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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Boston Bomber Speaks to Victims For First Time; Attorney: Mitchell Never Had Sexual Relations With Sweat; Slain Pastor Honored As Confederate Flag Flies. 7-8:00p ET
Aired June 24, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:10] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. The Boston bomber sentenced to death but not before he breaks his silence. He spoke to the victims. His words tonight.
Also breaking, in the manhunt for two convicted killers, new leads tonight in a desperate search. A former inmate comes OUTFRONT with what he says was going on between Joyce Mitchell and one of the inmates.
Plus at this hour, Charleston's Emanuel AME Church, the site of the massacre one week ago tonight is holding its first Bible study since that shooting. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight we begin with the breaking news. The Boston bomber speaks. For the first time Dzhokhar Tsarnaev directly addressing his victims, saying, "I am sorry." Tsarnaev apologized saying, "If there's any lingering doubt, let there be no more. I did do it along with my brother. I am sorry for the lives that I've taken, for the suffering that I've caused you, for the damage that I have done. Irreparable damage."
Two bombs planted by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, exploded near the Boston marathon finish life. Tsarnaev was formally sentenced to death today for killing four people. Three at that finish line and one police officer at a college as the Tsarnaevs fled. Now, we'll going to be speaking with a survivor of the bombing who was in that room who spoke to Tsarnaev today.
First though, I want to start with Deb Feyerick. She's OUTFRONT in Boston tonight. Now, Deb, there weren't cameras allowed inside the court but you were able to watch as Tsarnaev spoke. An incredible moment when you think about it, for the first time speaking to victims who were able to speak back. He murdered four people, injured more than 260. Seventeen people lost their limbs because of him. What did he say?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was incredible and it wasn't just what he said, it's what he didn't say. It's also how he said it. He spoke in this very thick, almost Russian Arabic accent. He talked about Allah and the Prophet Muhammad. And he also said, you know, this is a holy month of Ramadan and he said, quote, "This is a month in which hearts change." But he did apologize to the victims. He said, I'm sorry for the lives I have taken, the suffering I have caused and the damage I have done." And he also, as you say, he confessed.
And that's what a lot of people were waiting for over these last two years, to hear something that sounded even a little like -- something that sounded a little like a confession and remorse, and they finally -- he finally came out with that. So, it was very, very moving. But I spoke to several people afterwards and they just didn't buy it. They just didn't buy it. They said, "no, it was too little too late." There were those who said we forgive him but there were others who say not a chance -- Erin.
BURNETT: And Deb, you know, to your point, he didn't have an accent before. All of his friends said he had, you know, completely no accent at all. So you're talking about a heavy accent.
BURNETT: And he's talking about the month of Ramadan. Okay. Well, this happened two years ago. He had two years to feel sorry and now he's citing this particular month of Ramadan. I mean, what was his demeanor? Did he come off to you as someone who was sorry?
FEYERICK: He came off as somebody who had really found religion. Again, you know, you mentioned some of those friends of his who say he never spoke with any sort of an accent whatsoever. He wasn't a particularly religious individual. You know, they talk about him hanging out, smoking pot, interacting with women. So he wasn't particularly religious. But the words that we heard today were all couched in that sort of very strict sort of almost praising -- praising Allah, talking about Ramadan as a month of forgiveness and reconciliation. So it's not clear whether he did this or would have done this independently or whether in fact it was because of the time that this sentencing is occurring in.
But I'll tell you the judge was very strict when he said, I sentence you to death by execution and the judge essentially said in order to do what he did, quote, "you had to forget your own humanity." So it was really emotional. And the people who stood in that court, look, some of them, their lives are changed. They can't even go outdoors without fearing that something more will happen. But others were much more defiant. Rebecca Gregory basically saying, you know, referring to that image of him in that holding cell when he held up his middle finger --
FEYERICK: -- she said, you know, that smirk, that smile, it's so funny that you smirk and flip off the camera. I feel that that is what we are doing to you. And then she looked and she said, how's that for a victim impact statement? So she made very clear that she is surviving and that she is going to move forward and live her life in a very rich and very full way -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Deb, thank you very much.
And I want to bring OUTFRONT now Boston bombing survivor Scott Weisberg. He was in the room. And Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveau. A number of his officers were injured in the hunt for the Tsarnaevs. And both of you were there today. Both of you were face to face with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Scott, let me start with you. You crossed the finish line three seconds before the bombs went off. Tsarnaev's attack is going to impact you forever. You've suffered traumatic brain injury. Permanent hearing loss. He said today, quote, "I am sorry for the lives that I have taken, for the suffering that I have caused you." Do you accept his apology?
[19:05:32] SCOTT WEISBERG, BOSTON BOMBING SURVIVOR: No. I don't. When he said it, you know, I had been through the trial for most of the time. There wasn't much facial expression, remorse at all given during the trial. And today even though he said those words, it really didn't mean much to me. I felt they were words that were part of more of a script in terms of maybe to help his appeal process, maybe for some future stuff. But for me and the survivors, we all have these injuries that are lifelong. They're not going away. I mean, so to all of a sudden say you're sorry for what you did when it was all orchestrated, planned, you knew what you were doing, it was well thought out, you were -- right after the event, you're back in school, you're partying, you're doing things that people that are remorseful just don't do.
BURNETT: Chief Deveau, were you surprised Tsarnaev spoke today?
CHIEF EDWARD DEVEAU, WATERTOWN POLICE DEPARTMENT: I was very surprised. You know, every indication we had was that he was going to remain silent like he had the whole trial. So it was surprising to us.
BURNETT: And, Scott, you not only heard him, but you spoke to him today as a survivor. And you're talking about the injuries are going to last for the rest of your life. A lot of things that he did to you are going to last for the rest of your life. You talked about how your marriage fell apart after the bombing, how you lost the ability to work as a doctor the way you had before. What impact do you hope your words had on him?
WEISBERG: I was hoping that my words by letting him realize that what you did to myself and these other survivors with these hidden and invisible injuries is that we're going to have to reinvent ourselves. We're changing our lives to learn how to deal with what has happened to us. You changed our lives forever as a result of participating in one of the most memorable events in U.S. history.
WEISBERG: I mean -- and that is huge. I mean, I was there running a dream of my life, the Boston marathon. You know, as a result of it I'm wearing hearing aids, I have a brain injury, I have PTSD as well as, you know -- I'm grateful to be here, I have three kids. You know? But all of the things that have occurred since then and that I'm still dealing with and I will continue to deal with, they're not going away. And that is a result of April 15th, 2013. BURNETT: Chief Deveau, you know, Tsarnaev tried to make the case
today that the trial had an impact on him personally, which is hard for pretty much anyone to stomach. But here's what he said. He said, "Immediately after the bombing I learned some of the victims' names, their faces, their age. And throughout the trial more of those victims were given names, more of them had faces, they had burdened souls. Now, all those who got up on that witness stand and that podium related to us and to me. I was listening. The suffering that was, the hardship that still is with strength and with patience and with dignity." Do you believe him?
DEVEAU: No, not for a minute. I don't. It was too little too late. Some of those comments what you just read, Erin, you know, if he really did feel the remorse after he saw the damage he did, which he tried to tell us today in court, the bombings happened on Monday. There was Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Shawn Collier was killed Thursday night. If he truly meant what he said today, Shawn would be alive today. The manhunt, the shootout in Watertown, Dick Donahue almost losing his life battling the streets of Watertown wouldn't have happened.
So I don't really -- he didn't say much to me that got to my attention. He spoke, you know, and had some things, but he talked more about Allah than he did about the victims and the survivors. And I think that's to me and to my officers, today is all about the survivors. And, you know, we watched them. They're friends of ours now. We've interacted with them. And they're the courageous people. And you saw that as it came through.
[19:10:08] BURNETT: All right. Well, Chief Deveau, Scott, thank you both very much.
The judge ended today saying, "Whenever your name will be mentioned what will be remembered is the evil you have done," when he spoke to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Thanks so much to both of you.
And OUTFRONT next, breaking news. A new clue. A bloody sock found in the hunt for two convicted killers. My guest, a former inmate knew both men and prison worker Joyce Mitchell.
Plus, we found a place where the confederate flag is banned but a noose was still found on public display. A special report OUTFRONT from Ole Miss.
And an OUTFRONT investigation. The racist group that inspired the Charleston shooter doesn't pay taxes, and it's perfectly legal.
[19:14:02] BURNETT: Breaking news tonight. New leads in the manhunt for two convicted killers on the run. Law enforcement officials expanding the search, investigating new clues, including this. A bloody sock left behind in a cabin where the killers likely fled Saturday. The search area now is 75 square miles in Upstate New York. It's rugged terrain, mountainous, it's right near the Canadian border. And now the attorney for the woman at the center of the investigation, the one who confessed to putting hacksaw blades in frozen meat is telling CNN that his client, Joyce Mitchell, never had sexual relations with the men.
Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT in Cadyville, New York. Jason, they're at the Clinton Correctional Facility right now. Obviously, they're in the search area but they're at the actual prison right now, how come?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's because you have investigators from the New York state inspector general's office. They are there looking for more information to try and find out exactly where the security breach took place. They're going to be looking at visitor logs, other documents as well. Also trying to find out if Richard Matt gave any of his paintings to anyone else there at the prison. All this as the intense manhunt enters its third week.
CARROLL (voice-over): The search perimeter, nearly 75 square miles of rural, dense terrain, 1,000 people, helicopters and all- terrain vehicles, but the focus still on an area immediately surrounding that hunting cabin in Mountain View, and a report from a witness who says, he saw a man running from his hunting cabin.
MAJOR CHARLES GUESS, NEW YORK STATE POLICE: We have virtually 100 percent assurance that they were in that area. I believe that they were at that point last seen as of 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.
CARROLL: Despite David Sweat and Richard Matt avoiding capture for 19 days, there are clues that could help investigators learn more about the escaped killers' physical condition.
GUESS: There are numerous items we recovered from the cabin. Although I can't specify what those items were, we have no definitive information to reveal that someone was injured. Let's face it, a bloody sock could mean somebody could have a blister or it could mean a lot worse. I'm hoping for the best.
CARROLL: As the search intensifies, so too does the investigation into the inmates' escape. Joyce Mitchell, the prison worker now under arrest for her alleged role, admitting she stuffed hacksaw blades and other items into a large frozen slab of hamburger meat. Mitchell then allegedly convinced a guard at the facility, Gene Palmer, to pass it on to Richard Matt. Palmer's attorney says his client had no knowledge there was anything inside the meat. As for Mitchell's relationship with the escaped inmates, her attorney again denies it.
STEVE JOHNSON, JOYCE MITCHELL'S ATTORNEY: She has indicated to me and to my knowledge to the police that she never had sexual relations with David Sweat. That's all I'm going to comment on, because she has indicated that I believe on multiple occasions. Denied that on multiple occasions.
CARROLL (on camera): And Richard Matt, did she mention anything at all about -- JOHNSON: I'm not going to get into Richard Matt.
CARROLL (voice-over): Her attorney also saying he is reviewing 20 hours of interviews Mitchell has given to police.
(on camera): What is she seemingly -- what has she admitted to at this point?
JOHNSON: I'm not going to comment on on that. That's something that she's talked to the police. She may be in a position to continue to give help, assistance to them, and I don't want to be in a position of harming her plea bargaining opportunities.
CARROLL: And notice, Erin, there he said plea bargain. No word from the district attorney whether or not a plea deal is even under consideration or on the table -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, obviously they're hoping so. Thanks so much to you, Jason.
And joining me OUTFRONT now, Erik Jensen, a former inmate at the Clinton Correctional Facility. He served nine months there until March of 2012. So what that means is that he worked with David Sweat and Richard Matt in the tailor shop, which was supervised by Joyce Mitchell, so he knew all three people at the core of this story. Eric, thank you for being with me.
ERIK JENSEN, FORMER CLINTON CORRECTIONAL FACILITY INMATE: You're welcome.
BURNETT: All right. So, you worked with Matt and Sweat, you were in this tailor shop. You knew Joyce Mitchell.
JENSEN: I did.
BURNETT: So you knew all of these people. What were their interactions like with her?
JENSEN: Their interactions with her were like they knew her forever, like they were best friends. Like they knew each other prior to coming to prison, that's how close they were. When they intermingled, it was always a long conversation. Not just like a hi and bye or --
BURNETT: Different than with anyone else?
JENSEN: Oh, yes. Of course, of course.
BURNETT: And how did she respond to them?
JENSEN: She responded to them -- I mean, with David, for example, she brought him tattoo supplies, art supplies, food, special food you can't get inside the prison, things like that.
BURNETT: So you think the relationship she had with David Sweat was the closer of the two?
JENSEN: I believe so at that time. But this was also three years ago so things could have changed.
BURNETT: Right, right, right. Now, in the tailor shop where you were.
BURNETT: I mean, what was the situation like? Would they have been able to spend time alone?
BURNETT: Her and David Sweat?
BURNETT: They would have been.
JENSEN: Yes. At the end of the each day you've got to count the garments. The garments are, you know, either the pants -- they're called state greens, what the inmates wear in all facilities in New York state. And now, when we make the greens, there's a quota that has to be made at the end of the day. Or at the end of the week. But at the end of the day we'll count and see how much more you have to produce. And you get bonuses on your paycheck and stuff like that if you complete more. So, at the end of the day they'll go in and count these. It's a storeroom where they keep the finish garments --
[19:19:30] BURNETT: And so she would count with David Sweat --
BURNETT: -- is what you're saying happened.
JENSEN: Yes. Because he was the head of the tailor shop as like as high as an inmate worker you can get in there.
BURNETT: All right. So her attorney, you just heard talking to our reporter, said Joyce never had sexual relations with David Sweat.
BURNETT: Based on your impression as someone who was in that tailor shop when they were there, do you believe that?
JENSEN: My impression is, yes, from the dealings and interactions and just from what I --
BURNETT: You're saying, yes, that they did have sexual relations.
JENSEN: Yes, especially from what you hear and see now about her sneaking escape tools in frozen meat. You won't do that for somebody that you're just friends with. I mean willing to throw your life away with, you know what I mean, because that's all in right there.
BURNETT: So the governor's office has released a picture of the manhole where Sweat and Matt apparently came out.
BURNETT: You can see the manhole in relation to the prison, it's very nearby. You're saying having been in the tailor shop, that you can actually from this picture, so you see Andrew Cuomo the governor, looking at the manhole, you see the prison in the background. You can see the tailor shop. So if you were in the tailor shop, you can see the manhole?
JENSEN: Yes, you can. You can see all those streets, you can see the little town. You can see down I believe it's route 374, correct me if I'm wrong, but it's the road that runs parallel to the jail and then the other ones that run down towards the power plant.
BURNETT: So you can see sort of a map of the town.
JENSEN: Pretty much.
BURNETT: From the actual tailor shop.
JENSEN: It's a small town. You can see a lot of it.
BURNETT: So what was your impression of the two inmates? Were you social with them? Were they social with others?
JENSEN: Me and David, we actually worked out together a couple of times.
BURNETT: You and David Sweat?
JENSEN: Yes. We played chess. We compared artwork. He was very intricate with his artwork. And as myself, I used to do tattoos and I used to draw a lot. So, we would always go down to the tailor shop and show each other our work that we were doing.
BURNETT: Did he ever talk about Joyce Mitchell?
JENSEN: No. Never talked about her as like anything other than what she was, a civilian employee.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much, Eric.
JENSEN: You're very welcome, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. And joining me now, the retired NYPD detective Sergeant Joseph Giacalone. Good to have you with me, Sergeant. I appreciate your time as always.
Just a quick reaction to what Erik had to say. I mean, he said it was clear that Joyce Mitchell was close to those inmates more so than anyone else, this was clear from a few years ago when he knew them. It seems from his telling that this has been going on for quite some time and no one seemed to really pick it up.
SERGEANT JOSEPH GIACALONE, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE: Yes. Usually the outsiders are the ones that pick it up. You know, usually the couples think that they're, you know, being secretive but it seems as if everybody else knows, you know, but them.
BURNETT: Right. Now, there's been no confirmed citing of the two escaped killers since Saturday. But now we do have this new clue, a bloody sock, that they're saying possibly could be there. And they're saying virtually 100 percent assurance that the men were there in that cabin in that area. Do you think that last sighting is for real? Do you think that they're really nearby at this time or no?
GIACALONE: Yes, they have to be within that area at this point. I mean they're not going to get too far away, especially if it was one of them that was running from the cabin. You know, the issue it comes down to, what I'm concerned about is the firearms and maybe, you know, these camouflage clothing inside there that's helping them hide now during the day and might be another good reason why we can't find them.
BURNETT: Right. They also believe of course that they could have multiple weapons and a lot of ammunition that they could have taken from one of those cabins. It's very standard for those cabins to be equipped in that way in that part of the country. Do you think that they could have crossed the Canadian border? Because we keep talking about this area. We're talking a 75 square mile search area at this time. But it is right up there at the Canadian border.
GIACALONE: Yes, I think that they'll going to stay away from the Canadian border. It's probably too hot and that's what they're going to think about it. Because they originally probably law enforcement was going to be putting all their assets up there thinking that they were going to go to Canada.
GIACALONE: So I think they're going to be hiding in and around in the area trying to get out, maybe back to maybe Pennsylvania or even, you know, going back south, further south. I mean this is getting to a point where you're getting all these phone calls and it's almost a whack-a-mole strategy where, you know, we're running into friendship, running here, running there. And that really is a disservice for law enforcement. And, you know, it makes them move their command centers and their vehicles everywhere, so it's, you know, hopefully that they can find these guys soon.
BURNETT: All right. Well, it's a game of cat and mouse and as they said, they're 100 percent sure that they were in this area. And so, we'll see if this really is something that could go down in the next hours, couple of days. Thanks so much to you, Sergeant.
And OUTFRONT next, ripping down the confederate flag. It's happening everywhere now but it doesn't mean anything will change. We'll show you why in our special report from Ole Miss. Plus, at this hour, parishioners at the first Bible Study since
the massacre at the Charleston Emanuel AME Church. It is being held in the same room. You're looking at video of members of the church who bravely headed into that Bible study tonight. We are live there, next.
BURNETT: Today in South Carolina lying in state, the pastor killed in the Charleston Church massacre honored in the state capitol today as Clementa Pinckney's casket was carried to the rotunda, it passed under the confederate flag still flying on capitol grounds. It's an unforgettable image. The same flag embraced by the man responsible for the massacre. The flag, a symbol of hate to so many, that the governor of Alabama today removed four confederate flags from the state capitol grounds there as governors from Tennessee to Georgia and Maryland removed. Said they want to remove the flag from license plates. But in at least one state, the confederate flag is part of the current state flag. That's Mississippi. You see it right there in the upper left-hand corner.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT on the campus of Ole Miss. And Ed, the flag is gone from that university, but racism isn't.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in the Oxford Square you can see the Mississippi state flag flying. Politicians here are starting to debate whether or not that confederate symbol should be part of the flag. But here in Oxford, the University of Mississippi has dealt with this issue for decades.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): One of the first things you see when you walk into the grove on the University of Mississippi campus is a memorial that Charles Ross is tired of seeing.
(on camera): And right here at the entrance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LAVANDERA: The confederate monument.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Ross heads the African-American Studies Department at Ole Miss.
(on camera): What message does that send?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the message it sends is that you still have this strong connection to the 19th century.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): That's an image the University of Mississippi is slowly scraping away. In 1962 James Meredith enrolled in the university, the first black student, under armed guard. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's when the riot really began because as
night fell, more and more people came and bricks were thrown and tear gas and basically all hell broke loose on the campus.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Today a statue honoring Meredith stands a few hundred yards away from the confederate memorial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And I think it also is an illustration of kind of the contradiction of the history of this state.
LAVANDERA: The evolution of this campus has taken decades. In 1982, John Hawkins became the first black cheerleader, and he refused to carry the Confederate flag onto the football field. He received death threats for taking the stand.
Fifteen years later, the school did away with the flag for good from official sporting events. The school mascot used to be Colonel Reb. His reign ended in 2003.
But hints of the past still linger around Rebel Drive. And when you hear the melody of Dixie at sporting events.
Last year, a white former student left a noose hanging around the statue of James Meredith.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a wound, when you maybe cut yourself. You put a band-aid on it. Is it better to pull that band- aid off very, very, very slow? My mother always told me, pull the band-aid off real quick and get it over with.
As long as I've been here we've been pulling the band-aid off very, very, very slowly.
LAVANDERA: Perhaps no one has lived the change at Ole Miss quite like Don Cole. He enrolled in 1968, and white students made it clear he wasn't welcome.
DR. DON COLE, ASSOC. PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS, UNIV. OF MISSISSIPPI: I remember the first time that a female did that. She kind of came up fairly close. Sort of did that. I didn't quite know what on earth that meant. And she did it again.
And then I noticed she was -- had a little rebel flag and waving a rebel flag. That was probably my first introduction to the rebel flag.
LAVANDERA: Two years later, he was expelled for organizing civil rights protests. Today, he advises the university chancellor on multi-cultural affairs and has a PhD in mathematics.
COLE: So I did come back. And in the mid-'80s, I finished my doctorate in mathematics here.
LAVANDERA (on camera): You still get emotional talking about this.
COLE: Oh, yes.
LAVANDERA: Why is that?
COLE: It was a long time (ph).
LAVANDERA: It's the others who were with him that didn't get the chance that haunts him.
COLE: My father by their lack of opportunity. So, perhaps I would be a little less emotional if it had all worked out well for everyone.
LAVANDERA: And so, Erin, in many ways he wanted to come back here to finish what he started back in the 1960s. And he says the changes that have been seen at the Ole Miss campus have really helped the university out over the years, helped the recruitment of better faculty, students and enrollment there at the University of Mississippi -- Erin.
BURNETT: That raw emotion. Thank you very much, Ed.
And OUTFRONT now John Hawkins. You just heard about him from Ed. He started the movement at Ole Miss to get rid of the Confederate flag.
Also with me, Byron Thomas, a student at the University of South Carolina. He became national news for hanging the Confederate flag in his dorm room.
All right. Let me start with you, John.
You refused to carry the Confederate flag at an Ole Miss football game. But you just heard Eddie's report, just last year, a white student left a noose hanging around the statue of James Meredith. A flag did not stop that.
JOHN HAWKINS, FOUGHT TO REMOVE CONFEDERATE FLAG FROM OLE MISS: Well, no, it didn't, Erin. But let me just say a couple of things. First of all, I think that we're spending a lot of time talking about the flag in the context of the past tense.
And I think that at Ole Miss, as we've seen, it actually started a wonderful movement as it relates to moving the university forward. Ole Miss had a great year this past year in football and athletics. It's attracting more black students than ever.
Is it perfect? No. But it did start the conversation and it did start the journey of reconciliation. I think that's why symbols need to be thought about in the context of when you move them to their rightful place, how do you move that conversation forward?
BURNETT: You do think that the flag needs to go, that this conversation of stay or go, you're on the "it needs to go" side? HAWKINS: No, without a doubt. This is a conversation that I can
speak quite intimately about, Erin. I was involved in this journey 30 years ago when this was a very quiet conversation. We didn't have the national uproar about the flag --
HAWKINS: -- 30 years ago when I was dealing with some of the things I dealt with at Ole Miss. But having gone through that experience and the way in which we went about it, in what I think was a thoughtful way, has allowed the university to progress and it's really about leadership. This is a leadership moment, I believe, for the country.
HAWKINS: And looking at the sacrifice that was made by the people in South Carolina and the dignity that they showed after that -- after that tragic event, how do we take this moment and move forward and the best way to demonstrate that I think is by removing that flag.
[19:35:04] BURNETT: Byron, you've been a supporter of the Confederate flag. Why?
BYRON THOMAS, S.C. STUDENT WHO SUPPORTS THE CONFEDERATE FLAG: Well, my ancestor, Benjamin Thomas, was a cook for South Carolina regiment and I honor that. I will not turn my back for what he did for the South.
And after the civil war, South Carolina gave its black troops pensions. So, I'm happy my state did the right thing and, again, I refuse to turn my back to what my ancestors did, regardless of how other people view the Confederate flag.
BURNETT: And, Byron, I mean, that's an interesting point that you make. I mean, you know, this is about pride for you in your family, a black family. To Dylann Roof, though, it's a symbol of white supremacy, right, in all of those pictures. Does that give you pause when you see Dylann Roof sitting on top of his car with that -- with that flag license plate, holding that flag, that flag a symbol of massacring nine black Americans?
THOMAS: Yes, ma'am. Dylann Roof is an American citizen. He has the right to see any symbol however he wants to. So, he chose to use the Confederate flag as his symbol of hate while also burning the American flag, which is truly disrespectful.
Me, I do not use my Confederate flag as a symbol of hate. I do not use my Confederate flag to offend people. I see my Confederate flag how I see it, but I do everything with respect and class -- yes, ma'am.
BURNETT: John, what's your response to Byron's points?
HAWKINS: Well, just a couple of comments that come to mind, Erin, and I certainly respect the gentleman's view. What I would also say is that when you think about all the symbols of our -- from a historical standpoint, they certainly have a role at a point in time. And, you know, what flags typically represented at least in my experience has been the times they have been a signature of those times. They have been representative of the changes at that time.
So, I think this is a leadership moment. This country is a multi-cultural nation. We're a global society and we need symbols that represent the change going forward.
You know, relics of the past, which that flag certainly represents and I respect people's view who feel strongly about that flag, no different than any other relic of the past. There's a place for them called museums. We should put them in museums and not have them flying over statehouses and state flags.
The people that want to celebrate those flags separately, they can certainly do that in their own personal way.
BURNETT: Final word to you, Byron. You intend on still hanging that flag, right? It's important to you?
THOMAS: You're talking about in Columbia or in my room?
BURNETT: In your room.
THOMAS: Yes, ma'am. It is still hanging in my room, but I also have the American flag hanging in my room and the South Carolina flag hanging in my room. So, anything that's hanging in my room is something I support and I refuse to back down from the things I do support.
BURNETT: Well, I appreciate both of you taking the time for such a thoughtful conversation. Thank you.
And OUTFRONT next, the Charleston church that lost nine of its members holding its first bible study as we speak. You see members there bravely heading to the same room on the same night of the week as tragedy struck.
Plus, the racist group that inspired the Charleston shooter is funded by you, American taxpayers footing the bill. An OUTFRONT investigation.
BURNETT: Breaking news in the Charleston church massacre. Tonight, Emanuel AME Church holding its first bible study in the same room where nine black people were slaughtered exactly one week ago.
The title of tonight's lesson is "The Power of Love."
Martin Savidge has been in the room.
Martin, you were there during the bible study and I know there was some people we talked to who were -- they didn't want to go. They were afraid. It was too hard for them. There were others you saw who did go into that same room.
What was it like in there?
SAVIDGE: You know, I have to say, Erin, it was really difficult to walk into that room, mainly just knowing what had happened there exactly one week ago. As you walk into the room, it's a ground floor. It's the area that is below the sanctuary, the basement area. It's one large room and of course it had been cleaned and some repairs were evident that had been made.
There were about 100, maybe 150 people that were there. Obviously, some who were regular congregants and others who came for the first time as part of the community. You could see before it began, there were people that were hugging each other deeply and they were trying to console each other and whispering and asking one another if they were all right.
The reverend began by saying that this would be, of course, returning to the bible study, but he also said we recognize that we will never, ever be the same again. And as you already pointed out, it was -- the theme is "The power of love" and then he transitioned into talking about forgiveness.
I have to say that there are indicators in the room of the tragedy that's occurred. A number of the ceiling tiles clearly are new and there is at least one ceiling tile that has a bullet hole and it has an ID on it from the police investigation and other parts of the wall have been cut out so that you don't see the bullet holes -- painful, very painful reminders. And there were victims' family that were inside this bible study.
It uplifted a lot of people. At times, there was laughter, and there was even smiles. And, of course, there was prayer. No one forgot the fact nine people were missing, including most of all, Reverend Pinckney, who today was honored for his service to the state as well as to his church.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Escorted by fellow legislators, a horse- drawn caisson carried reverend and state senator, Clementa Pinckney, for one last time to the statehouse he worked in since he was 23. He was carried to the second floor to lie in state.
Pinckney's legislative legacy stretches back 18 years, but it's his passionate push for one recent bill many believe will truly bring justice for all in the state. It was after that other South Carolina shooting that shocked America.
[19:45:02] SAVIDGE: Horrifying video captured the moment an unarmed Charleston man, Walter Scott, was shot and killed by a police officer last April. Michael Slager was fired and charged with murder, largely based on this witness cell phone video. Two days after the world saw it, a deep voice spoke out. STATE SEN. CLEMENTA PINCKNEY, SOUTH CAROLINA: Ladies and
gentlemen, my name is Clementa Pinckney.
SAVIDGE: South Carolina was already considering police body camera legislation, but Scott's death and Pinckney's drive gave the bill new urgency.
PINCKNEY: Every person in South Carolina needs to know that they will have equal protection under the law, and that a badge and a gun does not give someone superiority.
SAVIDGE: Pinckney's district stretches from Charleston County to Georgia, but he knew the controversy over Scott's death went far beyond.
PINCKNEY: This is speaking to the soul of America.
SAVIDGE: To Pinckney and other members of the state black caucus, body cameras would bring transparency to a South Carolina justice system they felt was often distorted by race.
In May, the man often called the moral conscience of the general assembly rose once more to push his colleagues to act.
PINCKNEY: It is my hope that as South Carolina senators, that we will stand up for what is best and good about our state.
SAVIDGE: On June 4th, the legislation demanding body cameras for all South Carolina police officers was approved by the general assembly with only one dissenting vote.
Six days later, Governor Nikki Haley signed the bill, handing the pen that she used to Walter Scott's mother. There in the right, second row back, was the state senator who had been so moved by violence he helped build support for the new law.
It was June 10th, exactly one week before another camera would capture hate walking through the door of Emanuel AME Church, silencing forever a powerful voice for change.
SAVIDGE: One last prayer that came from the prayer study tonight, it was said by the reverend, "Last Wednesday, dark powers came over Mother Emanuel. God in his infinite wisdom said, 'That's all right, I got the nine,'" and that's how they're referred to now, the Emanuel nine -- Erin.
BURNETT: Emanuel Nine. Thank you, Martin.
And next, a group that opposes mixing blacks and whites in America gets special treatment from the IRS. That means you are footing the bill for its hate. Our special report.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:51:36] BURNETT: Dylann Roof left a manifesto spewing hatred.
In it, he details visits to the Web site of the Council of Conservative Citizens. It's a group that opposes mixing the races.
So, you might be surprised not only did the group donate money to presidential candidates including Ted Cruz, but it also doesn't pay taxes.
Suzanne Malveaux has tonight's "Money & Power."
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the casket of State Senator Clementa Pinckney was making its way to the capitol for public viewing, new revelation surfaced about the white supremacy group called the Council of Conservative Citizens, the group that gunman Dylann Roof says inspired him.
JARED TAYLOR, SPOKESMAN, COUNCIL OF CONSERVATIVE CITIZENS: The CFCC is an organization interested in looking into and if possible advancing the legitimate rights of whites.
MALVEAUX: And as it turns out, we, the American taxpayers, are subsidizing them.
DAVID HEATH, CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY: It's crazy that a group that is basically promoting white supremacy, that's really what they're after, is considered a social welfare organization. That's the legit -- that's the reason they get the tax exception. So, I don't see that is a legitimate use of, you know, taxpayer dollars.
MALVEAUX: That's right, the IRS defines the Council of Conservative Citizens as a nonprofit organization that does not pay federal taxes. The IRS says tax-exempt groups should primarily promote, quote, "The common good and general welfare of the people of the community as a whole."
For Dylann Roof, the Council of Conservative Citizens was highly influential. Roof writes he was never the same after discovering the group's Web site which he claims to have pages upon pages of the brutal black on white murders. And a mission statement that pledged the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character, and oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind.
TAYLOR: We should ask ourselves, do we really want the United States to become a majority nonwhite country?
MALVEAUX: Motivated by the group's Web site, Roof said he did research and concluded in his own racist manifesto using the N-word that African-Americans were "stupid and violent", with "lower IQs, lower impulse control, and higher testosterone levels," "subconsciously viewed by white people as lower beings." "We are in fact superior."
Hate groups can be strict of their tax-exempt status, but watchdog groups say it's rare because the IRIS is underfunded, undermanned and under scrutiny.
(on camera): Are we all funding hate essentially?
HEATH: Yes, that's right. That's exactly what we are doing.
MALVEAUX: We should note the Council of Conservative Citizens is not exempt from all taxes. It takes issue also with being characterized as a hate group and condemned the church shooting but it is losing public support. At least three Republican presidential hopefuls who accepted donations from them they have returned or given away the donations.
We should note as well, that CNN did reach out to the IRS for comment. They responded with a statement saying, "Federal law prohibits the IRS from discussing or commenting on taxpayer or organization situation or case."
BURNETT: All right. Thank you, Suzanne.
I want to go to straight to John Avlon, editor at "The Daily Beast", and author of "Wing Nuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." He knows a lot about this group.
How can a group be subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, by the IRS?
JOHN AVLON, THE DAILY BEAST: It's outrageous, Erin. I mean, the fact that this exempt status is defined as benefiting the public good, that it's supposed to be educational.
[19:55:00] And yet as this organization as Suzanne just pointed out is dedicated to white supremacy, and as itself the inheritor of an organization called the White Citizens Council, which was a leading force in trying to push massive resistance to desegregation back in the 1950s and '60s. It's outrageous.
And the thing is that there is a corrective, the IRS has a mechanism for reviewing tax-exempt statuses to see whether an organization is abusing that status, whether it's pushing an agenda in language that's disparaging, divisive, the view points that are distorted.
I'm just looking at the criteria here. All criteria which clearly the conservative council's citizens fall into.
So, this is a remediable situation. Tax-exempt status has been revoke for groups like neo-Nazi organizations in the past. But it is an outrage they've been getting away scot-free for so long.
BURNETT: Wow. We'll see if that all change when you put facts like that out there.
John Avlon, thank you, as we said, the editor-in-chief of "The Daily Beast".
AVLON: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: We'll be right back.
BURNETT: And thanks for joining us.
"AC360" starts right now.