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LeBron to Cleveland; Gangs Played into Border Crisis; Israeli Strikes; Spot & Frisk

Aired July 11, 2014 - 14:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Don Lemon, in for Brooke today.

Are you ready for this? LeBron James. He says he's ready to get to work. But in Cleveland. You've heard the news by now, probably. He is headed back home after four years away and winning two championships with the Miami Heat.

Here's what he told "Sports Illustrated." That Cleveland is where he walked, where he cried. The city holds a special place in his heart. When it comes to the Cavs fans, well, remember the jersey burning? Remember that? That wasn't that long ago. And a letter from Cavs' owner saying that he is a coward? They're singing a much different tune now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You - what did you guys do, you just ran up here when you heard the -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just got done with a game. We heard about it. We ran over here (INAUDIBLE). We booked it, man. We heard it. We ran as fast as we could. We were going to make it, dude. We've got championship. We'll win the finals. I don't care, LeBron's the man, dude. We did it, dude, we did it.

CROWD: We love (ph) LeBron James! (INAUDIBLE) LeBron James, baby! Woo! We win - we win -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're freaking out, yelling out the windows. I mean it was awesome. Words can't describe it. It's the most -- this is awesome.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good day for Cleveland. I want to say that. It's a good day for Cleveland. Manziel, LeBron, Wiggins.


LEMON: (INAUDIBLE). What did he say? He was so excited. You know they're going crazy about his return, the fans are, at least. James says he isn't promising a championship. In "Sports Illustrated" he said, quote, "I know how hard that is to deliver. We're not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I'm realistic. It will be a long process." That's what he said.

So let's get started with our panel. Keith Reed is here. That's who's making me laugh as we watch all these. He's a former senior editor for ESPN, the magazine. Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed is with me as well. And Martin Savidge, who might be a bit of - a wee bit of a Cavs fan. I'm not sure. We're going to start with him first.

Martin, what did that fan say? (INAUDIBLE) we came down here. We're so excited! What's the mood there? Is all forgiven?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think my voice - my voice won't go that high (INAUDIBLE), but my sentiment is exactly there. I mean for everything is not only forgiven, it's forgotten. I don't remember them burning anything. I don't remember any letter. In fact, I don't think anybody in Cleveland remembers anything but where they were the moment they heard the news today that LeBron James is coming back to town.

We're at the corner of East Third and the Q, which is, of course, going to be the home again for LeBron James. And it's become kind of this instant gathering point. People have been pouring out of work now. Forget the workday in the city of Cleveland. It officially over. And everybody is going to just hang out here, enjoy the moment.

And I've got to tell you, Don, the way this news was broken, you know, with that essay that came out, a lot of people initially just didn't know if it was true because I -- as a sports fan of Cleveland, we've had our hearts broken a lot. And so people have learned that they just got to give it a second and a half before they jump up and down. And today it's absolutely true.

It's really -- the party's just getting started. It's going to get crazy tonight. Police presence being doubled down here, not because they expect anything bad, they just want to keep everybody safe. And that's what they're working on right now, Don.

LEMON: Yes. And you should get ready, Marty, because you're going to have a huge crowd. I hear -- listen to the horns honking. It's crazy. You've got the best assignment of the day, Martin Savidge. I do have to say, last night I was out for dinner and people were talking about this as if it already happened. They already -- oh, it's going to be Cleveland. But you're going to have a hard time selling me. I am told by my producers that you want to tell me that living in Cleveland is better than living in Miami. I love Cleveland, but have you ever heard of lake-effect snow?

SAVIDGE: Oh, no, no, no. Look at -- I mean look at today. This is a typical day in Cleveland. Wall to wall blue skies, temperature about 78 degrees and humidity level probably about 30 percent. I mean that's just about every day here in the city of Cleveland. Now, admittedly, there is that thing called winter.

But beyond that, I mean, I can tell you, we've got that huge body of water out there called Lake Erie. It looks just like the ocean, but we don't have a single shark. On top of that, we've got just the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. We've got so many things in the city of Cleveland. But you know what, he didn't come here for all of those things. He came for what every Clevelander knew, he said he came because it's a great place to raise a family. I did that too. I can tell you, he's absolutely right. And he did it for the right reasons.

LEMON: OK. All right, Keith, stand by, but I want to get to Zack first because Zack, didn't you hate on LeBron a few years ago? You were like the biggest LeBron hater in the bunch?

ZACK REED, CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL: Well, I don't know if I was the biggest, but I was one of - I was one -- at the front of the pack. Simply because, hey, he slapped us in the face. Martin just said it, he's a hometown boy, and he knows how many times we have been slapped in the face. And for him to do the same thing was not good. When it comes from the outside, you know, you say here or there. But when it comes from the inside, it hurts even more. So, yes, I hated a little bit, yes. I'm not hating today.

LEMON: You ready to take him back? You're not hating today, so you are ready to take him back?

Z. REED: Oh, I'm taking him.

LEMON: Open -- all is forgiven.

Z. REED: All is forgiven. I mean, but listen to what he said. He didn't talk about basketball as much as he talked about the community. And this is an opportunity to give back to a fantastic community that gave to him. And that's what I liked about the statement that he gave to the "Sports Illustrated." It was about community. It was about, hey, Cleveland is a great town, a great city. Akron's a great city. And I want to give back.

And we're willing to welcome him back. You know, it's not about winning a championship. We win a championship, great, fantastic. But it's about saying that Cleveland's great. Now we've got Johnny Manziel, we've got the RNC, and we got LeBron back. Hey, Don, the question is, when are you coming to Cleveland?

LEMON: Oh! Well, it's got to be when it's warm, because I don't like the cold. I moved to Chicago in the first week of winter. I was like, what did I do? And so it's just as cold in Cleveland as it is in Chicago.

But let me just say this. You talk about what his love for, you know, Ohio. But, Keith, I mean, don't you think that article is a little bit orchestrated? Obviously, some people were giving him some advice. Here's what you say. Here's how you work on this. If you want to go back, you need to do these things.

KEITH REED, FORMER SENIOR EDITOR, ESPN THE MAGAZINE: Listen, this is the decision, the reducks (ph) is what it is. He got better advice. He's a more mature guy. He's a more mature player. He understands today that doing and saying the things that he did four years ago, walking out of Cleveland, is not the thing that you could do today. If you just listen to that one quote where he talks about, "I'm not promising any championships." What did he say four years ago, not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not 10, not 20, 30 championships we're going to win in Miami. Then he goes to Miami, he wins two, he loses two.

He's doing something - I mean and it's smart, right? This is -- there's no problem with what he's said or what he's done. He did it the right way. The wrong way to do this would have been to drag it out, like he did four years ago, to go back on television. Today he did it in print. He did it relatively quietly. He let everybody else speculate without saying anything. He struck all the right notes. You've got to think that he's got great PR people in his corner. Maybe he's got a future in public office, Zack, in Cleveland, where he might run against somebody.

Z. REED: Yes.

LEMON: But, Zack, it sounds like what you're saying and what the fans are saying, you know, we just really care about winning. We don't really - I mean, is that true? Because you just have forgiven him for everything.

Z. REED: Don, you've got to take into account, I'm a young guy and we have never seen a championship. We have three sports teams here in the city of Cleveland.

LEMON: You prove my point.

Z. REED: We have the Browns, we've got the Indians and we've got the Cavs.


Z. REED: We have never seen a parade down a major street in Cleveland because we won a championship. So, yes, we're thirsting for a championship. But I think Keith just said it, he did it right this time. Four years ago, he could have went to any team he wanted to. But he chose to go on national television and say, I'm going to Miami. This time he did it the right way. He waited, he got advice, and he says, I'm going Cleveland, and I'm going back to Cleveland for a number of reasons. So we're welcoming him back. And if a championship comes along with it, great, great.

LEMON: OK. So to -- on the left of your screen is Cleveland, right, and you see all the people out there. That's a beautiful day in Cleveland. To the right of your screen is Miami. And you know what, Cleveland has less clouds in the sky than Miami today. But you know what, councilman, listen, they don't have that big ocean out there. I know they've got Lake Erie. So what's better about Cleveland than Miami?

Z. REED: The Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. I mean, every four years, every musical person comes to Cleveland.

LEMON: And you've got LeBron.

Z. REED: And now you've got LeBron. And now you've got Johnny Manziel. I mean, yes, look, the Republicans came to a Democratic stronghold in Cuyahoga County and said, we want to come to Cleveland.

LEMON: Oh, we're going there now.

Z. REED: And, Don, the question comes to you again, when are you coming to Cleveland, Don?

LEMON: All right. I'm going to come. I told you, it's got to be warm though. I cannot come in the middle of winter.


LEMON: I promise you that I will come.

Z. REED: I will make sure it's warm when you come, Don.

LEMON: Are you going to give me the keys to the city? Do I get to hang out with you and LeBron.

Z. REED: That's up to the mayor. I'm not the mayor. I'm not the mayor, I'm just a councilman.

LEMON: All right. Come on, you could at least promise. Thank you, I appreciate it.

Z. REED: I'm an honest politician here.

LEMON: Zack Reed, Keith Reed, Martin Savidge, thank you very much. Appreciate it. We're going to talk a lot more about this. A lot more about this coming up, including reaction from my friend, Anna Navarro, who is a huge Miami Heat fan and she is mad today.

Plus, right now the Homeland Security chief getting a tour of a holding center where undocumented kids are being sent. My next guest says L.A. gangs are partly to blame for this crisis.

George Clooney rejecting a tabloid newspaper's apology over a story about his future mother-in-law. Are we living in an age where complete fiction is now the norm? We'll discuss. Stay right here.


LEMON: Right now, we want to get to the crisis at the border. As many as 90,000 children, and that's just children, not including grown-ups, are expected to try to cross the border into the U.S. this year. There has been a lot of debate about this on why the border is so overwhelmed now. Many are coming from Central America. Some blame the current president. Others put it on a past president's immigration law.

But here is one option that may surprise you, right, and that is gangs. Today, "The Daily Beast" is reporting on how more than 40,000 young Honduran men came to the U.S., joined two street gangs in Los Angeles, and then they were deported. "The Daily Beast" says, in their home country, the ex-L.A. gang members laid the groundwork to the violence driving Central Americans to the United States. Quoting the article, it says, "neither gang hesitated to torture and kill youngsters, telling one boy, you're either with us or against us."

Joining me now is Professor Al Valdez from the University of California-Irvine.

Professor, good to see you. This is very serious. You were the chief of the Orange County District Attorney's Gang Unit. Explain the phenomenon here and what did these deported gang members take back to Honduras to make it so violent there?

PROFESSOR AL VALDEZ, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-IRVINE: Well, we're looking at a couple of things right here. When we put our criminals in prison, it's like sending them to college. So we send our gang members into prison, educated them college-wise and then we deport them right afterwards and so they're like gang professionals when they go into these countries who are unprepared to deal with the sophistication and the activities. The countries are ripe because there are no businesses there. There's no opportunities for employment. Extreme poverty and gangs understand this and they use violence to take over.

LEMON: And they gain -- the members gain credibility -- street cred, as they call it -- in their hometowns because they had - they had come from the United States, right?

VALDEZ: Yes, there's a phenomenon that if you are a member of a southern California street gang called a sureno, that's s-u-r-e-n-o, that's the umbrella title, that you have instant credit -- street cred wherever you go outside the state. So it's like taking a small fisher in California, deporting him into Honduras, and there are big fish in a little pond.

LEMON: Is there any way to curb this violence in Central America? I mean how can El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, how can they control the gangs? Is it even possible?

VALDEZ: Well, it will be difficult, but it is possible. There are three programs. Oppression has to be good, intervention and prevention. But there has to be opportunity there. We have to understand why people move. They move away from violence and they move away from poverty.

Here in America, we've always advertised this country as the land of opportunity, the land of milk and honey. It's like an open invitation to the rest of the world. And when these kids have nothing in Central America, and I've been down there, poverty's extreme. No running sewers, no running water, no electricity in some areas. Here we have this land of opportunity. It's kind of common sense why we see this explosion. And the youth are leaving because it's dangerous down there.

LEMON: Yes. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, they're going to be getting $100 million from the U.S. How should that money be used? Should it be used in gang prevention?

VALDEZ: Well, I may be thinking outside the box here, but let me suggest this. Instead of spending $100 million on helicopters and computers and certainly the suppression part, that's need. But why don't we use a big chunk of that money to build companies down there that employ Salvadorans and Hondurans (ph) and Guatemalans to build roads, electrical outlets - I mean electrical power buildings, sewers, running water, to build the infrastructure in there. And the immigrants that I've interviewed have all told me, 100 percent, that they would never leave their country if they could get gainful employment there. So instead of just hammering and treating a symptom, why don't we treat the cause and help the country build up?

LEMON: Appreciate your thoughts, Al Valdez. Thank you very much, sir. Have a great weekend.

VALDEZ: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Thank you.

And just ahead here on CNN, George Clooney firing off another angry letter to a British tabloid, "The Daily Mail," saying their apology simply is not enough, it's not good enough. We're going to discuss that.

Plus, after a string of shootings in New York City, is it time to consider bringing back the controversial stop and frisk policy? The police department certainly is considering it. And should other violent cities across the U.S. do the same? Stay with me.


LEMON: Palestinian attacks from Israeli -- Palestinian deaths from Israeli attacks on Gaza have risen today past 100. No Israelis have died in the fighting that started late Monday. So, zero Israeli deaths so far. And that's despite the barrage of incoming rockets being fired from Gaza militants. An attack today set a gas station ablaze some 15 miles into Israel and left one person wounded. CNN's Wolf Blitzer just happened to be right there and just a short time later had to ditch his car with his CNN crew when air raid sirens signal incoming danger. Wolf, running for cover. Look.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": You can hear the sirens have just gone off, so we're all being told to get to a shelter. So we're running in.


LEMON: OK, you can see that they did make it to shelter. They stayed there a while and then received the all-clear and off they went. A scene repeated often today in Israel.

You know, Israeli attacks on Gaza today have reportedly killed at least eight Palestinians. Five were killed in this air strike on a military -- excuse me, a multistory residence in Raffa (ph). Now, as we said, the Palestinian death toll now has topped 100 from Israeli attacks since Monday.

So we're going to take you to Tel Aviv now and we're going to talk to Michael Oren. He's a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, now a CNN Mideast analyst.

Michael, this is strictly an air war now, but your government's laid out the groundwork really for a possible ground invasion, which would surely lead to more Palestinian deaths. Should Israel seek international mediation to try to avert that?

MICHAEL OREN, CNN MIDEAST ANALYST: Good to be with you, Don. I'm glad Wolf and his crew is OK. Sirens just went off here in Tel Aviv about a half an hour ago. My family and I were having shabat (ph) dinner, a Sabbath dinner, and we had to run to a safe room. We just heard some more explosions from south of here. So the bombardment continues and it is creating increasing pressure on the Israeli government to take more robust action against the shelling. Yes, it looks kind of disproportionate, 100 Palestinians are reported killed, and we've had one person seriously wounded on this side. That doesn't include the 5 million Israelis who have been traumatized by this. Imagine sitting at your dining - dining room table and running to shelter (ph).

LEMON: Mr. - but Mr. Oren, Mr. Oren -

OREN: So it's creating tremendous pressure.

LEMON: And - OK. So our short time together here, I just want -- I want you to answer directly for me, if you can, because we don't have a lot of time. And my question was, should Israel seek international mediation to try to avert that, an all-out ground war? That's the question.

OREN: Well, that has been our - in the pattern of the past. This is the third round between Israel and Hamas since 2008. And every time there has been international mediation, in the past, the Egyptians have been willing to befill (ph) that role. Now the new government of al Sisi has been reluctant. He wants to focus on internal issues. But there's been some intense diplomacy over the last 24 hours. President Obama has spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the possibility of American intervention to get the Egyptians on board and to be more activist. And I'm sure the Egyptians are probably going to the United States and saying, well, you were a little bit standoffish when al Sisi came into power. Maybe we can get on the same page. Maybe we can get back that (INAUDIBLE) have Egypt play a more constructive role.

LEMON: So - so what is it - OK. Let's move on. Zero Israeli deaths so far. And some of the credit for that goes to your missile defense system that succeed in killing incoming rockets before they can land. Is this a low-risk war for Israel?

OREN: Well, Israel has not only invested in iron dome, it's also invested in a very extensive civil defense system. All of our houses have safe rooms. This house that I'm sitting in has a safe room which can sustain a missile attack. Hamas has invested in missiles, not in civil defense.

It's still, again, even if iron dome is working at 100 percent, people are still traumatized. People's lives are disrupted. Kids are terrified. And rockets coming down and you're able to - even when iron dome works, it makes a huge explosion. It rocks the whole house. So -- LEMON: But is it a low-risk war for Israel?

OREN: (INAUDIBLE) look for a way to end this as soon as possible.

LEMON: Is it a low-risk war for Israel?

OREN: Well, the risks are much greater. You have to think that Israel is also existing in the world. Israel is always being accused -- already being accused of war crimes from those 100 Palestinians killed, irrespective of the efforts that Israel takes to avoid inflicting civilian casualties. So the risks, whenever you get engaged in a military involvement, you know how it begins, you don't know how it ends. So Israel is always going to do its utmost to try to avoid these engagements.

LEMON: Michael Oren, thank you very much. Appreciate that.


LEMON: All right, moving on now, the year is barely half over, but 2014 has brought an alarming surge in gun violence in three major American cities. Chicago, more than 60 wounded, nine killed. Actually about 80 people. That's just over the 4th of July weekend. New York City shootings are up. They had 22 one week and four people died. The victim count, 10 percent higher than just a year ago. And today in Indianapolis, the funeral of a police officer who was shot to death responding to reports of gunfire. All of this has some people calling to bring back the controversial police stop and frisk policies.

Jason Riley is a member of "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board and he's also the author of a new book called "Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed."

Thank you, Jason, for joining me.

You heard what I said, 10 percent up. The New York City Police Department has commissioned a study to see the effects of stop and frisk, if it has any effect on the surge in violent crime and also in shootings. Some people are wondering, in neighborhoods who denounce stop and frisk, are now saying, you know what, maybe we should bring it back. What do you think?

JASON RILEY, EDITORIAL BOARD, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": I think they're absolutely right. Blacks in particular who are disproportionately affected by stop and frisk and by crime. You know, when I moved to New York 20 years ago, in the early '90s, you had 2,000 plus deaths per year, 70 percent to 80 percent of them black and brown people. Last year, that had fallen to 400 or so. So you're talking about tens of thousands of black lives that were saved under this policy. I mean, so blacks overwhelmingly supported this mayor and he's going to reward them with soft on crime policies that are going to result, I fear, in more dead black people.

LEMON: OK, a couple of things then because you were talking about 20 years ago. That was during the Dinkins administration. Many people say that the city was less safe than it ever was during that administration because, I would imagine, they thought Dinkins was soft on crime. I lived here. I wasn't politically involved enough to know that.

Giuliani came in and brought in Bratton, who de Blasio has brought back. He started the stop and frisk policy, right?


LEMON: And now he is saying, it needs to be - it's scaled back and they scaled it back. But the question is, is that, there's a thing called the Constitution and people are saying that this is racial profiling by using stop and frisk. Is it? Or is it warranted because of the crime?

RILEY: I think the police focus on areas where the crime is taking place. And that is in predominantly black neighborhoods, in New York and in these other large cities. I don't know what other choice they have. I think the police should be there to make those communities safe for the law-abiding citizens who live there. I'm worried about their rights to live and in neighborhoods that aren't full of bullets flying in the air.

LEMON: The majority of stops that did not net any -- didn't result in most - in getting guns, mostly it was small things, marijuana, or what have you --

RILEY: But it did send a signal. I mean right now the thugs know the cops are trying to do this with one hand tied behind their back. Fewer guns are coming off the street. And I fear you're going to see a higher body count. I mean I -- what I say to my liberal friends is, how can you be for gun control and against stop and frisk?

LEMON: Well, because they're saying that stop and frisk is -- it violates your civil rights, your human rights, your -- there's a thing called probable cause and the color of someone's skin should not be the probable cause.

RILEY: Well, that is not what the police say they're doing.

LEMON: Right.

RILEY: And what they are doing has been held up as constitutional by the Supreme Court. So --

LEMON: Yes. So you would advocate bringing stop and frisk back?

RILEY: Absolutely.

LEMON: Even if it was inconvenience because even you, as a man of color, the probability of you getting stopped would be more than --

RILEY: The real problem here, Don, is black criminality. That's what we have to get at here. And that is cultural. That is the breakdown of the black family. And we see all kinds of pathologies associated with that. And the left doesn't want to talk about that. You want to talk about it, Bill Cosby wants to talk about it. But our black leaders today don't want to talk about it.

LEMON: Why is that?

RILEY: It's really not -- the police aren't the problem. Black criminality is the problem.

LEMON: Yes, but there are overzealous police officers, of course, you (INAUDIBLE) that.

RILEY: There are. But that's -- that is not why our jails and prisons are teeming with young black men. It's not overzealous cops or a racist criminal justice system. It's black criminality. And that's what needs to be addressed.

And Jesse Jackson asked for $2 billion from the president to -- you really think that's going to help black men pull up their pants and take care of their children? Jesse Jackson wants to talk about, you know, what white people should be doing for black people instead of what black people should be doing for themselves. And I think he should be called out on that.