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At This Hour

Antisemitic Graffiti Found On Public Park In Florida; Officials To CNN: Iran Plans To Send Missiles, More Drones To Russia; Relentless Drought Pushes Mississippi River To Record Low. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 01, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: They are right now speaking directly to the killer in court.


ANNE RAMSAY, MOTHER OF PARKLAND VICTIM HELENA RAMSAY: The moment she left for school she said bye, mommy, love you.

THERESA ROBINOVITZ, GRANDMOTHER OF PARKLAND VICTIM ALYSSA ALHADEF: I hope you're ever breathing moment here on Earth is miserable and you repent for your sins, Nikolas, and burn in hell.

RAMSAY: One of those smiley face with a heart because I had given her a cookie from Target store.


BOLDUAN: More from the courtroom next.



BOLDUAN: This morning, families of the victims of the horrific school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are getting their chance to have their voices heard, given their final victim impact statements ahead of the sentencing of the convicted murderer, Nikolas Cruz. Listen to this.


DAVID ROBINOVITZ, GRANDFATHER OF PARKLAND VICTIM ALYSSA ALHADEFF: It's my hope that you go somewhere to meet your maker of whatever it is. And Parkland murderer, I hope that your Maker sends you directly to hell to burn for the rest of your eternity.

PATRICIA OLIVER, MOTHER OF PARKLAND VICTIM JOAQUIN OLIVER: I have emptiness, I have sadness, and I have faith. I am broken. I am broken. I am broken.

MEGHAN PETTY, SISTER OF PARKLAND VICTIM ALAINA PETTY: The first major event of my adult life was when I was 19 when my sister was shot to death, and now my early 20s are ending with being told that no justice will be done in her memory that she died but it doesn't matter because his life wasn't cupcakes, rainbows, and sunshine. He gets daily meals, a roof over his head and a bed to sleep in now. My sister's body's food for carrion, her roof is six feet of dirt and her bed is a coffin.


BOLDUAN: Last month, the jury spared Cruz from the death penalty, instead recommending he received life in prison for the 2018 attack in Parkland, Florida. He is expected to receive that final sentence tomorrow.

We're also tracking another incident of antisemitism in America, this time in western Florida, where antisemitic racist messages and swastikas were graffitied in a local park. And that is actually the second time in just the last week that antisemitic messages appeared on public property in the state. The city of Weston is now offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the incident there.

Joining me now is the mayor of Weston Florida, Margaret Brown, and Rabbi Adam Watstein of the B'nai Aviv synagogue in Weston. Thank you both for coming on. Mayor, do you have any leads yet on who is behind this?

MARGARET BROWN, MAYOR OF WESTON, FLORIDA: Actually, no, we don't at this point but it is an act of investigation. And there are a number of protocols that are being followed by our chief of police here, Sam Cavaliere.

BOLDUAN: Is it -- at this point, Mayor, is that surprising, it's disappointing that you haven't -- that you say there are leads but would you expect to be further along after putting out this reward offer?

BROWN: Well, yes, and no. Initially, I think that -- I believe that we looked at it, it was vandalism by maybe an individual or a group of individuals, and maybe it was perceived as a prank, which there is no humor in any of this. But now, since this has occurred again, we're looking so seriously at this not that we didn't before but to the extent that we're asking our entire community. As was evident yesterday, we held a press conference, including all of our religious leadership in our community, primarily. We know somebody knows something. And if you know something, say something, please come forward, let us know contact the Broward sheriff's office with information.

BOLDUAN: Rabbi, at a press conference, you had this message for -- to the people or person who did this. You said to the perpetrators of these racist and antisemitic crimes, all of us collectively tell you, you will not win. Rabbi, how do you make sure they do not win? How do you really stop this?

ADAM WATSTEIN, RABBI, B'NAI AVIV SYNAGOGUE: So that's a great question, Kate. And again, I appreciate you having us on your program. Ultimately, I actually don't think it's my responsibility nor the Jewish community's responsibility to stop this perpetrator. What was so outlying about the press conference was exactly as our mayor just testified the three rabbis of Weston were flanked by our fellow clergy people and our political officials, none of whom are members of the Jewish community. And really, the onus of responsibility and onus of response really lies outside of our community to stop this hateful rhetoric and to stop this racist speech.

BOLDUAN: You know, Rabbi, we are seeing hate on the rise across the country. You know, the ADL has clearly tracked that last year, there was a record number of harassment, vandalism, and violence towards Jews, and they're also saying that they see no meaningful decrease in it this year. What does it say to you about the current environment that people feel so comfortable targeting Jews, targeting black people in the way that they have in your city?


WATSTEIN: I think your previous segment really spoke beautifully about the dangers of toxic rhetoric. We teach our children sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me. The Jewish people for 3300 years have never believed that. We know that toxic rhetoric will eventually lead to sticks and stones. So an educational component in the homes amongst both sides of the aisle of our politicians needs to be incorporated so that hate speech and all of its forms is mitigated so that the temperature is, as you said, turned way down. Otherwise, we will continue to be targets.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And, Mayor, this is a kind of incident that is -- that's not good news for any city, of course. I mean, what is your message to the people of Weston and also to the people who did this?

BROWN: Well, to be honest with you, it's horrifying. It's -- we're re- traumatizing individuals that as the Rabbi has mentioned, for 3300 years, have experienced a traumatic crisis. And we're looking at racial slurs, antisemitic rhetoric, none of this is good. It's not good for any community.

And when this first happened, myself and our city manager and other leadership, as well as our religious leadership, decided that we wanted to collectively present a unified force that we're not going to tolerate this. We will find this individual. And for that individual, and I stated yesterday, I'm not sure what dark hole they crawled into. And, as I stated, they have all the bravado to do this under the cloak of darkness. And I think it's cowardly. If they really felt this way, they need to come out into the light and let us know and be brave there and speak to us.

I will tell you something. I'm speaking with Rabbi Watstein yesterday following this event, and we talked like what would you do if you knew this person. What I thought showed such great humanity as what he told me, if I knew the individual or the individuals, I would make personal time to sit with this individual and share who I am, share our Jewish faith, and let them get to know me, and they would find out that I'm not your enemy. And for that, I'm ever thankful to the leadership we have, the rabbinical leadership that we have here in the city of Weston for taking that kind of position of kindness, compassion, and humanity. And I think that's what really speaks for the city of Weston is just that.

BOLDUAN: And that is the message. Mayor, thank you. Rabbi, thank you for your leadership in -- with within your congregation, of course, and within the faith community at large. Thank you so much, both of you.

WATSTEIN: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you for having us.

BOLDUAN: Of course, we'll continue to cover this and hopefully this person will be caught very soon.

A dangerous new development of the war in Ukraine we need to tell you about, Iran now arming Russia with ballistic missiles and more drones possibly escalating this conflict that truly shows no signs of ending. We're going to take you live to Kyiv next.



BOLDUAN: New CNN reporting now. Iran is preparing to send a massive new cache of weapons to Russia in order to bolster their firepower in Russia's brutal war against Ukraine. Officials from a Western nation telling CNN that the shipments include more attack drones, and what's believed to be the first instance of Iran sending advanced precision- guided missiles to Russia. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is live in Kyiv for us at this hour. Salma, what do these weapons mean to this fight?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To terribly worrying development, Kate, 1000 additional weapons as you mentioned, among them these precision weapons that's extremely concerning. When you ask yourself the question what has Russia been targeting lately? What it's been targeting lately is the critical infrastructure of this country is its electricity grid, its water supply, its cell phone towers. Just here yesterday in Kyiv, there was a barrage of missiles that led to 80 percent of residents not having access to water, hundreds of thousands without power, and communications were extremely difficult and spotty, most of that back up now. But officials here, of course, are concerned that Russia will do that again and they simply don't have the ability to continue to repair this infrastructure over and over again.

And then I have to bring up those drones, of course, Kate, because these Shahed made Iranian manufactured drones, these really turned things around a few weeks ago here in Kyiv and across the country. They were essentially used to terrorize local populations. They were loitering over homes among the victims were pregnant women. So, this could be a turn potentially in the conflict. But just the fact that Russia is turning to Iran for weapons, I think that reveals a lot, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Salma, great point. Thank you so much for your reporting as always. Coming up next for us, CNN's Bill Weir is live and the Mississippi River Basin. And, Bill, another amazing discovery revealed by the drought of the banks of the Mississippi.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: So many -- so many, Kate. This is just one ferry part of steamboat graveyards that are being exposed by this drought but also being exposed to huge vulnerabilities in America's supply chain. So much of our bread and butter floats down this river, and now these barges are stuck and just praying for rain. We'll tell you about it next.



BOLDUAN: The severe drought that's not going away. And new signs that the once mighty Mississippi is losing water at an alarming rate with huge and crippling impacts on the U.S. supply chain. CNN's Bill Weir is live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a really it's an amazing view, the drought revealing things, Bill, not seen in decades in that river.

WEIR: Exactly. Yes, Kate, we're actually standing in a shipwreck here.


This is the Brook Hill, built in the late 1800s. It was a fairy sort of like a catamaran with a steam engine in the middle, pumping those paddles around. The boiler is just stuck in the mud behind us over here. And on an average year, you'd need snorkel or scuba to come down and look at it this way. Now we've got school kids coming down here and taking pictures. They had to put up signs and you can walk on it, you can touch it, please don't take anything because it's owned by the state of Louisiana as an artifact.

But much more worrying these days is the modern vessels of trade that are stuck in these record-low numbers. You know, the Mississippi is built by runoff of many different states, and there just isn't enough rain to fill up this river. They channeled it decades ago, the Army Corps of Engineers, their mission is to keep a shipping channel that is 300 feet wide, nine feet deep, it's harder and harder to do, Kate, and as a result, the price of shipping just a barrel of soybeans has gone up 300 percent since the summer, one more inflationary pressure in the age of a climate crisis as these droughts gets longer. And now the hope is when the rain comes, it doesn't come all at once.

BOLDUAN: And it's exactly right. Bill, I recommend for everyone build an amazing piece on this with many poetic and literal -- and literal references that you have to see on Bill, as always, thank you so much for putting it in such a clear perspective.

WEIR: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Really great to see you. And thank you all so much for being here "AT THIS HOUR." Thanks for watching. I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this break.