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Trump Tweets Kim Jong-un An Invite To Shake His Hand At DMZ; Trump: A Lot Of Good Things Are Happening In North Korea; Key Officials Learned Of Trump's Offer To Meet With Kim Jong-un From The President's Tweet; Buttigieg Attends Peace Walk As Racial Tensions Flare; Trump: Would Be "Very Comfortable" Crossing Into North Korea; Remembering The Stonewall Inn Uprising 50 Years Later. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired June 29, 2019 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again everyone. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right, President Trump is in South Korea right now and all eyes are on the DMZ to see if North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un will take President Trump up on his offer for quick meeting.
This wouldn't be your typical meeting between two world leaders with a formal invite and weeks of preparation. The President actually initiated the whole thing very casually on Twitter writing, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this I would meet him at the border DMZ just to shake his hand and say hello.
Before leaving the G20 summit, President Trump talked about his hopes for this trip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand that we may be meeting with Chairman Kim and we'll find out. We spoke with the people, Kim Jong-un was very receptive. He responded and so we'll see because tomorrow we're going to the DMZ. I said while I'm there, I'll shake his hand.
We get along, there's been no nuclear tests. There's been no long range ballistic tests. Gave us back our hostages which was great and a lot of good things are happening over there. So I'll let him know we'll be there and we'll see. I mean - I don't - I can't tell you exactly but they did respond very favorably.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you tell us how you see all of this unfolding and if you do meet Kim Jong-un at the DMZ tomorrow, would you step across the border into North Korea?
TRUMP: Sure, I would , I would. I feel very comfortable doing that. I would have no problem.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think it's possible that there will be a third one-on-one summit with Chairman Kim -
TRUMP: Oh sure.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: - within this year.
TRUMP: Well, might happen tomorrow. I mean - we won't call it a summit, we'll call it a handshake if it does happen. I don't know that it will but it could happen. I know I think he'd like to do it and I wouldn't mind doing it at all.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You made this very public invitation to Kim Jong-un. Will it be a bad sign if he doesn't show up?
TRUMP: No. Of course I thought of that because I know if he didn't, everybody's going to say he was stood up by Chairman Kim. No, I understand that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: We have two reporters standing by in Seoul, South Korea. We'll get to Will Ripley in just a moment but let's begin with CNN's White House Correspondent, Abby Phillip so if the President - if the President were to step across the border, you know of course this would be very historic.
Why does the President - why is he extending this invitation, why does he feel that this would be a really important gesture.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, it seems to be a bit of a gamble on the President's part to try to restart peace talks with North Korea, try to re-establish what has been from the beginning, kind of this one-on-one interpersonal relationship between the two leaders.
President Trump has emphasized so much the fact that he understands Kim, that he likes Kim, he even has suggested that he believes in Kim's ability to lead North Korea into a new era and part of that is often - when the two men are able to sit a face to face in these summits but the problem is the last summit didn't go so well.
President Trump walked out of that summit without a deal and in the interim time there has been very little happening behind the scenes, very little actual talk about denuclearization except for in recent weeks these letters that have been exchanged between President Trump and Kim.
Sort of casual, almost social exchanges between the two men but I think President Trump thinks if he can do this, if he can make a big historic gesture by both going to the DMZ and potentially needing Kim there, shaking his hand and potentially stepping foot into North Korean soil, that could be a key signal of his seriousness in this effort.
But it's not clear whether Kim is even going to show up. All of this is being so hastily put together you know, sources are telling us that a lot of the officials working on this DMZ visit didn't even know that President Trump is going to extend such a public invitation to Kim in a tweet until the President actually tweeted it. So it remains to be seen whether there will be enough time frankly to put all of this together and if Kim is willing to take the chance himself to show up but President Trump is hoping that if the two men can come face to face again, I think he believes that that can help them get back to the negotiating table on the most important issue here which is denuclearizing this Korean peninsula.
WHITFIELD: So Abby even though you know, Trump's advisers or at least his team was unaware that he would do this, is there a thinking on their part that Kim Jong-un would actually take the President up on the offer even though it was a President who walked away. I mean, it would seem the psychology is, Kim wouldn't want to acquiesce to Trump being in the driver seat you know after he walked away from the deal or from their talks.
PHILLIP: That's true. It's just - it's just simply not clear. I think there is a sense that they don't know exactly what he's going to do but President Trump hinted that there has been some kind of response from the North Koreans.
He said that after he tweeted it would - he believed that Kim was following him on Twitter because the North Koreans responded very quickly, acknowledging his invitation, not necessarily as far as we know confirming that he will actually be there but just simply acknowledging that.
The dynamic in the last couple of weeks seems to be that Kim was the one who first sent President from a letter, a hand written note on his - around the time of his birthday initiating contact yet again. So there is perhaps a sense that President Trump is following up on what seems to be Kim initiating contact with him.
But this is a risky thing. Meeting an American President in the DMZ, doing it on short notice, it's not clear whether this you know, noted hermit kingdom is going to try to make this grand gesture on such a short time line and given that it's not clear what President Trump really wants to get out of it.
WHITFIELD: Right, okay, so then Will, if it was Kim that actually initiated with the letter et cetera, maybe it's not so you know, last minute trying to get things together but talk to us about logistically how would something like this be supported.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is not a huge surprise Fred. I've been asking my contacts for weeks now ever since we knew that President Trump was going to be going to the DMZ, a lot of people thought okay, would it make sense for him to have some sort of an exchange with Kim Jong-un.
Now President Trump indicating he could walk across the military demarcation line into North Korean territory, that's a big deal and it's something that is going to have to be carefully discussed with the North Koreans and I would imagine Fred, that those discussions are happening as we speak and will continue throughout the overnight hours.
The way it works in North Korea with anything surrounding Kim Jong-un is there are extensive negotiations, even something as simple as a letter being handed to Kim, there's a formal presentation ceremony, there are discussions about what the intent of the letter is, how that's going to work, what Kim is going to get from the letter.
So even if their exchange is only intended to last for a couple of minutes, those discussions are going to happen in great detail on the North Korean side. We believe that that may be happening in part because the guy on the U.S. side that talks to North Koreans, Stephen Biegun was not - was not seen at the dinner at the South Korean Blue House here in Seoul with President Moon Jae-in.
He's the guy that would be having those working level discussions so perhaps those discussions are happening. In terms of what the two leaders would decide when they're actually there in the moment, could they step in one of the buildings, if John have a one-on-one chat, sure, they could decide to do that.
It seems given the very short notice here, there's not going to be obviously anything signed, there's not going to be any sort of breakthrough, there's still huge distance between what North Korea wants which is sanctions lifted and what the United States wants which is North Korea to get rid of all their nukes.
Any meeting at the DMZ if it does happen, it's not going to solve that bigger issue but what it does do is it allows came in trying to capitalize on the one thing that they have which is this personal rapport, the fact that they seem to get each other, they like each other and they could put that on display at the DMZ in the coming hours.
WHITFIELD: All right, Will Ripley, Abby Phillip, we'll be watching, thank you so much, keep us posted. All right, meantime President Trump also weighed in on the murder of "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi. He said, he is extremely angry, I'm talking about the President and very unhappy about the situation.
Khashoggi was brutally killed inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey more than eight months ago. U.S. sources say, the CIA concluded the Saudi Crown Prince authorized the attack but Trump continues to defend his relationship with Mohammed Bin Salman. He told reporters however, that he did bring up the murder in his meeting with the Crown Prince.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think it's horrible or anybody else by the way. I think it's horrible. And if you look and look into Saudi Arabia, you see what's happening, 13 people or so have been prosecuted, others are being prosecuted, they've taken very, very seriously. And they will continue to and I've let everybody know, I'm not - I'm very unhappy about that whole event.
But if you look at what's going on and right now within Saudi Arabia, they're prosecuting additional people, there's a lot of things happening. At the same time, I will also say and nobody said - nobody so far has pointed directly a finger at the future king of Saudi Arabia.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You mentioned that no one had pointed the finger at him but actually the CIA did, the Intelligence Community.
TRUMP: I cannot comment on Intelligence Community and I just - I'm not - probably, I guess I'm allowed to do what I want to do in terms of that, right? We can declassify unlike Hillary Clinton. She decided to just give it out. We can declassify. The truth is that I just don't want to talk about Intelligence but I will say this, a lot of people are being prosecuted and they're taking it very seriously over there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, with me now Opinion Writer for "The Washington Post" and CNN Global Affairs Analyst, Jason Rezaian. Back in 2014, Jason was arrested in Tehran, Iran and held prisoner for more than 500 days. Jason, always good to see you.
JASON REZAIAN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to see you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: So when you hear the President you know, when asked about Khashoggi and he's - he says okay, it was horrible but then there's difference to and even trust in Saudi Arabia that there have been some prosecutions. What - what's your view as to why the President is handling it in this matter the death of Khashoggi.
I mean eight months later and still no real clarity and details on what happened, why and you know what more the U.S. can even do in helping to bring those responsible.
REZAIAN: Well Fred, the reality is that almost the entire world has laid the blame on Mohammed Bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, that he was probably behind the planning of this murder and the fact that the U.S. President is unwilling to concede that is farcical especially for those of us who are watching the situation closely.
He's made it clear that for him the relationship with Saudi Arabia, the business ties are much more important than the murder of my colleague but ultimately, I don't think anybody really puts a lot of stock in to what President Trump is saying on this particular case.
WHITFIELD: Except that you know he's a megaphone, he is sending a very strong message and whether the death of Khashoggi and your own experience in Iran as a journalist, rounded up and treated the way in which you were and held prisoner for 500 days and then you've got Russia who alongside the President you know, they're smiling, they're joking and even joking about the peril of a journalist and demonizing -
REZAIAN: On the anniversary of the five journalists in Capital Gazette shooting just last year.
REZAIAN: That was shocking for me and everybody else in the journalistic community to see yesterday and I think it's a kind of a sign of how this President holds our field in such contempt and is looking for allies in that contempt in the leaders of authoritarian nations around the world.
WHITFIELD: Yeah and why?
REZAIAN: Well, I think ultimately he doesn't like criticism but also I mean this trend of trying to shut down the press and create an atmosphere of confusion inside this country, he believes, is to his benefit.
WHITFIELD: So this was the President with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit for those who missed it earlier in the week, here you go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We talked about it, we talked about it, you know we've talked about it before, you know he denies it totally by the way, just - about how many times can you get somebody to deny something. But he has in the past denied it. He's denied it also publicly.
But we talked about it, we talked about a lot of other things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And that primarily was about the you know, Russia meddling into elections and you know, perhaps a missed opportunity for the President there to be a little bit more firm about and you better not do it again et cetera but you know, he's brushing it off in a very cavalier manner, again sending a very strong message to Russia.
So if in Saudi Arabia, it's about economic possibilities, what might it be for Russia that the President feels like he just doesn't want to make waves.
REZAIAN: Well, I mean as many people have speculated for a long time, there might be something that Russia has on him. There also might be the fact that Russia probably helped get him elected and ultimately, I think that this cozying up to dictators, whether it's President Putin, Mohammed bin Salman or Kim John-un is reckless.
It's not in the best interest of the national security of the United States and I think it's going to have long term ramifications that we can't even begin to conceive of today.
WHITFIELD: And then let me ask you about Iran and the President. You know, recently in the way in which he's handling and challenging Iran, denying that it's about regime change but then you know, throwing out some really potentially dangerous words when talking about the supreme leader and at the same time threatening more sanctions. Why should Iran or how would Iran interpret any real serious
invitation from the President to have diplomatic discussions to try to de-escalate things. Yet at the same time, Iran is looking at this administration tearing up the nuclear deal and that country being compliant in the last year.
How is all that being received?
REZAIAN: Ultimately, I think that Iran will at some point come back to the negotiating table but it can't do it right now with the amount of threats coming from Washington. The near miss week or so ago the possible strikes that the President called off, it's not a moment for the Iranians to stand down and I think that the pressurized situation increased the possibility of spontaneous acts of violence on either side.
And ultimately, when I hear about you know, Kim Jong-un sending birthday cards to President Trump as one of your previous guests mentioned, I don't see that happening coming from Tehran in the short term.
WHITFIELD: All right Jason Rezaian, always respect your point of view and experience, thank you so much. Coming up, President Trump had much more to say including his thoughts on the ongoing trade dispute with China and later, Presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg facing tough questions in his home town.
Now he's hoping to heal his community following a deadly police shooting.
[12:20:00] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Trade talks with China are back on track as President Trump and China's Xi Jinping agree to restart the conversation, avoiding an escalation in a trade war feared by farmers and businesses here in the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And I promise that for at least the time being we're not going to be lifting tariffs on China, we won't be adding an additional you know, tremendous amount of - we have - I guess $350 billion left which could be taxed, could be tariffed and we're not doing that, we're going to work with us. China on where we left off to see if we can make a deal.
China is going to start, they're going to be consulting with us and they're going to start spending money even during the negotiation to our farmers, our great farmers in the Midwest. I call them the great patriots because that's what they are, they're patriots. And China is going to be buying a tremendous amount of food and agricultural product.
And they're going to start that very soon, almost immediately. We're going to give him a lists of things that we would like him to buy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: With me now is Rachael Bade. She is the Congressional Reporter for "The Washington Post" and Lynn Sweet, the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun Times, good to see you both.
All right, so Rachael, so you first. You know, what are your thoughts from this meeting and this declaration from the President about trade talks resuming?
RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean from 30,000 feet, it looks like good news, right? We all know that a trade war at least a lot of Americans are really concerned that that's going to hurt their bottom line, could hurt the stock market and trade it's good for the economy, right?
But the devil is in the details here and Trump just mentioned there in that clip that China is going to be buying more agriculture products from the U.S. which is good for you know, U.S. farmers but from my understanding China has not confirmed that yet and they have a lot of negotiating to do.
They have been trying to strike a trade agreement since December and the stocks have fallen apart before so I mean good news on the surface but really we have to see the details to see if it really is going to stand up.
WHITFIELD: You know, Lynn, a lot of farmers are very, very worried. You know some very angry you know, but the President is making it appear as though it's there's a really rosy horizon. How badly does he need a real win in this trade war with China?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN TIMES: Well, what he needs Fred, is the purchase order to prove that he's right. I want to underscore what we've been talking about the last few moments. China has not confirmed the purchase.
So two things are happening at the same time. Talks are resuming on tariffs, okay, we'll see how they go, talk is always good and the sweetener that Trump has put in that he's - he can't even have a conversation without bragging that he made - he had some victory. The victory right now would be the purchase order.
So let's not get away from what is really happening. He's trying to seduce his supporters into believe in something that is highly unlikely to be provable at this point.
WHITFIELD: And - go ahead Rachael.
BADE: I was just going to jump in and say it seems like he's in a tough position right now with China, right? Because he has to choose between two different things he promised on the campaign trail. I mean he promised to strike new trade deals but in order to do that he feels like he has to slap tariffs on other countries including China and so he wants to do that. But doing that is really risky for the U.S. economy and that is one of the best things he has going for him going into 2020 so is he willing to really risk that economic boom that he is sort of you know, presiding over right now and can potentially claim credit for in order to get that trade deal that he also promised in 2016.
WHITFIELD: Right and there's another crisis brewing in this country, and at the G20 press conference the President was asked about his pledge you know, to send immigration and customs enforcement or ICE you know to round up and deport thousands of undocumented immigrants and this was his reply.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Oh yes, unless - unless we do something pretty miraculous but. The Democrats it seems to me, they want to have open borders and for the life of me, I cannot figure that, it's one thing because I want people to come into our country, I'm all for that.
The only problem is that they have to come in through a process, they have to come in legally but yeah, we will be removing large numbers of people. People have to understand yes, the laws are -
REPORTER: In a week.
TRUMP: Yeah, starting in a week after you know, it's sometime after July 4.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So there's that and then Rachael, you just wrote a piece you know in the Washington Post about this rift you know, that has developed between House leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer over border - border funding bill.
Tell us about what's happened because it's really complicated about you know, what Democrats in the House and in the Senate want, feel they can demand or feel that there may have been some missed opportunities.
BADE: A lot of the rift we're seeing right now in the Democratic Party particularly between Schumer and Pelosi, the two leaders of the Chambers is coming in part because of Trump's threats like this. You know, he's saying he's going to deport people, what's going on the border.
We saw that horrible picture last week with a drowned migrant father and his daughter trying to cross on to the border. That is creating a lot of pressure on Democrats who want to help with the administration and do something on the border like they have put together some sort of emergency disaster bill that they passed this week.
But a lot of the progressives want it to go further, they wanted to specifically restrict the money so that Trump cannot for example, crack down and try to deport people as he's talking about right there but there's this emergency going on at the same time and so what we're seeing right now is Democrats who wanted to pass something and who wanted to get something moving including Chuck Schumer.
And Pelosi who was hearing from hardcore progressives in her own caucus and were trying to push for further left and so we saw the sort of falling out between both sides of the Democratic party on Capitol Hill this week for Pelosi thought Schumer would be on her side and it ended up that Schumer backed the bill that McConnell had put on the floor, a disaster bill and that sort of undercut Pelosi's negotiating hand to try to get further concessions to protect migrants that we're seeing right now.
WHITFIELD: So Lynn, is this a microcosm of a potentially big problem within the democratic leadership?
SWEET: It is two things. The 95 Democrats who voted against Pelosi is a very telling roll call because if you want the names of the left to the left, now you have it. One other quick thing, one of the reasons that the raid, the deportation raid was called off, it was offset that it was because of a call Pelosi had made to Trump.
But if you - doesn't take much reading between the lines of the statement DHS put out that they lost the element of surprise. So whoa, President Trump himself just gave away when raids would start, that is not that you have the time and place but whoa, what happened to the element of surprise that DHS seems to have valued.
So there's a lot going on that shows that President Trump just doesn't seem to know or care, which is not a news flash for us here about some of the details about how he can't even execute the policy he wants to achieve.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now ladies, thank you so much Lynn Sweet, Rachael Bade.
SWEET: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, up next, President Trump proposes an impromptu meeting, adds one of the most contentious borders in the world with no other than Kim Jong-un but can the President's safety at the DMZ really be guaranteed? More right after this.
[12:31:55] WHITFIELD: Welcome back.
Democratic presidential candidate and Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been marching for peace today in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana where racial tensions are flaring. Earlier this month, a white police officer shot and killed Eric Logan an African-American man during an investigation of car break-ins. The officer claims Logan was wielding a knife but the officer's body camera was turned off. Logan will be laid to rest today.
At the recent Democratic debate, Buttigieg acknowledged that he, quote, couldn't get it done when it came to his efforts to diversify the police force.
CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich, she is in South Bend. So, how is Buttigieg trying to bring this community together?
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Hi Fredricka. This is a very different tone than the town hall he held a week ago. Today's event is about peace, it's about bringing the community together. It's the third annual event that they've done this.
He was here last year as well and he's here again this year. He spent about two hours with the community. He did a march a couple of blocks to this tent behind me, he's been sitting, praying with different pastors, singing along, clapping his hands. So a very different tone that what we've seen from some of the other community members who have been very upset with what's been happening with the South Bend Police Department and the community.
The funeral of Eric Logan, the victim of that police shooting is actually happening at the same time as this event. But we were told by the mayor's office that Mayor Buttigieg talked to some intermediaries between the family and they advised him it would not be a good idea for him to attend the funeral. Instead, he is here today and he's still mingling with a couple of people as this event wraps up.
We should be expecting to talk to him in just a little while. And we'll get him on some other questions about why he decided to be here instead of the funeral. And what his plan is to bring the community of South Bend together during this very difficult time.
WHITFIELD: All right, Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you so much. And we'll be right back.
[12:37:38] WHITFIELD: Potential history in the making. President Trump says he's willing to step foot in North Korea, which would make him the first sitting U.S. president to do so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you do meet Kim Jong-un at the DMZ tomorrow, would you step across the border of North Korea?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sure, I would. I would -- I'd feel very comfortable doing that. I would have no problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So on Twitter, the president also extended an invitation to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a handshake at the DMZ.
Let's bring in Jonathan Wackrow, former Secret Service agent under President Obama. Good to see you. JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Nice to see you.
WHITFIELD: All right, so you helped plan President Obama's trips to the DMZ. But explain what goes into preparations for an American president's visit to the DMZ.
WACKROW: Well, Fred, I think you have to understand the difference between Obama's trip and President Trump's trip is timing. When President Obama went, months of preparation went into just that one movement of going to the DMZ. Careful consideration was put forth into manpower selection, transportation considerations. And then just the protocol between the North Koreans and the Americans and basically how we're going to interact with each other.
Right now the difficulty for the Secret Service is that a lot of the agents on the ground are trying to put a condensed security plan into place with only hours to prepare. So really they're really shifting the paradigm from the proactive advance process to being reactive to a dynamic threat environment along the border.
WHITFIELD: So a senior U.S. official, you know, helping to plan President Trump's visit to the DMZ told CNN that they learned of, you know, the possible handshake at the same time as everyone else. So now when you have -- it's one thing to visit, it's another to actually have physical contact and are preparations different for security?
WACKROW: Oh, absolutely. So there's two factors here. There's one just going to the DMZ, if you're going to go into the joint security area or the area called truce village, there are protocols that are put into place. The problem is this that, you know, we've seen that President Trump is thinking about, you know, actually entering into the sovereign North Korean land. That poses a significant security challenge as well as a challenge for the U.S. military that supports all presidential foreign travel.
[12:40:04] So, we lose the ability of that military support the moment that he goes into North Korea. There's just a variety of communications, physical security and cybersecurity challenges that the Secret Service has to adjust to on the fly to make that happen.
WHITFIELD: All right, also fascinating. Jonathan Wackrow, thanks so much.
WACKROW: Thank you very much.
WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, a big celebration is underway in New York honoring 50 years since the Stonewall riots provided a catalyst for LGBTQ rights in America. But that fight is still far from over. More, next.
WHITFIELD: This weekend marks 50 years since police raided the Stonewall in, a gay bar in New York City touching off days of riots that are widely credited as the start of the modern gay rights movement. [12:45:06] It happened in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. Patrons were inside the Stonewall, drinking, dancing when police enforcing anti-gay laws burst in as they had done many times before, but this time something changed. The patrons tired of being harassed fought back. What followed were six days of protests.
This weekend the Stonewall Inn serves as one of the main focal points for pride celebrations in the city. Lady Gaga was there yesterday and delivered an emotional speech, encouraging attendees to celebrate and to be proud of who they are.
CNN's Polo Sandoval joins me right now from the Stonewall Inn. You spoke to people who were actually there when those riots began 50 years ago. So what's happening? Set the stage for us.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fred, just to have a little bit more perspective here, keep in mind that decades before the LGBT community would take their fight for marriage (INAUDIBLE) all the way in the Supreme Court, their fight for basic fundamental rights was playing out right here on Christopher Street right in front of the famous Stonewall Inn where you can see there are people really from all over the world who are stopping by, taking a picture. And that also includes some of the people who said that they were there 50 years and one day ago. Here's how they remember that night.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): At New York City's monumental Stonewall Inn, there are those who come to pay homage --
JOSEPH NEGRELLI, STONEWALL ELDER: I'm ready.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): -- and those who come to remember what they lived through back in the summer of '69.
NEGRELLI: Nothing was really different that night except that people decided to fight back.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): As New Yorker Joseph Negrelli remembers it, the NYPD barged in as he sipped a drink inside the Stonewall. Before that night, this tiny Greenwich Village bar was known mostly as a place for LGBT men and women to be themselves. For many, sharing in the relative safety of this place came with a price. They were subjected by frequent police raids described by New York's police commissioner five decades later as discriminatory and oppressive.
NEGRELLI: If you were feminine or you were dressed non-conforming your sexuality at birth, you were arrested and tried to be humiliated. And that's what was happening that night.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): But the night of June 28, 1969, the bar's patrons revolted, they fought back refusing to comply with officers.
NEGRELLI: Someone threw a bottle from Sheridan Square Park into Christopher Street.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): That was the start of a night that would galvanize the modern day LGBTQ civil rights movement.
NEGRELLI: Seventy-five people moved forward and blocked the police. Obviously, they got a big surprise that night. And I was very surprised immediately what happened was that they started to call for groups of homosexuals to come together.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Eventually the call spread throughout the country and around the world.
NEGRELLI: The civil rights movement, the women's movement all galvanized together but it was truly the transvestites and minorities that were the forefront runners of the Stonewall riot.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Five decades later, many of the voices that refused to be silenced returned to where it all started. For Soraya Santiago, it's been 50 years since she set foot at the Stonewall.
SORAYA SANTIAGO, STONEWALL ELDER: I thought I would never be here again because a lot of suffering, a lot of abuse occurred in this place.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Santiago is back with her fellow Stonewall elders for the 50th anniversary of the riots. So is Karla Jay who participated in subsequent protests at the bar?
KARLA JAY, STONEWALL ELDER: In 1970 we thought it would be wonderful to hold hands in the street. We never dreamed that we would be able to get married. So it's an incredible advancement. But we really need to embrace all individuals, particularly our most disadvantaged.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): The activists say more needs to be done especially for homeless LBGTQ youth and transgender women of color.
JAY: We used to say none of us are free until all of us are free.
SANDOVAL: So there certainly is the historical element in this weekend but there is, of course, plenty of celebrations playing out. The main one they expected to happen tomorrow here at Manhattan with a massive parade, Fred. But when you hear from the advocates themselves, they say that parade it's really a march. As you just heard Karla Jay say the movement is still very much alive and as she described it, still has much more to do.
WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
Still ahead, an arrest in the death of the University of Utah student. How police tracked down the suspect nearly two weeks after the 23- year-old went missing.
[12:53:35] WHITFIELD: A look at our top stories right now.
Utah police have made an arrest in the murder of a University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck. The suspect, a 31-year-old Utah man who police say they tracked down using a trail of digital evidence including texts between him and Mackenzie Lueck hours before she vanished. Investigators say there is also evidence that Lueck's body was burned in the suspect's backyard. He expected to be -- he is expected, rather, to be charged soon with aggravated murder and kidnapping charges.
The man responsible for killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, a counter- protester at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia will spend the rest of his life behind bars. James Fields Jr. pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crime charges. Fields drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters killing Heyer and injuring dozens more in August of 2017. At the sentencing rather, Heyer's mother read a statement saying I want to publicly want to say I forgive him because it's not me, it's Christ in me. Fields will be eligible for parole.
And a former New York police detective and advocate for 9/11 victims has died today surrounded by his family. Luis Alvarez spent three months working at ground zero searching for survivors and looking for remains of his fellow officers.
[12:55:06] Over the last several years, Alvarez worked with Jon Stewart to help raise awareness over healthcare issues for first responders and survivors. The cancer that took his life was linked to his work at ground zero. And just two weeks ago, Alvarez received a standing ovation when he spoke in front of Congress pleading for compensation funds to be extended.
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LUIS ALVAREZ, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER: I have been lucky enough to have the pain and suffering of 69 rounds of chemo and countless other treatments and surgeries. It is my goal and it is my legacy to see that you do the right thing for all 9/11 responders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Luis Alvarez was just 53.
All right, coming up, President Trump makes a surprise invitation asking North Korea's Kim Jong-un to visit him at the DMZ. It would make history if it happens, but will the North Korean dictator attend?
But first, meet this week's CNN Hero, Jamyle Cannon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMYLE CANNON, CNN HERO: All right, let's work.
We're using this sport to teach kids how to fight for their own success.
Hands up. Pump it, boom, boom, just like that.
I want them to learn how to apply all the positive aspects of boxing, the self-control, the discipline, the focus, and work around with those in schools every day.
When we give them the support that they need, they learn that they are capable and the sky is the limit. I can't wait for people to see just how powerful our kids are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: To see more, go to cnnheroes.com.