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Students could Face Discipline for Walking Out in Some Districts; Students, Teachers Walk Out to Protest Gun Violence; Ryan to Speak on Pennsylvania Race after Huddle with GOP. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 14, 2018 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This even though some face discipline for walking out. Some schools going so far has threatening suspensions but by no means all schools and many are supporting their students. We have reporters live from across the country right now. Let's start in Parkland, Florida. Dianne Gallagher is there. Dianne?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, definitely not going to see sort of discipline for students participating in that here. They have the full support not just of the faculty and staff but of the entire community. And in the past couple minutes we started to see families walk in, small children with signs, parents, people in the community coming in to support these kids.

Now here in Parkland, still looking a little bit different. The students say they're going to walk out of their classrooms any minute now and they're going to go to the football field together. They are going to stand on that football field which is behind the fence. Still on campus and they are going to be there for those 17 minutes, one for each of the victims who were killed at this school one month ago today. They are reflecting as well on the political activism on gun reform, on mental health. They want to make sure that this is something that is not taking -- not being forgotten. You can kind of see them right now from the drone footage here, walking out of their classrooms towards that football field.

Again, this is a little bit of a different situation than you're probably going to see at some of the other schools around the nation because it is such a somber occasion for these students as well as they go out to that football field, some of them say they are not really sure. They expecting may be silent but they're not really sure. They are going to kind of do what comes to them in that moment, if they feel like they need to talk about those victims, their classmates, their coaches, their friends. They're going to do that if they feel like they want to sit there and cry. They're going to do that as well. But this for them is a little bit different than so many of the schools around the nation. Nearly 3,000 are participating.

Now there is another school, called Glades, they are going to be walking to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It's going to take them about an hour. They said 200 to 300 students. I've been texting with them. They want to walk here as a sort of solidarity but also the symbolism to make sure that people know that they want this to be the last school where a mass shooting happens. That political activism that the students here have been able to spark and they are going to continue with this particular movement today. And they are looking forward to continuing to march later this month. John?

BERMAN: All right, Dianne Gallagher in Parkland, Florida, really the center of it all here. In New York City, many high schools we see students walking out to take part in these protests. Brynn Gingras has been with some of these students, joins me now from Brooklyn. Brynn?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. It's incredible. I mean the people that are here in Brooklyn Borough High. I want to introduce you to Drew Myers.

Did you help organize all of this? Turn around first and look at this turnout. I mean what are you thinking right now?

DREW MYERS, STUDENT: It's absolutely incredible. I couldn't have imagined this at all. I mean it's absolutely insane. We were expecting 1,000 students and it's awesome to see it all come to reality. We've been planning this now for only two weeks.

GINGRAS: The chanting and cheers and everyone is so enthusiastic about this and you told me you're 18 now and you're going to vote and that's why you're here right now.

MYERS: Yes. I'm voting. I'm 18. It's time to let politicians know. Politicians have failed us and it's unacceptable what they are doing. The gun laws in America are absolutely absurd.

GINGRAS: Why -- when Parkland happened, were you so impacted here in New York City?

MYERS: Because the students politicized it, that's what happened. They took it to politicians and they demanded change. And that's what we're doing today, demanding change from politicians.

GINGRAS: Here you go talk to all of these people that came out here. Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

But John, I want to give you just an idea. Again, we're looking at about nine different high school -- middle school participants from this downtown Brooklyn area and you can see the signs, the enthusiasm, the fact that some of them are wearing orange, that solidarity for gun violence from an incident that happened five years in Chicago. And you know what? This is all backed by administrators here in New York City, telling these students, it's OK that they come here. They are not going to be penalized and they want to support this movement.

And again, we're going to get start here in just a moment. There are actually going to be lawmakers who speak to these students, to speak to them directly and you heard from Drew himself. He said this is about being the voice for those who are not even old enough to vote yet. Being 18 years old, he's going to vote in the midterm elections and he wants to really rally these people to make a change. All of these are what would happen in Parkland. John?

BERMAN: All right, Brynn Gingras, a lot of students out there is protesting right now. In some cases students are walking out without the support of their school. Some schools are saying that the kids will face disciplinary action if they leave class.

Victor Blackwell, live in Marietta, Georgia right now, where the school system there is citing safety concerns. Victor, what are you hearing?

[10:05:00] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, very different scene here compared to what we saw with Brynn there in New York. I just had about two dozen parents showed up behind me here to support their students, their children with signs here on this day of action for those students.

I'm outside Walton High School, one of 16 high schools across Cobb County and Metro-Atlanta where the superintendent says that if any student participates in this walkout there will be consequences. Now what those consequences will be, they're very based on the student, could range from Saturday school to several days of suspension.

Now, I spoke with a few students heading into class this morning and they say that this is their day of action. Their moment to stand up and despite any consequences, they are walking out to the football field for those 17 minutes, potentially moments of silence or reading the names of the 17 Parkland victims and having that moment to show up in numbers. Others say they just cannot risk it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TALI LYONS, JUNIOR, WALTON HIGH SCHOOL: We both have friends that went to Stoneman Douglas that still do. And we really want to support them. And our youth group is also supporting it. So it's sad that our school is being so harsh on the rules when our other friends' schools are being supportive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Now administrators here at Walton, as an alternative to having students walk out at 10:00 a.m., hosted a memorial this morning. It was at 7:50 a.m. to allow students before class to come up and enjoy - well not enjoy -- I should change that to a -- memorialize those victims and spend time together to call for change. Several students we saw just at the top of that hill, they participated.

Now this school district is not alone in penalizing those students who'll participate. There are school districts in Texas, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, who are also saying that if students participate in this walkout across the country, they will be penalized. John?

BERMAN: Victor, give me a sense of who's behind you right now. These are students who have decided despite the warnings not to do it, who are going out and making voices heard. BLACKWELL: So right behind me, John, if my photographer could zoom in, these are the parents. Several of them we have spoken with this morning that they've come out to support their children. They have signs. You can see we demand action, children over guns.

And Orlando, if you could zoom to the top of the hill here, you can see some of the students who are walking out of class. Those balloons that you see, those were balloons that were part of the memorial earlier this morning where we saw the JROTC come out. There was a moment of silence with several dozen students who came in earlier. Many of them wearing orange T-shirts, but again, we know that there are large numbers who are going out for this moment of silence despite the consequences that the superintendent says are coming. John?

BERMAN: Victor Blackwell, great reporting for us from Marietta, Georgia. Victor thanks so much.

Joining me now on the telephone is Sam Zeif. He is participating in the walkout at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Obviously, Sam and his brother survived the shooting last month. His best friend, one of the 17 victims killed.

Sam, you know we're looking at pictures from all across the country right now, from Cherry Hill, New Jersey and from Washington, D.C., these protests in New York City as well. I don't think you have a chance to see them. But what do they mean to you? What does it mean to you that all of these students are walking out in solidarity with you?

SAM ZEIF, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGHSCHOOL (via telephone): I mean my point of view right now is just a sea of people everywhere. You can barely even see the ground. And I'm imagining it's like this everywhere. It shows the impact that we're making and it really shows us that we're not alone and gives us strength.

BERMAN: Today marks one month for you since the shooting. I can't imagine what it's been like over the last month. How are you doing today? I imagine you know it bolsters you incredibly to be surrounded by all these people today?

ZEIF: I mean it doesn't even feel like a month. Every day is just a whole new struggle of moving on and powering through this and keeping our message clear. I still can't believe it's been a month.

BERMAN: You were part of that meeting at the White House. Next to President Trump and you said to the president, I want to feel safe at school. One month later, do you feel safe, Sam?

ZEIF: I do not feel safe. I still don't feel safe. There's 40 plus cops at my school right now and I still feel the need -- ask them individually if they are actually going to protect us or not because as you know, our officers failed us.

[10:10:02] BERMAN: There have been new laws passed in the state of Florida. Do you feel like they go to solve some of the problems that you are protesting right now and people are protesting with you across the country? ZEIF: I couldn't hear that.

BERMAN: The new laws passed in Florida, three day waiting period, raising the age limit to buy any gun to 21 and other measures. Do you support this move by the Florida legislature?

ZEIF: I'm sorry I can't hear you and I have to go.

BERMAN: All right. We've been talking to Sam Zeif, obviously, one of the survivors of the massacre at Parkland High School Florida one month ago today. You know it is invigorating to hear Sam speak, period. He tells us how hard the last month has been and even one month later, he still does not feel safe at school.

And these protests that you're seeing around the country, demonstrations you're seeing around the country are just for that reason. These are students who want to feel safe at school and they are calling on the nation's leaders to do the same. Let's look right now. We can go to Brooklyn. They are having a moment of silence for students who walk out there. Let's listen.

Carmen Schentrup, 16. Peter Wang, 15. We will now start our moment of silence for the lives lost, if you can please quiet down and commemorate those lost on February 14th.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:16:06] BERMAN: All right, live pictures again in the center of the screen, Parkland Florida. On the left New York City, and on your right that is outside the White House, students across the country taking part in this nationwide walkout to protest gun violence, 17 minutes of protest to honor the 17 victims of the massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Our Brynn Gingras in the middle of one of these demonstrations here in New York City. Brynn?

GINGRAS: Yes and John, this demonstration -- just beginning. It's expected to last about two hours. And the amazing thing, this is led by students. They are the ones that are giving the speeches right now to this crowd that is getting larger. We're seeing more and more schools just sort of circulate into this area here at Brooklyn Borough Hall, where they feel like they can address lawmakers, at least the local lawmakers here directly.

But I want to introduce you to Bella Pitman who is a freshman participating, Bella and I want to just ask you, we had a moment of silence for the 17 victims in Parkland. How did you feel when it was quiet here totally different from the enthusiasm we're hearing rights now?

BELLA PITMAN, HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN: It really upset me the fact that we had to have this moment of silence because of the kids who were shot in their schools where we're learning and learning how to be adults and function in society. We're being shot and killed and trying to better ourselves and just makes me upset.

GINGRAS: You're angry?

PITMAN: Yes.

GINGRAS: What do you say to lawmakers? You're 15 and can't vote yet. This is the only way you could speak out. What do you say to them?

PITMAN: I say that if we have licenses to drive a car and drink alcohol, we need licenses and tests in order to get guns. We need to be comprehensively and able to think and smart with your gun if you have a gun. If you can run over someone with a car and kill them, you need to be able to get a gun if you're going to kill someone with a gun.

GINGRAS: Thank you so much and joining the demonstration and thanks for joining us.

John, I mean, these people don't want to be underestimated. They have a voice in this even if they weren't in Parkland or weren't in an actual school shooting -- that's why they are all here gathered together. Not only this incredible turnout here in Brooklyn.

BERMAN: All right, Brynn Gingras in Brooklyn, New York. You can see the passion there, here in New York City. We're seeing that in some other locations around the country, in Parkland, Florida, obviously the site of the mass shooting one month ago today. Dianne Gallagher is there. Dianne?

GALLAGHER: Yes, John. They actually just held a moment of silence out there on the football field where the students at MST walked to from the classrooms today during that 17 minute protest. One minute for each of the lives of their teachers and classmates and coaches who were killed here one month ago today.

During that moment of silence as it started to end, they began playing a song called shine, by some of the drama students. It's been featured prominently on social media, kind of describing how they feel in the moments afterwards and what they intend to do going forward from this. It's no secret these kids have been extremely politically active afterward. They aren't the ones who organized this national school walkout. They say though that they are so encouraged by the nearly 3,000 schools across the country and really even internationally, John, who are supporting them, showing solidarity and standing up for themselves. These kids say that for them, it is about saying they are not going to take this any longer.

BERMAN: All right, Diane Gallagher, thank you very, very much. We'll have much more straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:24:16] BERMAN: Thousands of students across the country walking out of class to protest gun violence. On the left, you see New York City, on the right, Parkland, Florida the site of the massacre one month ago today. 17 students killed, outside the White House over the last several minutes there have been demonstrations. Let's go there. CNN's Dan Merica is standing by. Dan? DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: John, there are a number of students here. They're actually walking right behind me right now. If you look over my right shoulder, you can see the White House. These students are from about 28 local schools from the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. They walked out of school to come here to the White House and actually did a 17-minute moment of silence with their backs turned to the White House. That's in honor of the 17 victims of the shooting in Parkland.

[10:25:02] I spoke to a number of the students. They said they were fine with leaving school even if that means they're going to be punished by that school. They think this is worth it. They are not happy with what the White House rolled out earlier this week in terms of gun legislation. President Trump backed a variety of different forms of gun legislation after the Parkland shooting but the actual White House proposals they ruled out really limited -- really limited in scope did not include what President Trump backed which was raising the age limit for the purchase of a certain type of weapons. That is something the people here want to see.

They are now -- these students are now walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. They are going to head to the national mall where they are going to walk down the national mall directly towards the U.S. Capitol where they'll be greeted by a number of lawmakers who will speak to them there. These students say this is going to be not the first in a number of protests that they plan on staging in the D.C. area because of gun laws and they -- when talking to them, many of them said expect more to come from students like this who have really been shaped by gun violence and have lived in a world where it's a reality for them.

They go to school and they have to train and prepare for things like this to happen. They say that has shaped them. Shaped who they are, shaped this kind of activism and they say expect more to come. John?

BERMAN: All right, Dan Merica for us in Washington. Dan, you say the politicians will speak to the students. Hopefully it's the students who will be talking. They have a lot to say on this subject. Thanks so much, Dan.

Also happening right now on Capitol Hill, we're waiting to hear from Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, you're looking at Paul Ryan right now. He is speaking. We expect him to face questions about what happened to Republicans in Pennsylvania 18. A district they had no business losing, no business even running a close race, a Democrat is now poised to win, Conor Lamb leading with almost all of the votes counted right now. CNN's Alex Marquardt, he is in the district right now in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Alex, what do you see?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Really a stunning result or we just say potential result. We still have not called this race. There are still some votes out there. All of the votes are in but not all of the votes have been counted.

What we know last now, the Democrat Conor Lamb is up by .2 percent over the Republican Rick Saccone. We saw last night, Conor Lamb declaring his victory despite the fact that we and others have not called this race. Rick Saccone has not conceded. They have not made any sort of decision.

I say it's a staggering result because it is on so many different levels. We saw the president come and endorsed Saccone and campaign for him over the weekend. We've seen Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka and Vice President Mike Pence and Kellyanne Conway. All come down here to cast their lot with Rick Saccone. This is a deeply red district the president won by some points in 2016.

In the last two congressional races, 2016, 2014, Democrats did not even field a candidate. On top of just the political nature of this district, Republicans spent an incredible amount of money on Rick Saccone's campaign, to some $10.7 million. So if later today or at some point we believe the victory by Conor Lamb is confirmed, it will be truly a monumental and seismic event that will really speak to what we might be able to expect in the midterms in November. John?

BERMAN: Alex Marquardt in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, the center of it all. We're waiting for them to declare an official winner but the impact is already clear. The House Speaker Paul Ryan was speaking on this, just moments ago. Do we have that sound queued up yet? All right, let's listen to what the House Speaker just said.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Also, advances the ideas of making sure the schools are hardened and schools are prepared and that everyone gets the necessary training that they need. This provides a multilane approach to identify the threats so we can stop the violence before it happens.

It includes new violence prevention training for law enforcement, for students, for school personnel, implements additional technology to improve school security and so much more. Tragic violence has no place in our schools, every American believes that. This legislation will actually take concrete action prevent that. And I'm very excited that we're bringing this bill to the floor today. Questions?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

RYAN: I don't know if there's a big surprise, win or lose as you say it's too soon to say what's going to happen. I think the candidate that's going to win this race is the candidate that ran as a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-Nancy Pelosi conservative. That's the candidate that's going to win this race. So this is something that you're not going to see repeated because they didn't have a primary.

They are able to pick a candidate who could run as a conservative, who ran against the minority leader, who ran on a conservative agenda. You will have primaries in all these other races in the primaries bring them to the left. So I just don't think this is something that we'll see a repeat of.

BERMAN: All right.