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Powerful Gang Kidnaps 16 Americans, 1 Canadian In Haiti; Jury Selection Begins In Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial; Defense And Arbery Family Concerned Over Getting Fair, Impartial Trial; Standoff Over Police Vaccine Mandates Escalating Across U.S. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired October 18, 2021 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: We turn now to a group of missionaries right now being held hostage in Haiti.

A violent gang kidnapping 16 Americans and one Canadian while on a trip to visit an orphanage on Saturday. Five children, including a 2- year-old are among the hostages.

CNN's Matt Rivers just landed. He's gathering more information and joins us on the phone right now from Haiti.

What do you know, Matt, about the condition of these hostages? And what have you learned about their captors?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, so in, terms of their condition, Ana, that's the big question that everybody wants to know. And there's just not a lot of information about that.

I can tell you we just came from the border really of the suburb where my source in Haiti security forces tell us that this kidnapping took place.

And on the advice of our Haitian producer, on our security team, we couldn't go into that suburb because they say, you know, we would essentially be targets ourselves. It's a very, very dangerous area at this point.

In terms of, you know, the response from the authorities, we know that Haitian authorities are working with U.S. authorities to try and figure this out.


In terms of what their response can be, but exactly how they are going to do this response remains, you know, basically unknown. Because how do they go into these areas that are so dangerous?

But we would be remiss if we focus -- if you're talking about the threat that these gangs pose, if you talk about the violence, the threat from kidnapping that is so pervasive around here.

These are affecting ordinary Haitians more than anybody else in terms of the number of victims that are affected. Mainly, Haitian citizens.

And as a result there's kind of a national protest going on today. Schools are closed. Businesses are closed.

This is the capital. Just a few months ago, when I was here, bustling with cars, traffic, life. It's kind of a dead zone today.

And it's basically a quiet form of protest by Haitians who are saying, look, we can't continue the life in the capital region anymore like this because it's too violent.

That is the group where these Americans are right now. That gang is called 400 Mawozo. And they're one of the biggest, most violent gangs in this country. They're involved in drug trafficking, according to my source.

Those are the people that the missionaries are with. Authorities have a big task ahead of them trying to free these people.

CABRERA: Matt, we do hope you stay safe. We know kidnappings have surged in Haiti, just this year, rising just 300 percent since July. So it is an urgent situation as there's a rush to try to rescue these hostages.

Thank you, Matt Rivers. We'll let you get back to your reporting. Do stay safe, you and your entire team.

Jury selection begins today in the trial of three men accused of chasing down and killing Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was just out for a jog. A live report next.



CABRERA: Under way right now, jury selection in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial. Arbery is the 25-year-old man who was chased down and shot to death while jogging in a neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia.

You may remember this happened months before the killing of George Floyd. And it has been part of the broader discussion and protests focused on racial justice.

Three white men are charged with Arbery's killing, Gregory McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and their neighbor, William Bryan. All three have pleaded not guilty to charges of malice and felony murder along with other charges.

Now, this case lingered for months before anyone was arrested. That didn't happen until video of the deadly encounter surfaced.

So the killing happened in February. The video surfaced in May. And it was after that when people were arrested. CNN's Martin Savidge has been following this from the beginning.

What do you know about jury selection and how long this is expected to take, Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, it's very complicated. And that video plays into if because, as you remember, in the case of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, there was video that showed how George Floyd died.

There is video. We know how Ahmaud Arbery died. The question is, what were the circumstances around that death?

And the people who will make the final decision on that is the jury. And that's why jury selection is so critical.

About a thousand jury summons were sent out in Glen County, not a big county. So one in 85 people received one of those summons. The first 600 people showing up today.

And that process is made more complicated by the fact that you have three defendants, and each of those defendants has two attorneys.

And on top of that, you have the prosecution and the judge that will all weigh into the overall makeup of what this jury will look like. And there are concerns.

Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery's mother, has concerns about the jury and also talked about that video.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, MOTHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: I think, without that video we wouldn't have an arrest. But I thank God that the video came and we got arrests. And now we -- we're here to select the jury to get justice for Ahmaud.

I have my concerns. The jury will be picked from this community. There were lots of miscommunications in the beginning on what happened that day.

But I'm hopeful that we'll get the right people in the right place to make the right decision.


SAVIDGE: During that process, selecting that jury, could take two weeks, and some suggest maybe even two and a half weeks -- Ana?

CABRERA: Martin Savidge, thank you.

Let's get some perspective on this case from CNN legal analyst and civil rights attorney, Areva Martin.

Areva, both the defense and Arbery's family are expressing concern about whether a fair and impartial jury can be seated in this community. What do you think?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's going to be complicated, Ana. We know in the high-profile cases, it's very difficult to find people who haven't heard about the case, haven't read about the case, haven't seen the extensive media.

But this case is more complicated than the typical high-profile case. Because not only do we have the disturbing video of the actual

shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, but we also have the prosecution of the original district attorney.

We have that district attorney who played favoritism towards one of the defendants, who actually worked -- Gregory McMichael, who had actually worked in her office. That delayed the actual indictment of these three defendants.

And it wasn't, as you said in the opening, until there was a huge public outcry and the release of that videotape that we actually saw any kind of action taken with respect to those defendants.

So I think all of those issues are going to come into play as both sides try to pick impartial jurors.

CABRERA: You point out the prosecution has changed hands multiple times. I think they are on the fourth prosecutor.

And, in in fact, it was the original district attorney, Jackie Johnson, who was indicted for her handling of this case.


One of the defendants, Gregory McMichael, previously worked in her office. And she allegedly directed police officers not to arrest him.

And is accused of violating her oath of district attorney by, quote, "showing favor and affection to Greg McMichael during the investigation into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery."

Johnson has denied any wrongdoing.

But specifically that aspect, how do you see that playing into this trial?

MARTIN: Well, I imagine that those jurors -- and we already know that this is a very small community. And one in 85 people have gotten a jury summons.

We know that not only the whole community knows about Ahmaud Arbery's death and murder, but they also know about the indictment of this prosecutor.

And for some, that will send a message that this is a case where a crime was committed and the state, the prosecutor were trying to cover up that crime.

For others, we don't know, because this is a community that has also had racial tension.

One of the motions filed by the defendant is an effort to keep out the license plate of the defendants because it has a Confederate flag on it.

We're also hearing reports that questions about Black Lives Matter and support or opposition to Black Lives Matter is going to come into the voir dire process.

So race is going to be a big issue in this case, Ana.

Remember, there have been federal hate crimes charged against these three defendants.

So this case has a lot of similarities to Trayvon Martin, what we saw with respect to George Zimmerman, how long it took for George Zimmerman to be charged, and how racially charged that case was.

So we have to see how the whole race issue gets played out in the whole jury selection process.

CABRERA: We'll being watching and we will be calling on you to be a great resource for us throughout.

Thank you so much, Areva Martin.

MARTIN: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Coming up, it's getting ugly. Standoffs over vaccine mandates escalating across the country and the fight is undercutting big-city police departments at a critical time. More on that next.



CABRERA: Now to the standoff with police over vaccine mandates.

In Chicago, in Baltimore, the police unions are telling members not to disclose their vaccination status.

In Seattle, the union is warning that city that enforcing a vaccine mandate could worsen a critical staffing shortage.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is now weighing in, explaining why the resistance is hard to understand.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Take the police, we know now the statistics. More police officers die of COVID than they do in other causes of death.

So it doesn't make any sense to not try to protect yourself as well as the colleagues that you work with.


CABRERA: CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is in Chicago where the standoff is reaching a boiling point.

So where do thing stand today, Adrienne?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, if you break the rules, there are consequences. State employees here in Chicago, which includes police, will be required to disclose their vaccination status by Friday.

If they did not upload their vaccination to the online portal, the risk? Placed on unpaid leave.

Now, a day after the deadline, Chicago police issued a memo to its officers restricting their time off.

This all comes as there's a feud between the president of the union and the city's mayor.

On Friday, a judge issued a temporary restraining order banning the union president from publicly making comments about this vaccination policy.

For those of you who have been following along, you know the union president has encouraged his members not to comply with the vaccination policy.

And he estimates nearly 50 percent of Chicago police officers won't comply.

Despite that temporary restraining order, he still spoke out on Saturday. Here is what he said.


JOHN CATANZARA, PRESIDENT, CHICAGO POLICE UNION: Hold the line. Keep fighting. We could not let the status quo maintain going forward. I will not totally be silenced.


BROADDUS: At this point, we don't know how many officers or other city employees have not complied with this policy. We hope to hear those numbers from the mayor later this afternoon. She has news conference happening later today.

But this isn't an issue or a problem that is exclusive to Chicago. In Miami, officers there are refusing a vaccine mandate. And in Seattle, non-patrol officers are preparing to respond to emergencies.

And in Washington State, we've seen farewells, a lot like this one. Listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SGT. RICHARD THOMPSON, WASHINGTON STATE PATROL: It is my personal choice to take a moral stand against -- for medical freedom and personal choice.

I will be signing out of service for the last time today after nearly 17 years of serving the citizens of the state of Washington. It has been my honor and privilege to work alongside of you.



BROADDUS: Sergeant Richard Thompson retiring after nearly two decades.

Meanwhile, it is important to underscore, here in Chicago, COVID-19 has killed at least four officers. The former president of the union also died because of COVID complications. He's being laid to rest today -- Ana?

CABRERA: And again, more police officers dying from COVID than gunfire in the last year.

Adrienne Broaddus, thank you so much.

That is it for us today. Thank you for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. In the meantime, join me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

The news continues next with Alisyn and Victor.