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Migrants Flown to Sacramento; Oklahoma Approves Religious Charter School; Family Calls for Arrest after Florida Mother Killed; Protesters Try to Stop Pension Overhaul; Samuel Schwartz is Interviewed about a Sit-in at the Capitol. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 06, 2023 - 09:30   ET



SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: See the fast-moving river there gushing from that breach. Ukraine is blaming Russia for the attack. The Kremlin denying those allegations.

Ukraine's energy ministry said, however, the explosion at the dam, which is also home to a hydroelectric power plant, actually poses no threat to the stability of the country's electricity supply.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Sara, this morning, nearly a month after Title 42 was lifted, the number of encounters at the border, it remains low. U.S. Border Patrol reports around 3,400 daily encounters. That is a dramatic drop from the 10,000 encounters they were seeing days before the policy ended on May 11th.

Now, as this is happening, authorities in California are investigating a second plane that arrived in Sacramento bringing migrants. Investigators say they were carrying Florida-based documents. This comes three days after a first group was flown to the city.

CNN's Isabel Rosales joins us now.

And, Isabel, I say carrying Florida-based documents. That gets to the issue of who paid for this plane, how did these migrants get sent there, correct?

ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is correct, John. Good morning to you.

That's the big question that the attorney general's office is working to figure out, who exactly paid for these planes and whether these migrants were, frankly, tricked into getting on these flights and being relocated over to Sacramento. I spoke with the attorney general's office about this second flight of 20 migrants dropped off in Sacramento and received quite a few new details. But one thing that was echoed is that these migrants carried paperwork with them pointing to Vertol Systems Company Inc. That is the same aviation company involved with the first flight on Friday that dropped off those migrants in Sacramento. Also these documents that these migrants had showed that Vertol was

contracted by the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The attorney general's office says that these individuals approached the migrants speaking in, quote, broken Spanish and told that in order to go to Sacramento they would have to sign these forms. But not all of these migrants understood where they were going or even sign the forms.

The attorney general, Rob Bonta, has said that these migrants were not fully informed and that it was not consensual. This relocation was not fully consensual.

Notably here, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, neither him nor his Florida Division of Emergency Management have commented on these flights.

California and Sacramento officials have said that they are not aware of any plans for further additional flights, but the mayor of Sacramento saying that it's a reasonable expectation that these flights will continue, saying his city is prepared.



MAYOR DARRELL STEINBERG (D), SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA: I'm not a criminal lawyer, but, you know, if you do lure people under false pretenses to -- and fly them to another state across state lines, I don't know what that is, whether it's kidnapping, whether it's some other crime, but it certainly ought to be fully investigated. And whoever is responsible ought to be held accountable for this.


ROSALES: And Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has been firing shots at Governor Ron DeSantis over Twitter, calling him, quote, a small, pathetic man. Also linking a California penal code indicating that if a migrant is relocated by force or fraud, they could be found liable of kidnapping.


BERMAN: Isabel, we can expect more developments to come.

Isabel Rosales, thank you so much for your reporting.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning officials in Oklahoma signed off on the nation's first religious charter school. It would be an online school run by the catholic archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the diocese of Tulsa, and would be funded by taxpayer dollars, sparking a new debate over the separation of church and state.

CNN's Ed Lavandera, he's following this for us. He joins us now.

Ed, how did this decision come about?


Well, this could be a landmark move in Oklahoma. But an obscure government agency known as the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board met for three hours yesterday. And the five-member board voted 3-2 to approve the application of St. Isadore of Seville Virtual Catholic Charter School, which would be run by the archdiocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa. We are told by officials that this school is permitted to open in fall of 2024 with an initial enrollment of about 500 students. But this is a government agency that runs -- oversees about a half dozen virtual charter schools in the state. In the entire state of Oklahoma there are about two dozen charter schools. But this is a monumental decision.

BOLDUAN: What has been the reaction to this? Obviously, it's renewing a debate and raising a lot of questions about public funds.


LAVANDERA: And you can imagine this has really kind of sparked some intense passion and reaction to what has happened. The governor of Oklahoma described it as a win for religious liberty and educational freedom. It also has the support of the Oklahoma state superintendent of education who called it a monumental decision. But that puts them at odds with the Republican attorney general in the state who goes on to say that approval of any publicly funded religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and the interest of taxpayers in the state. It is extremely disappointing that the board violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with tax dollars.

And an advocacy group called Americans United for Separation of Church and State also called this a sea change for American democracy.

So, Kate, this is clearly headed for the courts and probably the fate of this school could very well rest at the U.S. Supreme Court.


BOLDUAN: So interesting. All right. Great to see you, Ed. Thank you for that.


SIDNER: A Florida mother of four is dead, her family grieving after she was shot by another mother who was her neighbor. Ajike "AJ" Owens was shot and killed after an altercation involving both mothers' children. Now there are growing calls for that neighbor to be arrested.

CNN's Carlos Suarez is joining us now.

Carlos, there are stand your ground laws in Florida. Is that one of the reasons why an arrest hasn't been made now?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, Sara. So, the sheriff's office is trying to figure out whether this shooting was in self-defense. But that's an argument that the victim's family says is just not possible.

Thirty-five-year-old AJ Owens was killed on Friday north of Orlando in Ocala, Florida. Authorities said that Owens knocked on the door of a neighbor who minutes earlier had an issue with Owens' children that were playing outside. Now, the victim's family said that the woman had previous harassed the children, calling them racial slurs and the "n" word. Owens' mother said her daughter just wanted to know why the woman kept an iPad that the children left behind and why she threw a pair of skates at them.

Here's more of what that victim's mother said.


PAMELA DIAS, MOTHER OF AJ OWENS: She knocked on Susan's door. A closed, locked door. The door never opened. My daughter, my grandchildren's mother, was shot and killed with her nine-year-old son standing next to her. She had no weapon. She posed no imminent threat to anyone.


SUAREZ: So, the sheriff of Marion County says that authorities haven't made an arrest yet because of Florida's stand your ground law. Essentially, they first have to rule whether this deadly force was justified before they can even make an arrest. Authorities said they're still interviewing other neighbors as well as Owens' nine- year-old son, who was standing next to his mother when she was shot through that door.

Again, the sheriff said that these neighbors, they did have some issues. Deputies have been called to their homes in the last -- since about 2021 we're told they've been called there anywhere between six to eight times. The name of the shooter here has not been released by authorities just yet.


SIDNER: Yes, the family and their attorney certainly concerned that race also is playing a role here.

Carlos Suarez, thank you so much for that reporting.


BERMAN: Protesters flood the streets in Paris. The latest on a developing situation on the ground.

The government reports a deluge of complaints about spam texts. On an annoying scale of one to ten, they're somewhere around a 17. And there is a new warning about the consequences.



SIDNER: Tehran showing off what it claims is its first hypersonic ballistic missile built inside Iran. According to Iranian state media, the missile is named Fattah, or Conqueror, and has a range of up to 870 miles and can travel at 15 times the speed of sound. Iran also claims the missile can target and bypass defense systems. Talks between Iran and western powers on Iran's nuclear activities remain stalled.

In Haiti at least 42 people have died after heavy rains caused rivers to overflow and sparked flash floods and landslides. The flooding has injured dozens of people. Thousands of homes along with schools and medical facilities are damaged. More than 13,000 people have been displaced by the high water. Haiti says emergency teams and aid organizations have been mobilized to help.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to Saudi Arabia today where he is expected to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Officials say they will discuss a wide range of issues, including economic and security cooperation. U.S./Saudi relations have been strained since journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Turkey back in 2018.


BOLDUAN: Now people in France are taking to the streets once again. These are live pictures. You can see protesters and police kind of at a standstill right now. But take a look over here. Protesters stormed the headquarters of the 2024 Paris Olympics, already demanding the repeal of the country's pension reform law. Hundreds of thousands are expected to join demonstrations today in what one union leader says will likely be one of the last protests in this very long, drawn out fight.


French President Emmanuel Macron, he signed the reform bill in April raising the retirement and pension age from 62 to 64 years old. The protesters are now hoping to get parliament to repeal the law.

CNN's Melissa Bell is in Paris for us this morning amidst it all.

What are you seeing and hearing as the protests kick back up again today, Melissa?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, definitely, Kate, compared to previous protests fewer people on the street. And this was expected. Authorities said they expected about 600,000. The strikes are not as big as they have been these last few weeks as well. And as you said, this could be one of the last major protests, certainly where you'll see the eight main unions in France united because, of course, even if there is that debate now, on Thursday the government is using another parliamentary procedure. We now know this will become law in September.

Still, people have turned out. We've seen a couple of bursts of tear gas. But for the time being it's been relatively mild mannered. And really these people out here today to show that they remain angry. The idea is that the French will head off for their summer break and by September Emmanuel Macron's even more ambitious reforms will be on the table. Very much the message of the last few weeks has been that even if this particular reform has gone through, it has cost him, Kate, so much political capital. And these scenes that have repeated themselves week after week should, think the protesters, send a strong signal that future reforms for the rest of his four-year term should prove remarkably difficult.

But certainly for the time being, a turnout that is down on previous days. Still authorities have come out in force expecting trouble, expecting protesters to turn violent. And that's what we're keeping an eye on here today, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. As we've seen many times as we've come to you, Melissa, it can change very quickly. So we'll stick close. Thank you so much.


BERMAN: A police chase ends with a surprise. A 10-year-old boy behind the wheel. What police say he told them about why he stole the car.

And survivors of gun violence holding a sit-in at the U.S. Capitol demanding action on guns.



BOLDUAN: Happening right now, survivors of gun violence from across the country are coming together in Washington to urge Congress to take action. They're holding a week-long sit-in outside the U.S. Capitol building, an effort to demand lawmakers hold a vote on a federal assault weapons ban.

Joining us right now is one of those people, one of the organizers of all of this, Sam Schwartz. He's the organizer of the sit-in. His cousin, Alex SCHACHTER, he was killed among - among those who were killed in the Parkland school shooting back in 2018.

Sam, thank you so much. I see everyone's - I see people there with you. You're kind of getting this all underway. I wanted to ask you what you were hoping to accomplish with this sit-in because I've been following your tweets as leading up to this and you've said you've held countless meetings with lawmakers. What do you think you will be able to accomplish with this that you haven't been able to accomplished with those meetings?

SAMUEL SCHWARTZ, COUSIN ALEX SCHACHTER KILLED IN PARKLAND SHOOTING: Yes. So, for me personally, I've been doing this for five years, fighting for an assault weapons ban ever since Parkland in 2018. And behind me are numerous families of victims of mass shootings, from Highland Park, Parkland, Sandy Hook, Buffalo. And we are here collectively to stand together in unity all of these mass shooting survivors and families coming together to demand that Congress takes action because our lobbying, our calls, our meetings, it's not working. Congress is not hearing our voice. They're not doing enough. They're not listening to the families of these people whose bodies are being destroyed by assault weapons. And it's shameful.

So, we are hoping that Leader Schumer listens to us and puts the assault weapons ban on the Senate floor for a vote immediately. It's long past time something - that something has happened and - and we are here to show that we're not going to leave until our voices are heard and that we are listened to as a community.

BOLDUAN: Sam, there's been resistance to a federal ban on assault weapons for years. You have - and now, as you well know, you now have divided government and you have a presidential election cycle that is heating up at the very same time. You add all that together, the environment politically is very tough you would think for big movement when you're talking about banning assault weapons or real gun legislation. Why now, Sam? Why do this now?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I mean, why ever? I mean every single shooting we all feel like something needs to be done. And we can't keep waiting for a re-election. There will always be a re-election. There will always be a presidential election coming up.

Our - people who are opposed to this are saying, respect the Second Amendment and, you know, we do respect the Second Amendment. We are not crazy liberals trying to grab your gun. We are just trying to save our family members, our parents, our children, our community members, and - and we have all - you know, none of us sitting - sitting here have thought that gun violence and a mass shooting would affect our communities. Some -- some communities, very affluent (ph), have been just torn apart by senseless, preventable mass shootings.

So, why -- why ever? You know, like, this is the perfect time to do it. We're right off Nashville, right off the Allen, Texas, shooting. There will be more if Congress doesn't act. And it's shameful that they haven't done so already. After every shooting we hear on Twitter that lawmakers and citizens call for action, but there's no action taken.

So, that's why I decided to lead this. And that's why all these people are here with me. We are here to make sure that something happens and that our voices are heard, because it's not good enough to go on Twitter and say, oh, we need action and oh we need this and we need to ban assault - like, we're here to demand that it's actually done because saying it in enough platitudes are not enough and after every mass shootings there's -- the country is feeling like we need to doing something and here's our chance to do something. I would love for everyone watching this to come out the join us. We can stand united and demand that Congress hears our call to action and listens to our voices as a country.

BOLDUAN: I hear your frustration, I know our viewers can, and your passion for this.

[09:55:01] A leader in the - in the effort towards more gun regulation, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, he was actually on CNN just today kind of marking that it's been about one year since Congress passed a bipartisan gun legislation. I want to play for you what he said about where he thinks the momentum is right now.

Listen to this, Sam.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (R-CT): I believe that we have now broken the back of the gun lobby. The movement is getting stronger. We have more Republicans that are willing to support anti-gun violence measures. I think the next five years are going to be a moment of pretty consistent victory for this movement.


BOLDUAN: He is - I noted -- took from that that he's expecting optimism, that there's momentum behind the movement. Do you share that optimism?

SCHWARTZ: Absolutely. There - there, honestly, hasn't been this much momentum since Parkland, since Uvalde, which we just saw the year mark of. And we have such a momentum right now because we are - are at a crisis point in this country where gun violence and mass shootings has become an international crisis - crisis. We are fueling the fentanyl trade from Mexico. Our drugs are flooding into Mexico. There's so much that - that addressing assault weapons will address in - in other places just beyond our - even our borders.

But, you know, we have such optimism here. We're all here. We don't know what will happen, but we're very hopeful that something will. And if we get a vote, it will be a major success for this event.

So, I mean, we're all - we have to be optimistic because if we don't have hope and we're not optimistic then we have nothing because it's so - the weight is all on - on - oftentimes the weight is on our shoulders as - as survivors and as family members. So, if we don't have optimism we'll have nothing. And I definitely agree with Senator Murphy on that - on that sentiment.

BOLDUAN: Sam Schwartz, thanks - thank you for coming on, kicking off what will be a six-day sit-in there outside the Capitol.

Thank you, Sam.


SIDNER: All right, ahead, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy threatening to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt. We'll explain.

Also, gushing water forced hundreds of evacuations and threatens numerous towns after a major dam breach on the Dnipro River in Ukraine. Why Ukraine and Russia pointing the finger at each other.