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Justice Has Been Served to Arbery Family; Defendants Expected to File an Appeal; Twenty-seven Migrants Died While Crossing English Channel. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired November 25, 2021 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.
Just ahead, guilty, guilty, guilty. All three defendants convicted in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. The dramatic scenes in court and what it means in the fight for racial justice in the United States.
Yet another smash and grab robbery. The scary crime wave in stores just as holiday shopping picks up.
Plus, tragedy in the English Channel. A record number of migrants are dead after their boat capsized.
UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church.
CHURCH: Thank you for joining us. Nearly two years after Ahmaud Arbery's death, his family says justice has finally been served. A jury in Southern Georgia has found three white men guilty of murder and other charges in the killing of the 25-year-old unarmed Black man.
Arbery was out for a jog when he was chased down, shot and killed. Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and their neighbor William Roddie Bryan showed little emotion as the jury's decision was read. But outside of the courthouse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Yes! Yes!
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CHURCH (on camera): Relief and celebrations. Arbery's mother says her son can now rest in peace. It took the jury more than 11 hours to reach their verdict.
CNN's Ryan Young has more reaction from the courthouse. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, JUDGE, EASTERN CIRCUIT OF GEORGIA: Count one malice murder, we, the jury find the defendant Travis McMichael, guilty.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Today, a jury convicted Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
WALMSLEY: Count three, felony murder. We, the jury find the defendant Greg McMichael, guilty.
YOUNG: Travis McMichael was found guilty on all nine counts, his father, Gregory McMichael, was found not guilty on malice murder, but was found guilty on all other eight counts. William Bryan was found guilty on six counts, including three felony murder charges.
Bryan was the man who took the video of the shooting, he was found not guilty of malice murder, one felony murder charge, and aggravated assault with a firearm.
WALMSLEY: We find the defendant, William R. Bryan, guilty.
YOUNG: All three men left the courtroom today in handcuffs. Arbery's mother sat in the court when their guilty verdicts were read visibly crying. Outside the courthouse she shared her gratitude.
WANDA COOPER JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: I thank each and every one of you who fought this fight with us. It's been a long fight. It's been a hard fight. But God is good. Thank you for those who marched, those who prayed. Most of all the ones who prayed.
UNKNOWN: Yes, Lord.
YOUNG: The jury made up of nine white women, two white men, and one Black man, deliberated for more than 11 hours after eight days of testimony from 23 witnesses. Earlier today, before reaching the verdicts, the jury as to see the two video clips, one of them enhanced from the deadly February 2020 shooting.
They also asked to hear the 911 call that Gregory McMichael made the day that Arbery was shot and killed.
UNKNOWN: I'm not (Inaudible). There is a Black male running down the street.
YOUNG: During the trial, the three defendants had claimed they were trying to make a citizen's arrest of Arbery, the day they jumped into a truck, chased Arbery and killed him. They said they suspected Arbery had burglarize a nearby home construction site, referring to the video of Arbery wondering inside that home months before being killed.
UNKNOWN: They wanted to stop him from the police to detain him.
YOUNG: But the prosecution said Arbery was just out for a jog. He hadn't committed a crime and wasn't armed.
LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: Everybody in this case had a gun except Ahmaud Arbery.
YOUNG: Now all three defendants are facing a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for their actions in the killing or Arbery.
COOPER: Now, Quez (Ph), you know him as Ahmaud, I know him as Quez, --
JONES: -- he will now rest in peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG (on camera): One of the things that stood out to us Wednesday is while everyone was out front cheering, we saw each of the men who was found guilty being walked in handcuffs two separate cars to go back to jail.
We believe the federal government is also going to file judges against them, and all three men, their defense attorney's plans to file appeals before another family who's been fighting for so long for justice, they feel like they finally got it on this day.
Ryan Young, CNN, Brunswick, Georgia.
CHURCH: While the parents of Ahmaud Arbery say they are grateful justice was served. They say the fight for racial justice across the country is not over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: To tell you the truth, I never thought this day back in 2020. I never thought this day would come. But God is good.
MARCUS ARBERY SR., AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: I don't want to see no daddy watch his kid get lynched and shot down like that. So, it's all our problem. It's all our problem, so hey, let's keep fighting. Let's keep doing it. Making this place a better place for all human beings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): We also heard from prosecutors in the case. One said she thought the takeaway would be to trust the legal process. She also talked about her strategy in countering the defense argument that the killing was self-defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DUNIKOSKI: I wanted to make sure that the jury understood that the self-defense case was absolute garbage. That was not what took place and I was doing my best in the moment to dismantle it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): There was also a lot of talk about the racial makeup of the jury. Eleven white people and one Black person. But prosecutors say they were confident the panel would base their decisions on the evidence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DUNIKOSKI: After we pick the jury, we looked at them and realize that we had very, very smart, very intelligent, honest jurors who are going to do their job, which is to seek the truth.
And so, we felt that putting up our case, it didn't matter whether they were black or white, that putting up our case that this jury would hear the truth, they'd see the evidence and that they would do the right thing and come back with the correct verdict, which we felt they did today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): Attorneys for all three defendants say they plan to appeal the convictions. Travis McMichael's lawyer says he honestly believes the men are sorry for what happened to Ahmaud Arbery because of the choices they made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON SHEFFIELD, TRAVIS MCMICHAEL'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This is a very difficult day for Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael. These are two men who honestly believed what they were doing was the right thing to do. However, a Glenn County jury has spoken. They have found them guilty and they will be sentenced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): The attorney for William Roddie Bryan who recorded the killing on his cell phone says he thinks his client's conviction will be overturned. He was the target of sharp criticism for objecting to African American pastors in the courtroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN GOUGH, WILLIAM BRYAN'S ATTORNEY: I have made all of the apologies in this case that I plan to. Now this is all over, the dust settles. I will probably reach out to some people in town that I've known a long time. Maybe we are still friends, maybe not. But my job here is to represent my client. I am not going to apologize for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Bernarda Villalona is a criminal offense attorney and a former senior homicide prosecutor. She joins me now from New York. Thank you so much for being with us.
BERNARDA VILLALONA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thank you for having me.
CHURCH: So, the jury found all three white men guilty of murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. The man who pulled the trigger, Travis McMichael, found guilty on all nine charges. What message does this send those who support vigilante justice? And what does it tell the families of victims in these circumstances?
VILLALONA: So, what we learn from today, with today's verdict, is that justice delayed is not justice denied. The jury has spoken. These three white men defendants have decided to take their case to trial and to be tried by a jury of their peers. And a jury of their peers called them guilty and called them murderers.
That is what this jury has decided and that is the message that they sent from all around the country. That you can't, that this life of Ahmaud Arbery actually mattered.
CHURCH: And so, these three men, they weren't even arrested and charged at the time that they committed this crime. It took the tenacious diligence of Ahmaud Arbery's mother, along with that video evidence to get these three men arrested and brought to trial. What does that reveal about the justice system in the south particularly? And how much more work needs to be done do you think?
VILLALONA: So, what we got to see by seeing this video and seeing this trial play out is that we got to see how the criminal justice system is broken. It took four prosecutor's offices in order to get us to today for this case to be prosecuted and heard by a jury.
In fact, the first prosecutor Jackie Johnson, which is the prosecutor for Glenn County, she has now been indicted for a misconduct based on abusing her power as a prosecutor. In a sense that she was in contact with Greg McMichael and also advised the police officers not to arrest them.
CHURCH: And we were just looking at pictures there, most people were shocked by the racist and offensive closing argument from one of the defense lawyers who was in that image just there who try to denigrate Arbery by making references to his toenails. What shall the consequences be of her racist words? And would she have gone away with saying those things in a court say in the northeast?
VILLALONA: It was so despicable. Her words. For her to re-victimized the family of Ahmaud Arbery. And also, for us that are affected because who were listening to that. For her to make out Ahmaud Arbery as he is a bad person. That he called it upon himself.
In fact, that she actually put Ahmaud Arbery on trial. The message that is sent was one of discussed. We hope that at some point maybe there will be some claims to the judicial bar to determine whether she should be suspended, or whether there should be sanctions.
But regardless of her comments, regardless of her denigrating the name of Ahmaud Arbery. A person that is dead. The jury still look past that and determined that her client is guilty. Would that have happened in the northeast? I'm in New York. I work in Philadelphia. And guess what, she wouldn't have gone far with that comment.
CHURCH: Yes. Just a shocking. And what happens next to these three convicted white men in terms of appeals and sentencing, plus the federal hate crime trial set to begin next week?
VILLALONA: So right now, where we stand, the next step is that the judge is going to sentence these three defendants. And pretty much given their age, they are all going to serve the rest of their lives inside of a prison.
However, what may happen is that remember, that the federal charges are still open. Those federal charges, there's a possibility that these three defendants, or one of them, or two of them actually plead guilty to try to get a lesser sentence to make it concurrent to the sentence that this judge is going to actually sentence them to.
But just remember in terms of what would happen next, they are going to appeal. That is granted. We know from all of the objections and their request for a mistrial that they set up grounds for an appeal. Will they be successful on an appeal? I highly doubt it.
However, what I will tell you, what we learn from this trial many things. We learned that a prosecutor was indicted. We learned that Georgia no had -- didn't have a hate crime statute when Ahmaud Arbery was killed and now they do. The citizenvs arrest statute that these three white men acted upon supposedly, has now been repealed.
So much has happened because of Ahmaud Arbery's killing. And I hope that this is a step forward for justice in this country.
CHURCH: Yes. That is so significant. Bernarda Villalona, thank you so much for joining us.
VILLALONA: Thank you.
CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden released a statement in response to the jury's decision. It reads in part. "While the guilty verdict reflect our justice them doing its job, that alone is not enough. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength when no one fears violence because of the color of their skin."
And coming up here on CNN Newsroom, the British prime minister says he is shocked and appalled after dozens of migrants die while trying to cross the frigid and dangerous waters of the English Channel. The latest in a live report.
CHURCH (on camera): It is believed to be the worst disaster involving migrants trying to cross the English Channel. At least 27 people, including five women and a child died off the Coast of Calais in Northern France Wednesday after a boat trying to reach Britain capsized in the frigid waters. Two migrants who survived are being treated for hypothermia.
French President Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson say they will step up methods to prevent migrants from making these dangerous crossings. The French interior minister had this to say about who bears the most blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALD DARMANIN, FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): I want to say here, that those primarily responsible for this despicable situation are the smugglers. That is to say, criminals who for a few thousand euros organize human trafficking from Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Asia. And who then use these people to bring them to Belgium, the Netherlands, France, especially across the channel and to go to Great Britain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH (on camera): And our correspondents are tracking developments and reactions on both sides of the English Channel. Nic Robertson is in Dover, England, and Jim Bittermann is standing by in Paris.
Good to see you, both.
Jim, let's start with you. What is French president saying about this tragedy, and what does he plan to do about it, and particularly as mentioned there the smugglers?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there is a couple of things going on here. One of the things that the French president said overnight quite dramatically was that he does not want the English Channel becoming a graveyard for migrants. And that, I think, is sort of sets the tone for perhaps the conversation he had with Boris Johnson overnight.
Today, the interior minister of France, and the home office minister in Great Britain are going to be leading in and talking exactly what kind of practical measures that they can take.
But we're hearing some pretty alarming statistics, in addition to the fact that 27 people died yesterday about the number of crossings. For example, yesterday there are 255 according to the interior minister, 255 people who succeeded in making it across the English Channel, and 671 people who are stopped from going across.
And the French say that they've got almost 800 police officers that are watching the coast trying to stop this kind of thing from happening. So, the French want to emphasizing what they're doing, and also, they're trying to sort of spread the responsibility.
In fact, as Mr. Macron said last night that he wants to see more effort on the part of France's neighbors in Europe the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. Apparently, this rubber raft that sank yesterday was purchased in Germany. At least that's what the interior minister told us, and as a consequence they would like to have some more cooperation with the neighbors within Europe. Rosemary?
CHURCH: They're in Dover, England, there is a lot of finger pointing going on in the wake of this tragedy. What's the U.K. prime minister saying about this and how does he plan to stop this happening again?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, he says that they need to break the business model of the smuggling networks. These are international criminal organizations, and evidence has been put before parliament just recently about the migrant issues shows that many of the migrants that are getting in boats along the coast of France only arrived there that day, these criminal gangs will hold them in Belgium, or in Holland, or in other countries and then move them into France really within the last 24 hours.
So, Boris Johnson saying that's a criminal enterprise that needs to be broken, but he was also taking a sort of targeting the French action, if you will, because he said the British have offered to give more support. In fact, they've offered to send British officers over to help the French on the beaches.
And the prime minister said he hoped this would galvanize the French to now take that seriously. And perhaps take them up on that offer. The indications are from the French, they say, that they have enough forces, it's not an issue of having enough officers.
This is we're talking about up to several hundred miles of coastline that's being affected here.
But I was speaking a few minutes ago here with the British politician, the conservative lawmaker from this constituency, a member of Boris Johnson's party, who have been under increasing pressure for the failure of their migrant policies.
And I said to her, you know, why are the government's policies here failing? She immediately turn that around, and pointed the finger at the French. Saying that the French police, yesterday, were standing on the beaches, watching these migrants put to see are not stopping them.
So, I think the level of pressure, the political pressure that this government here, the U.K. government is under, is large. And they're resorting at the moment to blaming the other side. It doesn't look good. But within that animosity, a resolution, an improvement to the situation has to be found.
CHURCH: And Jim, let's go back to you for your reaction, have the French said anything about the blame coming back on them? Their police apparently, watching these boats go across the English Channel, what's been said about that?
BITTERMANN: Well, they're basically, I think, tried to spread the responsibilities somewhat. In the sense that they want their European neighbors to have but they also point a finger at the Brits, and say look, they have to change the way that their immigration policies are working.
This is what the interior minister told reporters this morning. The fact is, they believe that it's too attractive to go to Britain and that attraction is what is driving this flow of migrants across the channel.
I have to say, too, that one of the things here this animosity that you're seeing on this issue is just a continuation of the animosity that we've seen practically all fall with the, first with the U.K. submarine deal, then with the fishing issues, and now with migration.
I mean, it's sort of stops the ill will that's there that kind of prevents any kind of real cooperation between the two countries. So, it will be interesting to see if they can work this out, because it's a very practical problem that they have here. And both sides realize they have to do something, but the question is what. Rosie?
CHURCH: Yes, indeed. Thanks to Nic Robertson, Jim Bitterman joining us there. I appreciate it.
Well, the U.S. embassy in Kiev is warning of an unusual military activity along Russia's border with Ukraine and in Crimea. It says security conditions could change without notice.
Satellite images appear to show Russia gathering close to 100,000 troops, along with tanks and military hardware in the region. Meanwhile, Ukraine is launching a special operation along its border with Belarus. It's aimed at preventing a migrant crisis similar to the one that erupted between Belarus and Poland.
Well planes, trains, and automobiles are all expected to see a boost in use over the Thanksgiving holiday. But with increased travel comes long lines, short tempers, and a rising risk of COVID. We will have the latest on holiday travel.
Plus, another day, another COVID record. How infections are spiraling out of control in Germany and elsewhere across Europe. We're back in just a moment.
CHURCH (on camera): A Thanksgiving tradition is returning to pre- pandemic form. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade will get underway just a few hours from now in New York City. Not only will the crowds be back, but we will see some new balloons as well including ones inspired by Star Wars and McDonald's.
This is the 95th year for the popular Thanksgiving Day parade.
Well along with the holidays, comes traveling long distances to be with loved ones. Tripe A predicts Thanksgiving travel in the U.S. will hit pre-pandemic levels this year. The TSA expects to screen more than 20 million travelers in airports across the country.
But top U.S. disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says traveling to be with family and friends should not mean putting yourself at risk of getting sick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If in fact, you have to travel and we know that it increases the risk of infection, when you travel. If you go to an airport, for example, which is a congregate indoor setting, make sure you keep your masks on. Once you get on the plane, it's a requirement for having a mask on.
But what people sometimes don't do, they get into the indoor setting of a crowded airport, particularly around food courts where people are taking their masks off, just be very careful. You can have an enjoyable, restful Thanksgiving in a traditional way in a vaccinated setting. Do that. Don't just deprive yourself of that. But be careful, particularly when you travel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And CNN's Stephanie Elam has more now on the holiday rush.
UNKNOWN: I think we only realized belatedly that this was going to be the busiest travel day of the year.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's the first Thanksgiving since COVID shots started going into arms.
UNKNOWN: Well, it's good to get away. Let's put it this way.
UNKNOWN: It's good to finally feel kind of normal again.
ELAM: And Americans are traveling near pre-pandemic levels. But before getting to that, travelers have to get through this.
UNKNOWN: Kind of figured it would be more packed than usual, just not this intense.
ELAM: The TSA estimating 20 million people will fly for the Thanksgiving Holiday, a pandemic travel record. And a far cry from the paltry numbers this time last year. AAA forecasting air travel will be up 80 percent from 2020.
For days, airport officials reminding passengers to be early, patient, and masked. Washington's Reagan National Airport tweeting, just an airport, standing in front of its passengers, asking them to arrive two hours early. But some Americans are skipping the airport all together. Opting to hit the road.
JOSE ORDUNA, DRIVING FOR THANKSGIVING: I didn't want to spend too much time with the security lines and I thought it would be faster to drive than to fly. And it would just probably be safer. I don't have to deal with the crowds.
ELAM: AAA predicting more than 48 million people will be driving for the holiday. An 8 percent increase from last year.
JADE HERNANDES, DRIVING FOR THANKSGIVING: I think (inaudible) going a date, you know, just hopefully the traffic is not bad at Thanksgiving, because if it is, I'm going to probably cry.
ELAM: And while drivers won't be fighting TSA lines, they will be dealing with record high gas prices. The average price for regular gas is $3.40, according to government data, the highest price for the Monday before Thanksgiving in nearly a decade.
UNKNOWN: You just got to pay it, I suppose. There's nothing you can do about it.
ELAM: But no matter the traffic, crowds and cost, millions of Americans say they are just thankful they can once again gather with loved ones.
KATHARINE ESTY, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Despite the risk to pick up the aspects of my life this Thanksgiving eve, I'm thrilled to be going to Connecticut to spend the holiday with my son and it's just very special.
ELAM: And while it doesn't look that busy behind me right now, Los Angeles International, as well as other airports are warning people that the busiest travel day of November might just be Sunday after everyone comes back from those gatherings.
Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.
CHURCH: And those gatherings are coinciding with a rash of new COVID cases flaring across the country. The U.S. is approaching 100,000 new infections per day.
CNN's Elizabeth Cohen breaks down the numbers and shows us the hot spots.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Let me show you what's going on. If you take a look at this graph, you can see the last spring, the numbers were starting to come down. Then you see that huge surge in the middle, that sort of camel's hump. That was the Delta variant doing its work over the summer and the fall. And now you see the numbers coming back up again unfortunately. They went up, then down, and now they're coming back up again, all the way to the right side of that graph, resulting in this.
You can see that most of the country here is in red. That means high levels of community transmission. And I want to talk about how quickly this has happened. Let's take a look at a map of the United States from October 21st, not that long ago, just about a month ago, October 21st. You only see one state in red. That means only in one state were cases going up.
Now take a look at that same exact map, but today. Now you see that in 27 states, cases are rising. So it doesn't take long for cases to go back up again. Perhaps the most important number for all of us to remember, 1,100 people in the United States dying every day of COVID- 19. Do not let this be you. Do not let this be your loved ones. Get vaccinated. And if you were vaccinated more than six months ago, get a booster.
CHURCH: Well, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning the new flu season could be starting. Increased flu activity has been detected among young adults and college students. The CDC says vaccination rates against the flu are still low this year.
Anyone aged six months and older can receive a flu shot. The agency warns that if the flu and the coronavirus both spread, it could stress health care systems.
The European CDC is calling for urgent public health measures to combat the dramatic COVID surge. Germany is among the worst hit countries. It just topped 100,000 total coronavirus deaths and broke its daily case record for the second day in a row. Meanwhile, France is expected to announce new COVID measures in the coming hours. Infection levels there are at their highest since August.
And CNN's Phil Black joins me now live from London. Good to see you, Phil. So, with these surging cases across Europe, what measures are being considered by the various European Leaders?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Increasingly, Rosemary, it looks like countries will have no choice but to toughen restrictions. You mentioned that green milestone in Germany, 100,000 dead, that's just as Germany and other countries in the continent are recording these big jumps in daily infections.
On Wednesday, in Germany its new cases were a new record, over 60,000 -- 67,000 in one day. Now, in a sense, this was long predicted. Winter was always going to be difficult, more people indoors, more opportunities for transmission especially now the Delta variant is dominant.
But on top of that, vaccine coverage is still patchy. It can vary enormously from country to country, even region to region. And of particular concern is the fact that you are seeing big jumps in numbers in countries that do have significant vaccination coverage like the Netherlands for example.
And one theory there according to experts is that you perhaps are already seeing vaccine protection immunity diminishing, particularly in countries that began their rollout relatively early. Now, if that is true, then the timing here is really challenging. Because we are moving deeper into winter with all the difficulties associated with that.
And European countries are only really beginning to ramp up their booster programs. There has been limited progress there. Now, when we talk about these big numbers in Europe, it's not the numbers in isolation that are concerning, but the right of increase.
And that is why experts believe that you're seeing these big spikes which will ultimately lead to continuing jumps across the three key pillars, infections, hospital admissions, and deaths, unless governments start to change people's behavior forcefully or collectively populations decide to do so for themselves. But it's why as early as today you could be seeing tightening restrictions in European countries, as you mentioned France, perhaps Portugal as well, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Alright. Many thanks to our Phil Black joining us live from London.
Well, thieves go after high-end stores in the United States, sometimes in full view of security cameras. Next, what's behind a string of smash and grab burglaries like this one?
CHURCH: Three more children who were injured in the Wisconsin parade rampage are out of the hospital and are home for Thanksgiving. Ten children are still hospitalized for the injuries they suffered when an SUV plowed into the parade. Six people were killed.
Meanwhile, we have learned the suspect in the case wrote a letter to a judge in 2007, saying he had been diagnosed with mental disorders and often thought of suicide. Darrell Brooks is facing multiple homicide charges.
Well, today's Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. is considered the start of the Christmas shopping season, but before consumers head to the stores, thieves are smashing and grabbing some pricey goods first. Police say burglars raided an Apple store in Santa Rosa, California in broad daylight on Wednesday. They escaped with about $20,000 worth of merchandise.
As Nick Watt reports, it was the latest in a string of similar crimes.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Oakbrook, Illinois, a coordinated smash and grab, swarm overwhelmed security at a Louis Vuitton store. More than $100,000 in hand bags and more were stolen. And downtown San Francisco this past weekend, another Vuitton store and more hit by a mob.
CHESA BOUDIN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SAN FRANCISCO: This is not a problem limited to San Francisco. WATT: Just outside the city, burglars, their arms filled with merch,
made their getaway from a Nordstrom Saturday night, an employee was pepper sprayed during the brazen raid.
UNKNOWN: I probably saw 50 to 80 people in like ski masks, crow bars, (inaudible) like a bunch of weapons.
WATT: They fled in 10 cars. Three arrests were made, two guns recovered. Sunday night, another raid at another bay area mall.
LERONNE ARMSTRONG, CHIEF, OAKLAND POLICE: The thing that we are not used to is these groups willingness to actually use firearms and shoot at people.
WATT: At the grove down in L.A., and Nordstrom was hit Monday night, $5,000 worth of goods stolen, $15,000 worth of damage. This mall had beefed up security after the protest that followed the murder of George Floyd.
RICK CARUSO, OWNER, THE GROVE: You saw these bad guys with 20 pound sledge hammers, having a very difficult time to break a window, because all of our windows have ballistic film on them.
WATT: Many more malls now beefing up security and Californian authorities promising action.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): These people need to be held to account. We need to investigate these crimes. We need to break up these crime rings. And we need to make an example out of these folks.
WATT: In Oakland, this weekend --
UNKNOWN: We will have tactical teams deployed throughout the city.
WATT: But as we saw what that San Francisco raid, even when cops are quick to the scene, with a mob, many will still get away.
So why is this happening right now? Well, the stores are fully stocked for the holidays and there's also a market for stolen goods this time of year. And some experts tell us the penalties for this sort of crime just aren't high enough. Here in California, for example, if you steal goods worth $950 or less, that's not a felony. That's just a misdemeanor.
Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.
CHURCH: Well, barely a week after heavy rains and floods battered British Columbia, Canada's western most province is bracing for more storms that could make matters worse. Utility company BC Hydra estimates damages in the millions from previous storms. And a preemptively draining some reservoir to create space for the rainfall. Officials expect the coming storm to be short-lived but may bring rains of up to 50 millimeters.
And coming up, China fights to control the narrative repeatedly blocking CNN's coverage of the sexual assault allegations raised by tennis star Peng Shuai.
CHURCH: Protestors in the Solomon Islands are defying a lockdown to demand a resignation of the Prime Minister. They set fires to buildings in the capital for a second day. Protestors from a later province have called for the government to respect the rights of self- determination of the Malaita people to limit ties with China and to resume development projects in Malaita.
A bombing in the Somali capital has killed at least eight civilians and wounded 17 others. Police tell state media a suicide car bomb went off near two schools and the home of a former president. It's believed the target was an armored vehicle associated with the United Nations, according to the police and the Somali National News agency.
According to state affiliated media, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia is now directing troops on the frontline of the country's civil war. But it's believed no new footage supporting that claim has been released, only older images.
Meanwhile, Britain is the latest western power to advise its citizens to evacuate while commercial flights are still operating. And the U.N. Secretary General is calling for an end to the fighting.
As CNN continues to cover the story of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, our coverage is being censored in China every step of the way. Peng disappeared from the public eye for more than two weeks after alleging she was sexually assaulted by one of China's most senior communist leaders.
CNN's Will Ripley has our report.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): You can see that as soon as you started talking about this story airing, it went to color bars. When China's communist rulers don't like the message --
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This broadcast is not being aired in China. It's being censored.
RIPLEY: They silence the messenger. They have an army of sensors waiting to push that button.
UNKNOWN: They don't want the people there to see it.
RIPLEY: CNN coverage of tennis star Peng Shuai, blocked inside China.
JENIFER HSU, RESEARCH FELLOW, LOWY INSTITUTE: It really tries to control the story, control the narrative.
RIPLEY: Controlling the narrative means scrubbing social media. Peng's explosive post on November 2nd, accusing a retired Chinses leader of sexual assault erased within 30 minutes. Look for the story on China's leading search engine, you get this message -- sorry, no relevant results found.
The scandal, so politically sensitive. A high profile state propagandist referred to it on Twitter as the thing people talked about. Inside China, state media staying silent. No mention in the mainland's TV or digital media. Outside, those news outlets eagerly tweeting updates and images of Peng in English, on a platform blocked in their own country, an irony not lost on millions following the story outside China.
Some even mocking the state media tweets. Peng is seen smiling, but not talking, at a tennis tournament. Having dinner with friends and a Chinese sports official, who just so happens to mention the exact date several times.
CNN has no way to independently verify these videos or this email, supposedly from Peng to the head of the Women's Tennis Association last week, claiming everything is fine. A computer cursor visible in this apparent screen shot. The head of the WTA telling outfront, "he's not convinced."
STEVE SIMON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, WOMEN'S TENNIS ASSOCIATION: I'm just struggling to agree to that and don't believe that's the truth at all.
RIPLEY: The WTA demanding direct, uncensored communication with Peng. The organizations repeated calls and messages to the tennis star unanswered.
HSU: China is well known for coercing statements to show that everything is fine.
RIPLEY: China's narrative, bolstered by the International Olympic Committee. The IOC handed out this single image of a video call Sunday, along with statement summarizing the call, claiming Peng is safe and well. Totally ignoring her painfully detailed allegation of sexual assault.
With billions of dollars in ad revenue on the line, critics call the IOC complicit in China's apparent silencing of a three-time Olympian, who many fear is being held under duress, censored by China's authoritarian government which blames hostile forces for politicizing the issue.
When CNN goes to the next story, our signal returns. As China waits for the news cycle to move on, the pressure keeps growing. The world keeps demanding answers.
RIPLEY (on camera): And the censorship has actually been escalating in recent days. Now, even when our CNN ticker at the bottom of the screen talks about Peng Shuai, the color bars come up. They are up right now in Beijing at our CNN bureau as I speak.
Why is China doing this? And why this dual (inaudible) strategy inside the country they ignore the story, they don't even mentioned it on their state media and yet outside the story, there's this propaganda blitz in English on social media platforms that are banned inside China.
They are trying to get their message out there and trying to avoid a very embarrassing and potentially costly boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which are just a matter of less than three months away. And of course, there's also this is a long-standing issue, Rosemary, with China when it comes to using social media to put out their version of events.
They put pro-China news stories in people's news feeds, and a (inaudible) of a massive disinformation campaign trying to plant fake news stories to undermine democratically elected governments in places like the United States, Taiwan, Australia, and even the European Union.
So, in other words, even though they control their own internet very tightly, they take advantage, analyst say, of the free and open internet in other countries to try to destabilize those countries. And they actually have hundreds of thousands of people believed to be doing this, part of China's cyber army, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yeah. And we will continue to follow this story, of course. Will Ripley, many thanks for that report. I appreciate it.
Well, JPMorgan's CEO is walking back some comments he made about his investment bank outliving China's ruling communist party. Jaime Dimon told an audience in Boston on Tuesday about a story he told during a recent trip to Hong Kong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE DIMON, CEO, JP MORGAN CHASE: I made a joke the other day that I was just in Hong Kong, I made a joke that the Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year. So is JPMorgan. I make a bet we last longer. I can't say that in China.
They probably listening anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, in a statement, Dimon said, "I regret and should not have made that comment. I was trying to emphasize the strength and longevity of our company."
"Time" magazine has released its top 100 photos of 2021. Photos featured includes scenes of the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January. A girl thrilled at winning a big U.S. Spelling Bee. A distraught woman as wildfires threaten her house in Greece, and a Palestinian girl whose home was demolished in Israeli airstrikes in May.
And thank you do much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. For those of you here in the United States, have yourselves a safe and happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones.
"CNN Newsroom" continues now with Isa Soares.