Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Arizona's Gov. Brewer Vetoed SB-1026 Bill; What's Behind Cluster of Birth Defects in Washington State?; Arctic Blast Creates River of Ice Boulders; Interview with Spike Lee; Tax Evasion Tactics; Bigmouth Strikes Again
Aired February 26, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good evening, everyone. We're on the breaking news. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer just moments ago bowing to enormous pressure from federal leaders, big name conservatives, small and big business professionals, sports, you name it, vetoing a bill that supporters say protects religious freedom and critics call license to discriminate.
Also tonight we'll take you into the cold, cold heart of America's ice age. Rivers of it on the move doing big damage, leaving entire communities on the rocks.
And later a 360 exclusive, Spike Lee joins us live. We'll talk about his tirade, I guess you could call it, on gentrification in African- American neighborhoods and why it takes, in his words, an influx of white people before the garbage is picked up and the streets are kept safe. He got a lot of people talking today. Tonight he's talking to us.
It will not be a dull night. We begin with the breaking news.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's long-awaited decision on SB-1062. The passage of it touching off a major backlash with big names calling for a veto. Arizona's two Republican U.S. senators, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Apple Computer, Major League Baseball, Delta Airlines, warnings this will hurt business in the state of Arizona and jobs.
Governor Brewer -- she got the bill on Monday. Just minutes ago she went before the cameras. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: I'm here to announce a decision on Senate Bill 1062. As with every proposal that reaches my desk, I give great concern and careful evaluation and deliberate consideration, and especially to Senate Bill 1062. I call them like I see them, despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd.
I took the necessary time to make the right decision. I met or spoke with my attorneys, lawmakers and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation. As governor I have asked questions and I have listened. I have protected religious freedom if there is a specific and pressing concern that exists in our state. And I have the record to prove it. My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona. When I address the legislature I made it abundantly clear. Among them are passing a responsible budget that continues Arizona's economic comeback.
From CEOs and entrepreneurs to business surveys, Arizona ranks as one of the best states to grow or start a business. Additionally, our immediate challenge is fixing a broken child protection system. Instead, this is the first policy bill to come across my desk.
Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or pressing concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I've not heard of one example in Arizona where business owner's religious liberty has been violated. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.
After weighing all of the arguments I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago. To the supporters of this legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve.
It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine, and no one would ever want. Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is nondiscrimination. Going forward, let's turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among all Arizonans and Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's Governor Jan Brewer just moments ago. Apologize for the poor quality of the audio and the video.
Our Miguel Marquez is at the state capitol, joins us now.
So we just hear the governor's statement. There have been crowd out there now for several days. How did people react around you?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they began chanting -- they were chanting "veto" one moment and they were chanting "thank you, Jan" the next.
They're starting to gather over near the Senate building here at the legislature. They are listening to Democratic legislators now make announcements there in front of the Senate here in Arizona.
Enormous jubilation that this has been vetoed. Not a huge surprise for folks, though, given the way this thing has broke throughout the week. Members of the Senate that we spoke to today who had met with the governor said that she expressed surprise and concern that it had been -- seemed to be rushed through both the House and the Senate so quickly. She wanted to understand how they got to this place.
And you heard her statement tonight saying, very unequivocally, that there was no reason for this and she vetoed the bill outright.
There was a previous bill last year almost exactly the same as this one that she vetoed on other grounds. This time she's clearly come out in very, very clear fashion and vetoed the substance of this particular bill -- Anderson.
COOPER: Miguel, you should still point out, there are still -- I mean, this bill was vetoed, but there are -- other than in three cities in Arizona there are no state anti-discrimination statutes protecting people based on sexual orientation, correct?
MARQUEZ: This is exactly what the crux of this, this is what the fight was over this bill, cities like Phoenix, Tucson, Bisbee, Flagstaff that had nondiscrimination clauses against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender that they felt that those city ordinances could have been trumped by this state law.
On the other side of it there is a concern among conservatives and very religious people that there is an initiative for gay marriage coming down the pike here in 2016 that either the state or the federal government may make sexual orientation a protected class. And that's what this bill was trying to get at. Creating a little bit of a cul de sac and protection for those people for what they see as a threat from this new world order that the governor addressed tonight -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Miguel Marquez, appreciate the update.
Want to bring in New York University law professor Kenji Yoshino who's been our legal guide to what's in the bill and most importantly the larger implications of it.
First of all, your reaction to what the governor said.
KENJI YOSHINO, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: Well, I think it was a really smart decision. She didn't wait until the very end. So I think that she -- she had until Friday I guess to veto it. So I think it was good that she did it early. It was fairly decisive. I think that she gave dog whistles to both sides in the sense that she said, you know, the family is under attack so that satisfies the religious right.
But then she also said I believe in nondiscrimination which satisfied the LGBT community, so I think she played it down the middle.
COOPER: It was interesting because you and I actually before she made her ruling, you and I had a discussion with Nancy Barto, who's a state senator in Arizona, a supporter of -- of this bill, was a supporter and remained a supporter of this bill.
And I pressed her on -- we both discussed with her if she could come up with one single example of discrimination based on religion in Arizona that people of faith have suffered through. She couldn't come up with one other than some hypotheticals that maybe might happen. But she couldn't -- she had no actual example of it actually having occurred. And that's interesting because Governor Brewer specifically pointed that out. And I just want to play some of that exchange that we had with Nancy Barto, one of the authors, in fact, of SB-1062. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator, do you have any actual example of someone in Arizona being forced to do something against their religious beliefs?
NANCY BARTO (R), ARIZONA STATE SENATE: Well, in Arizona it could be happening all the time, yes.
COOPER: But do you have an actual example?
BARTO: And we need -- well, surely. People may be being asked to --
COOPER: No, I mean something where it's actually happened.
BARTO: Well, obviously, you know, if people aren't bringing it to court we don't know about it at this point. But we do know that without this law, people would not be able to defend themselves in court.
COOPER: But again, you can't name actually one example where this has happened. I mean, because -- people opposed to this say look, this is a -- this is a problem -- this is a solution in search of a problem. You actually have not had this problem.
BARTO: It absolutely is not. It absolutely is not.
COOPER: But you can't name one example.
BARTO: Here in Arizona -- yes, I can raise a hypothetical just as our opponents are raising tons of --
COOPER: Well, not hypothetical. I'm talking about an actual case of discrimination.
BARTO: Let me finish. An actual case could happen right now because people are getting -- are having same-sex ceremonies even without a same-sex marriage ordinance or constitutional right in Arizona. They're getting married. They're having same-sex ceremonies in Arizona, all the time, all over the state, in fact all over the country.
So are you telling me that if somebody wanted a photographer, let's say in Arizona, to do their same-sex wedding photographically, that that person would have protection without this law? I say no. We need to learn from what happened in New Mexico.
COOPER: More and more chance, do you have any actual example where someone of faith has been discriminated against in Arizona ever?
BARTO: You know, I haven't seen that --
BARTO: -- raised in the newspapers here, but I -- but I know that things are happening.
BARTO: Without this law they will be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Kenji Yoshino joins us again. It's interesting because you actually did the research on discrimination in Arizona from the EEOC. And you found thousands of cases of different forms of discrimination. But she can't come up with one example of religious-based discriminations. There are protections in place, federal and state protections already in place.
YOSHINO: Absolutely. And then I did a little follow-on there talking to the Lambda Legal folks and I asked how many phone calls had come from their -- to their help desk out of Arizona for LGBT discrimination. And they said almost 400 in the past four years, I think.
YOSHINO: So there's a significant number of charges based on sexual orientation. But, you know, she couldn't come up with a single one. And, you know, I think this is a place where the media really helped, you know, frankly, because I think that you've shown a light on the fact that they didn't have a factual record. And then you heard Governor Brewer say that that was one of the reasons why she vetoed the bill.
COOPER: Stick around because I want to -- we're going to hear more from Kenji. And also we want to hear from Arizona Democratic state representative, Demion Clinco, he represents Tucson. He's the only openly gay member of the Arizona house. He joins us now.
Representative Clinco, I appreciate you being with us. Governor Brewer in vetoing this, you had previously called it a state- sanctioned discrimination. What are your thoughts on her veto?
DEMION CLINCO (D), ARIZONA STATE HOUSE: Well, I think this is a real wakeup call for Arizona. You know to see a bill even move through the House and Senate and even land on her desk is really very discouraging for the LGBT community and gay rights throughout, I think not only our state but really throughout the country that's really a setback.
But in her vetoing the bill I really feel like there's a possible hope for reconciliation within our state and we can maybe move forward past this really sort of unfortunate chapter.
COOPER: The -- in vetoing the bill, the governor said that the bill could bring about unintended consequences and in the state with respects to religious freedom but doesn't believe in discrimination. Certainly strong words from the governor. But it is still not protected except in a few cities in Arizona, discrimination based on sexual orientation. CLINCO: That's absolutely true. And I really hope that out of this perhaps will start a dialogue in the House and in the Senate and put forward legislation that will really ensure that the LGBT community and other important minorities in our state are really protected into the future.
You know, I would hate to see another discriminatory bill come forward. I mean, we have a tradition of this and I'd really like to see an end to that in our state.
COOPER: It's interesting. I talked to a representative yesterday, a senator who had originally voted for this bill and then reversed himself, said it was a mistake that it would lead to discrimination. Seemed like a lovely guy, a very nice guy. And clearly he seemed to have felt the whole process was rushed. He felt that he didn't really hear opposing viewpoints.
Is that accurate? I mean, were there -- if people were listening, were all these issues raised while this was being debated?
CLINCO: These issues were absolutely raised during the debate. But I think more importantly, this is part of a series of bills moving through our House and through our Senate that really provide discrimination whether it's against women or the LGBT community. There's another bill that deals with the solemnization of marriage that's moving through the House and will probably come to the floor in the next week that again is another attack on the LGBT community.
So it's just -- it's a series of a whole number of bills during this session that attack -- that attack really progressive views.
COOPER: Listen, I appreciate your time tonight. I know it's a good evening for you. You're happy about this. Appreciate you joining us tonight.
Let us know what you think at home. Follow me on Twitter @andersoncooper, tweet us using #ac360.
Just ahead a mysterious surge in birth defects in one small pocket of Washington state but health officials have not talked to any of the families who have been affected. That seems like an obvious place to start. We're going to take a look at what is going on.
Plus why do all -- why do we go all the way to the South Pole when here at home rivers have turned into ice jams? That's right. That's a river you're taking a look at Gary Tuchman is standing on. He is in the thick of it.
I just want to thank Kenji for joining us tonight.
Kenji, thanks very much.
YOSHINO: Thanks for having me, Anderson.
COOPER: Good discussion as always.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Tonight a medical mystery. In one small pocket of Washington state, a devastating type of birth defect is occurring at rates that are really off the charts. Almost all affected babies die shortly after birth. No one knows if this is just a random cluster of horrible luck. Some experts say that's possible.
But what if something in the environment is the culprit? State health officials say they've looked around, they found nothing so far. You would think they'd be working around the clock to find an answer talking to every single mom who's lost a baby. But they're not and outrage is growing.
Here's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the rural and fertile Yakima Valley in Washington state, a horrible medical mystery has unfolded. An alarming number of babies born with birth defects.
Sara Barron, a nurse in the region, was the first to report cases of anencephaly, babies born with much of their brain and skull missing.
SARA BARRON, NURSE: I was just stunned. Three in a couple month period of time. That's unheard of. And they are such tragic, terrible outcomes.
COHEN: Barron's shocking discovery prompted an investigation by the state health department, which showed that in three counties in a three-year period there were 23 cases of anencephaly, a rate four times the national average.
But what could be causing such a high rate here? Is it just a coincidence or something more serious?
Epidemiologist Mandy Stahre at the Washington State Health Department conducted the investigation.
(On camera): So did you find an answer?
MANDY STAHRE, WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: We have not found an answer. And it's a very frustrating part because this is such a devastating diagnosis for a woman to have.
COHEN (voice-over): But Sara Barron wonders if perhaps they didn't find anything because they didn't look hard enough. For starters, the state hasn't spoken to any of the families who had the babies with birth defects. Not a single one. They haven't asked key questions like what they ate or if they'd been exposed to the pesticides sprayed in this agricultural area.
And that outrages Andrea Jackman whose daughter Olivia was born with spina bifida, another type of neural tube defect.
(On camera): So when this happens, they wondered, gee, did the moms all have similar occupations or did they have similar diets? Has anyone called you to try to ask you these questions?
ANDREA JACKSON, MOTHER: Nobody has asked me anything.
COHEN (voice-over): So if they didn't talk to moms like Jackman how did the state do its investigation?
STAHRE: We looked at all the information that was included in their medical records.
COHEN: For example, what prescription drugs they were taking or if they had an underlying condition such as diabetes. But medical records don't have details about diet or pesticide exposure, two key considerations for this type of birth defect.
In their own press release, the Washington State Health Department says medical record reviews might not have captured all information preventing a cause from being identified.
(On camera): Medical records don't tell you everything.
STAHRE: No, they definitely don't.
COHEN: So why not just call the women and talk to them?
STAHRE: Well, we have to weigh that heavily. This is a devastating diagnosis. And we know that for a lot of these women they had to make some hard choices. We do have to weigh about how invasive we want to be with these types of interviews.
COHEN (voice-over): Jackman says that attitude is condescending and paternalistic to moms like her, and harmful. She wants state investigators to ask her questions. After all, her answers could help solve the mystery and prevent more tragedies.
JACKMAN: Anything that will help another mother to not have to go through what I went through, I would have been fine with it. What are you researching if you haven't physically called the families to find out? What are you researching?
COHEN: In her mind, there's no way a four-fold increase in the birth defect rate could be by chance.
JACKMAN: If it just happened to one person it could be random. But fact that there are so many different people that it's happened to there's got to be something that you can pinpoint that caused this.
COHEN: Stahre, the state epidemiologist, says the investigation is continuing and they may interview moms like Jackman at some point.
(On camera): As time passes and you call these women years after their children were born, won't memories start to fade? STAHRE: It's very possible. And that's why we're definitely continuing on with following up with the question. And we're still trying to find what may be causing these. And we're still investigating this. We're not ruling anything out at this point. And as we so monitor cases for 2013, we're considering just about everything at this point.
COHEN: For a woman who might be pregnant right now in one of these three counties, should they be worried?
STAHRE: I don't think so.
COHEN (voice-over): But Nurse Barron isn't so sure.
BARRON: I think it's very scary. I think that there's absolutely something going on that needs to be investigated more thoroughly.
COHEN: And Olivia's mother isn't so sure, either.
JACKMAN: There's got to be something. Could even be the smallest thing. Not knowing is scary.
COOPER: Scary indeed. Elizabeth Cohen joins us live.
So it's been a year and half since these birth defects were first reported. The state health department, they still haven't interviewed the families?
COHEN: No. They still haven't interviewed the families. And, you know, the state says look, we know that this can be frustrating but these things, these investigations take time.
But, Anderson, the bottom line is there are certain things you can only learn by talking to these women. For example, there was a cluster of these birth defects in Texas in the '90s. And they figured out that it was the corn that some of these women were eating, that the corn was contaminated. You would never know that these women were eating a lot of corn products unless you actually picked up the phone and called and asked them.
COOPER: I know -- I mean, as you said, the state of Washington is standing by their investigation. What do experts have to say about it?
COHEN: You know, the experts we reached out to were pretty hard on the state of Washington. One researcher who's been very prominent and done a lot of this kind of research on birth defects, she said look this is bad research because medical records are of such low quality. So let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. BEATE RITZ, UCLA FIELDING SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: The problem with medical records is that doctors note what they have to note in their records, which are diseases and medications they prescribe. What they do not note in medical records often all the other risk factors that we might be concerned about when it comes to birth defects that are from the environment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: Now again, the state of Washington says they might still reach out and speak to these mothers -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, I appreciate the report. Thanks.
Up next, rivers of ice on the move doing some serious damage. And the pictures are incredible. That's a river in the middle of the big chill that's making such a big mess.
Gary Tuchman reports.
Our exclusive also interview tonight with filmmaker Spike Lee who set off a national conversation today when he went on gentrification in the United States about African-Americans being priced out of and marginalized in neighborhoods that they once helped build.
COOPER: Hey, welcome back. Remember those Antarctic explorers and the amazing photos they sent back during their time stranded on a sea of ice? Well, turns out they were a sign of things to come here at home.
Back home as winter takes one more shot at us, you can see the same kind of pictures on local lakes, rivers, and because ice takes up more space than water you can see the hammering into bridge piers and spilling into lake and riverfront homes.
And 360's Gary Tuchman, these days he's looking more like one of those South Pole scientists.
Gary, exactly where are you? What are you standing on?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, right now I'm standing on top of the Kankakee River about an hour south of Chicago in the town of Wilmington, Illinois.
Just a few days ago this weekend this was iced over, but it was flat iced, as flat as a hockey rink. But in the beginning of this week it started to thaw, it started to melt, and then it got ridiculously cold again. The wind chill right now is about 20 below zero. And this has become a river of ice boulders.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): It looks like scenes from an Arctic tundra. Miles and miles of the normally fast-flowing Kankakee River in Illinois seemingly frozen to a halt. It's called an ice jam. (On camera): Everyone we're talking to who lives around here says they've never seen this river looked like this. During the summer this is a very popular place to go boating. But right now it looks like a glacier landscape in Alaska.
(Voice-over): Most residents have either left for the season or left out of fear.
TUCHMAN (on camera): How concerned are you what happens when it starts to thaw and it becomes water?
JOJO BROADWELL, WILMINGTON, ILLINOIS RESIDENT: That's when we've got the problem. That's when you've got the story. Because that's when the water is going to come up like a backed up toilet. The ice is going to come up and it's going to take out everything in its path. It's going to -- it's nothing but destruction. It's like somebody took a bulldozer and just ran a bulldozer through all these homes.
TUCHMAN: So what do you think is going to happen to your home?
BROADWELL: I don't know. I'm praying for the best. Going to church and praying that I keep my home. You know, it's in God's hands.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): An ice jam can be deadly deceiving.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the water, it looks to be still, nothing is moving. And that seems like good thing. But in fact there is still water piling up underneath, making the pressure higher. So all of a sudden this is going to break free -- break through and you could see big pieces of ice into people's homes. You can see the ice dam up and big flooding go around it.
TUCHMAN: This is what it looks like when an ice jam finally breaks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suddenly the entire river started moving. Extremely fast. Like a freight train.
TUCHMAN: This was Ohio's Rocky River last week. When the jam broke, the river rose six feet in just minutes. This week, that flooding is responsible for at least one presumed death.
In this small town outside Peoria, Illinois, rescue crews searched a second day for an elderly man. His boat capsized when he was trying to reach his flooded home. The surrounding ice made his rescue next to impossible.
CHIEF CHRIS SCHISLER, IPAVA FIRE DEPARTMENT: There's not a whole lot of open water in the area where the victim was and a lot of difficult stuff to deal with.
TUCHMAN: Ice jams have taken over waterways in the Midwest and the Great Lakes. In fact, this NASA photo shows the Great Lakes over 75 percent frozen. An ice jam spread as far east as Pennsylvania. With warmer temperatures expected, these communities are bracing for the worst.
COOPER: Incredible images. So when is the thaw supposed to come that those rivers -- that the residents are so worried about? When is that supposed to happen?
TUCHMAN: Well, the forecast for here, Anderson, at least another week of temperatures nowhere near the freezing mark. But by about Thursday the temperatures supposed to run up to the 40s and go into the 50s a few days later. And that's when we could see the big trouble here.
COOPER: It looks like you're in the middle of like a churning river, churning ocean that just suddenly froze. It's just incredible.
All right, Gary, thanks.
There's a lot more happening tonight to tell you about. Susan Hendricks has the "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Ukraine's interim prosecutor general says an international arrest warrant has been issued for Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president of Ukraine, whose whereabouts are unknown. He was forced from office following violent protests.
Autopsies show that two security officers found dead aboard the container ship Maersk Alabama died of respiratory failure and possible heart attacks. But a lot of questions surround their death. Those who knew the men, both who were former Navy SEALs, are shocked by their deaths. Police say a syringe of heroin were discovered in the cabin where the bodies were found.
And victory in Texas for a lesbian couple who were two of the plaintiffs in a suit against the law that bans same-sex marriage in that state. Today a federal judge struck down the law but his ruling will not take effect until supporters of the ban have a chance to appeal it which they vowed to do.
And you've got to see this one. A weather forecaster in California was interrupted on air by an unwanted visitor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Bakersfield, 61, looking -- oh, my gosh. Did you guys see that? Sorry. There was a spider that fell. Sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take it easy, Pearlman. Take it easy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate spiders, man, especially when you're bald you feel them crawling on your head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDRICKS: Aaron Pearlman said he had such a fear of spiders he made sure the little critter did not bother him again. He said his head is sensitive and he has arachnophobia.
COOPER: All right. Susan, thanks very much.
Up next, gentrification happening obviously in a lot of cities across the country. Filmmaker Spike Lee never one to hold his opinions isn't happy about gentrification in New York City, the impact its having. He launched a verbal, well, discussion, I guess you could say, about it last night before a group of college students. It went viral, it's got a lot of people talking.
My interview with Spike Lee when we come back.
COOPER: Hey, welcome back. Tonight a 360 exclusive with filmmaker Spike Lee. His movies have focused on topics what some people would prefer not to talk about such as race relations here in New York, his hometown.
Now Lee has weighed in on the subject of gentrification. Obviously many cities in this country are being transformed as people with high incomes in many cases, many of whom are white, move into neighborhoods previously home to those with lower incomes. Many of them African- American.
Speaking to students last night at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Lee denounced gentrification that's changing New York City and Harlem and Brooklyn itself where he was raised. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPIKE LEE, FILMMAKER: I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It's changed. And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the South Bronx, in Harlem, and Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights for the facility to get better? The garbage wasn't picked up every month (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. P.S. 20 was not good. P.S. 10. Rothschild 294.
The police went around. When you see white mothers push their babies in strollers 3:00 in the morning down 125th Street that must tell you something. And then comes the mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Christopher Columbus syndrome. You can't discover this. We've been here. You just can't come and Bogart.
There were brothers in the street with mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED) African drums in Mount Morris Park that smoked for 40 years, and now they can't do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud. My father's a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED) sixty-eight, and the mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED) people moved in next year and called the cops on my father.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Because his father was playing base and not even an electric base. He said there has been -- there has to be respect for neighborhood cultures that are generations old. Spike Lee joins us now.
It's always good to have you on the program.
LEE: How are you doing?
COOPER: You talked about the trash getting picked up, facilities getting better, police being more active. All those improvements after a community starts to gentrify and neighborhoods start to gentrify. To you is that because white people moved into the neighborhood? Or could it also be a function of pure economics?
That like it or not in this society the more money you make the louder your voice is heard, the more politicians pay attention and the more police pay attention?
LEE: Well, I think it's a combination of the two. But I don't think that you could deny the fact that race takes a part. Now I'd like to say, first of all, last night I spoke at Pratt Institute. I was invited to speak there for Black History Month. And people there have a very short memory. There's a thing called white flight where with the decay of urban cities, white Americans left these cities. They flee away from taxes, crime, whatever. And everywhere -- went to suburbia.
It followed them. And they said why are we driving -- why are we spending three hours a day on the Long Island Expressway? Let's move back into these cities. So for me it's about -- people talk about -- people get displaced. Where the black population of New York City has declined. The Hispanic or Puerto Rican population of New York City has declined. And it's about having affordable housing so people whoever they are can live in New York City.
And it's not just New York. D.C. used to be called chocolate city. Chicago, they knocked down the Cabrini Green Projects and now black people are stuck on the projects outside of Chicago.
COOPER: But isn't this something --
LEE: It's --
COOPER: Sorry. Isn't this something that has happened to -- in every generation to all sorts of different groups? Little Italy in New York has gotten smaller as parts of Chinatown have grown and other neighborhoods have grown. One, an area that used to be predominantly Jewish then changes over to another ethnic group.
Is it -- you don't see this as something --
LEE: No, but here's --
COOPER: You think it's escalating?
LEE: Here's the difference, Anderson. Because those -- they were moving up. When you had the ghettos in the Lower East Side, they wanted to move to Long Island.
LEE: We're talking about historically black neighbors, Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant. It's not like -- it's totally different I think.
COOPER: There was an opinion piece in "The Times" recently written by Chef Marcus Samuelson who's lived in Harlem I think for 10 years. He owns a restaurant there. And the headline was, "Is Harlem Good Now?" And in it he said that he's asked all the time when he goes to high- profile events if Harlem is good now, and he wrote, and I want to read what he said, he said, quote, "That is a question loaded with long- held ideas about race and class, one that dismisses the complex vital history of this neighborhood and its people, their contributions to civil rights and art. Under one word bad."
Does that ring true to you?
LEE: Yes, it does. And when we began this piece tonight, you played some of my speech. And my thing is this. I don't hate anybody. I think anybody is entitled to live where they want. My problem is that when you move into a neighborhood, have some respect for the history, for the culture. And I'm going to explain the word Bogart for people who don't know.
Bogart comes from Humphrey Bogart meaning you come in and just taking over. You can't do that. These historic -- Harlem is a historic black neighborhood. History.
LEE: Bedford Stuyvesant. Fort Greene. Just come and be humble. Don't come in saying we're here now and this is the way it has to be. That's crazy.
COOPER: And it's interesting --
LEE: To me.
COOPER: It's interesting, because, I mean, you were talking about your own dad who bought a building in the '60s.
LEE: We bought our house -- we bought our brownstone at Fort Greene for $40,000 in 1968. My father is a great jazz musician. No one has ever complained about my father playing music. Until last year when the new neighbors, they called the cops on him. We bought the house in 1968.
COOPER: It is interesting that -
LEE: Now they're calling the cops? The new neighbors are calling the cops?
COOPER: It is --
LEE: He's been there way before they were. COOPER: It's interesting that people move into a neighborhood because they like the -- they like the neighborhood, they like -- I mean, often, you know, it's -- they like that it's a unique neighborhood, that it has personality. But even in the process of moving in, as you say, they're not respecting the culture that exists there. The thing that maybe even attracted them there in the first place.
LEE: Well, you know, sometimes there's a saying you want it but you don't really want it. And I just hope that there's affordable house for everybody so New York City can keep -- can stay the great city it is. Because if you can't -- if you have to be a millionaire to live in New York City, New York City is not going to be the great city that it is because the arts aren't going to be there. You can't afford to send your children to private school it's just going to be a disaster.
We need affordable housing and just whole rethinking of what the city's going to be in the United States of America in my opinion.
COOPER: So is -- as somebody who sees the headline about what you are talking about and say you talking gentrification, to you is any form -- is there any good that comes out of a neighborhood attracting new people?
LEE: There's good. But what cost? If we lose half of the African- American population, in my neighborhood Fort Greene, and the schools become better, what happened to the half of -- half the people that left? And it's not just about people owning homes. There's also -- everybody can't own a home in a neighborhood. People rent. So people can't afford the rent.
And we talk about the borough of Brooklyn after Coney Island, it's the Atlantic Ocean. Where are you going to go?
COOPER: In terms of, though, property values for people who have owned a building, you know, for like your family were saying bought in the '60s, and as an area gentrifies, property values go up, people benefit in that way. So, I mean, that's a benefit for those who own property. But for those who are renting you're saying that's not a benefit obviously.
LEE: Yes. Everybody doesn't have -- is not fortunate enough to own a house. So I'm not going to say there's absolutely no benefits. I'm just saying at what cost. And I just find it interesting that you have to have an influx of white New Yorkers to move into these neighborhoods for the services to go up, for the schools to be better. They get better sanitation, they get more police protection.
LEE: Why -- why --
COOPER: Those services should have existed before.
LEE: Why not that happened before gentrification? COOPER: Right.
LEE: We're still paying taxes. Still New Yorkers.
COOPER: Right. There are -- and I know you've heard this, there are some people out there who take an issue with the fact that you're talking about these neighborhood, your old neighborhood of Fort Greene, that you don't still live there, that you left Fort Greene, I don't know, however many -- 10 years ago. You live in --
LEE: The reason why I left Fort Greene is because everybody in Fort Greene knows me and they ring my bell.
And my wife said we have to go. My office -- my office is still in Fort Greene. Woody Allen does not live in Midwood. Barbara Streisand moved out. Jay-Z moved out. So Spike Lee is not the only person from Brooklyn who's left the borough.
My heart will always be in the republic of Brooklyn, New York.
COOPER: I haven't -- I haven't heard anyone calling out Woody Allen for leaving Brooklyn.
Spike Lee, it's good to have you on the program always. It's interesting. Thank you.
LEE: Anderson, anytime you call me, I'm on.
COOPER: All right. I appreciate it. Take care.
LEE: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, it sounds like something out of a spy novel. Private bankers, a secret elevators, statements hidden in the pages of a magazine. We're going to tell you how senators say a Swiss bank helped wealthy Americans hide billions of dollars to evade taxes. And that cost everybody here money. We'll talk about that ahead.
COOPER: Welcome back. The leaders of Switzerland's largest bank said they, quote, "deeply regret" that their company, Credit Suisse, helped rich American clients hide money from the IRS. But they're also downplaying the company's involvement, saying just a small number of rogue bankers are to blame.
A Senate investigation found the bank held billions of dollars for tens of thousands of American clients most of which was held in secret.
Brian Todd reports on how the Swiss bank helped Americans cheat on their taxes. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An elevator with no buttons, operated by remote control. Whisking clients to secret banking rooms. A wealthy customer hiding a quarter million dollars in panty hose wrapped around her body on airplane flights. This isn't a white collar crime thriller. This is what a Senate report says Switzerland's second largest bank was doing to help rich Americans hide their accounts from the IRS.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS: You don't want to be in the dirty business any longer of helping U.S. clients cheat on their taxes.
TODD: Big wigs of Credit Suisse were grilled before a Senate subcommittee. The report found that between 2001 and 2008 Credit Suisse held more than 22,000 accounts for rich American customers. Totaling up to $12 billion. Nearly all of the accounts never reported for tax purposes.
BRYAN SKARLATOS, TAX ATTORNEY, KOSTELANETZ & FINK: You can have a foreign bank account. It just can't be a secret foreign bank account. You have to disclose it on your income tax return.
TODD (on camera): But secrecy was an obsession. There was the Swiss banker who according to the reports traveled to the U.S., had a discreet breakfast meeting with a client at a Mandarin Oriental Hotel, then did something out of an old Cold War movie plot.
(Voice-over): Investigators say he handed the client bank statements hidden in a "Sports Illustrated" magazine. To entice rich Americans to do their banking in Switzerland, the report says, Credit Suisse set up special office at the Zurich Airport. Clients could fly in, service their undeclared bank accounts then fly out or hit the ski slopes.