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James Taylor to Sing at World Series; Student Suspended Over Poem Critical of Team's Football Season; CNN Films Premieres "BLACKFISH"; Boston Bombing Survivors, Rescuers to Be Honored at World Series

Aired October 24, 2013 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go, and they're here, James Taylor, his wife, Kim. It is so lovely to see you all. Come on over.

It's chilly here in Boston. It's a chilly, chilly, chilly.

So it's a pleasure to see you. We keep bumping into each other here in Boston, Boston Strong show. It's lovely to see both of you, a happier occasion finally.

I love that I'm standing with you so closely. Forgive me, but it is --

JAMES TAYLOR, MUSICIAN: I'm liking it, too.

BALDWIN: So we're talking to you because this is really a special moment, not just for Boston, for the nation as everyone mourned with what happened six months ago.

You two are singing "America the Beautiful," national anthem tonight. Do you call the Sox or did the Sox call you?

J. TAYLOR: I don't know exactly how it happened. Kim called me and told me it was on. That's how I knew, so I think someone called her.

BALDWIN: They called you. Now, this is a superstitious sport.

J. TAYLOR: It is.

BALDWIN: So we know what happened in '04 and in '07. You performed, game two, both of those, and we know the sweeping that happened to the Sox.

But tonight will be different. Why?

J. TAYLOR: Well, you know, it's always unpredictable. You know, it's -- you can never be sure, and you certainly don't want to jinx it.

BALDWIN: No jinxing.


J. TAYLOR: We're going to work on our anti-jinx. K. TAYLOR: Many layers of sox paraphernalia.

J. TAYLOR: It's deep. It's profound and passionate. It does.

Tonight is different. It feels like a sadder and wiser Boston, but somehow, we pull together and carry on, you know?

It's really -- it's wonderful that this has happened this year. You know what I'm saying?

BALDWIN: I do know what you're saying. I think I know what you're saying, James Taylor.

What is it, though, about your music, do you think, that has this to me I feel like crisis after crisis, you know? You have this power to unite.

You do. You're shaking your head, but to help heal. What is it about your music, do you think, that has that kind of power?

J. TAYLOR: It's music in general. You know, music is -- it reminds us that the universe loves us. That's what it is.

It is -- music is a human language, but it's also a physical reality in the universe, undeniable, empirically true, so it shows us that there is grace.

You know, there's no mistake that the church has always, you know, been the home of music, and that it's always associated with sort of spiritual things, you know, because it is.

BALDWIN: I see people nodding. I wish you could see the crowd that has -- and everyone is nodding about the grace and the healing and the applause.

Kim, do I see a Red Sox beard sported on your husband?

K. TAYLOR: Yes, that's exactly what you see.

BALDWIN: Is that what that is?

J. TAYLOR: You've got to look quick because it's going.

BALDWIN: He is -- James Taylor is sporting the Red Sox beard.

K. TAYLOR: We tried it, but --

BALDWIN: So you're saying ixnay on the beard once they win the Series? Is that the plan?

K. TAYLOR: Its demise might be a little sooner than that.

J. TAYLOR: I don't know. That might be bad.

K. TAYLOR: It might be bad karma? We don't know.

BALDWIN: Yeah, we don't know, again, superstitious sport.

J. TAYLOR: We're sticking with the beard through the series.

BALDWIN: Final question, as we're surrounded with -- I see Cardinal fans as well, but what is it about this baseball team that you -- seems like this story, this team here, this year has really superseded sports.

How has this team helped this city heal?

K. TAYLOR: I think they were so quick, I mean, literally, the day of the marathon bombing --

BALDWIN: They played right here, the day.

K. TAYLOR: And then they responded with so many ways, visited the people who were injured in the hospital, have kept up the connection.

And it's just has been such a good year to be good, to play so well and to be such stand-up guys.

It's just -- it's an amazing confluence of events, and Boston needed it. And there they were. And here we are.

BALDWIN: And here we are.

Kim and James, thank you both. We'll be watching you all.

J. TAYLOR: We'll stay here forever.

BALDWIN: Deal. I'm not letting go.

So, James Taylor and Kim, life highlight, happening right now on CNN. Thank you both very much.

Coming up, he was just doing his schoolwork here. A Cleveland student was told to write a poem about something that made him angry, so he did, and it had to do with the football team he was on. And that got him suspended from the team and the school.

Coming up next, we're going to talk to this youngster. He's going to read us the poem that apparently got him in so much trouble.

We will be right back.


BALDWIN: Want to talk specifically here about football players and one Ohio high school player's classroom assignment here to write a poem.

It was described as disrespectful and a form of hazing and harassment. These are direct quotes. The school has now suspended him.

I'm talking about 16-year-old Nick Andre. He was told to write a poem about something that made him angry. So what did he choose? He chose his football team's losing season. Late this morning, the school reversed itself, put Nick back on the team, back in the classroom, but the questions about why this happened in the first place still remain.

Joining me live from Cleveland are Nick and his mom, Julie. So welcome to both of you.

And, Nick, just for all of our viewers since this poem in question, you have the poem. Will you read it to me?


"Losing season, favoritism, non-stop passes from best friend to best friend. Continuously doing what doesn't work. The inability to separate being a father and a coach.

"Dropped passes, but yet still the superstar. Yeah, right. Where's my scholarship? I can drop passes, run backwards, miss tackles and be afraid to take a hit. That's top-of-the-line, Division I material, right there.

"If that's what they wanted, they definitely got it. This whole town will be glad when he is gone. For anyone who doesn't understand what I'm saying, Akron is screwed."

BALDWIN: So this was the poem. I want to hear in your own words why the school suspended you in the first place.

ANDRE: They claim that I was harassing and hazing somebody. But I mean, who was I harassing or hazing?

BALDWIN: And for your mom, here's my question for you. I know that you were upset by the school's initial reaction to suspend your son. I know you have been quoted as saying you refused to sign the papers themselves.

But I have to ask, given this climate today, this bullying climate on school campuses, isn't it proper for the district to cover its bases, to investigate any potential signs of a student or teacher being targeted or harassed? Is that fair?

JULIE ANDRE, NICK ANDRE'S MOTHER: That is fair. The whole situation, I saw it as being as accountability of who gave the assignment, why was the assignment given?

Why weren't the poems proof-read before they were asked to read them in class, and if the class and the teacher giving the assignment felt it was a nice -- or a good poem, why, if this was done on Friday, he continued his whole day, throughout Friday class.

Why was it not until Monday that there was a red flag raised about the work he did?

BALDWIN: Nick, I just have to ask you because I'm looking at you sitting there in your letter jacket, you're back in class, on the team. Were you fellow teammates offended? What did they have to say?

N. ANDRE: I haven't really gotten to talk to any of them yet about what they feel. If -- I mean, I'm sure they'll all be happy I'm able to come back and everything, but I haven't heard anything.

BALDWIN: All right. Nick and Julie Andre, thanks for joining me from Ohio today.

Coming up tonight, CNN's highly anticipated premiere of the film, "BLACKFISH," about killer whales in captivity, including SeaWorld.

Do these whales become psychotic and snap, as some people are questioning? As a parent, can you take your kids to SeaWorld? Is that the right thing to do?

We'll discuss, next.


BALDWIN: Now to a story of a SeaWorld trainer killed by a 12,000-pound orca, that was back in 2010, absolutely sent shockwaves across the world.

Now a CNN film which premieres tonight at 9:00 Eastern goes beyond the headlines, raising questions about whether killer whales should be kept in captivity at all and whether their captivity amounts to torture.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's where food deprivation would come in.

We will hold back food, and they would know that if they went in the module, they would get their food.

So if they're hungry enough, they're going to go in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And during the winter that would be from five at night until seven in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you'd let them out, you would see new tooth rakes and sometimes you would see blood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE : Closing that door on him and knowing that he's locked in there for the whole night is like (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that is true, it's not only inhumane and I'll tell him so, but it probably led to what I think is a psychosis, that he was on a hair trigger. He'd kill.


BALDWIN: Kelly Wallace of CNN's digital correspondent and editor-at- large, you wrote a CNN op-ed.

You watched the film. You say you are now reconsidering a family trip to SeaWorld. Why?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes. Yes, Brooke. I called up my husband right after I watched that documentary and told him, honey, I think when and if we go to San Diego, I don't know if we can go to SeaWorld.

Look, the documentary, Brooke, as you've showed a clip of, is very, very powerful, and it raises lots of questions about how humane it is to keep these killer whales in captivity and also the safety for the trainers.

But there are a range of perspectives that parents have. I want my husband to watch the documentary, and then we can discuss as a family what our ultimate decision might be.

BALDWIN: I was just talking to a mom, off camera, lives in San Diego, and she's going to be watching for exactly the same reason you did.

And part of your article, you say you spoke to this one parent who, quote, "wonders what the alternatives would be if there were no SeaWorlds, zoos and aquariums, since most families can't afford to spend thousands of dollars on an African safari or on a whale-watching expedition."

Do you think, Kelly, that films like "BLACKFISH" might sway public opinion? We may see a day, you know, a world without zoos, without aquariums? Is that possible?

WALLACE: Well, I do think that you are seeing a conversation. Online, the story is really blowing up. My Twitter feed is filled with comments, and it's great. It's great to have the conversation.

I think it would be hard to see a day where we don't see any type of zoos or any type of places, in part for that comment that that parent made.

I thought she raised a good point. She said, if my kids can't go to these places, their exposure to wild animals might be squirrels, cats and dogs. That's not really enough.

I think the focus, she believes, should be on making sure these places are safe, and the debate is probably around should we have these animals really kind of appearing for the enjoyment of the public and putting them in conditions that might be stressful and not really humane?

I think that's kind of the area that's getting the most attention right now.

BALDWIN: Concerned parents, you want to read Kelly's article, go to

Kelly Wallace, thank you as always.

I do have to say, SeaWorld declined CNN's request to be interviewed on camera. We did get a statement, so let me just read part of this statement to you right now.

This is their quote. "'BLACKFISH' is billed as a documentary, but instead of a fair and balanced treatment of a complex subject, the film is inaccurate and misleading and, regrettably, exploits a tragedy that remains a source of deep pain for Dawn Brancheau's family, friends and colleagues."

It goes on. "Perhaps most important, the film fails to mention SeaWorld's commitment to the safety of its team members and guests and to the care and welfare of its animals as demonstrated by the company's continual refinement and improvement to its killer whale facilities, equipment and procedures, both before and after the death of Dawn Brancheau."

A lot of controversy already kicking up over "BLACKFISH," it hasn't even aired yet on CNN. You have to watch. You be the judge, make up your own mind. "BLACKFISH," tonight at CNN, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up as we are hours away from game two of the World Series, we are learning about some surprises tonight, specifically during the seventh inning stretch.

We can talk about -- thanks to the Red Sox, because keep in mind, this has also been six months since the tragedy on Boylston Street.

And one young woman who was at that finish line and lost her left foot is going to share her story and why the Red Sox mean so much to her.


BALDWIN: Back here live outside of Fenway Park, Boston bombing survivor Heather Abbott is a hardcore Red Sox fan.

Six months ago, she went to see the Red Sox play on Patriot Day and then headed to meet her friends downtown, so she was waiting to get into a restaurant when those bombs exploded.

She survived. Her left foot was amputated, and we talked to her about resilience and about her beloved Red Sox.


BALDWIN: Heather Abbott, always a Red Sox fan, but on April 15th, everything changed. She had just left Fenway Park for the finish line of the Boston marathon.

When two explosions rocked Boylston Street that day, Heather, one of many facing terror, her left foot, gone.

Weeks later, while in rehab, Heather got a call. It was the Red Sox asking her to throw out the first pitch at the ballpark's Rhode Island Day, her home state.

HEATHER ABBOTT, BOSTON BOMBING SURVIVOR: I actually used my crutches to get out there on the mound, and I threw the ball out to Salty and he caught it. BALDWIN: Let's back up for a moment. The day after the bombing, the Sox were at an away game in Cleveland that night.

In a show of solidarity for the tragic events back home, the Boston Red Sox decided to hang a lone gray jersey in their dugout, Boston Strong, with the home team area code, 617.

ABBOTT: And I think that Boston Strong mentality, you know, I like to think that that's kind of what helped us get where we are right now this season.

And they've been, you know, showing support to the victims from the Boston marathon right from the beginning, and continue to do that.

BALDWIN: Days later came Boston slugger David Ortiz, aka "Big Papi," and his passionate rally cry, once the team was home.

That same night, Neil Diamond showed up unannounced to take part in a long time Fenway Park tradition, singing "Sweet Caroline," live.

Fast forward to tonight's game two of the World Series. The Sox are at it again.

Heather and other survivors of the Boston bombings will be in attendance, part of a surprise ceremony during the seventh inning stretch.

ABBOTT: I'm sure it's going to be thrilling. It was thrilling on Rhode Island Day, so I think being there for the World Series will be something really special.

BALDWIN: Red Sox fans with their home team have lived through these tough times before, 86 years' worth. And now, like Heather, they're Boston Strong.

ABBOTT: They've had their rough moments, but they always pull through.


BALDWIN: And we can tell you that Heather and a number of the other survivors and rescuers will be joining James Taylor during the seventh inning stretch for an incredibly special ceremony.

I'm Brooke Baldwin, live here in Boston at Fenway Park. Thank you for being with me.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.