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The Lead with Jake Tapper

U.S. Sets Record For Air Travel During Pandemic; Texas Dems Stage Walkout, Block Restrictive Voting Bill; Biden's Week Shifts From Reflection To Negotiation; Reentry Anxiety; New York Mayoral Race Heating Up; Asian-Americans Patrolling Streets To Keep Their Elders Safe; "The Honor Project" Remembers Fallen Veterans, Volunteers Visit Arlington Grave Sites For Family, Friends That Can't Travel. Aired 4- 5p ET

Aired May 31, 2021 - 16:00   ET





PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Well, it took just one holiday weekend before airlines cut off the booze again. Way to ease back into it, America.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Beaches and bars looking more like they should on a holiday weekend with nearly half the U.S. population fully vaccinated. But will the other half halt all of the progress?

And buying time. Texas Democrats walk out and kill a bill that they say is designed to suppress their vote. But the fight is far from over.

Plus, guardian angels. Asian-Americans are now protecting their elders being beaten on the streets with racist attacks on the rise.


BROWN: Welcome to the special edition of THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper.

On this Memorial Day, we honor the ultimate sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. And this year, we mark America's first vaccinated holiday. That's where we begin today in our health lead.

Nearly half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated and many Americans have hit the road and the skies to reunite with their loved ones. Beaches, bars, restaurants, all packed.

And new numbers from the TSA show the agency screened more than 7 million people from Thursday to Sunday.

As CNN's Alexandra Field reports, that's a pandemic-era high for travel.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The come back is big.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're ready to rock and roll, starting today.

FIELD: Americans from coast to coast are taking full advantage of the first nearly normal holiday inn more than a year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never thought that the shutdown was going to last that long.

FIELD: After so much time spent at home, AAA says 37 million are expected to travel this weekend. Airports are clocking pandemic era record numbers, 1.69 million passengers were screened at airports on Friday, according to the TSA. But today is poised to be the busiest air travel day yet.

STEPHEN KAUFER, CEO & PRESIDENT, TRIPADVISOR: Travel is back. Half the people want to take that summer vacation, another quarter want to do an international trip.

FIELD: Miami Beach deployed extra police in anticipation with unprecedented crowds. California's beaches are also open this holiday weekend.

BOB ALFERA, SANTA MONICA RESIDENT: It feels very, very close to normal and it's nice to see people really in a good mood.

FIELD: Tonight is the night New Yorkers waited for, the curfew lifts on indoor restaurants and bars. The party is already on just outside New Orleans where 50,000 people turned out for the delayed Mardi Gras style parade.

KELLEY CARTNER, JEFFERSON PARISH RESIDENT: It feels amazing. To be out here with family and friends, it's just amazing.

FIELD: And it's because of vaccines. More than 40 percent of Americans are now fully vaccinated, and still no shortage of incentives for more people to get their shots. Ohio is getting ready for a second million dollar size drawing to a vaccinated person.

As of this holiday weekend, more than 60 percent of adults nationwide have already received one dose of the shot, bringing us closer to President Joe Biden's goal to get that number up to 70 percent in time for the next holiday weekend, July 4th.

For the rest of the world, a modest vaccinating 10 percent of every country's population by end of September.

TEDROS ADHAMON GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: It would be monumental error for any country to think the danger has passed.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FIELD: And, Pamela, between this holiday weekend and the next one coming, you really are going to see a major push across the country to meet the president's goal. That means trying to conquer vaccine hesitancy where it exists.

It also means trying to bring more shots to people where they are. To that end, New York City deploying mobile vaccine units to crowded hot spots this holiday weekend like in Central Park and to the city's beaches which are finally back open -- Pamela.

BROWN: They sure are.

All right. Thanks so much, Alexandra Field.

And let's bring in Dr. William Schaffner, professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Schaffner, great to see you as always.

It's been well over a year since the first coronavirus case in the United States. And while we're just starting to celebrate this return to normalcy, the way we lived before the pandemic, we still don't definitively know where COVID came from. Explain why it's so important to know the origin.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Pamela, it is important to find out scientifically where it came from. We'd like to know that because we would like to prevent future pandemics.


And from a historical perspective, just knowing is important. And you know, there is a lingering thought, did it come from a laboratory? Did it come from nature? And if it came from the laboratory, was this nefarious?

Were people trying to create bio warfare virus? Which would have been silly, of course. Nobody uses COVID for a bio warfare weapon because it will not only spread to your opposition but back among your own people. So, that's not a good idea.

But could it have been a laboratory accident? We'd like to know. Or did it come from nature, which is my personal inclination. But it's still an open question.

BROWN: So the absence of more evidence to help us understand where it came from, people are speculating, right? And some people have informed speculation, like Congressman McCaul. Presumably, he has certain information that perhaps we haven't seen. He's the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

He told my colleague Jake Tapper he believes COVID came from a lab. Let's listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R-TX): I do think it is more likely than not it emerged out of the lab, most likely accidentally for several reasons, for several reasons. This is the worst cover-up in human history that we've seen resulting in 3.5 million deaths, creating economic devastation around the globe.


BROWN: He's insinuating it was a cover-up, we don't know that. But the former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb believes it may never be determined. However, he said viruses escape from labs, quote, all the time.

So given that, why has the lab theory been treated by so many doctors as this fringe theory if it's happened all the time as the former FDA commissioner says?

SCHAFFNER: Well, I think the fringe part was the bioterrorism part, that it could come from a laboratory by accident is a quite reasonable idea. I think it came from nature.

Why? Because two coronaviruses have done that before, SARS and MERS, and then there are a lot of other viruses that have gone from the animal world to humans, HIV, influenza. We also have had Ebola do that and Zika, and West Nile Virus. So, there's a whole list of them.

So, I'm inclined to nature, but it is an open question and I wish the Chinese were more transparent so we could finally put this discussion to rest.

BROWN: All right. Dr. William Schaffner, thank you so much.

SCHAFFNER: Thank you.

BROWN: Texas Democrats staged a late night walkout over a bill they say is inspired by Trump's election lies. Did it work?

Plus, a manhunt happening right now after another mass shooting. This time three suspects are on the run.



BROWN: Talk about a plot twist. In our politics lead, Republicans had the votes and then were minutes away from passing a slew of new voting restrictions in Texas overnight when Democrats did the last thing they could think of. They walked out of the state's capitol building.

Republicans were left without the minimum number of lawmakers required for a vote, and they missed the midnight deadline, which ended this year's legislative session.

CNN's Sara Murray joins me live.

So, Sara, this bill may be dead for now, but Republicans are already planning to bring it back.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, dead for now is a good way to put it, even as Democrats were sort of rejoicing last night that they managed to kick this down the road. Texas Governor Greg Abbott who is a Republican has already tweeted and said, you know, I'm going call for a special session and I am going to put this on the agenda for lawmakers to deal with. He made clears this is a top priority for him.

Now, we're hearing Democrats react to this today. I think they're sort of hoping that maybe the governor might come around to their way of thinking. Here's one perhaps optimistic Texas Democrat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Republican leader in this country is going to have to say, you know what? Enough is enough. This is nonsense. This is based on a lie.

Maybe Governor Abbott will reach that realization here in Texas, but if he doesn't and he calls a special session, we're going to fight him every step of the way.


MURRAY: Now, it's very unlikely the Texas governor is going to come around to where Democrats are. we do expect some version of this bill would be revive when Abbott announces when this special session would be, which he has not done that yet.

Just a reminder, the bill that they managed to kill for now, this is one that would have done away with drive-through voting, done way with 24-hour voting, gotten rid of the Sunday voting before 1:00 p.m., so a direct hit to the souls to the polls events. Those would have made it easier to potentially overturn elections. These are, of course, big areas of alarm for Democrats and voting rights advocates. So, we will wait to see what the Texas governor's next move is, Pam.

BROWN: We certainly will.

All right. Sara Murray, thanks for the latest on that.

Let's discuss. Ana Navarro, Congressman Dent, great to see you both. Let's jump right into it.

Congressman, Texas House Republican said Democrats, quote, chose to vacate their constitutional responsibility and leave millions of Texans without resolutions on key issues. Democrats clearly disagree.

Where do you stand? Who's right?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, certainly Democrats did abandon the field, have taken on sort of a filibuster. But I understand why they did.

The Texas Republicans are currently overreacting to the 2020 election. The election was not stolen, we all know that, but at the same time, I think Republicans across the country should acknowledge that they had a very good 2020 election year, other than Donald Trump. They all -- so many of them won, they exceeded expectations with rules as they were.


It's not -- it's not the method of voting that drives turnout, it's energy, enthusiasm and anger. So, I think really they're quite misguided, Texas Republicans, for going down this road of trying to -- of trying to restrict voter access when in fact they did pretty well under the existing rules. It makes no sense. They're simply just trying to placate one man down in Florida who lost an election because of his conduct in office and his mishandling of the coronavirus.

BROWN: And, of course, voting rights activists say that this will disproportionately impact minorities. But there is this question of whether it will also galvanize Democrats, Ana. Texas Democratic Congresswoman Jessica Gonzales called this bill, a, quote, witch hunt that was driven at people of color.

The law would ban the after hours and drive through options that voting rights advocates helped those black and Latino voters cast ballots, would bar voting before 1:00 p.m. on Sundays, effectively limiting polls to the events which are popular at black churches.

So, how much do you think race factors in?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it is both things that you posed in the initial question. Will it affect minority voters disproportionately? Yes. Resoundingly, yes. Could it have backlash of galvanizing those voters? Yes.

Look, we saw in 2020 that there were a ton of shenanigans with the U.S. Postal Service and the result of that was that an enormous amount of Democrats, including minority voters, came out to vote -- came out to vote early, came to drop boxes, dropped ballots off at drop boxes and by mail.

Charlie will remember when absentee balloting was a huge field advantage for Republicans. My husband was head of the Republican Party of Florida when Jeb Bush was governor. They had a huge advantage, but it wasn't because they were trying to limit people from voting. It was because they were trying to get more people to vote and earn the vote of more people, which is something completely different.

Look, I think that today is Memorial Day and we should remember what Memorial Day is. So, for all these people having a cow over a tweet from Kamala Harris, Memorial Day is about men and women that laid down their lives so as to preserve our peace and democracy. And there's nothing more important to our democracy than the right to vote. So, shame on all those who are trying to suppress that.

BROWN: Congressman, last night, I interviewed former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh who expressed some real concerns about where the Republican Party is right now. Here's what he said.


JOE WALSH (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I'm a lifelong Republican. I left the party a year ago because it has become an authoritarian embracing cult. It is fascist. I mean, my God, look where we are now, Pam.


BROWN: So, what do you think? Do you agree, Congressman?

DENT: What I would say is that there are illiberal, populist elements with the party, and others that, you know, very much subscribe to these conspiracy theories like Marjorie Taylor Greenes.

So, the party is in a bad place. I would certainly agree on that point, and it's right -- really, it's up to many of us who are Republicans and unhappy with direction of the party to fight back and to make sure we stand by the Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzingers.

What's alarming to me is that, you know, we seem to be -- or at least some leadership in the party are marginalizing those rationale voices like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, standing aside the Matt Gaetzes and Marjorie Taylor Greenes.

This is a big change and this has to stop. Until the party comes to grips with these elements, we want to grow the party, and the idea was to grow the party toward the center, not towards the fringes. And by embracing or at least by standing beside these fringes and not cracking down on them as they should in the leadership, they're simply empowering these folks.

And there's been too much silence by too many in the party who have stood by and watched these extreme elements get a foothold in the party.

BROWN: Right.

DENT: Donald Trump eggs them on. And that's the problem. You need more people speaking up. We need critical mass of leaders in Congress. They know better. They're alarmed by it. They need to say it publicly and fight back.

BROWN: And you have the big lie still pushed, Ana -- Ana, rather, by President Trump and his supporters in alarming ways. Look at yesterday. President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn appeared to suggest there should be a Myanmar style coup in the United States because he claims falsely Trump won the election. This is just a talking point pushed by QAnon.

I mean, what is your concern when you hear rhetoric like that coming from the former national security adviser? Could this lead to more violence? NAVARRO: Honestly, I think Michael Flynn is a clown, willing to say

and do anything, and was out there out of control because I got that pardon from Donald Trump.


I don't think anything he says should be taken seriously. He's no longer national security adviser. He's just some clown saying whatever comes through his mind.

Look, I don't think, people talk about the big lie as being the catalyst for these voting change laws, suppression laws around the country. I think it's the big truth that made it so. It is the big truth motivating these changes. It is the truth that Donald Trump lost.

If Donald Trump won with the current voting registration bills and the current voting laws, why would they want to change them? So nothing tells you more that Donald Trump lost, that the Senate seats were legitimately in Georgia than the fact they want to change the playing field (AUDIO GAP) vote.

BROWN: Even though so many Republicans won on the same ballots that Donald Trump lost.

All right. Charlie Dent, Ana Navarro, thank you both so much for coming on this Memorial Day weekend.

NAVARRO: (INAUDIBLE) better pronunciation.

BROWN: I'm struggling today. Ana Navarro, got it, done and done.



BROWN: All right. Thank you both. Appreciate it.

It's a mayor's race as salty as the city they want to run. Who will lead the Big Apple in the come back from COVID?



BROWN: In our politics lead, on this Memorial Day, President Biden paid his respects at Arlington National Cemetery in a passionate and personal speech. As the week shifts from reflection to pushing the infrastructure agenda forward, CNN senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly reports, time is running out for Biden to compromise on his landmark legislation.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember their sacrifice, their valor and their grace. PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For

President Biden, a deeply personal day of remembrance. Memorial Day, always a heavy moment for any commander in chief, particularly poignant for a president clinging tightly to the memory of his son.

BIDEN: I always feel Beau close to me on Memorial Day.

MATTINGLY: An Iraq War veteran who died of brain cancer six years ago.

BIDEN: Yesterday marked the anniversary of his death and it's a hard time, hard time of year for me and our family, just like it is for so many of you. And can hurt to remember, but the hurt is how we feel and how we heal.

MATTINGLY: Reflecting on true sacrifice, Biden drew attention to all of those who gave everything for their country.

BIDEN: Our freedom and a freedom of innumerable others has been secured by young men and women who answered the call of history and gave everything in the service of an idea, the idea of America.

MATTINGLY: Using it to underscore his long-held view of the stakes of this moment.

BIDEN: Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world. What we do now, what we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen will determine whether or not democracy will long endure.

MATTINGLY: And the responsibility that requires from all Americans.

BIDEN: Demonstration thrives when the infrastructure of democracy is strong.

MATTINGLY: Turning from the infrastructure of democracy to the infrastructure of the country itself in a crucial week, and a tough road ahead for Biden's investment plan.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Just a week from tomorrow we need a clear direction.

MATTINGLY: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg setting a clear deadline with Republicans as ongoing negotiations inch forward, telling Jake Tapper --

BUTTIGIEG: The president keeps saying inaction is not an option and time is not unlimited here.

MATTINGLY: Negotiations to this point still leave two sides far apart, including on top line costs with the White House sitting at $1.7 trillion, and Republicans at $928 billion. But only a fraction of that representing new spending.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the lead GOP negotiator, set to speak with Biden this week, expressing optimism for a potential outcome and trust in Biden's intentions. SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): I think we're building blocks

towards a really good, solid infrastructure package that has bipartisan support.


MATTINGLY (on camera): (AUDIO GAP) leave those talks with a deal too soon. Moderate Democrats may not join them in any unilateral effort. Stay on them too long, perhaps the window closes on the opportunity for the rest of their agenda. It's something they're going to try and lock this week obviously. The clock is ticking -- Pamela.

BROWN: It certainly is. Thanks so much, Phil Mattingly, live for us from the White House.

Meantime, it's crunch time in the Big Apple, and the race for mayor of New York City is on. A diverse field spans from a former presidential candidate to a former Wall Street executive to a blue collar police reform advocate.

CNN's Athena Jones looks into the combative race that's tightening in its final days.


ANDREW YANG (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I would be the people's mayor.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's crunch time in New York City's mayoral race.

ERIC ADAMS, NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: My entire life has prepared me for the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be able to make things better for all of us.


JONES (voice-over): The top eight candidates hitting the streets, vying for the Democratic nomination one handshake at a time.

In deep blue New York, the winner of the primary is heavily favored to win in the fall. The next mayor will face overlapping challenges in a pandemic-ravaged city, like a high unemployment rate, over 11 percent in April, and rising crime.

With just over three weeks to primary day, it's the more moderate contenders who are the perceived front-runners in what "The New York Times" calls the most consequential election in a generation.


JONES (voice-over): A businessman running on hope and optimism, Andrew Yang benefits from name recognition after months on the national stage as a 2020 presidential candidate and argues that, as a newcomer to city politics, he can shake things up.

JONES: What do you say to critics who say you lack enough knowledge about how the city works?

YANG: If we just take the same people who've been rattling around the bureaucracy for years and years, that things aren't going to change in the way that most New Yorkers both want and deserve.

JONES (voice-over): Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has held elected office in the city for years.

ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: The next mayor must be someone who has gone through a lot to help people who are going through a lot.

JONES (voice-over): A former New York police officer who was beaten by police as a teen, Adams joined the force to fight police brutality from the inside. A one-time Republican, Adams has focused much of his campaign on public safety and the economy.

ADAMS: We have to get our businesses back up and operated. New York used to be the Empire State. Now we're too bureaucratic, too expensive.

GARCIA: Thank you, everyone.

JONES (voice-over): Kathryn Garcia touts her long resume in public service, most recently running the city's massive sanitation department. She got a boost after being endorsed by the editorial boards of "The New York Times" and "The New York Daily News."

GARCIA: And we feel a lot of momentum.

JONES (voice-over): A Garcia win...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm voting for you.

JONES (voice-over): ... would make history.

JONES: If you were to be the first woman to be elected to lead New York after hundreds of years, what do you bring to the table there as a woman?

GARCIA: And isn't it shocking that 50 percent of the population has never had an opportunity to sit in that chair, to bring our lived experience?

JONES (voice-over): On the left, a battle for the progressive vote shows no signs of consolidating.

MAYA WILEY (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Hello, sir. I'm Maya Wiley. I'm running from mayor.

JONES (voice-over): With civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley, nonprofit executive and former public school teacher Dianne Morales, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, a veteran of New York politics, each aiming to come out on top.

SCOTT STRINGER, (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Ready on day one, someone who has a progressive vision, but has the skills to bring our city back from our greatest challenge.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to start with Shaun. Come on up.


JONES (voice-over): Shaun Donovan, a housing secretary in President Obama's Cabinet, and Ray McGuire, a former Citigroup executive...

RAY MCGUIRE (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: How are you doing? I'm Ray McGuire running for mayor.

JONES (voice-over): ... round out the crowded field hoping to lead a comeback for the nation's largest city.


JONES (on camera): And for the first time, New York City will be using ranked choice voting, where voters can rank their top five candidates. It's a new system that allows for an instant run-off until one candidate gets above 50 percent.

But it makes predicting the winner a challenge. And with just over three weeks to go, this is still anybody's race to win -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right, thanks so much, Athena Jones, live for us in New York.

Well, here's a question for you: Are you still perfectly happy with your days of Netflix, Zoom and no-contact delivery? You're not as alone as you think.

What to do if you or someone you love has reentry anxiety. We're going to talk about that up next.



BROWN: Turning to our health lead now.

As life begins to return to normal, the U.S. surgeon general is warning we must address the epidemic of loneliness and the toll that it takes on mental health.

With some advice on dealing with this sometimes unexpected challenges of returning to our pre-pandemic lives is Andrea Bonior, a professor of psychology at Georgetown University and author of the book "Detox Your Thoughts."

Great to have you on. So, here's the big question as we are reemerging back into -- quote,

unquote -- "normalcy" after the pandemic. Why is it that so many people are not getting the kind of relief that they maybe anticipated at this stage?

ANDREA BONIOR, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Yes, I think we looked forward to it for so long, this idea that we will finally be able to get to do the things that we have missed.

And what I'm seeing is a lot of people aren't giving them space -- themselves space to pace themselves. They're kind of burnt out after all this time. And they're pushing themselves. I'm supposed to feel happy. I'm supposed to do all these things I have been waiting for.

And, in reality, it's kind of exhausting. Their systems really aren't up for it yet, because we have kind of grown used to have the life that we had. And I think people really need to be compassionate with themselves that this is going to be a process.

It's not a switch that flips and then we're back to normal. And you might feel a little bit more anxiety now than you did even a while ago, because everything feels new and different and strange. And we need some time to recover and transition.

BROWN: It's so hard too, because, with social media, people look at other pictures and videos others are posting and think, gosh, they seem so happy now in this post-pandemic life. Why am I not feeling this way?

But you had mentioned to me in the break that you're seeing more patients that have anxiety now than just a few months ago. And in large part, it's because of this -- the fact that we have been fight and flight -- or flight mode for so long, and now it's just trying to get back out there is hard.

BONIOR: Exactly.

I think we really can't overestimate the toll that chronic stress took. I mean, for easily a year, we were in this low version of fight or flight every day, all these threats we had to deal with that we never had to deal with before. Am I safe? Is my family safe? Can I go to the grocery store safely?


And we don't come off of that easily. You don't have a sustained stress response for a year and then suddenly, oh, let's go to a restaurant, I feel great, right?

And I think that pressure of social media is making people feel like they're supposed to be enjoying all these things. And, in reality, it really takes longer than that. We just can't flip the switch. And we need to really be patient with ourselves.

BROWN: So, what are the lasting impacts on mental health from the pandemic? And what should people be looking out for, for themselves and their loved ones?

BONIOR: Yes, I'm really concerned, because some trends even before the pandemic were really concerning, increased substance use, increased substance abuse also, increased suicidality and self-harm, depression and anxiety.

The numbers were moving in a poor direction before the pandemic. The pandemic basically has exacerbated that. And we know that it's exacerbated that in certain communities that have been hard-hit by poverty and economic downturns, also in young people.

So we really need to be thinking about how schools and community mental health centers can be doing more outreach to look for the warning signs of depression and isolation, because that's really been exacerbated by this long time that we have had.

BROWN: And we talk about social media. It's also been a tool, a good outlet for some high-profile people, like tennis star Naomi Osaka.

She has withdrawn from the French Open for mental health reasons. She said she has suffered from depression since 2018. For people who are struggling now more than ever with their mental health, what are some tips, some more tips to cope as we try to reemerge?


First of all, know that you're not alone and that there is help out there that really is shown to be beneficial.

I think we need to destigmatize it. Look at yourself and think about how you take care of your physical health. Why can't you do that and make the call for your mental health? You are not alone. And start by thinking about how you can talk to maybe one person about this, maybe a friend or family member, be honest with them, be vulnerable, because they might be able to help you get in and see somebody.

The help is there for a reason. And even though it's hard right now to even admit that, it's so important that we do so.

BROWN: It so is to just confront it and get the help you need.

Andrea Bonior, thank you so much.

BONIOR: Thank you for having me.

BROWN: And if you or someone who you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention hot line at 800- 273-8255.

With senseless racist attacks on the rise, some Asian American communities are now taking matters into their own hands -- that story up next.


[16:46:46] PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: In our national lead, turning pain and anger into action. With hate crimes against Asian Americans on the rise, some communities are finding novel ways to stay safe.

And as CNN's Dan Simon reports, they are taking their protection into their own hands.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is one of the oldest Chinatowns in North America, a distinctive hub in the heart of Oakland.

Recent attacks on businesses and pedestrians have caused foot traffic to wane, business owners say, with many stores shutting down early since the pandemic began, and racist, verbal and physical assaults on Asian Americans grew.

DAVID WON, VOLUNTEER, OAKLAND CHINATOWN FOOT PATROL: This is disappointing. You know, this is our country. This is where we grew up.

SIMON: So, 59-year-old, an Oakland native, financial services professional, decided to do something to protect members of his own community, becoming part of a group to help restore a sense of safety along the iconic blocks.

WON: We want to make shoppers in the area feel safe and business owners feel safe also.

SIMON: This all-volunteer foot patrol fans out across the neighborhood seven days a week.

WON: Probably Two-thirds of the walkers are ladies in their 60s and early 70s. Probably the average age is 65 to 68 years old. We tried to show a presence, try to make sure that individuals out there don't try to commit any crimes.

SIMON: One study using police data from 16 of the nation's largest cities and counties shows reports of anti-Asian hate crimes up 164 percent from the same time last year.

The surge could be even greater because hate crimes against Asians are often underreported. Similar foot patrols have expanded to other cities including Seattle and New York.

In Oakland, there are four different groups conducting patrols.

WON: At least on every patrol, there are people that say thank you for coming down. We wouldn't be down here without you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, it's very good, patrol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most clients feel safer to come in Chinatown and come for haircut or something.

WON: Business owners say in the few months since the foot patrol started in February, they've had measurable impact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You call and they come to help. So, the customers feel more safe. The business is coming back.


SIMON (on camera): And the group wants to make it clear they're not a replacement for police. Their aim is to prevent crimes taking place. And when something does happen, to speed up response time. You talk to the folks here, they seem to welcome the additional presence -- Pam.

BROWN: All right. Dan Simon, thanks for bringing us the latest there out of California.

Well, some fly business class, some fly with no class. Why some airlines are forced to cut off booze again as Americans pack airports.



BROWN: In our national lead today on this Memorial Day, President Biden and Vice President Harris paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

But not everyone can honor the fallen in person. Last year, D.C. resident Emily Domenech tweeted an offer to visit graveside at Arlington National Cemetery on behalf of friends and family who couldn't travel due to the pandemic.

Well, she expected a few to reach out. She ended up visiting 60 headstones.


And this year, she has helped. Ryan Manion and her foundation teamed up with Emily to create the Honor Project.

And Ryan Manion joins us now. She's a Gold Star sister and president of the Travis Manion Foundation, which empowers veterans and families of fallen veterans to develop character and future generations.

Thank you so much for joining us. And I'm so sorry about the loss of your brother.

RYAN MANION, PRESIDENT, TRAVIS MANION FOUNDATION: Thank you. Thanks for having me today.

BROWN: But you obviously used his legacy in such a powerful way. He lives on in your foundation, Ryan, Travis was killed in Iraq in 2007 while saving the lives of his fellow marines. Before his final deployment, he said, quote: If not me, then who.

That just gives me chills. How has that mantra defined your purpose?

MANION: Really for us as a family after Travis was killed, took the five words he spoke before leaving for deployment to Iraq and used them to fuel us, to continue his legacy. It is important for us as Americans to understand the service and sacrifice of these men and women that have given their all. So, we committed that day his life was lost to make sure his legacy and legacy of all these men and women continued on.

BROWN: And you were doing that every day, not just on Memorial Day, it's every day. The Honor Project co-founded by Travis Manion Foundation recruited 300 volunteers this year.

How many veterans have you honored through the project so far, Ryan?

MANION: So, I actually got in my car from Arlington Cemetery and drove here to the studio where we had paid visits to over 4,000 grave sites.

BROWN: Amazing.

MANION: We had 300 volunteers through the weekend that stopped by, paid respects to 4,000 men and women who have given their lives in service.

BROWN: That is incredible.

In 2016, you told me colleague Jake Tapper that your mission was to empower people to be servant leaders in their own backyard. How has that mission evolved during the pandemic?

MANION: Gosh, I feel like that's still what I say and it's true. You know, for us, we can look no further than men and women that serve and sacrifice for inspiration how we can live our lives. And this last year has been so tough with the pandemic, with being isolated.

So, we wanted to make sure we were giving people the opportunity to go out and serve. Memorial Day was approaching, we wanted to know how can they get out there, honor the sacrifice? So, we put out the call. And to say we had 300 volunteers, we cut it off at 300 volunteers, we would have had thousands.

BROWN: Wow, really?

MANION: We didn't have the manpower to facilitate it this year. So, the hope is next year we can continue the initiative, grow it to veteran cemeteries across the country. And the goal is that in years to come, thousands and thousands of individuals can come out over Memorial Day and pay honor to the sacrifice of the fallen.

BROWN: Actually -- a friend of mine died in Iraq, his sister told today that his old buddy who served with back in 2005 traveled miles and miles and miles just to visit the gravesite. And it really can make a difference. It makes a difference to that, to pay the respects and also shows just the incredible bond that these service members had together.

You remind us, it's important to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. On this day, is there anything viewers can do to support the Travis Manion Foundation? MANION: I think beyond just supporting the Travis Manion Foundation,

what I want all Americans to know is that this weekend is a weekend where the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom, they want us to enjoy it. They want us to enjoy freedoms that we have.

But don't leave this weekend without taking a few minutes to honor sacrifices. To learn a story and share it with others, because Gold Star families want nothing more than to know that their loved one service is not forgotten.

BROWN: Is there anything else you want to add this Memorial Day as we wrap this segment that people should know and think about, maybe they didn't understand about military members and their service? And for the families, too, what they go through.

MANION: Yeah, I spent all morning at Arlington National Cemetery this morning. And the strength of our families of the fallen is something that should not go unnoticed.

These men and women have given their husbands, their wives, their children in service to the country, in service to this country, and they go on to lead with strength and honor and dignity. And I feel so blessed to be part of a community of people that are so incredibly strong. It was a beautiful morning spending it there with these men and women at Arlington.

BROWN: And that was beautifully said, that the families are such an inspiration. You are an inspiration, Ryan. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much. President of the Travis Manion Foundation. Ryan Manion, we really appreciate you spending time with us on this Memorial Day.

MANION: Thank you so much.

BROWN: And I'm Pamela Brown in for Jake Tapper for a special edition of THE LEAD.

Our coverage continues now with "THE SITUATION ROOM".