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CNN Tonight

Deadly Inferno Ravages Maui; A Man Who Threatened President Biden Was Shot Dead In Utah FBI Raid; DeSantis Suspends Orlando State Attorney; Witness Says Racist Language Was Used Before Assault On Montgomery Dock; Robbie Robertson, Leader Of "The Band," Dies At 80. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 09, 2023 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Everyone, thank you so much for watching. I'm Laura Coates. The great Sara Sidner picks it up with "CNN Tonight." Hey, Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: Hey, girl, hey.

COATES: Hey, girl.


SIDNER: We're going to start with some good stuff tonight.

COATES: Do it. I'll be watching.

SIDNER: All right. Good evening to you. I'm Sara Sidner. This is "CNN Tonight."

A Utah man, who allegedly made death threats against President Joe Biden ahead of Biden's visit to Utah, was shot and killed by FBI agents. The FBI says the man refused commands to drop his weapon as agents were serving arrest and search warrants. The man had also posted online threats against other top officials as well as prosecutors who've charged former President Trump.

Also, tonight, devastating wildfires in Hawaii ravaging parts of Maui. One resident calls the scene apocalyptic. The flames burning homes and businesses to the ground, and at least six people have died. Others are still missing tonight. Complete coverage of that just ahead.

And court documents show that an eyewitness to the chaotic brawl on that dock in Montgomery, Alabama says a racial slur was aimed at the Black boat co-captain just before punches were thrown. Here's what the city's police chief just told CNN moments ago.


DARRYL ALBERT, CHIEF, MONTGOMERY POLICE: If more evidence comes forward, if there's more proof that this leads toward more of a hate crime, we will amend those charges and the charge appropriately then. But right now, for what we have and for what we know, we are confident that we are heading in the right direction with this investigation.

Look, this was horrible for the city of Montgomery, for the state of Alabama, and for our nation.


SIDNER: More on that ahead. Also, tonight, we'll delve into what prompted FBI agents to shoot and kill a Utah man suspected of making online threats to kill President Biden.

But we are beginning tonight with breaking news in Hawaii. It looks like the end of days in paradise right now where explosive wildfires are raging through Maui, whipped up by winds from a hurricane. Officials say at least six people have been killed and thousands are taking refuge in shelters tonight.

Let's go now to Quentin Koch, a resident and the president of the helicopter tourism company, Blue Hawaiian. Quentin, thank you so much for joining me. I know you're going through a lot at this moment. We've been looking at footage that you shot of the devastation. Can you describe to us what it was like just being there, watching this unfold?

QUENTIN KOCH, PRESIDENT, BLUE HAWAIIAN HELICOPTERS: I just landed back here at the Maui Airport and you still see smoke around in the different communities and just absolute devastation. And it's just hard because that's where your coworkers, your friends, your family, loved ones lived and they have nothing to go home to. And it's hard to go out to all of our community.

SIDNER: Quentin, I think you were using your helicopter fleet to help get food. You stopped doing tourism, obviously, and wanted to start helping people by bringing medical supplies and the like to some of those hardest hit areas. Can you tell us a little bit about those missions?

KOCH: Yeah. You just missed it right behind me. We just actually had two helicopters take off with over $3,000 worth of Domino's pizza that we're trying to get to frontline people to help support them.

But all day today, we've been flying into the Kapalua Airport, which is the west side of Maui, which is not accessible by road, unfortunately, right now. We've been taking in water and food from hotel partners from the island of Oahu, different parts of Maui, to make sure our coworkers, friends, and tourists are able to get the needs and resources that they deserve.

SIDNER: It's really hard to look at these pictures for anyone who has been to Hawaii and to Maui in particular. I wanted to ask you about how your coworkers are doing, how your team members are doing, because these fires did move so incredibly quickly and violently. Does everyone have a home still standing that are a part of your teammates? Are they safe? KOCH: Good news. We just really got word that everybody is 100% safe with our team here in Maui. So that is this huge pressure relief. We do have several that have lost homes, and then I can tell you, in such a small community, everybody that knows somebody who has lost a home during this devastating event.

SIDNER: I'm sorry to hear that some of your team members have lost their homes. There is nothing like that feeling of having all of your possessions gone all at the same time and there's nothing you can do about it. I do want to ask you about being on the ground for the volcano -- the massive volcano eruption in 2018.


I think you were also there, aiding victims with the help of the helicopters that you generally run for tourism. Can you give us some sense of the difference between these two deadly events?

KOCH: Yeah. During the day, normally, our pilots are tour pilots showing our beautiful islands. When it comes time for emergencies like this, they know the island the best, they know the weather, they know where to go, they know special places like golf courses where we can land.

Just like in that event in 2018, we did bring food, water supplies and offer any support, direction with the county, and we're doing the same thing today.

The difference is this is much more catastrophic, bigger, a lot more houses lost, and it's just harder to reach at this point in this part of the island.

SIDNER: I'm really sorry that you're going through this at this time. It is such a beautiful place. There is a reason why people call it paradise. But right now, there is such devastation. I hope that more help is on the way, and we're going be talking to the governor. Is there anything you'd like for me to ask him?

KOCH: Keep doing a good job protecting our people, getting the resources, opening up, you know, Kapalua Airport, which he was able to do today to get in the food and the water and supplies. And, you know, in Maui, we call it hooting (ph) together. We all come together and take care of our ohana, our family, and that's what everybody here is doing today.

SIDNER: All right. Mahalo to you. Thank you so much.

KOCH: Aloha.

SIDNER: I want to go now to a Maui resident, Mark Stefl. He lives on the island with his wife. As I understand it, you have just gotten some really bad news. Can you tell us what has happened to you and your family?

MARK STEFL, HAWAII RESIDENT IMPACTED BY WILDFIRES: Well, we just felt -- by the way, thank you for having me on. About four years ago, we had another hurricane, and we lost our house in the fire. Rebuilt, and what happened yesterday is killing me right now. We just lost our house again. Twice in four years. My wife and I were sitting around the other night thinking about how we just got our house back to where we wanted it, and this happened.

SIDNER: Mark, I am so, so sorry. How did you find out?

STEFL: Thank you.

SIDNER: How did you find out about what happened to your home? And you're in a safe space now. You're still in Hawaii right now?

STEFL: I'm in Maui. I'm in a friend of mine's house on the other side of the island.


STEFL: Yeah, the fire started actually about less than a half a mile from our house. My wife filmed it, the starting of the fire. It started at about 6:30 in the morning. There it is right there.


STEFL: From right up. Exactly. So, the fire department showed up. Supposedly put it out. Didn't put it out. At around 2.30, flames kicked up with the winds being as crazy as they were, came down the hill. That's a shot from our window. The fire was in our backyard 10 seconds after we saw the flames up at the top of the hill.

We ran downstairs, grabbed our dogs and cats, and we lost the cat and the dog because of just confusion. And the fire just engulfed our house. So, we ended up leaving. We went to a friend of ours's house that we stayed at, stayed at their house the last time our house burned down.

So, we figured, hey, things might -- might work out. I went across the highway and looked up the hill, and I said, you know what, I think I might see our house okay. The news showed that our house was still there that night. This morning, we were just informed that no, the fire didn't go out and our house was engulfed. And our house -- everybody in our neighborhood lost everything.

SIDNER: I'm speechless just listening to what you're saying.

STEFL: I mean, I feel like I'm a veteran of disaster here. I mean, I know what I need to do. We've done it before. It sucks.

SIDNER: What will you do? What will you and your wife do after going through this not once but twice in just less than five years?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): This again.

STEFL: Moved to Bali. It's nice and wet there.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): No.

STEFL: I'm kidding. Rebuilt like we did before. We love it here. We have a lot of friends here. Uh --

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Honey --

STEFL: We'll -- we'll get through. We'll get through this.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Say big pack --

STEFL: My wife is --

UNKNOWN (voice-over): I'm sorry.

STEFL: -- telling me what to say.


SIDNER: Tell her to come on -- tell her to come on camera, that we're happy to see her if she wants to talk to us.

UNKNOWN: I have to say --

SIDNER: Tell her come a little bit closer so we can hear her.

UNKNOWN: What you have to do is really make sure you pack and secure stuff. When they say you have everything in order, all your paperwork, all your food, your animals and everything, do it. Do it as soon as you hear and don't wait because it took from -- when I saw the fire, it took three minutes until it was -- engulfed in our house. And it was -- it was a quarter mile away from our house when I saw the flames, and it engulfed our house.

So, if anything, just do everything you can to secure what you have. You can rebuild all the other stuff, but make sure animals and everything is good.

STEFL: We lost a dog and a cat, and I think that's what she's upset about the most. And we just rescued them from the pound the other day.

SIDNER: Is there anything that you would like me to ask the governor or say to the governor? We are going to be talking to him in just moments as he makes his way back to Hawaii.

STEFL: It is to make sure our fire department has plenty of water.

SIDNER: You know what? I love -- I love that you --

STEFL: We -- our -- when our house burnt down the last time, we had two fire trucks and a fire hydrant in front of my house, and my house burned down because our mayor diverted the water to a project down south. I believe he was paid off. Everybody knows he was paid off. And it was a real ugly scene around here. We need to take care of things better.

SIDNER: I will ask them to make sure that there is enough water. I am so sorry that you and your wife have lost pets, which are family members to most of us, and your home for a second time. Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

STEFL: You're welcome. Mahalo. Aloha.

SIDNER: Let's bring in Hawaii's governor, Josh Green. He is on a layover right now. He joins us from Seattle, where he is trying to get back to his home state, cutting short a time when he was supposed to be spending with family for a few days.

Governor Green, we have just listened to a harrowing story, a family that has been hit twice by fire in the past four years, and they've lost a home two times. We now know six people have been reported dead there in Maui. What is your biggest concern right now as you try to make your way back home?

GOV. JOSH GREEN (D-HI): Thank you for having me. My heart goes out to that family and others. My biggest concern is that we get the fires completely extinguished now. He's right. We have to have all of our water diverted to the emergency, which is what's being done right now. We have several hundred structures that have been destroyed, so that means thousands of people will be displaced. We're moving people who are visiting away from Maui so that all of our resources can be given to the response. We also had to fortify our hospitals. And so, we are in a relationship, of course, with all the hospitals in the state where we have special units for burn victims on Oahu. So, it's health and safety first. But the reconstruction will begin soon. I have been in touch with the White House to make sure that we get a favorable approval of presidential declaration of emergency. They've been very generous with us. So, we will rebuild. But right now, it's safety first.

SIDNER: Governor Green, there are thousands of people. As you mentioned, they've been evacuated. They don't -- some of them don't have homes to go back to. There are businesses that are also gone. Are there enough shelters? Is there enough shelter for everyone for the long haul? Because there are a lot of places that are just burned to the ground with nothing around them.

GREEN: The answer is there's not enough shelter for long-term living. There's enough shelter for the emergency response for a few days. What we're trying to do right now is to make sure that anyone who doesn't need to be in Maui for anything but essential travel does not go to Maui.

We'll welcome visitors back to paradise after the fire is done and after we can rebuild. But for now, what we're going to need is to use many hotel rooms, Airbnb, and other facilities to house our people. I would expect there will be several thousand people that will need housing.

I'm making a call right now to all the people of Hawaii. If you have an ADU on your property, if you have a rental that's not occupied right now, we will be promoting a program quite quickly, which will hopefully be supported. It will be supported by state dollars, very likely federal dollars, to put people back into shelter.

We already struggle with homelessness and a severe shortage of housing in our state. So, this, of course, exacerbates that problem.


Right now, we're in the acute phase of putting the fires out because, as you know, the winds were very high. The remnant of Hurricane Dora, which had 80-plus mile per hour winds, is still hitting Hawaii. Plus, the trade winds moved the fire very rapidly, which is why there was so much destruction in Lahaina.

Really, what we're asking for is extreme generosity. People can go to the Hawaii Community Foundation, which is a safe charity that has been set up, a charitable organization, to help support those who are struggling like that gentleman. But the state and the federal government will come in with a lot of resources.

I will be on the ground walking the entire district tomorrow morning, seeing what I can see so I can make the case with the president's administration for resources right away.

SIDNER: Governor Green, did you or authorities there, who usually warn people of these kinds of potential disasters, have the right information because of the hurricane, and then you had this fire spark?

I mean, was there enough information that you all had that you were able to get to residents in time? This is -- knowing this is a very unusual event. We haven't seen something like this in quite some time. I know Hawaii is used to eruption from volcanoes, but this is a whole different thing here.

GREEN: Well, my understanding is we did have enough adequate weather forecasting. People were aware that this was a hazardous time where fires could be sparked. But you can never prepare for, unfortunately, winds that might take fire from one area to another. It's extraordinarily unpredictable.

We will do all that we can to protect people from now forward and to do everything we can to repair people's lives. But Mother Nature hits Hawaii very hard on occasion. Like you said, sometimes, volcanic eruptions.

In my 23 years in the state, I'm an emergency room physician in my other life, outside of being governor, I have seen an earthquake set off major changes in the landscape. I have seen volcanoes take out highways. We have had tsunamis. And we have had significant wildfires over the years, which can take over hundreds, if not thousands of acres, because we do suffer a lot of drought in the islands, believe it or not.

So, these are all things that we're very familiar with. This is the worst fire that I recall ever seeing. That's why all of our resources, and we will hope for federal resources, will be directed directly to this recovery.

SIDNER: What kind of federal resources are you asking for? What are you asking of the president at this point in time? What are you asking? What does Hawaii need right now?

GREEN: Well, first, we've asked for FEMA resources. So, we have FEMA personnel on the ground. We also are asking for additional firefighter resources, which the state has already authorized. We've declared an emergency here, as has Maui County.

Next, though, will come the presidential order, which is for a major disaster. And that's based on how much structural damage has occurred. I do expect billions of dollars of structural damage to be determined. Of course, you can never put a price on the suffering that people have. That is going to require a lot of housing support.

So, we will be seeking disaster relief not unlike what we saw when Katrina occurred or other terrible disasters across our country. We would just ask everyone who loves Hawaii and supports Hawaii to have us in their prayers, to send support.

If you have a property, a lot of people own a second property in Hawaii, please make that available. I do intend to start some form of a state program to house people long-term on those terms, where we can support and insure properties.

So, there are a lot of things we're doing in the immediate. As you can see, I'm flying back from what was a family reunion six days faster because of the crisis. And our hearts are with everyone. I will be there tonight at midnight, and by 6 or 7 in the morning, will be on Maui.

I do appreciate all that our team, our lieutenant governor, and our first responders in general have done, plus the small businesses. You asked about that? We will have small business support also. The small businesses in Lahaina and Front Street were devastated. That's another part of the presidential declaration where we can get support.

SIDNER: Governor Josh Green, I'm sorry to see what's happening in Hawaii. Aloha to you.

GREEN: Aloha. Thank you so much.

SIDNER: I want to bring in our Veronica Miracle. She is on the ground in Maui. I know you just got there a couple of hours ago. Veronica, I think authorities are urging residents and tourists to leave at this point. Can you tell us what you're seeing? Have most people left?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's really hard to say, Sara. Right now, we are at a roadblock. This is the one road that gets into behind that, in and out. It goes all the way around, but it is, of course, blocked. And I want to show you, there are cars that are lined up and go just all the way down for, you know, at least a mile.


People are waiting on the side of the road. They know this is closed. They're just hoping when that order comes, that list, that they can go to their homes, that they'll be able to go quickly. Since we've been here, we've seen a lot of emergency vehicles coming through with sirens. This is still a search and rescue operation. We've also seen about five buses. We understand that there is going to be about a capacity of 500 people that will be able to get out of Lahaina that are stuck or thousands of people stranded. We have seen people leaving. We see some people coming right now, but once they leave, they cannot go back in.

So, there's just a lot happening here at this checkpoint. And there's another way that people can also get to Lahaina, which is by sea. But as you can see, it is windy, the waters are treacherous, and right now, only a limited number of boats have been authorized to go and bring supplies over to the other side of the island. Sara?

SIDNER: Veronica, we can see how windy it still is there. The fire is still burning. We see people. It looks like they're on their way out, that have just passed you. Thank you so much for that update, and we'll be checking with you, I'm sure, for the next hours that you are there. We appreciate you.

Up next, FBI agents fatally shooting a Utah man, who allegedly threatened President Biden just ahead of the president's trip to that state. Agents say he also made threats against other top officials and prosecutors who have charged former President Trump. That's ahead.



SIDNER: Today, FBI special agents shot and killed a Utah man while attempting to arrest him for allegedly making threats against President Joe Biden. All of this happening just hours before the president arrived in Utah.

Here's what we're learning tonight. The man identified as Craig Robertson was facing three federal charges, including threats against the president. According to prosecutors in one of those threats, Robertson wrote, I hear Biden is coming to Utah, digging out my old ghillie suit and cleaning the dust off the M24 Sniper rifle. Welcome, buffoon-in-chief.

The ghillie suit is a reference to this camouflage outfit that Robertson posted to his social channels. And in another threat directed at FBI agents, he wrote, to my friends in the federal bureau of idiots, I know you're reading this and you have no idea how close your agents came to violent eradication.

Also uncovered by investigators, a post showing off Robertson's arsenal where he wrote, just getting ready for the 2024 election cycle.

All right, taking a look at all that, let's turn right now to Daryl Johnson, former Homeland Security senior domestic terrorism Analyst, who also is the author of "Hateland." Also, with me is Brian Jacobs, a former federal prosecutor. Daryl, I'm going to start with you. Thank you, gentlemen, both for being here. This is a violent threat against the president of the United States, and it's just the latest we've seen in a heightened environment for political extremism, which the FBI has stated is the biggest threat to America's safety. How pervasive is a threat like this?

DARYL JOHNSON, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SENIOR DOMESTIC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, thank you for having me on your show. We're in a very heightened threat state right now. Particularly, the country is very polarized on a lot of different political and social issues.

We saw similar threats during the previous democratic administration, the Obama era. We had a lot of threats that came in against the president. And then we kind of had this lull when Trump was elected. But we started seeing a lot more threats directed at state local politicians.

Just in fact, we've had this year at least five incidents where state delegates or congressmen have had their homes shot at. So that kind of gives you an idea of the level of political tensions that are out there. And unfortunately, we have some people that will resort to violence to express their political grievances.

SIDNER: Thank you for that. Brian, I want to talk to you about the indications here that this person was a Trump supporter. He was going after people who were going after Donald Trump, but in a legal manner. The FBI didn't say that when they went to visit him, he was wearing a hat with Trump's name on it.

When you start looking at this from a sort of danger scope and from a political -- we're in -- we're in the throes of the campaign for 2024, is this going to spark copycats, more people who see this and decide that they are also going to be violent or try to be violent?

BRIAN JACOBS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, certainly, it is a reminder of the very real risk of political violence, especially in the context of all of the Trump cases that are going on right now. We have multiple cases in multiple jurisdictions.

And even right now, there's a fight over what's called a protective order in the Washington District Court. That's the order that could prevent former President Trump from talking about the witnesses and the other things he sees in discovery. This incident is a reminder of the kinds of dangers the prosecutors, the judge, the witnesses could face in these prosecutions.

SIDNER: Daryl, I do want to ask you, you know, whether or not this incident will be read differently by those who support Donald Trump. I'm seeing some things online where he seems to be becoming a martyr in some ways here. What are the dangers of that?

JOHNSON: Yeah, so a lot of times, these people use our bill of rights, our constitutional protections, to try to shield themselves from the appearance of violence and things like this. So, this gentleman, you know, made comments to the fact that he has the First Amendment right to make these types of claims.


Where people get it wrong is the fact when you get into a level of specificity, when you start naming people and you start picking out locations where these violent acts are going to occur, that's where you cross the line from free speech into a criminal matter.

And so, yes, I believe that, you know, they're going to try to spin it to look like this guy, you know, had his rights violated by the FBI. I applaud the FBI for handling this case and for working with social media to get this type of threat identified and investigated.

And when the FBI went to this guy's house to try to talk to him about some of the statements he made, rather than cooperate and, you know, talk about, you know, why he said those things, he threatened the FBI agents.

So, here, we have another layer of threat where, you know, the Justice Department and FBI agents are now becoming in the crosshairs of these extremists.

SIDNER: He seemed to be goading them on, according to some of the social media posts, Brian. Can you give me a sense of where we're headed as we get closer and closer to these cases against Donald Trump going to trial and closer and closer to the 2024 presidential election? Should we as Americans be concerned that these violent things are going to continue to happen?

JACOBS: There's a sense, I think, that it's almost like a slow-motion version of what happened on January 6th where you saw a speech that led to violence that all happened within that compressed time frame.

Here, over a much more extended time frame, we see the post that came out a few days ago. You know, I'll come after you if you come after me. You see the fight over, I want to release information from the discovery. And there's a real concern that the drip of this conduct over time could lead to these sorts of events and individuals like this one could act out.

SIDNER: All right. That is sobering. Thank you, gentlemen, so much for coming on the show. He has done it again. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspending a democratically-elected prosecutor. We have that story ahead.



SIDNER: Today, Florida governor and 2024 GOP hopeful Ron DeSantis announcing the suspension of Orlando area state attorney Monique Worrell, a democratically-elected prosecutor. This is the second time DeSantis has fired a state attorney due to political differences. CNN's Steve Contorno has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: On the presidential campaign trail, Governor Ron DeSantis often boasts about the time he removed a progressive prosecutor from office. Well, now, he has done it again.

On Wednesday, DeSantis announced that he was suspending Monique Worrell. She is the state attorney that represents Orange and Osceola counties in Florida. It's a job she has held since she was elected by more than 66% of the voters in those counties. But DeSantis on Wednesday accused her of -- quote -- "neglect of duty and incompetence" and had this to say about her stewardship of the office.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Prosecutors do have a certain amount of discretion about which cases to bring and which not. But what this state attorney has done is abuse that discretion and has effectively nullified certain laws in the state of Florida.

CONTORNO: Worrell on Wednesday fired back. She said that crime in her part of the state has gone down since she took office. She also said she was elected as a reformed prosecutor and to reform the criminal justice system, and she has done just that. She also said she intends to fight back against the suspension. And if the state legislature or the state court don't reinstate her, she will run for the office again in 2024.

MONIQUE WORRELL, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: This is a political hit job. It is nothing less than that, and it should be seen for exactly what it is.

CONTORNO: Now, as I mentioned, this is the second time DeSantis has removed a democratically-elected state attorney from office. The first was Andrew Warren, a Tampa prosecutor who DeSantis suspended last year.

Now, a federal judge actually ruled that DeSantis had acted unconstitutionally in removing Warren from office, and he also raised questions about the political motivations behind DeSantis's suspension. However, that judge ultimately said he was in federal court and unable to act on a state matter. That gave the green light for DeSantis to remove Worrell today. Sara?


SIDNER: All right. Thank you to Steve Contorno there. I want to bring in suspended Hillsborough County state attorney Andrew Warren. You were ousted a year ago by Governor DeSantis. We just heard the reporting from Steve Contorno there. What is your reaction when you heard this has happened to another attorney?

ANDREW WARREN, SUSPENDED HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY STATE ATTORNEY: Well, Sara, thanks for having me. When I first heard the news this morning, I immediately thought that this was another unconstitutional and a legal attack on democracy by a small and scared man who is desperate to save his floundering presidential campaign.

I mean, the governor is acting like he's a bully, but in reality, he's a coward who has been violating the rule of law and the will of the voters in Florida to conceal his own weakness.

SIDNER: The governor has said this was because of problems on the job, not doing your duty. He says the same thing about Ms. Worrell. You've been fighting to get your job back for, I think, a year now.


And we've reached out to DeSantis tonight for comments on these latest developments, and we have not yet heard back. But here's what he said about suspending you a year ago, and I'd like you to react to this. He said that states attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda.

He said today he suspended Worrell for neglect of duty and incompetence. What do you think this is really all about? Is he correct?

WARREN: Well, it must be nice for the governor to live in a world where facts and truth don't matter. I mean, in our case, the governor said things that a court later said were completely inaccurate as a matter of fact, and that the governor broke, as Steve said, state and federal law on suspending me. Yet, the governor continues to brag about it, going around the country, telling lies and misrepresenting the truth in that case.

And so, it's not surprising that he's going back to the well in a situation where he needs to distract attention from his presidential campaign and try to put it somewhere else.

And so, it's not going to be a surprise when we see what happens in this case, that the governor is making up allegations that are false against state attorney Worrell, and when the truth comes out that he was doing this for political reasons and for publicity once again.

SIDNER: This has to be frustrating for you for sure. We will wait to hear from DeSantis or his campaign as we look further into this. Thank you so much for coming on and explaining your side of the story.

WARREN: Thanks for having me.

SIDNER: Just ahead, an eyewitness says a racial slur was aimed at the Black ship co-captain just before the brawl broke out on the riverfront on that dock in Montgomery, Alabama. That's ahead.



SIDNER: Three men face assault charges after that brawl on Montgomery's riverfront. Videos show several white men attacking the Black co-captain of that riverboat before the clash escalated into a bigger fight. Despite the fight being largely split along racial lines, Montgomery's police chief said the event does not fit the criteria for hate crime. But there are some new legal documents that we found that revealed that an eyewitness to the incident told authorities that a white man yelled a racial slur, F that N word, before attacking the Black co- captain.

Joining me now is Alabama State senator Kurt Hatcher. Thank you so much for coming on our show. Senator Hatcher, when you saw this unfold in your state, what were your initial thoughts about it?

STATE SENATOR KIRK HATCHER (D-AL): Well, disturbing. Just as I think every person, not only in this city but across the state, was disturbed by what we saw on Saturday. Absolutely.

SIDNER: Senator, you know, the police chief has been very pointed in saying that at this point in time, what they have found, the actions that they saw, didn't meet the criteria to charge a hate crime in this case.

But we're hearing now that the mother of one of the victims in the fight alleged in a sworn document to police that you could hear men yelling the F-word and also the N-word. Do you think that could change the charges ultimately? Will that make a difference?

HATCHER: Well, you know, Sara, I can't speak to that. I don't know. But I do know this, that the notion of race in place saturates American society. And pretty much every serious response at some point or the other will almost always have some aspect of the infrastructure of the notion of race attached to it.

And I believe that, you know, obviously, the specter of race almost always rules out. If it does not rule out in a determinative fashion, it certainly does become a crucial factor in, you know, the process of determination.

So, again, you know, it just means that we have so much more work to do as it relates to how we come one with the other in terms of being able to at least have some sense of what a beloved community looks like. And this presents us with a unique opportunity for us to have just that.

SIDNER: You know, there is a very big difference, as you're mentioning, between, you know, race being a part of something and there actually being a hate crime that can be proved.

I am curious what you're hearing from your community there. Is there tension on the rise or are people talking about this like we have more work to do?

HATCHER: Well, you know, I wouldn't say there is unusual tension. I think the mayor has done a fantastic job of maintaining calm at all times. Our chief, Albert, and the police officers have done an incredible job, I think, of maintaining the calm in the community.

But that does not keep the community from having the conversations, thank goodness, about what does it look like to be able to have some real healing. And in my view, I think it provides us with a unique opportunity, a very unique opportunity to do just that.

We are right now filming in the back of Dexter Avenue Church. My Morehouse brother, reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., came, started that healing in this community many years ago. And quite frankly, I have said to so many people that I do believe, I absolutely believe, that the continued healing in this nation will have to make its way back through Montgomery, Alabama.


And I believe that Saturday may have ignited that. And I'm hoping that we will be able to get our community together to begin to do what it is our country has resisted doing, and that is to at least come closer to having something like a truth and reconciliation council, because what we've been doing is doing a lot of hugging without embracing.

And every time something like this happens, what we realize is that just beneath the flesh is a festering womb. And we think that somehow beyond these moments that suddenly we can come into a space where there's this momentary healing like there's some sort of social lobotomy that's taking place.

So, hopefully these are the moments right now that will provide us with the necessary hope and healing, and I do believe that there are people not only in this city and the state but across this country who are hungry for the kind of healing that gets us beyond the toxic rhetoric that continues to fire people up.

So, I want our folks to join me and join us in this city to help do what we can to really bring about genuine hope and healing because it's needed.

SIDNER: Senator, you have said a whole lot, a whole lot for us to think about and think through. Thank you so much for coming on our show. We appreciate it.

HATCHER: Thank you, Sara.

SIDNER: Up next, we'll remember rock and roll legend, Robbie Robertson of "The Band."





SIDNER: It's the base that gets you. Before we go tonight, Robbie Robertson, founding member of "The Band," has died. He was 80 years old and passed after a long battle with an illness. You know the phrase, your favorite band's favorite band? Well, that was Robbie Robertson's band, along with Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, and Richard Manuel. At one point, the backup band for Bob Dylan. The group went on to record their hit debut album "Music from Big Pink." (END VIDEO CLIP)

It blew away so many fellow musicians that when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, Eric Clapton said after his first hearing it, he went straight to Woodstock, New York to ask if he could join the group. But when he got there, he was too nervous to ask. Clapton finally got his chance at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when the two men shared a mic.