Return to Transcripts main page


Judge Overturns California's 32-Year Assault Weapons Ban; WH Calls Ransomware "A Rising National Security Threat"; Thousands Of Volunteers Quit Tokyo Olympics; Plane Makes Emergency Landing After Attempted Cockpit Breach; CDC Report Shows Spike In Hospitalization Rates Among Teens; American Legion Post Suspended For Cutting Mic During A Memorial Day Speech. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired June 5, 2021 - 11:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday.

I'm Fredericka Whitfield.

We begin with a major court ruling that affects one of the largest states in the country. As our nation struggles with an epidemic of gun violence, last night a judge in California overturned a more than 30- year ban on assault weapons in that state.

In the decision, Judge Roger Benitez says the law violates Second Amendment rights and weapons like the popular AR-15s which were used in the deadly shootings in Newtown, Parkland, San Bernardino, Orlando, Aurora, Las Vegas and the list goes on, are akin to a Swiss army knife and, quote, "are the perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment," end quote.

A statement infuriating the father of Jaime Guttenberg who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in that mass shooting in 2018.


FRED GUTTENBERG, FATHER OF PARKLAND SHOOTING VICTIM JAIME GUTTENBERG: My daughter's in a cemetery -- excuse me -- because a Swiss army knife was not used, because it was an AR-15.

My daughter was on the third floor. If a Swiss army knife were used my daughter and most of those other kids and adults would be alive today.

And now they say it's common, it's typical. No, you're full of crap, Judge. And you are going to lose.


WHITFIELD: And just in the first six months of this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 8,000 deaths and 244 mass shootings. CNN's Polo Sandoval joining me right now. So Polo, out of California the attorney general is already appealing this decision, but how did we get here in the first place?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fred, I'll point you back to 1989. That's actually when that original ban was implemented, when that was actually created.

And it had been updated regularly but then in 2019 a lawsuit was filed in court and that's what brings us to this point just yesterday and a federal judge in San Diego essentially overturning that assault weapons ban in California ruling that that law deprives law-abiding citizens in the state of California of legally possessing these weapons that are readily available legally throughout other parts of the country.

And then there's a part of the opinion, one of the parts of his opinion, that is certainly spurring this outrage including from Mr. Guttenberg who we just heard from a little while ago. And that specific portion reads "Like the Swiss army knife the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Firearms deemed as assault weapons are fairly ordinary, popular and modern rifles."

Now, we should mention Judge Benitez has previously favored pro-gun groups. In fact in 2017, he blocked a law that would have limited magazine capacity. That's something that was eventually upheld and still pending another court here.

The judge did say that the attorney general in the state of California will have a month to actually appeal this decision. And that's actually what the attorney general says that he plans to do as he released a statement as well just yesterday responding to this ruling and injunction.

And I'll read you a portion of what AG Rob Bonta says as he called this ruling, quote, "fundamentally flawed". The AG writing "There's no sound basis in law, fact or common sense for equating assault rifles with Swiss army knives especially on Gun Violence Awareness Day and after the recent shootings in our own California communities."

That Gun Violence Awareness Day a reference to this annual project that's been put together by many of these groups that would like to see more gun -- more restrictions rather.

But at the same time there are many pro-gun groups that are celebrating this decision that, again, is still currently on hold for about a month pending a possible appeal.

WHITFIELD: All right. Reaction is swift. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

In fact, joining me right now is Kris Brown. She's the president of Brady, a non-profit group advocating against gun violence.

I'd love to get your reaction. Let me remind our viewers what California Governor Gavin Newsom said in reference to that comparison to the judge's decision, the Swiss army knife comparison. Gavin Newsom saying, "It completely undermines the credibility of this decision and is a slap in the face to the families who have lost loved ones to this weapon."

So what is your reaction to this decision by this judge?

KRIS BROWN, PRESIDENT, BRADY: It infuriates me. I'm honestly -- not much surprises me anymore in American life, but the words used in his decision and the words used, the dicta in his decision are just shocking to me.

You know, we have suffered a string of mass shootings across this country. It's even wrong to say a string. There are people that I am close friends with who sent their kids to school only to have them slaughtered.


BROWN: And it's with these kind of assault-style weapons that were designed for military use in Vietnam. Ultimately the AR-15 has the same chassis, the same function as the M-16.

And you know, we deserve to live in an America where we can send our kids to school go to church, go to synagogues, go to Walmart and not fear being shot especially with an assault-style weapon that's a weapon of war.

The idea that you could make any kind of comparison between a weapon that is designed to kill as many people as possible as efficiently as possible and a Swiss army knife is absurd. And I agree with Governor Newsom. A complete slap in the face to victims and survivors across this country as we celebrated Gun Violence Awareness Month yesterday and wore orange to think that this ruling was being put forward is just repulsive to me. I'll be honest.

And I'm glad to hear that the attorney general in California is going to stay this ruling and the Ninth Circuit needs to overturn it just like they did this same judge's prior ruling with respect to high capacity magazines.

WHITFIELD: So what kind of an impact do you believe a ruling like this in California can have across the country?

BROWN: Horrific. I mean, look, we know from the ban that was in place at the federal level on assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines that was in place for a decade before it sunsetted that we had a significant decrease in the use of those kinds of weapons in any kind of mass shooting.

And if we look back and allow these kinds of weapons to continue to be sold and high capacity magazines -- let's keep in mind, Fred, that most states, almost every state restrict hunters from using these weapons with high capacity magazines because they're unfair to the animals. Go ahead.


WHITFIELD: Well, I want to read a little bit more about what the ruling said and the judge and his language and choice of words. And he says "This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes. One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news, media and others that the nation is awash in murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole and facts matter."

BROWN: Yes, facts do matter. I completely agree with him. Look, in the Heller decision, the last Supreme Court decision of any note on this when Justice Scalia wrote the majority, he talked about assault style weapons in that case, Justice Scalia. And what he commented on is those kind of weapons that have the ability to kill indiscriminately as many people as quickly as possible, there is a role for proper regulation of that.

This judge has distinguished himself by putting himself on the fringes, which is exactly where the bankrupt, morally bankrupt and actually bankrupt National Rifle Association is. They have been marketing these weapons of war to Americans across the country because they want to increase that market not just here but outside of the United States as well. And Americans, American kids, moms and dads, real people pay the price for that every single day.

WHITFIELD: Well, in your view I wonder what do you believe is the motivation of this judge? What do you believe his justification is particularly when we're talking about this law that has banned assault weapons.

It's been in place in California since 1989. And you underscore the spate of violence that this nation has experienced in the first six months of this year alone.

BROWN: Look, I can only speculate, Fred. It's hard for me to put myself in the shoes of someone who could write those words comparing a weapon like that to a Swiss army knife.

Frankly, the wording in that ruling sounds like it's taken directly from an e-mail or a memo written by the National Rifle Association. And the thing that's really troubling about that is this bastardization, if I can use this word because that's what it is, of the Second Amendment. There is no Second Amendment right to purchase or buy an assault weapon. There just is no such right written into the Second Amendment.

We do have a collective right in this country, and it's fundamental. It's a right to live. And I think what we see in this kind of ruling is this idea that an extreme view of the Second Amendment is one that allows anyone to buy a gun at any time for any reason.


BROWN: If you take the logic of that ruling we can't have any laws to regulate guns. And if we live in that kind of country, we have serious, serious problems. So it's deeply troubling not just for the ruling but for what he's indicating the kind of America he wants to see.

WHITFIELD: The California attorney general is appealing but do you see this potentially on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court?

BROWN: I have every confidence the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will overturn this ruling. And of course, there's always the potential that individuals will appeal the Ninth Circuit, so, yes, there's real potential there, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kris Brown, thank you so much. Appreciate you.

BROWN: Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: All right. Straight ahead this hour -- parallels to 9/11. A frightening warning from FBI director Cristopher Wray over recent cyber attacks in the U.S. The former assistant homeland security secretary joining me live, next.

Plus wild moments aboard a Delta flight bound for Nashville after a passenger attempted to breach the cockpit. We'll show you what happened.



WHITFIELD: "A rising national security threat" -- that is how the White House is characterizing ransomware attacks after a series of high profile breaches in recent weeks. FBI director Christopher Wray telling "The Wall Street Journal" that, quote, "There are a lot of parallels. There's a lot of importance and focus by us on disruption and prevention."

In the last month alone the U.S. has seen attacks on pipelines, meat producers, media companies and even transit companies.

CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem joining us right now. Juliette, so good to see you. So how seriously in your view should the administration be taking these cyber threats? And more than threats, cyber attacks.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Very seriously, and they are. I want to just put the 9/11 analogy into perspective. What Wray and the attorney general are essentially saying is we're going to sort of nationalize or federalize these investigations.

So think of it as a task force or a tracking effort because so much small stuff and big stuff is going on at this stage. These small little hacks, the big hacks that we've seen in Colonial and in the meat industry, to get a sense what's happening out in the field to focus on crypto currency payments and other things that are happening that may disclose cyber attacks and also to compel or demand that the industry itself, critical infrastructure get their act together. And that is both protecting their cybernetwork.

And I think what's really important now is separating their business systems, in other words payroll, all those things that we think about and operations.

Because what we've seen in these big hacks is that because the networks are combined any cyber attack is going to impact operations. And that's -- you know, that is an attack, right? It's an attack on civilians because it gets to our capacity to drive or our capacity to buy meat.

WHITFIELD: Right. An interruption of your day to day life.


WHITFIELD: I mean -- and that is what domestic terrorism -- that is what terrorism is.

KAYYEM: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: So the FBI Director Wray says the scale of this problem is one that he thinks the country has to reckon, you know, with. But to what degree?

KAYYEM: I think what he is -- I mean what he is saying is that this is going to take a whole of government -- excuse me, whole of community, whole of nation approach. That this is -- you can't we can't simply think that this is going to be solved by going after Russia or going after the hackers or the criminals, although that is part of what the FBI is doing now. They're getting much more serious about bringing down these networks. You see the diplomatic efforts with Russia.

But we also have to get more serious with defense. And that means people like you and me in terms of protecting our networks if you're at a media company or me at a university. It also means that the companies have to get smarter because they're not regulated very well in terms of their cyber protections and we have to remain alert to what's happening.

These are as you said -- these -- we're not conceptualizing it this way, and I think that's what we need to change.

These are attacks on civilians. I mean, you know, they're not physical attacks, but these are impacting our civilian society. And we have to just, you know, realize that while it seems like it's networks and wires and technology, it's really not. It's our gas and food and electricity.

WHITFIELD: So what is the role that these companies in your view should take because they want to protect their commerce, they want to continue to do business. So many of these companies have already paid the ransoms. Where are you on the paying of ransoms? And where are you on these companies playing a role in adding a better defense mechanism, if you will?

KAYYEM: Well, I come from this from the counter terrorism side so I am against it. I understand why some of these companies are paying it. The Colonial CEO made a compelling case why he paid it, it didn't work. And I think that's proof that you simply can't rely on these terrorists and criminal networks. It also feeds the beast. I mean we are seeing more bullish (ph) activity so that suggests that the paying is not actually calming them down. It's getting the more aggressive. The price tag is getting higher.

So I'm firmly committed that if Congress passed a law criminalizing it or prohibiting it, that that would be good. Until then we can't have regulations that require disclosure if you are attacked, require certain protections that would be just rational that these companies seem not to be doing. In other words how are you thinking about what happens to your operations when the cyber attack happens?

In the Colonial instance they only had two options. One was bring down the whole system or pay. That's not what we call a very complex system. So there's a lot the federal government can do to push the critical infrastructure industries to get better in the absence of legislation.


WHITFIELD: Yes. And while they want business to keep going, at the same time they have to be asking themselves, you know, am I inviting yet another potential attack?


WHITFIELD: All right. Juliet Kayyem, thank you so much.

KAYYEM: Thank you

WHITFIELD: All right. The Olympics -- the drumbeat is on -- It's only less than 50 days away now, but with COVID cases needing to be reined in globally and thousands of volunteers in Japan pulling out, calls to postpone or cancel the games are growing. We'll talk about that next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Another crisis is brewing for organizers of next months Olympic Games in Tokyo. 10,000 volunteers have pulled out of the games in recent weeks. It's adding to concerns that Japan may not be ready to host the games which were already postponed from last year.

Parts of the country remain under a state of emergency including Tokyo. But for organizers the cost of canceling the games may far outweigh any risks.

CNN's Anna Stewart reports.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After years of preparation, Tokyo 2020 is just weeks away. A year late due to the pandemic organizers say the event will now cost $15.4 billion. Some estimates suggest it'll cost much more. Opinion polls in Japan suggest a majority of the public want it canceled.

(on camera): Japan has already banned overseas spectators, which the Nomura Research Institute estimates will cost the country over a billion dollars in lost revenue.

Canceling the games it says would cost more than $16 billion. But the think tank warns that these costs actually pale in comparison to the economic damage another wave of coronavirus could cause.

(voice over): The IOC says its priority is to hold games that is safe and secure. And while pressure mounts for Japan to cancel the games, contractually it can't.

ALEXANDRE, MIGUEL MESTRE, COUNSEL AT ABREU ADVOCADOS: The fact is the single entity that can cancel the games is the IOC, International Olympic Committee. because According to the Olympic charter, the IOC has an exclusive property of the games.

STEWART (on camera): So this means that actually Japan can't unilaterally decide to cancel the Olympic games.

MESTRE: If Japan, if the organizing committee, if Tokyo decides not to go on on their obligations under the host city contract, of course, it would be not possible to undertake the games. And in that condition, of course, the IOC would be entitled to sue those co-parties in the host city contract.

STEWART: The IOC has insurance for games cancellation and abandonment which could cover part of its operational cost but what about its partners, the sponsors and the broadcasters?

PATRICK VAJDA, PRESIDENT, XAW SPORTS: The main one in terms of money is the TV rights. The different contracts now are so complicated. 20 years ago it was very easy to answer your questions.

Today it's more or less impossible because the different TV network bought not only one game but several. Generally speaking, three online, sometimes four. We have to take each contract one by one and to analyze what is written in the contract.

Sometimes it is written something about the cancellation. They have to reimburse, they have not. it depends on the contract and it is a pure contractual agreement between two private companies.

STEWART: Billions of dollars, lawsuits and insurance claims are at stake if the games are canceled. If they go ahead, the IOC risks breaching its own charter which says it will promote these sports and protect athletes, who are already beginning to arrive in Japan.

The ultimate costs could be borne by those at risk from COVID-19 if Tokyo 2020 becomes a super spreader event.

Anna Stewart, CNN -- London.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more about the games, the fate of the games right now.

Dick Pound is the former vice president of the International Olympic Committee and he is still a member. And he is also the founder of the International Doping Agency (ph). He's joining me from Montreal. And by the way he's an Olympian himself -- won gold, two silver, a bronze just to name a few, 1962 Games in Perth.

All right. Good to see you, Dick. So talk to me about why it's important in your view to let the games go on?

DICK POUND, FOUNDING CHAIRMAN, WORLD ANTI-DOPING AGENCY: Well, I think all of those concerned with the organization of safe games are convinced that this can be done properly and safely and without any additional risk to the Japanese public or the participants. I mean there's a lot of opposition out there.

I don't know how informed it is, but the Japanese government, the Tokyo prefecture, the Japanese organizing committee are all convinced the games should go ahead and are preparing accordingly, as is the Olympic movement at large represented generally by the International Olympic Committee. So we're in the final stages of preparation. We're inside 50 days from the opening ceremony.


POUND: So this is all going ahead as planned, notwithstanding a fair amount of diffuse anxiety about the -- about the safety. But we are assured by the best scientific folk in the business that the bubble that you need to create can be created and safely.


WHITFIELD: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

POUND: I was going to say take me as an example of some people who will be coming. I will be -- have twice been vaccinated. I'll be tested twice before I get on an aircraft from Montreal to go to Tokyo.

When I arrive in Tokyo 13 hours later I'll be tested again and I won't be allowed out of the airport until it's clear I don't have any COVID. I'll be put on a bus that will take me to, you know, a kind of sealed off IOC hotel. And everybody in the system is going to be insulated from the public at large.

So in a sense of increasing the marginal risk, it's just not there. And I don't know what is -- I use this in quotation marks -- "informing" the public at large that this huge risk exists.

WHITFIELD: And I understand many athletes coming from all around the world, many are choosing to get their vaccinations inside 30 days of the start of the Olympic Games.

And I wonder as an Olympic swimmer yourself, I mean let's look at this from the athletes' standpoint, postponing the games last summer, the continuous training and dreaming, aspiring and now this continued threat of a pandemic and the thought of health risks. I mean just a month before opening ceremonies. What do you believe the competitors most likely want to do?

POUND: I think probably without exception or as I say almost without exception they want the games to proceed. They understand there's a pandemic going on, and it's not going to be business as usual with a lot of the frills and so on that often accompany games.

But the key is, you know, 11,000 athletes from 206 different countries really want the chance to compete that they've been training for in some cases eight or ten years.


POUND: And for the overwhelming majority of them this will be their only chance. The repeats of the Olympic Games are far fewer.

WHITFIELD: Right. And another potential delay -- another potential delay would do what to many of those athletes and would the likelihood be that it dooms many of those athletes' chances of being able to compete at the top of their game?

POUND: Absolutely. And part of the problem is, you know, when last year, you know, 15 months ago when we agreed with the Japanese suggestion to postpone the games, they said, look, we can hold all this together for a year but no longer than that. And so we're now -- you know, it's going to be July 25th or nothing. They can't be postponed further.

And, you know, six months later we've got the games in Beijing, so it's -- we're running out of time. We're running out of the flexibility in the international sports schedule to Beijing (ph) again in three years.

And so I think you go with the science and the informed opinion that the preparations are all there. I think yesterday or the day before they released the theme music and the costumes and you know, you know, we're in the homestretch now getting these facilities ready.

WHITFIELD: Yes. You mentioned the Winter Games, Beijing 2022. Is it time to rethink while Winter Games are every two years, is it time to rethink is now the time to consider Summer Games every two years as opposed to every four particularly because of, you know, this pandemic and the potential for other calamities that may be an interruption?

POUND: No, I think on balance not. I mean I think one of the great things with the Olympics is their relevant scarcity. You know, it's not like some of the stuff we watch on television where you have, you know, three million games to eliminate five teams from an endless playoff.

This is once every four years. And so if you have the summer games every four years and the winter games every four years, you know, on that two-year schedule it's just about perfect. And it keeps, you know, a general interest in the Olympics alive unlike the old days when we did have two games in one year. [11:34:47]

POUND: And you sort of had to wait impatiently for the Winter Games to be over with so you could get on with the Summer Games. And then now, we built them both up to being really viable stand alone sports events. And I think as a formula we've got that right.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Dick Pound, thank you so much. Let's all hope for the sake of the athletes and for the sake of keeping the dream alive, let the games begin hopefully in those 50 some days.

POUND: Fingers crossed and let's count on it.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much. All the best to you.


WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, a scare in the sky when a passenger aboard a Delta flight tried to break into the cockpit. We'll show you what happened when other fliers jumped into action.


WHITFIELD: A Delta flight en route from Los Angeles to Nashville had to make an emergency landing after a passenger tried to breach the cockpit. Witnesses say the man was quickly taken down by another passenger and then held down by the cabin crew after he abruptly started banging on the cockpit doors mid-flight.


WHITFIELD: Look at this video taken by a passenger showing the man barefoot and bound at the wrists and ankles, being pulled from the jet after landing in Albuquerque.

For more on this frightening ordeal, let's bring in Natasha Chen. Natasha, I mean it's funny until it's not. It's also very serious. So what do we know about what provoked him to do that? What was his intention? And what happened after that?


I just talked to the woman who took that cellphone video. Just got off the phone with Grace Chalmers. She was telling me about how frightening that moment was. So where she's sitting when she's taking this video is in the comfort plus section on the aisle.

She said this man was sitting in first class. And about an hour or so into the flight had started yelling "stop the plane". And so there was a lot of high intensity yelling. He was approaching the cockpit to try to get in there.

And she said two passengers -- two other passengers tackled him and it took about two minutes. So a lot of high intensity yelling and screaming. And she said, you know, for everybody who's been on planes, you know, before we go through turbulence, you understand some times it's a little bit -- you know, you don't know what the situation is.

But she said this is the worst possible place to be hearing and seeing yelling and screaming and not know what's going on especially for the passengers who were sitting far back behind her, not understanding the threat here.

So eventually this plane diverted and landed in Albuquerque. The man was taken into federal custody. The FBI tweeted that they responded to the incident but that there was no threat to the public at that time.

And really this follows a lot of unruly passenger behavior that we've seen in recent months. There is a zero-tolerance policy with the FAA right now that, you know, stemmed from making sure people would abide by wearing masks and such in this light.

But just to give you an idea since the beginning of this year, as of late May, the FAA says it has received 2,500 reports of unruly behavior. And, you know, the fines, the civil fines have been up to $52,000 in some cases.

So this has become a growing problem and we've seen other flights report some issues as well, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, unruly passengers. Ok, this is beyond the pale. And of course one can only think of 9/11 when you hear anything about someone's behavior heading toward the cockpit.

CHEN: Right.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much, Natasha Chen, for that report. Appreciate it.

And we'll be right back after this.



WHITFIELD: All right, in some circles life in the U.S. Is starting to look more like it did before the pandemic with new coronavirus cases now at the lowest they have been since March of 2020.

The nation now averaging just over 15,000 new infections a day. But a new CDC report shows a recent spike in COVID hospitalizations among 12 to 17-year-olds. One expert says the data just reinforces the fact that young people are far from safe from this virus.


DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Children can still suffer and be hospitalized by this virus. This virus can make you suffer and be seriously ill and occasionally die. I mean we have had at least 300 children and possibly as many as 500 who have died from this infection.

We had this notion initially that this was just a disease of older people. It's not true. This virus can also hurt children.


WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me now to discuss is Dr. Esther Choo, a professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health and Science University. Dr. Choo, always good to see you.

So how concerned are you about this spike in hospitalizations among young people even though 24 percent of kids in that age bracket have received at least one dose?

DR. ESTHER CHOO, OREGON HEALTH AND SCIENCE UNIVERSITY: Yes, it's concerning and we have to remember that there are now two experiences with COVID-19 in this country. Among vaccinated people cases are plummeting and becoming very mild. But among unvaccinated people the case rate is still pretty much the same as it was before we rolled out vaccines.

So it is better once you've gotten the vaccine, and of course many of our children remain in that group that haven't. The other thing to remember about kids is that we've been really comfortable with low disease rates and low transmission rates in settings where kids have been out of school and really withdrawn from their usual activities.

Now since late spring many kids have returned to school and along with that have come their usual social activities. And in those settings we're seeing different rates and different levels of illness -- serious illness and hospitalizations.

And we are still just beginning the rollout to kids in that age group. So I think we will -- we should expect with this different social behavior more cases, more serious cases. And we still have a long way to go in vaccination, of course.

WHITFIELD: So let's zero in on New York because New York state is now planning to drop mask mandates for all people in schools and camps statewide regardless of vaccination status beginning Monday unless the CDC advises state officials otherwise.

So the New York state teachers union is pushing back. They're not so happy about this calling the guidance whiplash-inducing news.

So in your view how should parents with unvaccinated children proceed this summer and even into the fall?


DR. CHOO: Yes, so confusing for parents, of course. And I mean with just a few weeks left in the school year it seems strange to reverse guidance that people are now used to.

I mean I think a lot, of course, depends on what's happening locally, and I think dropping a mandate doesn't mean that things aren't strongly recommended. So mask wearing indoors particularly when immunization status is not known in a cohort of children is still strongly recommended by New York state. And so I think parents need to do what they feel comfortable doing to keep their children safe. And I think we all need to take part in understanding that some children even in the -- in the vaccinated age groups cannot receive a vaccine or have medical conditions that mean they're very likely not to respond to it.

And so I think we need to set our standards to protect those people who don't have the option of being fully vaccinated. I think in many settings that will means particularly indoors that we keep masks on and that will likely be through the summer.

And I think summer camps will distinguish themselves by how much they adhere to ongoing safety practices, like cohorting children in smaller groups, keeping an eye out for outbreaks and keeping a mask on indoors unless you have 100 percent vaccination. That certainly is what I'm going to be looking for into camps for my kids.

WHITFIELD: All right. I hear you loud and clear. Still precautions need to be taken.

Dr. Esther Choo, thanks so much. Be well.

DR. CHOO: Thank you, Fred.

W1; All right. Coming up -- a U.S. Army veteran is interrupted during a Memorial Day speech and it was no accident. Details on who cut his mic and why.

But first, Idaho's -- in this week's "Off The Beaten Path" we kayak right up to the falls' breathtaking splash zone.


PAUL MELNICK, OWNER, AWOL ADVENTURE SPORTS: The Shoshone Falls have been nicknamed the Niagara Falls of the west. Most people see the falls from the observation deck but a very unique way to see the falls is kayak to the base of them.

Kayaking up in the Snake River Canyon is an absolutely beautiful adventure upon itself. You will be passing along a bunch of waterfalls that are cascading hundreds of feet down along the canyon rim.

Along the way, you'll pass underneath the Prime Bridge. You will get to see base jumpers from around the world that are parachuting down to the south side of the canyon. This is the only place in the country where you can legally do it.

Halfway there we come across Pillar Falls, and in my eyes Pillar Falls is our true hidden claim to fame down here in the canyon. The way the river has cut through the rocks over the centuries and is constantly changing channels, making new pools, it truly is a wonder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We usually come down here to get a nice little hike in. Get good exercise. It's beautiful as you can see. You can hike out on it. The water is refreshing if you want to take a little dip.

MELNICK: When you get around the corner and the falls come into view for the first time, it's absolutely breathtaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, this is how you see Shoshone Falls.

MELNICK: You feel it in your chest, the falls thundering over and you can feel the spray. It's an absolutely beautiful, unique experience.




WHITFIELD: An American Legion post in Ohio had its charter suspended after a microphone was cut intentionally during a speech on Memorial Day. The legion is under fire for turning off the microphone as a retired army colonel spoke about black people's roles in the U.S. military during a Memorial Day service.

CNN's Laura Jarrett has the story.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Reporter: it started off without a hitch.

LT. COL. BARNARD KEMTER, (RET.) U.S. ARMY: Memorial Day was first commemorated by an organized group of black freed slaves less than a month after the confederacy surrendered.

JARRETT: That's U.S. Army veteran Bernard Kemter giving a speech at a Memorial Day service in Hudson, Ohio. Now hear what happens as the retired Lt. Colonel continues to talk.

KEMBER: The ceremony is believed to have included a parade of as many as 10,000 people including 3,000 African-American schoolchildren singing the Union marching song "John Brown's Body". They were carrying armfuls of flowers and went to decorate the graves.

Interesting that there would be a tie back to Hudson with that song on John Browne.

Most importantly whether Charleston's decoration day was the first is attended by Charleston's black community -- AJ, the mic -- we will continue on.

This is why you move in closer, so you can hear this.

JARRETT: Kemter's microphone was turned off for roughly two minutes. He told the "Washington Post" he believed at the time it was a technical glitch as he spoke about the role freed black people played in developing the holiday after the civil war.

But muting the service's keynote speaker was no mistake. An organizer of the event, who was affiliated with the local American Legion post telling the "Akron Beacon Journal" it was because Kemter's speech was, quote, "not relevant to our program for the day", adding, "the theme of the day was honoring Hudson veterans".


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a situation that I think people are a little upset at the censorship at speaking at Memorial Day.