Return to Transcripts main page


California Businesses Witnessing Troublesome Crime Surge; State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-TX) Discusses Walking Out Of Statehouse To Stop Restrictive Voting Rights Bill, TX Governor Fundraising For Border Wall; GOP State Lawmakers Seek To Ban Teaching Critical Race Theory. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 17, 2021 - 14:30   ET




JASON CUNNINGHAM, REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENT, WALGREENS: When you see the amount of theft in San Francisco for some of our average stores in the company, that multiplier factor is really driven by the organized retail crime.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Walgreens executive telling elected supervisors last month that theft here is four times the national average, driven by organized crime rings.

CVS says it's experiencing a similar surge. The city has yet to come up with an effective solution.

AHSHA SAFAI, SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: This has been out of control, and people are scared to go into these stores, seniors, people with disabilities, children. And it's just happening brazenly.

SIMON: And with few consequences. According to police data, less than 3 percent of theft cases this year have netted an arrest which some believe only invites more criminal behavior.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ultimately, we do need more police officers. It's important that make sure we have sufficient staff to walk the beats. There's no easy solution to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like the theft is outrageous, and it's obvious that people are taking advantage of the fact that there's zero consequences.

SIMON: For business owners like Adam Mesnic (ph), who has been documenting the city's woes, the chronic theft adds to the disparity felt on the streets, aggravated even more by the pandemic.

Visible homelessness surging as shelters thinned out due to the virus. Open-air drug use and dealing common.

Last year, overdoses, mainly from Fentanyl, resulting in a record 712 deaths, according to city data, more than doubling those who died of COVID. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a high amount of crime, safety concerns.

And the quality of life has seemed to shrink tremendously.

SIMON (on camera): As for whether that Walgreens shoplifter has been appended, the San Francisco police department told us it's aware of the incident circulating on social media and it's being investigated.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: What a situation.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yes. Fueled by an organized crime ring. I want to pull that thread and hear more about that.

CAMEROTA: Me, too. I want to know what he was stealing and why organized crime wants it. Tomorrow, we have a segment on it.


CAMEROTA: Stick around for that.


CAMEROTA: OK, still ahead, voting rights under attack in America. We're about to hear from one of the Texas lawmakers who walked out of his statehouse to stop a restrictive bill. What happens next?



CAMEROTA: The Texas State Democratic lawmakers who walked out on Republicans last month to stop a restrictive voting bill are pressuring lawmakers in Washington to push harder for a federal voting rights bill.

Texas State Representative Rafael Anchia tweeted After a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris, saying, "My takeaway with V.P. meeting, we need to continue to build a broad-based coalition and really let Americans of all stripes understand the precarious nature of our democracy and the importance of our right to vote."

State Rep. Rafael Anchia joins us now.

Great to have you here.

Tell us what the upshot of this meeting was with the vice president. What do you want Vice President Harris to do to help you in Texas?

STATE REP. RAFAEL ANCHIA (D-TX): Great to be with you.

Happy Father's Day this weekend to all the dads out there.

I just wanted to say how gratified I was to be in the meeting with Vice President Harris. She gave us a lot of times. She shared a lot of experiences and ideas on protecting the right to vote, not only in Texas, but across the country.

We were joined in this trip, also, by a number of representatives from both the House and Senate that helped kill the voter suppression bill.

And we were received by the Senate Democratic caucus in Washington and also the speaker of the House. We've had a pretty intense itinerary the last couple days.

The vice president said just very clearly, let's build this broad coalition and focus the eyes of the nation on voting rights.

She mentioned that Texas was a spark, a spark and a wake-up call because of the precarious nature of our democracy, we're not just talking about the insurrection on January 6th.

We're talking about this all-out assault on voting rights across the country in Republican-led legislature that have been enabling the big law told by ex-President Trump.


CAMEROTA: Let me interrupt for a second. I just don't know if you have time for this.

In terms of building the broad-based coalition, it sounds great, except you're up against a special session that your governor. And the state Republicans say they're going to call in your state to pass the most restrictive voting act, law, in the country.

So I know time is of the essence.

ANCHIA: Time is certainly of the essence, no question about it.

As we're coming up on August 6th, the anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, clearly, the governor will throw red meat issues on the call of a special session. We still have tools in our tool belt.

CAMEROTA: Like what? What could you do?

ANCHIA: Including not coming back for that special session.

Yes, the governor could be empowered to send law enforcement out to pull us back in, but we're already discussing, not only attacking the bill if we come back and fight it directly in the House chamber through procedure, through the rules, as we have done throughout, but also looking at continuing to break quorum.

It's no secret that's something that's been effective in the past in the state of Texas. We have had a series of voter suppression bills and findings by federal courts against the state of Texas of intentional discrimination. S.B.-7 was the punctuation of those efforts.

We're ready.

It's not just the Texas legislature. We're making common cause with our colleagues throughout the country who are subject to voter suppression bills and really getting the attention of the country.

The key thing is that we pass federal legislation that gives us a backstop in Texas against these very restrictive measures.


CAMEROTA: I want to get to that federal legislation in a second.

Are you saying you would be willing to even leave the state to break quorum?

ANCHIA: Brave Texans have done it in the past to protect voting rights and avoid gerrymandering. I would be willing to do it.

I think my constituents that I hear from on a regular basis are proud of the patriots that walked off the floor to kill the voter suppression bill. I think they would have my back.

CAMEROTA: Now let's get to the federal laws that are possible. As you know, Senator Joe Manchin has been against the more expansive one. Now he has put out a list of the things he is comfortable with.

Let me read some of these proposals to you.

He wants to make Election Day a public holiday, expand voting to at least 15 consecutive days, ban partisan gerrymandering, require voter I.D. with allowable alternatives to prove your identity in order to vote.

Are you comfortable with what he's laying out there?

ANCHIA: No question. And Senator Manchin is a former chief elections official for West Virginia. I think he's looking to that experience to form his asks.

Texas already has photo I.D. We were able to overturn the discriminatory strict photo I.D. and do what Manchin is saying, create non-photo I.D.s who don't have that type of I.D.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, while I have you, in our waning seconds, Governor Abbott is saying that he's going to attempt to do some fundraising himself to build a border wall in Texas.

If he can raise the funds -- and it's not taxpayer money. It's from donors, I suppose -- are you comfortable with that?

ANCHIA: He has already taken $250 million of taxpayer money from the budget, which we did not authorize. We're certainly going to be challenging that.

If he seeks to add taxpayer dollars, I would just say buyer beware. We've already seen the fraud committed by Steve Bannon, which he's under investigation and indictment for on the Trump border wall. This sounds like another similar ploy.

This is a federal jurisdiction. This border wall can only be built by the feds.

I think this is an election year ploy by the governor and a waste of $250 million that should be going to the residents of the state of Texas.

CAMEROTA: State Rep. Rafael Anchia, thank you very much. We appreciate having you on.

ANCHIA: Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: Still ahead, the conversation about race in schools as Republicans in some states try to limit how the history of racism in this country can be taught in classrooms.

We'll talk to two students fighting to make sure the truth about America's history, all of it, has a place in schools.



BLACKWELL: Next hour, President Biden will sign into law a bill making June 19th, Juneteenth, a national federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

Several states have ban or are looking to ban the teaching of critical race theory in schools, also the concept of examining American institutions through the lens of race and racism.

Now some students are pushing back and making the case for what they call a more diversified curriculum. Diversify Our Narrative is a national group of students calling for schools to include at least one book by a person of color and about the black experience and other calls as well.

Two leaders of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Group are with us, Catherine Tiddy and Veronica Bofah.

Thank you for being with me today.

Let me start with you, Catherine.

I mentioned the states across the country trying to limit how race is taught, the history of racism in this country. You want to expand it.

Tell me what you want to see that you are not seeing in the classroom.

CATHERINE TIDDY, STUDENT & MEMBER, DIVERSIFY OUR NARRATIVE, CHARLOTTE- MECKLENBURG GROUP: Sure. So the first thing that we thought of really with the more diverse curriculum was just the importance of representation of the whole.

So the importance of students being able to see protagonists that look like them, that have the same culture and religion of them, and seeing it in their textbooks, that might not be represented now.

One is a diversified, more diversified -- diverse novels, novels by and about people of color and also textbook reform in the future.

So looking at the full history of America, not simply through one lens.

BLACKWELL: Veronica, I understand that actually both of you finished your sophomore year. You're rising juniors.

Are there books, a part of the curriculum, that offer a black, contemporary perspective?

VERONICA BOFAH, STUDENT & MEMBER, DIVERSITY OUR NARRATIVE, CHARLOTTE- MECKLENBURG GROUP: Yes. Both Catherine and I were able to have teachers that taught English classes with racial sensitivity in my mind and promoting inclusivity.

And so we got to experience reading text and passages that did include, not only black voices, but other colors as well.


BLACKWELL: Catherine, one of the organization's recommended reading list books is, "So You Want to Talk about Race." And part of it deals with how to discuss -- many different topics but it includes white privilege and explains to people who may not know about it or believe that it's real.

Why should that be part of the curriculum in schools? Why should students of all colors hear about white privilege?

TIDDY: I think the sooner we accept and acknowledge that white privilege plays an active role in our society the sooner we can get to the end of that privilege and create a society in which everybody can benefit equally.

If we don't get on with that, no change can be made.

You say people of color and white students, and that's an important part also.

There are specifically more rural areas, and there are districts that are not as diverse.

And it's important for white students to see the accomplishments of people of color, to see and know that anybody can succeed if we were to give everybody an equal opportunity to do so.

BLACKWELL: You know that there's a bill moving through the Carolina legislature that looks a lot like bills passing through the country, where there's a clause that says the concept that a person could be oppressive, solely by the virtue of race, whether consciously or unconsciously, cannot be promoted in classrooms.

Staying with you, Catherine, do you believe this book would be allowed if this bill passes, to discuss the white privilege in a class?

TIDDY: If the bill passes I don't know that it would be allowed to, but I think the bill misses the point of critical race theory as a whole.

That's the problem with many people who oppose it. They don't show a real understanding of critical race theory.

I think looking through the acts and history of America, especially those that, you know, show that there's a racist past of America, and how the acts in history influenced society today and influences all American institutions.

I don't think that is portraying a specific group as racist. But more so is looking at how we can, again, try to deconstruct the racism in these institutions.

BLACKWELL: Veronica, I had a conversation with a lawmaker in Texas in which he is pushing the anti-critical race theory and how race can be taught in the classroom bill in Texas, and if students are having the conversations in the classroom or not.

Are you having these conversations aside from the curriculum schools there in charlotte?

BOFAH: Absolutely. Whether it's about a text that implicitly talks about racism or systematic racism, we definitely do talk about different cultures and how each different races are perceived.

And literature and talking about those things with a bill like that passed, it would be ultimately censoring the conversations that encourage students to be more engaged in classes.

And it would limit -- it would limit how we talk about the subjects that we're seeing in our literature and English classes.

BLACKWELL: Veronica Bofah, Catherine Tiddy, thank you both for being with me.

BOFAH: Thank you.

TIDDY: Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: All right.

CAMEROTA: OK. Still ahead, CNN has just acquired new video of the violent attack at the U.S. capitol on January 6th. But right-wing media hosts do not want you to see this.

Some hosts on FOX are so embarrassed of this they are concocting crazy new explanations for what we all saw on January 6th. We will play you this new video.

But first, this programming note.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fight like hell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a law enforcement operation. This was a military defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're coming for you, Nancy!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once they started banging on the door, that's all I heard.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We overran the capitol.

ANNOUNCER: Now, new details from those who were there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump said, come to D.C., it's going to be wild. And I knew it make history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This may sound extremely strange to a lot of your viewers, but I feel was appointed by God.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A peaceful protest.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You call January 6th a peaceful protest?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god. What is happening?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was scared, absolutely scared.