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Americans Behind Bars in Iran; Iranian Protestors Face Trial Today; Authorities Following Two Motives in Florida Couple's Killing; Black Workers in Philadelphia Claim Discrimination
Aired August 01, 2009 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Trapped in Iran. Americans are behind bars in an anti-American state. This could be the beginning of an explosive international incident.
Also, in Iran, protesters, including some of the country's most prominent politicians and a foreign journalist -- on trial. They face tough sentences.
Murder motive. Not one, but two possible motives surfacing tonight in the brutal slaying of a Florida couple. Plus, new details and new evidence surface.
And whites only. Not the 1960s. But right now. Black city workers in Philadelphia claim segregation, harassment, and humiliation on the job. And as stories like this spread, we're hearing from you -- iReporters speak out on race in a very personal way, and we want you to logon. Because you're part of our deeper discussion -- just moments away here on CNN.
Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon.
It is an ominous headline. Three Americans arrested and detained inside Iran. That is the word we're getting from the hard- to-define border area between Iraq's northern Kurdistan region and Iran. The Americans reportedly strayed into Iranian territory while hiking.
Senior State Department officials say the U.S. has identified three of the detainees and their families have been notified.
For more, we turn to CNN's Arwa Damon who is monitoring all the developments for us from Baghdad.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. Department of State has asked Swiss diplomats to look into reports on Iranian TV that they have, in fact, arrested three Americans -- and if this is true, to see if they could gain counselor access. Iranian TV is reporting that the three were detained by the Iranian military along the border with northern Iraq for illegally crossing into Iran and failing to heed the border guard's warnings.
The three's journey started in Syria with a fourth companion. From Syria, they went to Turkey, and then crossed into northern Iraq, and arrived in Sulaimaniyah on Thursday. On Friday morning, three of them, one stayed behind because he was sick, traveled to an area called Ahmed Awa, right up against the Iranian border.
This is a beautiful tourist destination -- very popular for hikers and people who admire nature, alike. The three were in regular contact with their friends until 1:30 p.m. on Friday. That is when the last phone call was made, saying, "We are surrounded by the Iranian military."
Local police in Ahmed Awa did say that they warned the three, because of the close proximity, that they were in to Iran, saying, "These are tense times, you are Americans, not Iraqis."
Kurdish officials, of course, are scrambling to try to figure out exactly what happened, dispatching a patrol to the area where they say the three disappeared, and they said that they found a backpack that appears to belong to one of the Americans. The concern right now is that this could escalate to an international incident, especially given the tensions between the Iraq-Iran-America triangle.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.
LEMON: All right, Arwa, thank you very much.
And we had gotten this reaction; it's just in from the State Department into CNN. It says -- senior State Department officials say that while they have not had access to the Americans, they have no reason to doubt the reports of their detention on Iranian state TV.
Also in Iran today, more than 100 people who took part in June election protests are on trial, accused of trying to overthrow Iran's government. The defendants include a former vice president and other pro-reform political leaders. A prosecutor accuses the defendants of being tools of foreign powers. But reformists are blasting the trials, and they say defendants have been denied access to lawyers.
Sue Turton of ITN has this report for us.
SUE TURTON, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This trial is an attempt by the authorities to defuse the growing criticism in Iran of the abusive treatment of these detainees. By bringing about charges of rioting, holding illegal rallies, clashing with security forces, and acting against national security, the authorities are trying to legitimize their imprisonment.
But the general prosecutor went much further with his conspiracy theory today, stating that the foreign media played a salient role in training the rioters and provoking unrest -- and singling out Canadian "Newsweek" reporter Maziar Bahari. Mr. Bahari later appeared at a press conference where he said the media was a key element in this velvet revolution. He's not been seen by his family or a lawyer since his detention six weeks ago.
It's not known how long the trial will last. But coming just days before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to be sworn in for a second term, it will undermine the opposition movement.
LEMON: That was Sue Turton from ITN.
And make sure you stay with us. In just a few minutes, I'll discuss these trials with Karim Sadjadpour. He's a researcher and scholar with the Carnegie Endowment and he has got some insight that you won't see anywhere else. So, make sure you stay tuned to CNN. It's coming up in just a couple of minutes.
An intoxicated man, a mysterious backpack and an airport security checkpoint -- it added up to travel chaos today at New York's LaGuardia airport and the effects disrupted flights nationwide for hours. Police say the man was arrested when he approached security with a bag containing wires and batteries. The main terminal was evacuated while the bomb squad determined that the bag contained a phony device.
Tonight, CNN has learned that the suspect, 32-year-old Scott McGann, has been homeless for at least a year. He faces multiple charges and up to seven years in prison if convicted.
And we are learning some new information tonight about the murder of the couple in the Florida Panhandle just a few weeks ago. The couple -- Byrd and Melanie Billings -- were known for adopting special needs kids.
Our Susan Candiotti has been following the story and she joins us now live from New York.
Susan, what are you hearing about the possible motives, with an "S"?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, we're now hearing from a source familiar with the investigation that the state attorney there in Pensacola, Florida, now has a working theory. Under this working theory, both robbery and a contract hit are the motives involved here.
Now, what we're hearing that -- is that the suspected ringleader in this case, identified as Leonard Gonzales, Jr., who has been identified by other suspects as the sole gunman, may be the person behind the contract hit, and possibly others. And then those involved in the robbery would be those below him, other people that could be involved.
Now, for the first time at a news conference yesterday, the sheriff of Pensacola, Florida, Escambia County, acknowledged for the first time that he has had some uncorroborated information -- as he put it -- from the very start, that would lead -- as he put it -- a reasonable person to believe that this is something that the authorities should look at. But, he adds, "We're not excluding any other possibilities."
And the state attorney's office issued a statement, as well, to say on the record that robbery is still considered the prime motive but that the office is looking at all other motives, as well.
LEMON: Well, then, who would -- who would have put out this hit? Are they saying -- would it have been Gonzales, or do they even know now?
CANDIOTTI: Well, that is the big question, isn't it, that everyone wants to know. If this was a contract hit, what would be the motive? Why would the Billings' be sought after as possible victims here?
The sheriff has said repeatedly that the Billings have not been and are not under any criminal investigation.
However, through talking to a number of people and looking at records, we do know that Mr. Billings has been in the used car business for a very long time -- is known and has a reputation for being a very shrewd businessman and he did very well in this business. And that, frequently, people who wanted to start up their own used car lots would go to him for business loans, and he, in fact, would often lend people money to start up their businesses. Sometimes these people didn't pay him back, and he legally went after them, sued them to get his money back.
That's just one of many areas that the authorities are certainly looking at.
LEMON: All right, and still unfolding case. Susan Candiotti joining us from New York -- thank you very much, Susan.
The man who threatened to quote assassinate the new president of the United States has heard from a federal judge. Under a plea bargain, 21-year-old Timothy Ryan Gutierrez has been sentenced to a four years' probation with 10 months of house arrest. Gutierrez pleaded guilty back in May to making threats by e-mail. He also threatened to blow up the Mall of America outside Minneapolis. Gutierrez could have gotten 18 months in prison.
The House has adjourned for August break without taking any final action on health care reform. That means no vote until September. But they do have some health care work, homework from the president. He is urging lawmakers to keep up the momentum, encouraged by last-minute thumbs up from a key committee.
In a statement, the president says, "This historic step by the House Energy and Commerce Committee moves us closer to health insurance reform than we have ever been before. The bill that they have passed will strengthen consumer protections and choice, while lowering costs and improving care."
Meanwhile, the Senate still has a few days before leaving on summer break, and Republican leaders are standing firm against the president's plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE)
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: In this difficult recession, Americans and our government are already overextended. The Democrats who control Congress have been spending money and racking up debt at an unprecedented pace. And their plan for government-run health care would only make things worse. Once implemented, the Democrat plan would spend more than $2 trillion and further increase our exploding deficit. Their plan would pile up higher costs, create new Washington bureaucracies, and burden every state through new requirements on Medicaid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, what is the status on health care now that they are going in to a recess? Our Josh Levs joins us to tell us about that.
Josh, they get a little break here. But what's going on? Where do all these bills stand?
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don. You know, our government can get incredibly complicated. What I want to do is try to simplify this for everyone.
You heard about all of these committees, all these different bills, you got bills, bills, bill. This right here is where it stands.
We're going to start off with the Senate because there's two things to know about the Senate. There's actually a committee hat has already passed a bill in the Senate. But there's this other committee we've been talking a lot about this bipartisan "group of six" lawmakers, and they are part of the finance committee.
And this is what's been happening: this group right here is trying to work together to create a bill. When they have that created, they will bring it to the finance committee and then the finance committee takes a look at it and ultimately has one that can go to the Senate. But that's not the end.
What needs to happen here is this bill and this bill from the two different committees have to be merged into one. That's when the Senate will be able to vote on it. So, there's still several steps right there.
Let's go over to the House where it's a similar concept, let's get rid of that. You got three committees in the House -- committee one, committee two and committee three. They have all now passed different bills. But, Don, it's the same process. They all need to be merged now into one bill that will then, at some point, go before the House.
So, you have this extensive process and then both chambers -- what we're seeing is a pretty long process. And then keep this in mind, this gets even more complicated. Once the House and the Senate ultimately do pass something, if they do, then, those two go into these committees where they need to be merged.
So, we're talking about a lot of steps. You know, one of our producers was mentioning to me recently, and it's true, that the Founding Fathers wanted really big tasks to be kind of tough for Congress. And they got their wish.
LEMON: All right. Our Josh Levs helping us out with that.
So, what is the best way for millions of uninsured Americans to get health care? Our conversation is just getting started tonight. Coming up in our 10:00 p.m. Eastern hour, we're posing tough questions to Dr. Peter Thomas who advocates for uninsured African-American men.
And we want to hear from you, as well. Make sure you send us your questions, your concerns and your comments and we will post to the doctor.
Now, the president's second 100 days been better than the first? It is your chance now to weigh in. Starting tomorrow, you can vote at CNN.com, and be sure to tune in on Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. to see the president's final grades. It's part of "CNN's National Report Card: The Second 100 Days."
And remember the thousands of protesters on the streets of Tehran? Well, more than 100 are on trial today. A Mideast expert ponders their fate.
Plus, it is not a story from the 1960s. Claims of separate restrooms for blacks and whites on the job, now comes a lawsuit.
It is just one of the topics we'll talk about this hour during our panel on race. You don't want to miss it. No holds barred. And you can join in it on it. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or iRreport.com is how you get your questions and comments to us.
LEMON: It has been a deadly day for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. Three American service members died when two roadside bombs struck a patrol in southern Kandahar province. Meantime, the French government says one of its soldiers died in a battle with insurgents. Two French troops were wounded in that attack.
Two big stories are coming out of Iran today: The mass trial of anti-government protesters and the arrest of three American tourists along the border with Iraq.
Joining me now from Washington to talk about all of this is Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment. He is a longtime analyst of Iranian affairs and he joins us.
Let's talk -- first, Karim, thank you first of all for joining us -- let's talk about the Americans who are there. It has been said that that border is not very well-marked that the Americans were doing some hiking. It has been said -- even by our own reporters and sources -- that this could turn into a huge international incident.
Do you believe that?
KARIM SADJADPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: It is a cause of great concern, Don, because there were reprimanded in Iranian Kurdistan, and there have long been accusations from the Iranian regime that the U.S. government is trying to foment unrest in Kurdistan. So, there is a concern that the Iranian regime will try to use these three unfortunate folks for domestic political reasons.
And another U.S. citizen who I'm very much concerned about is Kian Tajbakhsh. He's actually a Columbia University trained sociologist. He has a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University. He has a U.S. passport and he's been languishing in Tehran's Evin Prison for the last four weeks.
LEMON: What is the status with that? Or what is the -- is the government doing anything to try to get him home?
SADJADPOUR: I think the Obama administration frankly should be doing more and condemning these human rights abuses in Iran and expressing concern about the plight of U.S. citizens in Iran.
LEMON: Where do you see this going, if you have your friend, Kian Tajbakhsh, the person that you mention and then you have these other citizens -- do you see these people going on trial or do you see Iran holding them to try to get something out of the U.S.?
SADJADPOUR: Well, Don, there's never real trials in Iran. What we saw today -- we saw glimpses of it -- essentially a kangaroo court, forced confessions under duress, under threats of torture. And I think, really, Don, after six weeks now, the -- what's transpired today only further delegitimizes the June 12th presidential election.
LEMON: You're talking about the people who are being -- who are on trial now in Iran, the anti-government protesters. And some of whom, Karim, are really -- former vice president, very high profile politicians and even a Canadian journalist, in court today. It is unprecedented how many people not -- since 1979 -- have we seen this many people, this high profile of people in court there.
SADJADPOUR: Don, that's a great point. You know, when I was based in Tehran several years ago, I used to go and interview these individuals, Mohammed Ali Abtahi. He was the vice president then under former President Khatami. Mohammad Atrianfar was very close advisor to the former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.
These people were parts of the government, senior political leaders in Iran. And so see them today giving confessions, and allegations from their family that they've been tortured, it just shows you the tremendous rift amongst Iranian political leaders.
LEMON: And what do they face?
SADJADPOUR: I'm sorry?
LEMON: What do they face as far as sentencing?
SADJADPOUR: Don, you know, in prison, they're told that if you don't confess, we'll kill you or you'll spend the rest of your life in prison. In reality, we haven't seen those types of harsh punishments but we've entered uncharted terrain. And I know -- especially the family of Kian Tajbakhsh is very worried that they may try to hold onto him for a long time.
LEMON: All right. Karim Sadjadpour from the Carnegie Endowment -- thank you very much. It's a story we're going to pay special attention to because of the people who are on trial there and the Americans who are being held there.
SADJADPOUR: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Thank you so much, Karim.
SADJADPOUR: Any time, Don.
LEMON: You know, this is a story that many of you will find hard to believe. Black city workers in Philadelphia are claiming they were forced to use separate restrooms. That's just one claim. There are others that will be shocking to you. Their lawyer is going to join us live.
LEMON: OK, listen to this story. You know, if you're sitting on the couch or whatever you're doing, just watch this -- a whites- only bathroom in the City of Brotherly Love?
Two workers claim it has been that way for a decade at a Philadelphia waste transfer plant. And now, they are filing a complaint against the city. They say John Gill, the superintendent at the Northwest Transfer Station kept a very close eye on who was using what bathroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIBSON TROWERY, SANITATION WORKER: There is a water cooler in his office that he uses. And the whites go in there any time they want to. But no, we can't go in his office when we want to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blacks can't go in there?
TROWERY: No. Just don't walk in his office.
LESLIE YOUNG, JR., FORMER SANITATION WORKER: Like he said, it's the difference of going one flight of stairs to the bathroom where all the white employees go to go five flights down where all the black employees go. That was very degrading.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right. Well, the city solicitor's office which is defending the case denies the allegations in the complaint. And here's what they say. The office released a statement to CNN saying, quote, "The city does not discuss active litigation but believes these claims are meritless and their lack of merit will become apparent as the litigation proceeds."
So, speaking of proceedings, what is next here?
Howard Trubman is a lawyer who filed the case on behalf of those workers. He is joining us now tonight from Philly.
Thank you so much for joining us, sir. Howard, harassment, humiliation and racial discrimination, you say this has been going on since 1996. Then why file a suit now?
HOWARD TRUBMAN, ATTORNEY: Well, they -- the gentlemen have raised other protests with city officials. But I would say that the real reason that they filed the suit now is they just had too much of it. It was just too much for too long. And for many years, they were frightened. And now, they found their own humanity and asserted their rights.
LEMON: Is this just about a bathroom? There are other things in that complaint, right, than just separate bathroom, the whites-only bathroom?
TRUBMAN: Well, there are several things. There was -- for a time in 2007, there were separate water fountains, which is really shocking. There are the -- Mr. Gill made it difficult for the African-American employees to use -- to look at a calendar in order to plan their vacation and holidays. There's also been some favoritism towards the white employees in terms of truck assignments.
Now, at this time, a lot of the white employees have retired. But there's still favoritism among the white employees that are left.
LEMON: What are they seeking?
TRUBMAN: Well, they're seeking -- well, there are several things. One thing they're seeking -- the most important thing of all -- is they're seeking -- they're asking the city to reaffirm their human dignity. Secondly, there is -- they would like some monetary compensation. But that's not really the key in this case. The key in this case is the reaffirmation of their human dignity.
And I would like to correct something that I saw one of the news wires. We have not asked that Mr. Gill be fired. No court really has the authority to do that.
My clients do not hate the sinner. They hit his sin. They would like the city to reform and change the conditions of the Northwest Transfer Station. It's not a matter of having Mr. Gill fired.
LEMON: The city released a statement saying that the -- this was meritless and once it is out in the open, as this proceeds, then we'll be able to see that it is meritless. You want to respond to that?
TRUBMAN: This is -- Mr. Lemon, this is litigation. What did you expect them to do, admit that they're guilty now? This case will wind its way through the litigation process, and then if it can't be resolved or otherwise, then we'll have our day in court.
LEMON: Yes. To hear -- you know, at least an allegation like this in this day and age is really quite shocking -- really quite shocking.
TRUBMAN: When these gentlemen came to see me, I believe at the end of 2007, I've been involved in employment law -- discrimination law for over 30 years. I was full of disbelief. And then, when I got into it and found out a little bit more and interviewed some more people, I found out that it was true.
But I agree with you, sir. It is quite shocking. And the fact that it's shocking sort of accentuates how reprehensible the behavior...
TRUBMAN: ... of the city official Mr. Gill has been.
LEMON: Well, the claims are quite shocking. We don't know if it's true or not. So, we shall see. But we appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much.
TRUBMAN: Thank you.
LEMON: You know, forget for a moment, you know, about race. Forget about clothing. Forget about speech patterns. Just listen to this man's story and think: what if this happened to you? How would you feel? What would you do?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bus is coming, you know, I'm bursting into top speed. (INAUDIBLE). I was like, yes, I'm going to catch this bus, I'm going to catch this bus, I'm going to catch this bus. And I used to carry my beeper on the side, you know, like, tucked into my pants and I felt my beeper falling. So, I'm holding my beeper and I'm running -- and all of a sudden I hear, "Freeze! Don't move!"
LEMON: OK, the president, the professor, the policeman. What began as a 911 call in Cambridge, Massachusetts, culminated two weeks later with this small gathering at the White House, dubbed the "beer summit." The White House didn't want to dub it that. They thought it was clever but said it wasn't a beer summit, it wasn't a summit.
At the table, Harvard Professor Henry Gates, Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley and president and vice president of the United States -- all were trying to find some closure in an incident at Gates' home on July 16th that got him arrested for disorderly conduct. And Crowley accused of racial profiling.
Afterwards, Crowley described what the men accomplished over a few glasses of beer. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. JAMES CROWLEY, CAMBRIDGE, MASS. POLICE: What was accomplished to us was this is a positive step in moving forward as opposed to reliving the events of the past couple of weeks, in an effort to move not just the city of Cambridge or two individuals past this event, but the whole country to move beyond this and use this as a basis of maybe some meaningful discussions in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right. So now as part of this ongoing dialogue on race relations here in the United States, this week we asked CNN viewers to submit their experiences of what they believed was racial profiling. Timothy Dark, of the Bronx, in New York, says he had too many too count. But one encounter with police left a lasting impression, and you may find the language offensive, but we thought it important to let him speak uncensored so you can make up your own mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY DARK, IREPORTER: One incident I should say that I really remember was actually not in the Bronx, it was in Queens. And in was - I was - I was on 82nd Street, and the bus was coming. You know, the bus was coming. The bus is coming so I'm like a block away. And you know, I used to love to run at these times. The bus is coming. You know, I burst into top speed.
That was like, yes, I'm going to catch this bus. I'm going to catch this bus. I'm going catch this bus. And I used to carry my beeper on the side, you know, like tucked into my pants. And I felt my beeper falling, so I'm holding my beeper and I'm running, and all of a sudden I hear, freeze! Don't move! And I look and there's these two cops and they're like stay there. Stay there.
And I make, why? What am I doing? Why are you running? I said because I'm running to catch the bus. And they're like, what bus? And I said the bus I just missed. Oh, you trying to be a smart ass? I'm not trying to be a smart ass, I just missed the bus. You just asked me why I was running and I just told you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: A lot of people had similar stories and we would like to say Timothy Dark's experience was unusual. It wasn't. We received many other accounts of people who believe they were minding their own business, doing nothing wrong, and yet suddenly found themselves confronted by police. So let's take a harder look at this.
Dr. Richard Weinblatt is the director for the Institute for Public Safety at Central Ohio Technical College. He is also a former police chief. Also joining us is Amos Brown, senior pastor at the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco. And in Washington tonight, Estuardo Rodriguez Jr. of the Raven Group, who works on racial profiling issues as they affect the Hispanic community. OK. So thank you very much for joining us. My first question, I wanted to go to the former police officer. OK?
Former police chief, I should say, Richard Weinblatt. You heard that young man's account of what he believes was racial profiling. He wasn't doing anything wrong. We hear a lot of those stories. Now we do know that the police are under considerable pressure. There's a lot of crime here. So how do you justify the two there?
RICHARD WEINBLATT, FORMER POLICE CHIEF: Well, absolutely. I mean, as, you know, Don, and you've lived in different places around the country, in Louisiana, and Philadelphia. I've been in law enforcement in different parts of the country, and the common thread that runs here is, how do you treat people with respect, treat people that feel that they are disenfranchised, that their perception is their reality, that they are being disenfranchised and still balance that with officer safety? And that's a really hard thing to do.
And that's one of the things that we're making a lot of stride in police education and training to try to do that. Because, that young man's story, as you pointed out, is not unusual. And while some officers may not agree with his version of events, it is still an important version of events for him, and for many others. And we have to address it.
LEMON: All right. Let's listen, I want to listen to one more from Timothy Dark, as we go here, and then I will get comments from the other gentlemen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARK: One time I went to the Metro card machine. You know how the Metro card machine, when you stick your debit card in there, sometimes it doesn't catch it right away, so you have to do it like five or six times. You want to do it again? Yes. Do you want to do it again? Yes. And by the 10th time, it finally says yes.
So the cops were watching me the whole time, so as soon as I walk away from the machine, they stop me. Oh, well, you know, you did that, you were swiping your card so many times. We have reports of people, you know, trying to, you know, jimmy the machines. I mean they padded me down. They checked my pockets. Come on, dog, jimmy the machine with a - come on? Like I just thought because I was a black dude and I had a hoodie on that you're going to stop me. That's how I felt. You know what I mean? If I'm wrong, god forgive me but that's how I felt. And I've been feeling like this my whole life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Mr. Rodriguez, he is African-American, but it doesn't only happen to African-Americans, it happens to Hispanics, as well?
ESTUARDO RODRIGUEZ, JR., THE RABEN GROUP: Definitely. It happens a great deal. And it's not just about the apparel within the Hispanic community. At this point, we have, over the last four to five years, seen a dramatic increase in an anti-immigrant sentiment that picks up every single Latino, U.S.-born, legal status, or undocumented.
So, in this circumstance, he's talking about his apparel, and that may be the case in certain situations with the Latino community and their apparel. But by and large, it's just your appearance of being brown and Hispanic, that many times it will get you stopped with the eventual goal of finding out whether or not you're a legal citizen in this country.
LEMON: OK. Our talk is going to continue. Mr. Brown, Amos Brown, not to worry. I'm going to get you in and you're going to get a big chance to talk after this. Because I understand that you want to talk about this supposed beer summit and what went on in Cambridge, Massachusetts. So stand by, all of you. More from our special guests as we talk about race right here in the NEWSROOM.
And then coming up at the top of the hour, CNN & "Essence" presents "Black in America 2: Reclaiming the dream." Soledad O'Brien, Roland Martin lead a panel on some of the most influential African- American voices here. They'll examine unique and innovative solutions to critical issues facing African-Americans. That is tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. More talk moments away.
LEMON: So racial profiling can come in many different forms, and not just from police. I want you to listen to this story from iReporter Egberto Willies in Kingwood, Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EGBERTO WILLIES, IREPORTER: My wife and I went to purchase a car. A black sales person looks at us, doesn't say anything. A young white kid comes up, shows us several cars, within one hour, we purchased the car. Were we racially profiled? Of course. By whom? A black person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So many times it is learned in - by growing up or just in society. I want to go back to our panel now. I want to talk to Mr. Brown. You can be - you saw the gentleman there, Amos Brown. You can be racially profiled, it's not just white people. You can be racially profiled by anyone of any race. This particular story coming out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, hit you in a hard way. Your field - you have very strong feelings about it. Talk to me about that.
AMOS C. BROWN, SR. PASTOR, 3RD BAPTIST CHUCH OF SAN FRANCISCO: Yes, because it's startling in this country, African-Americans have been disproportionately victimized by this institutionalized, legalized racism. And I feel that the conversation that the president had at the White House, and even his words, though many have taken issue with them initially, turned the light on to this age-old dark and dismal past, which we have refused to confront the sickness of racism, and all of these instances have been cited, just symptoms of the deeper sickness.
LEMON: So what are you doing about it? Are you planning something?
BROWN: We're calling on faith leaders all across this country of all faith communities and racial backgrounds to pray on this Sunday and the first Sunday in September, and also have truth telling sessions with their congregants.
BROWN: About this issue, and to work toward reconciliation and resolution to this age-old problem.
LEMON: OK. Stand by, all of you. Another iReporter or another iReport talking about driving a car and being profiled. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL WILLIS, IREPORTER: We fit the description of four black males in a green vehicle, when there were six of us in a red vehicle, and we knew right away that it had nothing to do with that. It was just that we were being profiled. And once he saw that we were high school kids and not thugs that stole a Cadillac, he let us go. So it was very upsetting to all of us.
MARK COOLEY, IREPORTER: Actually, I was getting stopped because I drove a Porsche. I was in my 20s. It wasn't because I was selling drugs or anything, but because I was young, and I had the wrong type of car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK, so Mr. Weinblatt, you see there, most people come in contact with the police and they believe they are racially profiled during a traffic stop. Now I don't expect the police to walk over and go, hi, Mr. Lemon, how are you? Did you know you were speeding, you were doing whatever? But I don't expect them to walk over either, by the very same token, hey, give me your license, boy. Which has happened. So what is the happy medium here?
WEINBLATT: And we were talking on the break, Don, it is how sometimes you're approached, and it's perception. And the majority of officers are fine folks, fine men and women trying to do a tough job. And what happens is, is that there's misperceptions. And what we try to do in trainers and educators and police administrators is put forth the idea that you treat people with respect. And that's the best officer safety in the world. It's better than a new block, laser (inaudible) it's better than anything else. Because we want the officers to do well, and we want the public to do well. Because we're part of the community.
In many cases we live right in the communities we police. And I think if we put a human face on each other, and I think that's what happened with President Obama there, with the beer summit, is they put a human face, and Sergeant Crowley said afterwards, now he sees the perceptions a little differently. And the perspective of Professor Gates a little differently than he did before.
LEMON: All right. Let's talk true solutions. I want to talk true solutions. Hold that thought. And we're going to dig a whole lot deeper and really have frank discussions about solutions here, and it's not really about who's right and who's wrong, but how to change it and make it happen less frequently. Because you'll never stop it. We're back in a moment with our panel. Don't go away.
LEMON: All right now back to our panel. We're talking racial profiling here, and how to - and really solutions. How to keep it from happening so frequently. It would be great to keep it from never happening again. OK, so let's start with you Mr. Amos, what is - do you have a solution for me?
AMOS: Yes. First, there must be respectful and careful surgery before you can have healing and reconciliation. And that's why we are calling for truth telling about this problem in the nation.
LEMON: What do you mean - explain that. What do you mean?
AMOS: I mean that we must candidly, and honestly, on both sides of the issue, sit down and talk with each other. Not around, over and under each other, about race in this nation.
The officer who was suspended in Boston used some pejorative statements about Dr. Gates, calling him a banana-eating, jungle monkey. And yet he comes out and says, I'm not racist. How contradictory is that?
LEMON: And we need to talk about that. All right. Mr. Rodriguez, what is your solution? Because it's not just blacks, it's Hispanics and others?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, as it relates to Latinos, it's even more complex. So I don't have - I don't have a clear solution here. I know there's a lot of work that needs to be done. Just the language issue by itself, in Prince Williams County a woman was just recently pulled over. She didn't understand the police officer, was beaten severely because of that misunderstanding of what was going on. Ultimately charges were dropped against her. The police officer's under investigation.
But how do you get a solution, how do you arrive at a solution when you don't even understand each other? So whatever conversation happens within the community, there needs to be an understanding, an extra effort on the police department's behalf to have people on staff that can speak the language, be it Spanish or any other one. We need to have an ability to communicate before we can arrive at a solution. LEMON: And I like what you said, an extra effort. And we know police officers have very tough jobs. But I think, you know, in light of what has happened here with this racial -- so-called racial profiling case in Cambridge, is that we all need to talk about it. And there does need to be an extra effort on the police department. Because all of these people who are voicing their opinions and telling their stories about racial profiling, they're not lying. And it doesn't happen in a vacuum. So I think police departments across the country need to examine how they teach racial profiling.
Mr. Weinblatt, since I made that statement, you're a former police chief, go ahead and comment on that.
WEINBLATT: Yes, absolutely, Don. You're absolutely correct. I like what Mr. Brown said. That's fantastic. We need to put a human face on the police. The Sergeant Crowley to the world, the Dr. Gates to the world. Let them see each other as human beings and understand each other's realities and that's when we can bridge that gap.
You know, because most of the folks out there are trying hard as you put it in difficult jobs. And I would encourage Mr. Brown and I will be glad to help him in any way that I could bring law enforcement into that discussion, into that reconciliation and truth-telling sessions. And now all of a sudden, we'll see each other as people as opposed to us versus them.
LEMON: I said it, you know, I said to one of the people who work here is that you know, we have an opportunity here with social media, and with CNN and we agreed to reach a nationwide town hall meeting at churches on-line and here on television to really talk about these issues and hear people out without judging them.
So I appreciate all of you for this. Your frank discussion, Amos Brown, senior pastor of the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, Estuardo Rodriguez of the Raben Group and also former police chief Richard Weinblatt, now the director of the Institute for Public Safety in Central Ohio Technical College.
Great. Thank you, guys. Appreciate it.
WEINBLATT: Thank you.
RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.
BROWN: Thank you very much.
LEMON: Here's what you guys are saying. This one was coming from twitter, some of them coming from Facebook. Wandsasmith said I was profiled while having breakfast with my six and two-year-old kids in Irvine, California. The cop said I fit a forger's profile, total humiliation.
Giftedsoulent says I don't think race issues will ever fully be resolved unless the world starts over with all new people and no trace of history. Edgarhopper says, of course, I'm not surprised. I've been profiled dozen of times in the 67 years since my 13th birthday even when in clerical garb. Dryer buzz says the position of profiling and prejudice is perpetrated by media in the stories told. So where does that place newscasters? And ragulsahih says, Don, I'm from Philly, racial profiling and discrimination is alive in the city of brotherly love. I have been a victim many times.
Pr35120 says yes, why is it when we talk about race it's only about black people? Other races have suffered also. Let's be fair. And to be quite honest with you, we also want to talk about profiling among the Muslim community. Because that does happen a lot, too. And we'll have that discussion here on CNN, as well.
So thanks to my panelists and you guys for weighing in. Twitter, Facebook, myspace.com is how you get on the air here. Coming up at the top of the hour, CNN and "Essence" present "Black in America 2: Reclaiming the Dream." Soledad O'Brien and Roland Martin lead a panel of some of the most influential African-American voices. They'll examine unique and innovative solutions facing African-Americans tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
All right, everybody. Bounce with me. Bounce with me. Bounce with me. You got to get creative and active to get some business these days. We'll go to "Bounce U.:
LEMON: Well, it sounds like a winning business. A place where you can drop your kids off and let them have as much fun as they want with little maintenance. But in this recession, even a place like this, it struggles. So the owners got creative and active. Reynolds Wolf takes us to "Bounce U."
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scott and Julie Hamilton took their life savings, and owed money from family and the bank to invest in their dream, these parents of three boys opened a kid-friendly franchise, "Bounce U" in Charlotte, North Carolina last year. An entrepreneurial strong city and then, the economy took a nosedive.
JULIE HAMILTON, BOUNCE U: We knew we were going to have to get creative and proactive.
WOLF: That meant coming up with a marketing strategy to get customers in the door. They focused on children's birthdays and smaller, less expensive parties and even some weeknight activities.
JULIE HAMILTON: We now have party packages that start at $150, and we have all different kinds of sizes, all different budgets. That seems to have really helped a lot.
SCOTT HAMILTON, BOUNCE U: It's not just a weekend business which is originally what we bought into it for. Now it's something that we have parties on the weeknights. We have summer camp during the day. We'll have open bounce as well. WOLF: They're seeing a payoff. The business has increased by 20 percent with zero layoffs. It's a common story in Charlotte. According to the Chamber of Commerce, more than 7,300 jobs have been created by new business so far this year. Mostly small business. The Hamiltons say TV and direct mail ads, online marketing and fund- raising partnerships have all helped.
SCOTT HAMILTON: We have called every school and every church and every youth group and every scouting group and we're talking to them about our different programs.
WOLF: All part of the plan to get people through their door and keep them coming back.
SCOTT HAMILTON: It's real easy to get on the inflatables and play with the kids and see them laugh. But at the end of the day it's mom and dad you want to go home feeling like they've gotten a good value for what they paid for.
WOLF: Building their business with every bounce. Reynolds Wolf, CNN, Charlotte, North Carolina.
LEMON: Wow. That looks like a whole lot of fun, Jacqui Jeras. And you know what?
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Heck, yes. Have you ever been to one of those places?
LEMON: I have, all the heat and the rain, it's probably a good place to go. But I think there's one here. Don't you take your kids?
JERAS: I do.
LEMON: Do they let adults?
JERAS: Got to love the Monkey Joe's.
LEMON: You take your kids at Monkey Joe's, right?
LEMON: Do they let adults in? Do they let you jump up and down?
JERAS: Sometimes yes, especially if you have a private party for your children there, jump and do flips. It's all good. I'll invite you next time.
LEMON: OK. I'm going.
JERAS: All right. Lots of people spending time indoors this weekend with showers and thundershowers all across the south and the southeast. Really heavy rain, torrential downpours. And we're talking about flooding. Yes, believe it or not flooding, especially along the I-20 corridor and northward. There you can see the rain moving through the Nashville area. We've got some isolated thunderstorms that have been rolling across parts of the northeast but this isn't going to be enough really, hopefully to impact your plans, it's just going to be short-term.
Let's talk about the temperatures really quick. Because boy, it's been hot, oh, yes, again. 100 degrees in Austin right now, still 100 degrees in San Antonio. We had a number of records fall again today across the state. In fact, in San Antonio, it was 106 this afternoon. And that makes it the 36th day of 100 degrees plus. That is the most days, it ties with the most days ever recorded of 100 plus in this city and it was also the hottest July recorded last month. So just the heat continues, unfortunately.
Tomorrow's forecast showing you the chance of severe weather pushes a little further to the east. We'll be watching like the Delmarva down to the Carolinas. Warm weather out west, cool weather across the nation's midsection and of course, as always, we're keeping our eye on the tropics. We got a tropical storm southwest of Hawaii, it should stay south of the islands. Don?
LEMON: All right. Jacqui Jeras, we appreciate it.
I'm Don Lemon. She is Jacqui Jeras. We'll see you back here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. As always, you'll be a part of the show. Right now, CNN and "Essence" present "Black in America 2: Reclaiming the Dream."
We'll see you back here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.