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Police Shifting Manhunt Focus; Rachel Dolezal Speaks Out; Interview with Ezra Dolezal; Shark Attacks. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 16, 2015 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin with breaking news in upstate New York.

Police are now shifting the focused on the search for escape killers David Sweat and Richard Matt. Search teams are being deployed to other areas surrounding Dannemora. Now this after days of scouring an area just miles from the Clinton correctional facility.

Tonight, Joyce Mitchell, the prison worker known as Tilly, remains behind bars charged with helping Sweat and Matt escape. Accord to a source, Mitchell husband, Lyle, visited her today. We don't know what the visit was like, how long it lasted or what was said. But tonight, we are learning a lot more about what went on between Tilly Mitchell and the killers she befriended in the prison's tailor shop. And for friended, and we should say more.

We also have new information tonight about the danger her husband may have faced from her prison lovers and what she allegedly did to protect him.

Randi Kaye joins us now with the latest.

So Randi, I understand you have new information about this plot to kill Joyce Mitchell's husband.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. We are getting that information from a source with direct knowledge of this investigation. That source telling me that Joyce Mitchell warned her husband, Lyle Mitchell, that he was in danger. As you know, she knew about the escape plan. She also knew about the plot to kill her husband by these two men. Apparently, she grew so worried that she spilled everything to her husband, Lyle. She told him about the escape plan and told him his life might be in danger.

And that is how, Anderson, Lyle Mitchell is connected to this whole thing. Because at first, investigators thought, maybe he took part in the plan, in the escape plan. But now, they're looking more at the fact that maybe he was just made aware of it because his wife warned him that these two men may come after him and may kill him.

COOPER: And in terms of -- actually, first of all, do we know when she warned him? I mean, if he had prior knowledge of the escape plan and said nothing, is that what, in fact, we believe happened?

KAYE: Right. We don't know when. That's the one thing the source would not divulge, was the date on that.

COOPER: OK. In terms of Joyce's relationship with Richard Matt which last night we learned was a sexual relationship, have you learned more?

KAYE: We have. We know that that relationship went back to 2013, which happens to be when David Sweat, the other escapee, this sexual relationship was with Richard Matt, but the other inmate, David Sweat, was removed from the tailor shop where Joyce Mitchell worked with the two men and her husband who did maintenance in the shop. Sweat was removed in 2013 and that's when her relationship with Richard Matt, I'm told, started. They had a sexual relationship, as you said and they were having sex, according to this source, those sexual encounter took place inside the tailor shop. I am told that's the only place that Richard Matt and Joyce Mitchell were together at any point in that prison.

COOPER: And do they believe anyone else was involved - I mean, are they looking at anyone else right now involved in the escape?

KAYE: Well, as you know, this plan was so elaborate. So of course, they're looking at a lot of other people. They do think, one thing they're considering, is whether or not any of the other prisoners may have created some type of diversion, whether before or after, even during this escape, as the two men made their way through the bow prison.

They are also looking at other employees. I was told today that Joyce Mitchell is not the only prison employee they are looking at. They are considering everyone.

COOPER: All right, Randi, I appreciate all the latest. Thank you.

I want to bring in Lenny DePaul, a former U.S. Marshall who commanded the U.S. Marshall service regional fugitive taskforce for New York and New Jersey. Also John Cuff, criminal psychologist with former head of the northeast fugitive investigation division at the U.S. marshal service, and former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole.

Lenny, these more revelations now, it seems like every night, we hear some sort of a different version of Joyce Mitchell's relationship, what she told her husband, what her husband knew. Does it make sense to you?

LENNY DEPAUL, FORMER U.S. MARSHAL: You know, again, it's my gut reaction to this whole thing about Joyce Mitchell. She not only plan b, but she was the red heron, is what I'm starting the think. They fed her, spoon-fed her whatever they wanted to give her knowing she was going to be a direct link for law enforcement once they escaped. I mean --

COOPER: Though your husband is in danger, all these different --

DEPAUL: Well, they have her close to the vast so she didn't, you know, get the law enforcement before they escape. So, they're going to tell her whatever they need to. And again, this is just my, you know, personal opinion. Sure, I mean, they fed her everything. She had a prior complaint against her with this David Sweat. So, they're going to go to her as soon as they escape. She is going to be right on the top of the list for law enforcement.

COOPER: And they would have known that. It would have been - I mean, these guys are obviously have thought this out quite carefully.

DEPAUL: Well, they certainly had an elaborate plan to get out and it is just none of it is adding up with respect to her. But again, I'm hoping they still contained in that perimeter and they stumble upon these guys.

COOPER: John, do you agree with that? Does it make sense to you?

JOHN CUFF, RETIRED CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I agree wholeheartedly. I mean, they cultivated this that appears that they cultivated this female staffer to get what they need, to get to the outside, OK. They probably kept her in the dark on certain aspects to this. With the search going on up there, and the absence of anything being developed in terms of concretely saying that they've been there or not there, you have to conclude that there is a probability that there was a plan b by these guys, another getaway driver, so to speak. Or they're outside of the perimeter, contained. They had about maybe eight hours or so to get elsewhere, and they conceivably could be in a house outside of the area that's being searched. Possibly holding a family at bay or something of that nature. There has been no calls, no 911 calls about and the cars being stolen, houses being broken into, and no offense like that.

[20:05:42] COOPER: Mary Ellen, I mean, we now believe -- OK, she has a relationship with Sweat, then he was moved out of the tailor shop. Then it seems a relationship again with Matt that went on for apparently quite some time. It goes back several years at least. As you've learned more about her, what do you make of what was going on inside the prison?

MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, the one thing that's very striking to me, when we do assessments of individuals for their possible involvement in whatever the criminal activity is, is that she was able to maintain a pattern of deceptive behavior for as much as two years. And she was deceptive not only to her employer, but she was deceptive to her family as well. So she was able to go along with this and keep it quiet, at least up until the end. So that's the part that I think is, to me, causes me to think that, at this point, she's probably continuing to some extent being deceptive.

The second thing that I would say is that as much as they probably hated to depend on her, these were two guys that really had burned all their inter personal relationships before. And there would be very few people that would want to help them and put their neck on the line. So investigators should be able to determine who did they -- who else did they talk to? Who has visited them? Who did they communicate with? Because unfortunately, these guys didn't have very many people to choose from that could help them, once they got through the tunnels and need a ride some place. So as much as we'd like to say they had a plan b, there are few people that would help him. COOPER: Mary Ellen, it's interesting you say it's possible she's

continuing to be deceptive because all of these - you know, Randi's reporting, Miguel's reporting, all is based on sources on what really it all boils down to what she is telling authorities. And it seems like there are differing stories that we have heard now over the course of several days. So it seems like the stories have changed. At first, it was some sort of relationship. Now, it's, well, they threatened me. Well, I told my husband. It doesn't seem - I mean, to your point, it seems very possible that she's still being deceptive or we don't have the full story.

O'TOOLE: That's right. And if being deceptive is part of her personality, it's part of the way that she minimizes kind of bad behavior that she engages in. And that's just part of what she does. And we could expect that deception to continue. And for her to attempt to kind of save face with what she's done. Because the question is, you know, I know she's supposedly said she loved her husband. That's the reason she got cold feet. But, you know, the prosecutor is going to say, well, did you love your husband when you brought the blades then? Well, how about the first time you had sex with Richard Matt, did you love your husband then?

So this woman is a game player, and it's probably something she's done her entire life. So with that said, I would suspect that there continues to be some degree of game playing in her story.

COOPER: Yes. And it continues to be fascinating.

Mary Ellen O'Toole, I appreciate it. Lenny DePaul and John Cuff, guys, thank you very much. As always, quick reminder, you can set your DVR and watch 360 any time you want.

Coming up next, the other big story today, Rachel Dolezal breaking her silence and talking about the controversy over her racial identification and her racial identity, and what is the truth of it all. Details on that ahead.


[20:13:00] COOPER: Rachel Dolezal spoke out today in detail for the first time since her story exploded on the national stage. Now to recap, until recently, she was the head of the NAACP and spoke in Washington. As far as anyone knew, she was a light skinned African- American woman. That's what she had always portrayed herself as. Then her white birth parents said otherwise, and she stepped down from her job, the job we should mention she got credit from doing quite well. Now, she's talking and it seems so are many people in the country. Here is a portion of her conversation with Matt Lauer.


MATT LAUER, NBC HOST, TODAY'S SHOW: Let me just ask you the question in simple terms again because you sent mixed signals over the years. Are you an African-American woman?

RACHEL DOLEZAL, FORMER NAACP HEAD: I identify as black. LAUER: You identify as black. Let me put a picture of you in your

early 20s. When you see this picture, is this an African-American woman, or is that a Caucasian woman?

DOLEZAL: That's -- not in my early 20s.

LAUER: That's a little younger, I guess?

DOLEZAL: I think I was 16 in that picture.

LAUER: Is she a Caucasian woman or African-American woman?

DOLEZAL: I would say that, visibly, she'd be identified as white by people who see her.

LAUER: But at the time, were you identifying yourself as African- American?

DOLEZAL: In that picture, during that time, no.

LAUER: Your parents were asked this question this week, and they didn't have any trouble answering it. Here is what they said. She's clearly our birth daughter, and we're clearly Caucasian. That's just a fact. Your father went on to say, she's a very talented woman, doing work she believes in. Why can't she do that as a Caucasian woman, which is what she is? How do you answer that question?

DOLEZAL: Well, first of all, I really don't see why they're in such a rush to whitewash some of the work I have done and who I am, and how I've identified. And this goes back to a very early age, with my self-identification with the black experience, as a young child.

LAUER: When did it start?

[20:15:00] DOLEZAL: I would say about five years olds.

DOLEZAL: You began identifying yourself as African-American?

LAUER: I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon, with black, you know, curly hair and, you know, yes. That's how I was portraying myself.

LAUER: You've changed your appearance. Your complexion is darker than it was in the photos of you as a young lady. Have you done something to darken your complexion?

LAUER: I certainly don't stay out of the sun, you know. And I also don't, as some of the critics have said, put on black face as a performance.

LAUER: Yes. Let me address that because some people have said that the way you changed your opinion is akin to putting on black face. And Jonathan Capehart wrote in the "Washington Post," black face remains highly racist, no matter how down with the cause a white person is. Do you understand what he means by that?

DOLEZAL: Absolutely. Absolutely.

LAUER: Do you agree with it?

DOLEZAL: I have a huge issue with black face. This is not some freak birth of the nation, mockery black face performance.


COOPER: Not a black face performance, she says. Yet, on a purely physical level, there is the tanning, the makeup, the hair and her statements over the years. She says it speaks to who she is inside. As for everyone else, says many things to many different people.

Joining us, "New York Times" op-ed columnist Charles Blow, also writer and cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis and Baz Dreisinger, she is the author of "near black, white to black passing in American culture."

All right, there's a lot to talk about. First of all, the idea that she just stays out in the sun is just -- that's just not true. I mean, does anyone buy that?

CHARLES BLOW, OP-ED COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: I don't know. Are we supposed to take this seriously? The idea that she is now the -- our kind of jumping off point for a conversation about something that is very real and is very kind of a scab for a lot of black people in particular is grating to me. I just can't even take that seriously. The idea, you're five years old and you're really into the black experience. I'm sorry. It's hard to --

COOPER: Which, by the way, her parents also deny, saying that didn't happen.

BLOW: She never drew a picture of herself with a brown crayon. So, I'm like I don't know how to take it like I don't what to make of it.

COOPER: Because by the way, if at age five, she is so down with the black experience that she's drawing herself like that, you know, in those later pictures, as Larry Wilmer (ph) said, you know, the other night, she's like (INAUDIBLE).

BLOW: I'm black. And if I knew, though, wasn't that with the black experience. I don't understand what it is even supposed to mean. I think it's like academy professorial jargon.

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, CULTURAL CIVIC WRITER: But the scab that you were picking is very real, particularly to black women. What this is getting at, how this is getting at our identify. In other interview today, when she was asked, does she understand the rage that this is causing black women, she said, yes, I understand. But never did she acknowledge it. Never did she say, I understand and I am sorry. And I understand this time that we're having this conversation. And to not acknowledge this time, this black lives matter moment, and never even say, I'm sorry. I feel your pain. You are not a black woman in this moment if you don't understand that black mothers are burying their boys. I -- it is the most insulting moment. We're in a civil rights moment.

And she's talking about her hair and her skin and not even taking into account what we're negotiating now, as black people, and as black women who have been under constant attack on our very beauty. It is -- I think she's out of her mind, to be quite honest, the tippy thing and the bow and arrows, but put that aside.

COOPER: For those who don't know, she said today that she lived in South Africa with her family, was whipped with a baboon whip by her parents, who punish people based on the color of their skin. She never lived in south Africa, but her parents moved there later.

DAVIS: And still, she is credible. And still only a white woman could have those set of circumstances, being investigated for hate crimes that probably didn't happen. Talking about being whipped with a baboon strap. And we're talking about her as if this is something credible. That is the scab. That is the rub.

She knows how to drop the vocabulary, but she doesn't know how to push the envelope in terms of the discussion. It's knowing how to throw the right phrases around but not knowing how to go there in any kind of real depth.

COOPER: I mean, in your book, you explore the idea of what you call reverse racial passing, where legally white individuals are imagined by themselves or by others to be passing for black. I mean, is -- what do you think is going on?

[20:20:05] BAZ DREISINGER, AUTHOR, NEAR BLACK: So I think there is a long legacy in American culture of racial masquerade and racial passing. And I think, you know, we are all familiar with traditional racial passing which is black passing for white usually out of economic necessity, social necessity, all kinds of other things. But there is also this tradition of white passing for black that goes back to at least just far as the 18th century, 19th century, and continues into the present day. And it is founded on a kind of historical (9INAUDIBLE) of blackness that runs through American culture and always has. And so, I see her as being very in line with the tradition.

COOPER: She fetishizes black culture?

DREISINGER: I think there is definitely as fetishizing going on here. Maybe in a less -I think we are used to the kind of, you know, the hip hop fetishizing, the one that comes in overt kind of a caricature which is easy to laugh at, you know. That the exaggerated performance of some imagined notion of what blackness is. And that's become really easy for us to dismiss. But this one, because it has the near complexity to it, becomes, you know, even more intriguing because the performance is not quite the caricature, as the one we're used to.

COOPER: Even the length, I mean, there were times in some of the answers she gave, they just didn't make sense. When you start to scratch away at them it actually listen, I want to play something she said on MSNBC to Melissa Harris-Perry. Let's listen.




HARRIS-PERRY: What do you mean when you say that? What does it mean to you to assume the identity of blackness?

DOLEZAL: Well, it means several things. First of all, it means that I have really gone there with the experience, in terms of being a mother of two black sons and really owning what it means to experience and live black -- blackness.

COOPER: I mean, I just --

BLOW: Ladies, please. I'm sorry.

COOPER: What did you say?

BLOW: Lady, please. It's funny in a way, but also, it's tragic because it does crop a real conversation and that crop a real struggle and this idea that you've gone there.

COOPER: That's the line that bothered me.

DAVIS: What does that look like?

BLOW: What does that mean, and how does it mean to go there? Is that available to everyone, to be able to simply say, today, I want to go there and I want to live your experience. And then I want to emulate your experience.

COOPER: She said she could only be a mother to black child - she couldn't do it as a white person.

BLOW: Which is ridiculous. So I grew up in a black neighborhood, right? So there were white women who dated to that community. There were some would married into. They may talked like black women, they sometimes - no one ever, they never pretended to be anything other than what they were. They were just - they like the experience. They like the person they were with. They had children who identified as black and they didn't have to change who they were in order to be loving parents to those children. You don't have to do that.

DAVIS: It's insulting to parents who adopt outside. That's what transracial is, in the adoptive industry. It is when you can be a loving parent. And why can't you -- why can't black be beautiful to you as a white person? Why must you own it? Again, this is why this is a spectacular display of white privilege. That you can't just admire and help and be an ally, without having to own it. And that's the language that is disturbing to me, the own it. Ownership.

COOPER: We have a take a break. Baz, great to have you here. Thank you very much, Baz Dreisinger. Also, Charles, Michaela, stick around. Coming up next, how this woman became who she is today, step for step,

for better or worse, her adoptive brother, Ezra, joins us as well for his perspective on what his sister is doing.


[20:27:54] COOPER: Certainly a spectrum of perspectives on the Rachel Dolezal story, as well as a spectrum of offense that has been taken and feelings hurt. Here's another point along that line.

NBA Kareem Abdul Jabar just wrote a piece and credited her for giving him the courage to finally admit that he's been living a lie for years. He is, he says, only 5'8" tall. More seriously, he also says that his eyes, at least, her accomplishments outweigh her dishonesty and the hurt that it caused. Others, obviously, disagree. And in many case, long before Rachel Dolezal or Karee Abdul Jabar ever hit the headlines, the author Kurt Vonnegut anticipated the shape of all of this. He wrote, we are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be. Here's how Rachel Dolezal did it.


COOPER (voice-over): Rachel Ann Dolezal was born November 12th, 1977, in Montana, according to this birth certificate provided by her parents, Ruthanne and Lawrence. While no race is listed, this is her mother and father.

LAWRENCE DOLEZAL, RACHEL DOLEZAL FATHER: We are her birth parents. And we do not understand why she feels it's necessary to misrepresent her ethnicity.

COOPER: But Rachel now says she started to identify as black around age five, something her parents dismiss. Although they do say she felt a connection with African-Americans at an early age. When she was a teenager, her parents adopted four black children. Rachel went to college in Mississippi and then attended grad school at Howard University, a historically black institution on an art scholarship. While she didn't identify herself as black on the application because there wasn't an option to, her parents say they believe the school thought she was.

RUTHANNE DOLEZAL, RACHEL DOLEZAL'S MOTHER: Because her portfolio was all African-American (INAUDIBLE), they assumed she was black and only found out she was not after they awarded her of full right scholarship when she arrived.

L. DOLEZAL: Eyes were popping and jaws were dropping when she walked in registration in person.

COOPER: Howard honored their (INAUDIBLE) in 2000 around the time she began studies there. She married this man, Kevin Moore.


In this photo, Rachel's parents are on either side of the newlyweds, and in the front row, Rachel's four adopted siblings. This, according to her father.

In 2002, she sued Howard University for discrimination as a white woman, claiming she lost scholarship money and a job opportunity. A judge and then an appeals court found no basis for her claims and she was ordered to re-pay court costs in 2005. It's unclear exactly when she started to publicly identify as being black. But in 2010, while teaching the Africana studies program at Eastern Washington University, she identified as black with an African-American father and a white mother.

RACHEL DOLEZAL: ... for black women much more than just an aesthetic.

COOPER: She also became a furious defender of civil rights and a leader in the black community there.

DOLEZAL: For civil rights.

COOPER: In 2014, she was appointed to a commission that provided civilian oversight for the Spokane police department. On her application, she identified herself as African-American, white and Native American. In a posting from January on the organization's Facebook page, this man is identified as Rachel's father. She was questioned about that just last week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that your dad?

DOLEZAL: Yeah. That's my dad.

COOPER: And that is the moment when Rachel Dolezal's story began to unravel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you African-American?

DOLEZAL: I don't understand the question.


COOPER: Joining us now is Ms. Dolezal's adoptive brother, Ezra. Ezra, thanks very much for being with us. As you know, I mean I don't know if you have seen all the interviews today, but your sister continues to say she is black. She identifies as black. She's not white. When you hear her say that, what do you think?

EZRA DOLEZAL, ADOPTED BROTHER OF RACHEL DOLEZAL: I think she should actually admit to -- and start telling the truth to actually say that she's actually -- she was not born black, that she actually is now taking on the identity, I guess. But that she was not actually born black. And she continues to say the same story and seems to believe it.

COOPER: Do you have a sense of when she started to do this? Because today, she's saying, well, when I was five, I was drawing these pictures of myself with a brown crayon. And, you know, teachers or my parents were saying, use the peach crayon. You obviously were not around. You're much younger than she is. You weren't around when she was five years old. But do you believe that's true? EZRA DOLEZAL: No. The first time I ever remember her actually like

taking an interest in actually doing all this was 2011. It was when she actually told me that she was actually doing this, that she was going to say she had different parents, say that Montana wasn't her home, that she was from there, that she grew up there and everybody should not consider her black, but she wanted people to think that she was black.

COOPER: She actually said that to you?


COOPER: Why did she say she was going to do that?

EZRA DOLEZAL: She never gave a reason.

COOPER: Did you think it strange or unusual?

EZRA DOLEZAL: Well, she'd been slowly turning as the family for a while, so I wasn't completely surprised, I guess, about that. I was actually surprised about, like, a few things. Like the whole - like now, she's trying to say she was born in a teepee, she grew up in Africa, and all the other stuff that wasn't true.

COOPER: Right. She's told people that she lived with her family in South Africa. Your family actually did move to South Africa for several years --

EZRA DOLEZAL: Yes. But she was never there.

COOPER: She'd actually left home already?

EZRA DOLEZAL: Yes. She's never been to Africa. She ...

COOPER: She's never been to South Africa at all?

EZRA DOLEZAL: Yes. She never has.

COOPER: She said that in South Africa that her parents would discipline her with some sort of like a baboon strap based on skin color.

EZRA DOLEZAL: No, that never happened. She never even lived in South Africa. So, I don't know why she's saying she got punished in Africa. I mean she never has been there.

COOPER: What would you want - you know, your parents were on CNN earlier today, and I want to play something that they said.


RUTHANNE DOLEZAL, MOTHER OF RACHEL DOLEZAL: She did not ever refer to herself or draw pictures or anything that indicated she thought of herself as black. It was disturbing because the false statements continue. And as much as we're concerned with Rachel's identity issues, we are also concerned with her integrity issues. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you think she has a problem with integrity?


COOPER: Really?

EZRA DOLEZAL: Oh, yeah. Yeah, she's said very dishonest things a lot of times before. I mean for a while, she was saying stuff about certain members of the family and kind of trying to turn them on to each other. And she told a bunch of lies about my parents to try to get custody of Isaiah a while ago.

COOPER: She was making allegations of abuse.

EZRA DOLEZAL: Yeah. And so she basically said all that stuff just so the courts would see her as a better parent, I guess. And so she'd end up with Isaiah.

COOPER: You don't have - you don't have contact with her for what - four years?

EZRA DOLEZAL: Yeah, four years. Four years.

COOPER: Would you want to still have contact with her?


EZRA DOLEZAL: I could. I mean - I doubt she really wants to talk to anybody in the family anymore. She kind of shut everybody off. Like she shut my parents off probably last year. And like the rest of us was before that. I mean, that whole thing with Isaiah kind of did - get a lot of people to in the family to shut her off kind of.

COOPER: Well, I'm sorry for all you're going through and I appreciate you coming out to talk about your sister. Thank you very much.

EZRA DOLEZAL: Well, thank you.

COOPER: Yeah, nice to meet you, Ezra. Thanks very much.

Just ahead, would Rachel Dolezal make the same choices if she was given a do over? Would she lie about her race? More of the conversation with NBC's Matt Lauer ahead.

Plus, a town's controversial response to the shark attacks at the same North Carolina beach. Officials reportedly vowing to kill any aggressive sharks that come too close to shore. The question is, how are they going to determine what shark was responsible and what an aggressive shark is? We'll be right back.


COOPER: We've been talking about whether a person can, in fact, racially transition or experiment with black identity or appropriate the African-American experience, or whether this is all some kind of pathology on Rachel Dolezal's part.


COOPER: And then there's this, could she have been just as effective as an advocate for African-Americans without the pretense as a white woman at the NAACP? Here's another short clip touching on that theme from her conversation with NBC's Matt Lauer.


MATT LAUER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Would you make the same choices you've made, Rachel?

RACHEL DOLEZAL: I would. I would.

LAUER: But when you say you would make the same choices, wouldn't you go back and perhaps be a little more transparent about certain things in your life, or correct some of the things that were said about you that you knew to be incorrect?

RACHEL DOLEZAL: You know, there are probably a couple interviews that I would do a little differently, if circumstances, in retrospect, you know, I knew what I know now. But overall, you know, my life has been one of survival, and the decisions that I have made along the way, including my identification, have been to survive. And to, you know, carry forward in my journey and life continuum.

LAUER: You resigned your position at the NAACP out in Spokane. Do you feel you could have been as effective -- by the way, you should get a lot of credit. A lot of people feel you breathed new life into that chapter - could you have been as successful, could you have had as big an impact, had you been a Caucasian woman, as opposed to being identified as an African-American woman?

RACHEL DOLEZAL: I don't know. I guess I haven't had the opportunity to experience that. In those shoes. So, I'm not sure. I'm not sure.


COOPER: I don't know what that means. She might not be sure, however, our next guest is. Donald Harris runs the Maricopa County, Arizona chapter of the NAACP. He joins us along with Charles Blow and Michaela Angela Davis. Donald, you have been a successful president, as I said, of the NAACP branch in Maricopa as a white guy. I wonder what you make of all of this?

DONALD HARRIS, PRESIDENT, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZ., NAACP: I'm not happy about it. It's a slam against the organization. It will ultimately hurt the organization for some period of time. You have got to recall, Anderson, this is a race-based organization. A National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. And being a race-based organization, when you have a leader in any capacity, whether it be on the local level, nationwide, et cetera, you have got to have credibility. Once you lose that credibility, the efficacy of your leadership fails. And here we had a person who did some wonderful things as a president, also some wonderful things as a member of the board of directors there in the Spokane branch, but is also ultimately brought down a lot of harm to the organization. It's become a laughing stock matter across the country, except it's not funny. And when this thing first broke, I said, you know, this is like a thread sticking out. They're going to start tugging on that thread and bad things are going to happen. The suit is going to fall apart. And sure enough, that's what's happened.

COOPER: She said she doesn't know if she would be as effective in the NAACP if she identified as a white woman. When you hear that, hear her say that, what goes through your mind?

HARRIS: I don't believe it. Because I'm in that posture, and I know I have to go out in the community. I deal with both African- Americans. I deal with Caucasians. I'm dealing only on a daily basis -- not only - excuse me, with police chiefs from the community, but mayors, town council members, city managers, people who lead civic organizations. Because the lifeblood of our organization is fundraising. What runs the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are Benjamin Franklins. That's what keeps things going. That's what provides us ...

COOPER: Fund raising is critical, obviously.

HARRIS: Critical.

COOPER: Michaela, I mean what more do you want to say?


COOPER: I do think this is so complex.

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, CULTURAL CRITIC, WRITER: It is. But what he just said is it. Using his white male privilege to help the American project, right? So that's what she could have done. She could have used her privilege to help get at structural racism and to help black women in a very real way. We can't be white. You know, so what he articulated is really what we have been trying to get at. How you can be white and still work in social justice is very clear.

COOPER: And Charles, I mean she was hired as a black woman to teach Africana studies.

CHARLES BLOW, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: There are a lot of professors, white professors.

COOPER: Sure, right, exactly.

BLOW: And so, you can do that work. And I think, you know, the whole idea of the NAACP was to take African-Americans when they were at a real position of vulnerability and oppression and it still exists, to some degree, and to try to lift that to an equal status. And try to work - chisel away at all the structural problems that were standing in the way of equality.

[20:45:03] BLOW: And that's all that people are asking anybody to do. And anybody can engage in that work. All of us, in fact, have to be engaged in it for it to actually be a successful experiment. It cannot just be a black people striving issue. It has to be a society- wide accepting of this is a real possibility and it is a really admirable goal that we want equality in our society. And that part of what our history is, is that we have privileged some populations and we have oppressed others. And until we acknowledge that, and we have everybody working on that, we don't get rid of it. She could have used that platform and her position in our society to -- for the advancement of that cause.

COOPER: Do you see you as a form of blackface? Her saying that, well, she doesn't not be out in the sun, there's more to it than that.

DAVIS: She is --

COOPER: There's more to her presentation.

BLOW: I do believe that it is -- it has been performance because it has been deceptive, right?

DAVIS: Right.

BLOW: If it were honest and you were saying, I was born to two white parents, however, I actually think that black women are beautiful and I think black hair is beautiful and I would like to look like that, even though that was not my birth experience. Right? That would at least have been an honest expression. This is actually performance based on deception. Therefore, whether you call it blackface or not, it is a deceptive performance and it is insulting in that way.

COOPER: Donald, do you feel it has lasting harm to the NAACP?

HARRIS: No. The organization is bigger than one person.

And what has happened has mushroomed because the press has mushroomed it. It's a unique story. The black-white angle is -- how often do we see something like this come along? Now we have it in our laps. It's all around the world. We have someone who has taken the opportunity to try and present herself as an African-American, and, yet, when it came time to sue Howard University, because they denied her access to the masters program, she's a white woman again. And so that, to me, belies all of her arguments.

COOPER: I agree.

DAVIS: Pretty much.

HARRIS: That simple thing.

BLOW: That dismantles the transgender comparison, by the way. The ability, the privilege to then switch on a moment's notice for your own benefit, back to something else that you said you abandoned, she could do that. Transgender people can't do that. You can't say, I'm going to abandon this concept, that I wanted to transition in gender. COOPER: Donald Harris, thanks very much for being with us. Michaela

Angela Davis, as always, Charles Blow as well.

Two near fatal shark attacks at a North Carolina beach. It's what some people reportedly want to do to the sharks that is now touching off a controversy. Tonight, we'll tell you about it and talk to an expert who calls the plan a terrible idea.



COOPER: Tonight, a controversial response to those near-fatal shark attacks in North Carolina. Two teenagers as you know were bitten within 90 minutes of each other, at the same beach. Both were in waist-high water when they were attacked. Bystanders who gave first aid helped save their lives. Now, by all accounts, obviously a terrifying scene. Life-changing for the teens and their families. Now, according to the Los Angeles Times, the town manager of Oak Island says that beach patrollers are prepared to kill any sharks that exhibit aggressive behavior near the coastline. Joining me now is George Burgess, director of the program for shark research at the University of Florida and curator of the international shark attack file. George, what do you make of this idea of basically looking for any aggressive sharks, however that's defined, and killing them?

GEORGE BURGESS, UNIV. OF FLORIDA: We have a pretty archaic approach to this situation. This sort of response was something you would have expected in 1950. Not this year. So of course, the chances of you finding the culprit or culprits, as they may be, is like chasing a needle in the haystack. The only reason you go after sharks at this point is out of a sense of revenge, I suppose.

COOPER: It's interesting. It's exactly what happened in the movie "Jaws." People freaked out about the shark attacks and went out to kill sharks. They're defining aggressive behavior, classifying aggressive behavior as darting in and out of the surf line or swimming within 100 feet of the beach. Is that aggressive behavior?

BURGESS: Every day, there's thousands of sharks that are swimming in and amongst swimmers along beaches from Miami up through North Carolina. If that's the case, essentially, all sharks are eligible for shooting.

COOPER: That's one of the things you and I talked about last night in the wake of these shark attacks. Most people have actually had encounters with sharks. You said most people have been -- if they've been swimming in the ocean, they've been within six or seven feet of a shark and didn't know it.

BURGESS: The fact of the matter is most of these encounters don't result in any bites to humans. The sharks recognize humans as being a non-normal prey item and move away. That doesn't mean that bites don't occur, and obviously, on occasion, a series of bites do. And we certainly feel bad for the victims.

COOPER: Is there anything that can be done? I mean, is there anything you would recommend?

BURGESS: Well, what needs to be done is heightened awareness on the beach, among beach safety personnel, and education efforts to get the people understanding better where and when to be in the water. Those aren't things that happen overnight. There's no instant solution. Other than keeping people out of the water in an affected area for a period of time. That certainly would be the strategy I would employ.

COOPER: George, I appreciate you being with us. George Burgess, thank you very much. There is a lot more happening tonight. Amara Walker has the 360 bulletin. Amara.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, tropical storm Bill is pounding Texas with flooding in some areas. Up to a foot of rain is possible in places. This is a double whammy for the Houston area, which is still recovering from deadly flooding last month.

Six people are dead after a fourth floor balcony collapsed during a birthday party in Berkeley, California. Seven others are hospitalized with serious injuries. Most of the victims are students from Ireland.

And the St. Louis Cardinals are being investigated by the FBI for allegedly hacking into the computers of the Houston Astros and trying to steal information about players and trades.


The "New York Times" reporting the suspected hacking was done as revenge for Jeff Lunau (ph) leaving the Cardinals to become the Astros general manager after the 2011 season.

The FDA has announced it is giving the food industry three years to eliminate artery clogging artificial transfats found in some of your favorite snacks. Health officials say it will save thousands of lives.

And take a look at this. Those are crabs. Thousands of tiny crabs covering acres and acres of Newport Beach in Southern California. They are native to Baja, California. They were first reported in San Diego, then they made their way north.


COOPER: Thank you very much. We'll be right back.


COOPER: That does it for us. We'll see you again 11:00 p.m. Eastern for another edition of "360." I hope you join us. "CNN TONIGHT" starts now.