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Zimmerman Charged, Hearing This Afternoon; Zimmerman Charged: Second Degree Murder; North Korea Prepares Rocket Launch; Oil Sheen Spotted In Gulf; Pepper Spray "Unreasonable"; More Kids With Unmarried Parents; Prince Harry's New Girlfriend?; Dyngus Day Giggles; Teacher Fired For Supporting Martin?; George Zimmerman Arrested; Democratic Strategist Criticized for Comments About Ann Romney

Aired April 12, 2012 - 06:59   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: And welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning is George Zimmerman who is now stands as an accused murderer. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, we filed an information charging George Zimmerman with murder in the second-degree.


O'BRIEN: That's the mug shot right there. It's the first look we've had at George Zimmerman since he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Today, Zimmerman is due in court for the first time.

And Ann Romney, mother of five, grandmother of 16, a Democratic strategist is now causing an uproar over what she said about Ann. Listen.


HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.


O'BRIEN: So, Ann Romney jumps on Twitter to respond. We'll tell you what she said. Also Michelle Obama taking on "The Colbert Report."


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Please welcome first lady Michelle Obama.


O'BRIEN: The first lady might have had the upper hand in the gags. We'll share them with you this morning. It is Thursday, April 12th. STARTING POINT begins right now.

O'BRIEN: "Feet First" that's how we're going to start?


O'BRIEN: I have a really hard time reading today.

CAIN: I thought you didn't know who they were.

O'BRIEN: One of the guys on the crew is actually in the band.

Let's introduce you to the panel. John Fugelsang is with us. He's a political comedian. Brett O'Donnell, presidential campaign adviser the president of O'Donnell and Associates, and Will Cain is a columnist with Nice to have all of you with us.

No surprise, I think, about the charges yesterday. There was sort of a flurry that, in fact, George Zimmerman would be charged and then there was a sense that maybe it wasn't coming immediately and then there was a 6:00 pm press conference held by Angela Corey, the special prosecutor.

CAIN: I would say I'm a little surprised. His former attorneys suggested they had some kind of exculpatory evidence that they had sitting out there. I thought they would it that would preclude charges.

O'BRIEN: I guess I meant there's a sense that there were rumors that charges were about to happen.

CAIN: Second degree is a little bit of a surprise as well.

O'BRIEN: That is.

CAIN: Just short of first degree. It's pretty much the harshest penalty they could apply.

O'BRIEN: Possibly do. Yes. It's interesting. Trayvon Martin's parents are reacting to the charges. Hear what they said.


ANGELA COREY, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Today we filed an information charging George Zimmerman with murder in the second degree. We did not come to this decision lightly. This case is like a lot of the difficult cases we have handled for years here in our circuit, and we made this decision in the same manner. Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts of any given case as well as the laws of the state of Florida.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: We simply wanted an arrest. We wanted nothing more, nothing less. We just wanted an arrest. And we got it. And I say thank you.

TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: We will continue to walk by faith. We will continue to hold hands on this journey. White, black, Hispanic, Latino. We will continue to walk. We will march and march and march until the right thing is done.


O'BRIEN: So, in order for a conviction, here is what would have to happen. The prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trayvon Martin is dead, that Zimmerman's criminal act caused Martin's death, and that Martin was killed by an act that was dangerous and had no regard for human life. Zahra Umansky is an attorney who has defended George Zimmerman before. She joins us this morning p nice to see you. Thanks for talking to us.


Tell us about your experience with George Zimmerman. You represented him in 2005, 2006, correct?

UMANSKY: That is right, Soledad. My experience with George is that he was a young man at the time. He was very concerned about his future. He was interested in making sure that these felony criminal charges were dropped and he was very proactive in his defense and very interested in making sure he received the best result. And I'm sure in this case he will work hard and diligently with his attorney to get the same exact result.

O'BRIEN: Tell me about that particular case you were representing him in. He had a dispute with law enforcement. And the charges eventually were dropped and then dismissed. It's where that original mug shot that people saw, I think, early on when we started talking about George Zimmerman. That's where that mug shot came from. Can you tell me more about that case?

UMANSKY: That's correct, Soledad. That is that mug shot from that arrest. In that case, he was alleged to have come to the aid of his friend, who was being arrested. He was a bar employee, his friend, for serving underage minors. And the allegation is that George came up to see what was going on, why his friend was being arrested and undercover law enforcement officer actually stopped him and said, hey, don't go there, showed him his badge.

And it's alleged that in that case George said to the officer, "I don't care who you are. F-off." And that's when the officer directed him away physically and George pushed him away. That is the allegation. And he was charged with battery of a law enforcement officer and resisting violence and charges were dismissed.

O'BRIEN: Are you surprised, as some on this panel are, that he is facing a second-degree murder charge?

UMANSKY: I am. We, as a legal community, thought that the charge would be only manslaughter. I'm not sure what happens happened in George's life in the last six or seven years since I've represented him. I've heard that he wanted to be a law enforcement officer. I don't know what happened with that. But his critics may say, look, here he is again, not listening, taking matters into his own hands, while his supporters will say he was protecting his friend, wanting to find out what was going on.

JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: I have a question about the charges for battery of a law enforcement officer. They were dropped after he agreed to undergo anger management, right?

UMANSKY: Right. He signed an agreement with the state attorney's office. We plead not guilty for him and he entered into an aversion program and had a program such as an anger management class, which is usually about eight hours long.

FUGELSANG: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. I think what people are looking for is sort of insight into George Zimmerman's personality and as someone who represented him, I would be curious about that. There's a bunch of folks who would say you have a guy who is a neighborhood watchman, frustrated policeman wannabe, who might someone who is hungry for power. Does that describe the George Zimmerman you know?

UMANSKY: Not necessarily at the time. I could say, Soledad, as a 21, 22-year-old young man, he was very involved in his defense, whereas some young college kids that age will kind of go and just do what the attorney tells them to do.

O'BRIEN: Why do you think that was?

UMANSKY: He was very concerned. He was not just some young guy that we could tell him what to do and he would do whatever we said. He was very involved, very concerned. I think that's reflected in his personality now with the allegation that he wants to take things, and find out what's going on and he doesn't take what people tell him at face value. He's curious and wants to investigate on his own. He had that personality back then.

BRETT O'DONNELL, PRESIDENT, O'DONNELL AND ASSOCIATES: The cases do share a little similarity. He was aggressive in both cases. Do you find him to be an aggressive person?

UMANSKY: Not personally. Not as an individual. But you are correct. The allegation is there was some aggression, some questioning of authority, as some people have commented, regarding the 911 tape in this case when they tell him don't follow. There's some evidence that he did follow. Some people say he did follow. George's version is, no, Trayvon came after me. So, I think that's a similarity. Why was he not listening?

O'BRIEN: Zahra Umansky defended George Zimmerman in the past. Thank you for talking with us.

UMANSKY: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: In roughly 20 minutes or so we're going to be talking to George Zimmerman's brand new defense attorney. Mark O'Mara will join us live. And then in the next hour we're going to talk to Natalie Jackson. She has been on the program before, an attorney for the Trayvon Martin family.

First, though, we've got to get to some of the headlines making news today. Christine Romans has a look at those for us. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. An overnight wakeup call for people living near Mexico's Gulf of California. Two strong earthquakes, magnitude 6.9 and 6.2 coming just minutes apart, those came just hours after another quake measuring 7.0 hit western Mexico. That one was felt hundreds of miles away in Mexico City, cause people to evacuate when tall buildings began to sway.

Confusion, panic and her people getting in the way. We're hearing for the first time the 911 tape from the night Whitney Houston died. TMZ obtained the tape of a hotel security guard making the call after Houston was found face down in the bathtub. He says a woman in Houston's hotel room was pretty much out of it, wouldn't let him in to try to perform CPR.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You don't know if she's conscious or breathing at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently she wasn't breathing and she's 46 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was not breathing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is breathing now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. The person who called me was irate and pretty much didn't get anything out of her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it sound like the person is still not breathing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any way you can get into the room so you can try CPR?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're going in now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you get me into the room to give you cpr instructions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, because she kept hanging up on us.


ROMANS: According to the report on Houston's death, her assistant and bodyguard were the only people in the room at the time.

Jury selection begins today in the federal jury trial for former Senator John Edwards. The trial is expected to last at least six weeks. Edwards faces six felony charges for conspiracy, false statements, and using campaign money to support his mistress. If convicted he faces 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines and prison time.

Sony Corporation is cutting 10,000 jobs worldwide. Sony says it's part of a new revival plan after the company suffered big losses because of sagging TV sales. Sony now plans to build up its game and mobile business.

And a lawsuit could eventually -- could mean cheaper eBooks. The federal government is suing Apple over alleged eBook price fixing. Five book publishers are accused of colluding with Apple. Three of those have settled with the Justice Department. The government says Apple conspired with publishers to drive up book prices and basically force amazon's hand, which was selling most eBooks for $9.99. Apple hasn't responded to the lawsuit just yet.

Stock futures are up, suggesting a higher open on Wall Street. Stocks snapped an ugly five-day losing streak yesterday. There's hope for some solid earnings reports. Google's earnings will be out later.

First lady Michelle Obama meets the self-proclaimed first gentlemen of the Colbert Nation. Mrs. Obama coming on the "Colbert Report" to mark the one-year anniversary of her Joining Forces program for military families. Asked about a possible source of tension between her and the president --


COLBERT: You are popular.


COLBERT: Do you ever lord it over the president that you're more popular than he is. Do you ever say, hey, I'm more popular than you? I might campaign against you?

MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: I might do that when I get home.


COLBERT: Have you endorsed him yet? Are you prepared to do that?


MICHELLE OBAMA: I am prepared. I am endorsing my husband Barack Obama. I think he will be a phenomenal president. He has done a phenomenal job. He's my man.

COLBERT: Since you're on the show tonight -- MICHELLE OBAMA: Yes.

COLBERT: I feel fairly confident that the president is watching this broadcast right now.


COLBERT: I believe we have a photo of the president watching right now. He seems to be enjoying it. He seems to be enjoying this interview very much.



ROMANS: Soledad, probably the biggest most important person to endorse him and campaign for him is probably Michelle Obama.

O'BRIEN: I bet. Mitt Romney wishes Michelle Obama would come in and campaign for him. That could help him a lot. Thanks, Christine. Appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we'll talk about Mitt Romney's wife and a shot at her. Listen.


ROSEN: His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.


O'BRIEN: That was ridiculous, honestly. We'll talk about that, straight ahead. That was Hilary Rosen, who has been on this program several times.

And in our "Get Real," Vegas and the videos. The GSA story is the gift that keeps giving, we like to say. Now Hawaii, that agency that was in charge of saving taxpayer money, five-day trip for one hour's worth of work. We'll explain to you what happened there.

CAIN: They're stepping it up.

O'BRIEN: It gets better. About to head to work, you don't need to miss the show. Log in at Here is John's playlist. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Weapon of Choice."



O'BRIEN: That's off Brett's play list. That's Bonnie Raitt "I Will not be Broken." You can see our playlists at in And you can follow me on twitter @SoledadObrien.

Speaking of social media exploding over this war on women debate. It started on Anderson Cooper's show last night on CNN when the Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Hilary Rosen, who has been on this show, had said this about Mitt Romney's wife, Ann.


ROSEN: With respect to economic issues, I think, actually, that Mitt Romney's right, that ultimately women care more about the economic well-being of their families and the like. But there's -- but he doesn't connect on that issue either. What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues. And when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing.

Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we worry -- why we worry about their future.


O'BRIEN: Well, Ann Romney -- Ann Romney gets on twitter to respond and she tweets this. "I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."

FUGELSANG: That's called flipping the script. Hilary Rosen only hurt her own cause by this. You want to come out and say Mitt Romney's in a bubble and doesn't understand women's issues, that's great. But you don't bring the wife into it. Ann Romney has raised five kids. That's hard work. The entire burden of proof, the sympathy has shifted over to Mitt Romney now. Now a Democratic strategist is seen as attacking stay-at-home moms.

O'BRIEN: It's inappropriate to suggest that somehow Ann Romney as a woman who has decided to stay home with her five kids doesn't also get a vote on the economy and as a female has a perspective on it. It's like you don't count because this is a choice you made? It's ridiculous. It's insulting really.

O'DONNELL: It's not a matter of her working or not. It's a matter of her knowing the important issues and she can be smart enough to know that the economy is an important issue, whether or not she worked.

O'BRIEN: She did work. Five boys? You could many in to work just to rest up for that.

CAIN: Hilary, Hilary. I like Hilary. We're friends.

O'BRIEN: Uh-oh. Whenever someone starts I like Hilary and we're friends, but --

CAIN: This turned this war on women into a war of one woman who then becomes a proxy for so many women who shares similar lifestyle, stay at home, raise children. Maybe not five. That's a lot of kids. You're telling them that's not a hard day's work. O'BRIEN: We can all agree on that. The other thing that bothers me about this, we start pitting women against women, working women who are working outside the home and working women who are working inside the home. That really troubles me.

CAIN: Can I tell you what troubles me? We start pitting Americans against Americans, female Americans against male Americans. When we divide and conquer on class, on gender, that troubles me.

O'BRIEN: Really, does that trouble you? I noticed that the past couple of months, sarcastic, snitty man at the end of the table there.

FUGELSANG: Even if Hilary is correct and Ann Romney lives in this bubble, it's not relevant to the campaign, it hurts her cause and you don't make fun of a candidate's spouse unless it's Todd Palin. That's just good manners.


FUGELSANG: It's irrelevant whether she lives in a bubble or went to work in Calcutta with Mother Theresa. It's not relevant to Mitt Romney and his agenda for this country. People don't care.

O'BRIEN: Let me throw in Hilary's response. "Is Ann Romney Mitt's touch stone for women who are struggling economically or not? Nothing is Ann Romney's history as we've heard it, hardworking mom she may have been, leads me to believe that Mitt has chosen the right expert to get feedback on this problem. He professes to be so concerned about."

FUGELSANG: Now the Democrats have a war on stay-at-home moms. That's how it comes off.

O'BRIEN: And how did it only become relevant to people who are struggling economically? It's for everybody.

CAIN: Hilary made a bad choice here, taken a bad position. She is a mother as well and made a bad choice on this issue.

O'BRIEN: Look who is Mr. Conciliatory this morning.

CAIN: No, no, no. Hilary had a bad idea. This is wrong. She's a great person, mother of two children.

O'DONNELL: The whole war on women is a bad idea.

CAIN: Stupid, stupid.

O'DONNELL: This is a distraction to a campaign that's struggling to find its voice so far. And, you know, I think the Romney folks have backed them into a corner.

FUGSELSANG: I agree, but if the Democrats want to make this stick, they'll say it's a war on women's reproductive independence. But this will backfire on them.

O'BRIEN: The panel is in agreement. My goodness, it may never happen again.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, that $800,000 Vegas junket and embarrassing videos, apparently only the tip of the iceberg. It's getting worse for the GSA. Details of a trip to Hawaii that we, as taxpayers, got to pay for that was fabulous. It really made me wish I was working there at that time. Five days of travel for one hour. Our "Get Real" is next. And Robert Earl Keen from Will Cain's playlist.


O'BRIEN: Our "get real" this morning. First it was the $800,000 Vegas junket and the embarrassing videos that followed and now we're learning that GSA, the agent in charge of saving the government cash, sent employees to Hawaii for five days for, drum roll, please, one hour of work. It was all revealed from this transcript that came from the house transportation committee that employees spent five days in Hawaii for one ribbon-cutting ceremony, complete with snorkeling in the morning because they had free time. Paid $130,000 to move one employee from Denver to Hawaii and that was an employee who quit a year later. So, I think -- I believe that actually you'll see more of these little bits and pieces coming out, because --

CAIN: I mean, they were on Hawaii time. One hour's work in a week of Hawaii, that's highly productive.

FUGELSANG: Now we know where all the money they're saving is going.

O'BRIEN: Snorkeling lessons, clearly.

FUGELSANG: This is the anti-government lobby Christmas present come early. Haliburton may have ripped off taxpayers for million, but at least they had the good taste not to film it.

O'BRIEN: I'll agree with that.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, North Korea potentially launching a new rocket. We'll have the latest developments there. And George Zimmerman is behind bars today. He's about to face a judge for the first time. We're going to talk to his new attorney after his two other attorneys we spoke to yesterday were dumped. We are back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. This morning, George Zimmerman is waking up inside the Seminole County jail. He's charged with second-degree murder.

You're looking at his new mug shot. This afternoon, Zimmerman will be in court for the very first time. Mark O'Mara is George Zimmerman's new defense attorney and he joins us live. It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for talking with us.

I know that bond has not yet been set -- thank you, is the goal for you to get him out of jail or is it to keep him in jail to keep him safe?

MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: I would like to get him out. I need him out to assist me in going over all the evidence and preparing our defense. I'm concerned about his safety to a certain extent, but I'm truly hoping that there will be a receding of the frustrations or anger now that the process is moving forward.

O'BRIEN: Are you expecting that you're going to be able to get him out of jail as soon as the bond hearing is finished and the bond has been set, and then you can post bond to get him out?

O'MARA: A number of problems. I'm not certain that the bond hearing will be heard today. I hope it will be. It may be deferred for a few days, but I truly want him out as soon as possible.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Mr. O'Mara, you just said you were concerned about George Zimmerman's safety. Just to be clear, are you talking about inside or outside of jail?

O'MARA: Outside of jail, I think. Seminole County Jail is doing a wonderful job handling him as a protective custody inmate, as they should. So I'm not concerned with that.

There are certainly still some animosities and some high emotions around the case. I just don't want that to be visited upon George, his family or anyone. Let's just move forward with getting the case figured out and resolved, tried and worked out.

O'BRIEN: Have you had a chance to talk to him yet? I know at the press conference yesterday, you hadn't.

O'MARA: Actually, no. I had talked to him well before the press conference yesterday, just on the phone, several times. I did see him last night at the jail for about an hour.

O'BRIEN: Are you surprised by a second-degree manslaughter charge?

O'MARA: Knowing it only as a layperson, not as the attorney -- because I have no inside information as to what was going on, I did think that that was certainly the highest charge I ever thought they would charge.

It seemed like it might be a manslaughter, but, again I don't want to prejudge something when I know nothing about the facts. I would rather that come out the way it's supposed to.

O'BRIEN: His other two attorneys who were, you know, kicked off the case talked about the fact that he was distraught, that he, in their opinion, had PTSD. Can you comment on that?

O'MARA: I'm not sure what happened between he and the other attorneys. A diagnosis like that should be made by a professional psychologist or psychiatrist. I'm not going to make a diagnosis like that. He is stressed. He's tired. He's been through a lot with the way this case has been handled to date. I'm just hoping that his mental health stays well and that we can move forward with getting the case figured out.

O'BRIEN: There's a bunch of pre-trial hearings that have to happen, including I understand that a hearing on stand your ground in and of itself. Do you think that in fact all of this could sort of come to an end, depending on how that particular hearing turns out?

O'MARA: A pre-trial motions attending to whether or not that affirmative defense should exist and should pre-empt the state from moving forward on the charges could well occur, but it's way too premature for that.

I will just have to wait and see what the discovery shows, what the evidence is and then from that, we're going to craft whatever motions are appropriate and get them before the court.

O'BRIEN: Do you think it's at all possible to have an impartial jury hear this case in the state of Florida with the fact that this has been on every newscast every single day for the last month?

O'MARA: It's very difficult with a high-profile case, particularly when there's a lot of community emotions. However, Florida has a very good process in place to make sure we get a fair and impartial jury.

Other high-profile cases have been able to do so. I trust that the system, the judge, the prosecutor and I will be able to, should the need arise, to get ourselves a fair and impartial jury to hear the case. It may not be in Seminole County. It's just a question of when and how the potential jurors talk to us when we see if we can seat them.

O'BRIEN: And final question for you, before I let you go, when potentially do you think roughly this case -- if you move through the pre-trial hearings, could go to trial? Six months, less, more?

O'MARA: I cannot imagine it being less than six months. I would imagine longer than that, but I know so little about the evidence yet.

That, you know, what the evidence shows is them giving us grounds for motions or other investigation, grounds for response to the evidence. Without knowing that, it would be just pure speculation.

O'BRIEN: Mark O'Mara is George Zimmerman's new defense attorney. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for your time this morning. Appreciate it.

O'MARA: Sure thing. Take care.

O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning -- thank you, likewise. Ahead this morning, at the top of the hour, we're going to talk to Natalie Jackson. She's an attorney for the Trayvon Martin family. We'll talk to her straight ahead. First, though, Christine has headlines. Hi, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. We are now within that time window that North Korea says it will launch its new rocket. International leaders are urging North Korea to cancel the launch.

The U.S. says it's suspending food aid and Japan is threatening to shoot down this rocket. North Korea insists the operation is for peaceful purposes only, but U.S. and South Korean officials dismiss that. They believe it's a cover for a ballistic missile test.

A developing story we're watching, one mile by 10-mile oil sheen spotted in the Gulf of Mexico. Shell Oil says it's reported the sheen to the National Response Center and has dispatched an oil response vessel to skim it.

The platforms are both located 130 miles southeast of New Orleans. Shell says there's no indication this rainbow sheen came from its oil platform. It's still looking into all of that.

California officials slamming U.C. Davis for a pepper spray incident that sparked national outrage back in November. You may remember this video. Campus police sprayed a group of "Occupy" protesters point blank range.

Wow! A new state report calls police actions, quote, "objectively unreasonable" and says the incident could have been prevented. The report also slams U.C. Davis officials for putting the officers in what they call an unfortunate situation. That video was viral for obvious reasons.

Today's "A.M. House Call," the FDA is cracking down on antibiotics in our meats asking livestock producers, drug companies and vets to phase out antibiotics they used to promote growth. This practice has been shown to create drug-resistant microbes or super bugs that researchers say is a danger to public health.

More American children are now being born to parents who are unmarried. New government stats reveal the percentage of first borns with cohabitating parents jumped from 12 percent in 2002 to 22 percent between 2006 and 2010.

Experts say couples likely put off getting married for economic reasons especially at the height of the recession starting back in late 2007.

Prince Harry may have a new girlfriend. British tabloids speculate he is dating U.K. pop star, Molly King, part of the girl group called "The Saturdays."

King is 24 years old. Tabloids say she and Prince Harry have been friends since 2010, when they met at a polo match. Just what you need to know about the royals to get your day started.

O'BRIEN: And more. Thanks, Christine.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, watching "AC 360" on Tuesday, Anderson was reporting on the very important Dyngus Day celebrations happening in Buffalo and he completely fell apart. This is so cute and so hysterical that I had to share it. We'll show you that in a little bit.

Also, texts from Hillary -- Anderson, man, I love you, but your giggle is ridiculous. These are texts from Hillary. Internet craze that began a picture of Hillary Clinton in shades checking her Blackberry then went viral. We're going to talk to the creators straight ahead. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Bret O'Donald's playlist, Rascal Flatts, "My Wish."

So Dyngus Day, nobody knows what that is. It's a Polish- American holiday celebrates the end of Lent with many rituals. So Anderson Cooper was doing a ridiculous segment on the people who had missed out on the Dyngus Day celebration, completely, completely lost it. It was hysterical. We're going to play it for you. Watch.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360": Last night's "Ridiculist," we added anyone who missed out on Dyngus Day, a little- known holiday. It sounds like a lot of fun.

Now for the record, I didn't put the holiday itself on "The Ridiculist." It was anyone who missed out on the holiday for the record. Now I started giggling about half way through last night's "Ridiculist." Take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The quirky little rituals include boys sprinkling girls that they fancy with water and the girls striking back with a tap from a Pussy Willow branch.

COOPER: Sorry. I'm not going to be able to do this. I'm sorry. So stupid. It's really so stupid. Stop. Come on. This is torture. I just got to let it out. I've just got it let it out.


O'BRIEN: That was so funny. First of all, his giggle is so ridiculous, number one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That sounds like a "Ridiculist."

O'BRIEN: And then, of course, there was a protest.


O'BRIEN: Because they thought he was making fun and mocking Dyngus Day and the folks in Buffalo. He was not. He said that's so stupid, that he said a couple of times, he was actually referring to himself and the fact that he giggled. I believe I'm quoting him, like a 13-year-old girl. So it went on and on.

JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: And there's nothing stupid splashing women you fancy with water and those women hitting you with a Pussy Willow branch.

O'BRIEN: As Anderson Cooper said, that's what makes this country great. We have lots of different traditions celebrated by lots of different people so I thought that was very cute.

Anyway, still ahead this morning --

CAIN: Anderson's calling you.

O'BRIEN: Anderson, I'll get right with you. Hang on.


O'BRIEN: Still ahead, do you see this story? I love this story. Arcade built completely out of cardboard and complete imagination. There's a film about a little kid who makes this cardboard wonderland. It's going viral. I'll tell you the story of this little boy's called "Cain's Arcade."

And then that teacher who claims she was fired because she supported a hoodie rally for Trayvon Martin. We're going to talk to her up next. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: You've seen thousands of rallies across the country for Trayvon Martin. Well, now one teacher says she was fired for voicing her support.

Brooke Harris claims that the Pontiac Academy for Excellence let her go after she tried to hold a hoodie fundraiser for Trayvon Martin's family. Listen.


REVEREND JAMAL BRYANT, BALTIMORE PASTOR: We stand with the middle school teacher in Michigan, Brooke Harris, who lost her job for standing with us and believing that this was the right thing, and that young people had to be involved.


O'BRIEN: Brooke Harris is with us this morning. She's joined by Reverend Charles Williams, who is a pastor in Detroit, who held an event in support of Miss Harris this week.

Thanks for talking with us. I appreciate it. We'll start with you, Miss Harris. Tell me exactly what happened and this idea behind this hoodie fundraiser. BROOKE HARRIS, FORMER TEACHER, PONTIAC ACADEMY FOR EXCELLENCE: The idea came from my kids. They had heard about it on their own. They were talking about it.

O'BRIEN: Your students you mean?

HARRIS: Yes, my students who are essentially my kids that I spend so much time with them. My students wanted to write about it. It was students who don't usually write.

So I wanting to encourage them and get them to finally get their voices out, we had an assignment. They wrote editorials. They wrote some of the best editorials I have ever read.

The best writing I've ever read out of them the entire school year because they were invested in it. They were interested in the topic. They chose the topic.

O'BRIEN: So what happened?

HARRIS: They wanted to write about the topic. They wanted to do more. They wanted to have a fundraiser like we do once a month anyway. It's a uniform school.

Once a month, we dress down. They call it for a dollar so they can wear their street clothes. They wanted to do the same thing except wear hooded sweatshirts and donate that money to the family instead of the school.

O'BRIEN: So you brought that idea to your supervisors, right?

HARRIS: Yes, to my immediate supervisor, the principal. I filled out the proper paperwork. I took it to the right person. He signed off on it. But when he took it to the final person who needed to okay it, the superintendent, she did not OK it.

O'BRIEN: OK, and then she didn't OK it. That came back to you that it was not going to happen. What happened next?

HARRIS: I was OK with the decision. I was a little upset by her reasoning. The reasoning seemed to be that it wasn't the kids' idea. They didn't know the facts about the case. They didn't actually care. They just wanted to dress down for a day.

Because they still wanted to do something, we were coming up with different ideas to do. They were suggesting making buttons, selling skittles, going on Facebook, making YouTube videos, and as we were brainstorming other ideas and moving on, then we were OK with the decision, that's when I got called into the meeting.

The meeting wasn't about you didn't fill out the right form. It wasn't about you didn't go through the proper channels. The meeting was about me being a bad teacher. I wasn't teaching them writing.

I was called immature, unprofessional and a bunch of things that weren't true because she didn't even know my name. So if you can't remember my name, how can you make these assumptions about my teaching?

O'BRIEN: So after that meeting, they told you in that meeting you were going to be suspended, is that right?

HARRIS: No, they didn't. They told me to leave the meeting. I left the meeting. My principal came up and told me to go home. As I was driving home, I got a phone call from human resources that I could come back on Thursday.

The word suspension was never used. I didn't know that I was technically suspended until I came back on Thursday and had a follow-up meeting.

O'BRIEN: And they told you that you were suspended then?


O'BRIEN: On what grounds?

HARRIS: It was unprofessional of me to cry after the meeting despite being thought so low of, despite my children and students being thought so low of, I should have held in my emotions and not express them.

O'BRIEN: So here's what the superintendent who we asked her to give us a statement and they wouldn't, but that she's been quoted pretty thoroughly. When you have an idea, the idea goes up the chain. It's how you respond that makes a difference.

I wanted my students to think of our needs before anyone else's needs. But I would just say that I would never fire a teacher for the reason that's been given. That's just not who I am.

So that leads me to think is she talking about something else. Is there possibly anything else that actually happened behind the scenes that you're not mentioning that's the reason you got fired?

HARRIS: There's nothing else unless there was a lapse in communication, unless there was a misunderstanding. I filled out the paperwork. I went through the proper channels. I didn't say we're going to do it anyway.

I did what I knew I had to do. And if it was just a simple you forgot to talk to this person or I need this form too, why wasn't the meeting about that? Why was the meeting about me and my teaching and how I should be teaching the textbook and not being an activist?

O'BRIEN: Let me bring in Reverend Charles Williams. You have now stood up. That was from a press conference we showed a little clip and now you have said that if in fact Ms. Harris doesn't get her job back by Friday, you're going to march and rally on her behalf as well. What about her story has really had an impact on you that you are doing this? REVEREND CHARLES WILLIAMS, PASTOR, KING SOLOMON BAPTIST CHURCH: Well, thank you first of all, Soledad, for having us on today to talk about this very important and pressing issue. You know, Reverend Al Sharpton, our national president, yesterday after the charges were announced talked about the thousands and hundreds of thousands of unknown young people who engaged in this battle to make sure that there was justice for Trayvon.

And quite frankly, anybody who would like to squash that by firing this sister we would like to make sure is brought to justice. So we believe that those who died for the cause, this young lady is related to and so we want to make sure she does not die and that her job is saved.

O'BRIEN: Have you had conversations with the superintendent? Because every way she's been quoted that I've read so far has intimated that there's something else going on.

WILLIAMS: In the conversations that we have tried to have, we were ignored. I think that's the first issue. The second issue is this. You cannot tell me a young lady who has been working at a school for three years, two years in a row she was voted to be teacher of the year.

Never been disciplined, never had a write up, never been suspended before now, that all of a sudden there is no relationship to the fact that her students were adamant about wanting to organize for Trayvon Martin. We cannot allow our young people not to be moved from education to action.

O'BRIEN: Let me give final word to Brooke this morning if I may. So you are out of the classroom. Have your students reacted? Have you had a chance to talk to any of them even though you're not still at school?

HARRIS: I have. Actually yesterday, I spent some time with two of them and it reminded me of how much I miss them. They were telling me about students were crying, I guess, when they found out. I've had students contact me via the internet saying that they don't think it's fair.

Asking how they can help. I actually just heard apparently the superintendent although she won't speak to me in media, but she is willing to have a meeting with a couple students. I told them how proud I was that they were willing to stand up for what they think is right.

O'BRIEN: Brooke Harris is a former English teacher at the Pontiac Academy for Excellence. Thanks for talking to us and the Reverend Charles Williams as well.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate your time this morning. Thanks. Let us know how it all ends up. We'll be following your story.

WILLIAMS: Will do.

O'BRIEN: Thanks.

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