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Trump Talks Shared Blame; Rise of White Supremacy; Heather Heyer's Friend Shares Memories. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 17, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:34:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The deadly violence in Charlottesville is putting the issue of racism in America front and center. Now, some will say, well, that's a mistake. We shouldn't be giving any attention to this group, but they're actually on the rise and they're actually right wing extremists responsible for the majority of domestic terrorism. So, they matter.

Let's discuss what's going into their growth and what may lead to a strong battle against them.

We have Timothy Zaal, a former skinhead, and Daryl Davis. He's been confronting KKK members for three decades, asking them to give up their robes and walk away.

We appreciate both of you to talk to us. Tim, especially you, and you, Daryl, coming from different experiences on this, but coming to the same place of wanting to fight against it.

Tim, let me ask you something. It is being set up as a false premise what the president suggested, which is that the hate groups that were down there and those that were opposing them share blame for the violence. In your estimation, what makes hate groups like the KKK, like neo-Nazis and the white supremacists that came together down there different from those who oppose them?

[08:35:09] TIM ZAAL, FORMER SKINHEAD: What makes them different from those who oppose them? I don't see a -- much of a difference in the violence. But the main difference that I see is that there's people who are standing up for the rights of others. Whereas, with the white racialist groups, they're against everybody. They're victims. They're going to use that sort of language to defend themselves and blame everyone else and come up with conspiracy theories. This is nothing new. This has been happening for decades.

CUOMO: And, Daryl, what's your take on that? The president looking at a situation like Charlottesville and saying, well, you know, the violence was brought by both of them, so there's an equivalent there.

DARYL DAVIS, AUTHOR, "Klan-Destine Relationships": Well, there's not an equivalence in the leaf (ph). Like, as Tim was saying, you know, one side wants to bring everybody together and the other side simply wants to stand for their own. And the violence on both sides is wrong. Any kind of violence is wrong. And as far as the president goes, you know, we spend a lot of time

blaming people. And really, you know, we have festered this culture long before Trump got in office. I'm not defending what he said by any means, but what I'm saying is, you know, we've got to start blaming ourselves for allowing this culture to exist. We should have been talking about this kind of thing for a long time and bringing some kind of understanding about the racial divide long ago.

I've been doing it for 30 years successfully. And so, of course, it's ripe for somebody who comes in and fans the flames. But we have to blame ourselves and stop blaming, you know, anybody else.

CUOMO: Well, it's a tough problem. It's got lots of fingers in different facets of society. And even just having the discussion doesn't mean you're necessarily going to have progress.

And the point of that, Tim, is that even though this isn't a new issue, it's on the ride. Whether you look at domestic terrorism or the openness, the brazen nature of the demonstrations that we're seeing from the right wing extremists. What do you think is feeding the growth?

ZAAL: What I think is feeding the growth is a lot -- there's a lot of people that feel victimized. And it sounds strange to have white racialists believe that they're victimized and that there's a -- some sort of a -- a decimation of the white race. And this is nothing new.

And I think the best way to combat hate -- and I agree with Daryl on a lot of issues -- is that the way to combat this is to love them. It sounds difficult for people to do. You know, everybody wants to politicize everything. I think it's a highly politicized situation right now. And the best way to move forward for this particular country and this particular situation is that we need to understand that these are human beings as well. And hurt people hurt people.

CUOMO: What changed your mind and your heart and got you to leave that belief?

ZAAL: For me, you know, I got burned out. I was completely obsessed with the destruction of the white race in my mind. I lived in a war zone between my ears, mostly, and was in a very delusional sort of state of mind. It was exhausting.

In my late 20s, early 30s, which is very common for formers to disengage from radicalization, fatherhood, parenthood is often a major attribute as well. It usually takes people three to five years to disengage.

These days, though, you know, back when I was trying to get out of the white racialist movement, I didn't have any resources. I had to navigate it on my own. At least today there's people such as myself and other organizations around the country who, unfortunately, have lost their funding due to the current administration, who are there to help navigate others out of radicalized sort of mindset, the lifestyle. CUOMO: It seems, Daryl, that there's been a boost given to the far

right in the form of this new label of alt-right that has given some kind of protective cover for what many just see as, you know, another brand for racism.

DAVIS: Right.

CUOMO: How has that complicated the job that you have of trying to get people to move away from that ideal system?

DAVIS: It hasn't complicated it at all. But let me just add to something that Tim was saying. You know, what's happening is this. The reason why we're seeing this rise is because, you know, when I was a kid, the population of black people in this country was 12 percent. Native Americans were 1.9 percent. Hispanics and Asians were like 2 percent to 3 percent, and whites were 84 percent to 86 percent. Today, black people still remain at 12 percent. Hispanics have surpassed us at 13 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Census.

[08:40:15] So if we just take blacks and Hispanics, 12 and 13, that makes 25 percent non-white. And the white supremacists, nationalists, separatists, alt-right, et cetera, they are predicting -- and rather accurately -- that by 2042, it will be like this. It will be 50 percent white and 50 percent non-white. And shortly thereafter, whites will become the minority in this country.

And that is very troubling to them. With all the neo-Nazis and Klu Klux Klan people that I deal with, what they keep telling me is, I don't want my grandkids to be brown. They call it the browning of America.

So when you sat on the seat of power of supremacy for so long, you don't want to get up off that throne. And that's why we're seeing, you know, this rise.

ZAAL: That's true.

DAVIS: Now, as far as alt-right goes, the original term from way back was white supremacy. These people were white supremacists and they were proud to call themselves white supremacists. But a lot of violence came behind the name white supremacist, lynchings, church bombings, burnings, dragging people behind cars, et cetera. And there were white people who did not want to associate with blacks and Jews and things like that, but they did not want to participate in the violence. So they began to distance themselves. But -- so the name changed to white separatism, but the violence came with that. Then it changed to white nationalism. Violence came with that. So now it's alt-right. But a rose by any other name is still a rose.

ZAAL: Semantics.

CUOMO: It is important to understand what's going on in the heads and hearts of these people and it is good to have -- you know, Tim, you could be right, but that's a hard prescription for change when you have to love what it is that you're against so much. I guess that's a problem with those who believe it -- DAVIS: Love drives out evil (ph) every time.

CUOMO: It's true, but it's easy to say --

ZAAL: Absolutely.

CUOMO: It's hard to do.

Gentlemen, thank you for helping forward this conversation. Appreciate it.

DAVIS: Thank you for having us.

ZAAL: Thank you.

CUOMO: Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, it was eye-opening.

All right, America's top general giving the press a pretty sobering assessment of the military solution to North Korea's nuclear threat. What he said is next.


[08:46:09] CUOMO: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

Number one, President Trump fighting back this morning, attacking two Republican senators who criticized him for saying both sides were to blame for deadly violence in Charlottesville.

HARLOW: Hundreds gathering for a candle light vigil in Charlottesville to honor Heather Heyer and unite against hate. More rallies are planned across the country tonight.

CUOMO: America's top military general says a war to stop North Korea's missile threat would be, quote, horrific. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, says it would be unimaginable allowing the North to have the capability to launch an attack on the U.S.

HARLOW: Rescue teams are searching for five U.S. Army soldiers missing after their Black Hawk helicopter crashed Tuesday night in a training exercise off the coast of Oahu.

CUOMO: This is a first pitch for the books, OK? Before the Red Sox/Cardinals game, Jordan Lendry (ph), a cancer survivor, throws it a tad bit outside and it hits a photographer in the Julie (ph) fruits (ph). The photographer was a trooper and tweeted that -- tweeted the photo of what was coming his way. Listen.

HARLOW: Julie fruit?

CUOMO: Yes, that was a candy. I'm old. I don't even see them anymore, but let me tell you, I'm sure that that hurt. All right, so for more on the "Five Things to Know," go to for the latest.

HARLOW: An emotional farewell in Charlottesville for Heather Heyer. One of her friends remembering her will join us next.


[08:51:44] CUOMO: We heard some emotion words from the parents of Heather Heyer at a memorial in Charlottesville. Take a listen.


SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF HEATHER HEYER: They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her.

MARK HEYER, FATHER OF HEATHER HEYER: She loved people. She wanted equality. And in this issue, of the day of her passing, she wanted to put down hate. And for my part, we just need to stop all this stuff and just forgive each other.


CUOMO: About a thousand people gathered to remember the 32-year-old who was murdered in Saturday's protest.

Joining us now is Freda Wilson, Heather's co-worker and friend, and she spoke at Heather's memorial.

Thank you for joining us. And I'm sorry for your loss.


CUOMO: So this has become about what the living legacy will be of Heather Heyer, not just a reflection of what took her life, but what her life will come to signify. What do you want people to know about that?

WILSON: Well, Heather was such a great person that the family and us have been in discussion about so many things that we can do moving forward from this spot. One of the major things is scholarship in Heather's name. And there's a lot of things in the works. And we just don't want Heather's name to diminish. We don't want it to leave its publicity. Because she was here. And she was strong. And We want to continue that legacy.

And there's a lot of things happening behind the scenes right now and we're just trying to get over what recently happened this week. And you will definitely hear and see more about it.

CUOMO: Well, look, and we're here to cover it. We see that you have purple on. It was explained to us that it wasn't just Heather's favorite color, but it was why it was her favorite color. That it signified openness and willingness to be with others and to cooperate. And that's why I have it in my tie today. And we'll try to cherish that memory. It matters. And then you have the context of this situation surrounding Heather's

death, the dialogue in the country as engineered and accelerated by the president.

WILSON: Right.

CUOMO: Is now about equivalencies. And while the KKK is bad, that you had bad actors on the other side as well. The president calling alt- left versus alt-right. What would Heather's take be on that?

WILSON: Oh, I don't think there's any -- there's much time in your segment so cover what Heather would say. Passionate. I mean that -- she was there at that rally for that particular reason. And I don't want to get so much into the political part of it because I'll leave that up to what Heather's legacy will show, but Heather was a soldier that day and that was a war that she was fighting. And we all have to remember that she was not the only shoulder there that morning. That everyone there that participated were soldiers.

[08:55:00] And, unfortunately, Heather's life was taken, but there are still soldiers fighting in the hospital for recovery. And those soldiers that were there and saw such a horrific incident happen, although their wounds are not visible, their wounds are just as real, just as deep. And I pray and hope that those people will one day find recovery.

And also I just want to share my prayers and thoughts to the two Virginia state troopers who lost their lives also that day, and their families, when they were covering this rally. And the Heyer family and Miller Law Group want to convey their condolences to them.

CUOMO: Appreciate it. And that is -- that is clear from everything we've heard that the people and those who loved Heather want it to be an inclusive experience, that other people lost their lives, other people were hurt, and that there is a struggle that continues in a very real way. I know this is a hard conversation for you to have. Thank you for joining us on NEW DAY. And, please, let us know what happens next.

WILSON: Thank you. And I want to just say that the world -- let the world love and not hate.

CUOMO: A strong message needed now more than ever. Thank you very much.

WILSON: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman is going to pick up after that break. There's a lot of news. Stay with CNN.


[09:00:11] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. John Berman here.