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Protesters Turn Out In Georgia Over New Voting Law; Biden: Georgia Voting Law "An Atrocity," Says DOJ Looking Into It; Biden Won't Say When Reporters Will Be Allowed Into Border Facilities; Interview With Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX); How A Texas Mom Escaped The Anti-Vaccine Movement; Boulder Officer Who Died In Shooting Led Team Into Store Within 30 Seconds Of Arriving On Scene; Gun Shop Owner: Shooting Suspect Passed Background Check; Center Supports Children With Down Syndrome In War-Torn Syria. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 27, 2021 - 17:00   ET





ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you with us. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

American voters today calling no fair in the state of Georgia. They are angry, and they rallied this afternoon at the state Capitol in Atlanta, refusing to quietly accept a sweeping new list of election rules in that state passed by the Republican House, and signed into law by the Republican governor.

It is a law that voting rights advocates say overtly targets minority residents in Georgia, making it harder for them to vote.

Remember, voters in Georgia not only flipped their state from red to blue in November's presidential election, they also voted out their two GOP senators and replaced them with Democrats in a January runoff election. Critics of Georgia's governor accuse him of creating this law to restrict voting.

And President Biden does not disagree.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's an atrocity. The idea -- if you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they pass a law saying you can't provide water for people standing in line while they're waiting to vote? You don't need anything else to know this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting. You can't provide water for people about to vote. Give me a break.


CABRERA: President Biden is referring to one part of this new voter access law that makes it a crime to provide food or water to people waiting in voting lines, a crime for anybody to provide that food and water to those voters. Some people waited up to 11 hours in line to cast a ballot last year during Georgia's historically large voter turnout.

Let's go live now to CNN's Natasha Chen in Atlanta.

Natasha, these sweeping changes are now law, so tell us more about what you are hearing from Georgia voters today.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Ana, the crowd here of 150 people just dispersed in the last few minutes. But they went on for about 2 1/2 hours, different speakers not only talking about their deep concerns over this law, but also in support of Georgia State Representative Park Cannon, who was arrested when she knocked on the door of the governor's office to try to witness him signing this bill.

Instead he did so behind closed doors. There was a photo of him doing it, that bill signing, standing next to other white men, and, of course, there was also a painting in the room seemingly depicting a plantation.

And I spoke to one voter who came here today, who actually recognized that plantation as a place where her own family has worked for generations. What an emotional moment that she said really symbolized everything that was going wrong here in Georgia. And we also spoke to another voter who described to me her experience voting in the June primary last year, something that happened then will not be allowed in the future.

Here's what she said.


BRI WILMOT, GEORGIA VOTER: I had to wait four hours to vole. I go the in line at 6:00, and the polls closed at 7:00. And I was in line until about 10:00, or 10:30. And I was actually in line so long so a local business came by and donated us pizza and some sodas so that we could stay in line, we could have dinner and still vote. They were 20 machines in the building and they were only using seven machines. And, of course, under the laws, that would have been illegal.


CHEN: And, of course, that is the one aspect of this bill, just one example that people are very troubled by, that, you know, they're asking why is it a problem to give water to someone who is thirsty, whether they're voting or not. And we also we spoke to one who was present at the Capitol when Representative Cannon was arrested. She said that was very triggering as a black woman to see her taken away from handcuffs for politely knocking on a door -- Ana.

CABRERA: And now facing two felony charges.

Natasha Chen, thank you. This voting bill in Georgia is a direct result of the big lie, the

false claim that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen from the former president. It's that big lie that drove a violent mob of Trump supporters to the Capitol on January 6th, where a deadly insurrection ensued.


Five people died. More than 100 Capitol police officers were injured and the country was shaken to its core. And despite those being the facts, former President Trump is attempting to rewrite history.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It was zero threat. Look, they went in, they shouldn't have done it. Some of them went in and they're hugging and kissing the police and the guards, you know? They had great relationships. A lot of the people were waved in, and then they walked in and they walked out.


CABRERA: With us now, CNN national security analyst, Juliet Kayyem, and CNN counterterrorism analyst, Phil Mudd.

Juliette, hugging and kissing? That is just a blatant lie. That's not what we all saw with our own eyes. Are Trump's continued lies making America less safe?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: They are. I mean, this is not only what we didn't see with our own eyes. I mean, these are -- there are a couple of hundred indictments or court cases going on. And so, the president, you know, we're so got (ph), the former president is, you know, is he a liar, is he a psychotic? Who knows at this stage?

And the truth is, the only way forward is to answer, who cares? I mean, he has to be so isolated at this stage, so his continuing isolation from social media, his -- you know, the fact that news organizations likes ours are not, you know, having him on air, all of those things matter to isolate him, because he does have the potential to continue to radicalize.

The good news is these prosecutions are disrupting what was or may have been an organized element that would have used violence to deter people from voting. The real test is going to be those cases, and also what happens in 2022, when people return to the polls.

CABRERA: Phil, I want to remind you and our viewers what an officer who was there that day experienced.


MICHAEL FANONE, CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: I was just, you know, trying to fight as best I could. I remember like guys were stripping me of my gear, these were rioters, pulling my badge off my chest, they ripped my radio off my vest, started pulling like ammunition magazines from their holder on my belt.

And then some guy started getting ahold of my gun, and they were screaming out, you know, kill him with his own gun.


CABRERA: Phil, as a former law enforcement official yourself, what do you think as you hear this officer recall what happened to him and the former commander in chief essentially defend domestic terrorists?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, it makes me nervous. Let me put a few stories together that explained why it makes me nervous. The president told us not to trust the government on the virus. We've seen in reports from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, for example, that now government scientists are were saying hundreds of thousands of people died, because American people believed politicians.

The president told us not to trust immigrants, so we have a spike in violence against immigrants. The president has told us something else that people will believe, that that was actually a pro-American, a Democratic force that moved on the Capitol on January 6th. I mean, the concern I have is we are now months later and people continue to believe this.

If you had told me five years ago there would be a violent insurrectionist attack on the Capitol and people would believe the president that he said it was peaceful, I would have said that's a Hollywood movie.

My concern is that people continue to believe the lie. And it's not just this, it's the virus, it's immigration, it's everything.

CABRERA: And let's just talk more about who was at the Capitol, because we are learning more and more details about who was there and what went on leading up to this Capitol attack. According to new court filings, the far-right extremist group known as the Oath Keepers had discussed taking refuge in the Kentucky mountains if they could not prevail on January 6th.

They also went through some military-style training leading up to this insurrection. How concerning is it to you, Juliette, that there was this level of preparation?

KAYYEM: I mean, it is concerning and it's not surprising given that the president of the United States at the time was nurturing it for at least five weeks before -- sometime in December, he started mentioning January 6th, then telling people there was going to be a fight, you know, to join, and remember the day of he instigated.

So the fact that people were getting organized for it were not surprised or that they had an exit strategy. That's why they prosecutions are so essential at this stage, because we want them to turn on each other, we want their families to turn on them. We want them to know that Donald Trump will not save them.

And for the most part, you know, a lot of them will go away, right? Because it's hard for them to recruit future radicals if they're not a winning team, but I will say this. We will continue to have threats of violence.

And the final thing, your lead-in story is Georgia for a reason. The ties between the racism and the white supremacy and the violence to undermine a Democratic election is a straight line to the GOP strategy to undermine the vote, in particular of minority voters.

That is not, that's two different stories. That's a single narrative, to not trust democracy, and in particular not trust democracy when African-Americans and Hispanic Americans get to vote. And that is where the GOP is called out. because they are endorsing that violence through these voting or anti-voting rules.

CABRERA: And as we talk about some of the extremist elements that are perhaps emboldened because of the actions and the rhetoric, Phil, we learned also in court documents this week that the leaders of both the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys were coordinating with each other prior to the attack on the Capitol.

How common is it for two extremist groups to work together in tandem?

MUDD: Boy, I thought that was really curious. It gives you a sense -- that's not common in my experience. It gives you a sense how complex the federal case is. You're talking about several hundred cases, and you're looking at things like financial records, text messaging between people like this, including encrypted text messaging, and you're looking back months.

You've got to figure out how every one of those people is communicating weeks or months beforehand in a variety of forums to determine the level of conspiracy. Let me give you a different perspective for a second, though. As a former intel guy, I see an opportunity. On January 5th, if you had been at the FBI or the Department of Justice and said we want to be more aggressive about groups, I would have said as an intel guy, you've got to be kidding me.

Now fast forward a couple months, if you look at these groups and the conspiracies you just talked about, Ana, I think there's a chance that the feds say we can be far more aggressive, because look what happens. They're not just exercising First Amendment rights. They're actually terrorists who invaded the Capitol.

I guess I would say, believe it or not from an intel perspective, there's an opportunity here to collect more intelligence, because a judge is going to say, OK, you can do it.

CABRERA: All right. Phil Mudd, Juliette Kayyem, your expertise and insights are always so much appreciated.

KAYYEM: Congratulations. Congratulations to you and good luck.

CABRERA: Thank you. Well, hopefully, you guys will join me one the afternoons. Instead of evening, weekend dates, we'll have lunch dates on weekdays. KAYYEM: We'll have to make plans now on Saturdays. That's a lot of



CABRERA: Exactly. Appreciate you guys. Thank you.

MUDD: Take care.

CABRERA: Up next, to the crisis on the border. Immigration families are overcrowded -- these facilities, I should say, as migrant families are crowding in the facilities, and the Biden administration is struggling to make room. The reality on the ground is more unaccompanied minors are arriving every day.

You're live in the CNNE NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: President Biden is facing growing pressure about the conditions at border facilities, especially those housing unaccompanied children. So far, the press has been denied access to the most crowded facilities.

Let's take a look at this. On the right side of your screen, you see what the Border Patrol processing facilities look like. They're jail- like with people you can see sleeping on the floor.

Well, compare that to the HHS facility on the left that journalists were allowed into.

CNN's Rosa Flores has a reality check from the border.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what the Biden administration has not allowed America to see. To tell this story, we were escorted by Texas state troopers.

Lines of migrants on Texas trails along the Rio Grande.

Nancy is pregnant and cried describing her painful journey from Honduras.

Ronny says his family fled Honduras due to devastation from two recent hurricanes. And under this bridge, even more lines of migrants. Their silhouettes behind the trees, a sign America's immigration system is overwhelmed.

BIDEN: Please sit down. Thank you.

FLORES: During his first formal press conference, President Biden says --

BIDEN: I will commit to transparency.

FLORES: And while one pool news camera was allowed inside an HHS facility for unaccompanied migrant children this week, it was a sanitized version of reality, far removed from the bottleneck of this border processing facility.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection releasing their own video this week.

CNN's repeated request for access to immigration processing facilities have been denied. The day we captured this video, Texas state troopers were our guides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as they make landfall that's considered the U.S. side for us.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: The cartel --

FLORES: Sent here by Governor Greg Abbott earlier this morning to thwart smugglers.

VICTOR ESCALON, DPS REGIONAL DIRECTOR: It's way to suffocate and put a lot of pressure on the cartel.

FLORES: Victor Escalon is the top cop in charge of what Abbott calls Operation Lone Star.

ESCALON: As Border Patrol gets tied up with processing migrants that come across, they'll leave miles at times open on the river.

FLORES: That's where Texas steps in, by water, air, and by ground, says Escalon, to fill the gaps of the security on the Rio Grande.

According to state troopers, if you look closely in between those trees, you'll see a camp, some sort of staging area on the Mexican side and on the U.S. side. And this is one of the hot spots they described, a trail that is used by migrants, and you can clearly see the path.


The landscape is peppered with evidence that it is used by migrants. We see clothes, documents, masks.

All leading to these dirt trawls with arrows pointing migrants to the processing center under the bridge.

Nancy says feeling hungry for two was the worst part of the journey.

While most of the migrants I met say they made the trek to the U.S. because they were poor, this little girl was rich in faith. Ending our conversation by saying, thanks and God bless you.


CABRERA: That was Rosa Flores reporting. And just today, the Biden administration said today it could need

upwards of 35,000 additional beds to keep up with the projected number of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border through September.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Vicente Gonzalez of Texas.

Thanks for being with us, Congressman.

Your district sits near the southern border and I want to show you a video that was posted by Senator James Lankford after a trip he made to the border. It shows people crammed together on the floor inside pods, and covered with Mylar blankets. This is at the facility in Donna, Texas.

Do you feel confident that this administration has a plan that's going to get this situation under control?

REP. VICENTE GONZALEZ (D-TX): Well, I feel confident they a plan, but more needs to be done. And, by the way, this group of Republican senators that came down yesterday, where were they during the Trump administration when children were ripped from their mother's arms and cage and families were being divided? Do they all of a sudden have a softened heart to come down here and look at it?

What I'm interested in is real solutions, and I say that to members of both sides of the aisles who have been coming down to my district and surrounding areas for photo-ops and press conferences. We need solutions. We need to stop playing politics with this game.

For us here on the border, this isn't political or ideological. This is real, everyday life. We need to be making investments in three Central Americans countries. We need to be slowing this migration in southern Mexico and helping these people there.

If we really want to be humane and helpful, let's help them there. Let's make sure there's a safe zone, where we can guarantee their safety and health and security, where they can process their asylum claim and help them improve conditions in their country. The children are special to me.

So, obviously, we need to treat them differently, and find ways for them to reunite with their family from their home country if they have relatives or families up here. They should be able to have a path where they can fly in and reunite.

I think the Biden administration just re-implanted this program that had been dropped during the Trump administration. That's a good first start, but there's many other ideas that I've been trying to express to the administration that I think would be helpful in slowing the migration. Clearly, get into our border, come across, being processed and released should be unacceptable for anybody on both sides of the aisle.

It's not an orderly system. It's -- we're in the middle of the pandemic. I've lost over 3,000 people in my congressional district. CABRERA: Yeah.

GONZALEZ: And I really don't need people coming from the Midwest or the East Coast or the West Coast, to my border to tell me how things should be done. We have ideas that worked, that are proven, and I think -- I hope the Biden administration listens to us and starts really implementing these plans.

CABRERA: A lot of people --

GONZALEZ: That's the only way to have a long term solution.

CABRERA: We've heard a lot of questions about why, why now? Why is this happening? And we know there are a number of different reasons for why there is a surge right now at the southern border, some of it stems from the pandemic, impacting conditions in their home countries. There's obviously violence which we've talked about. There were hurricanes which also have an impact there.

Take a listen, though, to President Biden reacting to claims that more migrants are coming to the Southern border, because he has a reputation of being a nice guy.


BIDEN: Does anybody suggest that there was a 31 percent increase under Trump because he was a nice guy and he was doing good things at the border? That's not the reason they're coming. The reason they're coming is that it's the time they can travel with the least likelihood of dying on the way because of the heat in the desert, number one. Number two, they're coming because of the circumstances in country, in country.


CABRERA: Facts first here. It is true there is a cyclical nature to these numbers. They tend to go up between January and May because of the weather, and the current numbers President Biden is dealing with however are much higher than this time last year under Trump. But even with Trump and his zero-tolerance policy, there was still a surge during the same time frame. So, is it just unavoidable?

GONZALEZ: Well, I think -- no, it's unavoidable if we go down to those countries and help them there and get Mexico, the government of Mexico involved and let's try to create processing centers on the southern border of Mexico, work with the government of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, a lot more can be done.


And the billions of dollars in resources that we're expending here on our borders could be spent there and it create real humane solutions. I'm not going to say that they showed up just because Biden became president. Clearly, there's a message that hey, he's much less -- he's not as hateful as President Trump. He's not going to cage or divide families. So there was an unintend -- unintended event, I think, just by the very nature of that Biden is a humane human being that treats people with dignity. But at the end of the day, I can tell you that the process is not acceptable. We need to find better ways to deal with it.

And I think the Biden administration is doing just that. I looked at their blueprint -- immigration blueprint, it's got -- it's full of great ideas. It has refugee centers. It has places for people to request asylum in their country. It has better messaging.

Telling people how dangerous this road is, we're enriching cartels in Mexico when we allow this migration do come across. People are paying an average of $6,000 per head to get to our southern border.

We should -- that should be appealing. Women are being raped. Children are in insecure conditions.

So let's do more further south. Let's do more in Mexico southern border. Let's do more in Guatemala. Let's do more in Honduras. Let's do more in El Salvador.

But don't come back to my district to take photographs -- and I'm talking to both Democrats and Republicans -- and do press conferences. I want to hear solutions. What I'm offering are real solution this problem.

Don't show up here to do videos and audios and talk to the press and talk about either how good it is or how good of a job you're doing or how bad it is. Let's talk about long-term solutions.

CABRERA: Congressman Gonzalez --

GONZALEZ: I don't need people from around the country to come down here for that.

CABRERA: We hear you. Thank you very much for taking the time and talking with us today.

GONZALEZ: Thank you.

CABRERA: They are the number one ticket out of the -- this pandemic -- vaccines. And while the race to get more vaccines into Americans' arms accelerates, so too is the anti-vaccination movement.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: A return to normalcy depends on a widespread acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines. But anti-vaccination groups and individuals who are working overtime online to promote frightening and false theories about them.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan spoke to one mother, who got pulled in, to learn about how she ultimately got out.


HEATHER SIMPSON, BELIEVED IN ANTI-VACCINE MISINFORMATION: I was like, oh, my gosh, we are not vaccinating our kid. There's no way. The vaccine goes into our child, she'll just die. That's all there is to it.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: You thought if your daughter took the vaccine, she might die?

H. SIMPSON: That she would die. Not might, just like would.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Until recently, 30-year-old Heather Simpson was somewhat of an influencer in the anti-vax space. Now she's changed her tune, although her husband has not.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): You're going to get the COVID shot when you can get it?

H. SIMPSON: Right.

O'SULLIVAN: Ben, are you?

BEN H. SIMPSON, HUSBAND OF HEATHER SIMPSON & AN ANTI-VAXXER: Probably not. And that's because I've already had it. Like, I had COVID, so I have antibodies.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): The CDC recommends all adults get the vaccine, even if they have had COVID-19.

Heather says she blames herself for the vaccine misinformation she shared online and with her husband.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): When you went online, you became part of the anti-vax community. Tell me how you found it, how you got into it.

H. SIMPSON: When Charlotte was like 15, 16 months old, I decided to make a post thinking I was so brave about my anti-vaccine views and vaccine hesitancy, and it got shared like 600 times.

And I was like, holy crud. And then, after that, I just got this following of people.

O'SULLIVAN: You got the validation from the likes?

H. SIMPSON: Yes. Yes, the validation. I'm not an idiot. A lot of people believe this.

O'SULLIVAN: And then you got pulled in?

H. SIMPSON: Yes. I feel like a lot of the anti-vax moms all found each other all at once. I was getting like a friend request per minute.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, the stakes of online misinformation about vaccines are even higher. Renee DiResta, an expert at Stanford, explains how negative but not

representative stories about vaccines go viral online.

RENEE DIRESTA, TECHNICAL RESEARCH MANAGER, STANFORD INTERNET OBSERVATORY: When I was a new mom, I joined a couple of groups on Facebook for new moms where people were saying, well, I have a friend and she vaccinated and then this terrible thing happened. And it was this concept of like the friend of a friend narrative.

The power of the personal story is what social media really brings home for all of us.

We may live in a world of facts and statistics in the aggregate, but in terms of what we personally feel, it's what comes to us from our communities, it's what comes to us from people who are like us.

That's what people are really sharing. That's the kind of content that spreads.

H. SIMPSON: "V" is for vaccine that protects you from getting sick.

O'SULLIVAN: Heather says her views on vaccines and on medicine began to change when she needed surgery.

H. SIMPSON: I posted about it. And my friends were like, this is the lazy way out. You need to be eating this food and taking this silver to doing this to heal yourself. Getting surgery is lazy.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): So was it overnight you went from --

H. SIMPSON: No, it took months. And I -- and I had friends that really poured into me and listened to my fears and talked me through it.

And it really helped to know that they were scared. Even though they're pro-vax, they're scared of giving their kids shots because that's just normal parental anxiety.

O'SULLIVAN: You said your intent by posting this was to inspire some parent to stop their child from getting vaccinated. Do you think you did that?

H. SIMPSON: Yes, like I know I did. I've had people tell me that they're not vaccinating because of my posts.


O'SULLIVAN: How does that make you feel now?

H. SIMPSON: Really bad. I'm sure it's not just those few, like the amount of people I reached, because my main way of posting was fear based and emotional based. And I can't take it back.

O'SULLIVAN: Are you afraid that you might have harmed some children?

H. SIMPSON: I mean, I don't -- I would hope not. I'm also hoping that if they still follow me, they're going to see that I changed and maybe I could reverse the damage. I know that's a long shot, but --

O'SULLIVAN: Have you sought to contact any of them to say, hey, wait, I was wrong?

H. SIMPSON: I don't even know who they are anymore. I shut that Facebook down. And I started a new one. And I -- all I could hope is that they will somehow see me changing my mind. But, yes, it is hard to live with.


CABRERA: Our thanks to Donie O'Sullivan for that report.

A quick reminder of a report you don't want to miss. It is an unprecedented event with Dr. Sanjay Gupta when he speaks with the medical leaders of the war on COVID. They break their silence for Sanjay.

The CNN special report, "COVID WAR: THE PANDEMIC DOCTORS SPEAK OUT," begins tomorrow at 9:00 Eastern.



ANNOUNCER: In an unprecedented event, the leaders of the war on COVID break their silence.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: I wanted to make sure that we stopped saying that the risk to Americans was low.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: I finally hit a moment in life where I said enough is enough.

ANNOUNCER: What they saw.

DR. STEPHAN HAHN, FORMER FDA DIRECTOR: That was a line in the sand for me.

FAUCI: We are in for a disaster.

ANNOUNCER: What they believe.

REDFIELD: People are not being transparent about it. I could use the word cover up.

BIRX: I knew I was being watched. Everybody inside was waiting for me a make a misstep.


ANNOUNCER: And what's next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As bad as this was, it could be worse. And there will be another pandemic. Guaranteed.

ANNOUNCER: Join Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

GUPTA: We were not testing enough.

REDFIELD: Agree with you.

GUPTA: Why not?

ANNOUNCER: CNN special report, "COVID WAR: THE PANDEMIC DOCTORS SPEAK OUT", tomorrow at 9:00.




CABRERA: An act of heroism, and under 30 seconds. That is how long it took Eric Talley, the Boulder police officer who died in Monday's mass shooting at a Colorado grocery store, to lead a response team into that store after arriving on the scene.

Officer Talley was one of 10 people killed in Monday's shooting. Police say the brave actions of those officers prevented even more deaths.

CNN's crime and justice correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz, joins us now from Boulder.

Shimon, we are learning this suspected gunman passed a background check before he purchased the gun used in this attack legally.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, six days before the shooting, we are told by the gun shop, in a statement they released to CNN, he walked into the gun shop, they did a background check on him, he passed that background check.

The background check went through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. There were no flags. There was no reason for him not to be able to purchase this weapon and so he purchased it. He was cleared to buy it. Six days later, we have this tragedy.

You know, the issue of the gun, how he got the gun, gun laws, certainly on the mind of many behind me here today.

This has been a site of the memorial here in Boulder since the night of the shooting. Many people in the community have been gathering here, coming together, sharing moments, sharing emotions.

We spoke to one of the people here, a woman whose daughter knew one of the victims here, Rikki Olds. She knew this woman.

Her daughter is not here. She's in Paris. So she came here in honor of her daughter and share moments with other people who were gathered here. We spoke to her. Take a listen to what she said.


STEPHANIE COLLINS, DAUGHTER WAS FRIEND OF SHOOTING VICTIM RIKKI OLDS: It is a shared emotion. You know, we're all in pain. Our nation, our world is in pain about every time this kind of thing happens.

It just feels especially painful, because this is our town, you know.

It was hard when we lost people at the Aurora shooting. My son was at the same movie at a different theater at the exact same time. Nothing has changed since then.

I don't know what it will take for people to feel safe in this nation. I no longer feel safe.


PROKUPECZ: We walked through this area, through all these people who are standing here. Most are so emotional. They were laying flowers, a lot of them praying, saying prayers, holding hands, gathering together.

It's really incredible to see the outpouring from this community as they stand here together, trying to figure out how to heal.

Really, the next weeks and the next days will be some of the toughest. Officer Talley's funeral is expected to take place on Tuesday.

Certainly, many of the people in the community are getting ready for that, for the emotion in the days and weeks to come -- Ana?

CABRERA: My heart is just broken for that community. Sending them strength.

Thank you, Shimon, for your reporting.

Smack in the middle of a war zone, CNN has found a refuge for children with Down Syndrome. We will take you to Syria's Idlib Province, next.


You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Imagine a place of hope and inclusion in the middle of a war zone.

CNN's Arwa Daman recently visited the only center for children with Down Syndrome in Syria's Idlib Province. And what she found is truly remarkable.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over) : It is hardly what we expected to find, but from the moment the children piled off the school bus, we were enchanted.

The dingy building, the dark staircase, the tiny classroom, all of it melted away, overtaken by the rare beauty of what is happening there.


As the other children sway and dance to music, Sarah keeps her head down. It is her first day. She is shy and scared. The other children were like this as well when they first started.


DAMON: Learning tools are shared. It is all they can afford at the center for children with down syndrome, the only one of its kind, in war-torn Idlib.

All of the staff here are volunteers, drawn to the center because, while Syria's war has eradicated childhood, it has been especially cruel to the most vulnerable.

They finally managed to coax Sarah outside.

The isolation, brought on by war, the lack of specific resources meant that many children with Down syndrome regressed while others never learned the basics, like walking, feeding themselves and speaking.

One of the boys plays with our microphone.

The children may not be able to articulate what they've been through but they are all well aware of the violence of their surroundings.

Abdelkarim (ph) is six years old and a total charmer.


DAMON (on camera): Apparently, he used to be so shy, he would never come up to people.






DAMON: He wasn't even able to say any words. He had lost all of his speech before he came here.

(voice-over): The center was started by Abdullah Mohammad (ph) seven months ago. He's a pediatric nurse who did a year in a clinic for special needs children before the war. He pays the rent for this tiny space out of his own pocket.


DAMON: "We are struggling to stay open," his wife, and the center's director, says. "But at the same time, we can't let go of the kids."

Especially not now, not that they have seen the impact they can have, knowing that hundreds more need their help."

Down Syndrome is a genetic condition, in which a child has a full or partial extra chromosome. This affects the way that the child's brain and body develop. Early intervention can mitigate the majority of the developmental challenges.

But even before the war --


DAMON: -- that was a struggle.


DAMON: "One of the many problems is weak muscle development," Gamila Al-Moussa, the physical therapist, tells us. She says, Abdelkarim (ph) should have splints to help his knee joints, but she has to work with the little she has.



DAMON (on camera): This is incredible. I mean, if we had been here two months ago, he wasn't able to walk on his own. They had to carry him through everything. And now intense physical therapy and he is doing so well.



(voice-over): Years ago, Sarah's parents put her in school but she was severely bullied.

Her mother tried to help her at home and she was doing well until a rocket landed on their house. She was pulled out from under the rubble and hospitalized.

Her parents tell us that after the strike, she stopped talking.

One of the teachers keeps gently urging Sarah to play, comforting her, making her feel safe.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) DAMON: Just two hours after Sarah arrived, she's already making friends. She's not alone anymore.


DAMON: "This is the first time that we're seeing her interacting with other kid, bonding," her father says, clearly emotional.

She is still shy with us, but says, "I'm happy," and runs off to play outside.


DAMON: If they were just given the opportunity, these children can grow up to fulfill their potential. War won't stop them.

It is what the adults here dream of. It is what they see children with Down Syndrome do in more developed parts of the world.

But at least they have created a space where there's no stigma, a space where there is joy and hope.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Idlib City, Syria.



CABRERA: Perspective.

And then there's this. Over the past several months, hundreds of school children in northern Nigeria have been kidnapped. And while some have been released, many remain captives.

This week's "CNN Hero" has made it his mission to give thousands of children caught up in the conflict a brighter future. Meet Zannah Mustapha.



ZANNAH MUSTAPHA, CNN HERO: These are children who do not even know what's their second name, what's their tribe, their religion. Children who don't even know we're having this war.


They are confused and in a helpless state. You need to give them courage. You have to give them hope.

Morning. Morning. Morning. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)


MUSTAPHA: We are in a community where every segment of the society is being ravaged.

Good morning.

CHILDREN: Good morning.

MUSTAPHA: What keeps me going is the resilience of these children. Whenever I see their faces, it gives you hope. It keeps my dream alive.


CABRERA: So much resilience. So many reasons to smile and so many good people in this world.

To learn more about this story or to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," go to right now.

That does it for me on this Saturday. I'm Ana Cabrera. I will see you back here tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern for my final weekend show. I hope you will join me.

The news continues in just a moment with my colleague, Pamela Brown.

Have a great night.