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New Day Sunday

Texas Officials: Water Situation Improving, But Problems Linger; United Flight Suffers Engine Failure After Takeoff From Denver; Critical Week In Congress: A.G. Confirmation Hearing, Rescue Bill Vote; U.S. Hospitalizations Dip To Lowest Level Since November; Now More Than 61 Million Vaccine Doses Administered In U.S.; Study: People Of Color Underrepresented In U.S. Vaccine Trials; Attacks Against Asian Americans Spark Calls For Change. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired February 21, 2021 - 07:00   ET





PLANE: Mayday, mayday, United Air 28.

Denver, departure. United 328 heavy, mayday, aircraft just experienced engine failure, need to turn immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could have been a whole lot worse than it was. We are really thankful that nobody got injured or hurt.

REPORTER: The lights may be on, but across parts of Texas, the water isn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, I have lost all faith in senior leadership. I have only heard from council members in areas that I built relationships with. Everybody else is a lost hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Biden had hoped there would be in his first piece of legislation bipartisan support. It's not going to happen. Speaker Pelosi says they hope for a vote for the full house by the end of the week.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): We have got to get those $1,400 direct payments into the pockets of every working-class adult and their kids.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We are so grateful to have your company on this Sunday morning, 7:00 here in the east a beautiful picture of the Atlanta skyline there.

We're following news out of Colorado, though, this morning. The NTSB is investigating after a United Airlines flight suffered an engine failure shortly after takeoff. Look at this.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Debris was raining on homes. This is outside Denver. Plane parts were dropping into yards. Look at this. There is a part that even smashed a person's pickup truck.

PAUL: CNN's Lucy Kafanov is following the story. She's with us from Broomfield, Colorado, where all of that debris, or much of it rained down there.

Lucy, what are you learning this morning about what they are learning?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's too early to learn what they are learning. The investigation is still underway. But I can tell you it's been a surreal experience being out here in Broomfield. We were here yesterday and it was a totally different scene.

I mean, this entire street was blocked off by police tape. There were pieces of debris from that United Flight 328 literally everywhere that you walked. I mean, large pieces, small pieces. This building behind me, you can see the white RV, that's where that round circular piece of engine covering fell from the sky, bounced off the gutter on the roof and miraculously landed in front of the building. No one was hurt.

And that's really the key takeaway here, that nobody was hurt. Now, all of those pieces of debris, or at least most of them seemed to have been picked up by the NTSB investigators, that was taken back to Denver's international report, and that investigation is now kicking off.


KAFANOV (voice-over): Terrifying video from onboard United Flight 328 showing the right engine on fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden, there was a loud sound and then it got really, really bad. I thought lightning struck the plane at first.

TRAVIS LOOCK, PASSENGER: There was a big boom and the kind of sound you don't want to hear when you are on an airplane. And I instantly put my shade up and I was pretty frightened to see that the engine on my side was missing.

KAFANOV: The Boeing 777 traveling from Denver to Honolulu experiencing engine failure minutes after takeoff.

BOB BROWN, PASENGER: We looked at each other, my wife and I, and held hands and just wished our kids would see them again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know what it is.

KAFANOV: Eyewitnesses on the ground seeing pieces of the aircraft falling from the sky in the Denver suburbs of Broomfield.

KIERAN CAIN, WITNESS: I was playing on the basketball court just having fun. An airplane was flying really high overhead and basically what sounded like a sonic boom made everybody look up. As we did, we could see there was a giant black cloud of smoke high up in the sky. Immediately followed by, you know, what looked like pieces of the aircraft really just coming off, and basically a shower of things that were falling out of the sky.

KAFANOV: The debris field spread over a mile according to Broomfield police. Massive pieces of metal punk ring punk ring a roof strewn over a soccer field and lawns.

KIRBY KLEMENTS, EYEWITNESS: My wife and I were sitting inside the house just finishing up with the paper, and we heard this big bang. We kind of looked at each other and go, what was that? Then all of a sudden there was a bang and a crash.

And this object just rolls right in front of our house, right out the front window. So I get out and look outside and I'm trying to figure out what it is. As soon as I open the door, I go, uh-oh, it's an engine part.


KAFANOV: It was just after 1:00 p.m. local time when the pilot of the 777 with 241 people onboard declared an emergency.

PILOT: Mayday, mayday, United Air28, 328, heavy mayday, mayday aircraft.

ATC: Three-two-eight heavy, say again please. Repeat all that again.

PILOT: Denver, departure United 328, heavy mayday. Aircraft just experienced an engine failure, need to turn immediately.

KAFANOV: The crew keeping the airplane under control and safely landing back at Denver International Airport.

BRENDA DOHN, PASSENGER: My daughter was sitting on the window and she's, you know, I was just like, don't look, let's close it up and let's just pray. So, that's what we did. We kind of just held hands and said some prayers.

TROY LEWIS, PASSENGER: We took time to pray with each other and there were people around me praying. But I felt fairly confident that we were going to make it back to the airport.

KAFANOV: According to United, none of the passengers or crew suffered any injuries. And incredibly, no one on the ground was injured.

RACHEL WELTE, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, BROOMFIELD POLICE: This park on a day like today when it's not as cold as last weekend, we could have hundreds of people here. And the fact that we are not getting reports of any injuries is absolutely shocking at this point. I'm -- it's amazing.

KAFANOV: Debris from the damaged jetliner being taken to Denver Airport for analysis. The National Transportation Safety Board, the FAA, and Boeing are investigating. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KAFANOV (on camera): You heard from Broomfield police spokeswoman talking about the conditions on the ground yesterday. It might be frozen and snowy and icy right now, but it was a really nice day yesterday afternoon and a lot of folks were out and about. I interviewed two 16-year-old girls who are practicing soccer who described seeing that plane, hearing that explosion, having to run under a gazebo to hide to get to safety, a true miracle that nobody was injured in this incident -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Especially when you watch that video of it raining from the sky.

Lucy Kafanov there for us from Broomfield, thank you.

Let's turn to Texas now where temperatures are rising, so that's good, but 14 million Texans are now facing this water crisis after going days without power.

PAUL: Yeah, power has largely been restored across the state, which is the good news, getting clean running water though, that's the task at hand.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in Dallas.

When we say millions of people, we're talking, what, half the state that doesn't have clean water?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, really is stunning to think of it in those terms. More than 14 million people, that's about half the population of the state of Texas, and that is a problem and a number that hasn't really changed all that much since Friday. So, clearly, this a process that's taking a long time to correct and that is because in a lot of places you drive around, you see busted water main pipes on streets that are taking crews a long time to get to. You have busted pipes in people's homes.

So, a combination of issues and headaches that people are battling with. That coming as in large part the power is coming back on. I think the last check we have is about under 40,000 people still without electrical power. A far cry from what we saw at the worst of this winter storm, which is about 4.5 million households across the state that didn't have power.

So that situation has improved. But the water situation continues to be a problem, and that is why there are sites like this, this is a community center in West Dallas, that will be set up as a water distribution point for people to come by and be able to get bottles of water if they need.

And you are seeing this and scenes like this play out all over the state, from Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin as well. And these are communities and headaches that people are just -- will have to continue to deal with throughout the rest of the day. BLACKWELL: And talk to us about these electric bills. We have heard

reports that they are eight, 10, 12 times higher than what they typically are.

LAVANDERA: Yeah, this is really stunning. And state officials, lawmakers were having emergency meeting about this issue yesterday. But no clear point as to how exactly this is going to get resolved.

But there are a number of people in Texas that have their utility bills and their plans set up as variable plans. What that means is that the price you pay is directly connected to the market price of electricity. So you can imagine earlier this week, or last week, as the demand was soaring for electricity and the supply was dwindling and plummeting quickly. That shot the price of electricity through the roof.

So, right now, we are hearing stories from thousands and hundreds of Texans across the state who are opening up their electrical bills to find that they owe thousands and thousands of dollars.


DEANDRE UPSHAW, RECEIVED $7,000 ENERGY BILL: Well, it's wild. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Texas having record-breaking weather. The last thing I am thinking about while I am trying to get gas and groceries and make sure that my pipes don't explode, the last thing I am thinking about is a $7,000 bill from my utility.



LAVANDERA: So, that's just -- he is one of the Texans. $7,000 on the electrical bill, and that is, as you could imagine, not only just a shock to see, but a terrifying shock in some cases. You know, it really threatens wiping out any savings that they might have.

So this is a situation that many Texans are looking and hoping that state lawmakers can resolve in some sort of way to see if there is any kind of relief for these people who were just being stunned and shocked by what they are finding in their bills.

PAUL: Yeah, you would almost think it's a mistake. I mean, I try to imagine what my face would look like if I opened it up and saw $7,000 on a bill.

Thank you so much, Ed Lavandera. Keep us posted. I hope that works out for those folks.

Listen, confirmation hearings for President Biden's pick for the attorney general kick off tomorrow. But we are getting our first look at what Merrick Garland will say when he goes before the Senate.

BLACKWELL: Plus, a new study finds people of color hugely underrepresented in the U.S. vaccine trials. What's being done to close the gap coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLACKWELL: So, there will be a lot of attention on Congress this week with lawmakers set to weigh in on some of major -- the major administration priorities. On the schedule, two hearings with implications for Capitol insurrection investigation, most notably the start of hearings for the president's attorney general nominee.

PAUL: Also tomorrow, a key vote scheduled in the House to push forward on the president's $1.9 trillion rescue plan.

BLACKWELL: Let's get to CNN's Daniella Diaz on Capitol Hill.

So let's talk about the relief package first.


That's right. So tomorrow there will be this key House Budget Committee meeting where they will vote to advance this legislation out of the committee so it could be set up for a full floor vote late they are week. This is a major step for House Democrats to push Biden's massive $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. After this, it will go to the Senate where they will vote on this using budget reconciliation, which means they only need 51 votes to advance the legislation to Biden's desk.

Now, that means every single Democrat senator needs to support this legislation, and that will probably mean Vice President Kamala Harris will be the tie-breaking vote.

Now, there's little to no Republican support behind this legislation. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office released a report saying yesterday this legislation would cost $1.92 trillion over the next 10 years. Republicans think this is too much money, especially after two stimulus packages that were passed last year.

So they want a more centralized smaller package and are not willing to sign on to support this legislation. And there's also a sticking point for some Democrats on this legislation. Two Democrats that we're watching, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, say that they don't support this $15 minimum wage increase in the legislation.

But Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders is clear he thinks this should be included and he says ongoing discussion with the Senate parliamentarian, they think they can pass this using budget reconciliation and include this part of the legislation, the $15 minimum wage in this package.

So, we're just going to have to wait and see how this plays out this week -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: So, talk to us, Daniella, about what's expected, too, starting tomorrow with this critical cabinet post for the Biden administration. DIAZ: That's right, Christi. You guys mentioned that there are some

very notable hearings happening this week. You brought up a couple of them.

But probably the most important happening tomorrow, starting tomorrow, is Merrick Garland's hearing to be the attorney general of the United States. He will face the Senate Judiciary Committee for the first time and for his hearing to be attorney general and he is planning to argue -- we got a glimpse of his opening remarks. He is planning to argue he is going to maintain the integrity of the Justice Department, arguing on the importance of the Justice Department, and maintaining civil rights under his leadership.

This is what he plans to say. He will say: Many of you have asked why I would agree to leave a lifetime appointment as a judge. I have told you that I love being a judge. I have also told you that this is an important time for me to step forward because of my deep respect for the Department of Justice and its critical role in ensuring the rule of law.

He is also going to talk about the insurrection that took place at the Capitol on January 6th. This is what he plans to say tomorrow. He will say: If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6th. A heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy. The peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.

This is what he is planning to say tomorrow during the -- for the first day of his confirmation hearing to be attorney general of the United States. So, we are planning to monitor that and bring you the latest on that -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All righty. Daniella Diaz, good to see you this morning. Thank you.

CNN political analyst Toluse Olorunnipa with us now. He's a national politics reporter for "The Washington Post."

Toluse, good to see you, as always.

Let's start there where she left off on Merrick Garland, when he uses the words, he will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others. This was an event that was unprecedented. It was also an event that is unique in the sense that the senators were victims essentially of this event.

How do you think -- how persuasive do you think his words will be when he speaks directly to the insurrection?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Christi. This is an incident that the Senate is still dealing with. Remember we just had an impeachment trial just a couple of weeks ago that ended with the acquittal of President Trump, but with very raw emotions unearthed about how the senators felt.

[07:20:03] They saw the videos of what happened and there are a lot of those people who are in those videos who were attacking the Capitol who have not been investigated, arrested, prosecuted and Merrick Garland is essentially promising to supervise this prosecution and to make sure that these people are held accountable. That is something that is likely to get bipartisan support even though there are many Republicans on that committee who do not want to continue talking about January 6th.

They want to talk about other things. They want to focus on Biden's agenda. They don't want the reminders that President Trump incited and inspired a riot against the Capitol and the leader of their party continues to tell his voters that the election was stolen.

But in terms of holding the people accountable, that is something that does have bipartisan support. So you can hear from Merrick Garland sort of the idea that he wants to get Democrats and Republicans onboard with his nomination by saying that he is going to focus on making sure that these people are prosecuted. Now, his use of the word white supremacist is something that's likely to maybe wrangle some Republicans who don't want to focus on the fact that there is a domestic terrorist threat and many of those actors are white supremacists.

Many of them were inspired by President Trump and those are the kinds of questions that you might expect Merrick Garland to get during his confirmation hearings and he will have to navigate how to talk about that while making sure that Democrats are appeased because they want more focus on this issue because they felt that under the Trump administration, this domestic terrorist threat was not focused on as much as it should have been.

PAUL: When you talk about what else they will want to discuss, we understand GOP senators are signaling they want to bring up things like Hunter Biden and New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo. Going to be some tough questions. But is that going to be an attempt in some way to block the confirmation? Is that any -- I am wondering how those conversations might play in and how he may answer them.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. They are, Republicans are likely going to try to trip up Merrick Garland by essentially bringing up some of these politically sensitive investigations to get a firm commitment from him that he will not be involved in sort of the politics of justice, that he will not be involved in showing favoritism to any of President Biden's friends or allies or Democrats who may be under investigation, who may be subject to any kinds of prosecutions.

We did see Democrats make a lot of hay under the Trump administration about how the Justice Department had been politicized. So Republicans are going to sort of try to push back on Merrick Garland by saying how are you going to show that you will not be partial, that you will not show favoritism if people like President Biden's son hunter are the targets of investigation, that you will not try to shield them from those types of investigations.

So he will be pressed on that. We normally don't hear these nominees commit one way or the other to prosecuting anyone or to not prosecuting anyone. But he will be pushed to show that he will allow the Justice Department to be independent and he will be pushed by Democrats and Republicans to show that he is turning the page from some of the challenges that happened under the Justice Department during the Trump administration, both Democrats and Republicans were unhappy with some of the things that happened in the department.

So, Merrick Garland has a lot of pressure on him to lead the department in a new direction after he is confirmed.

PAUL: All righty. Toluse Olorunnipa, we appreciate your insights. Thank you, sir, for being with us.

OLORUNNIPA: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: There is encouraging news in the fight against coronavirus. New COVID stats reveal that the numbers that we haven't seen since November. We'll tell you which, next.



BLACKWELL: There are some promising signs in the fight against the coronavirus. The U.S. surpassing more than 61 million vaccine doses administered.

PAUL: Yeah, new COVID stats are trending down finally.

Here is CNN's Athena Jones with more.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a week of chaotic winter weather stalled vaccine shipments, some much needed good news. COVID hospitalizations have dipped to their lowest level since November, along with a five-week decline in new infections. The death count has also slowed to about 2,700 a day.

The president is cautiously optimistic.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can't give you a date when this crisis will end, but I can tell you we are doing everything possible to have that day come sooner rather than later.

JONES: Biden's legislative priority, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, is on the path to package, indicating financial relief may soon be on its way.

The White House is also ramping up vaccine distribution after winter weather derailed the distribution possess and forced delays in all 50 states.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Early reports are that about 6 million doses of vaccine have gotten delayed this week because of weather issues, so either the roads being impassable or workers unable to leave their house to come pack and then ship the vaccine.

JONES: Some officials fear progress may be reversed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a setback, but I think if you look at the numbers, we are still hitting an average of 1.5 million Americans vaccinated per day across the country and we are continuing to scale that up.

JONES: A new study was released this week suggesting a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine alone could be effective, raising the question of whether the second dose could be delayed or skipped to free up supplies.

This possibility was quickly shot down by experts. Dr. Anthony Fauci disapproved, citing lack of data.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm with Tony. I'm with Dr. Fauci in the sense that we know that two doses both give high levels of consistent neutralizing antibody and durability of protection. I haven't seen sufficient data yet to go just to that single dose route.


JONES (voice-over): And while the U.S. gets back on the road toward herd immunity, CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, urges schools to create a plan of action.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: So, our numbers are coming down. I would actually invite schools to lean in and to look at what is needed so that in the roadmap to try to get more and more children back to school.

JONES: Currently, teachers are not required to get vaccinated before getting back to the classroom.

As vaccination clinics around the country begin to get back on track, people when qualify are urged to get a vaccine as soon as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Best thing I can say to anyone is, if it's available, take it. And just pray that it works for you and you stay safe.


JONES (on camera): Now, given the progress in bringing down the number of new COVID cases, an influential model from an Institute at the University of Washington now predicts 589,000 Americans will die of the virus by June 1st. Now, that's still a very hey startling number, but it is lower than the forecast last week. That forecast was for 614,000 Americans to die by June 1st -- Victor, Christi.

PAUL: All righty. Athena Jones, good to see you. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: There is a new study in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" and it finds that over the past ten years, people of color have been vastly underrepresented in U.S.-based vaccine trials. Let's bring in now, CNN's Nicquel Terry Ellis.

Nicquel, what is behind the disparity?

NICQUEL TERRY ELLIS, CNN SENIOR WRITER, RACE & EQUALITY TEAM: Yeah, so I just want to go over the numbers with you first because the numbers are -- I mean, this disparity is pretty big. White people made up 78 percent of all these participants in these vaccine trials in the last ten years. Black people made up 11 percent. Hispanics made up 12 percent.

I think that the problem here is that when you don't have people of color represented in these vaccine trials, it's difficult to know whether the vaccine will actually be effective on all racial groups. Prime example, here we are in the COVID pandemic, people of color have been dying and hospitalized from COVID at higher rates than white people.

The thinking is that you want to be able to have people be in the trials who were at the highest risk. They also believe that when the trials are more inclusive, it can help to combat vaccine hesitancy in these communities. People will see that people who look like them have been a part of the trials and may feel more comfortable ultimately with getting the vaccine.

BLACKWELL: So what is then being done to recruit more people of color for these trials?

ELLIS: So there is now a national campaign that has been launched to address the issue and the disparity here to recruit more people of color to be a part of these vaccine trials. The Morehouse School of Medicine also has run a campaign in recent months where they are trying to recruit people of color for the Novavax vaccine trials. This is a trusted institution in the black community. The hope is that people will see that they are, you know, doing recruitment here and that they will then maybe are more willing to be a part of the vaccine trial process.

BLACKWELL: And beyond the trial, we have had this conversation for several months now about distrust of vaccines among some. What is the effort in the health community, health community advocates doing to try to build that trust?

ELLIS: So, yeah, we have seen massive efforts by the black church, which I can't emphasize enough, you know, how powerful and how much trust the black church and black pastors have in the black community. They are now helping people to get signed up for the vaccine. They are advocating for vaccinations in their sermons now.

You are seeing black doctors in cities like Philadelphia who are actually going out to neighborhoods in black community to vaccinate people themselves. You have people who are trusted such as civil rights leaders like Andrew Young who publicly are going out to more house and gotten the vaccine.

So, the home is that you'll have people who are trusted, who are, you know, out pushing this vaccine and that more folks will, then, hopefully, be more willing to get the vaccine after that.

BLACKWELL: Nicquel Terry Ellis, thank you so much for the insight.

ELLIS: Thank you.

PAUL: You know, we have seen a number of attacks on Asian-Americans in the past few weeks. Some of them are brutal. How volunteers now are stepping in to try to keep members of the Asian community safe. We'll talk about it. Stay close.



BLACKWELL: There are new protests in Myanmar calling for an end to the military takeover there. This is after the deadliest day of protests so far. Volunteer emergency workers tell "Reuters" and the "AFP" that at least two demonstrators were killed after police started shooting at protesters.

State media claims protesters injured at least eight police officers with sticks and knives and catapults during clashes yesterday. One Burmese human rights organization says that it verified 569 arrests related to the coup since February 1st. More than 520 people are still in jail or facing outstanding warrants.

PAUL: Here in the U.S., activists say hate crimes against Asian- Americans are escalating.

BLACKWELL: There are thousands of incidents from verbal attacks, special assaults as well have been reported. Some extremely violent.


Kyung Lah reports.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy birthday, dear grandpa --

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Turning 84 was a milestone for Vichar Ratanapakdee and his family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy birthday, grandpa.

LAH: The San Francisco grandfather had just received the vaccine and stayed healthy through the pandemic, walking for an hour in his neighborhood every morning. It was on his walk when an unprovoked attacker ran across the street.

How did you find out what happened to your father?

MONTHAUS RATANAPAKDEE, VICTIM'S DAUGHTER: The officer answered the phone and then he told us like, they followed him, got assaulted. He got injury very bad by his brain, bleeding. And he never wake up again. I never see him again. LAH: A 19-year-old subject is charged with murder and elder abuse. But

Ratanapakdee's family calls it something else.

ERIC LAWSON, VICTIM'S SON-IN-LAW: This wasn't driven by economics. This was driven by hate.

LAH: Ratanapakdee's death is part of a surge in reported attacks against Asian-Americans during the pandemic. In Oakland, a man walked up behind a 91-year-old man and threw him to the ground. One of more than 20 assaults and robberies like this one, in Oakland's Chinatown.

In Portland, more than a dozen Asian-owned businesses in recent weeks have been vandalized.

These incidents are not new. In New York, the MTA retweeted this video of what they called racism. This man sprayed Febreze at an Asian- American on the subway at the start of the pandemic, prompting an NYPD hate crime investigation.



LAH: A coalition has tracked more than 2,800 anti-Asian hate incidents between March and December of last year, like this one at a California restaurant. Before the election, this man invoked President Trump.


LAH: The then-president's words --


LAH: -- have lasting impacts as Professor Russell Jeung who tracked those 2,800 hate incidents through Stop AAPI Hate because no governmental agency would.

PROF. RUSSELL JEUNG, STOP AAPI HATE: Mainstream society doesn't believe that we face racism. And we needed to document what was happening.

LAH: Identify and change them, says this group of Bay Area volunteers, offering escorts for the elderly, and offering a bridge to those who may not even know how to talk to the police.

DEREK KO, COMPASSION IN OAKLAND VOLUNTEER: We want to take that rage and like let's do something. What can I do?


KO: And this is what we're doing.

LAH: Vichar Ratanapakdee's daughter spent the last year ignoring what people said to her. RATANAPAKDEE: You bring the COVID, screaming, spit on us, but we just

walk away.

LAH: She won't do that anymore.

RATANAPAKDEE: He got to be proud about, we protect a lot of the another people in this city or the whole country.


LAH (on camera): The San Francisco Police Department has not charged the suspect in the Ratanapakdee's murder with a hate crime because, as in many cases, it's so difficult to prove. Activists believe that incidents of hate against Asian-Americans in this country are probably far higher than anyone realizes, especially when you consider this community is often immigrant and has language barriers.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


PAUL: Kyung, thank you for that report there.

So, let me ask you this, imagine taking a cartful of groceries to the cashier and being waved through the line without having to pay. We are talking to a man who was the recipient of that kindness, next.

BLACKWELL: And be sure to tune into an all new episode of "LINCOLN: DIVIDED WE STAND", tonight on CNN.

Now, tonight's episode examines Lincoln's political positions, stance on slavery and his assent to the White House.


LOUIS MASUR, PHD, AUTHOR, LINCOLN'S LAST SPEECH: The Union is in trouble. This is going to be the most important election that the country has ever seen. Who do you want to lead you through that?

Here's this tall, elegant figure in a tuxedo looking us right in the eye. His left hand is on a book. It brings home that theme of education, of learning, but look at that right hand. The sleeve comes out from underneath the coat. This was strength, this was someone who worked on the frontier.

Carl Sandburg, the great biographer of Lincoln, once said that Lincoln was equal parts velvet and iron. The left hand is velvet. The right hand is iron.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not accidental stuff. That's Lincoln composing himself as a public figure.


BLACKWELL: "DIVIDED WE STAND" airs tonight at 10:00 Eastern and Pacific, right here on CNN. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLACKWELL: And the weather disaster in Texas made the last several days -- a last week really hard for millions of people across the state but it also revealed the kindness of strangers.

PAUL: Yeah, take, for instance, Chelsea Timmons. She's a grocery delivery driver. Her truck slid on ice in Austin, Texas, got stuck, so homeowners Doug Conneden and Nina Richardson offered her shelter while she waited for a tow truck. Well, that wait turned into five days.

Chelsea baked the couple a cake when they insisted that she stay at their home. She said, that was definitely not how I expected my Valentine's Day to go. We had a great dinner and I sat, I was warm, I was fed and it was just amazing.


And I thought it was just going to be for one night, but here I am day five.

BLACKWELL: Five days.

All right. So our next guest says managers at a grocery store, this is in the Austin area, they allowed shoppers to leave with free supplies as the powerful winter storm moved through the state and now he's looking to pay it forward.

PAUL: Tim Hennessy is with us now.

Tim, good morning to you.

So I want you to take us to this moment in the grocery store.

Well, first of all, let me ask you, how is your family doing? Are you all okay?

TIM HENNESSY, RECEIVED FREE ITEMS, PAYING IT FORWARD: We're all doing great. We have had power since Thursday and water since Thursday night. So we're doing good, yeah. No problems here.

PAUL: Okay. Good. So you were in the grocery store, you had a full cart, the store was packed as I understand it and the lights went out. At that point what happened?

HENNESSY: Yeah, there was like a collective grown, oh, no here we go again, you know? A couple hundred people in the store and we kind of looked around and we just decided let's keep shopping until someone tells us not to. It was light enough in there because they had big windows in the store.

So we kept shopping and about 10, 15 minutes I told my wife, let's hurry up in case they scoot us out and we need to leave the store. We did our shopping and 15 minutes later one of the store gentlemen said, can we get people to go to the front of the store, we have a process for this, we will get you checked out as quickly as we can.

So we got in line with lots of people in front of us and behind us and a bunch of other lines and probably a couple hundred people and, you know, about 10, 15 minutes we didn't really move much, I thought, wow, this is going to take a long time with no electricity. Before you know it we started moving. I thought, great. Must be all hands on and they got the process down, you know?

And then a few minutes later, we started moving and someone said do you have any alcohol? I said, no, but if you're giving out drinks I will take them. So then we said -- she said come up to this aisle, we got on that particular aisle and started putting our groceries on the belt and the woman checking us out said, don't bother, we won't have time to bag anything. I thought that's kind of weird, how are you going to ring it up if you're not going to bag it. What's going on?

She said hold on further, we got to the end of the checkout aisle where we normally pay and she said with her arm, go ahead, you can proceed out the store. And we were confused at first. I said how do I pay, you know? And I got -- she just said, go home and be safe. And it was really touching.

My wife started tearing up a little bit because it's just a nice touching moment, you know? Then we saw everybody else walking out the store and my wife decided she wanted to catch that moment in a picture so she took that picture that I posted. I just wanted to post it for a few friends on Facebook, it was a nice gesture in our area, and that was Tuesday and then I wake up Wednesday morning and, wow, I have never had a post go to I think it's 30,000 shares and all of these likes and it was really touching.

If you read the comments of the story I think people were moved by, you know, such a generous act of kindness in that moment, you know. It's been a tough week for people in Texas and just a bad year for a lot of people. So I think people resonated with just the generosity in that particular moment. It was really nice.

BLACKWELL: It was a remarkable gesture to, you know -- when people are struggling that what you have I will give to you, we will worry about this later. Now, what we understand is that you want to pay this forward.


BLACKWELL: Tell us why and how you're considering -- what are your ideas about how to pay it forward?

HENNESSY: Yeah, well, one thing, too, as soon as we left the store of course I tornado around and made a joke I said, oh, I forgot the filet mignon, just kind of kidding. It almost became of a festive mood, everybody was happy, you could see it right in the parking lot because it was hard for people to maneuver the cars through all the snow and ice and we were helping each other, a couple cars got stuck, we were you wish push.

You could tell people felt good about the whole thing. So I called the corporate office a few days later and I asked them what their charities are, I wanted to find out what charities they support and one of them was called Lady Lodge for families and stuff, another one was the local food bank.

So we plan on just donating to them, probably a lot more than what the groceries cost us, mainly because, you know, we didn't deserve that. We didn't, you know -- it was just a complete surprise.

They could have easily just said, leave your carts and leave the store, I half-expected that and I wouldn't have blamed them for that, you know, but it was really just a nice gesture. So we felt like we have to do something and I wanted to share the story with people and, too, I wanted to support some charities that they supported. They are a fantastic store, one of the best in Texas and so I wanted to do that.

PAUL: Tim Hennessy, that's incredible. I can see you're still emotional about it now. I can understand why. It's been a really tough week to have something like that happen, it's pretty extraordinary. Thank you so much. Tim, we wish you and your family the very best.

HENNESSY: Thank you Christi and Victor. I appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

HENNESSY: Absolutely. And if you'd like to help those impacted with the winter weather in Texas, we put a source of places on our website,, and thank you for doing so.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, you hear about it sometimes. You hear about price gouging and the worst coming out, but in this moment, the greatness of people. So, good to see that.

Thank you for starting your morning with us.