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Puerto Rican Couple Returns to Find Home Destroyed; Head of Air Force Academy Addresses Racial Slur Incident; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 29, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:05] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: For nine days Puerto Ricans have struggled within the wake of Hurricane Maria. Food, water, I should say, gas in short supply, buildings destroyed.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And for all nine days, all nine days, since Maria hit, all the Delgados could do was wait and watch. They're from Puerto Rico, but they have been stuck on the mainland, U.S., since the storm hit. They just got home and our Brynn Gingras was there as they reunited with their children and they took stock of what is left.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carmen Delgado wiped away tears, while from the middle seat, she desperately tried to get a look at what she calls her island. She hasn't been home to Puerto Rico in three weeks. A lot has changed since then.

CARMEN DELGADO, HOUSE DESTROYED BY HURRICANE MARIA: Right now I don't have a home. It is totally destroyed.

GINGRAS: We first met Carmen and her husband Edgardo in the Philadelphia airport. Their eyes were glued to the gate. Carmen called the flight a miracle because the other three she booked all canceled.

DELGADO: I have my kids back over there and we're very worried about them.

GINGRAS: Her family lives in Humacao, one of the first towns wiped out by Maria when it made landfall more than a week ago. All she knows about her home is from these pictures sent by her daughter.

DELGADO: We went through panic zone. We went to crying. We went to desperate, frustrated. Now the idea that we're going home, it's a relief.

GINGRAS: On the ground, the couple looked for a red car. Their children were supposed to meet them. But with no cell phone service, they were unreachable. So Carmen and Edgardo drove with us an hour outside San Juan to their home. The relief Carmen felt on the plane turned to shock.

DELGADO: This is like fire just came through here and just burned everything out.

GINGRAS: At her home, those feelings intensified.

DELGADO: I think I have to sit down.

GINGRAS: The roof, gone. Bedrooms, wiped out. Their garage crumbled. And their backyard, Carmen told me, is a skeleton of what it once was.

(On camera): This is your living room?

DELGADO: This is the living room. That's the kitchen. We used to have three bedrooms. I'm shocked.

GINGRAS: You had pictures. How does it compare?

DELGADO: This is nothing compared to my house. Everything was so nice.

GINGRAS (voice-over): But all of this, Carmen says, is replaceable. She has her husband and her kids, who now hours after landing she still hasn't seen. Then Carmen finally spotted that red car.

The family back together again. And now for the first time together in their shell of a home, each well aware of what lies ahead.

(On camera): What is your biggest fear?

DELGADO: My biggest fear is how much time it's going to take us to get this together again. When is help going to get here? Most importantly, even though we don't have a house, a home is not a house. I think home is family.


GINGRAS: And Poppy and John, that fear, it's a reality. I mean, we're in San Juan and you can see there are people here working behind me but you go an hour outside of San Juan, even a half hour, to Humacao, other towns, and they have nothing. They're surviving on water, they're sitting on the side of the highway just to get one signal from their cell phone, lining up for hours just to get some gas. That is their reality.

And I asked Carmen what now, what do you do now? And she said three words to me, pray, wait, and hope -- Poppy and John.

BERMAN: All right. Brynn Gingras, thanks so much for that. So nice to see that family back together again. Needed that smile.


BERMAN: All right. "It is not who we are." The head of the Air Force Academy has some strong words for cadets after five black students targeted with racial slurs.


LT. COMMANDER JAY SILVERIA, SUPERINTENDENT, AIR FORCE ACADEMY: You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being.



[10:38:28] HARLOW: A disgusting and disturbing discovery at the Air Force Academy. Racial slurs written on the dorm doors of five African-American students at the academy's prep school. The school is investigating. The response, "This is not who we are."

BERMAN: And that response came from the commandant, Lieutenant General Jay Silveria speaking to the 4,000 cadets. And we want to play it all for you because there's no other way to say, it is extraordinary. Watch this.


SILVERIA: You may have heard that some people down in the prep school wrote some racial slurs on some message boards. If you haven't heard that, I wanted you to hear it from me. If you're outraged by those words then you're in the right place. That kind of behavior has no place at the prep school, it has no place at USAFA and it has no place in the United States Air Force.

You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being. And I'll tell you that the appropriate response for horrible language and horrible ideas, the appropriate response is a better idea. So that's why I'm here. That's why all these people are up here on the staff tower.

So let me have everybody who's up here please pull forward to the rails. Also, there are so many people here, they're lining the outsides along the windows. These are members of the faculty, coaching staff, AOCs, AMTs, from the air field, from my staff, from my headquarters.

[10:40:05] All aspects of the 10th Air Base Wing, all aspects that make up USAFA and the United States Air Force Academy. Leadership is here. You heard from Brigadier General Goodwin, Brigadier General Armacost is here. Colonel Block from the Athletic Department is here. Mr. Nolton is in Washington, D.C., right now.

That's why they're here. That's why we're all here. Because we have a better idea. Some of you may think that that happened down in the prep school and doesn't apply to us. I would be naive and we would all be naive to think that everything is perfect here. We would be naive to think that we shouldn't discuss this topic.

We would also be tone deaf not to think about the backdrop of what's going on in our country. Things like Charlottesville and Ferguson, the protests in the NFL. That's why we have a better idea. One of those ideas, the dean brought people together to discuss Charlottesville because what we should have is a civil discourse and talk about these issues. That's a better idea.

We received outstanding feedback from that session at Charlottesville. But I also have a better idea. And it's about our diversity. And it's the power of the diversity, the power of the 4,000 of you and all of the people that are on the staff tower and lining the glass, the power of us, as a diverse group.

The power that we come from all walks of life, that we come from all parts of this country, that we come from all races, we come from all backgrounds, gender, all makeup, all upbringing, the power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful. That's a much better idea than small thinking and horrible ideas.

We have an opportunity here, 5500 people in this room, to think about what we are as an institution. This is our institution and no one can take away our values. No one can write on a board and question our values. No one can take that away from us. So just in case you're unclear on where I stand on this topic, I'm going to leave you with my most important thought today.

If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you can't treat someone from another gender, whether that's a man or a woman, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out. And if you can't treat someone from another race or a different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.

Reach for your phones. I'm serious, reach for your phones. OK. You don't have to reach for your phones. I'm going to give you an opportunity to reach for your phones. Grab your phones. I want you to videotape this so you have it, so that you can use it.

So that we all have the moral courage together, all of us on the staff tower lining the glass, all of us in this room. This is our institution. And if you need it and you need my words, then you keep these words and you use them and you remember them and you share them and you talk about them.

If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.


BERMAN: "Grab your phones. If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, get out."

What a message. Sounds like they heard it there.

With us to discuss, Stephen Losey, he's senior reporter for the "Air Force Times." He was the first to report the story and we should also say spoke to the parents of the cadets targeted.

Just first off, what was the response to that remarkable speech?

STEPHEN LOSEY, SENIOR REPORTER, AIR FORCE TIMES: Well, I think the -- I think the cadets most likely heard it loud and clear. I spoke to the father of one of the cadet candidates who had the racial slurs written outside his room this morning. He said he spoke to the general yesterday afternoon and that he feels that the general is treating this with the appropriate gravity and is taking the right steps and he feels that he's treating it with the seriousness required.

[10:45:06] HARLOW: One of the reactions you also got in your reporting from one of the parents of these five black cadets is -- they said that word, that horrible word that was used has no meaning here. It has no value here. It means zero. And told his child how to respond.

LOSEY: That's right. That father, he said that -- he actually went on to say that he felt his son is not a victim, he emphatically said my son is not a victim, and he went so far as to say that the person who wrote that is the victim because that person grew up -- obviously grew up in an environment where that kind of unfortunate thinking is OK and that person's military career is now toast.

BERMAN: The message from the general, it doesn't seem like this comes in a vacuum and he addressed Charlottesville, we heard him addressed Charlottesville right there.


BERMAN: Do you believe that he felt that the Air Force feels now that it needs to treat things differently?

LOSEY: That's right. He referenced Charlottesville and he referenced the NFL, he referenced Ferguson. These things do not happen in a vacuum. There's an entire national conversation going on about race and what I think the general recognizes is that in universities where these kinds of incidents had happened, when the administration has not responded forcefully enough in the students' eyes, the students, they let them know.

At the University of Missouri there were protests and I think the general knows that it's important for the Air Force Academy staff to show that this is unacceptable by any means.

HARLOW: Stephen, lastly, great reporting and just incredible to see that video and that's why we wanted to play it in full.

BERMAN: Right.

HARLOW: For everyone that is the embodiment of true leadership. Thank you for that.

BERMAN: And by the way, it applies -- there's nowhere that message does not apply.

HARLOW: Nowhere.

BERMAN: And not just to the Air Force Academy.

HARLOW: Nowhere.

BERMAN: All right. Protests on the football field. Former Secretary of State James Baker talks to David Axelrod about it on tomorrow's "AXE FILES."


JAMES BAKER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I just think it's outrageous. There are plenty of ways that you can call into question some of the racism that may still exist in this country, but that's the wrong way to do it. You don't -- you don't denigrate -- the one thing that used to, and I hope it still will, unify us, is that we're all Americans.

DAVID AXELROD, HOST, "AXE FILES": Colin Kaepernick was expressing a sentiment that many, many people in the community feel about injustice, about the problems within our criminal justice system, that are deeply felt and he drew attention to them. He made clear that he wasn't protesting the military, the flag. He was exercising the rights that the flag offer to him.

BAKER: You can't tell me that not standing up for the national anthem with your hand over your heart is not denigrating the national anthem or the flag. It is.


HARLOW: All right. You can watch the rest of David's interview with James Baker. That's tomorrow night 7:00 p.m. Eastern on the "AXE FILES" right here on CNN.


[10:52:55] BERMAN: As NFL teams focus on unity after President Trump's remarks slamming protests for -- slamming players for silently protesting, one college team plans to make a statement of their own this weekend.

HARLOW: That's right. Coy Wire is in Madison, Wisconsin, the Badgers set to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. What are we expecting to see?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Poppy and John. I'm here on Lake Mendota on the campus of the beautiful University of Wisconsin Madison, but, you know, Poppy, unlike the NFL, that's customary for college football teams to take the field after the national anthem is played. The Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald says that his players, coaches and staff, they're going to take the field with arms locked after the anthem is played but they may express themselves in a much bolder fashion next week when they play at home during the anthem. So we will see if that happens.

Now about two hours upstate from here in Green Bay, nearly all of the Packers and Chicago Bears stood on the sidelines locked arm in arm during the national anthem last night. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers invited all the fans at Lambeau Field to do the same.

There were some fans who did join in, but clearly everyone not on the same page regarding this issue quite yet. And after the game, Aaron Rodgers said what they are doing is at least started some great conversations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AARON RODGERS, GREEN BAY PACKERS QUARTERBACK: As much as some people want us to just shut up and play football, sports and politics have always intersected. And if we can help continue a conversation through demonstration of unity like tonight, I think that's a good thing.


WIRE: Now as for the game, Packers receiver Davante Adams, on the wrong end of a scary, scary hit in the third quarter. Danny Treyvaith launching himself and hitting Adams right in the helmet. You can see the mouth piece flying through the air. The game was delayed for about five minutes with medical personnel tending to Adams. He gave a thumbs up as he was carted off the field, so a good sign.

Adams was being treated for head and neck injuries at a local hospital. Coach Mike McCarthy said news on Adams was positive after the game. Packers won easily 35-14.

[10:55:10] NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he expects his players to stand for the national anthem when the preseason starts in a few days. Listen. Actually, we will not hear from Commissioner Silver, but he says that there is a rule in the NBA where the players have to stand during the anthem and rules about not being able to do certain gestures with their hands. Much more uniformed in the NBA than the NFL. So what will players do when that season starts up? We will find out on October 17th if the NBA players plan to do something.

HARLOW: Right. Especially some of those players who have been more outspoken, LeBron James, Steph Curry, what are they going to do? Thank you, Coy.

BERMAN: Coy Wire, great to see you. Great live shot, by the way.


BERMAN: The president set to speak minutes from now. Will he address the criticism over the administration response in the words chosen by the administration that described that response in Puerto Rico? Stay with us.