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Democratic Presidential Candidates in Atlanta Courting African American Voters; Thousands Fill the Streets of Hong Kong In 11th Week of Protests; Sources: 9th NYPD Officer Dies By Suicide This Year; Earnhardt Jr. and Family Uninjured After Plane Crash; "The Movies" Airs Tomorrow At 9 P.M. ET/PT; Trump, Love Or Hate Me, With This Economy, You've Got To Vote For Me; Police Says, Man Seen Leaving Rice Cookers In New York City Is Now In Custody; Gun Safety Rallies At 100 Locations Across 50 States This Weekend. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired August 17, 2019 - 12:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Right now and right here in Atlanta, 2020 presidential hopefuls are making their pitches to African-American voters on why they are best fit to take on President Trump in 2020. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking right now and Senator Elizabeth Warren expected to take the stage shortly. The event is organized by the Black Church Pack and is centered around the candidate's plans to engage African-American voters on key issues including gun control and criminal justice reform. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Cory Booker and Julian Castro are also in attendance as well as our business and politics reporter, Vanessa Yurkevich. She has been speaking with a crucial voting block of this election year, African-American millennials.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What is most for you as a voter in this next election?

JADA SIMMONS, VOTER: What's most important to me is that they actually care about the people that they're serving and that it not just about money or about their fame that it's really about the people who are going to be affected by every decision that they make.

FRANCISCA SHAW, VOTER: I would also love to hear more about what their ideas about the economy. I know they're talking about a downturn going to be happening. Obviously we don't know when that's going to happen, but I would love to hear what their thoughts are on that and how they can help not make it as bad as it was in '08.

JENNIFER MARTIN, VOTER: I guess what's really important to me is gun violence. I think that's really important. I think it's an issue in our communities from the police to just every day community gun violence. These mass shootings that have been happening, I think it's just very important and we need to do something about it.

ARCHIE MCINNIS, III, VOTER: I want to hear more about the gun control. That's the thing that's like close to my heart because like innocent people are dying all the time and it's just -- when you look at other countries, I'm sure there's shootings but not nearly as many that go on here and I feel like there's just something that has to be done about that.

WHITFIELD: All right, Vanessa Yurkevich, having talked to a number of those voters, she's with me right now. So you've also had a chance to connect with some of these candidates. Does it seem like their messages are in sync with what you just heard from voters?

YURKEVICH: Hi, Fredricka. Well, Bernie Sanders just wrapped up on stage, Elizabeth Warren just got on stage speaking right behind me. Bernie Sanders in the first few minutes of his speech to voters here got the biggest applause when he talked about student debt. Remember this is a crowd of many millennial black voters who often times have heavy student debt and Bernie Sanders, one of the more progressive candidates on this issue, wanting free college for all Americans and erasing all student debt. Take a listen to what Bernie Sanders just moments ago.


BERNIE SANDERS 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am proud to have helped lead the effort to make public colleges and universities tuition free and to expand Pell Grant funding so that no working class young person leaves school in debt and furthermore, we are leading the effort to cancel all student debt in this country.


YURKEVICH: Voters here are very excited to hear Bernie Sanders talk about that. Elizabeth Warren taking the stage right now. Voters here still wanting to hear her on education and student debt. Another key issue for voters here, gun violence. These two recent mass shootings really putting into perspective for many millennial voters here how important this key issue will be for them. It also important to point out that if you're not Joe Biden, you still have a lot of work to do with the African-American community. Joe Biden pulling in about 50 percent with African-American voters and the rest of the candidates more in the single digits. So Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders here today trying to make their pitch to church leaders but also black millennial voters, who are a key demographic in order to secure this democratic nomination. Fredericka?

WHITFIELD: All right, Vanessa, thank you so much. Let's listen to Senator Elizabeth Warren.

ELIZABETH WARREN, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... forty-five minutes and then went back to my first love which is teaching. I've taught law students, I've taught little folks and I've taught fifth grade Sunday school, which maybe was the biggest challenge of all.

For me, my life has been anchored around my faith and in particular the guiding principle for me has been Matthew 25. and I know I come into a room like this, I don't have to tell the story that you all know about the separation when the shepherd has to decide who to - how to separate the goats from the sheep. [12:05:00]

I think of the passage after they're separated and the sheep say, "Why us, Lord? What did we do? And when the Lord says "For I was hungered and you gave me meat. I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, naked and you clothed me."


WARREN: All right, I was in prison - there we go - and you visited me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came unto me. And when the sheep say, "But we don't remember seeing you Lord." That the Lord says, "In as much as ye have done it, unto one of these the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me." And for me, what that's about is two things. The first is there's God in every single one of us, every single one of us has the Lord within us and that's what that passage means. And, secondly, that the Lord does not call on us to sit back. The Lord does not call on us just to have a good heart. The Lord calls us to act.

WHITFIELD: All right, you're listening to Senator Elizabeth Warren there at the Black Church PAC meeting that's taking place right now in Atlanta. Five democratic candidates have been there or are on schedule to be there today to speak. We heard from Senator Bernie Sanders earlier and now Elizabeth Warren. Joining me right now "Washington Post" personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary. It's been too long, Michelle. Where you been? So glad you're back.



SINGLETARY: ... more often.

WHITFIELD: OK, well we keep calling but I'm glad you made us available on your schedule. Also, co-founder of "D.C. Beat," Tiffany Cross back with us; so glad you're back as well. Good to see you ladies. So Tiffany, you first. It is crucial that these candidates shore up their support with African-American voters but you heard from a number of people that Vanessa talked to - voters who said, you know, they're interested in a variety of things that pertain to everyone's interest, caring about the people, about people in general, criminal justice, economy, this possible recession, gun violence, gun control. So how are these candidates kind of crafting their message for this audience today?

TIFFANY CROSS, CO-FOUNDER OF "D.C. BEAT": Well I think this is a very specific audience today and it will be a mistake to think that speaking to this audience is speaking to the entire black vote. It's not a monolith. It's not a homogenous group of people. These are young church-going southerners. That's a very different crowd. I know a lot of black people who haven't been to church in years. There are some people who are solely focused on the economy. Some people - the same way we just aggregate the data for other voting blocks. Like we talk about white suburban women or working class, which is usually something that people associate with white voters. I think we have to be sure to disaggregate the data when reaching out to black voters.

I think the way candidates can reach large swaths of the community realizing that they care about many of the issues that the rest of the people care about, they have to make sure their teams reflect America. Look, this has been a learning curve for a lot of people. Mayor Pete Buttigieg had trouble resonating with black voters. Some of the other candidates have had challenges.

So when you have people on your team who are in field(ph) or your finance directors who operate your direct mail or your phone system, all of these things matter when trying to reach this group. And again, I think the issues that matter to young voters of color, we have to realize they're not all inner city. There are black voters who are rural America, there are black voters who are not college educated, you know, who don't necessarily reckon with the candidate who graduated from an HVCU. They want to hear something that impacts their life.

But I think what they value more than anything is authenticity. I know some people kind of flailing in the polls but I think a lot of that is name recognition and a lot of candidates have not really had the opportunity to dig deep in some of the smaller parts of the community and connect with them. I think let people see that change. We're still a long way away. I think we'll see that change over the next few months.

WHITFIELD: Yes, black voters are varied but they want to be seen. So Michelle, you know the president on the issue of the economy of the sitting president touts that this is really the pillar of his reelection. Listn.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States right now has the hottest economy anywhere in the world, but you have no choice but to vote for me because your 401(k)s down the tubes, everything's going to be down the tubes, so whether you love me or hate me, you got to vote for me.



WHITFIELD: So the president, you know, has always pointed to the stock market, proof of how well the economy is faring, but then you hear him there saying your 401(k)s may be taking a dive but you need me in order to bring it up. So talk to me about this kind of economic fear tactic.

SINGLETARY: Well, you know, at one point, the president said what do you have to lose with me? A whole lot. And the fact of the matter is, you know, his Tweets about trade wars and things like that have actually hurt us in our 401(k).

But you got to just ignore what he's saying and just look at the long- term. I'd like to see the candidates and the president talk more about, for example, social security, shoring that up. Because, more likely, black Americans and all Americans -- well, not all but a great percentage, rely on social security in retirement as their main source of income.

I haven't seen many of the candidates, they all talk about what are they going to do to make sure that social security available and there and strong for all Americans? And when you talk about student loan debt, African-Americans are more likely to, when they do graduate or not graduate, had debt and not the degree. And so we need to talk about those kinds of things. I love that some of them are talking about increasing the Pell Grant.

There're two roles in this economy. There's a role for minorities, It's not the same as the white Americans and the things that we have to deal with, and I'd like to see more of that being talked about.

WHITFIELD: Tiffany --


WHITFIELD: Yes. I just want to go to Tiffany. Was that sounding like another, you know, what do you have to lose kind of moments from the president?

CROSS: Yes. So I think there's a big part of the president's base that really haven't moved, to giving a pass on putting some exchanges (ph) on his racism, on his misogyny, on his xenophobia, all because of the economy. But we saw him blink this week. This trade war that he's escalating with China will hit the pockets of those people. Will they stand with him then? I don't think so.

We can definitely acknowledge this is not a president who has likely gained voters. I don't know anybody over the past two years who is thinking, you know what, I like the way this guy handles himself, I'm going to jump in his camp. So you can only peel away and pick away at people who have given him a timeless mulligan time and again after he slipped.

And when the economy starts directly hit their pockets, I think you're going to see more people abandon him. He blinked when he backed out with some items trying to save Black Friday and the Christmas holidays. People are going to see things like clothing and shoes and electronic devices, their iPhones. When those things start impacting Americans, I think that's going to peel away at his base and that's going to spell trouble for him, for sure.

WHITFIELD: All right.

SINGLETARY: Can I just add something real quick?

WHITFIELD: Yes, go ahead.

SINGLETARY: The idea that his base doesn't -- I feel sorry for them, because he is not a president that represents the base in terms of their own money. Look at their stance on healthcare, for example. They say that they think he's this great businessman, but he hasn't been or wasn't.

And so it's really not that separate. Their interests are our interests, meaning African-Americans. And on that front, he is not for them, the kind of policies that he put into place. Look at when you're talking about Medicare, Medicaid, he is not pushing forth things that are going to directly affect them.

And forget about the Christmas holiday shopping, telling people, I'm going to stop the trade war so you can shop. That is not going to help anybody. First of all, many of you have too much debt anyway, so you shouldn't be shopping. You should be saving more. And so that's not going to help them.

And I think we need to be very careful when we listen to these platitudes, because I'm very concerned about the debt Americans are starting to take on, student loan debt, mortgage debt, even car debt. And so that's the kinds of things that long-term are going to hurt the base and African-Americans and everybody in this country.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And that reminds me, Michelle, why we have to have you come back as a reminder to folks to help them figure out their money, spend their money, save their money, because I know you're a big advocate on saving.

Michelle Singletary, Tiffany Cross, thank you so much. Good to see you both.

CROSS: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Okay. New York Police say they have the man in custody who was seen in surveillance video dropping off rice cookers, two different locations involved, including a busy transit hub.

CNN Correspondent Polo Sandoval joins me right now in New York. Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, the NYPD, as well as Mayor de Blasio confirming that the individual was seen in surveillance yesterday dropping off a pair kitchen appliances at a very busy New York City Subway station, causing a scare, was apprehended.

Now, we're just trying to find out more about the state that he was in.


Because our understanding according to information that was released to my colleague, Brynn Gingras, is that this individual was apprehended early this morning at an address in the Bronx and that he was unconscious at the time, that he's currently hospitalized. However, investigators also not identifying yet him -- they haven't officially identified him yet as he has not been officially charged. But investigators do believe that he was the one who placed those two ended up being rice cookers that were empty. And now, investigators are trying to find out exactly what led to that. Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. SANDOVAL: You bet.

WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, a nationwide stand against gun violence. Rallies being held today in all 50 states pressuring Congress to take action on the issue. Why activists say the time to act is now.

Plus, more protests in Hong Kong. Protesters and police clashing in the street for the 11th straight week, and organizers say an even bigger demonstration is happening tomorrow.


WHITFIELD: In the wake of two mass shootings and a nation on edge, gun safety groups are taking to the streets today in all 50 states. The rallies organized by every town for gun safety and a separate group, Moms Demand Action, are set to take place in more than 100 locations this weekend in response to mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.


With U.S. Congress in the midst of a long summer break, the so-called recess rallies are aimed at pressuring lawmakers to change gun laws in America. In some cases, protesters plan to show up at senators' district offices to demand action on background checks and red flag laws.

And one of those rallies is set to get under way soon in El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 22 people during a rampage two weeks ago.

CNN's Natasha Chen is there for us. So, Natasha, tell us more about what is planned.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka. In just less than an hour, organizers tell me they're expecting about 200 to 300 people here. Congresswoman Veronica Escobar is also expected to speak here along with others. There will be voter registration at this location.

And this is a little bit different than the rest of the rallies you're seeing around the country today. This one was organized rather organically from local El Pasoans, independent of those gun control groups you mentioned, though they did eventually get help from Moms Demand Action to set this up today.

But the people we're seeing at the center of this event are college students. They were born and raised in El Paso, they've now be gone off to college, but here for the summer, and they tell me that the whole town, of course, is grieving, but they wanted instead of sitting passively to do something about it. They wanted to take action.

Here is one college student organizer telling me how she views this community getting into the conversation about gun control.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VICTORIA PERCHES, ORGANIZER, EL PASO GUN SAFETY RALLY: Gun reform has never been really a conversation in El Paso just because we know that people obviously carry guns, but it was never used for violence, never. So I think it's just striking this new conversation in our city.

And, obviously, the violence that took place was gun violence and it really affected our city in such a negative way that I think it's really changed the dynamic of El Paso.

We're all stepping up and we're trying to make change in our community.


CHEN: A lot of young voices here. And then last week, there was a rally in town as well where a lot of young people wrote messages to lawmakers on a poster, and one of the messages that stood out was, we cannot be the future if we're dead. So a lot of discussion here today about what to do moving forward in this country, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha Chen, thank you so much. We'll check back with you.

All right, joining me now to talk more about this push for gun safety, Kris Brown, she is the president of the Brady Campaign, a non-profit organization aimed at preventing gun violence. Kris, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So let me start by getting your reaction to these planned gun safety rallies underway across the nation. Are you optimistic that lawmakers will hear some messages and it will provoke them to do something?

BROWN: Yes. You know, we have gun violence prevention movement that was planning a lot of activities over the congressional recess because we wave a House of Representatives that has already passed life-saving measures that are sitting in the Senate.

Obviously, these horrific massacres that have occurred are horrifying to communities all across this country. Those who experience it and too many who think they could be next. What's very important is for the community and for individuals, especially the young people you noted, to come out and really demonstrate to lawmakers across the country that this issue is a top priority.

We proved it in 2018 with that election, electing a gun violence prevention majority for the first time in a generation. I think lawmakers have to understand if they don't take action to pass common sense measures to protect people's lives, that their seats are at risk.

WHITFIELD: And you mentioned the measure that the House has already voted on, that pertaining to the background checks. And your organization has been collecting signatures now to push Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call back the Senate from recess to take some sort of emergency action on gun legislation. But McConnell, he's really shown no signs that he is willing to do that. So, you know, are you confident that this pressure campaign will, in any way, sway him or other Republicans?

BROWN: I think that it is swaying other Republicans, and I think that McConnell has to look at the fact that some of those Republicans are up for re-election. He himself is up for re-election. And he has to be also looking at the polls.

Look, Fox News just released a poll looking at the three measures that we have been pushing to are a long time as common sense measures, background check expansion, extreme risk laws and assault weapons ban. Among all of America, those provisions, those protections that are pending have far more than a simple majority support.


So the question that McConnell has to ask himself, is he going to allow votes on these measures and allow the Congress to take action around an issue that all Americans support, or is he going to continue to be the lap dog from the NRA?

I think he's getting pressure from people like Lindsey Graham to actually allow consideration of measures that everyone thinks are really important to save lives, and they are.

WHITFIELD: So this also comes at a time when President Trump appears to be shifting his focus from background checks. He talked about meaningful background checks, pushing that quite forcefully. And then now, he's talking more about this mental illness reform. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I do want people to remember the words mental illness. These people are mentally ill.

A lot of our conversation has to do with the fact that we have to open up institutions. We can't let these people be on the streets.


WHITFIELD: So what we know publicly about these recent shooters in mass shootings, mental illness was not part of their diagnoses. I mean, a lot of it was driven by either hate or other mysterious circumstances still yet to be determined. So how concerning is it to you that the president is framing gun violence on those who have mental illnesses?

BROWN: It's extraordinarily concerning. It's untrue. It's a lie. And it's a talking point to avoid what is obvious, I think, to everyone in America, it's about the gun. And we have to focus on that.

Certainly, I agree, we need more mental health care in this country. President Trump is not delivering that. And the reality is that hate is not a mental illness. It's simply not. We have to understand that America doesn't have more mental illness than any other industrialized country on this earth. What we have is much more gun violence and we have sensible solutions to address this issue that Congress can act upon tomorrow.

In states that have enacted these laws, we have seen reductions, significant reductions in law enforcement officers being shot, in domestic violence victims being shot. Across the board, we know what the answers are and we need votes on these measures, expanded background checks, assault weapons bans and extreme risk (ph) laws need to be enacted. That's the way to save lives.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kris Brown, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

BROWN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, demonstrations on the streets of Hong Kong protesting for autonomy from Mainland China for the 11th straight weekend. More coming up.


[12:31:26] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: In Hong Kong, thousands of pro-democracy protesters filled the streets for the 11th straight weekend. The protest began against a bill that would have allowed for extraditions to Mainland China. But then the protests quickly grew into bigger demonstrations against the government and election meddling.

Paula Hancocks is in Hong Kong and explains the anti-government demonstrators weren't the only ones out in force today.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, there have been a number of different groups of protesters out on the streets of Hong Kong this Saturday, the Teachers Union were out in force, this morning, pro-democracy protesters this afternoon. And also pro-police protesters which just shows that there is a divide within this city.

Now we are in our 11th week so let's just remind ourselves how we got to this point.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): This was the Umbrella Movement, a 2014 pro- democracy push in Hong Kong. Tens of thousands took to the streets but no government concessions were given. The demonstrations ended but the resentment remained. Five years later, a controversial bill is proposed that could see Hong Kongers extradited to Mainland China to stand trial. Frustrations boiled over.

At the peak of the past two months, organizers believe up to two million people were on the streets. Police say far less. Either way it was a massive part of Hong Kong. Trying to protect its status as a special administrative region of China, one country, two systems.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam responded.

CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE: There are still lingering doubts about the government's sincerity or worries whether the government will restart the process in the legislative council. So I reiterate here there is no such plan. The bill is dead.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): But it was not the full withdrawal that protesters wanted. There are still fears it could be resurrected quickly. Civil disobedience on some occasions turned to criminal damage, breaking into the Legislative Council building in the center of town, occupying the seat of power in Hong Kong before police cleared protesters out.

The demands grew, an independent investigation into police actions, the release of all those arrested, conditions unpalatable to authorities. Protesters claim police have used excessive force tear gassing trail stations, baton charges in shopping malls, and viral social media videos of clashes used to make their claim. The police counter saying they are constantly being attacked by certain elements saying if they don't use violence, we don't use force.

It's a stalemate that is hard to break as the protesters have no leader. A fluid movement that communicates on social media. U.S. President Donald Trump even suggested China's President Xi Jinping could meet with protesters and have it sorted within 15 minutes. No side believes that would ever happen.

Joshua Wong was a protest leader in 2014, subsequently spending a month behind bars.

JOSHUA WONG, HONG KONG PROTEST LEADER: Without a single individual leader is less chance for Beijing -- a protest to target a politician and to silence the voice of activists and to stop the protests without any kind of criminalization.


HANCOCKS: Many protesters have been criticizing the police for using what they see as excessive force. For the police on their behalf they are saying that if protesters weren't using force, then they wouldn't have to use violence, criticizing some of the protesters for their tactics.


[12:35:00] WHITFIELD: Paula Hancocks, thank you so much in Hong Kong.

All right, up next, New York police in mourning after a ninth officer commits suicide this year. Why the police commissioner says there is a mental health crisis in the ranks of police across the country.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Right now, the NYPD is searching for answers to a growing crisis within the department. Officer suicides. Sources tell CNN that two more New York police officers died by suicide this week, bringing the total number of officer suicides up to nine this year. That's almost double the annual average.

But the issue is not unique to the NYPD. A 2018 study revealed that officers are more likely to take their own lives than die in the line of duty. NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill tells CNN it's time for people to rely on one another for help.


COMMISSIONER JAMES O'NEILL, NEW YORK DEPARTMENT: There's nothing I do than care more about cops. And just to have this period, this time period in the NYPD it's just -- and if it's affecting me like this, I know it's affecting everybody else. Now it's a time for all of us to come together, it's a mental health crisis. Being a cop is a really -- as I said, a really difficult job.


[12:40:01] WHITFIELD: Let's discuss this now with CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Jonathan Wackrow. A former Secret Service agent under President Obama. Good to see you, Jonathan.

So you've been working in law enforcement for years. You know, help us understand what could be, you know, contributing to this rise in police suicides?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Fred, you know, this is a deeply personal topic for me. You know, I have lost three friends who are in law enforcement over the past 12 months to suicides who've taken their own life. To me, this is the greatest threat to, you know, modern day policing. As you said on the intro, you know, law enforcement officers are, you know, more likely to take their own life than to get killed in the line of duty. I mean, just let that sink in for one moment. So I think we have to look at what are the causes or potential causes.

And one thing we need to look at is really the current state of policing. What are asked of law enforcement officers every single day is a tremendous task. They literally have a front row seat to the most horrific aspects of our society. Parts of the society that, you know, thankfully most of us never see. Violent acts, shootings, stabbings. They go to horrific car accidents, they interject themselves in the middle of domestic violence issues.

WHITFIELD: You're describing conditions that often lead to like a PTSD.

WACKROW: Well, exactly, and there's no off switch for that. So an officer that addresses those situations, there's no just way for them to just to turn that off. It carries with them, you know. And that's an issue that, you know, law enforcement community as well as leadership need to address on a, you know, on a go-forward basis. WHITFIELD: So then based on, you know, what we're seeing, you know, signs pointing this to being a mental health crisis as Commissioner O'Neill, you know, suggests, what do you believe a remedy or an answer is? He talked about people need to be talking but what does that mean?

WACKROW: Well, listen, you know, there's a couple issues here. One is that, you know, the data is actually inconclusive when it comes to police suicides and making attribution to, you know, either depression or PTSD because often times they're listed as, you know, unknown causes. What we do know is that depression within law enforcement is five times the national average.

So let's look at that. Let's talk about PTSD. The military has a great structure on how to systematically address and take care of service members who are suffering from PTSD. Law enforcement needs to do the same.

But, Fred, there is a problem. The -- you know, law enforcement does not want -- agencies sometimes don't want to make attribution to a job-related stress for, you know, litigation purposes. We need to move beyond that, deal with training, and allow for officers to gain counseling, you know, whether anonymously or through a systemic process within the department.

WHITFIELD: Is a stigma also, you know, an obstacle?

WACKROW: Oh, it is a major obstacle right now. And again, to Commissioner O'Neill's point, we need to overcome that stigma. We have to overcome the fact that someone asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it's actually a sign of strength for the individual and for the department. We need to change the culture and ensure that there are pathways for law enforcement officers who need help can get help.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Jonathan Wackrow, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

WACKROW: Thank you very much.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.


[12:47:17] WHITFIELD: Some pretty dramatic video this morning showing the escape of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family from a fiery plane crash in Tennessee. The retired driver was on his way to this weekend's races in Bristol Motor Speedway when the crash happened.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look how high the fire ball is going.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The National Transportation Safety Board on the ground investigating this fiery plane crash that retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. managed to escape holding his 15-month-old daughter Isla. His wife Amy, their dog Gus, the plane's two pilots also rushing to safety. Authorities say despite the flames and thick black smoke, no one was injured beyond some cuts and bruises.

SHERIFF DEXTER LUNCEFORD, CARTER COUNTY, TENNESSEE: You remove the fact that you're involved in a plane crash, everything else went -- they're extremely lucky.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Investigators are climbing through what is left of the now charred Cessna Citation aircraft pulling out luggage and a child seat. The NTSB has not determined a cause for what it is calling a, quote, firm landing at Elizabethton municipal airport.

RALPH HICKS, NTSB SENIOR INVESTIGATOR: The airplane basically bounced at least twice before coming down hard on the right main landing gear. The aircraft actually went down into the ditch then came back up before it came to rest.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): The skid marks in the grass still visible, and part of the airport fence wrapped around the fuselage.

CHIEF BARRY CARRIER, ELIZABETHTON FIRE DEPARTMENT: If that would have been where the door was, it would have been a lot more difficult for them to get the door open.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): NTSB investigators say interviews with the pilots and Earnhardt family are consistent with surveillance video they obtained off the crash and that there is some data, including a cockpit recording they plan to analyze.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. checkered flag of Talladega.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Voted NASCAR's most popular driver 15 times in a row, Jr. followed in the foot steps of his legendary father, Dale Earnhardt Sr. who died in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500. Throughout the day, fans drove the 20 minutes from Bristol Motor Speedway where NASCAR is racing Saturday to take photos at the crash site. The Earnhardt family already back at their home in North Carolina. Dale Jr. will not call the race on Saturday.

GALLAGHER (on camera): Now these two pilots regularly flew that plane and the NTSB says that there were no calls of distress before that firm landing happened. Right now, a team working with the NTSB is going to disassemble the plane and that they're going to put it back together with a facility in Georgia where they'll continue the investigation. They say to expect a preliminary fact finding report sometime by the end of next week.

Dianne Gallagher, CNN Elizabethton, Tennessee.


WHITFIELD: Pretty scary. Close call there.

[12:50:00] We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: Oh a classic scene from the 1969 classic counterculture film "Easy Rider" starring Peter Fonda. The actor and director died yesterday of respiratory failure due to lung cancer. He was nominated for an Academy Award for writing the "Easy Rider", screen play along with his co-star Dennis Hopper. He was also nominated for best actor for the title role in "Ulee's Gold" in 1998. Peter Fonda's father was Henry Fonda and his sister Jane Fonda released the statement saying, "I am very sad. He was my sweet-hearted baby brother, the talker of the family. I have had a beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing."

Peter Fonda was 79-years-old.

All right, movies have inspired us for generations. And tomorrow night, CNN takes a look back at some of the films from Hollywood's golden age on the final episode of the CNN original series "The Movies".


[12:55:15] ROBIN SWICORD, SCREENWRITER, "LITTLE WOMEN" 1994: One of the precepts for a story musical is that the song has to advance the story. A song like "Over the Rainbow", all that longing, you know, that she's going to go on a journey after she sings a song like that.

And then all of a sudden she gets to go to some place else. She's taken up by a tornado and she lands in this magical world. She doesn't know that she's in another world until she opens that door and it is in beautiful color.

KENNETH TURAN, FILM CRITIC, LOS ANGELES TIMES: You can't think about the "Wizard of Oz" without thinking about the old brick brood. This was three scripts Technicolor which have colors that were amazing vivid. Because it was a fantasy the colors didn't have to be completely realistic with a very alive and very exciting. This was entertainment that people haven't seen before.

JULIANNE MOORE, ACTOR: It is astonishing what they were able to do. And also how pungent all of those performances are.

RAY BOLGER AS SCARECROW, "THE WIZARD OF OZ": Don't you think the wizard could help too?


MOORE: Jack Haley, Ray Bolger, and Bert Lahr, they brought such incredible humanity in pungency to these crazy characters.


BILLIE BURKE AS GLINDA, "THE WIZARD OF OZ": Then close your eyes and tap your heels together three times. It was the greatest children's film of all time that people can relate to the idea of living home and finding home again.

JUDY GARLAND AS DOROTHY GALE: Oh Auntie Em. There's no place like home.


WHITFIELD: A classic. Don't miss the final episode of "The Movies" tomorrow night, 9 Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.