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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Five Dead, Forty-Plus Hurt As a Car Plows Through a Christmas Parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin; Closing Arguments Set to Begin in Ahmaud Arbery's Murder Trial; Austria Back Under Lockdown Amid Surge in Coronavirus Cases. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 22, 2021 - 05:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: It is Monday, November 22nd, 5:00 a.m. in New York, thanks for getting an early start with us, I'm Christine Romans.

PAULA REID, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: And I'm Paula Reid in for Laura Jarrett, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, we have reports this morning from Vienna, Hong Kong, Washington, Mexico City and Romania, but we start in Wisconsin.

ROMANS: And that's our breaking news this morning. Wisconsin community horrified and in mourning just days before Thanksgiving. Five people killed, more than 40 injured when an SUV barrels through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin. You can see there a marching band was on the street when a vehicle came up from behind, dozens of victims are in the hospital.

REID: Witnesses describe the horror of seeing people struck and lying on the ground after the SUV drove through a series of barricades and plowed into the crowded parade route on the town's main street.


ANGELA O'BOYLE, EYEWITNESS: Next thing I heard were screams, and turned my head and saw the car come and plow into the band that was just past my balcony at that point. It hit at least two people right away, rolled over both of them and then continued down the road -- to by like people's park which is at the end of the block and then kept going. It didn't stop.


ROMANS: From another angle, watch the SUV streak past, missing that child in the pink pants by inches. The Ochoa Jesus in Milwaukee says priests, parishioners and Catholic school children were among those injured. The Waukesha school district canceling classes today. Police are working with the medical examiner's office to identify victims.

REID: The driver sped away after hitting the crowd, but police have what they're calling a person of interest in custody. CNN's Natasha Chen picks up a story from Waukesha.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Paula, the police chief, mayor and fire chief would not take any questions. At the very last update of the evening, they said they are still notifying next of kin and people are still being treated at area hospitals. In fact, they said a large number of them were brought to six different hospitals in the area and more people were actually brought to hospitals in their personal vehicles. A few key points that they made earlier in the evening, they said that a person of interest is in custody, that they did locate the suspect vehicle.


DANIEL THOMPSON, WAUKESHA POLICE: 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 weapons discharge.


CHEN: I did talk to one woman who lived in a nearby apartment complex who had stepped out on her balcony to watch the parade, and saw this happen. She said that the vehicle just plowed through the crowd, ran over a marching band. So this is incredibly devastating for the people who witnessed it, for the families who were there trying to celebrate Christmas in a happy, festive mood and instead turned into tragedy. Christine and Paula, back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Natasha, thank you so much for that. President Biden we're told has been brought up to speed on the quickly developing changing developments in Wisconsin. CNN's Jasmine Wright has that part of the story, she's live for us this Monday morning from Washington. Good morning, Jasmine. Just a tragedy.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. And look, it's the latest tragedy, and the president who in these moments is often considered consoler-in-chief is going to have to respond to. So, the president and the White House are closely watching for any updates and staying in touch with lawmakers in the area. One White House official told CNN yesterday that the White House is closely monitoring the situation in Waukesha, and our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by this terrible incident.

We have reached out to state and local officials to offer any support and assistance as needed. Now, the White House joins a slew of lawmakers from both Wisconsin and outside who have offered their thoughts and their prayers. And in terms of federal enforcement, already special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco, ATF and Explosives have responded to assist the investigation and of course, the FBI is aware of what is going on. So, we will see the president today as he heads to Fort Brag in North Carolina for a Friends-giving with the first lady.

Where we will likely hear more about his thoughts on the issue and whether or not he is going to make it down to the scene. Laura -- excuse me, Christine and Paula.

ROMANS: Thank you so much, Jasmine. Monday morning for you, thank you very much, good to set this for you --




REID: Closing arguments are set to begin in just a few hours in a murder trial of three white men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. The jury could begin deliberations soon after. CNN's Ryan Young live in Brunswick, Georgia, with more.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Paula. When you think about this case, it's almost not about what's going to happen inside of court. So many people in this community are worried about the ramifications outside of the court. We saw last week several hundred pastors show up here in town, have a peaceful march and called for justice. But then you've seen inside court, Defense Attorney Kevin Gough keeps saying over and over again, sort of touching the third rail about race and how he thinks his clients are not getting a fair chance. In fact, take a listen to what he said in court just last week.


KEVIN GOUGH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There are not thousands of people outside with pitch forks and baseball bats. Third parties are influencing this case. They've been doing it from the gallery in this courtroom. They've been doing it outside. This is why a public lynching looks like in the 21st century.

TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, GLYNN COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: So then we start getting into what we have now with individual members -- or individuals coming into the courtroom. I will say that is directly in response, Mr. Gough, to statements you made which I find reprehensible.


YOUNG: Yes, Paula, think about the idea that a man who is standing in court and actually called it a public lynching, when on video so many people have compared what his clients were involved in, to almost like a 21st century lynching. We have to talk about the fact that Ahmaud Arbery was apparently jogging through a neighborhood, that part may be under dispute for some people, but at the end of the day, there was the video of men chasing him through a neighborhood, and then at some point, there was a confrontation, three shots fired from a shotgun.

We had Travis McMichael on stand last week who basically said, he was doing this in self-defense, but then the prosecution has pointed out over and over again that they never said this was a citizens' arrest, and that they continued to box in Mr. Arbery as he's running through the neighborhood. As you can imagine, everything about this case has been under the microscope including the jury selection where you have only one black person on the jury with a community that has so many people of color and he only ended up with one person on the jury. So, today, of course, they'll have those jury instructions, probably

move forward and see how this community may go forward after this tough few weeks. Paula?

REID: Now, thank you so much for that report, definitely a case to watch.

ROMANS: Another important case we're watching. The jury begins its second day of deliberations in the Charlottesville, Virginia Unite the Rights Civil trial this morning. Fourteen people and ten white supremacist groups are being sued over the violence that erupted during the 2017 rally, it ended in the death of Heather Heyer. Plaintiffs are seeking damages for physical and emotional injuries they suffered. The defendants argue there's proof they organized racial violence.

REID: And Austria under full lockdown this morning. Frustrations boiling over with heated protests over the weekend about COVID restrictions. CNN takes you there live, next.



ROMANS: Welcome back. Some new COVID warning signs this morning just ahead of Thanksgiving. Cases are climbing again especially in cold weather states in the northeast and upper Midwest. The national average of new cases now up to nearly 100,000. There's also an uptick in hospitalizations, and most of those patients are unvaccinated.

REID: And today marks the deadline for civilian federal employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID. Federal contractors, healthcare workers and employees who fall under the OSHA rules have a little bit longer. Their deadline is set for January 4th. Now, several Republican-led states are fighting the mandate in court.

ROMANS: All right, as cases surge, so does frustration. In Europe, protesters clashed with police over the weekend. Look at these demonstrations, these are against lockdowns. And the demonstrations come as COVID cases spiral out of control in some areas once again. Police turned to tear gas, water cannons, even firing guns into the air to control these crowds. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz live in Vienna. And Austria has just gone into full lockdown there. Salma, why the lockdown and why the violent reaction?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Absolutely, Christine, I'm in one of the country's iconic Christmas markets here behind me, and as you can see, it is completely shut down. Over the weekend, frustration with new COVID restrictions turned violent in multiple European cities, I'm going to give you the example of Rotterdam where the mayor says it turned into an orgy of violence on Saturday with police firing warning shots, several injuries there in Brussels as well. Massive demonstrations, 35,000 people.

There were social media video showing heavily-armed police firing water cannons, protesters here in Vienna on Saturday, the biggest protests this country had seen against lockdown and against restrictions. But Austria is trying a very unique experiment here in Europe. This country wants to be the first one in Europe to mandate, require anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. And the deadline is soon. It's February 1. The authorities are also rolling out restrictions, specifically targeting the unvaccinated.

So, even when the lockdown here is lifted, those who are not immunized will still have to stay at home and follow those tough restrictions. The message here is clear from the chancellor in Austria, it is the unvaccinated that are to blame for a surge in cases across the country. And of course, it's not just here in Austria that is dealing with a surge.


Experts tell us, there is a perfect storm. Waning immunity, many of us got our vaccine months ago, at the same time, higher transmission rates because of the Winter season, that means some hospitals all across the region are struggling with an influx of patients. The vulnerable, the sick now overwhelming the healthcare system across Europe. Ben has more from Romania on this.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, here in Romania, Salma, the country got off to a fairly good start in December of last year with the vaccination program, but since then, it has fallen victim to fake news, misinformation and superstition.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Workers nail coffins shut, spray them with disinfectant. Anguished echoes from the next room. A woman sees her loved one for the very last time.

(on camera): This is Bucharest's biggest hospital. The morgue has a capacity for 15 bodies, but within the last 24 hours alone, 41 people have died. The overflow ends up here in the corridor.

(voice-over): Every day, more COVID dead are wheeled into the morgue. Nurse Claudio Yonitza(ph) is close to the breaking point. "They keep coming. They keep coming", he says. "We're working for nothing. We can't see the light at the end of the tunnel." And dark is Romania's tunnel. The country is in its fourth wave of COVID, its worst yet. The death toll from coronavirus hit a record level this month, intensive care units are strained to the limits. Hospital Director Catalin Cirstoiu tries to put the death toll in perspective.

CATALIN CIRSTOU, MANAGER OF BUCHAREST'S UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: In Romania, each day we have 400 patients reach death. You know, 400 people, it's a huge number. It's a community. It's a village, you know?

WEDEMAN: Romania has one of Europe's lowest vaccination rates against the disease. Medics say they struggle against fake news, suspicion and superstition. Parliament member Diana Sosoaca has even tried to physically block people from entering vaccination centers. "If you love your children", she says, "stop the vaccinations. Don't kill them." The vaccines have been extensively tested in children and proven to be safe and effective.

Nearly 36 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. In rural areas however, it's half that. The village of Bosanci is an hour's flight from Bucharest and a world away. Religion holds sway here, many put more faith in God than science. Village mayor and Pentecostal Pastor Neculai Miron refuses to be vaccinated. "We're not against the vaccine", he insists, "but we want to verify it to be reassured because there have been many side effects. We don't think the vaccines components are very safe. It's not a safe vaccine."

Experts say the vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing severe disease and death from COVID-19. And just down the road, Dr. Daniela Afadaroale has vaccinated ten people on this day. "No", she tells me, "we haven't seen any side effects in any patients we've vaccinated." In the county seats of Suceava, fresh graves in the cemetery stark evidence over a recent surge in deaths. Every day in Romania, a village is dying.


WEDEMAN: And the government here seems to be torn between politics and public health. They have considered, for instance, introducing a green pass system like Italy whereby if you're not vaccinated or you haven't gotten a negative COVID test, you can't go to work. But there was so much public opposition to that, they stepped back. And so, the number of people actually getting vaccines fell dramatically. Christine, Paula?

ROMANS: Ben Wedeman, thank you. Misinformation, the other virus spreading still around the world, also very dangerous. Thanks, Ben Wedeman.

REID: Some good news though out of Haiti. Two hostages kidnapped more than a month ago have been released. What does it mean for the other 15?



REID: Updating our breaking news this morning. Five people are dead and more than 40 injured after an SUV plowed into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Sunday afternoon. Now, police say they have one person in custody but they haven't confirmed whether that person is the driver. They also aren't commenting on a motive or cause of the incident, but they say the community is safe. We'll have more on this story in just a few minutes.

ROMANS: All right, the Grinch may be trying to steal your Christmas this year with inflation, pushing up prices, and supply disruptions threatening availability.


But America's biggest chains are using their market muscle to fight back. Here's how? First, their buying power and locked in contracts give them leverage to demand first priority from vendors and cargo shippers. Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot, they've even chartered their own ships to bring containers to ports of the chain's own choosing, bypassing those bottlenecks. Second, they're stockpiling goods.

Inventory levels at Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot combined have soared to more than $10 billion. Third, unlike, small businesses, the chains can afford to eat into their profits a bit. Wal-Mart and Target say they are raising prices more slowly than competitors, betting that helps them keep budget conscious, shoppers coming to them. Bottom line, if you shop around, especially at the big chains this year, you probably will be able to find what you want at a decent price this season.

REID: It's a little bit of good news, some good news --

ROMANS: A little glimmer of hope. And the top story in the "Wall Street Journal" this morning is, you know, global supply chain bottlenecks starting to ease. So, you're starting to see that the companies are finding ways around what has been a broken global supply chain because of COVID.

REID: Fascinating. All right, about 17 years ago to the day after one ugly brawl in Detroit, another melee on the court. How LeBron James sparked an ugly scene that led to his ejection.