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Jeffrey Epstein's Cell Not Monitored Night Of Apparent Suicide; At Least Eight Walmarts Received Threats Since El Paso Shooting; Trump Spreads Unfounded Conspiracy About Epstein's Death; Pelosi Slamming Recent ICE Raids; Tennessee Inmate Curtis Ray Watson Captured; Fencer Race Imboden Kneels During Anthem; All-New Episode Of CNN's "The Movies;" CNN Heroes. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 11, 2019 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:31] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We're following disturbing new revelations into the apparent suicide of accused sex trafficker and convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein. Sources telling CNN multiple procedures were not followed leading up to his death. The 66-year-old was supposed to be checked on by guards every 30 minutes since he was taken off suicide watch in late July. That, however, did not happen on the night of his death.

He was also supposed to be housed with a cellmate and not left alone. But he was left alone. The jail had actually transferred his cellmate after he was taken off suicide watch, violating protocol. Epstein had been awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking. Dozens of underage girls. Some as young as 14 years old. His death has sparked fury and investigations by both the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department.

CNN Correspondent, Polo Sandoval has been following the details.

So, Polo, what more have you learned about procedures -- failed procedures, how the prison is responding?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, some of these new revelations and some of this new reporting coming from our colleague Mark Morales doesn't necessarily have to do with what happened inside this correctional facility that you see out from the distance, but it's what did not happen. And at this point what we understand based on this new reporting is that Epstein's cell was not regularly monitored as required for multiple reasons.

The first, of course, we know that he was on suicide watch after an incident a couple of weeks ago when they found him in the cell with some bruising on his neck. He claimed that he had been assaulted but authorities never really confirmed whether or not it was an assault or possibly self-inflicted. But what we do know is that he was on suicide watch for the days and eventually weeks after that.

So coming off suicide watch, it is required that these inmates not be left alone in a cell. And so as you just pointed out a little while ago is that according to this information Epstein was found in a cell by himself. And the second one is that he was being housed in that special housing unit. All inmates, according to what we're hearing, are supposed to be monitored and checked on at least every 30 minutes.

And so the concern here is that that likely was not happening and that could possibly have prevented him from doing what he did late Friday, really early Saturday morning when he was found dead. So this is all information that was certainly going to end up in the hands of investigators, obviously. Not just with the FBI but also the Department of Justice that have promised to look into this, is to try to find out how this happened. Because as you can see behind me, Fred, it is reserved for some of the most notorious defendants in cases. These are people who are under special circumstances.

And so you can imagine that criticism not just from the general public but also the alleged victims but also the federal government itself certainly mounting at this hour.

WHITFIELD: All right. And still questions about a video, if there was video, what is being observed and autopsy results.

Polo Sandoval, we'll check back with you. Thank you so much.

All right. Another major question in all of this, how will Epstein's death affect the current cases his accusers have filed against him? We know that the criminal case is no longer, but then what about civil cases?

Joining me right now to answer that question and more, Lisa Bloom. She represents several of Epstein's accusers.

So, Lisa, first off, your reaction to all of these questions now surrounding Epstein's death.

LISA BLOOM, REPRESENTS EPSTEIN'S ACCUSERS: Well, we certainly do need investigations. We need to get answers. I'm not one to traffic in conspiracy theories. My concern is the victims, the ones who I represent. We've been cooperating with law enforcement for the last several weeks because we felt that it was important that the criminal case proceed first.

That case dies with Jeffrey Epstein, but the civil cases could go on. And I think it's very important to focus on the victims now because Jeffrey Epstein leaves behind a massive estate and a lot of victims who deserve full and fair compensation for what he did to them.

The damaged relationships, the depression, the loss of self-esteem, the career damage, on and on, how he devastated the lives of so many girls and young women. And so I'm calling upon any administrator of his estate to freeze his assets, to hold them, not distribute them, let the victims come forward and make their claims. And make the victims whole. Do what Jeffrey Epstein never did in his life. Show some accountability and show some respect for his many, many victims.

WHITFIELD: And because you see that these accusers, if they were to receive, you know, financial payments or settlements from a civil suit, this could help them in their therapies, this could help them in any kind of medical attention, and to address a lot of the hardships, you know, that really have cost a lot of money or will cost a lot of money in which to heal?

[16:05:22] BLOOM: Yes, exactly right. Listen, I'm going to trial tomorrow. Another sexual harassment case against another accused billionaire predator against the same guy I got an $11 million verdict for one victim a couple of months ago. Juries are very good at understanding the harms that sexual harassment and sexual assault causes when they hear from the victim herself and her therapist and her doctors and friends and family how devastating it is. This isn't just a one-time thing. It can have a lifetime effect.

So I think it's important for the victims to come forward. We are filing civil cases this week. Again, now that the criminal is over, it makes sense for the civil cases to go forward. I would ask anybody who is a beneficiary in Jeffrey Epstein's estate to waive any of the legal technicalities like the statutes of limitations or jurisdictional issues. Let's just do the right thing now going forward and help these victims.

WHITFIELD: So how difficult will it be now to even in pursuit of your civil cases, to prove these civil cases since the defendant is dead? There are possibly co-conspirators, just based on all the reporting. There were a lot of people in his network that may have helped, you know, carry out all of this.

BLOOM: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Based on what a lot of your accusers are saying. But then, talk to me about what obstacles there may be as a result of his death.

BLOOM: Listen, I assume in any case I file and we do a lot of high- profile cases, we just won a big case against Bill Cosby on behalf of our client Janice Dickenson. You know, we took down Bill O'Reilly. I mean, this is what we're very used to doing at my law firm. I expect it's going to be a big fight, and we are up for that fight. And, look, if -- oh, sorry. I have a little problem with my headpiece.

But we're going to fight for the rights of these victims to get the justice that they deserve. Whether it takes a day, a week, a month, a year or several years, that's what we're going to do. And by the way, I think the public is with us. And I'm hoping that the administrator and the beneficiaries of Jeffrey Epstein's estate are going to be with us as well.

WHITFIELD: OK. And so hopefully now I see with your ear piece back on, hopefully you can hear me. Tell me some of your --

BLOOM: Yes. Yes.

WHITFIELD: Some of the accusers that you are representing. What are they thinking and feeling? Talk to me about what anguish, anger they are feeling as a result of his death.

BLOOM: Yes, I'll tell you, Fredricka, boy, yesterday it was such a shock to them. They said I don't even know how to process this. I can't believe it. One of them was so angry at the jail officials for denying her the chance to get some accountability on the criminal side against Jeffrey Epstein. Another said, you know, in a way, it's a relief because at least he can't ever harm anybody else ever again. At least he can't come after us and retaliate against us.

A lot of my Epstein victims were afraid of him, even in jail. That's very common for a sexual assault victim to feel that this guy is like a boogie man, he's always just around the corner, he's always ready to come after her, even when they're incarcerated. So now at least they can have that sense of peace.

WHITFIELD: So while many of them have expressed they were afraid of him, I spoke with a reporter who has, you know, followed, you know, the investigation for many, many years and said that even some of these alleged co-conspirators, many of the accusers fear them as well. So even though he is dead, the fear might still remain because of these co-conspirators.

BLOOM: Mm-hmm.

WHITFIELD: What can you expound on that if that's the case?

BLOOM: Listen, the fear -- fear is the number one problem in my practice. Fear is the number one reason why women don't come forward. And often that fear is well-founded. I'm going to trial tomorrow as I mentioned in a case against a billionaire accused of sexual harassment who has been coming after my client year after year after year.

He doesn't let up. He posts nasty things about her on Instagram. I mean, it's relentless. And so of course, people are in fear. But it's also very liberating to stand up for your rights and to win and to become empowered and to stand with other women.

And so I would encourage anyone who is a victim of Jeffrey Epstein or any other predator for that matter to reach out to an attorney like me or there's many of us across the country. Reach out to law enforcement like the FBI in the Epstein case and contribute information.

We don't know what they're working on with regard to these other enablers that you're talking about, Fredricka. We don't know how close they may be, for example, against Miss Maxwell or any of the others. Maybe they just need that one little puzzle piece that somebody may be able to provide.

And so I think it's very important that people reach out, give that information, find out what your rights are from a lawyer. There's also these time deadlines that we're always up against. So it's better to do it sooner rather than later.

[16:10:03] WHITFIELD: All right. Lisa Bloom, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

BLOOM: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And still ahead, signs of fear across the United States for another matter. As police in several cities receive reports of an armed man at local Walmart stores one week after two mass shootings rocked Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.

Plus, the massive manhunt that came to an end after one resident's ring doorbell video gave officials a major tip.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Right now, many Americans across the country remain on edge, a week after 31 people were killed in mass shootings, 22 of those victims were murdered at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. And since last Saturday, there have been at least eight threats at Walmarts nationwide, including two incidents each in Texas, Missouri and Florida. Fortunately none of those threats involved an actual shooter situation.

CNN National Correspondent, Natasha Chen is outside the scene of that mass shooting in El Paso that was one week ago.

Natasha, what more do we know about all these threats targeting Walmarts?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, Fredricka, it's really challenging because some of these are situations where people feel on edge and they are reporting to police threats that they observe.

[16:15:01] As you mentioned, some of those police have told us involved no shooter at all, though they did go and check it out and make sure everyone was safe and they're still investigating. However, there are a couple of other situations that were actually more serious.

For example, in Winter Park Florida, there was a 26-year-old man arrested by police there. It was a joint investigation by the FBI task force there, local police, Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

This person allegedly posted on Facebook on August 6th that he had three more days of probation before he could get his AR-15 back. He said allegedly, quote, "Don't go to Walmart next week." Police there tell us that this person believes in white supremacist ideology and is known for posting threats.

Then over in Harlingen, Texas, you have -- police there telling us they also arrested a man for making terroristic threats. So they're investigating that situation. So you have people who are definitely on edge. Customers calling in threats but also individuals identified by police as having made actual threats. So to all of this, Walmart released a statement in response.

Here's what they said. "We're continually focused on safety and security in our stores. We take threats seriously and provide additional security as appropriate. We will continue to help federal and local authorities with their investigations to determine the source and any credibility of the threats."

So right here, back in El Paso, we're seeing that this memorial just grows constantly with steady flow of people coming in. People who are related to the victims, friends and family. And they tell us that they are still living in some degree of fear, but they are also very resilient. They want to stick together and show that they are not going to take this as is. They're not going to be helpless here. They're going to show unity and show the country that they can come back from this -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha Chen, in El Paso, thank you so much.

All right, up next, Democrats criticizing President Trump's retweet about an unfounded conspiracy claim on Jeffrey Epstein's death.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:20:54] WHITFIELD: In the aftermath of a pair of mass shootings that has stunned the nation, today President Trump chose to use his massive Twitter platform not to unify or help heal the country. Instead, he decided to spread a completely unfounded conspiracy theory tying the apparent suicide of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein to the president's former political rivals, the Clintons.

The retweet said in part, "Jeffrey Epstein had information on Bill Clinton, and now he's dead." The spokesman for former president Clinton responded this way saying, "Ridiculous and, of course, not true, and Donald Trump knows it. Has he triggered the 25th Amendment yet?"

President Trump's tweets also choosing to ignore his past connection to Epstein. The two socialized together in the 1990s. And you see there are pictures to show that.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is in New Jersey where the president is on vacation.

So, Jeremy, the president not taking a break from controversy. What has sparked this?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: No, Fred, he certainly is not. The president once again showing his penchant for fanning the flames of conspiracy theories and attacking his political rivals. This time spreading a conspiracy theory linking, without any evidence, the Clintons to the death of Jeffrey Epstein.

Now there are questions surrounding the death of Jeffrey Epstein, but federal officials have said that he died of an apparent suicide. And let's be very clear. There is no evidence at all linking the Clintons to Jeffrey Epstein's death.

But that, of course, did not stop the president from spreading this conspiracy theory to his 63 million followers on Twitter. And now the president's counselor Kellyanne Conway defending him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: I think the president just wants everything to be investigated, as your reporter just revealed just the day before. There is some unsealed information implicating some people very high up. And I'm not going to repeat their names. Jeffrey Epstein has done some very bad things over a number of years. And so let's continue to investigate that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And Fredricka, Trump's retweet of this conspiracy theory is of course not an isolated incident. Instead it's part of a pattern of the president using his very powerful megaphone to share conspiracy theories and other falsehoods. Going back even before he was president, one of the ways that the president rose on the political right, of course, was sharing the false conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Even after the former president shared his birth certificate.

And then as a candidate for president, Trump shared the conspiracy theory linking Ted Cruz's father to the assassination of JFK. And then once he became president, among many other conspiracy theories, the president suggested that former President Obama had wiretapped his phones during the 2016 campaign. So all very much part of a pattern the president continuing that this weekend -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Quite the litany there. All right, Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much.

All right. Let's talk more. Joining me now is Ron Brownstein, senior editor for the Atlantic and a CNN senior political analyst. Also with me, Anita Kumar, a White House correspondent and associate editor for Politico.

Thanks to both of you for joining me.

All right, so, Ron, let me begin with you. You know, the president knows he has the ability to amplify any conspiracy theory by virtue of his title as the president and with millions of Twitter followers. But why does he see this conspiracy surrounding Epstein's death beneficial especially when he, too, had a relationship with Epstein? I mean, there are pictures. We showed it earlier to prove that.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes. I'm not sure -- I'm not sure you have to differentiate between this and all of the others. I mean, he sees it to his benefit to constantly stir up his base with the most wild and unsubstantiated allegations, you know, on a spectrum from substantiated to unsubstantiated allegations. I mean, this is in a piece with someone who had said earlier in his presidency that the only reason he lost the popular vote was because of millions and millions of illegal votes which was also completely unsubstantiated.

And of course, you know, as he continues to proceed in this direction, the critical factor, not only in this, but in the movement from -- toward more open racism and the way that he's talked about the women of color, Democratic House members.

[16:25:14] The critical factor in all of that has been the refusal of the Republican elected official corps broadly speaking to in any way raise objections at each step. Each time he breaks a window -- WHITFIELD: And that is what so perplexing.

BROWNSTEIN: -- they sweep up the glass.

WHITFIELD: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

WHITFIELD: That's so perplexing. I mean, what -- I mean, I know no one really knows the answer, but, I mean, what's the best hypothesis on, as to why even though the president has lost such credibility with so many untruths, he is largely very popular. More than 90 percent popularity among Republicans.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, if you're asking me why Republican elected officials have gone along with this, I would say is because they are accepting the trade that he is imposing on the party. The basic electoral trade that Trump is imposing on the Republican Party is he is trying to squeeze bigger margins out of groups that are shrinking at the expense of generating more resistance among groups that are growing.

So, you know, under Trump, the Republican Party is becoming more of a party based outside of the metro areas. More dependent on blue-collar white voters. More dependent on the most religious voters particularly evangelical Christians.

And the price of that is they are losing strength in the suburbs, losing strengths among white-collar voters, and losing strength among younger voters and voters of color. The Republicans who might have resisted that are gone. Many of them lost in 2018. And what's left is a Republican Party that is largely dependent on the same coalition as Trump and does not see any way, any leverage with which to resist the way he is transforming the party, despite the obvious risks that it presents not only over the long term but even in the near term.

WHITFIELD: All right. Party transformed. OK. So earlier today, Anita, Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke was on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" where he had this to say about what he believes is behind the president's conspiracy tweets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is another example of our president using this position of public trust to attack his political enemies with unfounded conspiracy theories, and also to try to force you and me and all of us to focus on his bizarre behavior instead of the fact that we just lost 22 people in this community, nine people in Dayton, Ohio.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, Anita, is Beto O'Rourke right that, you know, the president is changing the story, the conversation, the focus by doing this? ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT AND ASSOCIATE EDITOR, POLITICO:

It's the question we've been asking for a couple of years. We ask it every week, every day really, which is, you know, it's really hard to tell whether this is part of some, you know, strategy on his part or whether it's just off the cuff. What we do know about this president, though, is that he's often liked to comment or stir the pot sometimes about what's in the news.

It's almost as if he can't resist to get involved in what's happening, even times when it doesn't involve him. So we see him take to Twitter often about what's happening. What he's often seeing on TV. So that is one thing.

The other thing that's going on here, though, is that, you know, for 2 1/2 years, we've seen that he's sort of been unable to let go of his rivalry, his candidacy against Hillary Clinton. So, obviously, he's talking about Bill Clinton here, her husband, but we've seen for 2 1/2 years that every campaign rally, many other speeches where he does talk about the Clintons. So in that respect, part of this is not surprising.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and, I mean -- I guess, how does he sleep at night, you know, because, Ron, this just seems to be the thing that just bothers him so much. I mean, it is at the root of these kinds of sentiments. But also, you know, Ron, on display, and I don't think anybody would dispute this, I mean, especially a week out of two mass shootings.

I mean, on display is still yet more lack of compassion. There were other examples, you know, of a lack of compassion by tweeting about political stuff on a plane between, you know -- between Ohio and Texas and a photograph smiling and this child has no parents and then someone has died. You know, mysteriously in a prison, and this is not very compassionate, this kind of tweeting about conspiracies involving your political rivals.

BROWNSTEIN: And of course it wasn't only the tweeting. I mean, the video that came out, the cell phone video, him bragging about his crowd sizes when he was supposed to be comforting the first responders in El Paso.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, I -- I would say --

WHITFIELD: So given that, how and why is this beneficial? How and why does he see this as beneficial?

BROWNSTEIN: Right. Well, I look -- I kind of -- you know, to Anita's very good point, I kind of think both things are true. That it can be off the cuff on a daily basis and yet part of a strategy over the long haul. Because if you kind of think about the Trump presidency his -- you know, the administration grinds out policy.

[16:30:00] His role seems to be to constantly stir culturally themed fights that stir his base. I mean that's kind of his job within it. And, you know, his willingness over and over again, I mean he wouldn't do this five, seven times a week. And we will be on to a fight with somebody else by Tuesday, if it wasn't, you know, part of a long-term kind of vision of how he kind of thrives politically.

And to some extent, as I have said before, he's on a treadmill by this point. The kind of norm-breaking behavior, the open appeals to racism. The way he talks about women has alienated so many of the swing voters who might have come to him because of the economy, that I think he has no choice but to continue to kind of turn up the heat in these kinds of disputes to keep his own base at a constant boiling point to offset the voters in the middle.

The economically satisfied voters he's already lost by what he's already done. He's kind of on a treadmill with these kinds of provocations at this point.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, Anita, last word.

KUMAR: You know, I think that is totally true. I mean -- and the thing is he's going to have a campaign rally. He's on an extended vacation right now. He's going to have a campaign rally this Thursday. And I think we'll see whether he moves on to something else or he continues to talk about this.

WHITFIELD: All right, Anita Kumar, Ron Brownstein, good to see you both. Thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, the next step for hundreds of undocumented immigrants rounded up during an ICE raid at a Mississippi food processing plant.

[16:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: This afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is slamming recent ICE raids in Mississippi, calling them an immorality. Last week, 680 undocumented workers were detained at 7 food processing plants across the state. Here now is CNN's Nick Valencia with more on what's next.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Six hundred and eighty undocumented immigrants detained on the outskirts of Jackson, Mississippi, all workers from food processing plants in what the U.S. attorney here called the largest single state operation in ICE history.

MIKE HURST, U.S. ATTORNEY: Now, while we are a nation of immigrants, more than that, we are first and foremost a nation of laws.

VALENCIA: An ICE spokesman told CNN the raids were part of a broader federal criminal investigation into these companies, and probable cause affidavits obtained by CNN showed the U.S. Department of Justice, looking for things like identity fraud and whether owners of the raided plants followed protocol to ensure they were not hiring undocumented labor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad didn't do anything. He's not a criminal.

VALENCIA: Caught in the middle, hundreds of children separated from their parents. Some of the adults were taken first to a National Guard hangar. Others sent to ICE facilities in neighboring states. The administration tells CNN that all children have been either reunited with their parents or family members. One family that we spoke to here says a three-year-old who is currently with family members has not been able to get in touch with her mother.

They believe that she's currently being held at an ICE detention facility in Jena, Louisiana. It is unclear just how many of the immigrants were parents. Locals estimate up to half, but ICE could not corroborate. An ICE official did say that almost half of those detained were released, most with pending court cases.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Government please put your heart. Please, don't leave the child with (Inaudible) -- and everything.

VALENCIA: Towns like Morton, Mississippi, the site of one of the raids, are now ghost towns. Residents tell CNN local Latino-owned businesses are closing early, while others are afraid to go outside altogether. Some residents saying it feels like a funeral. What's it feel like knowing somebody that you love, your aunt, was detained, was caught in these raids?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to say it is hate, but it's really...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no way to understand it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. There's not a way to understand it. I feel like you have to experience it to know.

VALENCIA: The anxiety is so pervasive that more than a quarter of the Latino students in a local district didn't show up for school on Thursday, the day after the raids. And on Friday, the entire school district went on lockdown after it received what it described as suspicious phone calls, causing more fear in a community that's already shaken.

And that fear may soon become a reality if the White House gets its way. According to a senior immigration official, the Trump administration has directed more of this workplace type enforcement this year, asking local ICE field offices to identify potential targets in their regions, Nick Valencia, CNN, Jackson, Mississippi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And after five days of searching, escaped Tennessee inmate Curtis Ray Watson is now in custody. Tennessee State Bureau of Investigation tweeted this photo with the caption captured. Watson was taken into custody at approximately 11:00 a.m. after officials received a credible tip overnight from the Taylor family in the Henning, Tennessee area. Watson was caught on their ring doorbell video camera taking food and

supplies from an outdoor refrigerator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN TAYLOR, ALERTED POLICE TO ESCAPED INMATE: We were looking at the ring. We could see every move that he was making. And because, like you said, he had us covered in the house. That it made us feel a lot safer as long as he didn't try to get into the house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Watson is suspected in the death of a 64-year-old corrections worker who was found dead at her home on prison grounds earlier this week. The reward for his capture and conviction of Watson had reached $57,000. All right, he took a knee at the Pan-Am games. Coming up, we speak with fencing gold medalist, Race Imboden, about what prompted him to protest during the National Anthem.

[16:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: It wasn't Colin Kaepernick nor NFL team players, but an American gold medalist fencer at the Pan American Games in Peru who knelt during his team's medals ceremony as the U.S. National Anthem played. Fencer, Race Imboden, was one of two players who made an overt protest during the games. Hammer throw gold medalist Gwen Berry also protested by raising her fist during the playing of the National Anthem while she was on the podium, reminiscent of Tommy Smith and John Carlos in the Mexico Olympic Games.

Race Imboden is also known for being an Olympic medalist, competing both in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016. And I spoke with him a short time ago and asked him if there was a specific moment that led him to protest this way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RACE IMBODEN, TEAM USA FENCER: I think that the catalyst was certainly the shootings this past week. And being overseas and not being home and being an athlete who is on the road a lot and seeing the terrible things that are happening and wanting to evoke change. And I don't have a big platform. And at the time, I was trying to speak to those people who followed me. And, you know, I am a fencer. And for a lot of people, I believe that I represent white privilege.

And I am in a sport that is probably mostly wealthy elite. And I thought it was time that a different face stepped up. And in this case, I followed, you know, Colin Kaepernick and the other athletes in the NFL that have been protesting. And, you know, I decided to take a knee and join them and represent and protest in my own way.

[16:44:58] WHITFIELD: And so you're following suit. You know, Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players, but you also see that, you know, Colin Kaepernick gets paid a big price. I mean he's not playing. He is not, you know, he's not on a team right now. And did you think about a potential consequence when taking the knee in the spirit of Colin Kaepernick taking the knee, wanting to call attention to injustices in America?

He has said very clearly that it's not about a lack of respect or a lack of patriotism and honor for America, but making a statement because of these injustices. But he paid a price, and is paying a price. So what about you? Do you, you know, worry about your longevity in the sport?

IMBODEN: Yes, of course. I think that fencing is something that's near and dear to me. It's what I love to do. It's why I get out of bed in the morning. And at the same time, there was a moment for me. And in that moment, that -- the weight of what was going on in the world and the things that I had to say felt heavier than that of -- that moment, than earning that gold. And I felt like it was necessary to say those things.

And to maybe just evoke one person to see it or to change their mind or even take action against, you know, any of those causes that I listed before. And, of course, I am fearful of that, of course. I mean it would be devastating for me to not be able to fence, but I can't say that I regret taking a stand.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Race Imboden, American gold medalist in fencing. Still ahead, an era of enormous change inside and out of Hollywood, why the movies of the 1960s are still very much relevant today, but first, as we enter the hottest months of what forecasters expect to be a perilous fire season, thousands of people in Paradise, California, are still reeling from last year's historic and deadly campfire.

Like many of us, this week's CNN Heroes saw news of the fire unfold on his television, but he was inspired to do something to help. Meet Woody Faircloth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As news of the fires broke and we saw more of what happened to people in the fire and how many people were impacted, that's when it really kind of hit home that, wow, this is a really big deal. Tens of thousands lost their homes. Entire families were sleeping in their cars in parking lots. It was total chaos. Today, the majority are still displaced.

When we actually hand over the title and the keys of an RV to someone who doesn't have a home any longer, such a powerful thing to provide such a basic human need. How can we not help if we're in a position to help?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Wow. See Woody change the life of a Paradise grandmother. And go to cnnheroes.com right now.

[16:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Tonight, an all-new episode of CNN's Original Series, "THE MOVIES," explores American cinema of the 1960s. It was an era of enormous change, both inside and out of Hollywood. Here's a sneak peek.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't make any rules.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you sure live by them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody lives by (Inaudible), even them swamp animals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even that weasel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You calling me a weasel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I am calling you a white man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sidney Poitier would often be cast in blatant message movies of that era. But there are some exceptions like Raisin in the Sun based on the (Inaudible) play.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking in the mirror this morning, and I'm thinking I am 35 years old. I am married 11 years, and I have got a boy who has to sleep in the living room because I got nothing else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raisin in the Sun was about integration. They buy a house in a nice white area, but the people in the neighborhood don't want them there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our association is prepared to buy the house from you at a financial gain to your family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Poitier gets to show more range in Raisin in the Sun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's angry at the system. He's angry at white supremacy. He's angry at the lack of economic opportunity for black Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I want is to make a future for this family. All I want is to be able to stand in front of my boy like my father never was able to do to me, and tell him that he will be somebody in this world besides a servant and a chauffeur.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These were not stereotypical black characters, magical Negros or good Negros who were there to demonstrate the ultimate good of mainstream white society. He's playing a well- rounded, three-dimensional character, and I think he just builds on it from there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Wow, Sidney Poitier at the center there, always a force. Joining me right now Dr. Emily Carman, Associate Professor of Classic Hollywood Cinema at Chapman University, good to see you, so I mean, these are really serious messages that came from 1960s movies, a range of them. And at the same time, you know, these movies are locked in a big battle with audiences, you know, with a huge competitor like television.

So talk to me about that kind of rivalry of going to the movies, versus seeing it on television, especially with big messages.

EMILY CARMAN, CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR: Yeah, absolutely, Fredricka. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me. Yeah, in the 60s, is such an interesting decade, mainly for one of the reasons you just mentioned. We have a rival of mass medium, television, that's capturing the U.S. audience. But there was one thing that we should keep in mind that we had today that we might for granted.

TV was not big and widescreen and colorful. It was small, black and white, and with commercial breaks. So what you see with Hollywood movies in the 60s, especially in the beginning of the decade, is going big. You know big cast, all-stars, and exotic locations. Big projects like big adaptations like West Side Story, and big epics, historical epics like Spartacus and Lawrence of Arabia that they would make an argument.

You've got to come to the cinema to see this. This is an all- encompassing big experience that you can't have on your small television at home.

[16:55:05] WHITFIELD: And so one movie of the 60s that had a huge impact, nearly destroying the studio that produced it and some say even put the whole Hollywood industry at risk. We're talking about Cleopatra, why?

CARMAN: Yeah. So Cleopatra, which ended up being a $40 million movie, how much it cost to make it. That's $350 million in today's terms. This is the movie that became synonymous with everything that was wrong with Hollywood production culture in 1963. It nearly broke Fox Studios. Some say it did. So the film suffered from talent takeover, the illnesses of Elizabeth Taylor, also from scandal because the married Elizabeth Taylor and the married Richard Burton started a torrid love affair on that set.

But the film ended up costing so much money that it couldn't gross a profit. So we should remember that the failure of Cleopatra isn't because nobody went to see it. It did get really good box office. It was on par with those other epics I mentioned, like Lawrence of Arabia and South Pacific and other films of this nature. But it cost so much to make. There's no way Fox could recoup its investment. So that was the reason why it was such a financial flop.

WHITFIELD: And a big turning point. And we'll all be watching this evening, The Movies. Dr. Emily Carman, thank you so much. Appreciate it. All new-episode of "THE MOVIES" tonight at 9:00 only on CNN. And thank you so much for joining me this weekend. I am Fredricka Whitfield. So much more straight ahead with Ana Cabrera right after this.

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