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Officials: 5 Dead, 40+ Injured in Wisconsin Parade Incident; U.S. COVID Deaths in 2021 Outpace 2020's Death Toll; Clashes Erupt During Anti-Lockdown Protests in Europe. Aired 4-4:30aET
Aired November 22, 2021 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. We are following breaking news out of Waukesha Wisconsin. City government officials say at least five people are dead and more than 40 injured after a vehicle plowed through a Christmas parade. Children are amongst those who were hit.
They say one person is in custody and there's no active threat to the community. One man caught the moment, the video - the vehicle sped by members in that parade.
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FOSTER: Another video shot at the parade shows you just have fast the SUV sped past a marching band still heading down the streets. Then in this one the driver has seen plowing through barricades before driving off. Here's the police chief describing what happened.
DANIEL THOMPSON, WAUKESHA POLICE CHIEF: We will not be releasing information on fatalities at this time while we are working on notifying the family members of the deceased. An officer did discharge his weapon at the suspect vehicle to try to stop the vehicle. No bystanders were injured as a result of the weapon discharge. We're no longer looking for a suspect vehicle. We do have a person of interest in custody at the moment. But this is still a very fluid investigation.
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FOSTER: One woman caught the moment the vehicle ran down members of the marching band. We should warn you that while we're not showing the moment of impact the video is still disturbing.
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FOSTER: Bystanders caught these images after the vehicle drove through the crowd. The mayor of Waukesha was at the parade and described the scene.
SHAWN RELLY, WAUKESHA MAYOR: I walked in the parade at the beginning, I saw the happy children sitting on the curb. I saw the happy parents behind their children. I can still see the smiling faces. A parade is a celebration for our community. Today our community faced horror and tragedy in what should have been a community celebration. I'm deeply saddened to know that so many in our community went to a parade but ended up dealing with injury and heartache.
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FOSTER: Earlier CNN soon as I spoke with Drake Bentley, he's a reporter with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who was at the scene shortly after the tragedy occurred. He described the heartbreak and the worry that so many community members are feeling right now.
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DRAKE BENTLEY, REPORTER, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL: From - from talking to people, it's - they're just devastated. They don't know why something like this would happen in their community. You know, there's a lot of you know, national spotlight on this area of the country right now with the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.
And, you know, people are naturally going to connect the two events and let's hope that they aren't connected. But you know, that possibility remains and - but that - that tells you the level, you know, the emotions that people are having right now where it's a very divided country. Emotions are at an all-time high right now. People are on edge, they you know, the first thing they want to know is am I safe? What's going to happen? We've had some -some members of some Waukesha citizens come to the fire department when this was all happening. And you know, were pretty upset and were wondering you know, you know, saying things like I've got my neighbors are on edge.
They don't - they want - they're going to defend their homes, what's going on? You know, and it's just a very scary time right now.
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FOSTER: Of course there's still so many unanswered questions surrounding this tragedy. CNN spoke with several experts to get their take on what happened and where the investigation will go next.
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JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: A couple things stood out to me and that's why we have to await judgment. I don't know what they hold. One is that the car look damaged before it entered the - the parade area so you wonder was something else going on beforehand.
The second is, of course, that there does appear to be periods where the driver is swerving away from groups, doesn't mean he missed them all but that he does appear to try to avoid them. We don't know what that means at this stage.
But for someone like me, that cuts against the, oh my God, this is terrorism or Oh my God, this is some racial response or whatever it is that we're dealing with in the United States. I think it's noticeable that the FBI has not gotten involved with this case, in most cases that are suspected terrorism they would have by the stage. So that's also good news in the sense that maybe we don't - it doesn't seem like we have a terror threat right now.
And then every mayor and police chief will assess their parade and holiday planning to ensure that there are protocols for a rampage vehicle, whether it's purposeful or on accident.
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You have a crime scene, a massive crime scene that has to be processed, you've got witnesses that need to be interviewed. And then you've got a suspect in custody, that you're trying to interview if they're willing to speak with you to find out exactly what happened. They've got a process the vehicle, probably getting search warrants.
They know who this individual is, house, any other place that he might be using, they would get search warrants to search to see what evidence they could find. Computers, pull hard drives, I mean, there's an awful lot that has to take place now because you've got an individual in custody. I don't know where this is going to go right now. But this could very well be an intentional act, which makes it criminal and they're going to be very careful to make sure they build a solid case.
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FOSTER: The Archdiocese of Milwaukee says some of its members were injured on Sunday in Waukesha. In a statement, the Communications Director said quote, "our prayers with the people who've been injured and killed during the tragic incident in Waukesha. Among the injured are one of our Catholic priests as well as multiple parishioners and Waukesha Catholic school children. Please join us in prayer for all those involved, their families and those who are traumatized from witnessing the horrible scene."
And lawmakers representing Wisconsin are also speaking out about the tragedy. US Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin tweeted this. 'The horrific violence of the workshop Christmas parade is just heartbreaking. Please keep the victims in your prayers.'
Republican Senator Ron Johnson offered his thoughts and prayers, tweeting, 'my gratitude for all law enforcement, medical personnel and community members who are responding.'
And Wisconsin's Governor Tony Evers says he and his wife are praying for walk short and all the kids families and community members affected by this senseless act. We'll have more ahead on the tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Do stay with CNN for all the latest coverage.
Now in a South Georgia courtroom, closing arguments are set to begin in the Ahmaud Arbery murder child just hours from now. Arbery's family has said he was out for a jog last year when he was shot and killed. Defense attorneys argue Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery in self defense as they wrestled over at McMichael's shotgun. McMichael is one of three defendants in the racially charged case, including his father.
Also in the coming hours the jury in the civil trial against organizers of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia will begin their second day of deliberations. The right wing demonstration in 2017 turned deadly when a young man drove his car through a crowd of counter protesters, killing a 32-year old woman, injuring dozens of others.
The plaintiffs include town residents, as well - as some as well as some of the wounded. They're suing 14 people and 10 white supremacist and nationalist groups for millions of dollars in damages over the physical and emotional injuries that they suffered. Now still to come on CNN, why critics are skeptical about tennis star Peng Shuai's call for the International Olympic Committee about her safety and wellbeing and China.
And as Europe tries to fight rising COVID cases, protesters are pushing back against restrictions they thought were a thing of the past.
FOSTER: Updating our breaking news out of Wisconsin this hour. Waukesha officials say five people are dead and more than 40 injured after a vehicle drove through a series of barricades before barreling into a Christmas parade. Children are amongst those who were hurt. The police chief says the suspect's vehicle was recovered and a person of interest is now in custody.
One person spoke with CNNs Pamela Brown and described what happened.
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ANGELITO TENORIO, EYEWITNESS: As we were heading back to Main Street, I saw an SUV speeding along the parade route and then all of a sudden heard a loud bang. And then I heard deafening cries, screams from people in attendance, people marching in the parade. Folks are running away from the scene and folks who were left their belongings behind, holding on to their kids running away from Main Street where the parade was.
And then when the crowd cleared out, it looked like that there were people on the ground who - who were struck by the vehicle and then it happened all so quickly and then first responders came in, ambulances, police officers came in and secured the area.
But it was truly horrifying and shocking and very saddening and upsetting. I was truly horrified like the energy at the parade before everything happened was the celebratory. This is a huge event in the city of Waukesha. Folks were - I was really impressed by the turnout people came together to celebrate but when - when I saw the vehicle speed and when I heard that loud bang, I was in shock. I'm still a bit shaken is and a lot of - a lot of uncertainty. A lot of - a lot of fear, a lot of - a lot of - a lot of scaredness for me and my family when this was all occurring, a lot of emotions running through.
Folks, parents were running around the area looking for their kids, looking for their families, looking for their friends, people quickly trying to get out of the area, trying to get to safety. So there's so much going on when it all happened.
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FOSTER: Stay with CNN for continuing coverage as we follow the latest developments for you out of Wisconsin. Now COVID cases are once again on the rise in the US. This map shows the rate of new cases rising in a majority of states. Overall, the US is now averaging more than 92,000 cases a day. Whilst the numbers are ticking up slowly for now, Dr. Anthony Fauci says the US could still be facing a further surge.
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CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN, DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, certainly you can't walk away from the data and the data show that the cases are starting to go up, which is not unexpected when you get into a winter season. And people start to go indoors more. And we know that immunity does wane over time. And that's when you look and say what can we do about that.
And we still have about 60 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not been vaccinated. And that results in the dynamic of virus in the community that not only is dangerous and makes people who are unvaccinated vulnerable, but it also spills over into the vaccinated people because no vaccine is 100 percent effective, and we have a lot of virus circulating around. We know that there are breakthrough infections and that's how you get the uptick in cases.
FOSTER: Meanwhile, US officials are facing criticism over shifting guidance about who should get a vaccine booster. On Friday, the FDA and CDC approved the shots for all adults and officials are hoping the move will put any confusion to rest. Here's Dr. Fauci again.
FAUCI: Let's make it clear. You know, when there's lack of clarity people get confused. They're not sure what to do. If you are 18 or older and you've been vaccinated, fully vaccinated with the Moderna or the Pfizer mRNA six months or more ago, get a booster.
If it's J&J and it's two months ago or more get a boost. I don't think we should get hung up on should-may just go out and get boosted.
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FOSTER: Here's a stark reminder about exactly what's at stake. More Americans have died so far in 2021 than in all of 2020. And that's despite the fact that vaccines have been widely available for most of the year. Now, some protests here in Europe against new COVID restrictions turned violent over the weekend as cases continue to rise on the continent. Police in Brussels used water cannon and tear gas and arrested dozens of people at a massive demonstration against tough new measures.
Belgium was back to a rate of virus transmission that it has not seen since last year. Meanwhile, Austria is under a nationwide partial lockdown for the next 20 days. People vaccinated or not can only go out for essential reasons such as getting food, going to work or going to school. Starting in February, Austria will require that its citizens get vaccinated. Over the weekend, 1000s of people fill the streets of Vienna to protest against the new lockdown measures.
Meanwhile, vaccine misinformation is taking a tragic toll in Romania. This map shows the vaccination percentages across Europe. The darker a country is shaded the more people are vaccinated, it's especially acute in Romania. That country has amongst the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, with just over 36 percent fully vaccinated and one of the highest mortality rates in the world.
CNN's following Europe's COVID crisis across the continent. Let's bring in Salma Abdelaziz in Vienna, Australia and Ben Wedeman. He joins us from Bucharest, Romania. First of all to you Salma because it's not looking good. Is it? This reaction to lockdowns when the government's decided that's the best way to go?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely Max, I mean, one of the iconic Christmas markets here in Vienna and as you can see, it is completely shut down. A nationwide lockdown went into force today. This is the first country in Europe this season to enforce a nationwide lockdown. And that's because there is a surge in COVID infections.
The health minister saying yesterday that ICU capacity is on the brink, that this lockdown is necessary to bring that surge down. And there is a lot of concern and blame here by Austria's Chancellor towards the unvaccinated. About one in three people in Austria have yet to be immunized. That's what the authorities say is the problem and they have a bold plan to deal with it, Max.
This wants - Austria wants to be the first country in Europe to mandate require every eligible person to get vaccinated and the deadline is very soon, February 1. Austria is also the first country here in Europe to try restrictions specifically targeting the unvaccinated.
Yes, we're in a nationwide lockdown now but just last week, restrictions were in place only for the unvaccinated and when this lockdown is lifted, it will only be lifted for those who are already immunized. That means for people who have yet to get those shots, it looks like for now, they will remain under these restrictions. So the big question, of course, is does it work, Max? Well, I will tell you that it appears to work based on what we saw when we went to one of the largest vaccination centers here in Vienna. There the operating manager told us he had seen a huge surge in people coming to get their first shot. He said about 20 percent of those in line were finally coming out to get immunized even though they had been eligible for a month because they wanted to avoid these restrictions, it does have a backlash.
We saw 10s of 1000s of people on the streets of Vienna on Saturday protesting lockdown, angry about these new restrictions. Police did have several arrests. But what you're looking at here is Europe's first true test, Max. Post vaccinations, into the winter season as transmission rates go up and immunity wanes and what it means for experts is vaccinations aren't enough, you have to have the social restrictions in place along with the vaccinations.
Austria's obviously taking this bold step of requiring everyone to get vaccinated, Max. And what that means is Christmas could be under question for a lot of people across this region.
FOSTER: OK, Salma, thank you. Let's go to Ben who's in Bucharest because I guess the Austrians could use Romania as a case in point with just a third of the population vaccinated and a real problem in terms of COVID numbers.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in fact, Romania could use itself as a case in point Max, because, as you mentioned, it's got the second lowest vaccination rate in Europe, after Bulgaria. Just a few weeks ago, it had experienced some of the highest mortality rates on Earth.
We went to a hospital here went into the morgue, it was horrifying, the number of body bags that were strewn around the place because there wasn't enough room because there were so many people dying from COVID. But nonetheless, many people simply are not paying attention. They don't trust the authorities, they trust their priests more than they trust their doctors.
And in fact, the situation here in Bucharest is actually better than elsewhere in the country. In the countryside, for instance, the area, we went in the northeast of the country, the vaccination rate is around 10 percent and local officials, for instance, we spoke to a mayor in one of those towns, he said I'm not going to get vaccinated.
I don't think the vaccine is safe, despite the medical evidence and the evidence right in front of everybody's eyes. Now why is there this suspicion, this mistrust for science, for medical - medical figures? The explanation is it's a mistrust in authority. It's a trust that people have in their priests and not their doctors. And many priests here have basically said don't get vaccinated.
Some have said it's the work, the vaccination is the work of the devil. And therefore, you know, now the numbers Max, are starting to go down. But medical personnel we've spoken to have said that they're very worried that they're about to be hit by a fifth wave of COVID. And the fourth one hasn't even ended, Max. FOSTER: OK. Ben, Salma, thank you both very much indeed, European governments really struggling with this latest so wave of the crisis.
Now it's been nearly three weeks since Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai disappeared from public view after accusing a former top Chinese official of sexual assault. But the International Olympic Committee now says Peng insists she is safe and well in Beijing after conducting a video call with her on Sunday.
Critics, though are skeptical about Peng's wellbeing and worry the IOC is not putting enough pressure on China to address the issues surrounding Peng's allegations. And the Women's Tennis Association, on the other hand, has said it's willing to pull its business from China if Peng is not fully accounted for and safe. Here's CNN's Sports Analyst, Christine Brennan.
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CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: - at the case. And I think when the history books look back at this time, they will say to the WTA, what an incredible masterclass and humanitarian leadership, the right way to do it to call China on its abuses. And the International Olympic Committee sitting there, as they always do, basically doing nothing.
These top female athletes around the world are taking matters into their own hands, saying enough is enough. We're going to put these issues out there and look at the reaction the public reaction is extraordinary. They're so popular the world is with them as you said Peng Shuai, seems to be everyone's talking about this everywhere.
It shows the power that these athletes have, these young women who are such great role models for so many. And that's why the International Olympic Committee is tied itself into pretzels trying to figure out what to do. And they have no idea and it's really showing the failure of their leadership. And you've got one athlete who has done that now to the entire International Olympic Committee.
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FOSTER: Well, a short while ago, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Peng Shuai was quote, not a diplomatic issue. For more on this, let's bring us CNN's Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Obviously, there are two different narratives here, the one, you know, going around the West that Christine was speaking to, their huge amounts of support for the tennis star, but many people in China aren't getting the same narrative, are they?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, not entirely. In fact, this broadcast perhaps right now is being censored for those who are trying to watch CNN in China every time we try to speak about a report on Peng Shuai, these sensors kick in. But let's talk about what we were able to glean from that IOC video chat. According to the International Olympic Committee, they hosted this 30 minute video chat with Peng Shuai, in which the Chinese tennis star says that she is safe and well that she is living at home in Beijing and that she wants her privacy to be respected. She was speaking with the IOC President, Thomas Bach but two other people were also present, including a Chinese sports official.
The IOC did not give a copy of the video to CNN, all we have is a statement and all we have is the photograph, in which we could see Peng Shuai during this video chat flashing a smile to the camera, it was on November, the second. That's almost three weeks ago when Peng Shuai made that explosive accusation alleging that a former top Chinese Communist Party official had sexually assaulted her.
She made this in a lengthy post on the her verified page on a Chinese social media platform. But then half an hour, it was taken down. She has been underblanket censorship since then, there is no discussion inside Mainland China and social media or statement media about those allegations. And that is what prompted the international outcry as well as that hashtag that's gone viral. Where is Peng Shuai and in response to that, there was an interesting reaction over the weekend by individuals linked to Chinese state media sending out clips and videos.
Proof of Life footage of Peng Shuai apparently out and about in Beijing, including this video here, where she is reportedly at a popular government restaurant on Saturday and the people around her go out of their way to put a timestamp on the video, mentioning November the 21st. November, the 21st. The WTA is not having any of this they have issued another statement saying that this video evidence is insufficient.
Let's bring up the statement for you. They write this quote, "It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don't alleviate or address the WTA's concern about our wellbeing and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion. This video does not change our call for a full fair and transparent investigation without censorship into our allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern." Back to you, Max.
FOSTER: OK, Kristie, thank you. Coming up on CNN Newsroom, some of those missionaries kidnapped in Haiti last month have now been released. We'll have the latest details plus White House reaction and the political wrangling over the President's massive social safety net moves to the Senate. Details on that just ahead.