronounced dead because of gunfire.

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VANIER: Celebrities also took part, like singer Jennifer Hudson, and she knows first-hand about gun violence because her mother and brother were killed in a shooting. She sang about the change that is happening.

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VANIER: In Florida, shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez closed out the rally. She began at the podium for some six minutes, just over four of them in complete silence, measuring the length of time it took for the gunman to kill 17 people at her school. Here's part of her speech.

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EMMA GONZALES, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands.

For us, long, tearful, chaotic hours in the scorching afternoon sun were spent not knowing. No one understood the extent of what had happened. No one could believe that there were bodies in that building, waiting to be identified for over a day.

No one knew that the people who were missing had stopped breathing long before any of us had even known that a code red had been called.

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VANIER: And people all over the world heard these students' rallying cry. Some participated in their own cities, gathering in the hopes that they, too, can say, never again. CNN's Joe Johns highlights some of the most powerful moments from the marchers around the U.S.

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JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: From sea to shining sea, activists pouring into the streets: from, Parkland, Florida...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This stops now.

JOHNS: To our nation's capital. Students standing up to make their voices heard.

TREVOR BASS (PH), PARTICIPANT: My name is Trevor Bass (ph).

EDNA YVEZ CHAVEZ, PARTICIPANT: My name is Edna Yvez Chavez.

ION KELLY, PARTICIPANT: My name is Ion Kelly and just like all of you, I have had enough.

JOHNS: Powerful voices of those who have lost. Gripping a world in awe of the power of our youth.

NAOMI WADLER, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT FROM VIRGINIA: People have said that I am a tool of some nameless adult. It's not true.

JOHNS: As student-led demonstrations demand changes to the nation's gun law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I too am a victim, a survivor and a victor of gun violence. We are done hiding. We're done being afraid. We are done being full of fear.

JOHNS: Each one drawing thousands including celebrities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of my best friends was killed in gun violence right around here. So, it's important to me.

JOHNS: The D.C. event brought famous performers like Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Common.

One person not in attendance, President Trump, who instead opted to leave town one day ahead of the march. The White House issuing a statement applauding the demonstrators, highlighting a new Department of Justice proposal banning bump stocks as part of the president's commitment to keeping children safe.

For many, that proposal is not enough; not even close.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they give us that inch, that bump stock ban, we will take a mile. We are not here for bread crumbs, we are here for real change.

JOHNS: But other lawmakers did show up. Each with a similar refrain, that the best way forward is to keep pushing forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They will make their voices heard --

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- and they will make them heard every single day and they will make them heard in every single election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to stay with it. One day is not enough because the politicians are watching the NRA which is going to be there tomorrow and the day after and the day after.

JOHNS: With student after student offering a different message to their elected officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot and will not be influenced by money and demand the same from our elected officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stand for us or beware, the voters are coming.

JOHNS: Young men and women, demanding change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: United America.

JOHNS: Obviously, the question is whether all of this energy will translate into substantive change any time soon.

Organizers on their weekend visit to Washington were encouraged in private meetings with thought leaders like former Vice President Joe Biden to vote, to run the grassroots movement and when it's time, to run for office, to keep the pressure on.

Organizers responded by registering people to vote at the march in all 50 states -- Joe Johns, CNN, the White House.

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VANIER: And the powerful gun lobby, the NRA, the National Rifle Association, seized on all of this as a fundraising opportunity and posted a promotional video on Saturday, criticizing the protesters. Here is part of the message.

"Gun hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and exploiting children as part of their plan to destroy the Second Amendment and strip us of our right to defend ourselves and our loved ones."

Earlier I spoke with CNN political analyst, Josh Rogin about whether the March for Our Lives movement will have staying power beyond today.

Here's part of that conversation.

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JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Two things are striking. One, the overwhelming support from just all quarters of society, people around the nation, 800,000 estimated people in just in D.C. alone, not counting the hundreds of other events planned around the nation and around the world.

What's clear is that this movement is gaining momentum. What's not clear is exactly where it's going. The organizers, these brave, smart, eloquent, articulate kids, are very cognizant of the fact that Congress is not going to solve this problem.

They're indicating, stating very clearly that the only way to really make change is through the ballot box.

So that's a much slower process. But what they've started and what I saw today is not going away (INAUDIBLE).

VANIER: So in that case, if it's too early to know whether this is actually a turning point, what factors are you going to be looking at going forward to see whether this has traction?

ROGIN: Well, tragically, what we've seen is that this pattern of catastrophes is not (INAUDIBLE) piling up. We saw students from half a dozen school shootings speak at today's event.

So there's expectation that (INAUDIBLE) actions there could be additional catastrophes.

Now while of course no one wants to see that, it's clear that as long, as the problem is not solved, the number of victims will continue to increase. And eventually what we're looking for is a change in the makeup of the electorate as they go to the polls, first in 2018 and 2020.

Congress is not going to take the (INAUDIBLE) and then really the only change to expect is a change in control of the Congress and maybe a change in the lawmakers' attitudes. VANIER: So, Josh, are you saying just to understand this, are you saying that this is essentially a time bomb and you've got to look at this over the next couple of years as this generation becomes part of the voting population and then see if that changes the balance, is that what you're saying?

ROGIN: Yes, essentially what I'm saying is there will be no real change in the short term but that the change in the long term is inevitable and that we're building an entire generation of new voters, who are not beholden to the political process and structure that people of the older generations have bought into.

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VANIER: That was CNN political analyst Josh Rogin there, speaking with me just a short while ago.

Moving on now, a former volunteer is accusing the official Brexit group Vote Leave of breaking campaign finance rules ahead the referendum. The volunteer tells Britain's Channel 4 that the Vote Leave group used a separate campaign group called BeLeave to deliberately spend more than what it was legally allowed.

The majority of the donation allegedly went to a Canadian data firm, Aggregate IQ. That firm has been linked to Cambridge Analytica, which, of course, is accused of misusing Facebook user data to target voters.

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SHAHMIR SANNI, FORMER BREXIT CAMPAIGNER: I know that Vote Leave cheated, that people had been lied to and that the referendum wasn't legitimate. Now we're going --

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SANNI: -- on a path. We're going on a path to Brexit based on lies, based on cheating, based on what is essentially a scam.

And what does that mean for our democratic process?

The decision I agree with. Leaving the European Union I agree with. But I don't agree with losing what it means to be British in that process.

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VANIER: A lawyer with Vote Leave said that it has twice been cleared on this particular matter by Britain's electoral commission but the group will investigate the new allegations nonetheless. And the Canadian data firm, AIQ, denies any wrongdoing also and says it has never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica. So it denies any ties there.

Meanwhile, Stephen Parkinson, who was then the national organizer for Vote Leave, also denying the allegations. Parkinson is now the political secretary for Prime Minister Theresa May and he told "The Guardian," "I had no responsibility for digital campaigning or donations on the Vote Leave campaign. I'm confident that I stayed within the law and strict spending rules at all times."

France's president says Friday's deadly attacks were Islamist terrorism. Emmanuel Macron led a defense in Security Council meeting on Saturday. He says authorities are looking at whether the attacker had a connection to ISIS.

Meanwhile, police have arrested two people said to be closely connected with the gunman. CNN's Melissa Bell has more.

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MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was here that Radouane Lakdim's killing spree came to an end. This Super U in Trebes remained cordoned off on Saturday, the scene of the hostage taking brought to an end by the heroism of this police officer. Arnaud Beltrame offered to take the place of a female hostage and then by leaving his phone on allowed special forces to bring the standoff to an end.

Beltrame is the fourth person to die in a series of attacks that began with a carjacking in Carcassonne just after 10:00 am on Friday, a carjacking that left one person dead. Radouane Lakdim then attacked a group of police officers on their way back to their barracks after a jog, injuring one. From there he made his way to Trebes, taking hostages and killing two people inside the supermarket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The perpetrator entered the Super U store, shouting, "Allahu akbar," and indicated that he was a soldier of the Islamic State, saying he was ready to die for Syria. He asked for the liberation of brothers before shooting a customer and an employee of the store, who died on the scene.

BELL: Francois Mallon also confirmed that Radouane Lakdim had been identified by authorities as possibly being radicalized as early as 2014 although he said there had been no suggestion that he was preparing to act.

The question now at the heart of the investigation, whether he did so alone or not -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Trebes.

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VANIER: OK, that's it for now. Thank you for watching. I'm Cyril Vanier. "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" is next and I'm back with the headlines in about 15 minutes. Stay with us.