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New Day

Charlottesville Trial Exposes White Supremacist Planners and Fighters; Jacob Blake's Mother Speaks out on Rittenhouse Acquittal Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 22, 2021 - 08:00   ET



SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So there may have been some kind of a fight, or something. It's not entirely clear to us what that is. Obviously, law enforcement has that information, but it's not entirely clear.

But they learned this information pretty early on. That's why when the FBI was brought in to assist, they said -- they issued a statement saying that the local, the police there, the local police, the state police were going to be taking the lead on this, because very early on they could see that there was no connection to any kind of terrorism or any, obviously, the other issues that are going on since the verdict, because of course, that's something that they were concerned. They do not see any kind of planning behind this.

Of course, there were early reports that shots were fired, and the police have come out and said as much, but that was by the police who were firing at the vehicle as it was going toward the parade route.

So that's it. That's pretty much all that we know at this point, but I think it's just important to get out that information, to put it out that there's no connection to anything else here. Obviously, a very tragic situation, a very sad situation, and law enforcement now still trying to get everything out there and make sure that they have all the accurate information before they officially determine the motive here, and the cause.

BERMAN: Very interesting and notable data points. Number one, investigators telling CNN they believe the suspect or person of interest was fleeing another alleged crime. Number two, they don't see any connection there to terrorism. And number three, because of that, again, they don't see any indication as of now that this was planned in any way. Shimon Prokupecz, as I said, very important data points. Thank you for that reporting. Please keep us posted if you hear more.

In the meantime, I want to go to Natasha Chen who is live on the scene. And Natasha, as I said, again, all that information about this person of interest at this point doesn't mitigate in any way the level of the tragedy for those who lost loved ones, who were injured, who lived through this horrible, horrible moment.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, you're right. I think it may help people understand that the threat is no longer there, but that does not change the fact that there are families of more than 40 people who were injured, at least five people dead, who I'm not sure how many people slept in this town last night, frankly. This is a tight-knit community. We are long the parade route where we can see clothes and belongings strewn across the street, left behind in a hurry.

We're going to show you some video of what happened in that moment, but just a warning to our viewers that it can be very disturbing to watch.


CHEN: A Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, turned deadly after an SUV plowed into the crowd Sunday afternoon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a car going westbound portion of parade route, a red Escape.

CHEN: Watch from another angle as the red vehicle speeds down the street barely missing a child wearing a pink coat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were a lot of screams, and we almost thought maybe it was Santa, but a red SUV, and it hit a lot of people.

CHEN: This disturbing video shows the incident from above and the chaos after the car sped into the parade route, mowing down performers and onlookers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw, I mean, maybe three people right in front of me get hit. I saw people right away run to the people that were hit and start doing CPR. And I saw people on the ground. And there's blood and -- it was really bad.

CHEN: Angela O'Boyle tells me she just started watching the parade when she filmed this video from her apartment balcony.

ANGELA O'BOYLE, WITNESS: The 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.

CHEN: In the city's livestream you can see a marching band playing. The red SUV then barrels down the street. Moments later, the video shows a police officer chasing after the vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have multiple casualties. We've got about 10 to 15 people down in the street!

CHEN: According to the city of Waukesha, at least five people are dead and over 40 injured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vehicle struck more than 20 individuals. Some of the individuals were children, and there are some fatalities as a result of this incident.

CHEN: At least 28 of those hurt were treated at local area hospitals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not have any specifics on the injuries at this time. All of the patients were transported.

CHEN: Authorities are investigating the event this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.


CHEN: The FBI is aware of the incident, and President Joe Biden has been briefed on the situation. Meanwhile, in Waukesha, the community is stunned and shaken by how the celebration turned into a tragedy.

I'm deeply saddened to know so many in our community went to a parade but ended up dealing with injury and heartache.


CHEN: The Wisconsin governor has ordered flags at half-staff. School here in Waukesha is canceled today. And there are a number of children affected by this, not just the kids who were injured in the hospital right now, but you can only imagine the number of their classmates who have just a lot of questions that we don't have easy answers to at the moment, John.

BERMAN: No, I can't imagine what it must have been like to be one of those kids marching in the parade, seeing that car speeding by, to have your friends hurt or worse. Natasha Chen, thank you for being there on the ground for us. Please keep us posted.

CHEN: Thanks.

BERMAN: Joining me is Kaylee Staral. She is a business intern at "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel," and she was there during this. Kaylee, thanks for being with us. I know you've probably been up all night talking to people, telling people what you saw. But please lay it out for us. What happened?

KAYLEE STARAL, "MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL": Yes, so this is the Waukesha Christmas parade. And there were a lot of people there, especially a lot of families with young children. Just in the spot where I was sitting, almost every family had children with blankets and candy bags. And people were there to enjoy the holiday season.

At around 4:30 -- the parade started at 4:00, and probably around 4:30, 5:00 you just hear a bunch of people start to scream. And your first thought is maybe it's Santa Claus, right. Santa comes at the end of the parade, and maybe people are excited. But the next thing you see is a red SUV barreling down the middle of the street going 30 miles per hour, and you see it hit people. It doesn't stop and it keeps going down the street.

BERMAN: So you saw the car, you saw this SUV going down the street driving into people?

STARAL: Yes. You can't really describe it. You never expect something like this to happen, and it all happened so quickly. It was just pure chaos and pure terror, I think.

BERMAN: What did you think was happening?

STARAL: It's hard to even make sense of what's happening, right? Your first thought is, is this part of the parade? But it becomes very clear very quickly that it's not. You see people running around and screaming and crying and running into the storefronts, and you realize that this is real. This is serious, and people are hurt because of it.

BERMAN: In terms of the victims that you saw, who were the people that you saw get hit?

STARAL: So I can tell you for sure that I saw four people on the ground, when the streets kind of cleared a little bit. I can't tell you for sure whether or not they were in the parade or if they were watching the parade. What I can tell you is the group that had just passed was the Waukesha extreme dance, and it was a group of teenaged girls, two little girls. And again, I don't know who was actually hit or not, but there were four people on the ground in front of me.

BERMAN: Little girls, part of a dance troupe?

STARAL: I don't know if it was little girls or not. That was the group that had passed in front of us.

BERMAN: But the people marching in this parade, it included kids, it included seniors, it included exactly who you think would be in a Christmas parade, there to enjoy the holiday spirit.

STARAL: Yes. People -- it was probably the first parade that people have been to because of the pandemic. And you could tell people were very excited. And so I just, I can't imagine -- like there were so many little kids there. So to see that as an adult, as a college student, it's scary, but to see that as a little kid, I can't imagine what that puts in your mind for the rest of your life.

BERMAN: What was the scene like afterwards in the minutes after, what was going on?

STARAL: Sure, so you have people that are fleeing into the stores, going to their cars. They're getting out of there. You also have some people that were watching the parade run out into the street to help those that were on the ground. A couple minutes later, two police kind of were running down the street, talking on the radios, updating the other police in the area what was going on. And so you hear them say at least 30 people down, shots fired. Again, I can't confirm for you what exactly what happened. That's just what the police said. But when they said that, that causes even more fear, even more panic. And so I think a lot of people just booked it at that point, as did I.


BERMAN: Are you doing OK this morning?

STARAL: Yes. I think still in shock, still processing. And my heart just goes out -- as we receive more information about what happened, I just hope that everyone takes some time to just heal and process what happened.

BERMAN: Kaylee, we appreciate you being there, you're interning at a newspaper, but this is not the kind of report I'm sure you want to be involved with at all. But thank you. It's very important to explain to the world what you saw and what happened there. We appreciate it.

STARAL: Of course, thank you.

BERMAN: So for the first time since a jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on all charges, the mother of Jacob Blake whose shooting by a Kenosha police officer initially sparked the violent protests, is speaking out. Her exclusive interview is next.

And we could get a verdict as soon as today in the case against the white nationalists behind the 2017 Unite the Right rally. We're going to go live to Charlottesville.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And the bloody altercation on the court ending with LeBron James being ejected from the game.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, they can't control Isaiah Stewart. He wants a piece of LeBron.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to get suspended for this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Oh, wow. Never seen this before.


KEILAR: We'll show you what LeBron James did that set that Pistons player off.



BERMAN: This morning Charlottesville, Virginia is bracing for a possible verdict in the trial of the white supremacists who planned the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally. Fourteen individuals and 10 white nationalist groups are being sued over the violence that resulted in one death and multiple injuries.

The jury is about to return for Day 2 of deliberations after having the weekend off. Elle Reeve live in Charlottesville. Elle, you've covered this story since 2017. You have sources all around there. Any sense of what the defendants are saying at this point?

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, the defendants are self- prescribed propagandists. So publicly, Chris Cantwell is saying he is winning and he is the star of the show. But privately, they are a bit more reflective.

Several members of the defense team have told me that the planning messages sent by lead organizer, Jason Kessler, which revealed at trial, are pretty damning. He even suggested releasing it misinformation that Richard Spencer was at a bar so that anti-fascists would come up to them and confront them.

So at this point, a lot of them have been making dark jokes. One of them joked about having ruined his life, another wondered what it would be like to owe $30 million when he only had $200.00 in his bank account.

BERMAN: Making jokes about something like this when there was someone who died and so many people hurt.

The jury deliberating, can you explain some of the factors that might lead to a longer deliberation for that jury?

REEVE: So the jury has to decide what role each defendant played, and what responsibility they bear, if any; and then decide what each plaintiff is owed, if anything. One juror was dismissed for being exposed to COVID. A defense lawyer told me that he thought that juror had been one of the most favorable to their side.

Beyond that, we just have the juror questions to go on. Because two defendants failed to participate in the discovery process, they didn't turn over their documents, the Judge has ruled that it is fact, or it could be assumed as fact that they conspired to commit racially motivated violence.

And so the jurors have asked, does that mean they have to assume that -- find that they conspired and then award damages or just that that they can. And then finally, one juror asked, could she keep her notes after the trial?


REEVE: The Judge said, sure. She might want to write a book.

BERMAN: That is interesting. Elle, you've also got some really interesting reporting that I think will open people's eyes to what goes on with some of these groups, how the leadership in these groups say one thing, hoping that others do something. What do you mean there?

REEVE: Well, a pretty dramatic moment at trial is when Chris Cantwell, the racist podcaster was forced to sit there and listen to his own words. And one of the conversations that was played was him talking to another guest about Dylann Roof who murdered nine people at a Black Church in Charleston.

These guys were talking about how that Dylann Roof was a loser. So, just the type of person that you would want to commit mass murder, and that's when Chris Cantwell said, "Yes, some people have to be cannon fodder for the race war." There's kind of a division of labor among these groups, the groups

that consider themselves more middle class more aspirational want more working class groups to do the violence in the streets.

BERMAN: Wow. That's a heck of a quote. "Some people have to be cannon fodder for the race war." Elle Reeve, as we've said, you've been doing terrific reporting on this since the beginning. Please keep us posted over the coming what could be hours or days.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Now one of the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, demonstrations throughout the country over the weekend after Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges related to the fatal shooting of two men and the wounding of a third during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Jacob Blake was paralyzed from the waist down after he was shot multiple times by Kenosha Police on August 23rd of 2020.

And joining me now is his mom, Julia Jackson, as well as Julia's Pastor and Jacob Blake's Pastor as well, James Ward, Jr. with us. He is the Founder of Insight Church. He's also the author of "Zero Victim: Overcoming Injustice with a New Attitude."

Julia, just first to you. How did you receive this news? What did you think about Kyle Rittenhouse being found not guilty?

JULIA JACKSON, MOTHER OF JACOB BLAKE, JR.: You know, I wasn't really surprised, but it didn't affect me either way. I just stand on my principles and my faith, so that's all of that.

KEILAR: I mean I think a lot of people would be fascinated to hear how you see this, you know, how you see the shooting of your son? How you see this verdict?

You know, it does seem like you see a lot of this through the prism of your faith. Can you explain that to us?


JACKSON: Well, yes. And respect for everybody who has been affected, who has lost loved ones. My heart goes out to everybody involved. Nobody wins in this situation. But I see it on a spiritual level, and not just on a human level.

I see -- I see a world that is fallen. I see a world that has forgotten about God. I see a world that has forgotten about humanity. And that puts human rights or constitutional rights above human life and morals. It's just not right to take someone's life because you have the right to.

And although I don't hate anyone at all. I pray often, for the police officer that shot my son and his family, as well as I do for Kyle and his family. Hatred and violence is not what we need. We need to go back to the basic principles of our faith.

Our country was founded on our faith. Has it been perfect? No. Will ever be perfect? No.

But if we can just go back to the basic fundamentals of Love thy neighbor, right? You know, and having considerations for each other's feelings and learning to agree to disagree, and not letting our feelings control our actions.

KEILAR: Julia, how does Jacob -- how does he see the verdict?

JACKSON: Jacob is really on the same level as I am. I will let him, when his time comes, speak for himself, but I know for a fact that he agrees with the things that I'm saying as well, and then also with Pastor James.

KEILAR: Pastor, what do you think? How are you seeing this?

PASTOR JAMES E. WARD, JR., FOUNDER, INSIGHT CHURCH: You know, Brianna, thanks for having us.

This conversation about love and forgiveness is nothing new for us. As a church. We've been, you know, practicing these things for many years, long before the Jacob Blake shooting, teaching that there are three kinds of law that govern society -- spiritual law, moral law, and civil law. And civil law cannot solve our problems.

You know, even with the Rittenhouse case, we wish that didn't happen because we wish that Jacob had never gotten shot, but even with the verdict in the Rittenhouse case, you know, Brianna, civil law is not intended to teach us what's right and wrong. Civil law is intended to decide what's legal and what's illegal.

In many, many situations, things can be legal in a civil law perspective, from a civil law perspective, but be wrong morally and spiritually.

So to Julia's point, we've got to reintroduce this conversation about faith, about spiritual and moral law. And that's what this "Zero Victim" book that we've written talks about overcoming injustice with a new attitude. We believe it's America's new textbook and new curriculum on how to deal with social justice issues, how to bring our nation together. It's an alternative perspective to critical race theory. It's a faith perspective and a Kingdom perspective on how to deal with very challenging issues during our time.

KEILAR: So Pastor, I just want to be clear to make sure I understand how you're seeing what happened here. So, when you think of what Kyle Rittenhouse did, you think of something that is perhaps legal, but is immoral.

WARD: I think in many situations, that's true for each one of us every day in life, that just because we do it, and it seems to be right for us or it's legal or something that is acceptable, everything that's acceptable is not necessarily morally right.

We've got to bring the foundation and the conversations of the spiritual and moral law back to America and for us, faith does that. It is the mindset of Jesus Christ Himself, the only innocent man that ever lived, suffered the greatest injustice that the world has ever known and he prayed for forgiveness. He prayed for love.

That does not dismiss sin. That does not dismiss unrighteousness, but it does give us a new framework for dealing with it in a way that is acceptable and a way that we can move forward as a nation.

KEILAR: Julia, I want to ask you about some of the concerns of many people who looked at this verdict. They worry that it encourages people to arm themselves like Kyle Rittenhouse did and to put themselves in situations that could then turn violent. Do you worry about that?

JACKSON: No, I don't worry about that, but I can see how people would think that. And for me, I don't get involved with protesting and marching. I'm not saying that it's not a good thing, but for me I do my battles on my knees, in prayer in prayer. Which, obviously, it keeps me out of that group where I'm potentially in danger.


JACKSON: I do not run into a dangerous situation. I'm not a police officer. That's not my job.

I'm a woman of faith, and I'm a healthcare worker. So, I don't really have to put myself in that place. I don't worry about what other people are going to do. I just pray for the protection for us all, for us are to hopefully one day at the minimum be able to live in harmony.

KEILAR: Julia and Pastor James Ward, I want to thank you both for coming on and our very best, Julia to your son. I know that Jacob is really on this long road to recovery and so we wish him the very best as he as he goes through that. Thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you.

WARD: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Masked shoplifters pouring into a Louis Vuitton store, taking off with more than $100,000.00 in merchandise. Why investigators suspect that this could be part of a larger operation.

BERMAN: And fresh off a razor thin re-election victory, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will join us on what Democrats need to do to hold on to power.