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CNN Tonight

Ohio Election Proxy For Abortion Battle; Georgia Election Investigation Continues; Three Men were Charged With Assault; Shark Attacks At A Popular New York City Beach. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 08, 2023 - 23:00   ET


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL HOST: Good evening to you. I'm Sara Sidner, and this is "CNN Tonight."


And we begin with breaking news. Victory for supporters of abortion rights in a key battleground state that trends red the stunning numbers out of Ohio, and what we're learning from a brand-new CNN poll that shows many months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the issue is continuing to fire up voters.

Also, tonight, a major development in the Georgia election investigation. The attempt by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the election results, the Atlanta district attorney is likely to present her case to the grand jury next week, we are learning.

And the Montgomery Alabama Police Department identifies suspects in that chaotic brawl in a boat dock. Why the whole country seems to be talking about what happened when a Black co-captain standing on that dock faced an unprovoked attack by a mob of white folks for asking them to move their pontoon boat, police said.


DARRYL ALBERT, CHIEF, MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA POLICE: As the co-captain approached the dock and attempted to peacefully move the boat over, just enough so that that harrier could park, the owners of the boat confronted him in a very hostile manner. There were words exchanged, and then it turned into a fistic encounter that you've all seen. So, the co-captain was doing his job.


SIDNER: Now we have an interview with the Montgomery police chief in a bit. Will more charges be coming? We will talk all about it ahead.

But let's begin with our breaking news at this hour. CNN projects that voters in Ohio have rejected a measure that is seen as a proxy in the battle over abortion rights. They voted down an effort to make it harder to amend the state constitution ahead of a November referendum on whether to constitutionally guarantee abortion rights in that state. It sounds a bit confusing, but we're going to explain it all. At least, we have people here who can do that for me.


Tonight, we have CNN political commentator Geoff Duncan, the former Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia, and Harry Enten, CNN senior data reporter, and Lauren Leader, co-founder and CEO of "All In Together." Plus, CNN political analyst Coleman Hughes, host of the podcast "Conversations with Coleman."

All right, here we go. Let me first ask you, Harry, about what this vote meant, because it was a vote "no" --


-- but it meant that you have a "yes" when it comes to abortion rights.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah, it's very bizarre, right? Confusing all around, but I'll try and explain it this way. Okay, so pro-abortion rights advocates got a ballot measure on the ballot this upcoming November in which a "yes" vote would essentially mean that abortion rights would be legalized in the state of Ohio. At this point, the law is that you need 50% plus 1 in order for a ballot measure to pass.

So tonight, what happened was Republicans, conservatives, decide, in fact, to put a ballot measure on the ballot in which they tried to say, no, no, no, it's not 50% plus 1 you need, it's 60% plus 1 that you need. So, all of a sudden, they were like, okay, we want to raise that bar for that abortion measure come November. So, in this particular case, the "no" vote was saying, no, we want to keep it at 50% plus 1, and what we saw was overwhelmingly the voters, in fact, said "no."

SIDNER: So, a simple majority versus a super majority.

ENTEN: Super majority. A super majority. Exactly. Right.

SIDNER: Okay. What did the numbers look like? How big did this go towards saying, no, no, no, we want to keep the Constitution the same?

ENTEN: Yeah, it was -- I mean, it's a blowout. It's a double-digit blowout. I mean, right now, you can see, what we're looking at essentially is a 13-point margin at this particular point, and keep in mind that Donald Trump won in the state of Ohio by eight points.

So, all of a sudden, you had this really red state in Ohio that voted for Donald Trump by eight points saying, no, by about 13 points and, of course, no in this particular case, we believe, is a proxy for saying that, in fact, abortion rights in the state of Ohio are, you know, popular by, let's say, a 13-point margin.

SIDNER: It was certainly a lot of money spent to try and show voters what this really meant because it is a bit confusing. Lauren, I want to ask you what your thoughts are about how potent this issue is. What does this tell us about how important this issue is to Americans?

LAUREN LEADER, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, ALL IN TOGETHER: You know, over and over again, we've been hearing pundits really, since Dobb's decision, say that this issue is going to fade into the background, that it's the economy, that it's other issues. We heard that going into the 2022 midterms. They've been wrong again and again.

This is the most salient, galvanizing political issue for women on the left, but also increasingly from our polls for independent women, which is why it's so powerful in states like Ohio, what we saw in Kansas, every single place in the country where we've had ballot measures since Dobbs.

Asking voters what they want in terms of abortion rights, they have voted in favor of abortion rights. And the fact that this vote in Ohio was such a blowout, to your point, I mean, it was not even close, in an August off-cycle single vote election, which was intentionally held in an off time when people are on vacation to try to keep them away from the polls, and yet folks turned out.


And I think when we get into the gender data, when we start seeing what that looks like in the exit polls, we'll have a better sense of it. But there is no question in our polling and poll after poll, abortion and guns actually are the two top issues for women voters going into this election.

And the last thing I'll say on this is that maybe unexpected consequence of Dobbs has been the extent to which voters are paying attention to state politics. And Ohio has been a place that has -- you know, the democracy has been dying in darkness for years there. A lot of gerrymandering, a lot of, you know, gamesmanship in the state legislature.

Suddenly, since Dobbs, there and in states around the country, you're seeing voters hyper-focused on statewide elections. That is going to rewrite the map in a lot of ways for years to come.

SIDNER: I'm curious, Geoff, what you think about this. Is this a mistake for Republicans to focus on abortion because of some of the numbers that you've seen here?

I do want to throw up a full screen to give you an idea of some recent polling that we have done. Sixty-four percent of Americans disapprove the overturning of Roe v. Wade. And when you look at those numbers, it's Democrats and independent voters who seem to be the ones that are up for grabs, if you will, on this issue who are saying, look, this is important to us, we really, really, really are going to pay attention to what people are saying about this issue.

Should Republicans be pushing this issue if they're running for state office, if they're running for federal office? GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's important to recognize that democracy was put on display here, right? The Supreme Court pushed us back to the states, and each state's going to have their own personality, their own leans towards policies one way or another. Ohio spoke, and they spoke loudly with which direction they want to go.

And also, these constitutional questions are really, really confusing.


One of the most confusing things I dealt with in 10 years in state government. How you actually write the question, how you present it, double negatives, how it's delivered out into the populace.

But from a Republican standpoint, you know, I feel like this issue -- we need to do a better job of being empathetic. We need to do a better job. Regardless of pro-life, pro-choice, we need to be able to understand that that single teenage girl who's pregnant and scared and worried, we need to be empathetic and understand. Instead of just trying to preach, we need to understand.

I look at Georgia. We passed the heartbeat bill. Stacey Abrams used that as a cornerstone issue to beat Brian Kemp, and it really didn't become an issue because he wasn't trying to go out and poke fingers and make a point out of it. He was simply trying to pass foster care legislation to make things easier for the adoptive process.

SIDNER: Coleman --

LEADER: Every -- sorry, but every state in the country since Dobbs -- I mean, that was before Dobbs, and I think the rules have been completely rewritten. And what you've seen is that across the board, this is an absolute loser for Republicans.

And you look at what a liability it's becoming for people like Ron DeSantis, who had committed that they wouldn't change the laws in the state of Florida, then against the will of the vast majority of his own voters in the state of Florida, passed an extraordinarily restrictive bill.

And that's what we're seeing, is that where it's passing, it's passing against the will of the majority of the folks in that state. And even some Republican lawmakers, especially women lawmakers, are saying this is a loser for Republicans.

Americans don't want this. And it's hard, I think, for Republican legislators to catch up to how much the national sentiment has changed since Dobbs. It's a totally different world from a year ago. The politics have shifted.

SIDNER: Coleman, do you think that this is going to continue to be the thing that propels people to go to the polls, one of the big issues that they are very concerned about when it comes to 2024 even?

COLEMAN HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I mean, I think if we learn anything tonight, it's that there are a lot of independents and even some Republicans that they like Republicans on crime and on immigration, but on abortion, they really prefer the compromised position that abortion should be safe, legal and rare, and legal throughout the first trimester.

So, you know, I think we're going to keep seeing these people and their votes mattering in certain instances. And like you said, this could become a losing issue for Republicans.

SIDNER: You did see some people kind of pulling back from that. Harry, I want to talk to you about what happened since the Supreme Court overturned Dobbs. What has been happening across the country? How many places have, you know, sort of come up with trying to change things in their state legislatures and their rules and have been knocked out?

ENTEN: Yeah, so, you know, we've had six ballot measures since Roe v. Wade was overturned. And when it came to abortion sentiment, every single one of those instances, the pro-abortion right side won.

And we're not just talking about blue states like Vermont and California. We're talking about red states, right? We're talking about places like Kansas. We're talking about places like the Dakotas. We've seen Montana. We've seen all of this type of stuff where we have seen clear instances in which abortion has been put on the ballot. And in those particular cases, what we have seen is the pro-abortion right side has won.

And another little nugget that I'll sort of just drop in here, I was looking at some of the polling, and I looked at the voters who had voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and then voted for Donald Trump in 2020, those voters who are key to Donald Trump's coalition come next year were actually more in favor of abortion rights than against it.


That's something to keep in mind.

SIDNER: That's really, really fascinating. I want to keep the conversation going. However, we are getting this new information about Georgia and the potential that there may be another case coming down the pike from Fulton County and from the D.A. there.

This has been talked about by Donald Trump ad nauseum. There is some fallout from the beginning. How are you feeling about all of this? Do you think that she is going to bring charges in this case?

DUNCAN: Well, certainly, the news broke yesterday that I actually did receive a subpoena for the additional grand jury that's going there. So, I'll be limited in what I speak about. But certainly, yeah, it's trending in that direction, right? It's certainly that she's had months, if not years, to pull all of this together. I think it's not only going to be when but who, and all those details around it.

I mean, so much of this as we unpack this, it's solutions in search of a problem that started in the Oval Office. I mean, I think that's really what this is all about. It would dream up some crazy, concocted idea, and then go try to find micro points and facts and send out some tweets and create a ground scurry.

That's really what we saw play out and it literally captured the attention of a country, an entire party. And even years removed, we're still affected by it.

SIDNER: I'm curious. Are you talking about Donald Trump doing that or are you talking about the Biden administration doing that?

DUNCAN: Well, I'm talking specifically about the 2020 election cycle and Donald Trump, the Oval Office and his administration, to watch them continue to stir the pot and put us in such a bad political position where we're at today.

I mean, this should be the easiest election cycle for Republicans to win the White House. Statistically speaking, it should easily be a layup for us, but we continue to put the weakest person, in my opinion, at the top of the list. But we still have time. There's a lot of work to be done.

SIDNER: Do you think he has any chance of winning if he becomes the nominee?

DUNCAN: I do not. I do not. I think it'd be the biggest gift ever. Every dollar written to Donald Trump goes, in my opinion, directly to Joe Biden's campaign account.

SIDNER: Geoff --

LEADER: Diminishing returns. I mean, it has been diminishing returns on Donald Trump for years. And he's not gaining the electorate in any of this, right? You could talk all day long about why core Republican MAGA voters are unperturbed by these indictments, but fundamentally, he can't grow his share of the electorate. And that's why, you know, I think anyone who looks at the numbers says there's no universe in which Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden.

But setting that aside, I mean, Georgia is really, really interesting. You know, so much of what the president has been claiming is that he can't get a fair trial and a fair grand jury in the city of Washington, D.C. because it's a blue city now. He's potentially -- the case is going before a Georgia grand jury. Completely different political landscape. It's a purple state. Democrats narrowly won the state. It's going to be very hard for him to make those same -- he will, but it's going to be very hard. And ultimately, this is a jury that will decide this. Fani Willis is serving the people of Georgia who faced the disenfranchisement of their vote. You okay?




I have something stuck in my throat.

LEADER: I'll just keep talking. (COUGHING)

SIDNER: Lauren, Coleman, Harry, Geoff, I think I got it all right. Thank you so much for that great discussion. I will try to stop choking on myself. Appreciate you, guys, having that discussion.

Just ahead, the Montgomery, Alabama riverside dock brawl. The video has gone viral and people across the country are talking about it. Up next, a one-on-one interview with Montgomery's police chief. We'll hear directly also from an eyewitness who shot key video of that melee.



SIDNER: What happened on a Montgomery, Alabama boat dock this weekend has captured the attention of millions of people and has put Montgomery again at the center of conversations around race.

The chief of police there says there's not enough evidence to charge a hate crime. But social media is on fire with commentary. Black folks in particular are calling what happened by many names: the Montgomery brawl, the Alabama dock wallop, and the Alabama sweet tea party. An anthem has been written about it. Art is being made. And there are odes to the folding chair inventor, Nathaniel Alexander, who was a Black man.

Why is a story about a fight on a boat dock in a small American town creating all this reaction? It has a lot to do with many Black and brown folks feeling like they're under attack in different ways right now, from whitewashing American history in Florida to a famous country singer using imagery of Black protesters warning them what would happen if they did that in a small town to the hopelessness of crime affecting black communities, and this latest slide.

Just today, these are Donald Trump's words on the campaign trail and about the Black female D.A. in Georgia.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They say there's a young woman, a young racist in Atlanta, she's a racist, and this is a person that wants to indict me. She has got a lot of problems, but she wants to indict me to try and run for some other office.


SIDNER: It is hard to fight against all of that. But in this case, Black people in particular showed up for each other. Black bystanders, men and women, jumped in to help the Black co-captain who was just trying to do his job. He faced an apparently unprovoked attack by a white man, and then a mob of people jumped onto him and beat him down until Black bystanders ran, even swam, to his aid.

Above the melee, both Black and white people took video, doing their part, so that when police did show up, they could see what really happened and how it started.

Joining me now is Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert. Thank you, sir, for being here.

ALBERT: Thank you very much, Sara. Thanks for having me.

SIDNER: Chief, you've ruled out crimes or rioting charges, but hate crimes in particular. You have ruled those out. Why is that?

ALBERT: Well, I tell you, you know, we looked at it internally. We looked at the entire case, the case in its totality. We looked at the, you know, merits of the case.


We've not only talked about things internally, but we've reached out to our local, state, and federal partners to see that we are heading down the right path, that we're applying the appropriate charges. And based on the matrix for hate crimes, it just didn't meet that threshold.

Now, I will say, this investigation is ongoing. I know you heard that. the community has heard that over and over again. But it is ongoing. And as new developments come forward in our way, we will amend charges as necessary or as needed.

So, we continue to ask the public to provide those pieces of video surveillance to us, to come forward, be good stewards and good witnesses for us so that we can continue this investigation and let it go, whatever path it takes. If it rises to the level of hate crimes, if it rises to the level of inciting a riot or whatever that looks like, we will and able and we will do just that.

So, again, hats off to the community, hats off to everyone who participated and got themselves involved and talked to the Montgomery Police Department and gave us that much needed video and those much- needed witness statements to help us properly charge at this time.

SIDNER: I want to ask you about that. Had that video not surfaced, had there not been the very start of what appears to be the very start of it and how this all began, do you think the police would have had the tools to arrest the right folks in all of this?

ALBERT: Well, you know, what we did was detain 13 individuals on the spot. Those 13 individuals were brought over to police headquarters, and extensive interviews went on for hours and hours.

And at the time, we did not have the luxury of all the videos that we've seen now, that you and I have all seen, and that the world has seen. Basically, what we had was witness statements, and he said, she said. So, our police officers and detectives had to decipher through all of that and then apply the appropriate charges at that time.

So again, as we gain more information, as we get more video, as we talk to more individuals, if charges are to be amended, they will be there. They will be amended as appropriately as necessary to make the final judgment on this case.

But again, that is not indicative of why we are here in the city of Montgomery. You know, we strive hard to be a fun, you know, community city. Look, we just love all the things that we have going on in the city at this time. You know, there's a lot of growth. There's a lot of visitors coming here to see what this city has to offer.

And, you know, this is not going to set us back. This will be something that's going to help us get through this and move forward, move forward as a city, move forward as a group of people that's here to help each other and love and learn and enjoy our city. So, we welcome folks to come. Montgomery is open. This was an isolated incident. And again, we're going to move forward from this.

SIDNER: Can you tell me, sir, do you think more arrests might happen? You talked about potentially more charges. Do you see more arrests happening as well?

ALBERT: Well, we are surely looking at every piece of evidence that has come in. We have hundreds of videos and witness statements at this time. And, you know, I would say at this point, it's highly likely that more arrests, more individuals will face charges.

SIDNER: Okay. So, more arrests and more people facing charges. I want to take a look at this video. A lot of people talking about the man wielding a folding chair during the brawl. Important to note that he is being put in restraints by an officer at one point doing this. And you said today you're still looking to speak with him. Why?

ALBERT: Well, we've identified him. We know, based on what we know now with that chair, the chair incident, that we need to interview him and we need to continue our investigation in regards to what happened with that chair. You know, where that leads us, it will be determined when that individual comes forward.

We've appealed to that individual through the media to reach out to the Montgomery Police Department so we can have that discussion. And again, if charges are appropriate, charges will be filed. So, we're asking them to come forward. We're asking him to come forward so that we don't have to go out and get him. He's got an opportunity to turn himself in and sit down with our detectives and find out where we go next from here.

SIDNER: Chief Albert, I'm curious just to get your take on why you think this has turned into a viral video, that people are discussing on an hourly basis over the past three days. What do you think it is about what happened there in Montgomery that has really sparked a lot of conversation about this?

ALBERT: You know, Montgomery is the birthplace of the civil rights movement. There's no doubt we have a lot of civil rights icons here. We have the Legacy Museum. We have a lot of different items in terms of -- Rosa Parks and, you know, Court Square downtown. So, you know, what happened here in the past, you know, left an impression on this city. It has left an impression on this country. So, of course, folks from the community, they're very concerned. They want to make sure that we do the right thing. And we want to do the right thing. That's why we're slow and methodical. That's why we're making sure we're reaching out to each and every one of our local, state and federal partners to make sure we get this right from the start.


SIDNER: Chief, thank you so much for coming on and giving us the latest that you can on this case, and we will definitely be checking in with you as time goes on. You have mentioned there could be more arrests and more charges coming. We will definitely stay in close contact with you. Appreciate your time, sir.

ALBERT: Thank you very much.

SIDNER: All right. Now, I want to bring in Christa Owen. She was a witness to the brawl. Thank you so much for being here. You were there. I think you were on the riverboat with your husband and daughter. You ended up filming the incident. Why do you think it was important to do that?

CHRISTA OWEN, WITNESS TO MONTGOMERY BRAWL: Well, I was filming it for a different reason, just because I thought it was rather unbelievable that the guys didn't move the pontoon boat. But when the first punch came, I just knew I had to keep rolling so that the police would know where it started. I just wanted the first punches to be out there in the news and in the police in case something was to come. And, of course, something came.

SIDNER: I'm curious. Did you talk to police at all once they got there, show them the video, say, look, this is how it all began, this was not what you might think it is, getting here after it was started there, it appears, by that gentleman there in the hat, who is just attacking this man for doing his job, it appears?

OWEN: That's right. Well, when I disembarked the boat, there was a police officer just a few feet onto the dock. And I did. I stopped and I put my video at the place just before the punches started. And I said, I want to show you I caught it. And he was pretty overwhelmed. He was pretty confused on what was going on. And there were other people with videos that they wanted to show.

So, although I did kind of put my camera in his face to show the video, he didn't need me to stick around. And as I left, that's when I thought I'm going to contact a news agency in Montgomery to see if they want what I have.

SIDNER: Wow. I mean, the fact that you went to police and said, hey look, I see how it started, I have video of how it started, I need you to know this so that the right people are put under arrest, is pretty powerful.

Christa, in some of the videos, we've seen people on the boat. They can be heard yelling for someone to go help the co-captain that's standing there, trying to get them to move the pontoon boat. What were you thinking about as you're watching all this unfold?

OWEN: Oh, it was very -- it was very helpless feeling, and I know how helpless that man must have felt. But for us, you know, we're four spectators and this is a human -- just atrocity that's happening. None of us can do anything. And then one of the crewmen did jump ship and swim and I thought, okay, there's our hero. Someone's doing something. But the rest of us, it was just a horrific moment to watch.

SIDNER: The internet has lit up with memes and people who have said that they feel quite proud of the fact that Black folks stood up for someone, that they got there, that they did something. But you also took video that was really significant in this case. Why do you think this is taking on the kind of attention that it has?

OWEN: Well, there was a man just doing his job, and that was my vantage point. Our crewman, who I found out later was a co-captain, he was trying to get us to dock so we could leave the boat and enjoy the rest of our evening. He had a job to do. The men on the pontoon boat did not listen to the captain's request over and over again, and this guy was saving our night.

And so, when he was assaulted, just mind blowing, unnecessary attack. And I really believed alcohol was involved on the part of the men on the pontoon. You could see them with cups in their hands. And I just -- from where I stood, they just seemed angry that anybody would have touched their boat and moved it. And unfortunately, our crewman was the one that did it.

SIDNER: They're doing his job. Thank you for taking the video, thank you for sharing your story with us, and thank you for talking to police to let them know what you had because it's certainly in evidence now. I appreciate you coming on the show.

OWEN: Thank you, ma'am.

SIDNER: This story is resonating among so many Americans, especially Black folks. But what if there was no video to record what really happened on the dock? We will talk about all that, next.



SIDNER: All right, we've been talking about that riverfront brawl in Montgomery, Alabama that has gone viral. I want to bring back CNN political analyst Coleman Hughes, and we're joined by "Rolling Stone" columnist Jay Michelson.

All right, I just am curious from your perspective. I don't know if you've seen all these memes, but my entire -- like everything on social media, I'm getting sent them constantly. Why is this caught on this way? What is it about what we all saw?

HUGHES: Well, there's multiple reasons. One is obviously the meme aspect of it and that especially comes from the guy that was swimming from the riverboat to the dock who people are calling Black woman on --



SIDNER: Sorry, that was my favorite one.

HUGHES: Oh, yeah. There's just endless meme content there. But on a more serious note, the reason people really were shocked by this video is because it evoked an image of three or four white guys beating up a defensive -- a defenseless Black guy, which obviously evokes memories of racist violence, especially given the location.

Now, that is a separate question, that emotional psychological resonance. It's a separate question from what the actual motivations were in this case.


It could just be a case of, you know, a drunk idiot starting a fight for no reason, letting his emotions get out of control. Race may have had nothing to do with it or race may have had something to do with it. But people jumped to that conclusion on an emotional and psychological level simply because of the image.

SIDNER: Yeah. What are your thoughts on that? Because I think there's one more element here that I keep seeing people talk about, where they see Black folks coming to the aid of other Black Americans.


SIDNER: Is that part of this?

MICHAELSON: I think that's certainly part of it. I think there is -- you know, Coleman and I were talking before about this, where there's this sense of entitlement among these white guys who had their pontoon boat moved, as it should have been moved, obviously, to attack this guy.

And it feels as though there's just -- I think exactly what Coleman just said, there's no way to kind of take out the racial lens from what's taking place and why we're so interested by it.

At the same time, this also comes amid, you know, some very unrelated stories of other violence. Right here in New York City, you know, there was a riot basically in Union Square after an influencer, Kai Cenat, said he was going to give away game controllers and he didn't. And 6,000 people, you know, were in Union Square and there was this paroxysm of violence that took place.

And we're seeing this, too, with musicians having things thrown at them. There just does seem to be this ambient rage that's in our country right now. And I find it -- you know, as a rabbi and as a journalist, I find it really profoundly worrying.

SIDNER: Why -- why is that? Why is it -- what is -- is it COVID being sort of cooped up and having all these feelings that you can't really express? What is going on where people are lashing out in this just appalling way?

MICHAELSON: It seems clear that there's no one answer, right? So, New York Mayor Eric Adams blamed social media. Well, social media, you know, that doesn't always lead people to riot in Union Square.

You know, obviously, we don't really know. We don't know. Was it just some three drunk idiots with their pontoon boat and don't touch my boat? We don't really know. Was it -- you know, was there a racial element? Is this part of just the general rage among some people that their country is being taken away from them? Does this come from Trump? Does this come from irresponsible politicians and journalists who are stoking anger rather than calming it?

And, you know, personally, I also think there might be a lane here. I think about that line in McCarthyism, have you no sense of decency, sir? Who is standing up for decency? I think it's an opportunity for the Democrats, certainly if Trump is the nominee, to be the party of decency.

But I don't see it as political. I see this as, all of these incidents, as symptoms of a simmering anger in our culture that has profound roots and a lot of causes. But it's something that we really haven't been dealing with in a serious way.

HUGHES: But to defend Eric Adams slightly, I do think social media plays a role. The fact that everyone has smartphones nowadays, everyone is their own journalist, means that we just see so much of what goes on in the world, whereas 20 years ago, brawls like this would break out at bars and just no one would capture it. But now, we have to see all of it.

SIDNER: No one would pay attention to it. I mean, the Arab Spring, there's a lot of things that started because of social media.

HUGHES: Right.

SIDNER: Some see those in a very good light and others don't. I do want to make the point that the police chief, we just spoke to him, he said, no, they're not being charged, those who have been arrested in this with a hate crime. But they are looking at other potential charges that may come up. The more they look at the video, they're going to decide what to do, whether more people will be charged and whether that will come up.

But at this point in time, what we saw was a Black man doing his job and him getting punched in the face by someone who wasn't even in the argument. And then him being piled on by a bunch of that man's -- I don't know -- friends. We don't know. But they all jumped on him and it was -- definitely race was visible to everyone.

MICHAELSON: And that's -- you know, just speaking to what the police chief said, too, the bar for hate crimes is and should be high, right? If there is -- clearly, there's a racial element to what's happening in this interaction. But we want that bar to be really high. We don't want hate crimes to just be something that, you know, are added on to any other kind of a charge.

And there has to be a specific -- he has to have been targeted because of his, in this case, because of his race. And so, again, there doesn't seem to yet be evidence. There may be, you know, as the police chief said. But as of now, there isn't evidence for that. But we should distinguish between the hate crime charge, which has a very high bar, and just the complexity of what's really happening in this situation.

SIDNER: Happening in Montgomery, Alabama. One of the people that was arrested is going to jail in Selma. A lot of people talking about that as well because of the history.

Up next, possible shark sightings, we are doing a lot today, off the beaches of Long Island one day after a woman was bitten by a shark at a New York City beach. We'll get some answers on what the heck is happening from Wildlife Nation host Jeff Corwin.



SIDNER: Shark scare at a popular New York City beach. A 65-year-old woman is in stable condition after being bitten by a shark while swimming at Rockaway Beach. This is the sixth shark attack reported in New York so far just this summer. And tonight, New York authorities are telling CNN that there have been multiple possible shark sightings at Long Island beaches today following last night's attack.

So, what is happening? Let's get some answers from wildlife biologist, super excited he's here, Jeff Corwin, the host of ABC's "Wildlife Nation." Jeff, I want to look at a picture really quickly first from our affiliate WCBS that shows the woman being treated by first responders. This shark bite is the first confirmed attack in New York City in 70 years. Are we seeing more of them now or are we just hearing about them more?

JEFF CORWIN, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, ABC HOST: Well, Sara, I think it's a combination of all of that.


I think if you were to compare the shark attack rates of this year to last year, they're just about equal. I think we've had a couple of more encounters this year. But we also have much more technology. We have technology in the water so we can detect these animals. We have transponders and transducers that actually pick up the movement of these creatures.

We have this smart technology right here that allows us to be connected not only to actually visually capture these moments for social media but also multiple apps. On my phone alone, I have two apps that allow me to track sharks. So, I think we're more connected and sensitive to them.

We're also seeing more sharks than we had years ago. Two, three, four decades ago, the shark populations had collapsed. But Sara, around here, especially off New York, where I live in New England, I live in a little island off Cape Cod, we have an explosion in bait. The bunker here, what we call the (INAUDIBLE). We have the mackerel here for the bigger sharks. We have our seals, the gray seals, the harbor seals. More food means more sharks.

SIDNER: I mean, ostensibly, it's a good thing that there are more sharks. The oceans are warming up and there have been lots of fish die-offs and other issues that we've seen. I do want to ask you a little bit, though, about some of the things you just mentioned like you can track them on your phone.

Can people find out exactly where they are at any given time? Because it is terrifying for a lot of people going into the water, especially after the movie "Jaws" in the 70s. We all have this sort of real fear of sharks even though this doesn't happen that often.

CORWIN: Sara, that's such a great observation. First of all, when Peter Benchley wrote "Jaws" which was, you know, a huge commercial hit, critical hit, of course, the movie was even bigger, he immediately, when that movie came out, immediately regretted writing that book, and he became an advocate for shark conservation because it literally -- I mean, I remember at that time, I was a little kid when that came out, and everyone was terrified to go in the water because of this book.

And the other thing you touched on, which I think is so important, is that sharks are what we call a sentinel species. They're the aquatic canary in this oceanic coal mine around us. And when we see sharks here, they indicate as an indicator species that an ecosystem is healthy. When ecosystems collapse, they can no longer sustain their apex predator, and we lose those sharks.

So, it's actually a nice sign. Of course, you don't want to be on the wrong end of a shark, right? So, there's things we can do to avoid that. But having sharks around is good for our ecosystem and it tells us that things are in a good place environmentally.

And remember this, Sara, I don't know if this gives you comfort or not, when you're in the water, whether it's New England or New York or New Jersey, and that's a nice, clean, pristine beach, you're never more than 300 feet away from a shark. hopefully, that will put you to rest at ease tonight.

SIDNER: This might be controversial, but I'm actually not afraid of sharks. I grew up in Florida. They were just -- you know, nurse sharks and different things were just interesting to me. Maybe that's not good on my part. But I do want to ask you, what do you do to try to not attract sharks? Is it splashing around, that you should stop doing that? Like what can you do when you get into the water?

CORWIN: Oh, that's a great question. And before I touch on that, going back to the conservation story, so while we're seeing -- we're seeing an increase in shark populations here, the great whites are here because of the seals and other things, around the world is a different story, we've lost sharks because of ecosystems collapse like our coral reefs and from black market wildlife trade.

Last year, over a hundred million sharks were killed. Okay? So, what do we do? So realistically, let's look at this way. What are the chances of something going south with the shark? You have a better chance of being struck by lightning twice in your life --

SIDNER: Really?

CORWIN: -- than being attacked by a shark. Yes, it's incredibly, incredibly rare, although probably in Florida, you have a very good chance --

SIDNER: It's a better chance.

CORWIN: -- more than anywhere else being struck by lightning. And so, what's happening now in our environment? Why could these attacks, these very rare negative moments, these encounters with sharks be happening off the coast of the Tri-State area? Well, one reason, it's the time of year. All the bait is here.

I'm a voracious fisherman. And I go out to look for the bait to go catch the stripers and the tuna. Well, those sharks are here to capitalize on that bait and on the fish that eat the bait, right? Also, we have had tons of thunderstorms and environmental instability that literally creates a soupy environment.


So, with poor visibility, lots of washout from storm drains, low light conditions, that increases the conditions for a very rare negative encounter with the shark. So, in those situations, I just would be very careful when I'm in the water.

SIDNER: So, when it looks all muddy and soupy, watch out. And don't swim near fishermen is what I've learned. You'd also might get hooked.

CORWIN: Well, in Florida -- you know what, in Florida, that's actually very true. Because there's so much competition on these fishing grounds and the shark populations exploded, the fish population is shrinking, and there's a lot of competition. You very well could catch a fish, put it in the water, and then be inside a shark. It just happened.

SIDNER: All right. I'm glad I'm inside. You're talking about getting struck by lightning as it happens more than getting bitten by a shark. Jeff Corwin, always wonderful to talk to you. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

CORWIN: My pleasure. Thank you, Sara.

SIDNER: Up next, the man who shot Megan Thee Stallion back in 2020 is sentenced to 10 years behind bars. That story when we come back.


[23:55:26] SIDNER: Recording Tory Lanez, the man convicted of shooting rapper Megan Thee Stallion in the foot in 2020, sentenced today to 10 years in prison. Back in December, a Los Angeles jury found Lanez guilty on three charges, including assault with a semi-automatic firearm.

Megan Thee Stallion accused Lanez of shooting her in the foot after she exited a vehicle they'd been riding in following an argument. Megan Thee Stallion faced an unbelievable amount of criticism. Her critics didn't believe her, spread false information, and attacked her mercilessly, even though she was the victim in the shooting.

Stallion addressed the shooting back in April to "Elle" magazine where she said, as I reflect on the past three years, I view myself as a survivor, because I have truly survived the unimaginable."

Thank you so much for watching. Our coverage continues.