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Colorado School District Mulls Tearing Down Columbine; Police: Lesbian Couple Beaten in Homophobic Attack; New Series Renews Interest in Central Park 5 Case; Exonerated Man Helping Others Transition Out of Prison. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 7, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Just this past year in a letter to the community the district superintendent says this, quote, the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999 serves as a point of origin for the contagion of school shootings. School Shooters refer to and study the Columbine shootings as a macabre source of inspiration and motivation.

And Jason Glass is the superintendent who wrote that letter to parents asking the community for input in destroying Columbine high school. So, Jason, thank you so much for being here.


BALDWIN: So you tell me why you think the school should be torn down?

GLASS: Well, I think rather than saying it should be, I think we're in a conversation with a community right now. The discussions around what should happen with Columbine really occurred since 1999. So this is not a new idea or concept in the community.

The reason it wasn't destroyed in 1999 is we didn't know what to do at that point. It was a new phenomenon or idea. And there was a sort of sense that we would be succumbing to what happened there if we destroyed the building. But now 20 years later, we see a real inflection and interest and people trying to enter the school and coming to the school. Mostly for benign purposes, but occasionally with intent to do harm. And that has been increasing over the two years and we're 20 years out from the original murders now.

BALDWIN: So what is the feedback you've been getting then from the community over what to do? Are the majority of -- the folks you're in contact with saying let's do it, let's take the school down or no?

GLASS: I think it is a real mixture. Which is what I would expect. I mean, this is an emotional topic. It is something that is really complicated. And there are a lot of sort of memories and attachments in the Columbine community and around all of our county here in Jefferson County.

There are folks who are really opposed to it. Because of the arguments around we're succumbing to it and their skeptical if it would work to sort of chill the problem. There are others that are supportive and in favor. Particularly those that work at the school now that know sort of the pressures that the school faces on a daily basis.

And there are a lot of people that I think are trying to take a really thoughtful approach to this and trying to listen, trying to hear, trying to understand. Because it is emotional and it is complicated. That last reaction is what we hope to get more people to. This is complex. And it is not an easy decision. So we really believe people need to slow down, listen, hear each other and speak from the heart.

BALDWIN: This is what we have. This is from Will Beck. This is a Columbine survivor who had this to say about tearing it down.

He said, I hate it. Even though something bad happened there, it is a special place to me. I would be devastated to lose it.

It would be devastating to lose it. Jason, just really putting you on the spot, I hear you on this is a conversation but what do you think should happen?

GLASS: I think we've got to con front the reality of what happened there. Not that this community hasn't been confronting that for many years but it's not subsiding. And it is time because the threats are increasing, the pressures are increasing on the school. It's time that we decide if we're going to do something different about the school.

And the community may say we need to keep it exactly like it is. We need to keep doing what we're doing which is what we'll do. And Columbine is an incredibly safe school because it is Columbine. So I don't want to give anyone the impression that building isn't safe and the kids in it aren't safe. In some ways it is among the safest schools in the world. But it is constantly under pressure and scrutiny and that's what we've got to have a discussion about.

BALDWIN: Understand. We'll stay in contact with you and see what your community decides. Superintendent Jason Glass, thank you very much.

GLASS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next on CNN, this lesbian couple viciously attacked while just riding the bus home. Hear the heart felt Facebook post from one of the victims next.


BALDWIN: It is the start of pride month around the world and we are learning about this. This lesbian couple minding their own business cuddling on a bus ride home viciously attacked by a group of men and then robbed. This happened in the north London area known as Camden Town. One of the victims later went on Facebook to rage against what she considers an increasing amount of violence plaguing the world. We're on the latest with the search for the suspects, and, Erin, have there been an arrest? ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There have been multiple arrests,

Brooke, Metropolitan police making the announcement today that four men between the ages of 15 and 18 have been arrested in connection with this brutal attack that occurred in the small hours of the morning on May 30th.

This couple were aboard a double-decker bus going home when they were approached by the men making homophobic comments. Things escalated and got violent. One of the victims was brave enough to post an account of what happened online including a photo of her and her partner, their faces bloody.

Let me just read you a bit of what Melania Geymonat had to say on Facebook.

She said, quote, we must have kissed or something because these guys came after us. I don't remember if they were already there or if they got on the bus after us. There were at least four of them. They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us lesbians and describing sexual positions.

[15:40:06] Now I had the opportunity just a short while ago to speak with Melania on the phone and she was describing to me how angry she is, how thankful she is that things weren't worse. She said that she decided to come forward and tell her story to raise awareness about this kind of attack. She says it's a frequent occurrence in London. She said it is maybe the first time that she's had her nose broken. But it's not the first time, she told me, that she's felt violated in this way -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Good for them for posting it. So the whole world can see what happened. Erin McLaughlin in London. Erin, thank you very much.

Coming up next, it has been 30 years since the Central Park five case first made headlines nationwide and now this brilliant Netflix series is renewing interest in the real-life story about a group of African- American and Latino teens who were imprisoned for a rape they did not commit. We will talk live to actress Niecy Nash about this gripping scene and how it changed her life, coming up.


BALDWIN: Moving, traumatizing, heartbreaking, a heinous miscarriage of justice. Those are just some of the words used to describe "When They See Us." This is this new Netflix series that has renewed interest in the infamous Central Park five case. Created and directed by award winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay. It depicts the story of four black and one Hispanic teen who were convicted and later exonerated in the rape of a white female jogger in New York City 30 years ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The female jogger was severely beaten and raped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every black male who was in the park last night is a suspect. I need all of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is going on with my son?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your son was involved in a rape in Central Park.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait a minute. Wait a second. What is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They saw you rape the lady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't see a lady or hit anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't see any lady.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't see any lady.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to see my son right now. Right now.


BALDWIN: It is also bringing attention to President Trump's controversial role during that time. Even before the conviction, Trump took out a full-page ad in New York City newspapers with the caption "Bring Back the Death Penalty, Bring Back Our Police." And he even talked to CNN's Larry King about it at the time.


DONALD TRUMP, ON LARRY KING MAY 1989: Of course I hate these people. And let's all hate these people. Because maybe hate is what we need if we're going to get something done.


BALDWIN: Trump said he hated and has never apologized to, after all of these years, are these men. Kevin Richardson, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise. And actress, Niecy Nash, stars as Delores Wise the mother of Korey Wise in the four-part series. And Niecy, and pleasure. Thank you so much for coming by CNN.

NIECY NASH, "DELORES WISE" IN "WHEN THEY SEE US": Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: OK, where to begin. Let's just start with -- when you first -- how did you or find this role? And how much did you know about the story previous to shooting this?

NASH: I had known about this story but only from media coverage. And from the moment I heard about it, I was obsessed. And this is many, many years ago. And I felt like I had been carrying a burden for people I never met. So when I found out that Ava was doing the movie, the four-part series and I worked with her before --

BALDWIN: You were like -- NASH: I said, listen, I have to be a part of this movie in some way.

BALDWIN: Let me play a clip. Because we mentioned you play Delores Wise. You're Korey's mom. And so, Korey was the oldest of the boys.

NASH: Served the longest time.

BALDWIN: Because he was an adult. Right?

NASH: Well he was 16.

BALDWIN: 16 but he ended up going to-

NASH: Rikers from the courtroom.

BALDWIN: There you go.

NASH: Yes.

BALDWIN: And so, there's the scene just exemplifies the mental and physical torture that he endured behind bars all the while maintaining his innocence. So here's is the clip between the two of you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please come back as much as you can. Please come back --

NIECY NASH, "DELORES WISE" IN "WHEN THEY SEE US": No, this is not your enemy. Here what I'm talking to you. Pray for your enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (yelling and in pain)

They're going to kill me.

NASH: I love you!


NASH: It takes me out every time.

BALDWIN: I see your eyes are watering. Oh, my goodness. As a mother, as a black mother in this country, how hard was it for you to step into this role?

NASH: Very hard, but very necessary. I mean, I've never been a part of a project that provided crisis counseling if you needed it. There was an 800-number that you could call, Ava and Netflix provided for us, so that we could just make it through the material because it's extremely hard. Especially when I have a black son.

[15:50:06] BALDWIN: I wanted to ask you about that. I read about the courtroom scene for you in particular was -- it changed your life. Like, I wondered, because I was reading a quote from the actor who plays Kory, I haven't healed yet, I'm still trying. Were there moments when you guys were on set or in between takes when you just said, I need to take a minute?

NASH: Yes, I mean, the one thing I will tell you that Jharrell Jerome is a gift in this project. He is an absolute gift. And working with them, he was so present. And it was just like looking into the face of my own son. So that pain is right there. And I had an opportunity to speak to his mother on the phone for almost an hour.

BALDWIN: What was that like?

NASH: Her pain is still palpable.


NASH: So a lot of people say, this should be in your rear view, because it was 30 years ago, but you can't put a time stamp on when suffering should end. The residue is still on the altars of their hearts.

BALDWIN: Wow. Let me -- I'm sure you've seen this tweet. This is from LeVar Burton, who played the role of Kunta Kinte. And of course "Roots" back in 1977. He tweeted, I had to keep breathing. Episode number one nearly broke my heart. However, I'll keep watching. This is essential viewing to every American, as essential to your understanding of America, as was "Roots."

And Ava retweeted it. She talked about how meaningful it was for her. One of our writers here at who is a black man, has a teenage son, said that he had to -- it was a struggle for him, whether to even watch it. What do you say to those -- I talked to a woman earlier today who said she's gotten through three black women who had to stop. What do you say to those people who -- it's so close to home?

NASH: The one thing I will say is keep watching. Finish it. Because if these men endured it, we owe it to them to bear witness to what happened. And as a lot of African-Americans know, we know stories like this, you know? It is non-black Americans who need to lean in and try to see it through this particular lens.

BALDWIN: What's your message to those non-black Americans?

NASH: Lean in. Watch this project. And then, you remember the line in the Matthew McConaughey movie "A Time to Kill" with Sam Jackson, and then he said, now close your eyes and imagine if this baby was white. You know, it's a different shift. And you might lean into it a little bit differently if you could just try to see it from our perspective.

BALDWIN: What did Orpah say?

NASH: Well, Orpah gave Jharrell and I a beautiful shout-out in social media and then she actually texted me, personally, to talk about what a good job I did. And I'm going to tell you this, Orpah uses the clapping emoji in between each word. She said. You, did that. Bravo!

BALDWIN: So great. So great. Niecy Nash, thank you so much. NASH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: It is all on Netflix right now for everyone to see. And you can catch Niecy on sister station TNT where she plays on the hit show "Claws." Season three premieres this weekend. Here's a clip.


NASH: Virginia could have been killed! I'm so sick of this (MUTED). I'm tired of people thinking they can play me and that I'm just going to roll over and take it. I'm done. I'm taking this casino and I'm protecting my girls.

I know Dee. And you should listen to homegirl. I mean, they tortured her for asking for a raise. You sure you want those kind of problems.

NASH: The (INAUDIBLE) l doesn't know what they have. I'm a boss now.


BALDWIN: Catch "Claws" on our sister station TNT this Sunday, 9:00 p.m. eastern. Niecy, thank you.

NASH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Just in, we are learning the feds have arrested a man accused of making more than 2,000 threatening calls to members of Congress. Plus, the clock is ticking just a short while from now. A deadline for the President to put a signature on his tariff threats with Mexico. Will he do it, as his own party warns him not to. We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: This week's CNN hero was just 20 years old when he was wrongfully convicted and locked up in a Texas prison for 15 years. And now that he's been fully exonerated, he's using his newfound freedom to help other prisoners change their lives.


RICHARD MILES, MILES OF FREEDOM (voice-over): My mom would always tell me, when you look out the window, don't look at the bars, look at the sky. I could change my perception within the place of incarceration.

(on camera): At the end of the day, be confident in your change.

(voice-over): The idea really started from inside. People get out and they come right back in. I said, if I ever get out, man, we're going to start a program and we're going to help people.

(on camera): Acknowledgement, transparency, and forgiveness. These are the three essential things we need when we're coming back home. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: We encourage you to watch more of his incredible story and see how he helps change parolees' lives. Go to right now.

Quick check of the Dow. Remember we are one hour away from that deadline for the President to put his signature on these -- what essentially would amount to 5 percent tariff with Mexico starting Monday. All in the green so far, up 270 points. Seconds away from the closing bell. Thanks for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You've been watching CNN. Stay here, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts now.