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Remembering the Victims of Spain's Terror Attacks; North Korea Tensions on the Rise; U.S. Demonstrations Mostly Peaceful. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired August 20, 2017 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A live image in Barcelona, Spain, remembering the victims as that city holds a memorial service remembering those killed in Thursday's terror attacks.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): North Korea sends another grim warning to Seoul and Washington ahead of joint U.S.-South Korean drills, due to start Monday. We'll have a live report.
HOWELL (voice-over): And ahead this hour, Boston, Massachusetts, breathing a sigh of relief as a potentially contentious demonstration is mainly peaceful.
ALLEN: Good to hear that.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell. It's 5:00 am here on the U.S. East Coast. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
ALLEN: At this hour, Spain is honoring those who died in this week's brutal terror attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN (voice-over): This was in the past hour. A memorial service in Barcelona's Sagrada Familia church. The king and queen of Spain are attending along with other leaders.
HOWELL (voice-over): They're honoring the 14 people who were killed in Barcelona and Cambrils. Authorities say a terrorist cell carried out two vehicle attacks. ISIS has claimed responsibility without offering any proof.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The memorial comes while a manhunt is still underway for the driver of that attack in Barcelona. Authorities say this is the man that is the prime suspect. He was part of the terror cell that had about 12 members.
ALLEN: Several arrests have been made. Five suspects were killed by police in Cambrils. Despite the manhunt, Spain's interior minister says the terror cell has been completely dismantled. For more on the investigation and the memorial service, our Isa Soares joins us now from Barcelona. She's just outside where that memorial has been taking place.
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, good morning to you, Natalie.
Good morning to you, George.
It is a somber mood here in Barcelona. We're outside the Sagrada Familia, where that memorial mass is wrapping up. The last images we're looking at from inside the Sagrada Familia. Of course, for those who have been to Spain or Barcelona know how iconic this -- the Sagrada Familia is and how symbolic it is that it's being held here.
It is a somber mass that really is focusing on those who died, paying homage to those who have died but also for the more than 100 or so injured.
If we look at those images inside, it's being presided by the bishop of Catalonia. It's a stunning church inside, Gaudi designed of course, many of our viewers who have been here will know.
It is being attended by the King Felipe and Queen Letitia (ph) of Spain. We saw them earlier sitting at the altar as that mass was underway. Of course, we have seen both of the royals here in Barcelona, laying wreaths in the main area where the attack took place and really being applauded for their presence here.
We've also seen them visit several of the hospitals where more than 100 injured were taken to. We've also seen inside that mass the Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau. Also, the Catalan leader, Carlos Budion (ph) but also the head of (INAUDIBLE) focusing, centered their investigation in one area and that is the house where the cell of 12 were operating.
So whilst there is a somber mood and a mood of reflection is by no means over, the investigation still very much underway -- George, Natalie.
ALLEN: And, Isa, you reported from the little town that they had those explosions at that home.
What more can you tell us about what you saw and the people that you talked to there?
SOARES: We know from police, Natalie, it was a cell of 12 operating in this house in Alcanar. They weren't renting this house. They were actually squatters. That's what the vice mayor told me yesterday.
When I was there and what I saw was actually quite shocking. Police have brought in really a strong builder to move away some of the rubble. They're having controlled explosions. So strong were some of those explosions that we sort of bolt past them by head of our camera man, Ted, it gives you a sense of perhaps what these 12 individuals --
SOARES: -- the damage they could have caused and how much bloodier it could have been. Take a look.
SOARES (voice-over): A sleepy, unsuspecting community hidden by olive groves and embraced by the mountains. An ideal spot for a cell of 12. It's from here police believe the suspected terrorists prepare their attack on Barcelona and on Cambrils. What they discovered, a bomb- making factory littered with explosives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The house where the explosions originated from is owned by a bank, who says it didn't know there were people squatting. It has a septic tank that was being used to store explosives.
SOARES (voice-over): A source close to the investigation tells CNN they have found traces of highly explosive TATP used in several European terror attacks, a discovery that's left some in shock.
The Schenk (ph) family from Stuttgart came here for an idyllic holiday. What they remember is the night the cell's bombmaker made a big mistake.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We see two fireballs. And the world is shaking.
SOARES (voice-over): Local resident Nouria Hee (ph) is still visibly shaken.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).
SOARES (voice-over): A few days since, she's still trying to make sense of what happened on her street.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It's a feeling of impotence, of rage, of emotion.
SOARES (voice-over): The suspects may have gone but the echoes of terror remain. This was the fourth controlled explosion on Saturday. But there were more, even while we were on air.
SOARES: Very careful, careful but focusing the investigation right here in Alcanar.
Oh, there was another one. I don't know if you heard that, Lynn. I don't know if you just heard that. That was another controlled explosion.
SOARES (voice-over): With each blast, police are clearing the ground of explosives. In doing so, they're learning a little bit more about cell that used this remote town to mask its deadly plan.
SOARES: And George, Natalie, we heard from the interior minister, basically saying that this terrorist cell has been dismantled but the Catalan minister being more circumspect. What we know is there's one man still on the run. His name is Younes Abouyaaqoub. Spanish media saying he's 22 years of age and he is a Moroccan national. That's what authorities have to deal with, still one man on the loose -- Natalie, George.
ALLEN: Isa Soares for us in Barcelona. Isa, thank you.
Spanish football players and fans are also honoring victims of the terror attacks. A minute's silence is being held before every Spanish League game this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN (voice-over): This the scene in Seville as the city's team hosted Espanol Barcelona's other top-flight club. There was an equally somber mood as Atletico Madrid opened their season away in Girona.
HOWELL: New threats are coming out of North Korea as the United States and South Korea prepare for joint military drills set for Monday.
ALLEN: Pyongyang is lashing out at those long-planned military exercises. Its state-run newspaper calls the drills, quote, "reckless behavior," driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war. And it boasts that North Korea's army and missiles can target the U.S. anytime with a, quote, "merciless strike."
HOWELL: Live in Seoul, South Korea, CNN's Paula Hancocks standing by this hour.
Great to have you with us to talk more about this. Last week it appeared the North Korean leader decided to hold off on firing four missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam.
There was a great deal of fiery rhetoric, as we all remember, between both countries, including this from the President of the United States. Let's listen to this, Paula. We can talk about it here in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The question, was that an off-the-cuff remark, a planned remark?
Still not entirely known.
Here's the deal. These joint military exercises are set to take place between South Korea and the U.S. The North is threatening again.
What is the feeling there in South Korea, Paula, with this rhetoric again heating up?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, the kind of threats we're seeing from this "Rodong Sinmun" article, the newspaper, it's nothing new. We have consistently heard from North Korea, when tensions are a little higher, that they're accusing the United States of pushing the peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war.
This is what they're doing once again, saying specifically about these military drills, this "reckless behavior" as they call it, is --
HANCOCKS: -- the reason for these increased tensions. Now we do have the U.S.-South Korean joint military drills starting on Monday. They'll be going for 10 days. We heard that they will go ahead as planned.
The Pentagon releasing a statement saying there's just over 17,500 U.S. troops that will be part of this, alongside South Korean troops and also some of the U.N. command, which is about seven different countries from around the world will have representatives.
So they are annual drills. The U.S. consistently says that they are defensive but it's simply not the way that North Korea sees it. They see them as provocative. This is why we are seeing this kind of response from this article today.
So, as expected, North Korea increasing the rhetoric just ahead of these drills as they often do -- George.
HOWELL: The rhetoric, as expected from North Korea and these drills, as expected, as they do carry on during these times, is there a heightened sense of concern among people there, just given what we went through just a week ago?
HANCOCKS: Certainly the situation is different to what it's been in other years. There have been similarly tense times, some suggesting this is more tense than it has been for many years.
I think the rhetoric on both sides last week being particularly higher about 10 days ago didn't really help matters. And certainly that provoked the North Koreans more than the measured responses we've seen from previous U.S. administrations, previous South Korean administrations.
But we heard from the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, just last week and he said that there will not be another war on the Korean Peninsula. He said he would do everything in his power to make sure that didn't happen.
We saw measured remarks from the Secretary of Defense, the secretary of state in the U.S., saying diplomacy, political, economic measures are what is needed to try and solve this issue with North Korea. But they have to have a viable military option as well.
Just today, this Sunday, we know the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, is here in Seoul. He's met with the South Korean defense minister, clearly talking about the increased threat from North Korea but also here most likely to watch over those military drills starting on Monday.
HOWELL: You point out what those officials have said but recently the ousted former chief strategist of the White House, Steve Bannon, indicated in an interview that there was no real military strategy.
So the question, do those comments, in fact, how do they play into this new discussion that we're talking about here with North Korean leadership, basically giving their feeling about these military drills?
Paula Hancocks, thank you so much for your reporting.
HOWELL: There are more than 1 dozen U.S. military bases in South Korea. Osan Air Base is the closest one of them to the Korean demilitarized zone and it's home to fighter jets and spyplanes that are keeping a close watch on North Korea's next move. CNN's Alexandra Field reports.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Osan Air Base, a U.S. air base in South Korea, they are watching.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're up there. We are keeping eyes and ears on North Korea.
FIELD (voice-over): And they're waiting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I can start to queue missiles, I can queue radars, I can queue targeting pod.
FIELD (voice-over): The control tower coordinates a few dozen military flights a day, sending these spyplanes, dubbed Dragon Lady, up over the Korean Peninsula.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're busier here than we've been probably in the last 10 years. We're very busy. But we are tasked every day to fly our mission. So we do that.
FIELD (voice-over): Pressurized suits allow pilots to soar at altitudes of 70,000 feet. That's twice as high as a commercial jet.
The one-seater spyplanes are flown by eight specially trained officers. The job: to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, a window for Washington into North Korea, needed now as much as ever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything that this aircraft is collecting is almost instantaneously sent down to people who can process, exploit and disseminate that information in minutes to our leadership.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would be ready to launch operations out of both air bases at a moment's notice and be ready to fight tonight.
FIELD (voice-over): Major Danny Trueblood is on a two-year tour to South Korea, taking up a job that U.S. troops have done for decades since the end of the Korean War.
MAJ. DANNY TRUEBLOOD: The F-16s are pivotal to the -- to basically the defense and any potential actions. So with GPS or laser-guided weapons, we can strike a variety of different targets.
FIELD: This U.S. air base is fewer than 40 miles from the North Korean border. These supersonic jets can fly about 16 miles a minute.
FIELD: In the case of a conflict with North Korea, they could reach the DMZ in just two to three minutes.
FIELD (voice-over): They practice daily, sometimes with mock battles. On this day, 12 of the Air Force's F-16 fighter jets take off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we don't know. With the unpredictability of things, tonight may be, in fact, the night. So we train every night.
FIELD (voice-over): Still the same work they've done every day for decades, now with the world watching what happens next -- Alexandra Field, CNN, Osan Air Base.
HOWELL: Still ahead, it was a powerful moment in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, on Saturday. This as thousands of protesters came together on the city to condemn hate and to call for unity. We'll take you there next.
HOWELL: You get a sense there: Atlanta; Dallas, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; so many people came together, taking part in anti-racism rallies and marches that took place Saturday, just one week after deadly clashes that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In Atlanta, Georgia, hundreds of people came together in the city's Centennial Olympic Park. They held signs, chanting, "People united." In Dallas, Texas, people came together to celebrate diversity and to
denounce white supremacy.
Protesters in New Orleans held a rally in Jackson Square to show their solidarity with Charlottesville.
And in Memphis, Tennessee, activists tried to cover a statue of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest with a banner that read, "Take me down."
ALLEN: Now we turn to Boston. Carrying signs that said, "Hate speech is not free speech," thousands of counter protesters converged on Boston Saturday, overshadowing a self-described free speech rally.
HOWELL: Let's look at that video there. In the middle, that was the free speech rally. Look at that on the side, the counter protesters. These are the people who came together. And you see one group much, much bigger than the other. Boston's police superintendent says the day was a victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM GROSS, BOSTON'S POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: What we took away from here today, we talked about a victory that we had on the Boston Commons. We stood together as a city and especially the youth of the city -- some are standing around, thank you, my brother -- and we took away a victory that we told people that are racist, that are hatemongers, that this is not accepted in Boston. You saw many nations together today --
GROSS: -- combating racism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: As you just heard him say, Boston officials are praising the city's people and officers for largely peaceful protests there. They did arrest 33. For more now, here's Andrew Spencer.
ANDREW SPENCER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite the fears of a repeat of Charlottesville, the peace held in Boston, amid a free speech rally and its corresponding counterprotest on Saturday.
A group calling itself the Boston Free Speech Coalition had organized a rally before the violence in Virginia, tweeting this message a few days ago, "Denouncing all violence and telling participants not to bring any weapons or antagonize other groups or law enforcement."
But the rotunda where they planned to meet was relatively empty, compared to the throngs of counterdemonstrators barricaded a good distance away. Thousands of people marched through downtown Boston, speaking out against racism, Nazis and white supremacism. They carried signs, such as "United against Hate," while others
criticized president Donald Trump. A few vocal Trump supporters could be found in the crowd amid the sea of counter protesters.
Some in the front line of protests at times got confrontational with police. And amid some particularly tense moments, several counter protesters were taken into police custody.
From the sky, you could see the huge visual police presence. Some of the confrontations and a handful of people pulled into the crowd of police and taken away -- I'm Andrew Spencer reporting.
HOWELL: Andrew, thanks for the report.
Again, the comment that was expressed by the U.S. president just a week ago, the comment "other sides" raised a great deal of criticism -- "both sides," rather. Despite being slammed for that response to Charlottesville violence, the U.S. president expressed his support for protesters in Boston, tweeting this.
"Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protests in order to heal and we will heal and be stronger than ever before."
Another tweet, "I want to applaud the many protesters in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together."
Keep those tweets in mind. Let's now bring in Inderjeet Parmar, joining us now. He teaches international politics at City University, live in our London bureau.
Those tweets, Inderjeet, that I just mentioned, the president applauding one side of the equation, as he describes it, the counter protesters, who came together to stand up against hate.
This tweet in stark contrast to the president, who, just a week ago, suggested some sort of equivalency -- which there is not -- between protesters and neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Here's what he had to say to reporters a week ago, defending his position in what seemed to be an off-the-rails interview. Let's talk about this after we listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I'm saying is this: You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch, but there is another side.
There was a group on this side -- you can call them the Left, you've just called them the Left -- that came violently attacking the other group. Yes, I do think there's blame on both sides. You look at both sides.
I think there's blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it and you don't have any doubt about it either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The president there talking about a group that he says violently attacked the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists, keeping in mind that one young woman on the other side was killed in this incident.
Let's also take a look at this tweet the president sent earlier in the day on Saturday.
This tweet says, "Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart. Thank you."
Such a stark change in tone from his later tweets, Inderjeet.
Does the president still have the moral authority to weigh in on this very divisive issue in the United States?
INDERJEET PARMAR, CITY UNIVERSITY LONDON: I think what we've seen from President Trump is a series of diversionary performances, which have effectively tried to come to the head of what is a massive amount of opposition.
What has happened since Charlottesville, at Charlottesville, in the aftermath of it, is a mass mobilization of American opinion across a whole range of different political and ideological and demographic forces within the United States.
President Trump has been shown to be somebody who was equivocating on the idea of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. That was the kind of line he crossed, which he effectively unified people on the street level of American politics, right the way up to the Republican Party as well.
I think all that has sent a message inside the United States and outside, that actually President Trump is a very unstable and incompetent and possibly a sympathizer with those kinds of forces. And they drew a line.
That has forced a degree of change since then. But, unfortunately, that first tweet that you just read out about anti-police agitators, I think tells us that --
PARMAR: -- President Trump hasn't fundamentally changed at all.
He's going to carry on the kind of rhetoric around race and division. And I suspect that that is what his administration is really going to be known for because I'm not sure that President Trump and his allies are particularly interested in governing the United States. I think they're running some sort of campaign in order to build a mass
movement of some form, which is focused around white identity and a white-working class opposition to the Republican establishment.
HOWELL: It is important to point out, though, Inderjeet, a new poll, speaking about the president's base, a new poll indicates that many of his supporters do agree with him on this issue of these monuments, that they should be kept in place rather than be removed, as we're seeing across the country.
Here's the other question, though, and the last question to you, Inderjeet, this moment that happened in the United States, Charlottesville, Virginia, how significant a moment do you believe this will be for a president who is just starting his term, quite frankly?
PARMAR: I think on the question of the statues, there's a lot of division right across the United States, including among African Americans, who have been polled about removing these statues. That's a tactical question. There are many ways you can resolve that.
But what does Charlottesville tell us?
I think Charlottesville tells us the United States actually is not ready for a white supremacist in the White House or a sympathizer or somebody who sympathizes with neo-Nazis. They've drawn a red line.
Because effectively, the United States is supposed to be the leader of the free world. And people are drawing a line on that because that ruins the reputation of the United States more broadly in the world as well.
But I think it tells us something deeper about things, too, that there is a mass opposition. It's focused around the race question at the moment. But there are a lot more groups which have been organizing on an economic basis against inequality, who see this, if you like, white supremacy as a part of a movement to try to split Americans down the middle in order to implement a different kind of program.
And I think most people have drawn a line around that. There's a lot of support for some of the elements of this. But a Brookings poll showed earlier this week that there's a very, very small level of support for the alt-right or the KKK or neo-Nazis in the United States.
More people are actually opposed to the economic element of this program as well. And I think that's probably the thing that we need to watch out for. Corporate America still is very, very -- it's their agendas which are still being followed largely by the White House, even though some CEOs have resigned from the administration.
HOWELL: Inderjeet Parmar, thank you so much for your insight today, live with us from London.
PARMAR: Thank you very much.
ALLEN: In other news, he was both a funny man and a firebrand. Anyone who saw Dick Gregory perform never forgot it.
HOWELL: Gregory died Saturday. He was 84 years old. He gained notoriety in the early '60s as one of the first African American comics to perform for white audiences.
ALLEN: But Gregory was not content to simply tell jokes. He used his fame to advocate for civil rights in an era of strict segregation. His experiences with discrimination and injustice became the backbone of his comedy act.
HOWELL: Later in life, he became an author and motivational speaker, advocating spirituality and healthy eating. He had an event scheduled here in Atlanta, Georgia, but was unexpectedly hospitalized. The cause of his death has not been disclosed. Again, Dick Gregory, dead at the age of 84 years old.
ALLEN: And coming up, it's one of the last ISIS strongholds in Iraq but the Iraqi government says not for long. The strategic importance or retaking Tal Afar. That's coming up here. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It's great to have you with us. I'm George Howell.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. Here are the headlines this hour.
ALLEN: The Iraqi government announced it started an offensive Sunday to retake the city of Tal Afar from ISIS. It's one of the last areas in Iraq controlled by ISIS after Iraqi forces drove ISIS out of Mosul last month. In a nationally televised address, Iraq's prime minister told the ISIS militants, surrender or get killed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAIDER AL-ABADI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): All axes have been mobilized today to start the operation to liberate Tal Afar. I tell daish that you have no choice but to surrender or get killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: For context, I spoke earlier with Fawaz Gerges, the chair of Contemporary Middle East Studies at the London School of Economics. I asked him about the strategic importance of retaking Tal Afar.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FAWAZ GERGES, DIR. MIDDLE EAST CENTER, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS:
It's the last urban city -- one of the last urban cities controlled by ISIS. It has served as a hub between ISIS; nominal capital in Raqqa and Mosul. It borders both Syria and Turkey.
It is an important city strategically and also in administrative terms. Many of ISIS' leaders have escaped from Mosul to Tal Afar. You have more than 1,000 skilled ISIS fighters in Tal Afar. So it's a major battle and the Iraqi army will have no choice but to recapture Tal Afar as it did Mosul after nine months of bitter and costly battles.
HOWELL: Let's talk about that, retaking Mosul. We all know, you know, what it took to do that. We covered it.
HOWELL: We saw the images as the battle was underway there.
What lessons do security forces take from the battle of Mosul into this new battle?
GERGES: Think about it, George. We covered the battle for Mosul for nine months. Few people realize the severe costs that that the Iraqi security forces incurred in Mosul.
They have lost between 8,000 and 500 (sic) men in the battles of Mosul, including many thousands of special forces. Tens of thousands of civilians suffered a great deal and you still have tens of thousands of refugees of Mosul.
ISIS fought to the last man in Mosul. Even as we talk, you and I, there are still some cells that have survived the fight in Mosul. So what's unique about Tal Afar, the battle that's going to take place in the next few days, weeks and months, you have no escape routes for ISIS.
Tal Afar has been basically isolated and encircled since March 2016. Everything that we know about ISIS tells me that it will fight to the last man. It's going to be bitter. It's going to be costly.
But the reality is Tal Afar is going to be much easier than Mosul because Mosul was the second largest Iraqi city and ISIS had thousands of skilled fighters in Mosul.
HOWELL: Those the thoughts there of Fawaz Gerges, the chair of Contemporary Middle East Studies at the London School of Economics, speaking to me earlier.
Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, we take you to the largest Confederate monument in the United States. You'll hear among visitors who think the controversial memorial should stay or whether it should be removed. ALLEN: Plus, the U.S. isn't the only country with remnants of its controversial history. We'll have a report on how Russians feel about preserving statues of leaders from its past. That's coming up from Moscow.
ALLEN: Welcome back.
In the United States, the fight over Confederate statues is nothing new but the horrifying scenes in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend has given new life to the debate over removing these monuments.
HOWELL: The country's largest Confederate memorial is Stone Mountain Park. It's just to the east of Atlanta here in the U.S. state of Georgia. My colleague, Fredricka Whitfield, reports it is a place that many people see very differently.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a bird's eye view of Atlanta, just 20 miles away, the nation's largest monument memorializing Civil War Confederate leaders.
The 90-foot-tall carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson prominently on the north face of Georgia's nearly 900-foot-high Stone Mountain. The centerpiece of a state park, attracting 3 million tourists, bikers, joggers and hikers a year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seeing the world from kind of God's-eye view.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): And now again the carving here making it a centerpiece of discussions as hot as the August sun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm conscious of them.
WHITFIELD: Is it kind of comfortably ignoring it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, pretty much.
WHITFIELD: Why is that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I believe that stands for the old way the United States was. Now we're more, you know, a melting pot more than ever now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think you can erase history. It happened. I think people have to learn from it because if you erase it, people don't know. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can voice your opinion but don't force it on somebody else.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): Passionate views following the disturbing images 500 miles away at the white nationalist gatherings in Virginia involving a Confederate monument.
The death of anti-hate protest demonstrator, Heather Heyer, laid to rest this week and following the U.S. president's comments about removing Confederate symbols.
TRUMP: You're changing history. You're changing culture.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): And his tweets, the president asking, who's next.
On Stone Mountain, among those we talked to, a resounding feeling that actions speak louder than symbols.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it's a really sad issue. I don't think taking away the carvings are going to change anybody's heart. You have to change the heart first.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): While this nation's largest monument to Confederate leaders may be a high point for other individuals and groups, like this one...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless America!
WHITFIELD (voice-over): -- posing with Confederate flags atop the mountain, posting it on Facebook and later saying they would defend the monument.
WHITFIELD: Is it really etched into the consciousness of everyone who comes here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not necessarily. A lot of the people that take advantage of what the park has to offer really don't come in this area.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): John Bankhead, the public information officer for Stone Mountain, says this summer, for the first time in a long time, it received a cross burning request by a group identifying itself as the Ku Klux Klan, a request denied this month.
WHITFIELD: How much of that is true?
JOHN BANKHEAD, STONE MOUNTAIN PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER: This request was made in May. And we had to go to the legal people here in Georgia, the attorney general's office, to get opinions on what we can do to deny it.
We never intended to allow that to go on here given -- we know the history of this park. We know the history of this mountain. But we're just not going to allow that to happen.
WHITFIELD: Has a request like that happened often this year?
BANKHEAD: No, first time. It's first time it's ever happened, other than 1962.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Part of the memorialization (sic) was an effort to try to remember these men who had sacrificed during war.
But it happened at the same time that a much broader kind of political project was going on in the South, in which the South -- Southern states had passed laws that were disfranchising African Americans and were restoring kind of white rule.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): In Georgia, despite a flurry of tweets from a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, urging the removal or sandblasting at Stone Mountain, and the Georgia NAACP stating...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, as the birthplace of the civil rights movement, must act in accordance with true American values.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): Any change at Stone Mountain is complicated. Georgia state law has a clear mandate for the memorial, saying it should be, quote, "preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the citizens of this state who suffered."
The carving of this monument was a 60-year project, initially involving a sculptor of South Dakota's Mr. Rushmore. Stone Mountain would be completed under President Richard Nixon's administration; 45 years later, under the nation's 45th president, Stone Mountain's carving and --
WHITFIELD (voice-over): -- Confederate monuments like it, both landmarks and lightning rods -- Fredricka Whitfield, CNN, Stone Mountain, Georgia.
HOWELL: Some say it's there to preserve history. Others see it as symbols of hate. A new poll shows many Americans agree with President Trump on keeping Confederate statues as they are.
An NPR-PBS Marist poll says 62 percent of registered voters say the monuments should remain as historical symbols; 27 percent say they should be removed because they can be offensive to some people.
ALLEN: The U.S. isn't the only country debating what to do with the remnants of its controversial history. Russians are divided still over statues of their former Soviet leaders.
HOWELL: Since the fall of the Soviet Union, many of the monuments that were not destroyed ended up preserved in a sculpture park. Our Matthew Chance has this report.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sometimes the heroes of one age fall out of favor and their monuments, once revered, are torn down. It's happening now in Charlottesville and it happened here in Russia a quarter of a century ago with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
But even now, Russians remain divided about the legacy of their past.
CHANCE (voice-over): Back in 1991, the toppling of one Soviet statue in particular became the symbol of a new era. The towering image of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the much-feared secret police, the KGB, was dragged off its pedestal outside Lubyanka, its headquarters, to popular approval.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was right to remove some but not others. I think it was best to take down the statues of Stalin because there are lots of negatives associated with him, which have not yet been fully accepted in this country.
CHANCE (voice-over): In the pro-democracy fervor that briefly gripped post-Soviet Russia, other icons were toppled, too, busts of Stalin and Lenin often carved by celebrated Soviet artists. Many were placed here, creating an historical sculpture park in the center of Moscow, for some, a place of nostalgia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): These statues never bothered me. This is my life. I grew up with it. It's my childhood. And I wouldn't be worried if they were returned. It's history and you can never forget history.
CHANCE (voice-over): But that history and its monuments remains controversial across the former Soviet Union, with some now independent states, most recently Ukraine, moving to erase what many there see as reminders of past oppression.
In the Baltics, too, now E.U. and NATO members' views towards Soviet- era statues have hardened.
CHANCE: But here in Russia, the picture is more complex. Under Vladimir Putin, Soviet icons have been rehabilitated. Soviet leaders are spoken of not as tyrants but as strong leaders. These once despised symbols of Soviet power are once again being revered -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
HOWELL: Matthew, thanks for the report.
Still ahead, a ship that played a decisive role in World War II. The now famed missing cruiser has finally been found. Wait until you see the underwater images of the U.S.S. Indianapolis -- ahead.
ALLEN: Also ahead here, it's being called the eclipse of the century, at least by many in the U.S. We'll tell you how to watch the solar event without even stepping outside if you don't want to.
ALLEN: A team of researchers led by billionaire Paul Allen has found the wreck of a famed World War II ship at the bottom of the Pacific. The U.S.S. Indianapolis was lost July 30th, 1945, after being hit by Japanese torpedoes. The ship had just finished secretly delivering parts of the atomic bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima.
Its sinking was immortalized in the hit film "Jaws," where shark hunter Quint tells the story of serving on the Indianapolis.
HOWELL: Most of the nearly 1,200 sailors and Marines on board survived the sinking. But after four to five days floating at sea, only 316 were found alive. Many of the dead died from dehydration and exposure and shark attacks. Here's how a retired U.S. admiral described the actions of the ship's commanding officer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He survived the sinking. He was in command of a raft. The survivors were scattered about but he was -- there were a number of them within eyeshot of where he was. And you could say, well, he would be just another man in the water trying to survive. And that was a horrific ordeal for anyone to survive.
But he never relinquished command. You know, he was in charge of everything that he could see. He maintained discipline. He issued orders that resulted in saving people's lives and maintained command.
You know, you could forgive him for going -- you know, he was just trying to stay alive. He didn't act that way at all. And because of what he did, more of the crew are alive than would have been otherwise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The captain of the Indianapolis, Charles McVeigh, was actually court-martialed for the loss of that ship. He was formally exonerated then in 2001.
ALLEN: Across a wide swath of the U.S., eclipse fever is reaching a frenzy. We got it. On Monday, millions of people will witness a total solar eclipse when the moon blocks the sun and daytime turns into semi-darkness.
HOWELL: So will the weather cooperate with the view of this eclipse of a lifetime?
(WEATHER REPORT) [05:55:00]
ALLEN: Eclipse fever goes on. Thanks for watching this hour. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: I'm George Howell. I'm sure you'll see me in traffic somewhere. Our coverage continues with CNN's "NEW DAY" right after the break.