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All 3 Men Convicted of Murder in Killing of Ahmaud Arbery; Family of Ahmaud Arbery Reacts to Verdicts; Migrant Boat Capsizes in English Channel, At Least 27 Dead; Germany Tops 100,000 Deaths and Sets New Daily Case Records; Rain and Snow in Store for Parts of the U.S. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 25, 2021 - 04:00   ET




ISA SOARES, CNN HOST: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and right around the world. I mean Isa Soares in London and just ahead right here on CNN Newsroom.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: It's been a long fight. It's been a hard fight, but God is good.


SOARES: Ahmaud Arbery's mother dresses supporters after a jury found three men guilty of murder in the death of her son. Tragedy in the English Channel; 27 people are dead after their boat capsized. We have live coverage from Cali, France and Dover in England.

Plus China's censors get a workout trying to block CNN's coverage of Peng Shuai tennis star not seen in public for more than two weeks after accusing a former government official of sexual assaults.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London. This is CNN Newsroom with Isa Soares.

SOARES: It is Thursday, November 25th. And after eight days of testimony 23 witness and 11 hours of jury deliberations the family of Ahmaud Arbery has finally received the verdict they have been waiting for. 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 last year.

Arbery was out for a jog when he was chased down then shot and killed. This trial has been a long time coming from the Arbery family. No arrests were made for about two months. Only after a video of the killing was released sparking national outcry now with a guilty verdict Arbery's parents that their son can rest in peace? Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER-JONES: The day was a very good day to hear that the huge murders were actually found guilty. I mean, that was huge. We finally got the justice for Ahmaud that he deserved back in 2020.


SOARES: Well, CNN's Martin Savidge has been following the trial and has more for you now from the courtroom.


TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, JUDGE: Count one malice murder. We the jury finds the defendant Travis McMichael guilty. You can ask whoever just made an outburst be removed from the court please.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Loved ones for Ahmaud Arbery overcome with emotion this afternoon as all three defendants were found guilty of murder by a jury of nine white women, two white men and one black man.

Judge Timothy Walmsley read through all nine counts for each defendant. Travis McMichael, the man who shot and killed Arbery claiming of a self-defense was found guilty on all nine counts. His father Gregory McMichael was found not guilty on one charge but guilty on the other eight.

William Ronnie Bryan Jr. the man who took the video of the shooting was found guilty on six counts. People outside the courthouse rejoiced.

LINDA GAMBLE, ARBERY FAMILY FRIEND: Today justice was served.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Did you ever doubt this day might come?

GAMBLE: I did not. I felt good.

LINDA DUNIKOSKI, LEAD PROSECUTOR: The jury system works in this country. And when you present the truth to people and they can see it they will do the right thing. And that's what this jury did today in getting justice for Ahmaud Arbery

SAVIDGE (voice over): The jury deliberated for over 11 hours after 13 days of testimony from more than 30 witnesses. The three defendants claim they were trying to make a citizen's arrest of Arbery saying that they suspected he had burglarized a nearby home construction site, referring to the video of Arbery wandering inside that home months before being killed. After the verdicts were read Arbery's family spoke outside the courthouse.

COOPER-JONES: It's been a long fight. It's been a hard fight. But God is good.

MARCUS ARBERY JR., AHMAUD ARBERY'S FATHER: I don't want to see no dad, watch a 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.


SAVIDGE: No sentencing date as yet all three men in this case now face the possibility of life in prison without parole. There is also anticipated to be a federal trial on federal hate crime charges and their two are found guilty they can face life in prison without parole. That trial is scheduled to begin in February in this very same small coastal Georgia community. Martin Savidge CNN, Brunswick, Georgia.

SOARES: Well, Ahmaud Arbery's says she's breathing a sigh of relief after hearing the guilty verdict. She spoke earlier with our John Berman about what kind of impact she hopes this trial will have on the country. Have a listen.



THEAWANZA BROOKS, AHMAUD ARBERY'S AUNT: I hope that everyone has learned that Glynn County has been a model for this situation we have done everything and peace with peace and prayer and motivation and getting up every day mobilizing and getting out here and just work in the streets to make sure that we got justice for my so I want everyone to take from this that you don't have to tear up your CDs. You don't have to burn things down. Pray do things and peace and decency and an order and justice will come.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Lastly, I know you and the rest of the family are relieved to finally have justice, but it doesn't bring your nephew back. He's still gone. So what do you want people to know about him? And how do you remember him?

BROOKS: Ahmaud was an amazing young man. He had a heart to go, a smile that lit up a room. He was a giver. He was a little hard worker, especially when he worked with his dad. He was just all around a great kid. And so the world should know that Ahmaud's death was not in vain, and that we will continue to scream his name until we leave this earth.


SOARES: Ahmaud Arbery's aunt there. Well, Attorney and CNN Political Commentator Bakari Sellers describe the verdicts as accountability. Just as he says, we'll be having Ahmaud Arbery at Thanksgiving dinner with his family. Here's more of his reaction.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: 11 white jurors in South Georgia saw the facts as presented by an outstanding prosecutor, a very fair naval judge. I mean, I've been on this network and criticized the judge in Kenosha, so you know; I got to feed people out the same spoon.

I mean, look, the judge, in this case in Ahmaud Arbery's case was just, he was fabulous. He was stern. You know, he wasn't - he wasn't there for the circus. He wasn't trying to get a cable news deal. He was there to do his job. And this jury saw that, and they saw the humanity of a Ahmaud Arbery.

But my problem is that, you know, we finally get to the point where a jury sees the humanity of a black person. But these three men did not. And if people want to know exactly what I'm talking about, I think that they should reach out to their black friends today because all of us were sitting with a level of anxiety in our chest.

We were all I don't even want to say cautiously optimistic. We were just, we I mean, it was just a not because we were unsure what this verdict would be. Everybody else sees it and says, oh, this was a slam dunk. This is the way it should be. But there were a lot of people in this country who did not want this to go the wrong way. Because we know our democracy is fragile. And if this would have gone the wrong way, like we felt like it could this country was going to be in a bad predicament.

SOARES: Well, U.S. President Joe Biden released a statement reacting to the verdict and reads in part; Ahmaud Arbery's killing is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country while the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job. That alone is not enough.

Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength where no one face violence because of the color of their skin that statement there from U.S. President Joe Biden.

Well, Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp responded to the verdicts with this statement. Ahmaud Arbery was the victim of violent vigilantism that has no place in Georgia he says as legal efforts continue to hold accountable all who may be responsible, we hope the Arbery family the Brownsville Community, our state and those around the nation who have been following his case can now move forward down a path of healing and reconciliation.

Now, here in Europe, 27 migrants trying to make the dangerous journey by sea from France to Britain have died after their boat capsized in the frigid waters of the English Channel. It's believed to be the worst disaster involving migrants trying to cross that narrow waterway you can see there on your screen in recent years and it comes as migrants' crossings continue to surge.

According to data compiled by Britain's PA News Agency, more than 25,000 people have crossed the channel to the UK so far this year. That is three times the total for all of 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said they'll step up efforts prevent migrants from making these dangerous journeys. But Mr. Macron is also urging Mr. Johnson to stop politicizing the migrant crisis for domestic gain.

Our correspondents are tracking developments and reaction on both sides of the English Channel. Nic Robertson is for us in Dover, England, and Cyril Vanier is standing by in Calais in Northern France.

I want to start with Cyril this hour and Cyril there is I think it's fair to say as a sense of inevitability about this tragedy. Tell us what more we're learning about the 27 people who have died and critically the people smugglers pocketing, of course from people - from these people's desperation.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isa I agree with your characterization that there is a sense of inevitability. I mean migrant crossings have been a fact of life here on this stretch of the French coastline for 15 years. It hasn't always been by boat hasn't always been what we're seeing at the moment but migrants trying to go from here to England that has been a fact of life here for multiple years.

England is that way some 27 nautical miles behind me is Dover. That's just 50 kilometers; it can be a pretty rapid boat crossing, if that is your successful. So here's what we're learning. One of many - that is inflatable boats yesterday took to the sea on board were 34 migrants, we believe originating from the Middle East.

I'll tell you more about that in a second. They were then seen, well, the boat capsized. And one of the many boats crossing this very busy waterway Isa alerted the rescue operations that patrol the seas by the time they got there the Interior Minister says that the inflatable boat had completely deflated and they found bodies.

They pulled 27 bodies out of the water to survivors who suffer from severe hypothermia. We know that they are from Iraq and Somalia that gives you a sense of the journey that they have undertaken to get to this point and to die tragically in these waters. Isa French Interior Minister, adding that five smugglers have been arrested believes to be in connection with that particular boat crossing and tragedy Isa

SOARES: Yes, and Cyril, look at for our viewers watching in the United States and really around the world to get a sense of this. It is incredibly cold at this time of year and the normally the migrant crisis we see having covered the migrant crossings. And during the migrant crisis in Europe, it's done mostly in the summer when it's warmer.

As we mentioned just now more than 25,000 people have been crossing this last year, that's a huge increase from what we saw for the whole of 2020 three times more. Do we know why we're seeing these level these numbers of people attempting to cross so because of COVID-19? Is it because of Brexit? What the reasons that you're hearing behind the surge?

VANIER: You're right Isa, to point out that this is normally a "Seasonal Activity" and that the crossings would take place in warmer weather. It is the first time and we just spoke to residents of Calais who confirm this is the first time that we see so many boat crossings extend this far into the colder months right into the beginning of winter.

I mean, I'm cold standing right here, those waters right there, I feel pretty comfortable guessing your that if you fall in those waters, you're not going to survive very long at all. So why is this happening now? Well, a couple of reasons. Some of it, if you look at it from a very short term perspective, some of it they wait for the best weather to cross. So we are expecting actually more weathers more crossings today, because it's not very windy. But bigger picture it is not related to COVID-19 we believe.

We believe it's related to the fact that other routes have been shut down. You see the ferry terminal by my shoulder there. So a couple years ago, migrants preferred to both try and hop onto a ferry somehow or hop onto a truck that would then cross the Channel Tunnel.

Those are now much more securely closely guarded. So those routes have effectively been shut down. And that has driven the migrants to choose other routes and it has pushed them into the arms of smugglers and those dangerous boat crossings Isa.

SOARES: Yes. My producer was telling me about 47 Fahrenheit in Calais and of course not that's not factoring in the wind factor. So you can see that and the rain. Cyril Vanier for us in Calais for us this hour thanks very much Cyril.

I want to head Dover in England where our Nic Robertson standing by. And Nic, you know, we have been covering this here on CNN for some time. We have seen the border Coast patrols already in place. We've heard the UK Government had pledged to throw money and what they saw as a problem. Clearly that's not enough. So what can be done politically here to prevent any further loss of life?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes Isa, a long time just driving into Dover last night, I was reminded that I was here 20 years ago covering right in the port behind me a truck in which 58 Chinese migrants were found dead. It was a disaster at the time a horrible tragedy.

And that really began to galvanize the tightening up of controls of ports to stop migrants coming across and it has funneled them towards this much harder to stop you know, crossings by these small craft why because at the ports, at least for authorities there are guaranteed you know points of entry points of departure places to check.

In speaking with a local MP here this morning she told me look at a on the legal routes of crossing, she said we have good cooperation with the French.


ROBERTSON: We have French border officials here in Dover there are English border officials across the water in Calais. The two governments work closely. But what is clearly emerging is a picture where migrants are not hanging around in camps as they were in Calais, perhaps three or four or five years ago.

But these people smugglers are now sort of keeping them outside of France, bringing them in to the point of departure from other countries just maybe 24 hours before they leave. It's a very complex, international, you know, criminal enterprises at work here. And I think that's what we understand from listening to French officials this morning, that the effort going forward has to be now to sort of expand out this cooperation, close cooperation on legal routes, and expanded out to the illegal routes and that needs to involve other countries, you know, perhaps Germany where the boats have been purchased, in some cases.

Perhaps Belgium, perhaps the Netherlands where the people smugglers are hiding the migrants before they bring to France to make the journey, all of these things, and it's a hot political potato here in the UK, because the conservative government's been under huge pressure to resolve this issue.

They came to power partly based on the fact that they could control this migrant issue and I spoke to the MP here this morning, when I said to her, why is it taken so long for your government to get this under control? She pointed the finger of blame at the French saying that the French police, according to her, were on the coast yesterday, not stopping the boat.

So you can see there are national rivalries as well as deep you know physical issues to try to control it.

SOARES: And you've just outlined Nic perfectly the magnitude of the challenge Nic Robertson, for us there in Dover. Thanks very much, Nic. Still ahead right here on the show Coronavirus on the rise as Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving what Dr. Anthony Fauci suggest people do to stay safe or have that?

Plus the latest on holiday travel the long lines and short tempers really on the ground and in the air. We bring both of these stories after a short break. You are watching CNN Newsroom.



SOARES: Now U.S. President Joe Biden received a clean bill of health after his medical exams last week but we're learning that doctors did remove a small polyp during his routine colonoscopy. His doctor says it was benign and though it could be considered precancerous. It does not require any further treatment at this point some very good news indeed.

Well Coronavirus infections are once again on the rise in the United States cases are averaging as you can see they're about 95,000 a day and health experts fear things could get worse as temperatures turn cooler of course. Community transmission rates are high in much of the country. The CDC predicts deaths and hospitalizations will likely increase over the next four weeks.

Well, in Europe the Coronavirus situation is even more dire have a look at this graphic, you can see that the map infections are rapidly raising the region and show no signs really of slowing down. It is especially bad if you look in Germany as the country has topped 100,000 COVID deaths and said back to back daily case records. CNN's Phil Black joins me now for more.

And Phil, you know terrible new record be marked in Germany today. But it really does paint a picture of what Europe is going to be facing this winter? Talk us through the measures have been put in place, whether they go far enough?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I guess the challenge for Europe is a case of really bad timing; winter was always going to be rough Delta people indoors on top of that patchy vaccination coverage, a lot of variation from country to country, even region to region.

But on top of that, even though where there is significant vaccine coverage, there is a concern that that protection is beginning to wane. And that's a problem because the booster programs are only just getting started, they've only had limited progress there.

So with all of that in mind, there is still very much a feeling that getting vaccines into arms, and particularly booster shots into the arms of the most vulnerable remains the court in terms of protecting as many people as possible, particularly protecting the most vulnerable. But there is of course also talk about increasing restrictions as well.

We've seen Austria in full lockdown beyond that though much of the changes seem to have been built tweaking to various health pass systems in different countries. These are the documents that people show up showing vaccine or natural immunity or a recent negative test to gain access to a crowded venue or something like that.

What we've seen is the test option being cut away we've seen that in Italy, other areas of Germany as well. So essentially you have to prove immunity to access a crowded leisure venue. Will that be enough because it is not just about these big numbers the concern is the rate of increase?

The rapid rise that we are seeing and health experts from the World Health Organization down will tell you that yes, vaccines are still the first weapon but they must now be backed up with other public health interventions, more social distancing, more cautious behavior, more mask wearing and without that they say then there is still the risk of further lockdowns and it means that people are not doing everything they possibly can to protect you.

SOARES: I mean I just came back from Portugal. The booster program has started but my mom for example, she should have had hers already. And it makes me think whether you know if numbers continue to rise like you were saying Phil the whether there needs to be more restrictions in place.

What kind of like we saw in Austria many ways - many people taking the streets protesting do we - do you expect feel that Phil that if things don't improve, that governments really will have their hands tied or have to put lockdowns in place, more restrictions in place even travel here, what is Europe's thinking on this?

BLACK: Well, the warnings are so grim. And I don't think that is just it's not just language. It's not just rhetoric; there is very little reason to be optimistic about the current direction the current trends in all the key figures.

And as I say what it means is if you're looking at rocketing infection rates and the expectation is that that will flow through to hospital admissions and deaths. So as we move deeper into winter, it is very likely that countries will have no choice but to take tougher action.


BLACK: Remembering of course that even once you take that tougher action there is still a lag there will still be a number of weeks before you start to see the effects of those in terms of slowing down infections, and of course also slowing down serious disease. That is people ending up in hospital.

SOARES: That is such a good point there is a lag that we will forget about. Phil Black thanks very much! Now, today it marks the second a Thanksgiving holiday in U.S. during the pandemic that presents all sorts of challenges as well as uncertainties even with vaccines.

America's top Infectious Disease Expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci says people should enjoy themselves but be smart about it he says.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If you are vaccinated and your family members are vaccinated, and if you have children who are too young to be vaccinated, just gather in the home. You don't need to wear a mask and enjoy the holiday season.

If in fact you have to travel and we know that that 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.


SOARES: Have fun, enjoy yourself but be careful. Well, of course the holidays mean traveling to your family as well as friends. AAA 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 right across the country.

On whether you're driving or flying for the holidays there is some rain and some snow to be aware of. Our Meteorologist Derek Van Dam fills us in. Good morning, Derek. DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good Isa! American celebrating Thanksgiving today so much to be thankful for including a dry travel day for most locations, with the exception of the Ohio River Valley as a cold front has pressed through. And that's going to help usher in the colder air behind it and set the stage for a more impactful storm by the end of the weekend and the early parts of next week.

More on that in just one moment but let's talk about this cold front now. You can see from Chicago to D.C. as well as New York and Boston just light rain showers for you but you can see some snow starting to fly across Northern New England. Again we're going to get a blast of cold air behind this system. So that'll help transition some of this rain to snow.

But we will keep it all liquid for the I95 Corridor perhaps some slow- downs there with the rain. But this is through Saturday forecast rain and snow accumulation and then look how the snow starts to pile up by the end of the weekend into early next week from the Great Lakes right to the east coast? So New York to Boston the potential for snow does exist.

But again in the meantime for your Friday traveling back from family and friends should just be rain showers along the East Coast. There's the clipper that has the potential to bring snowfall to those areas including the Mid Atlantic by Sunday and Monday.

Across the Pacific Northwest more snow for the mountains coastal rain with winds expected from Seattle into Portland. Speaking of when this is a dry wind it's also known as the Santa Ana winds into Southern California. This also brings with it a chance of high fire danger for Los Angeles to San Diego as winds gusts of the Northeast over 40 miles per hour in some of those higher elevations.

Let's talk temperatures for your Thanksgiving Day forecast 53 near New York City. We're expecting too high of 65 for Atlanta 57 for the Nation's Capital and a chilly 43 for Chicago with our cool front pressing through Isa.

SOARES: Thank you very much Derek. Now 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 age six months and older can receive a flu shot. The agency warns that if the flu and the Coronavirus both spread it could stress healthcare systems.

Now Chinese Tennis Player Peng Shuai may have resurfaced the questions so as to round her time away from the public eye. Just ahead a look into China's efforts to scrub her story from the internet. And then later, the teenager quitted after fatally shooting two people during a protest gets an audience with a Former U.S. President that' next.