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ICE Raids Targeting 2,000 Undocumented Immigrants Underway; Interview with Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL) about the ICE Raids; Trump Hurls Racist Tweets at Progressive Congresswomen. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 14, 2019 - 16:00   ET


[16:00:10] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Right now ICE agents are carrying out raids nationwide targeting thousands of undocumented immigrants. Federal authorities are focusing on at least nine cities prompting leaders in many of those communities to vow not to cooperate with ICE. Instead, they are reminding possible targets to know their rights. Meantime, protesters are expressing their outrage holding an anti-raid rally in New York City.

And that's where we find CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval.

So what's the turnout like? What's being said?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So it's a fairly small but extremely vocal crowd that we saw, with just a few people remain here, as they wrap up the day's events here. But the main focus what we saw here in Queens, New York, was basically to push to educate some of the members of the undocumented community here, Fred.

We are standing in one of the most culturally diverse places on the planet here. A local representative says that about 60 percent of the population in her district here is either undocumented or perhaps DACA recipients. So as you're about to hear from representative, or at least -- yes, Representative Catalina Cruz, she says that what she's seen in the last day or so has been really more of a push for information, as many of these migrants trying to really understand their rights, regardless of their status or lack of status in the country.

As you're about to hear, that's really what she's been seeing, but, yes, there's still a prevailing fear throughout this community especially with President Trump's hard line immigration policies.


CATALINA CRUZ (D), NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY: I got to tell you, I've been in this country for 26 years. I spent 13 as an undocumented immigrant and I can tell you that the fear that we're feeling now is heightened. It's heightened by the fact that we have a president who is emboldened to hatred. I've gotten death threats. I've gotten calls to my office telling me to go back to my country. That has never happened before. We have a president that's emboldened to this kind of behavior and people are scared. And we're here to tell them, don't be because we're going to fight for you.


SANDOVAL: Assemblywoman Cruz there, you just heard, again, used to be an undocumented person here before getting this legal status. Basically encapsulating what we've been seeing in this part of New York, Fred, which is this heavy concern of the politics surrounding this. Many people here are aware that these ICE-related or these ICE- led operations have been ongoing for many, many years under previous administrations but it's something about the current mood right now. They feel that the current administration is approaching this in a very dehumanizing way.

WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval in New York, thank you so much.

All right. I'm joined by a Florida Democratic congresswoman, Donna Shalala.

Good to see you, Congresswoman. So you are coming to us from Miami.


WHITFIELD: One of the, you know, nine designated cities where these raids are to be taking place today. Have you heard anything from people about whether these raids have happened and, if so, what has happened?

SHALALA: I have not. And -- but we expect them. And we've taken the opportunity to inform people of their rights. For example, they don't have to open up their doors until they see a warrant signed by a federal judge. So we're informing people as their rights. I come from a community that is 70 percent Latino.

WHITFIELD: How are people being informed?

SHALALA: We're informing them through the organizations, as well as leaflets, as well as all of our offices are making certain that people know what their rights are. But we have lots of immigrant organizations here in South Florida, and all of us, Republicans and Democrats, have joined together to make sure people understand their rights. 70 percent of the people in my district are Hispanic. We have many people that are covered by temporary protective status, as well as have applied for amnesty.

This broad brush, throwing out the net, will capture people that actually are here and have some kind of legal status. But, you know, more than anything else, it's the fear in the community. The entire community. A little boy approached me today in a store and he said you must protect my mother. I went over to talk to her. She actually has applied for asylum. She said he's afraid to go to daycare. But more importantly was the other thing she said to me that all the kids in daycare, no matter what their status is, have a fear about their parents not being able to pick them up at the end of the day. WHITFIELD: Right. And tell me more about that because, you know, it

seems as though a lot of people have envisioned that there would be doors knocked down, that there wouldn't be a warrant. That they could be, you know, standing at the bus stop, walking down the street, going to work. Dropping off their kids at school, at the grocery store, just like you -- you know, just painting a picture of someone being there, that it is just that easy in which to be scooped up. So when you talk about these rights, people need to see a, you know, warrant.

[16:05:02] They don't necessarily have to open the door. Do most people feel that the former will happen, that they'll just be, you know, apprehended, accosted, approached, doors knocked down?

SHALALA: I think that it's all of the above. This is a war not simply against immigrants. And frankly, I believe in safe borders. I want comprehensive immigration reform. I want this to be an orderly process. But frightening immigrants is one thing. Frightening children across our country is simply unacceptable. Announcing that we're going to have raids and thousands of people are going to be picked up frightens children more than anything else. And that is simply unacceptable to every one of us in this country.

WHITFIELD: So the president, you know, to the vice president essentially have said that, you know, they know who they are. They've already been served, you know, deportation orders or they haven't shown up in court, et cetera, that, you know, they shouldn't be surprised if they are apprehended in these raids. Is it as simple as that?

SHALALA: No, it's not as simple as that. Many people who have come here recently don't understand about court dates. They're not represented by lawyers. They are given confusing information. So we need to understand that this is complex. It's not so simple that you've got a deportation order and you should be ready to go.

WHITFIELD: OK. You've had a lot of experience, you know, dealing with migrant communities, as, you know, once serving as the Health and Human Services secretary, you know, under President Clinton. Do you see, you know -- you know, stark differences the way in which during that administration versus, you know, now or even the Obama administration, as to how migrants, you know, are being deported or the process in which they are being apprehended to, you know, be deported?

SHALALA: Look, I don't know of a previous administration, Republican or Democrat, that treated people like animals. Those pictures of those cages of children sleeping on floors is simply unacceptable.

WHITFIELD: The detention facilities now?

SHALALA: This is personal for me. This is my grandmother. She was turned away from Ellis Island. She was Syrian. Turned away from Ellis Island. Came across the Mexican border. She was not treated like an animal. She came here to this country. She raised eight children and numerous -- she had numerous grandchildren. So, for me, how we treat people, whether they are documented or undocumented, defines what it means to be an American. And this president is racist, he's xenophobic, he's anti-immigrant. But for me, being anti- children is the worst part of all of this.

WHITFIELD: You said he's racist. His tweets today that many agree are racist, you know, targeting, you know, four members of Congress saying they need to go back to the countries from, you know, where they came. Three out of the four U.S.-born. The other born overseas but raised in the U.S. What are your thoughts about the president's approach today? His tweets and even the House speaker saying this is very un-American. What are your views?

SHALALA: Well, it's more than un-American. It simply is not the way a president of the United States ought to be behaving. It's xenophobic as I said. It's racist. But he doesn't represent what a president should be. Frankly, he should apologize to my colleagues for statements that were simply wrong. They're all Americans. And simply unacceptable.

WHITFIELD: But you don't expect that he will --

SHALALA: And frankly --

WHITFIELD: You don't expect that he will apologize and then, you know, then what? Where does anyone go? Where does America go from here when the president says these things that you just described?

SHALALA: Well, the ballot box will tell us a lot. But before that, we have to review his behavior on obstruction of justice and on collusion. And Mueller will be coming in. Mr. Mueller will be coming in to speak before the House of Representatives. But, look, his behavior is not acceptable to anyone. I want to hear from the Christian leaders that support him on whether they believe that putting children into cages, having them sleeping on floors, attacking members of Congress, telling them to go back to the countries of their origins is acceptable to them and is behavior that one would expect of a Christian.

WHITFIELD: Congresswoman Donna Shalala, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

SHALALA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: As ICE raids are launched around the country, President Trump unleashes those string of racist tweets.

[16:10:05] We're going to talk more about them and the response coming from the Democratic congresswoman.


WHITFIELD: With ICE raids under way across the country, President Trump told progressive Democratic women of color in Congress to go back to the crime-infested places from which they came. He's targeting specifically these women. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez born in New York, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, born in Somalia, later growing up in Minnesota, and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley born in Chicago, Illinois.

Well, in a series of racist tweets this morning, Trump writing this "So interesting to see progressive Democrat Congresswomen who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world, if they even have a functioning government at all, now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime- infested places from which they came? Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly. You can't leave fast enough. I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements."

[16:15:06] So all four of those women the president targeted have since responded. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responding with, "Mr. President, the country I come from and the country we all swear to is the United States. But given how you've destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you and the corps who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet."

And Congresswoman Ilhan Omar writing this. "You are stoking white nationalism because you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda." Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib writing this, writing this, "Yo, real Donald Trump, I am fighting corruption in our country. I do it every day when I hold your administration accountable as a U.S. congresswoman. Detroit taught me how to fight for the communities you continue to degrade and attack. Keep talking. You'll be out of the White House soon."

And Congresswoman Ayana Pressley writing this. "This is what racism looks like. We are what democracy looks like. And we're not going anywhere except back to D.C. to fight for the families you marginalize and vilify every day."

All right. So let's talk about all of this. CNN political commentators Karen Finney and Maria Cardona joining me right now. Good to see you, ladies.



WHITFIELD: Wow. Boy, this is a lot.


WHITFIELD: Gosh, Maria, you know, does this only, you know, stir up some of the president's supporters? Or is it detracting those, even though we have not heard, from many?

CARDONA: I think it absolutely stirs up the president's supporters. Look. This is why he does it. But interestingly enough, Fred, I also think he does it because he doesn't know what to do with these four young progressive women of color who have their own voice, who have a ton of support within the country, who are fighting -- they are right about what they tweeted -- are fighting each and every single day, along with all the other Democrats, his hate-filled agenda, his corrupt administration.

We have not seen corruption like this, I don't think ever, and they are there, along with the rest of the Democratic caucus, fighting this every single day. But the fact that they are four young women of color, I think just drives him nuts. I think it scares him. And I think that, you know, again, it underscores that he doesn't really understand what this country is and who it is made up of.

I myself am an immigrant from Colombia, and I get attacked every day by his supporters who he has given permission to, to put -- you know, wear their racism, their sexism and their misogyny on their sleeve.

WHITFIELD: Yes. But, Karen, you know, you're not just a black woman if you're offended by this.


WHITFIELD: And, you know, the president needs a lot of support that, you know, is of --

FINNEY: Well --

WHITFIELD: Very tapestry in order to win re-election. So why does he take this route? Doesn't he realize or know that he's turning off a lot of people who aren't just black women and you need black women to win, don't you, these days?

FINNEY: Let me just tell you what. Anybody who thinks you can win without black women is a fool. If you just go back and you look at 2016, 2014, 2012, it's just not possible anymore. So you're absolutely right about that, Fred. But a couple things. I mean, we know from all -- from a number of research pieces that were done after 2016, the highest indicator of support for President Trump was racism and sexism and by that, people expressed it as fear of change, right?

And that is why he used fearmongering and this othering strategy to say, it's those people's fault, your problems, and I am with you. I'm of you, right? And so that is going to be his strategy again in 2020 is to others.


FINNEY: Right? Is to other, it's what he did to President Obama. It is what he is trying to do to these women who are Americans, and they were, you know, elected members of Congress. And he knows very well what he's doing. And it is about racism and misogyny and it's clear that's going to be the strategy again in 2020.

And Fred, I'll tell you, I think what's really critical -- I'm so glad we're talking about this. I'm so proud of CNN that we've been talking about it most of the day.

CARDONA: Absolutely. Yes. FINNEY: Because we have to call it out again and again and again

because here's the other piece of this. You know, the demographic shifts in this country, it's happening. It's already happened. We're here.


FINNEY: We're not going anywhere. And if we as a country, I think one of our greatest challenges is, how do we learn to move forward together? He's not interested in that, right? He's interested in this small bit of his base that he thinks he can just keep them whipped up and believing that change isn't going to happen when it's right here.

WHITFIELD: So, Maria, what is it about this moment today and these tweets because it's not an anomaly, you know, coming from this president.


WHITFIELD: Because there is already a pattern whether it was before he was president, you know, birtherism or whether you're talking about housing discrimination cases.


[16:20:06] WHITFIELD: While as president. Frederica Wilson, I mean, you know, there are so many instances.


WHITFIELD: But there still remain a sort of collective silence, you know, about how offensive, outrageous, you know, horrible it is, but then something today --

CARDONA: There is.

WHITFIELD: -- may have elicited something else. And I don't know what it is, but can you describe if there is a difference, what is it?

CARDONA: Well, I think --

WHITFIELD: Based on the pattern that we've seen.

CARDONA: Sure. I think the difference, at least to me, what really struck me, Fred, is that up until now there has been so much pussyfooting around what the president says, what he does. There's still been so many people that are reluctant to call it racism, to call it xenophobia, to call it misogyny, whereas today, he used words that really there is no other way to describe it, right?

FINNEY: That's right.

CARDONA: When he talks about four women of color and a lot of them have heritage that is from another country, but they are American, right, and he says they should go back to where they came from? That is classic, not just racist language, Fredricka. That is white supremacist language. This is what is so different to me about what happened today. He is parroting and using language that comes from white supremacy. And there's no way to get around that.

WHITFIELD: And it's -- and I -- you know, I refrain from ever trying to editorialize but there's ignorance here in a different way because --


WHITFIELD: -- it's very easy to figure out when you've got these four U.S. members of Congress.


WHITFIELD: Three of which are born in the United States of America. One, born overseas, but then raised in America. I mean, I'm an American, but I was born overseas in Africa, but I am an American. So it's just the ignorance of placement.


WHITFIELD: And association and what's American, what isn't in this whole going back to, you know, from where you came. I mean, it's so insulting.


WHITFIELD: It's so hurtful on so many levels.

FINNEY: But, you know, can I just offer -- I mean, my family is from the south and it is -- part of it is -- I mean, I used to get this when I was a kid when people would say things like, go back to Africa. And I'm like, my people are from Virginia. Like what are you talking about? We wouldn't even know where to go. Right?


FINNEY: And so there is also to what Maria was saying, it is -- there's an ignorance, as you're saying, Fred. But there's also, it is -- there's a historical thread here, right, this sort of go back where you came from that we've heard over and over --

WHITFIELD: Like somewhere other --


WHITFIELD: Like from somewhere other or even the inference of.

FINNEY: Exactly. And I just would offer, the last thing I would say is, I really would hope that these four women members of Congress and all of us, I want to hear from the Republican Party.

CARDONA: Yes. Where are they?

FINNEY: If you disagree with President Trump you need to speak out now.


FINNEY: Because if you don't then you're complicit.

WHITFIELD: You know, I spoke with a former member of Congress, you know, Mia Love, earlier, too, who also placed blame on the freshmen for, you know, I guess not taking the high road was the best way she put it by saying, you know, they are in the muck, too, by all of the name-calling and in the talk of race and even singling out the Nancy Pelosi and accusing her of having a problem with people of color. That none of that helps. And that it's all kind of circular. So --

CARDONA: But, you know what -- you know what, Fred, it's the president of the United States. These are freshmen women who are coming in to fight for their communities whom he has insulted, marginalized and attacked from the moment he came down those stairs when he called Mexican rapists and criminals. And so I'm sorry, but the blame is not at their feet. The blame is at the feet of this president who has allowed this kind of talk because now he is using it himself, and he is allowing each and every racist and white supremacist in this country, and people who feel misogynistic against women who can't understand why women have these powers now and don't think that they should.

He is giving them permission to come out of the woodwork and behave the way that we all learned we should not behave. You know what else is interesting, Fredricka? As an immigrant myself and as an American citizen, I would challenge this president, and I bet you, if he took the citizenship test that we all had to take to become citizens of this great country, he would fail.

WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there for now, ladies. Appreciate it.

CARDONA: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Maria Cardona and Karen Finney, thank you. We'll be right back.


[16:28:31] WHITFIELD: All right, now, ICE agents are conducting raids to round up undocumented immigrants across the country. And as many as 2,000 migrants are expected to be targeted in at least nine major cities. Senior administration officials say the raids will be focused on recent arrivals in the country.

Ron Brownstein is a senior editor for the "Atlantic" and a senior political analyst and Brian Stelter is CNN's chief media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES."

Good to see you both.


WHITFIELD: All right, Ron, you first. You know, we know about today's raids mainly due to President Trump announcing and then confirming that they would start today. So are these sweeps really about removing undocumented, you know, migrants, or is it, you know, really about politics and the president rallying his base by showing that he's tough on immigration and he should be re-elected?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, given the limits of detention space, this can't be more than kind of a token effort. But this is part of the broader sweep of the Trump presidency. It is essentially the parts of America that are least touched by and least affected by immigration, imposing a hardline anti-immigration agenda on the parts of America that have a lot of immigrants and overwhelmingly resist that agenda.

Just a few quick facts, Fred, 90 percent of the House Republicans now are in districts where there are fewer immigrants than the national average. 45 of the 53 Republican senators are from the 30 states where immigrants are the smallest share of the population. 26 of the 30 states that Trump won are those same 30 states with the smallest share of immigrants in their population.

[16:30:01] He has moved the Republican Party to a point where it is overwhelmingly barricaded into the parts of America that are least touched by immigration, and that coalition is now trying to impose its agenda over what I think is the most unprecedented resistance I have seen in 35 years of covering national politics. Open resistance from mayors in all of the cities you cite in your map there.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Right. These mayors saying they will not allow their police forces to assist ICE agents if called upon. So Brian, you know, Trump continues to use Twitter, you know, to drive this conversation. He tweets about the ICE raids before it happens. Today, he sends out a series of racist tweets attacking Democratic women of color.

You know, it's become his weapon of choice for a very long time before, you know, he even, you know, got the seat in the office. So he obviously likes to control the message. Is this, today, all for show?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: The short answer would be yes. We can end this segment. Yes, this is for political purposes. And I think we should keep that in mind as we talk about and as we cover these ICE raids. The president wants attention on this. He wants these communities to be fearful from what we're seeing from local reports. Some of those communities are very fearful as a result.

And it seems like the president talking about these raids ahead of time has changed ISIS' plans. They are rolling this out over a series of days because they want some element of surprise. If our viewers have not read (Inaudible) essay in The Atlantic called the cruelty is the point, this is the perfect day to look it up. Agree with it or disagree with it.

But his argument is that the cruelty of these policies is the point, whether that's ICE raids that are being very promoted and showy, or whether it's the president attacking these congresswomen with racist messages. The cruelty is the point. That's the argument he's been making for a year now, and it seems to be more and more true.


BROWNSTEIN: Like I say, you know if you look at polling, both demographically and geographically, as I said. Under Trump, the Republican coalition has become overwhelmingly centered on the voters and the parts of the country that are most uneasy with demographic change. There was polling for the public religion research institute last year, two-thirds of Republicans now say that the growing numbers of immigrants threaten traditional American values and traditions.

As opposed to 60 percent of the country, overall, saying that immigrants strengthen the society. What Trump has done is kind of local -- by the way, views on the wall overwhelmingly correspond with the use on the kind of broader impact of immigration. So what he has done is he is centering the party primarily on the parts of the country that are least comfortable with all of these changes.

And everything we're seeing from the wall, which is symbolic in its own way of standing against change to these raids, to the openly racist tweets is an acknowledgment of that. And what's really striking is how few Republicans, however much they may grumble privately, have been willing to stand up against his redefinition of this party.

Paul Ryan tells us 18 months later, the (Inaudible) book American Carnage how upset he was. Are we going to hear from him on this in 18 months?

WHITFIELD: And so Brian, the president needs to grow, you know, his support and -- but, you know, with his approval rating consistent with -- I mean it's his highest right now. But it's also consistent when it was last highest, you know, he is not demonstrating to really grow any support, and it doesn't seem to matter to him.

STELTER: But if he can make his fans feel really good ahead of 2020, remember he's going to hold a rally this week and another rally in August. If he can make them feel really good and he can define down the Democrats, and you know the Democrats do not have a messenger as powerful as Trump. There's nobody out there driving the national conversation the way Trump is.

Then maybe that's enough. For decades, this country has been fighting against the kind of racist talk that we're now seeing from the White House. And it's amazing more Democrats are not speaking out more loudly. They don't seem to know. They don't seem to have Trump's television playbook. Some of them are trying. Some of them are trying.

But none of them are able to dominate the national conversation like Trump. Maybe that will change. Maybe it won't.

WHITFIELD: The president's approval rating 44 percent, close to -- it was almost 44 percent when he first got into office so. (CROSSTALK)

STELTER: Still under water.

WHITFIELD: As far as he's concerned, you know, consistent.


BROWNSTEIN: But he believes he can win with just his base.

WHITFIELD: Looks like it.

BROWNSTEIN: And that will be tested in 2020.

WHITFIELD: We'll see. We'll talk about it. Ron and Brian, you guys know everything. So I will just believe everything you say, yes. OK, thank you so much, Brian and Ron. Appreciate it. Still ahead, the worst is yet to come as Tropical Storm Barry still churns over land with 11 million people still in the path of heavy rains and fierce winds.


WHITFIELD: The worst is yet to come, the words of Louisiana Governor, John Bel Edwards, his warning coming as Tropical Storm Barry churns over the state with some areas possibly getting up to a foot of rain. CNN correspondent Randi Kaye is live for us along the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge this afternoon. How are people faring?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'd say they're faring OK, Fred, because the rain is kind of on and off throughout the day. Last we spoke, it was pouring on us. Now, it's been dry for the last, I don't know, half or so. So it just continues to change as these bands continue to come through the state of Louisiana as Barry moves north from the gulf.

But I am on the levee here which has been really to -- serves as protection for the city of Baton Rouge. So the city was OK really as a result of this storm, didn't really suffer any major flooding or damage. But you can see here the water is high. This is the Mississippi River. It comes up a little higher. We're told by some of the locals that this is not normally how it is.

And take a look out there. That is the highest bridge that crosses the Mississippi, not -- they're not worried about something like that. That had no trouble at all. But come over here and take a look at this. You can see that here in the Mississippi, where this railing is, it's deeper than it normally is. And then there back behind me, that actually says Baton Rouge, that red lettering back there.

And the water is higher up than it normally is here on the Mississippi. The river here is supposed to crest at 43. It normally crests at 30. It has been at flood stage for quite some time. But they're certainly concerned about that. There is still some concern about the (Inaudible) river, which isn't far from where we are. They had major flooding there in 2016. One woman told me her home had five feet of water in it. She had to

move out. She just moved back in and then she evacuated for tropical storm and Hurricane Barry. Now back to tropical storm, Fred. It's quite a mess for some folks.

WHITFIELD: Yeah. It is quite the emotional rollercoaster ride for so many. All right, Randi Kaye, thank you, still ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The safety of our building, high tech was they pulled and gave us glow sticks to go down the stairwell.


[16:40:03] WHITFIELD: At least there was that, right. Well, blackout in Manhattan as residents pour into the streets, and officials say it may be months before they know what really happened.


WHITFIELD: All right. This is really unbelievable, dramatic new video of a heart-stopping rescue by some construction workers. They actually catch a baby and a toddler who were thrown from a burning building in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The workers were actually putting up a new roof on the building next door when fire broke out.

And then they jumped in when they saw a man hanging out of the window with his baby. And then they were able to drop a child right there. And look, those guys caught him below. After saving the kids, the workers did get a ladder and they were able to help get the parents out safely as well. Congrats to all of them.

All right, last night's blackout in New York, well, it wasn't triggered by high customer demand. But it could still take months to find out exactly what happened. That's according to the power company Con Edison. The outage lasted five hours and hit the upper west side and midtown at the peak of a busy Saturday night.

[16:45:08] And it brought Broadway and Times Square to a screeching halt. And even Jennifer Lopez's big show at Madison Square Garden was called off when the lights went out. People probably thought it was part of the show. It wasn't. But New Yorkers, in general, well, they all took it in stride. People stepped in to direct traffic at busy intersections, as you see right there.

And then after some Broadway shows were canceled, performers actually took to the streets and they showed everybody what they had. Well, that was fun. So Alexandra Field is in New York, a lot of folks just making the most of it. But, you know, people still want answers, like, why did this happen anyway?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Fredricka. I mean look, this is a night that New Yorkers won't soon forget. Just imagine seeing the iconic lights of Times Square going out in an instant. People left confused, startled by what was happening. It lasted for some five hours, the outages affecting some 40 blocks of Manhattan's west side.

What we know from officials right now, what we know from Con Ed is that this was this was definitively not a physical attack, not a cyber-attack, and not about over usage of the system. They are essentially saying that a substation failed in midtown and affected five other substations. And that's what put some 73,000 customers in the dark. Traffic lights were out.

Traffic was at a standstill. Broadway shows letting out, of course, the lights here out, people on the streets trying to figure out what was going on. Hundreds of extra police officers were instantly deployed along with fire officials and people out there to control the traffic, not to mention another 93 ambulances hitting the streets in that neighborhood.

Some 400 elevator rescues made, and 2800 people taken off of stalled subway cars. Mayor Bill De Blasio saying New Yorkers will get those answers that they're looking for.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): We, as in every situation, are going to fully analyze every detail, working with Con Edison. All pertinent city agencies are going to work closely with Con Edison to figure out exactly what happened, exactly how we can make sure it doesn't happen again. We're also going to review all of the response to look for any lessons we can learn about how to do that even better in the future.


FIELD: Mayor De Blasio praising New Yorkers for their strength and resilience. We can add to that their patience. We saw it out here last night, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: We did indeed. All right, Alexandra field, thank you so much. Appreciate it. And we'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: An update on a CNN Hero we first told you about last fall. Luke Mickelson wanted to help children who were sleeping on the floor because their families couldn't afford beds. Well now, in less than a year, his nonprofit has taken off.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went from just one little community to over almost 200 communities now, over 30,000 volunteers. We've also received over 50,000 bed requests. We're here to deliver beds. You want to show me where they go?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. We started a new program in 2019 to help those kids that have been affected by natural disasters throughout the country. Probably the best, huh? We bring dignity, self-respect. We're bringing something that they own and can be proud of. Yeah, you like it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is how I go.


WHITFIELD: Kids love bunk beds and a good night's sleep. Go to to read more about Luke and his great work. All right, tonight an all-new episode of the CNN original series, The Movies. We'll explore American cinema through the decades. And this week, we're looking at movies of the 1990s. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the 90s, we were really rooting for criminals to get away with it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you like a cigarette?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wanted the bad guys to be the good guys. It was really an era when the anti-hero was on the rise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have something against ice cubes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like rough edges.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Basic Instinct, the character is a sociopath. And sociopaths are as dangerous as that character is. When I played the part, I needed to understand the sociopathic mind. And that is a very scary thing.


WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. That movie was unforgettable. Joining us right now, Brian Raftery, good to see you, Brian, I just saw that movie again recently. And I -- it just reminded me like, whoa, that was some scary stuff. It was very creepy.



WHITFIELD: Yeah. So Brian, let me give a little more about your credentials. You're also the Author of the book Best Movie Year Ever, How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen. So, of course, that, then, you know, provoked me to look up all the 1999 films, because I couldn't remember off the top of my head. But then I saw, and I'm like, oh yeah, you're right. OK, so I'm American Beauty, matrix, I mean who watches that over and over again.

I think everybody. Blair Witch Project, Star Wars Phantom Menace, Boys Don't Cry, Toy Story 2, Fight Club. OK, so of all that, what makes that year the -- one of the best movie-making years that you believe in?

RAFTERY: Well, obviously, those movies, that's an amazing list. And you can keep going down with Office Space and American Beauty. But what's really exciting about 1999 is that you had all these filmmakers who are taking their cues from the great movies of the past. They were studying The Graduate. They were studying The Wizard of Oz.

And they got these resources and this chance to get these big stars in these movies that they were really kind of trying to make their own generation's version of those kinds of films. These are really experimental, really exciting, and, like, deeply entertaining movies that were actually sort of about a lot of big picture topics that we're all sort of thinking about in the late 90s.

WHITFIELD: Wow. So then a common thread you're saying while a lot of the moviemakers were thinking of movies, you know, of yesteryear as inspirations for these movies. But what was happening in Hollywood or even the country as common threads to make these filmmakers and actors want to come together for these kinds of projects?

[16:55:00] RAFTERY: Well, there are a couple of things that Hollywood especially were kind -- Hollywood was kind of where it is right now this summer where a lot of sequels and reboots and TV adaptations just weren't working. And so I think what happened was the studio executives said, hey. We had this really exciting independent movement that's going on in the 90s.

We have these really exciting people like Spike Jones from MTV. Let's give them all a chance to kind of make the movie they want. And when you look what was going on in the late 90s, we were worried about Y2K. We were worried about the internet. We were worried about how much we were working, which reminds us of Office Space.

So you have these really entertaining movies taking on these very kind of big topics that we're still wrestling with 20 years later.

WHITFIELD: And then broadly, what do you want people to learn or reflect on the movies in the 1990s?

RAFTERY: I think it's a time for really original stories. I mean when you watch the 90s special tonight you'll be like I can't believe these many good movies were kind of stuffed in one decade. And honestly, not a lot of sequels, not a lot of reboots, you get a movie like Matrix. You get a movie like Fight Club, which are completely original, incredibly risky films that I don't know if studio executives would really make today.

But in the 90s, we got them almost every weekend. In 1999, you just had to go to the movies on Friday to see what everyone's going to be talking about on Monday.

WHITFIELD: I must say I did see a lot of movies in the 90s.


WHITFIELD: Brian Raftery, thank you so much, good to see you.

RAFTERY: Thank you. WHITFIELD: And, of course, be sure to tune in to an all-new episode

of the CNN original series, The Movies. It airs tonight 9:00 only on CNN. And thank you so much for being with me today and this whole weekend. I am Fredricka Whitfield. The next hour of the Newsroom with Ana Cabrera starts after this.