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"Justice For Trayvon" Rallies Today; The President Gets Personal On Race; Israel To Free Palestinian Prisoners; Explosion Rattles Beijing Airport; Powerful Storm Hits Vegas; Royal Baby May Arrive Any Day Now; Spitzer's Political Comeback; One Year Since Aurora Shooting; Lucy Liu Aims to Help Syrian Children

Aired July 20, 2013 - 08:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Trayvon Martin could have been me.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The parents. The lawyers. The president himself have spoken out on the Trayvon Martin case. Now we're just hours away from rallies across the nation protesting the Zimmerman verdict.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do think big brother has gone too far because I have not been charged with, I'm not suspected of committing any crime.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: If you're worried about your privacy, consider this. Police may be tracking your car and you probably won't like what they are doing with the information.

BLACKWELL: And now a week after the royal due date, the Kate wait has the world on edge. We are still on royal baby watch.

HARLOW: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's 8:00 here on the East Coast. Thanks for starting this new day with us. We begin this morning as demonstrators in more than 100 cities are gearing up for what's being called National Justice for Trayvon Day.

HARLOW: Protesters are asking the Justice Department to bring federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, the man acquitted a week ago today in the murder -- of murdering Trayvon Martin. CNN reporters are on the ground in several cities where protests are planned out today.

Let's start in Miami with our Nick Valencia. Good morning to you, Nick. I understand that Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin's father is expected to be there at the protest today.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He will be here outside the courthouse along with dozens and dozens of others. In fact, the first demonstrator showed up here just a short time ago, two hours ahead of the rally that is supposed to start at 10:00 am here. What they are looking for is a couple of things, here in Florida, they want a change to that controversial stand your ground law. They do not agree with it and they also don't agree with the verdict, that not guilty verdict, which was given to George Zimmerman one week ago today.

They are also looking for federal civil rights charges to be brought against George Zimmerman. They are very unhappy with the verdict. This is one of more than 100 cities across the United States that will be holding rallies. In fact, our Alina Cho is in New York. She has the latest there with what is expected to transpire in New York -- Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nick, good morning to you. The headliner in today's rally in New York City will be Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton and her surviving son, Jahvaris Fulton. These one hundred plus rallies across the country are being organized by the long time civil rights activist, the Reverend Al Sharpton. Sharpton is expected to lead today's protest at One Police Plaza.

There is no telling how big the crowds will be today, but one bit of good news is that the weather is dramatically cooler here in New York City this morning. One caveat, after an hour after the rally is due to start at Noon Eastern Time, the rain is expected to come down in New York City and that could affect turnout.

Now I turn to my colleague, Athena Jones with another protest in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. We are here outside the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. The rally here isn't set to begin for another four hours. I should mention, Alina and everyone that it looks like it could rain here. We don't know what kind of impact that will have on turnout but, of course, people are gathering here as part of this plan across a hundred cities in the country.

There are other rallies going on in Washington, D.C. not directly connected to this push for the federal government to bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in this case, but other rallies in support of Trayvon Martin's family. So we stand by here waiting for this rally here to get under way. Back to you guys.

HARLOW: Athena, thank you. Stick around for us. You know, folks, as you probably have heard by now, President Obama making those deeply personal remarks yesterday at the White House and something that stood out saying that 35 years ago, he could have been Trayvon Martin. So Athena, let's talk about that. Let's talk about the remarks on race and the remarks on Trayvon Martin and the discussion that's been happening in this country all week. Those remarks certainly the most personal on race of the president's term thus far.

JONES: That's right, Poppy. These are the most significant remarks I've ever heard him speak on race and on being black in America in such personal terms. I covered the president during his campaign to be president and, yes, he did give a big speech on race in Philadelphia during that campaign. But we haven't really heard him speak in this personal of terms, using words like I and like me showing that he personally relates to this issue of profiling and looks at this case or understands the view that African-Americans have when looking at this case. Let's listen to some of what he had to say yesterday when he spoke.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: -- very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a women clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often. And I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences in form how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.


JONES: So there you heard some of what the president said on this impromptu or at least in terms of the press. The press didn't know ahead of time that the president was going to show up in the briefing room and deliver about 20 minutes of pretty much off the cuff unscripted remarks. He was speaking from the heart with very few notes. No teleprompter and the significant remarks, I had a chance to go out and get some reaction from folks who heard some of those speech. The African-Americans especially I spoke to were happy to hear the president speak in this way and use the power of his position in precisely this way -- Poppy.

HARLOW: You know, I think it's interesting for people on to know the back story here. So tell us a little bit about how the president made the decision over the past few days to make these public remarks.

JONES: Well, we know from the White House that the president saw the verdict -- was watching the coverage and thinking about this verdict over the past seven days, talking to family and friends about their interpretation of what happened in this case and that he decided on the night before. He decided Thursday night that he was going to come out. The White House didn't want to make a big announcement and put it on his schedule. They wanted it to be a moment where he could come out and speak off the cuff in this way and not giving any warning to the press so that is what happened.

That's what we saw happen yesterday and it was a pretty lengthy speech to have him speaking with not very much notes but, of course, the president is a black man. He grew up in America. He has a lifetime of experience to draw on and it's clear that he really wanted to come out and speak to this case and also to the larger issue about the way the African-American community interprets this case and other issues of profiling -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Athena, appreciate the reporting. Thank you very much. You know Trayvon Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, issued a statement after the president made those remarks saying, in part, that it was a, quote, "beautiful tribute to our boy." Also saying President Obama sees himself in Trayvon. Going on to say this is a beautiful tribute to our boy that from the parents of Trayvon Martin.

BLACKWELL: It's 8 minutes after the hour. Breaking news into CNN, Israel says it will release a number of Palestinian prisoners. No hard number yet, but it calls the move a goodwill gesture. It's believed it's aimed at getting long stalled Middle East peace talks back on track. Secretary of State John Kerry has been crisscrossing the Middle East. He says an agreement has been reached that could get Israelis and Palestinians back to the bargaining table. A Palestinian news agency says talks could get under way in Washington within days. Again, Israel is releasing some Palestinian prisoners. No names, no hard numbers, but heavyweight prisoners we are hearing.

HARLOW: And very significant, given the fact that Secretary Kerry is over there and we are hearing, you know, that there could be some progress made.

BLACKWELL: And he has been working on this for months now, trying to get the two sides to the table and this is that goodwill gesture from Israel.

More breaking news, more information, new information on that explosion earlier today that rattled Beijing Capital International Airport. According to the Chinese state news agency, a man set off homemade explosives inside Terminal Three.

HARLOW: Now that man reportedly was hurt, but no other injuries have been reported. There's also no word yet on why, why he may have set off those explosives. I think it's important to report that there are some reports out there said this was in the arrivals terminal. So you think how could he get past security, but there are reports saying this is in the arrivals terminal and we are working to determine more details for you. But again, one man injured and no others at this point.

BLACKWELL: We'll stay on top of both of those breaking stories for you this morning.

Now to Houston where police have freed four men who were held captive at a house possibly for years, the men were likely homeless. Police say they were lured into the house with promise of food and cigarettes, but then they were locked up and fed only scraps. Now police have a suspect.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Houston. Ed, what do we know about what happened to these men? The facts we know thus far are really dramatic.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. Well, investigators here in Houston are trying to unravel just what was going on in this house you see behind me. That purple wall that you see behind me was once a garage. Investigators say it was converted into the space where these four men were found yesterday. They got a call yesterday morning from about a welfare check when they arrived at the scene. Police say they found four men being held against their will inside this house.

Now, authorities are trying to unravel exactly what was going on. Was this some sort of home care situation, a group living situation that clearly unregulated and they are trying to figure out if that is what is going on here. There were also four women inside the house that were found, one of them, a caretaker to these three women. The police consider those four witnesses in all of this and they are spending a lot of time talking to them as well.

But as you mentioned, police also say these four men had been telling investigators that they were lured to this house with the promise of cigarettes and then forced to turn over government benefit checks like perhaps social security checks or veteran checks and those sorts of things. That is another issue that investigators are taking a closer look at. But neighbors say when the four men emerged from the home, they looked awful.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in my yard when I seen them coming out in the ambulance and it didn't look good at all. Man, they looked like malnutrition, Lord.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My God, it just touched my heart. I feel for them. I don't know. It just really got me hurt.


LAVANDERA: Investigators did take one person into custody yesterday afternoon and we saw that person being put into the back of a police car yesterday. But for now so far, official charges have not been filed and because of that authorities say they are not releasing that person's name just yet -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.

HARLOW: All right, another story to tell you about in Texas this morning, very sad story. Roller coaster over six flags in Arlington will remain closed today after a woman was thrown from the roller coaster and died. Witnesses say the victim came out of her seat on that steep turn on that roller coaster yesterday that is called the Texas Giant.

Earlier we spoke with a man who was next on line to get on the ride when he learned what happened. He actually saw the victim's son who had been on the ride right next to his mother. Listen.


GABE FLORES, WITNESS: The man was sitting next to a woman and they were both saying, let me out, let me out, my mom fell off, my mom fell off. I need to go find her! And the park workers were kind of taken back by it and didn't really know if he was being serious or not and then they realized that he was being serious so they rushed to go assist her.


HARLOW: Well, that ride remains closed pending an investigation. The rest of the park we are hearing is open, a tragedy for that woman and her family.

In the meantime, Las Vegas, sin city, looked like it had been hit with a hurricane. A powerful storm last night flooded streets and toppled trees and even trapped some tourists. Wow! Look at that! Some tourists inside casinos, I'm seeing this for the first time. Some of the water sprayed through the roof of this bar. A deejay shot this video and said the pressure on top of the building nearly collapsed the roof. You don't expect to see something like that in Vegas.

BLACKWELL: Unless it's part of the show. Sometimes they design it that way.

HARLOW: Right, which it's not. Wow. To the eastern half of this country now where the heat index is expected to soar? Of course, once again today past a 100 degrees, but relief may finally be in sight.

BLACKWELL: There is a cool light at the end of the tunnel.

HARLOW: There is.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in meteorologist Jennifer Delgado in the severe weather center. When are we going to feel that cooler weather?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We will see the cool weather really in parts of the northeast tomorrow. I tell you guys we will have the answer to tell you how much rain Vegas got at the end of this weather hit. But, yes, some parts are dealing with cooler weather courtesy of a cold front. Right now, we still have heat watches and warnings in place across the northeast as well as New England.

You'll see them right now. Some of these areas, we are going to see the heat index value up to 106. Of course, that is what happens when you add in the humidity. Now what we are looking at this morning, temperatures in 70s, in the 80s, 82 degrees in New York, 83 degrees in Atlantic City. It certainly feels very steamy out there and much warmer than that.

But as we go through the rest of the afternoon, we're going to see roughly right around temperatures feeling 100 degrees in Atlantic City, 96 in New York and 102 in Washington, D.C., of course, this could potentially lead to more problems with heat and exhaustion as well as heat stroke. People are really running these air-conditioners.

In fact, we have some video and this is going to show you what crews are doing there. This is that of Comed, the energy department there. They've been out there trying to restore power because so many people are using these air-conditionings and cranking it down. That's not what you want to do. You want to use a fan and conserve the energy because your neighbors need energy as well.

You can't hog it all over yourself. Back over to our graphic here, today we do have a threat for severe weather for areas including Ohio all the way up towards New England and then high temperatures over the next couple of days. They really start to dip. You can see for Washington, D.C. You drop down to 86 degrees. On Monday, Boston, you're the big winner. Temperature is 78 degrees on Monday. I think we found out how much rainfall Vegas picked up over there, but maybe we can update you throughout the day.

HARLOW: Wow that Vegas video was awesome.

DELGADO: Monsoon season and that is what happens every year. We talk about the monsoon season like in India. You see those images of flooding there and it happens across parts of the U.S. as well.

HARLOW: But not to that extent of devastation in India. All right, thank you. Appreciate it, Jennifer.

BLACKWELL: This is my favorite story of the day!

HARLOW: He can't stop talking about it!

BLACKWELL: Who doesn't like a royal baby arrival?

HARLOW: Where is Kate? Is the Duchess of Cambridge still in London? We are talking to the experts and we are taking you live to London for all things royal straight ahead.

BLACKWELL: Royal baby!


HARLOW: Boy or girl, Britain's royal baby will be third in line to the throne.

BLACKWELL: Yes. But, first, he or she has to get here. Come on, kid. Will today be the big day? CNN royal correspondent Max Foster is outside St. Mary's Hospital in London. Atika Shubert is at Buckingham Palace in London. Max, there are speculations that Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, might give birth somewhere else. How about that?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the big question. Where is Kate? The issue she keeps going back to her mother's house, but then she might move from her mother's house back up to London. So there's this question, where exactly is she? It makes sense for her to be near the hospital here if she is overdue, but then a lot of psychologist we've been speaking to say actually she should be somewhere where she could avoid all of us and be really relaxed, avoid the stress and being down there is the best idea. But if she goes into early labor and the sensible thing is go to the local hospital, which is only half an hour away. We just don't know where she is but it's still an option.

BLACKWELL: All right, Max, thanks. Let's talk to Atika now. You know, there are a lot of people who really think they watch the prince grow up and then marry and now he is soon to be a father. Let's talk about the concerns here for the betting, the excitement. Are people in London, the average Londoners, are they as excited as reporters appear to be?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. I think a lot of people here are excited. There is eager anticipation, but also there is a genuine respect for the royal family and they want to give the royal family space. After all this is a very personal event. They are going on with their daily lives and a normal Saturday here, but a lot of questions which is this going to happen? When was the real due date and how much longer is it going to be? There is a sense of anticipation.

HARLOW: The queen will be the first to know, of course, right, and that official announcement outside of Buckingham Palace?

SHUBERT: Yes. Actually it's a little unusual in this. As soon as Kate goes into labor there will be one announcement to say she has been in the hospital and then we won't have any official announcements until the baby is born. The queen will be the first to know and the parents will be notified shortly if they are not already there.

In keeping in traditions, the doctors sign a petition proclaiming the birth of the baby and they will be brought here with a special car and police escort and placed on the easels behind me in at Buckingham Palace. We are in the age of social media, after that, a Twitter message is likely to come as well.

HARLOW: Twitter message! Victor is already following the royal baby.

BLACKWELL: I am so excited!

HARLOW: Atika, appreciate it. Thank you.

All right, some questions here, an end to mandatory education? The president needs a spanking, really, some of the most interesting flash controversial words of the week from politicians. What politicians think straight ahead.


BLACKWELL: Coming up on 26 minutes after the hour, let's take a look at political headlines. Eliot Spitzer is trying for a political comeback. You know that. In the early polls at least it seems voters may be willing to look past his prostitution scandal, but when it comes to forgiveness, he says he is not ready to take that for granted just yet. Here he is with CNN's Alina Cho.


ELIOT SPITZER, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: I hope there is forgiveness. I think that is part and parcel and whether that forgiveness extends to me is an open question. Early polls are not really this positive. Obviously I'm thrilled to see where the polls are but my focus is on having a message I think will resonate with the public, which is that I worked very hard as attorney general, as governor, as a prosecutor years back.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know you struggled a lot with this decision. Why did you think this was the right time to come back?

SPITZER: I thought it was a position which was suited to the skills that I think I have and I hope the public will feel that I have.


BLACKWELL: You can catch the rest of Alina's interview with Eliot Spitzer on "NEW DAY" Sunday including his reaction to this New York magazine cover. It's a matchup of Spitzer and Anthony Weiner, another scandal plagued candidate in New York. He is running for mayor.

Just when a lot of politicians are saying that, you know, education is suffering in this country and we need to dedicate more money and time to educating our children.

HARLOW: It is and we do.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it is and we do. One state senator is calling for an end to mandatory schooling in his state. Utah's State Senator Aaron Osmond says schools and teachers have been forced to take on the roles of parents. Here's is a quote, "In a country founded on the principals of personal freedom and unalienable rights, that's his quote, no parent should be forced by the government to send their child to school under threats of fines and jail time.

HARLOW: All right, and next up, Representative Michele Bachmann thinks that President Obama needs a spanking. Her words, not mine, a spanking from Congress. Listen.


REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: He has a perpetual magic wand and nobody has given him a spanking yet and taken it out of his hand. That's what Congress needs to do. Give the president a major wake-up call and the way we spank the president is we do it through the checkbook.


HARLOW: So this is a bigger conversation she is having. She is talking about ways to defeat a possible Democratic takeover during the next elections and she talks about how the president wants, she said, more people to get amnesty so that they can vote for a Democrat.

BLACKWELL: She also says the president's ears should be pinched back. When she says they are the power of the purse they can cut off funding to the executive branch and we will see if Congress does anything so far no response from the Obama administration on the call for a spanking.

HARLOW: Certainly not.

This is a story we have been following here on CNN. The mayor of San Diego, if you haven't heard, he's facing allegations of sexual harassment, allegations of groping and fondling female staffers and many are calling for him to step down, but he says I'm a hugger and demonstratively.

BLACKWELL: He says he plans to stay in office. As far as the harassment claims, one of his female staffers said he made some pretty uncomfortable comments to her in an elevator sometime ago. This is her attorney explaining what happened. Listen to this.


MARCO GONZALEZ, MAYOR BOB FILNER'S ATTORNEY: There is no circumstance under which it would be appropriate for the mayor to enter into an elevator with my client, or any person who he employs, and to tell them that they would do a better job on that floor if they worked without their panties on.


BLACKWELL: I don't even know what to say after that.

HARLOW: Yes. Some very, very serious allegations he is facing and he completely denies them so this is certainly going to play out and unfold.

We are going to switch gears here because today is a very important day, a very sad day for a lot of families. Today is the one year anniversary of tragedy striking Aurora, Colorado. Now people are remembering the ones they lost and hearing their emotional stories next. But, first --


HARLOW: Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BLACKWELL I'm Victor Blackwell. Five things you need to know this NEW DAY.

Up first, demonstrators in more than 100 cities are preparing this morning for "National Justice for Trayvon Day". They want the Justice Department to bring federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. He was acquitted a week ago in the murder trial of killing Trayvon Martin. Now Trayvon's parents are expected to be on hand in Miami and in New York.

HARLOW: Number two. Social media is abuzz after President Obama's deeply personal remarks on race yesterday. He spoke about being followed in a department store as a young man. He talked about hearing car door locks click as he crossed the street before he was a senator. The President's remarks came six days after the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.

Three now, police in Houston free four men from a home where they have been -- been held captured for possibly years. They're all adults, they have been homeless police took a suspect in custody and officials say the victims were lured to the home with the promise of food and cigarettes and then were locked up. They may have been forced to turn over their disability checks to their captor.

HARLOW: Number four. A woman fell out of a roller coaster yesterday and she died. This happened at the Six Flags in Texas. Witnesses say she came out of her seat on that ride on the roller coaster. Her family was actually riding with her. Her son right next to her, the coaster is closed pending an investigation.

And number five, just a day after Detroit declared bankruptcy on Thursday, a judge has ordered that the city withdraw its filing, declaring it unconstitutional but Michigan's attorney general says he's going to immediately try to appeal that decision. What drove Detroit to bankruptcy? More than $18 billion of debt; a major contributor to that: unfunded pensions for city workers.

And one year ago today, July 20th, 12 people were murdered, 58 others were wounded in a senseless act of violence. We're talking about the shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater.

And today we are remembering the victims. The victims like Jessica Ghawi who had so much of her life ahead of her. She was just 24 years an aspiring sportscaster. I sat down with her mother and her stepfather Lonnie Phillips.


HARLOW (voice-over): A personality as magnetic as her smile.


HARLOW: Jessica Ghawi lit up not only the room she entered but the lives of those who loved her.

SANDY PHILLIPS, MOTHER OF AURORA VICTIM JESSICA GHAWI: It was this effervescence about her -- this bigger than life personality; this go- for-gusto. She had reached for that gold ring and in one horrible evening, her dreams, our dreams, so many other people's dreams, were taken.

HARLOW: Taken at just 24 by a gunman in one of several horrific mass shootings over the past year. She was shot six times.

S. PHILLIPS: Jessi was my world.

HARLOW: Jessica Ghawi was Sandy's daughter. This was her favorite picture with her stepfather Lonnie. Her love of sports came from her dear friend John Patrick who says Jessi reminded him to live every day.

JOHN PATRICK, FRIEND OF AURORA VICTIM JESSICA GHAWI'S: Jessi would say like get up -- get up off the couch get out there and you know like live and have fun and you know just enjoy the time you have.

HARLOW: For the Phillips this past year has been about fighting for gun education.

S. PHILLIPS: If we don't do something in this country about the gun issue, we're doomed to see the same thing that happened in Aurora and the same thing that happened in Newtown happen again and again and again and again.

HARLOW: They've been gun owners for decades and still are -- believers in their Second Amendment right. After Jessica died they began working for the Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence.

S. PHILLIPS: The bullet from an AR-15 went flying through the seat that should have protected her and hit her in her head.

LONNIE PHILLIPS, STEPFATHER OF AURORA VICTIM JESSICA GHAWI: And they are going to send a bus. It's going to arrive in Aurora.

We're not trying to control guns. We're trying promote gun safety. It gives us something that she didn't die in vain.

HARLOW: What do you want to see happen?

S. PHILLIPS: I don't want to see another mother have to walk in my shoes.

HARLOW: Their biggest push is for universal background checks.

S. PHILLIPS: It's difficult to think of any day without Jessi in it and now we are here without Jessi in it.

HARLOW: Just six weeks before she was killed, Jessica nearly escaped a shooting at a mall in Canada. She blogged about it writing, "I was reminded that we don't know when or where our time on earth will end; when or where we will breathe our last breath. Every moment we have to live our life is a blessing."

Is there one message that you want to send?

S. PHILLIPS: Don't think that this can't happen to you.


HARLOW: Yes, my thoughts are certainly with her parents, with Sandy and Lonnie today, with the family members of all of those who died and who were injured in Aurora and -- and all of the shootings that we've seen. Too many --


HARLOW: -- in the last year. You know her mother Sandy told me you lose the future. You lose their hopes and their dreams. You lose all of that.

BLACKWELL: Yes I was reading online some of the people who were not injured and obviously, the people who survived who just happened to be in there.


BLACKWELL: Julia Vojtsek told a reporter "Everything from the popcorn smell to the smell of concrete" --



BLACKWELL: -- "on the floor" --



BLACKWELL: -- "can send people to a tailspin."

HARLOW: I've been hearing that a young girl, a 13-year-old girl that I interviewed when I was covering that tragedy. And just so you know you're looking at pictures of the vigil that was held last night for the victims and for everyone there in Aurora. It was held last night. That's what you're seeing.

But one of the young girls who was in the theater 13-year-old Callan told me last year when I was out covering this tragedy, "I can't even hear the pop -- popping count scares me so much or smelling popcorn scares me so much."

BLACKWELL: Those are all the scars you do not see that don't send one to the hospital.


BLACKWELL: We'll keep them in our thoughts today.

Also happening today in more than 100 cities -- protesters demanding justice for Trayvon. We're going tell you what they want the federal government to do after last Saturday's acquittal of George Zimmerman.

HARLOW: Also, actress Lucy Liu is on a mission to help Syrian children in her role as a UNICEF ambassador. It is this week's "Impact your World."


LUCY LIU, ACTRESS: Hi, I'm Lucy Liu and we can make an impact for Syrian children.

Syria is in a terrible situation right now. There's civil war going on that is creating absolute pandemonium and people are fleeing into Lebanon, into Jordan, into Iraq. Six million people have been displaced and half of them are children.

These children are suffering. They have lice, they have scabies and they've lost family. They can't go to school, they are not getting the medical attention they need, they are not getting the nutrition they need. There's going to be a lost generation of children if this continues.

Children deserve to have a childhood. What happens on the other side of the world isn't just their business. It's our business because we share the same water, we share the same environment. If we understand that, we are actually one community, then it makes the world so much smaller it's much more tangible for people to understand.

UNICEF is currently desperate for donations for Syria. It's our duty as human beings to give back. Join the movement. "Impact Your World",



BLACKWELL: Fifteen minutes until the top of the hour.

And it's been a week now since jurors cleared George Zimmerman in the murder trial in the death of Trayvon Martin but the outrage over the verdict is far from over. Demonstrations are planned in more 100 cities across the country. Protestors are demanding the Justice Department file federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

Now as part of the federal investigation, Attorney General Eric Holder is taking an unusual step of asking the public to e-mail feedback on whether to file those charges. Joining me now are Vanderbilt University law professor Carol Swain, and National Urban League president, Marc Morial. Good to have both of you with us for this conversation.



BLACKWELL: I want to start with you, sir. This is a letter that I have in my hand that you sent to Attorney General Holder signed by yourself, Reverend Sharpton, Ben Jealous of the NAACP. And you write here and I want to put up on the screen, "We firmly believe that evidence will point to an egregious violation of the most fundamental of civil rights -- the right to life."

And my question here is no mention of race, no mention of profiling -- if that is the bar, isn't that pretty low? I mean anyone who takes another life for any reason then would be open to federal civil rights charges.

MORIAL: Well, you know, the letter wasn't meant to frame the legal arguments that the Justice Department might use in bringing a case, but to point to the fact that Trayvon Martin had every right to be where he was. He was an unarmed teen. He was in the neighborhood where his father lived, where he was staying. He was going to the store to buy Skittles and ice tea. And he was stalked. He was hunted down. And he lost his life.

And we think that we have got to point to the fact, continue to point to what happened on that night, because I think when the public understands that, they will recognize why there's such an outrage that this not only occurred, but that in effect the tables got turned and the aggressor claimed self-defense and, in effect, was exonerated.

Now, today with the vigils that are going to take place across the nation, we want to focus people on the need to repeal Stand Your Ground laws all across the nation. These laws will return us to a vigilante America that we need to get beyond in the 21st century. We also want to point people's attention to the need to participate in all of the activities around the 50 anniversary of the historic 1963 civil rights march. And those activities had taken on a new significance because of the Trayvon Martin case and also because of the Supreme Court's decision in the recent voting rights case.

There's a sense of a need for us to express ourselves, to use our First Amendment rights to the fullest and to say to the nation -- say to the nation at this point that this nation must get beyond this and that it's important to have a conversation but it's also important that we think about what action steps we need to take.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about these action steps. Professor Swain, what do you think about these protests today and was justice served in the criminal court?

SWAIN: I think the protests are misguided and that the letter to the attorney general and the politics around this takes our nation backwards. One of the problems with the civil rights community and even with the speech that the President gave yesterday is that blacks are still using the tactics and strategies of the 1960s.

And we do need a racial conversation. There are changes that need to take place in the black communities and the NAACP and the other race leaders ought to be focusing on jobs and crime and unwed motherhood and abortion. There are a number of issues that are decimating the black community, they are silent on those issues. They have time for gay marriage. They have time for political correctness but they are not doing anything to serve the needs of the black community or the needs of America as a whole and, as a consequence, we are suffering.

We need to move beyond all of this and be constructive. There is lots of opportunity in America that could be more opportunity. We need jobs and this is something the President hasn't been focused on. The black caucus is not doing enough. In fact we need to get rid of the NAACP, the black caucus, all the race leaders and come together as Americans and solve our problems.

BLACKWELL: So you think that the NAACP should end? I mean the organization?

SWAIN: Yes. I think they have served their purpose. We are now in the 1960s. We don't need these kinds of rallies. We do need conversations that include everyone.

BLACKWELL: Would that include the Urban League, the group that Marc Morial leads?

SWAIN: I think that the Urban League used to serve a noble purpose. And so -- the Urban League has a rich history. There was a time for the NAACP.

BLACKWELL: Should it stay or should it go? I'm going to press you on that.

(CROSSTALK) MORIAL: Let me just say this -- you know, I would invite her -- I would invite her to come down --

SWAIN: This is my time.

MORIAL: -- I would invite her to come down to Philadelphia next week where the National Urban League's conference is themed around jobs and build America.

SWAIN: Well, pay my expenses. I'll be there.

MORIAL: I'd invite her -- no, you have enough money. You can afford to come like everyone else pays their way --


BLACKWELL: One at a time please.

SWAIN: No. I'm not a -- race hustler. I'm not a race hustler.

MORIAL: Let me say this because --

SWAIN: The profit is on the side of the race hustler --

BLACKWELL: Professor Swain?

SWAIN: Yes. There is going to be a shakedown that follows these rallies and it will not benefit the black community and these kind of efforts hurt race relations. They hurt us. They don't bring us together as Americans.


BLACKWELL: Well wait a minute. Who should be having this conversation?

MORIAL: Victor, let me try to turn this --

BLACKWELL: Let me just get this question.

SWAIN: All of us should be a part of the conversation, get rid of political correctness.

BLACKWELL: But if the NAACP goes --

SWAIN: Let it go. Let it go.

BLACKWELL: Madam, I'm not going to argue with you but I do want to get the question in. If the NAACP goes and the Urban League goes and National Action Network goes, who is going to lead on these conversations? You may not like the characters but should these --

SWAIN: Not the race hustlers --

BLACKWELL: -- race hustlers, ok, that's your term. I'm going to leave that up to you, Mr. Morial, and what your thoughts are on that.

MORIAL: Well look, the professor has joined the reactionary forces in America and that's truly unfortunate because --

SWAIN: I'm an American. I believe --

BLACKWELL: Please let him finish, Madam. Let him finish. We are doing this one at a time. Go ahead, sir.

MORIAL: The work, the work, the work that we all do today and what we are focusing on here now is not only the importance of a conversation, but the importance of Americans expressing themselves in the traditions of the First Amendment and the traditions of the civil rights movement -- the right to assemble, the right to express ourselves is a time honored tradition in this nation.

It's not a tactic of the past. It's a tactic of the past, the present and indeed the future. So we want to focus people on the need to repeal Stand Your Ground legislation. We want to focus people on the need to have a great showing of support on August 24th in Washington, D.C. And we do want to focus people on all of the underlying important issues.

That's why in Philadelphia next week, when the Urban League conference takes place, we will be talking about jobs, we will be talking about education, health care and voting rights. It will be a rich conversation. It will be a multicultural conversation.

It's the kind of conversation that we encourage people to participate in all across the nation, but we are not going to be distracted by those who want to attack us as opposed to dealing with the issue. We have a dead teenager. We have got grieving parents. We have got a nation that needs to be brought together and we are going to participate in that and that is what this is all about.

SWAIN: I agree.

BLACKWELL: Carol Swain, Mark Morial -- lively conversation.

MORIAL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Hopefully, the conversation continues. Thank you very much.

SWAIN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Absolutely fascinating interview, Victor.

Folks, coming up, we have some great video of a soldier surprising his family in a way you just may never have seen before. We are going to tell you what he did and show you next.


HARLOW: All right. Welcome back.

Check out this reunion -- a unique reunion of a soldier and family in the water. Look at this.

BLACKWELL: You can see a soldier's surprise here. The kids are excited. They thought he was in Afghanistan.

HARLOW: But he is right next to them scuba diving. Picking up his little girl right there.

You know, it's funny. They thought he was in Afghanistan. His name is Captain Hiram Bronson and they sweetly joked to his wife. He sweetly said "I swam all the way here for you honey." It was a long swim.

BLACKWELL: I love the idea. I mean these -- I told the viewers at home many times when I see these they get me. But this one is original.

HARLOW: This is so original.

BLACKWELL: This one is original.

HARLOW: And so sweet.

BLACKWELL: Glad they're back together.

HARLOW: You can't get better than that.

BLACKWELL: Hey, thanks for starting your morning with us.

HARLOW: "NEW DAY SATURDAY" continues right after a quick break.