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New Day

Marilyn Mosby in the Spotlight; Two Shooters at Cartoon Contest in Texas; Pacquiao Was Fighting Injured; Interview with Pam Geller on Prophet Mohammed Cartoon Contest. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 04, 2015 - 07:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: To many here in Baltimore, she is an overnight hero, but Marilyn Mosby is coming under fire this morning. The state's attorney who charged six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray is accused of having a conflict of interest in the case, and she's being asked to remove herself. The prosecutor is having none of it.

Now, CNN's Sara Sidner caught up with Mosby and her husband for an exclusive interview. And Sara, I can't remember a couple who have been in the center of a major issue the way these two are.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's absolutely right. Any way to describe these two is power couple. And I used that phrase with them, and they basically said to me we don't like that phrase. We're public servants and we plan on doing our jobs.

We talked to them about conflict of interest that have been leveled at the two of them because he's a councilman and she is the state's attorney. We also talked to them about family and how they deal with their two young daughters and about faith.


SIDNER: He's a Baltimore councilman, and she's the youngest state's attorney in America and suddenly one of the most invisible figures in the host highly publicized homicide case in recent Baltimore history.

Her choice to charge six officers so far has seen more praise than protest. But her critics have already pounced on the couple's political connection.

MARILYN MOSBY, STATE'S ATTORNEY FOR BALTIMORE CITY: There is no conflict of interest. I mean, I'm going to prosecute. I'm the Baltimore City state's attorney. My district covers every district in Baltimore City. I have -- there's a number of crimes that take place in Baltimore City, and unfortunately, in the district that we live. Where is the conflict?

SIDNER: Their relationship established over a decade ago at Tuskeegee University.

M MOSBY: He was very popular, but what attracted me to him was that there was substance. It wasn't just a physical attraction, it was he wanted to be a public servant. He wanted make a difference.

NICK MOSBY, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCILMAN: She knew exactly what she wanted to do, she knew how she wanted to get there. And I just -- it was the first time I really met a woman -- or a young lady at the time like that.

SIDNER: But they discovered they had so much more in common than ambition. Both are the first in their families to go to college. Both grew up in rough neighborhoods. And both were impacted by crime, especially Marilyn. Her cousin, mistaken for a drug dealer, shot and killed in front of their family home when she was just 14.

M MOSBY: I saw my 17-year-old cousin with all these dreams and all these aspiration who is now going to a grave. But the individual responsible for his death was also 17-years-old. And it struck me. I said, how could we have gotten to that 17-year-old before he decided to take a life? .

SIDNER: It was a defining moment for a girl who came from four generations of police officers. Both she and Nick believe the community and the police can work together despite the difficult relationship.

M. MOSBY: It is about bridging everybody together. It is ability realizing that at the end of the day, it's a very small number of individuals that are defining the perception of our city.

SIDNER: As a black man in America what is your contact and relationship with the police?

N MOSBY: It's been tough, a struggle. I've been physically assaulted by the police.

SIDNER: Doesn't that make you angry?

N MOSBY: I mean, anger is -- you learn how to handle your differences, you learn how to handle your anger through education and who you are and what you are and what -- you got to force change in a positive way versus the negativity or the violence.

SIDNER: Marilyn Mosby says she sees no difference between someone with or without a badge when it comes to justice.

M MOSBY: At the end of the day, my job is to seek justice and to apply justice fair and equally to everybody, no matter what their color, their creed, their religion, their ethnicity.

SIDNER: Do you think you can do that because --


CUOMO: Hmm. That's a good question. That's what you're supposed to say as the prosecutor and certainly that's what you're supposed to do. The question is, the ability to do it. The conflict's one thing, but what about just experience? I know she was in the office for a while and then she left and then she came back and ran. What about that decision?

SIDNER: Well, she's been a state's attorney here for about 100 days now, and there are a lot of folks saying look, she hasn't tried a big murder case, and she may have overreached. She'll hear people saying that.

Here's what she said about criticism that she doesn't have the chops to do what she is doing. She could not of course talk about the case, as you know, while it's being investigated. That's just a normal thing that would happen anywhere in the country. The state's attorney wouldn't talk about the details of the case.

CUOMO: I'm surprised they even gave you the interview.

SIDNER: Yeah. I mean, you know. But bottom line is she said, look, people doubted that could even can be here. You know, there was an incumbent that had been here a long time. People doubted I could even do this. I'm a young woman who is, you know, going to have a lot of integrity, and that's what I've been trying to tell people -- that's what I ran on -- and I'm here. So if you take that as an example, then you have to trust that I'll be able get this job done.

CUOMO: And also, it doesn't mean that she's going to try the case. You know, she's going to have have a whole team of people, they'll all take parts. And we'll see which way it goes. But Sara, it's great. It's great to learn about them. Thank you very much.

All right. And there's no question that we do have new developments here in Boston but also if Texas at this hour. The shooting there. The FBI are searching an apartment complex in connection with the attack. We have the latest on that investigation. New information coming up.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We have breaking news this morning. Police in Texas learning more about the two gunmen who opened fire outside a free speech event featuring prominent anti-Islam activists and a cartoon contest of the Prophet Mohammed. We will speak with the organizer of that event, Pamela Geller, in a moment.

But firs, we want to get to CNN's Ed Lavandera, who is tracking all of these latest developments for us from Garland, Texas. What do we know, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Alisyn. The latest just coming into CNN now is that FBI officials in city of Phoenix, Arizona are at an apartment complex there where we are told by an FBI official there in Arizona that it has been determined that two of the suspects in the Garland, Texas shooting are from there. So now this moves a little bit to where the background and the investigation into who these two shooters are, focusing on the Phoenix, Arizona area. That information coming into us a short while ago. So we'll continue to monitor that throughout the morning and see how that develops here.

CAMEROTA: Ed, do we know if they have found any other people at that apartment complex in Phoenix who might be involved?

LAVANDERA: Not from my understanding. That's what we have so far. All of that taking place, Alisyn, as the FBI agents here continue to work the shooting scene. What you see behind me, now the sun has come up here, is the civic center. You see behind me, just this white truck is where the suspects' car was. Didn't quite make it into -- what appears from what we can tell from our vantage point even into the parking area before the shooting erupted here. We're rold by local law enforcement officials that all of the shootings lasted about 15 seconds outside of the civic center. The gunman never made it inside.

CAMEROTA: OK Ed, bring us more developments as soon as you have them. Thanks so much for that. All right. Meanwhile, it's time for CNN Money Now. Business Correspondent Cristina Alesci is in our Money Center. Cristina, tell us what's going on with the biggest burger chain.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: We're going to hear how McDonald's plans to turn itself around. It's going to have to increase the quality of its food, upgrade its locations and revamp its menu. This, of course, in response to declining sales. And get this Alisyn. First quarter profits have plummeted 32 percent.

Now, big money in boxing. Bets on the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight could have reached $80 million in Nevada. That's double any other boxing match. The wagers weren't just on who would win, but how many rounds the fight would go and whether there would be a knockout.

Now, winning at the box office, "Avengers: Age Of Ultron. It pulled in over $187 million. That makes it the second-best opening weekend in history. But it did fall short of what some analysts expected. "Avengers," though, is still considered a big hit for Marvel. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: I bet it is. All right, Cristina. Thanks, so much for that update.

Well, a sports power couple, a big one, is no more. Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn breaking up, we're told, over the weekend. Romance correspondent Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. What do we know, Andy?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Romance correspondent. I don't think I've ever been called that before, Aliysn. Well, Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn, they had been dating for nearly three years. But they say their busy schedules is what in the end doomed their relationship.

Both of them released a statement on the breakup saying it was mutual and that they would always cherish their time together. And after finishing tied for 17th the masters, Tiger has yet to play another tournament, but he will be back on the course for the Player's Championship, which gets going later on this week.

The second round of the NBA playoffs tipping off on Sunday. The Golden State Warriors having no problem in Game against the Grizzlies. Steph Curry was amazing. He had 22 points and seven assists as the Warriors took Game 1, 101 to 86. And according to multiple reports, Curry is going to be named this year's league MVP later today, narrowly beating out James Harden.

All right, it turns out Manny Pacquiao had a tear in his right shoulder going into Saturday night's huge fight with Floyd Mayweather. He injured it while training leading up to the fight, and the Nevada Athletic Association wouldn't let him take a shot pre-fight to relieve the pain. Now, that injury had some Pacquiao fans asking for a rematch. Will that happen? Probably not. But you can re-watch the big fight on HBO Saturday night at 9 Eastern.

And Alisyn, I know a lot of people this morning are still talking about the video. They're bummed out this fight really didn't live up to the hype. But I was there and the atmosphere in Las Vegas was just amazing. And it's going to go down probably as the most star studded event of all time.

CAMEROTA: There you go. It must have been fun to be there, Andy. Thanks, so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

CAMEROTA: All right. See you soon.

Well, back to our top story now. Two gunmen shot and killed after opening fire at a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest. We will speak with the organizer of that controversial event next.


CAMEROTA: We do have breaking news for you this morning. Police in Texas gathering information about the two suspects, the two gunmen who opened fire outside a free speech event which featured a cartoon contest of the Prophet Mohammed and a speech from someone who is on the al Qaeda hit list. Why hold this event and possibly invite a threat, given what we saw in Paris in January?

Here to explain all of that is Pamela Geller. She's the executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative. She organized the Draw Mohammed event in Texas. Pam, thanks so much for being on NEW DAY.


CAMEROTA: Pamela, where were you when the gunmen opened fire, and what happened inside?

GELLER: We had just finished a free speech conference. We had (inaudible) there, we had depictions of Mohammed through history, for the past 1,400 years, and we have held a contest, as you know. And the winner, interestingly enough, was a former Muslim, Bosh Faustin (ph). And we had finished the event. It was really very well received, roughly 300 people there. And it was at that time where these two gunmen attempted to storm the building, and they shot at the police. And we were all -- you know, we were all in the room. And the police came in and put us all into lockdown. And so, of course, this terrible incident reflects the need for such conferences. It's illustrative of the violent assault on the freedom of speech.

CAMEROTA: Pam, you know, there was a tweet sent out before the attack warning of the attack. Did you get any intel from the police about just how dangerous an event like this could be?

GELLER: Well, it's dangerous because increasingly, we're abridging our freedoms, so as not to offend savages. The very idea that if something offends me, or I don't -- or I'm insulted by something, I'll kill you and that way I can get my way, and somehow this is okay with members of the elite media and academia is outrageous.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, but Pam, nobody --

GELLER: It's a cartoon. It's a cartoon.


GELLER: It's a cartoon.

CAMEROTA: And nobody is saying that this warrants the violence that you saw. I mean I haven't heard anyone in the media saying that it's okay for gunmen to show up at an event like this. But what people are saying is that there's always this fine line, you know, between freedom of speech and being intentionally incendiary and provocative.

GELLER: Intentionally incendiary and provocative by drawing a cartoon. This is the low state of freedom of speech in this country. I disagree, and I disagree most vehemently. The First Amendment, not the Eighth, not the 10th, but the Dirst, protects all speech, not just ideas that we like. But even core political speech, ideas that we don't like, because who would decide what's good and what's forbidden? The Islamic state? the government?

Inoffensive speech, Alisyn, needs no protection, but in a pluralistic society you have offensive speech. You have ideas. You have an exchange of ideas. You don't shut down a discussion because I'm offended. If something offends me, should I go out and slaughter people?

CAMEROTA: Sure, of course.

GELLER: When Jesus Christ was put in a jar of urine it was called art. Did Christians like it? Of course not. Did they slaughter people? Did they burn embassies? Did they kill whole communities? Of course not. This cannot be sanctioned. This cannot be sanctioned. The West must stand up for freedom of speech. It's the core, fundamental element of this constitutional republic.

CAMEROTA: I mean what your critics say about this is that you weren't just going after, say, al Qaeda, or ISIS or extremism, but even just Islam. I mean, let me read to you a portion, an excerpt from your keynote speaker, Gerrick Wilders (ph) who said this to the crowd before the attack broke out, he said, "Our Judeo-Christian culture is far superior to the Islamic one. I can give you a million reasons. But here is an important one. We've got humor and they don't. Islam does not allow free speech because free speech shows how evil and wrong Islam is. And Islam does not allow humor because humor shows how foolish and ridiculous it is." Now, of course, that's not about extremism. He's talking about a religion of which there are 3 million Muslims even here in the United States.

GELLER: First of all, he's entitled to his opinion, end of story. So what? So he said that. And frankly, what he said was true. There is no humor. Khomeini when he took over in 1979 said there is no humor. The fact is that we need to have this discussion.

Alisyn, there's a problem in Islam and the problem is, we can't talk about the problem. We are seeing the wholesale slaughter of Christians in Iraq and in Syria, in Nigeria, in the Congo, Central African Republic. The jihad is raging, and all we can talk about is backlash of phobia. It's nonsense. We have to be able to discuss and when you say I'm anti-Muslim. Excuse me, I'm anti-jihad. And anyone that says that I'm anti-Muslim is implying that all Muslims support jihad.

CAMEROTA: Well, sure --

GELLER: That sounds Islamaphobic to me. That sounds Islamaphobic to me.

CAMEROTA: But the reason that people believe your group is anti- Islam is because of quotes like that from the keynote speaker where he was just talking about Islam. He wasn't talk -- what you're mentioning, I mean, the things that you're citing are the extremism, the violence, the terrorism. But he's just talking about Islam. I mean how can you say that 3 million Muslims here in the United States are humorless? How can you say that they don't believe in --

GELLER: He did not say that. He did not say that. We're talking about the ideology. Under the Sharia there is creed apartheid. There is gender apartheid. There is Islamic anti-Semitism and misogyny. These are very real. And who gives voice to the voiceless? Where are the victims get to speak? Every time a victim speaks out they're accused of Islamophobia. It's absurd on its face. And you can quote Mr. Vilders (ph) but by the -- you know, when you're talking about my work and what I do, quote me and quote my work. But I support --

CAMEROTA: Well only because he was your keynote speaker are we quoting him, but -- you know so that represents part of what the event was about.

GELLER: But what did he say that wasn't true?

CAMEROTA: Well, I'll tell you what he said that wasn't true. He said that Islam does not allow humor. Now, I mean, do you -- Pam, do you know anyone who is Muslim?

GELLER: Of course.

CAMEROTA: And do you think they're humorless?

GELLER: Listen, you're being very condescending.

CAMEROTA: No Pam, listen. Are you willing to say that all of Islam --

GELLER: It was the Ayatollah Khomeini --

CAMEROTA: -- doesn't alllow humor?

GELLER: Are you willing to say the Ayatollah Khomeini was not Supreme Leader in the Muslim world? Are you willing to say that? He's the one who said there were no jokes.

CAMEROTA: But that's -- but this is your keynote speaker saying this. This wasn't the ayatollah saying this.

GELLER: Yes. He's the who said there are no jokes. OK, so, you know, I don't like what you're saying, Alisyn, so because I don't like what you're saying and you're offending me, should -- you know should we be violent? you know so that we can shut down your speech?

CAMEROTA: No, no, no. Of course not.

GELLER: Is that what you're advocating?


GELLER: -- so we can have this conversation.

CAMEROTA: Look, this is what's so great. We're having this conversation on CNN. It's great to be able to debate this and have this conversation. And by the way, what's interesting about your event is that everyone, even the there's this piece of the Daily Beast right now that talks about that there were scores of Muslim leaders who supported your right to have this event. They didn't like it, but they supported your right to freedom of speech.

Let me read to you a quote from one of them. This was a New York City Muslim community leader. She says Pamela Geller can draw any damn cartoon she wants and I defend her right to do so. I have always fought for her right to be a bigot and I have the right to counter her bigotry with my own free speech. I mean, this is a Muslim leader saying you have the right to have an event like that. But again the point is --

GELLER: Yes. This is a Muslim leader who is attacking me and insulting me, in ad hominim attacks, and isn't that generous of her? look, she's not the problem, okay. The problem is that a group, and we don't know how many others were involved, attempted to open fire on a gathering of free speech. That's the problem, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Of course.

GELLER: You're bringing it up with these silly distractions. No one is saying that there aren't peaceful Muslims. But there is a problem in Islam, as illustrated last night and anyone that addresses it gets attacked in this same way. Whereas you should be directing your barbs at the enforcers of the Sharia and those that seek to -- to destroy and crush freedom of speech the way they did in Paris and in Copenhagen and across the world.

CAMEROTA: Listen, absolutely, Pam. The bottom line is that -- freedom of speech can never be met with violence. No one can ever open fire on a group of innocent people. I mean obviously that is from the get-go, that's where you and I and everybody in this country agrees. But there is a debate to be had about what the line is between freedom of speech and provocation. Have we lost Pam?

No. But, Pam, listen, the point is -- isn't that you don't have the right to do it. Of course you have the right to do it. It just seems that you don't draw the distinction between extremism and violence and Islam as a whole.

GELLER: And you don't draw the distinction between civilized men and savages because you're saying that if something I say offends someone, then they have the right to behave in a certain way; that it's going to incite them. I think it's ridiculous. I think the blasphemy laws under the Sharia is ridiculous. I think the people that tens of thousands of people that are slaughtered under this law is monstrous. And that's what you and I should be addressing.

CAMEROTA: And of course --

GELLER: Not that we can't talk about it.

CAMEROTA: Of course we agree on that. But --

GELLER: It's ridiculous.

CAMEROTA: But the problem comes when you paint with this broad brush and when you say savages in the same sentence as Islam. It makes it sound as though you're calling Muslims savages, and when he said when he makes these broad brushed --

GELLER: Show me. Alisyn, show me. Show me where I used Muslim and savages. One time in my entire life. Show me now. You just made accusation. Show me where I said that.

CAMEROTA: You were just saying savages. So we all agree --

GELLER: I said you -- I said you did not draw a distinction between civilized men and savages. Civilized men can disagree. Savages will kill you when they disagree.


GELLER: That's a distinction I made.

CAMEROTA: Of course, you said the religion of savages. You know that there are --

GELLER: I did not say it. Go back. I never said it. And everybody out there in the listening audience is saying no she didn't say that. CAMEROTA: I don't want to play a semantics game with you. But I do

think that your critics have a point when they say that you paint with a broad brushed stroke and it sounds like you're anti-anti-Islam.

GELLER: No, you paint with a broad brush. You paint with a broad brush. I am anti-jihad, I am anti-Sharia. You, by saying I paint with a broad brush are saying all Muslims support jihad. And Alisyn, you sound very Islamophobic.

CAMEROTA: Pam, of course, all Muslims don't support jihad. The point is --

GELLER: Of course.

CAMEROTA: -- is that when you -- when your speakers say that Islam is foolish, it is ridiculous, it -- how -- he says here how evil and wrong Islam is. I mean, when you just said that, of course, you know Muslim people, do you think that they're evil and wrong? I mean, how can your keynote speaker be saying this about a whole religion?

GELLER: I am not concerned -- I'm not concerned with Muslims. I'm not concerned with Muslims, especially peaceful Muslims. I am concerned with the 25 percent that support Sharia. I am concerned with the amputations and the female genital mutilation and the honor violence. I am concerned that the media whitewashed and scrubs this. I am concerned for the victims, and if I have to take this kind of abuse to speak up for the victims, it seems like a small price to pay.

CAMEROTA: Listen. Of course, everyone's concerned about the violence, but let's face it. Your event wasn't just about the violence, it was about -

GELLER: My event was about freedom of speech, period. Freedom of speech is the First Amendment. It's the first and most protected political speech -- the most protected because who would decide what's good and what's forbidden? These arbitrary voices? You? The Muslim Brotherhood?

We need to have this conversation, and the fact that we have to spend upwards of $50,000 in security speaks to how dangerous and how in trouble freedom of speech is in this country. And then we have to get on these new shows and somehow we are -- those that are targeted, those that were going to be slaughtered are the ones who get attacked speaks to how morally inverted this conversation is.

CAMEROTA: Listen Pam. This is not an attack, this is a conversation. And we're glad that you're having this conversation. I'm glad, I thank CNN to allow us to have a conversation like this because, to your point, we need to have conversations like this. But in terms of the event, in terms of what your plan is, what is your next plan? Now that you -- now that you all have survived this near-death experience, what will this do?

GELLER: Well, it'll certainly wake up the American people to this violent assault on our most basic freedom. And people will begin to realize that this war is here. You know, you read about it in Europe, literally opening fire on a

French magazine weekly and slaughtering cartoonists and journalists and thinking that this is, well, that's Europe and they have these problems that we don't have. We have them, and people need to wake up and we need to take a firm stance on freedom of speech, and we will not abridge our freedoms so as not to offend savages. And this is really, I think, the battle between freedom and slavery. It is that basic.

CAMEROTA: Pam Geller, we do appreciate you coming on. We do appreciate this conversation. Thanks so much for sharing what happened last night. We're happy that you're safe and that everryone there, other than the gunmen, survived. Thanks so much.

GELLER: Thank you, Alisyn.