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Protesters March at DOJ; Interview with Frank Newport

Aired September 13, 2002 - 13:38   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Demonstrators are heading to the Justice Department today. They are protesting what they call "closed- door policies" by Justice officials.
Participants plan to pin a list of grievances on the DOJ's front door.

CNN National Correspondent Bob Franken joins us now from Washington with the details from there -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, they are going to put it not on the real Justice Department door, but a replica which is going to appear in a little bit.

And they are complaining about the loss of civil liberties, and the loss of access to this administration. It is the coalition of the same civil rights, labor, women's rights groups that we have known for decades now. They marched just a few blocks here to the Justice Department looking like -- trying to look like the civil rights marches of the 1960s. Many of the figures are the same, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who is speaking now. Why don't we now listen to just a few moments of what the Reverent Jackson is saying live to this audience.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, ACTIVIST: ... 9/11 did not change everything. It did change the subject. Iraq will change the subject again. We must keep our eyes on the prize. The subject is broader that bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. The problems are greater, the solutions are more difficult. The real subjects for us is Enron, WorldCom, Halliburton, Arthur Andersen, public corruption, not just prison (ph) strikes and invasions.

FRANKEN: And now we have been listening to Rev. Jesse Jackson saying, encapsulating really what the point of this march was today. Several hundred people marching in the center (ph) of Washington, D.C. The rhetoric is about civil rights, the same -- similar to the rhetoric that we have heard over the last 40 years or so, rhetoric which the coalition that is here today said is still relevant, particularly in this time since September 11, and that is going to be the complaint that they make, that civil liberties are being violated by this administration, particularly by the attorney general, so that is why they are marching at the Justice Department -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Bob Franken, thank you so much.

Well, with all the threat issues and security changes facing the country in the wake of last September's terror attacks, do you -- the public -- feel like your civil liberties are being violated?

Gallup Poll editor-in-chief Frank Newport joins us now from Princeton, New Jersey, with some revealing new surveys -- hi, Frank.

FRANK NEWPORT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GALLUP POLL: Hello, Kyra. In fact, we have reviewed a lot of the data from the American public, and find actually there are probably more agreement with some of the sentiments that we just saw there in that rally in Washington than might have been immediately after 9/11.

Here is one question we just asked: are individual rights and freedoms since 9/11 better, about the same, or worse? And you can see, 11 percent said better. But I think we can focus in here at 30 percent of Americans who say they have actually gotten worse since 9/11.

Here is the interesting trend, a question we have asked in our CNN "USA Today" Gallup Poll since January, Is it OK for the U.S. government to violate civil rights if necessary in order to fight terrorism?

Back in January, it was about even. Almost half of Americans said OK if necessary. That dropped in June. And now, we just updated it, right prior to the anniversary, Kyra. It is down to just 33 percent. The majority of Americans say no.

So in the general sense, Kyra, we are having more Americans now saying, Even in the fight for terrorism, don't violate civil rights -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, let's talk specifically about racial profiling, Frank.

NEWPORT: Well, you know, that is illuminated, I think, by what we have seen today with the people of Middle Eastern background there in Florida being stopped by authorities, maybe correctly so. We find support for profiling still there, so it is kind of a paradox.

In general, people are more concerned -- this is a question that an NPR Kaiser Harvard poll has asked a couple of times, is profiling of people from Arab and Middle Eastern backgrounds OK? Sixty-six -- 59 percent still say OK, as of just a few weeks ago.

Also, and a question we just updated, are you more distrustful of Arabs? This is of the general public. That number has gone up, not down. You can see, we have asked it several times, but 44 percent of Americans say more distrustful of Arabs at this point.

Bottom line here, Kyra, is even though Americans are concerned in the general sense, it seems like for specific people of ethic backgrounds in the Middle East and the Arab world, Americans are still saying, Hey, maybe profiling is what they are going to OK.

PHILLIPS: Frank Newport, thank you.

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