Return to Transcripts main page


March for Our Lives; Brexit Campaign Claims. Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired March 25, 2018 - 00:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things need to change. We've been fighting for this way too long and nothing has changed and we need change now.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): They called if the March for Our Lives, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Washington and across the United States to demand action on gun control.

But how much change can this movement actually bring about?

There's been little movement in Congress so far. I'll ask my guests.

And a whistleblower tells British TV Channel 4 that the Brexit campaign violated campaign finance rules. We'll have the details for you later on in the show.

I'm Cyril Vanier in Atlanta. Great to have you with us.


VANIER: They certainly know how to make an entrance. A group of defiant teenagers grabbed the world's attention on Saturday, spearheading a march in Washington, D.C., and other cities in the U.S. demanding tougher gun laws.


VANIER (voice-over): Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators -- that's in Washington -- and it was a show of force, standing with the Stoneman Douglas students who survived a mass shooting last month when a gunman opened fire at their high school, killing 17 of their peers. They say enough is enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hereby promise to fix the broken system we've been forced into and create a better world for generations to come. Don't worry. We've got this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My friends and I might still be 11 and we might still be in elementary school but we know, we know life isn't equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This needs to change. We've been fighting for this way too long and nothing has changed and we need change now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here on this stage today and I'm here working every day for my 17 fellow Eagles pronounced dead because of gunfire.

VANIER (voice-over): And celebrities also took part in the marches, like singer Jennifer Hudson, who knows all too well that gun violence can happen to anybody. She sang about the change that's happening.


VANIER (voice-over): Florida shooting survivor Emma Gonzales closed out the rally. She began at the podium. She stood at the podium for six minutes, over four of them in complete silence, measuring the length of time it took for the gunman to kill 17 people at her school. Here's part of her speech.


EMMA GONZALES, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands.

For us, long, tearful, chaotic hours in the scorching afternoon sun were spent not knowing. No one understood the extent of what had happened. No one could believe that there were bodies in that building, waiting to be identified for over a day.

No one knew that the people who were missing had stopped breathing long before any of us had even known that a code red had been called.


VANIER: And people all over the world heard these students' rallying cry and participated in their own cities. They gathered in the hopes that they, too, can finally say, never again.

Jason Carroll highlights some of the most powerful moments from the marches around the U.S.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They gathered by the hundreds of thousands, armed by their motivation against gun violence.

They filled streets and cities across America to take part in the March For Our Lives. They marched in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and New York.

One of the largest crowds convened on the nation's capital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To those people that tell us that teenagers can't do anything, I say that we were the only people that could have made this movement possible

CARROLL: Some of the most powerful moments came from survivors of last month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. DAVID HOGG, PARKLAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR: When people try to suppress your and there are people who stand against you because you are too young, we say, no more.

CARROLL: Another poignant moment came from Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez who stood for more than six minutes and said nothing at all.

GONZALES: Since the time that I came out here, it has been six minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your lives before someone else's job.

CARROLL: They march for political or personal reasons or both. In New York City just as thousands gathered near Central Park --


CARROLL: -- Paul McCartney reflected on what the march meant to him.

PAUL MCCARTNEY, SINGER AND SONGWRITER: One of my best friends was killed in gun violence right around here. So it's important to me.

CARROLL: Our interview conducted on Central Park West, blocks away from where John Lennon was gunned down in 1980. The marchers have their voices heard today.

The real question is, what happens next?

Will their passion, their movement lead to federal gun legislation?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: What we have to say to this movement is you have to stay with it. One day is not enough.

CARROLL: Some came to remember Stoneman Douglas, others Sandy Hook elementary or perhaps it was the shooting in Las Vegas or Pulse nightclub in Orlando. One thing is clear, these marchers believe the time for change is now.

YOLANDA RENEE KING, GRANDDAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun free world, period.

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


VANIER: And this was happening just a month before the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. That school shooting killed 12 students and a teacher in the U.S. state of Colorado and it shook the nation to its core.

So is not surprising that thousands of people would pack the state's capital for the March for Our Lives rally on Saturday. Here's CNN's Scott McLean in Colorado.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cyril, Colorado is certainly no stranger to gun violence and that fact may help explain the massive number of people who turned out today to demand tougher gun laws. People affected by the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 and the Aurora theater shooting in 2012 plus plenty of others all stood on stage today to promise that this would be the moment when America actually gets tough on gun violence.

Of course, all of this outrage was initially sparked by the shooting rampage at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and the activism of that, of those students since then.

One of those students spoke in Denver today. Her name is Maddie King. She is just 17 years old. Listen.


MADDIE KING, DENVER HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I don't have to have gone to college for eight year to know that guns are dangerous and to know that something needs to change.

Where is my proof?

My friends are dead.


KING: What more do I need?

People are dying and you aren't doing anything.


MCLEAN: In a place that has endured so much gun violence and seen so few changes as a result, organizers this time, they are promising to keep their foot on the gas. They are already planning their next rally for next month and they are promising to send a big message at the ballot box come the next set of elections in November -- Cyril.


VANIER: I want to talk to one of the performers at the March in Washington rapper Vic Mensa is with me now.

Vic, how did you feel about the whole experience today?

VIC MENSA, RAPPER: Today's experience was amazing. The event was successful, strong, powerful and very inclusive and representative of all sides of the story, which is -- oftentimes all we're really asking for is for the whole picture to be displayed on a -- on a mass level.

And I think that's what happened today.

VANIER: Did you get a chance to talk to the kids, especially the survivors from the Florida high school?

And if so, what did you tell them?

MENSA: I did speak to kids from Parkland. I spoke to kids from Chicago, too, and I told them that their voices are necessary, that they need to keep up the strength that they've displayed thus far and demand the change that they want to see.

You know, I can identify with these kids in a major way because although I'm from a completely different corner of the nation, gun violence has affected my life very directly and very personally for the last 7-8 years.

VANIER: So how do you keep the momentum then, going after a day like today?

You told them to keep the strength, keep fighting for what they want.

How do you do that?

Because, you know, they are -- they -- many of them are not voting age yet. And they've been saying, well, we have Twitter and we have a voice that way.

Do you feel that that's the way to do it, that their voice can continue to be heard that way?

MENSA: What I feel is that we need to be direct. We need to be blunt about our call and our demand --


MENSA: -- to ban assault weapons. I feel that we have be right on the nose. We have to be on point. We have to address the people we're speaking to. We have to address the people in Congress. We have to address Republican and Democratic politicians.

And we have to address the lowdown, dirty, lying NRA. And we have to demand that we have a ban on assault weapons, point blank, period, weapons of war have no place in our society in the hands of civilians.

VANIER: But look, the NRA is one thing but it's undeniable that there's also a vast part of this country that wants to keep gun laws pretty much the way they are.

So what do you say --


MENSA: And they're indoctrinated.


VANIER: Hold on, hold on.

What do you say to those people who say the gun's not the problem, it's the people using it?

MENSA: I say that, check this same diseased person and put in his hands a butcher's knife and see if he's possibly able to kill 17 or 47 people. See, I think that all of these -- the reason I don't really address the people that say the gun's not the problem, the person is the problem is because I think that there misled and it's just not a logical argument.

So I don't spend time on it because, obviously, these levels of casualties would not be possible without these weapons of war. That's point blank, period. That's statistics. You can't kill as many people as you can with an AR-15 with a pistol. You just can't do it.

These stabbings that happened in London, they kill 1-2 people, it's horrific. No lives to be lost to violence in the first place. But we would cut down the lives lost drastically by banning assault weapons.

VANIER: It should be mentioned that the gun laws have actually been changed in Florida where the shooting took place since all of that happened and they've raised actually the rifle age.

Look, Vic, thank you very much. I know it was hard to fit in for you with your schedule; you're flying out of town. But thank you very much for making time for us. Pleasure talking to you.

MENSA: Thank you.

VANIER: Coming up, the White House and the gun lobby weigh in on this March for our Lives movement. That's just ahead. Stay with us.




VANIER: And that singer, Miley Cyrus, at Saturday's March for Our Lives in Washington. While thousands of people filled the National Mall just steps from the White House, President Trump well, he was at his resort in Florida. He has been silent about this event.

However the White House did release a short statements, citing the president's support for stronger gun background checks. Part of that reads, "Keeping our children safe is a top priority of the president's, which is why --


VANIER: " -- he urged Congress to pass the Fix NICS and Stop School Violence Acts and signed them into law."

The powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, NRA, seized on the march as a fundraising opportunity. It posted a promotional video on Saturday that slandered the marchers as "misled children." Here's part of that message. "Gun hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and

exploiting children as part of their plan to destroy the Second Amendment and strip us of our right to defend ourselves and our loved ones."

2018 has been exceptionally deadly for schoolchildren in the U.S. And it hasn't just been the Parkland shooting. Since the beginning of the year there have been 17 -- that's right, 17 school related shooting incidents where someone's been hurt or killed. That's an average of 1.5 per week.

To date at least 26 people have been killed, most of them children; at least 26 others have been wounded by gun violence.

Is all of his just a moment or can it actually bring lasting change?

Political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin.

Josh, those marches that we saw today, will they be forgotten next week or next month or next year?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's interesting; I was downtown watching these events unfold and two things are striking. One, the overwhelming support from just all quarters of society, people around the nation, 800,000 estimated people in just in D.C. alone, not counting the hundreds of other events planned around the nation and around the world.

What's clear is that this movement is gaining momentum. What's not clear is exactly where it's going. The organizers, these brave, smart, eloquent, articulate kids are very cognizant of the fact that Congress is not going to solve this problem. They're indicating, stating very clearly that the only way to really make change is through the ballot box.

So that's a much slower process. But what they've started and what I saw today (INAUDIBLE).

VANIER: So in that case, if it's too early to know whether this is actually a turning point, what factors are you going to be looking at going forward to see whether this has traction?

ROGIN: Well, tragically, what we've seen is that this pattern of catastrophes is not (INAUDIBLE). We saw (INAUDIBLE) from half a dozen school shootings speak at today's event.

So there's expectation that (INAUDIBLE) actions there could be additional catastrophes. Now while of course no one wants to see that, it's clear that as long as the problem is not solved, the number of victims will continue to increase and eventually what we're looking for is a change in the makeup of the electorate as they go to the polls, first in 2018 and 2020.

Congress is not going to take the (INAUDIBLE) and then really (INAUDIBLE) change to expect is a change in control of the Congress and maybe a change in the lawmakers' attitudes. VANIER: So, Josh, are you saying just to understand this, are you saying that this is essentially a time bomb and you've got to look at this over the next couple of years as this generation becomes part of the voting population and then see if that changes the balance, is that what you're saying?

ROGIN: Yes, essentially what I'm saying is there will be no real change in the short term but that the change in the long term is inevitable and that we're building an entire generation of new voters who are not beholden to the political process and structure that people of (INAUDIBLE) generations have bought into.

And they're very clear-eyed about why Washington isn't working. They're very clear-eyed about what they want to do about it. And their strategy is a long-term strategy and it's not that this is a time bomb that will go off at any one time. It's a slow but generational evolution but it's that -- it's a glacier. But that glacier is only moving in one direction.

VANIER: So I have a question about this evolution that you mention and I want to bring back up the pictures that we were showing earlier in the interview, that box with all the different protests in the different cities across the country.

It shows the extent of the mobilization about this issue in the U.S. No doubt what it doesn't show is all the people who stayed at home and who disagree with the marchers, you know, who want to keep gun laws pretty much as they are and we're not really hearing their voice at this juncture except for the NRA.

Now Van Jones just interviewed some young people who are pro-gun. Listen to this, Josh.


SAVANNAH LINDQUIST, GUN ADVOCATE: The biggest aspect of it is the importance of self-defense. I was lucky to get accepted to my dream school and I was able to pursue a degree in neuroscience which is something I had dreamed of for my entire life.

Sorry. But after 3.5 years at my dream school, I dropped out --


LINDQUIST: -- because of what happened. And after 3.5 years, all I had to show for my time there was a horrific experience and student loans. And I don't want anyone to have to go through what I did.


VANIER: So the backstory, the context of that is this is a young lady who was sexually assaulted and she feels that if she had had a gun that day, well, things could have gone differently and she is -- she is -- she continues to be pro-gun, partly as a result of that experience. And my point is that even within the young generation, the age of the

kids who were protesting today in the march in Washington, there are two sides to the story and there are also those who are pro-gun.

So I'm wondering when they, when all of them are of voting age, is it really going to change anything?

Because there are two sides.

ROGIN: Actually, there are more than two sides. There is a large variety of opinion on what exactly should we do -- should be done to stop the plagues of school shootings and school massacres and of course that's a debate that should play out.

But let's be clear that, the kids that I saw (INAUDIBLE) reject the false choice of zero guns or everyone has a gun. Right. And what they're calling for is some common sense measures to keep the deadliest weapons out of the hands of the worst people.

And I don't think anything I saw from the victims would run afoul of that desire. So have in Washington a very coordinated and well funded campaign to (INAUDIBLE) this as an effort to take away everyone's guns.

But that's where our politics get stuck. But the whole point of today's rally was that it was a rejection of that very false narrative, that false choice. And these kids are not saying that no one has the right to have a gun.

They're saying that we have to have a sea change in the way that our politics is structured on this issue. And what I'm saying is that enthusiasm and that momentum that we've seen building over several years is definitely going in one direction and with some outliers for sure.

You could be sure that when these kids get the power to vote, which won't be very large, they're going to make that movement into a very powerful political force that we'll see but probably will be most lawmakers are going to have to acknowledge.

VANIER: All right, Josh, good to see you, good to talk to you, thank you very much.

The official Brexit campaign group known as Vote Leave is facing new allegations that it broke campaign rules ahead of the referendum. A former Brexit volunteer tells Britain's Channel 4 that group deliberately spent over the legal limit by donating to a separate campaign called BeLeave.

The volunteer alleges Vote Leave used a separate campaign group to spend more than was legally allowed. The majority of the donation allegedly going to Canadian data firm Aggregate IQ, AIQ, that is linked to Cambridge Analytica, which, of course, has been accused of misusing Facebook user data.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHAHMIR SANNI, FORMER BREXIT CAMPAIGNER: I know that Vote Leave cheated, that people had been lied to and that the referendum wasn't legitimate. Now we're going on a path. We're going on a path to Brexit based on lies, based on cheating, based on what is essentially a scam.

And what does that mean for our democratic process?

The decision I agree with. Leaving the European Union I agree with. But I don't agree with losing what it means to be British in that process.


VANIER: The lawyer with Vote Leave said it has twice been cleared on this matter by Britain's electoral commission but the group will investigate the new allegations. And the Canadian data firm, AIQ, denies any wrongdoing and says it has never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica.

Meanwhile Stephen Parkinson, who was then the national organizer for Vote Leave, is also denying the allegations. Parkinson, who is now the political secretary for Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement, I had no responsibility for digital campaigning or donations on the Vote Leave campaign and I'm confident that I stayed within the law and strict spending rules at all times.

Landmarks around the world went dark for Earth Hour. Next, our very own Derek Van Dam, CNN meteorologist, gives us his perspective as a former Earth Hour ambassador. Stay with us for that.






VANIER: Thank you for watching. We've got the headlines next.