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Miami Beach Under State Of Emergency Amid Overwhelming Crowds; More Than 5,000 Children Now In Border Patrol Custody; Crowds Across U.S. Hold Anti-Hate Rallies After Spa Shootings. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired March 21, 2021 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: And more needs to be done, we can always improve."

So we've got a real clear acknowledgement here from the institution of the Palace that more needs to be done and they are working on it.

This will be really welcome news for all the people right around the world who were really concerned, of course, by many of the issues that were raised in that interview.

It's also really interesting though, it highlights the complexity of the Royal Family. Both a family, also an institution and for someone like Meghan Markle, joining the Royal Family fitting into both camps but not necessarily feeling supported by either.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: And it's fascinating, Anna Stewart, keep us posted on that. Thank you.

All right, hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with stunning pictures out of spring break in South Florida where the City of Miami Beach has declared a state of emergency.

[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]

WHITFIELD: And what you're hearing there is people fleeing from pepper balls being fired into the crowd. The Mayor calling the situation overnight overwhelming for local police and the neighboring police departments brought in to help.

At least a dozen people were arrested last night after multiple attempts to disperse the crowds. The situation growing so dire, city officials are holding an emergency meeting this hour.

An increase in travel to Florida and across the U.S., in fact as health officials concerned. The T.S.A. saying more than a million people passed through U.S. airports for the 10th straight day on Saturday, and it comes at a time when the C.D.C. is still recommending Americans avoid travel.

Let's go to the situation in South Florida in Miami Beach. Randi Kaye is there, so they are meeting -- officials are meeting this hour and are they also trying to, you know, figure out how to get a handle of things or how to keep people from coming?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're certainly trying to get a handle on what's happening here, Fred. I mean, the state has now seen more than two million coronavirus cases and yet, you have all of these spring breakers treating it like there is no pandemic at all going on and they're partying here in Miami Beach. And in these entertainment districts.

Take a look at some of this video that we've seen, which really explains why the city has put in this now -- this new state of emergency. The Mayor is basically saying, look, spring breakers, we don't want you here. Don't come here to party.

But it was quite a scene in the streets. Police had to move them out after this new 8:00 p.m. curfew. Many of the people were still staying in the area that was -- it took some time to get them out. But this curfew is now in place. This area is closed as of 8:00 p.m. Starting last night, also, the causeways from the Mainland to Ocean Drive where we are in Miami Beach that is now closed except to residents and people who have business to do and hotel guests in that area.

It's in place for about 72 hours right now, and as you said, they are meeting. The city is meeting right now to determine if maybe it would go as long as April 12th even when the spring break sort of officially ends, but there were more than a hundred arrests last weekend. The people have been wall to wall as you see in a lot of that video, not masked, and there were more than a dozen arrests overnight last night.

But listen to this one reaction. We spoke to a spring breaker here and this is what she told us.

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GIANNI DOMOND, VISITING MIAMI BEACH: I feel like it is needed because you know corona is still around. I feel like a lot of the spring breakers are just not thinking about, you know, the future and what could possibly happen if they keep coming, you know, to Miami for spring break.

MADISON SJOGREEN, VISITING MIAMI BEACH: So they shut down South Beach and I live closer to Fort Lauderdale. So, when they shut down here, it was just like a flux of people coming down to Fort Lauderdale and it was just like, South Beach is like the most like popular one. They just trickled down to Fort Lauderdale and that's my home so I'm even more worried about Fort Lauderdale.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: And since the Super Bowl, Fred, it's worth pointing out there have been more than 900 arrests in this area. Fifty percent of those arrests were from people -- were of people from out of state, so they are here to enjoy the beaches, the beautiful beaches that we have here in the State of Florida, but also bringing some trouble along the way, at least some of them.

WHITFIELD: Well, so Randi, help people understand. So the fact that there were a lot of people, now were the pepper balls being used to disperse people or where the pebble balls being used in response to something that happened beyond crowds along the beach?

KAYE: Well, the pepper was used last weekend and the pepper spray and they -- it was just the huge crowds here that they were trying to disperse. They did get into sort of an altercation or a scuffle with police. There was shot fired into the air.

The Mayor here has told us that. The Mayor has also told CNN that there was a riot. That's the word that he used.

So it has gotten quite a bit out of hand and they are also very concerned about the party continuing and doing damage here in the area. So, that's why they want to shut it down -- Fred.

[15:05:08]

WHITFIELD: All right, Randi Kaye, let us know what comes from that emergency meeting happening right now. Appreciate it.

All right, meantime, the migrant surge on the U.S. border with Mexico continues to grow even though the Biden administration is refusing to call it a crisis, more than 5,000 children are now in Border Patrol custody, and almost 600 of them have been there for more than 10 days.

Last night, buses were seen arriving at the Convention Center in Dallas, which has become a temporary shelter facility for some of the teens who were in custody.

Earlier today on CNN, the head of Homeland Security was asked what's being done to get kids help more quickly.

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DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: When are you going to be able to have facilities up and running so that no child is in these jail-like Border Protection facilities for more than 72 hours?

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, SECRETARY OF U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Dana, we established three new facilities just last week. We are also implementing new efficiencies in the H.H.S. process so that we can unite these children with their relatives here in the United States. We are working on the system from beginning to end. We are working around the clock, 24/7.

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WHITFIELD: All right, so far, the administration has denied media access to the migrant facilities, including the one in Dallas.

Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez is an immigration lawyer and a founding partner at Saenz-Rodriguez & Associates. So good to see you, Michelle. So you have been inside the Dallas facility and describe what you saw.

MICHELLE SAENZ-RODRIGUEZ, IMMIGRATION LAWYER, FOUNDING PARTNER, SAENZ- RODRIGUEZ & ASSOCIATES: Yes, I'm a volunteer. I'm actually not here in my lawyer capacity. I'm more of a humanitarian volunteer.

But we saw the kids streaming in initially in groups of maybe 200 or 300, and then throughout the day, yesterday, there was a big influx, and I think looking at the facility and the numbers of the kids, probably around a thousand, maybe a little, maybe 1,300, just a ton of boys here and it's just boys.

But it's a very nice facility. They are being checked as soon as they come in. This is their first contact outside of C.B.P. custody. So our role as volunteers is to try to, number one, make sure that they feel welcome, that they're healthy, that they're fed.

If they haven't taken a bath, because they've been sitting in custody at C.B.P., then we try and make sure that they're doing what they need. The setup is pretty good up her actually.

WHITFIELD: All right, so you say pretty good. So if I heard you correctly, you said mostly boys that you saw. What kind of condition were they in, if you could describe for us?

SAENZ-RODRIGUEZ: So right now, the way it is set up, it's a huge, like a ballroom area, and there are cots from side to side. And then there's different areas -- they have a dining area where the boys are taken for their meals, and then a place for them to do activities that could be playing cards, reading books, and then there are stations where they are trying to communicate with their family, either in the country or internationally.

WHITFIELD: That you -- you are a volunteer, you have had the opportunity to see, you know, with your own eyes, what's going on, what kind of facilities are in place? The media has not been allowed in. Do you believe it's important that the press does have access, is able to take pictures, show the American public exactly what is taking place and how these facilities are equipped?

SAENZ-RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely, I mean, I think it's important to let the media in and I really think it's not necessarily an issue of not being transparent.

Right now, the goal for all of us as volunteers is making sure that these boys are taken care of, and you know that they are processed as quickly as possible. This is the transition shelter, so the least amount of time that they can be here, the better for them.

And so I think, they are just trying to get organized. You know, it's a big operation and they are learning as they go. F.E.M.A. is here. H.H.S. is here. Catholic Charities are volunteers.

So there's lots of Red Cross that is also here, and so it's just -- it's one of those things that's going to take time to establish and hopefully obviously COVID is a concern. The COVID protocols are very, very strict. We are temperature checked every time we walk into the building.

So hopefully, they will open it up so that all the -- you know, all Americans could see exactly what's happening. But as an advocate, who see -- who has seen kids in cages, I can tell

you that this facility is a hundred percent better than what we have been seeing.

WHITFIELD: Because that was what many saw last year and the year before actually I should say with the detention facilities, the holding facilities, where it was described as you know kids in cages.

And so there are many instances in which young people, teenagers and kids are being held more than the 72 hours, but as long as 10 days. What do you suppose this is doing to them mentally?

I mean, how much trauma are you witnessing in some of these young people?

[15:10:23]

SAENZ-RODRIGUEZ: Well, I mean, these kids have been on a long journey. Many of them, I talked to a young man yesterday and he said he had been on the road for three months trying to get to the border. And once they get here, there is a deep sense of gratitude.

They are so happy to be here. They are very grateful that they have, you know, three meals a day. And so I think, certainly they are going through trauma, but they can see a light at the end of the tunnel when they walk into a facility like this. They feel welcome.

WHITFIELD: Do you think that the U.S. is going to be able to accommodate this surge, particularly of young people?

SAENZ-RODRIGUEZ: Well, I mean, this isn't the first time we've had a third surge. In 2014, the numbers were just as high or maybe even higher at that time. And so I think that once the government is able --

WHITFIELD: But this is recorded, they exceeded those number.

SAENZ-RODRIGUEZ: Yes, yes. Well, and the other issue is, you know, we have dismantled the existing system to deal with minors, and, you know, a lot of these kids could have fixed in the country, but the prior administration did away with their ability to fix their status, or apply for asylum back in Central America. So those are the factors that drove them here.

I think they are trying -- we see it -- as an immigration attorney, I see that they're doing everything they can to process these kids as quickly as possible, and so hopefully, I'm sure it will take time. I'm sure it's going to be a learning process for everybody that's involved and coordination between the agencies.

But from an outside perspective, it looks like every effort is being made to make sure these kids are well taken care of and reunited with their families as soon as possible.

WHITFIELD: All right, Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez, thank you so much for your time and your perspective. Appreciate it. SAENZ-RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, still to come, new information on the suspect in the spa shooting spree including the decision just made by his church.

Plus, an American Dream cut short. One of the victims died just days before her 50th birthday. CNN talks to her heartbroken family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our lives are changed forever, and it's not fair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[15:16:42]

WHITFIELD: In the aftermath of the shooting spree in the Atlanta area last week that claimed the lives of eight people, including six Asian women, rallies against hate are growing across the country.

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WHITFIELD: This is the scene in New York City today as protesters demand justice for the victims and push for an end to discrimination violence aimed at Asian-Americans.

The Church where the Atlanta area spa shooting suspect attended has revoked his membership. This, coming as we are learning more about the victims of this horrific shooting spree.

Natasha Chen joins us now with more on both of these developments. Natasha, what is the Church saying?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, the Church in a statement so that they can no longer affirm him as truly regenerate believer of Jesus Christ, removed him from the Church membership.

Remember, it was his parents who actually called police to help identify him initially. And what's interesting is, I sat down yesterday with the family of one of the eight people killed, the family of Xiaojie Tan, and they told me that their hearts go out to all the families who lost someone, and they also are thinking of the family of the suspect, whom they say must be struggling, too.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHEN (voice over): Xiaojie Tan's family says she was living the American Dream. After moving to the U.S., Xiaojie, whom friends and clients called "Emily" started as a nail technician before working her way up to buy two spas outside of Atlanta.

Beloved by her family, customers and neighboring business owners, Tan was killed just two days before her 50th birthday.

JAMI WEBB, MOTHER XIAOJIE TAN WAS KILLED IN SPA SHOOTING: I was just planning to get a cake and have a big dinner after work.

CHEN (voice over): Her only child, Jami Webb had plans to meet up with her mom last Sunday, but she overslept. She would never have the opportunity to see her mother again.

WEBB: When I thought that I have all this time with her. I mean, just because I missed that Sunday meeting with my mom, I thought we can always meet like any Sunday and the other day just like before.

CHEN (voice over): Instead, two days later, Webb spent six hours in a hospital waiting room as news of a shooting at Young's Asian Massage, her mother's business dominated the headlines.

WEBB: I was just hoping that it was my mom, it was not my mom.

CHEN (voice over): But by the end of the night, her mother was one of eight people killed at three different spas in the Metro Atlanta area. Webb says the extended family is still in China, and no one has had the heart to tell Webb's grandmother.

WEBB: They were celebrating the birthday and my grandmother was the only one who doesn't know my mom that she passed away.

MICHAEL WEBB, XIAOJIE TAN'S EX-HUSBAND: Our lives are changed forever and it's not fair.

CHEN (voice over): Tan's ex-husband, Michael Webb, said Tan was perpetually determined, saving money so carefully with the exception of splurging occasionally on an expensive handbag.

A woman who rode on the back of a bicycle after her water broke to get to a hospital in the middle of the night to have her baby girl. Webb said Tan often worked seven days a week and talked about retiring and traveling the world.

M. WEBB: And she'll never get to enjoy that. She just worked to die.

CHEN (voice over): He said Tan was always vigilant about protecting her business and employees from certain kinds of customers.

[15:20:10]

M. WEBB: She used to tell me a lot of times she would throw customers out because they would come in and think that they could have sex, and she would -- she would say, "Get out my business," you know, and she would throw them out.

She was a strong mother hen over that business and the people that worked there. She protected it.

CHEN (voice over): And now the community, especially Asian-Americans are holding vigil at its front door. The fact that six of the eight victims were Asian women, the fact that these businesses were owned by Asian people is hard to ignore.

Jami Webb says she understands the Asian-American communities overall anxiety over the rise of anti-Asian assaults. But this family is not ready to connect that with Tuesday's killings right now.

M. WEBB: I don't think we're trying to say that there's not racial bias in this country, I mean, there certainly is. And it doesn't seem to be giving a lot better. That's not our issue right now.

We don't know what motivated this at this point. Time will tell. We just know how we feel and we know what we lost.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHEN (on camera): And that loss is felt so widely from so many people continuing to come by the front doors of all three spa locations bringing flowers and signs. Jami Webb told me she is so grateful for that and knows that her mother would have really loved the flowers and the stuffed animals -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Heartbreaking. Natasha Chen, thank you so much for that.

And for more on this conversation, join Anderson Cooper, Amara Walker Victor Blackwell and Anna Cabrera for our CNN Special, "Afraid: Fear in America's Communities of Color." That's tomorrow night at nine right here on CNN.

We'll be right back.

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[15:26:27]

WHITFIELD: All right, Saturday marked the 10th straight day that more than a million people boarded airplanes in the U.S. The travel spike now worrying experts as large groups gather in spring break hotspots like in Miami Beach, despite C.D.C. guidance urging Americans to avoid travel regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

Joining me right now to discuss is Dr. Craig Spencer, the Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. So good to see you, Doctor.

DR. CRAIG SPENCER, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH IN EMERGENCY MEDICINE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: So the C.D.C. Director says the agency is planning to update its travel guidance, what should be expected?

SPENCER: I think that what we saw just a few weeks ago with the guidance, you know, around vaccinated individuals, what they're capable of doing and what is safe, we'll see some more stepwise guidance in terms of what's safe for travel.

But I think that the C.D.C. knows and all public health experts are quite worried about what we've been seeing over the past few weeks, and if this increases.

We've had more people traveling in the past few weeks than we had over the winter break and over Thanksgiving. It's the highest amount of travel that we've recorded since the beginning of the pandemic and we saw what happened earlier when we had big travel surges. The virus went to different communities and fueled different outbreaks and we're still dealing with the remnants of that now.

And so I'm hoping that the C.D.C. will be able to give us further guidance, but in the meantime, we need people to stand by, you know, the principles we've been talking about for the past year just a little longer to prevent the spread of the virus to families, friends and other communities around the country.

WHITFIELD: Right, just being disciplined a bit longer. So let me ask you this about travel as well. You know, the European Union unveiled plans for vaccine passports last week. The White House says any vaccine passport effort in the states would be led by the private sector and we're talking about like say the inoculation cards that you know, some countries do ask you to have when you hand over your passport.

However, if it were to happen, say in the U.S., do you believe, you know this runs the risk of really exacerbating the inequities that have characterized the pandemic, don't you?

SPENCER: Absolutely. Look, we've seen from day one of the pandemic, how it disproportionately impacted communities of color. We saw it with cases. We saw it with deaths. We saw with the vaccine rollout. Every step has marginalized certain communities.

And vaccine passports are inevitable, they're going to happen. We're already seeing them being rolled out in places like New York State with the Excelsior Pass that I signed up for to see how it worked. But the problem is, is that, there's a lot of issues with these.

We assume everyone has access to a digital device, and we saw that that didn't work out with scheduling vaccine appointments. There are certain communities and people who can't be vaccinated. People who have allergic reactions or some pregnant women or even children who, you know, obviously can't be vaccinated.

But also the global inequities, we know that much of the world won't be vaccinated for a year or two, or perhaps even more, because the U.S. and wealthy countries have bought up the majority of the doses. So they're evitable.

But we need to think about them at the outset, their limitations, before we just assume that this great golden passport back to a land of new normal, there's going to be some problems with them and we need to think about it in advance before it's too late.

WHITFIELD: So when you got your vaccines, I got one, my first shot of the two and of course I was given a card just like everybody else is given. Is that sort of a prelude to being able to, you know, show and demonstrate to whomever that you have been vaccinated?

SPENCER: The reality is we just don't know. We know that the Federal government recently said that they're not going to be the ones overseeing this. We're seeing multiple states implement their own initiatives, but we saw how poorly that state by state approach really failed and really how it really dropped the ball when responding to COVID nationally.

[15:30:13]

SPENCER: And we know that there's going to be a really -- you know, there's going to be a variety of apps from airlines to cruise lines to restaurants. Everyone will probably want to create some version of their own app and it's hard to believe that with the amount of information and what we saw with the problems with contact tracing apps, for example, issues around privacy that some of these apps are -- it's hard to believe that they're not going to collect some of your own personal information. Some of them may sell that to targeted ads or other services.

So we just don't know because there's not a lot of guidance, and there's not a lot of oversight exactly who's going to be rolling these out and who's going to be responsible for them.

WHITFIELD: Oh, gosh, yes. One more thing to worry about. Thanks a lot. But I do appreciate your information. Dr. Craig Spencer, thank you so much.

All right. Coming up: Senator Ron Johnson, doubling down on his stance on the Capitol Hill insurrection.

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[15:35:18]

WHITFIELD: The homeless are too often left out of the conversation surrounding mental health. But in Miami, a group of mental and mental health professionals go out on the streets every day trying to help the homeless who suffer with mental illness.

CNN's Rosa Flores takes a closer look at their efforts in why COVID has complicated them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The most isolated of Miami's homeless population live in the city's shadows.

LAZARO TRUEBA, FOUNDER, LAZARUS PROJECT: I've been doing this for 26 years.

FLORES (voice over): Lazaro Trueba is an advocate for the homeless who suffer from mental illness. He goes out every morning with Roberto Jimenez, a psychiatric nurse practitioner and Gabriela Puig, a clinical social worker to offer help to this sometimes invisible population.

TRUEBA: When I first started, we had about 8,000 people living on the streets of Miami. Today, we have a little over a thousand. I hope that some of the guys that are really vulnerable, that they're alive when we get there. FLORES (voice over): During the pandemic, their mission got more

difficult and more dangerous.

GABRIELA PUIG, CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER: Our lives are being put at risk, too, just as much as theirs are.

It's a little bit controversial the way that I do things sometimes because I do take off my mask. Clients who like literally can't hear me and live under an overpass, you know, I have to get close to them and stuff.

It's like a risk that I take for the sake of like the relationship that I'm building with them and for the rapport.

FLORES (voice over): Lazaro says building that rapport usually looks like this.

TRUEBA: The lady across the street, she doesn't like men.

PUIG: She says very vulgar things. If you understand Cuban-Spanish, she says very vulgar things. The rapport that we build with her is bringing her coffee every day.

TRUEBA: A lot of these guys that we're helping, they're not able to keep their food stamp cards. So what we do is we hold the form and we buy them stuff in the morning, a couple of sandwiches and some chips.

FLORES (voice over): Once the team establishes a consistent relationship like this one with Pierre Kennedy.

TRUEBA: Pierre, I'm known about five years. He is quite a ladies man.

FLORES (voice over): The next step is convincing them to give Roberto enough information so he can diagnose and prescribe medication. Typically, this happens in the field while the team continues to build trust.

ROBERTO JIMENEZ, PSYCHIATRIC NURSE: It is difficult. It is difficult. Especially this population, to create a diagnosis, you have to gather a lot of information that sometimes they cannot -- or they don't tell you or they don't want to tell you.

By asking, do you want to take medication? They say no, no, no, no.

TRUEBA: Especially with the mentally ill, it is very important that we still get them on medications. It's about talking to them and letting them know what can happen if they take the medications and that we can get him an appointment. That they can be on their own.

FLORES (on camera): What hurts the most?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Not being with my dear family.

FLORES: It's emotional for you, I can tell.

TRUEBA: It is. It is. When you see them out in the street, the way they sleep. They curl up like a dog. They just lay there in the cold and in the rain. It's just very emotional for me.

FLORES (voice over): Lazaro's unusual method of helping the mentally ill one-on-one started decades ago when he convinced a mentally ill homeless woman to take her medications every day.

He was not a doctor, so administering medicine was a controversial move.

TRUEBA: We started doing that with more individuals, kind of hidden from our supervisor because we were really not supposed to be doing this.

FLORES (voice over): In 2014, the Miami Dade County Homeless Trust, a government agency took notice of the successes and started funding the Lazarus Project named after Lazaro.

TRUEBA: We originally identified 12 of the most chronic individuals, mentally ill chronic individual in the downtown area. Six months after the project started, 10 of those 12 people were housed.

FLORES (voice over): People like Virgil Ladson, Virgil says when he was a teenager, he received a scholarship to attend prestigious Lawrenceville Prep in New Jersey and then attended the University of Pennsylvania.

[15:40:09]

VIRGIL LADSON, FORMERLY HOMELESS: But I had a breakdown in school, so I never finished.

FLORES (on camera): Could you tell us a little bit about that breakdown?

LADSON: It was stress, you know.

FLORES: Stress?

LADSON: Yes.

FLORES (voice over): Virgil says he had been homeless for about 10 years when the Lazarus Project treated his mental illness and helped him get an apartment.

FLORES (on camera): What do you like about having your own home?

LADSON: Peace and quiet.

FLORES (voice over): By the end of my time with Lazaro and his team, it became clear, a little compassion can go a long way.

TRUEBA: We've helped people that would otherwise, I'm convinced, would end up dying on the street. So it's not about numbers. For us, it is about helping one person at a time.

FLORES (voice over): Rosa Flores, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: A programming note, Stanley Tucci experience his true Sicilian hospitality as he indulges in some incredible dishes with unforgettable people. The new CNN Original Series "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy" tonight at nine Eastern. We'll be right back.

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[15:45:55]

WHITFIELD: Republican revisionism is on full display once again. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has repeatedly downplayed the January 6th Capitol insurrection. So it may not be a surprise that he said this to a crowd in Wisconsin on Saturday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): One of the reasons I'm being attacked is because I very honestly said I didn't feel threatened on January 6th, I didn't.

There was much more violence on the House side. There was no violence on the Senate side in terms of the chamber.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So that's false. Rioters were seeing breaking windows on the Senate side as they forced their way onto the Senate floor, eventually rummaging through senators' desks.

Who could forget any of this?

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is on Capitol Hill. So Suzanne, as Senator Johnson is doubling down on his stance, what else is he saying?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, there's clearly a battle within the Republican Party over the recounting of the January 6th attacks on the Capitol. You can hear that very clearly.

I talked to a lot of lawmakers on the House and Senate side in the immediate days following that, they all have their own personal stories. Even some lawmakers who were across the street in their offices, not in the Capitol, describe it as a scene where they were terrorized. They were traumatized that they felt targeted.

Nevertheless, you do have some Republicans by led by Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who are giving a different recounting trying to downplay this, despite the deaths, the hundreds of arrests and the injuries and the video.

Two things that he says prominently that there was no violence on the Senate side. Well, video and surveillance and stories and even that famous video we saw of Capitol Police, Eugene Goodman, chasing the crowd, trying to get them away from the Senate chamber, shows that that is not the case. We also know that Johnson says that this was Antifa or some sort of

leftist paid protesters. Again, F.B.I. agencies basically saying that that was not true in a hearing. Here's how it's all playing out Fred, within the Republican Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: I'm one of the few people pushing back on their inaccurate narrative that there were thousands of armed insurrectionists intent on overthrowing the government on January 6th.

I've condemned what happened. I condemned the breach. I condemned the violence. But what I was doing is I was comparing what happened on January 6th to the over 500 riots that occurred during the summer.

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): You don't need to try to explain away or come up with alternative versions of it. We all saw what happened.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was sick to my stomach having to see our nation's Capitol being stormed by hostile forces, and it really disturbed me to the point where I did put out a statement and I'm still disturbed when I think about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And Fred, what's happening is, it is really being played out as a proxy battle, a proxy war for anti and pro-Trump G.O.P. members -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then Suzanne, tell us about a new face in Congress from Louisiana, who won a special election after the death of her husband before he was even sworn in.

MALVEAUX: Julia Letlow is making history. She is the first Republican female Congresswoman on the House side who represents Louisiana and she joins many other female representatives.

Her husband, Luke, died of COVID in December and she had campaigned with him. She is a very interesting figure, Fred. I mean, she is somebody who was backed by the former President Trump, the leadership as well as McCarthy and Representative Scalise, and so she pushes forward and has a campaign that is very much a pro-Trump agenda, but she also says she's going to bring forward humility and dignity to the office and she is an avid mask wearer. So everybody looking to see what she'll do next -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Suzanne Malveaux on Capitol Hill. Thank you so much for that.

All right, coming up, spring break gets out of control in Miami and there have been a shocking number of arrests. We will have the new numbers straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:54:41] WHITFIELD: Jury selection in the Derek Chauvin murder trial we'll pick

back up again tomorrow. Thirteen jurors have already been chosen and the Judge says they hope to pick up two more.

Meanwhile, activists encouraged saying their names George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, they are just some in a long line of black victims killed by police.

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Michael Donald, a 19- year-old from Mobile, Alabama who was killed and lynched on March 21, 1981.

[15:55:14]

WHITFIELD: Michael's mother and community led a fierce battle to bring his killers, members of the KKK to justice and to take out the entire terrorist organization.

Michael Donald's story is told in the upcoming CNN original series, "The People v. The Klan."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Beulah Mae Donald and her attorney, Michael Figures enlist the voice of the Reverend Jesse Jackson, future presidential candidate to come to Mobile and tell their story and put it on a national stage.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: Miss Beulah had no fear. She wants to see those who killed her son come to justice. You know, I was impressed with her resilience to fight back.

CASMARAH MANI AKA GLENN DIAMOND, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: The Rev was one of the most feared named around here in this area of Alabama. We say, we caught your preacher was coming in town, a wife would get him on the head, let me tell you.

So when Jesse came here, it brought national attention to our issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Wow, what a story, what a page in history. Cornell William Brooks is an executive producer of "The People v. The Klan," and the former President of the NAACP. So good to see you.

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, FORMER PRESIDENT OF NAACP: So important to be with you and good to see you.

WHITFIELD: Wow, and how important to really underscore and elevate this story and this fight. Take us back, you know, to 1981 the reaction from -- the reaction that was exhibited as a result of Donald's horrific death locally and nationally.

BROOKS: So I actually was a student in college at that time, and I recall reading a small story about Michael Donald being lynched. That was inconceivable that not in the 1960s, but in the 1980s, that a young man my age would be lynched.

But at the time, the story focused on Michael Donald's death, the story focused to some degree on his court case, the criminal case, and subsequently the civil case. What the story did not focus on then was not merely Michael Donald's death, but also the courageous life of his mother who fought for justice in the name of her son, Beulah Mae Donald.

And that's the story that is so fascinating, so enthralling to me in this moment. The courage displayed by the son who fought for his life to the very end, but also his mother who fought those who took her son's life accountable.

WHITFIELD: And you reveal about her, we heard just in that clip, Jesse Jackson saying, you know, he was awestruck by the resilience of Beulah Mae Donald. What were you able to discover and reveal about her and what drove her to be this fighter?

BROOKS: The film reveals the fact that on the eve of her son's death, she had a dream in which she saw a shadowy figure in a casket. The next day, she begins to look for her son only to discover that he was lynched. And she literally fought to hold those who killed her son accountable.

She went to criminal court and held two people accountable for his death, brought about the death penalty for one of the people who killed her son. Subsequently went to civil Court and really held the Klan accountable in Civil Court to the tune of $7 million bankrupting the Klan.

This was an incredible woman. And not only that, Fredricka, when those who killed her son sought forgiveness from her, she fought to hold them accountable and somehow measured to extend forgiveness, even as she held the killers accountable. An extraordinary, extraordinary woman.

WHITFIELD: It is extraordinary. And then where do you see the parallels or the connections when we see this story about this mother, you know, fighting for justice, on behalf of her son? And I can't help but think about Breonna Taylor's mother, Trayvon Martin's mother -- I mean, you know, different circumstances. But, you know, killings, nonetheless, unjustifiable.

BROOKS: Well, there is a thread of courage from Mamie Till who lost her son, Emmett Till on the eve of the Civil Rights movement, through Beulah Mae Donald, through Gwen Carr, through the lives and the tragedies of so many mothers who are fighting for justice on behalf of their children.

So note this, Beulah Mae Donald decides to bury her son with an open casket, to hold a funeral with an open casket like Mamie Till.

WHITFIELD: Emmett Till's mom. Yes.

BROOKS: With respect to Emmett Till. So this is a story of courage of yes, one woman, one woman, one mother that is a testament to the courage of many women, many mothers that speaks to us in this moment.

WHITFIELD: Cornell William Brooks, always good to see you. Thank you so much. We so look forward to this original series, "The People v. The Klan." That premieres Sunday, April 11th at 9:00 p.m.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thank you so much for being with me today. Ana Cabrera, next.

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