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Official: U.S. Trying to Develop Vaccine Passports; Crews Try to Get Ever Given Refloated Again; UNICEF: Security Forces Have Killed 35 Children Since Coup; Chile Faces Second Wave, Even with Steady Vaccinations; Nashville Declares Emergency after Deadly Flash Floods; Derek Chauvin Trial Begins Monday with Opening Statements; Lawmakers Call for Shootings to Be Prosecuted as Hate Crime; Biden Calls Law 'Jim Crow in the 21st Century'. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 29, 2021 - 00:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and, indeed, all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.


Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM. The new spike in COVID cases in parts of the U.S. What' s causing the surge? How things might be turned around.

The stuck ship as dredges dig, tug boats pull, and tides rise and fall. The only thing moving out of the Suez Canal is global trade heading south quickly.

And alone in a foreign land. Uyghur children have lost contact with their parents back in China. We hear the harrowing stories of boys in a Uyghur school in Turkey.

We do begin in the U.S. where the COVID cases are once again surging as the Easter holiday approaches. Some states are already seeing signs of a new surge including Michigan, where a growing number of young people are testing positive for the virus.

Experts say the surge is being fueled by more movement, an increase in gatherings, as well as economic reopenings.

So now, as more businesses look to return to normal, we are learning that the Biden administration is developing a system for people to prove they've been vaccinated. But experts are still urging people to continue following the rules and avoiding further problems.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro reports.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Please take this moment very seriously

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top officials warning Americans to keep focused on the pandemic, despite the pulls of warmer weather and encouraging vaccine news.

Reservations on home rental sites VRBO and Airbnb are skyrocketing, according to those companies, seemingly a desire among Americans to get out of the house, but travel, and gatherings for holidays like Easter and Passover are not a good idea, experts say.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Whenever we see surges in travel, be that around the holidays around certain -- certain situations like we did over the Christmas and New Year's holiday, and other types of holidays, you get congregation of people. Those are the kind of things that invariably increase the risk of getting infected.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Cases are starting to rise again in some states, including Michigan, the Department of Health tells CNN they're now experiencing a third coronavirus surge.

While more than a quarter of Americans have received their first dose of a vaccine, only around 15 percent are fully vaccinated. But most states continue to expand eligibility guidelines. Louisiana among the states expanding vaccine eligibility to all adults over age 16 on Monday.

Still this moment has all the ingredients for a new national surge, experts say. But Americans can prevent it.

WALENSKY: I know people are tired, and we're just asking people to hang on a little while longer in terms of the masks and the mitigation strategy so that we can get the majority of people vaccinated.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): In Michigan, officials are making the vaccine available to every resident of the state over the age of 16, starting on April 5. And they're urging people to get their appointments for that vaccine now, because they say getting the vaccine as quickly as possible is the best way to slow this new surge. And it could be the best way to prevent the entire country from having a surge of its own.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: Intensive care units in France are so overwhelmed with COVID patients that healthcare workers will soon be forced to make very tough decisions.

Doctors in Paris say within the next two weeks, they will have to select which patients get access to the ICUs and which do not. They say the growing outbreak is alarming, and current measures aren't enough to slow the spread.

In the U.K., though, the situation appears to be stabilizing, so much so that England is easing more restrictions. From Monday up to six people will be able to meet outside, while outdoor team sports can resume for all ages. And in Australia, the greater Brisbane area of Queensland will begin a

three-day lockdown just a few hours after 10 new COVID cases there. Four of them were locally transmitted. The state's premier says she's very concerned, because the highly transmissible U.K. variant was detected among these new cases.


ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, QUEENSLAND PREMIER: I know this is a really big call. I know it's very tough. We've got Easter coming up. We've got school holidays coming up. But let's do it now, and let's do it right, and let's see if we can come through at the other end.



HOLMES: Now the Philippines is putting Manila and nearby provinces under its the strictest COVID lockdown from Monday until Easter Sunday.

The country just reported almost 10,000 new cases on Friday. That is a daily record there. The new measures include an overnight curfew starting at 6 p.m., strict limits on social gatherings, and no religious gatherings during holy week.

And to Egypt now, where crews are trying to refloat that stuck cargo ship in the Suez Canal today. The Ever Given has been blocking the canal for nearly a week. And hundreds of other ships have been waiting for the waterway to open up so they can deliver their goods to port.

Ben Wedeman with the latest from Cairo.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six days and counting, the saga goes on. The Ever Given, a massive container ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal Tuesday, is still stuck.

A multi-pronged effort to free the vessel is underway after several unsuccessful attempts. From dredging to tug boats in one of the world's busiest waterways.

Sunday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the ship should start preparing to lighten the load. But among other things, that would require a powerful enough crane, which Egypt doesn't have.

Teams of salvage experts from Holland and Japan are trying to refloat more than 200,000-ton ship owned by Evergreen Marine, a Taiwanese company.

The U.S. Navy is also getting involved and says it is planning to send an assessment team of dredging experts.

At first, strong winds and a sandstorm were thought to be the reason behind the blockage. Now, the Suez Canal Authority says it might have been a technical or human error.

OSAMA RABIE, CHAIRMAN, SUEZ CANAL AUTHORITY: There could also be a human error, which is under investigation. There could be a lot of mistakes. But we can't say what they are now.

WEDEMAN: At stake is a costly traffic jam. Over 300 ships in either direction carrying all kinds of cargo, from livestock to oil, with freight rates nearly doubling this week.

Nearby, Syria has already imposed fuel rationing. The man-made canal is the shortest route for ships moving between Europe and Asia with around 12 percent of global trade volume passing through it. For now, though, the race to free the Ever Given continues.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.


HOLMES: CNN's Anna Stewart tracking all of this for us. She joins me now from London.

There has been some development. Bring us up to date.


Yes. Well, we know that attempts are still ongoing to refloat the Ever Given. That's all we know at this stage. But perhaps the flow of activity-- we'll keep an eye on that.

But this ship, as we know, really can't be stuck in a worse place, could it? This is a canal that accounts for 12 percent of global trade.

Over 50 ships a day travel through it, and as you can see from various vessel radars, we are all now close watching around 300 ships are stuck on either side.

And this has just such a huge implication when you're looking at global trade and costs. And costs right through the supply chain, from the raw material producer through to the final end product, because of course, this has a huge impact on oil and gas. That's the obvious commodity that is transmitted through this canal but also things like coffee. European coffee from Africa and Asia travels through this route. We're already seeing coffee prices going higher.

Now, as you saw in Ben's report, there is an option to reroute by Cape of Good Hope of South Africa. That takes an additional 15 days. Not all ships can afford to do this. That adds even more delay, particularly if the ship is refloated.

And of course, Michael, not all ships can afford to do it. But also, can't think of the 30-plus ships that have livestock on board that are stuck on either side of the Ever Given. Largely Romanian livestock. They don't have the food and water, all of them, to be able to do this big rerouting job.

So an absolute mess. And it continues nearly into a whole week -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. And I guess, you know, are people likely to feel it in their hip pocket? I mean, is this going to increase prices for you and me? I mean, is that likely?

STEWART: That's always the big concern. How does it impact us, Michael? In terms of your coffee, I don't think you're going to see the till ticking higher just yet. It's more just looking at the markets.

But where there are big concerns about, there's actually shortages of all sorts of things due to delays. And that's not just due to this blockage on the Suez Canal but also due to a lack of container ships and a lack of containers.


And that is largely due to the pandemic. Everyone's been online shopping. This has already been a problem. And now you've got all these ships stuck there, which really compounds this. So even trade that doesn't go through the Suez Canal -- we're talking about, perhaps, toilet roll that comes from Latin America, where they don't have enough containers to ship it out to the rest of the world. So we could be seeing, Michael -- I'm warning you -- a shortage once again of toilet roll.

HOLMES: Not the loo roll again. Well, that's going to be interesting. Get down to the supermarket, stat. Anna Stewart, thank you there in London.

Sal Mercogliano is a maritime historian at Campbell University and a former merchant mariner. He joins me now from North Carolina.

Good to see you again, Sal. We're seeing you again, because it's still going on. You know, more than 325 ships. Billions of dollars' worth of cargo. That is a lot of ships. When do the impacts start? Are consumers likely to take the hit in the wallet? And when might that be?

SAL MERCOGLIANO, MARITIME HISTORIAN, CAMPBELL UNIVERSITY: Well, to give you an idea, the Ever Given was supposed to be on berth in Felixstowe, Hamburg and Rotterdam this week. And so that cargo would have been, you know, offloaded this week, started being trucked and railed to places throughout Europe. It would have been reloaded onto other vessels for distribution. These vessels, especially the size of the Ever Given, feed into a larger system.

So it's not going to be immediate, but we're going to feel it here in the weeks to come. Some of these shortages in some areas. Some, you know, areas where manufacturing may be needing key components, and essential material may not be able to get there. I think that's why we're going to see whether or not these ships hang at those anchorages, or if they start leaving in the very short future.

HOLMES: Yes. I mean, we touched on this last time we spoke. It's an important point. There had always been an impact to supply chains because of COVID shutdowns. Right? I mean, how are the knock-on effects from that compounding the current situation?

MERCOGLIANO: I think one of the things that you're seeing right now is COVID kind of spilled over. We see those massive vessel fleets off the coast of California right now. And in many of the same ways, you're going to see the same situations.

In many ways, Europe is still catching up from COVID. Once you had the shutdowns in China and in April and March last year, demand went up. We shifted a lot of our commerce into e-commerce. A lot of people ordering stuff online. And a lot of that is being supplied by these vessels being shipped -- you know, coming across through the Suez at this time.

With Europe in their lockdown, this could have a really detrimental effect to what consumers are expecting to arrive on their doorsteps.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, and what they might pay for, if there become shortages. I want to touch on this, too, because I'm curious, the potential insurance claims of this. The owners initially claimed the cause was wind and a sand storm, which presumably, they could say was an act of God. But, you know, what if it does turn out to be mechanical or human error? Does that change the potential liability aspect of who's going to pay for this?

MERCOGLIANO: Well, I think so. I think you've got a couple of issues going on right. Obviously, it's international shipping. So you may have a Panamanian-flagged vessel with a Taiwanese company, a Japanese owner, a German operating company, an Indian crew, and Egyptian pilots. So I mean, right there is a smorgasbord of nations right there.

But you add to it the issue of liability for the salvage and for delays. I think it's one of the reasons why we've seen a shift from the salvage right now, because the salvers are on scene. They work for the insurance companies and for the vessels.

And this -- I'm sure and I don't have proof of it, but I'm pretty sure when they show up, they sit there and say, Egypt, are you going to be responsible for the vessel? And for future closures and future liability? Or are we going to do it?

And I think they basically handed that over to the salvers. One of the reasons we don't see them kind of tugging on the vessel right now, because they're doing their surveys and trying to set up for the salvage that's going to come in the future here.

HOLMES: That is fascinating.

You know, when it comes to getting this thing going, hopefully, they're going to get it all at some point in the next few days without having to take the containers off. But that is being discussed, as well.

You know ships. This is a huge one. How complicated and time consuming would be unloading them? MERCOGLIANO: Well, I mean, give you an idea, this vessel is -- is just

massive in its size and height and everything. And you're talking about the equivalent of a 14-story building, when you're up against it at the waterline.

And the potential to get these containers off, you have to use very specialized ports and cranes to get those containers off. These are 40-foot containers, most of them. These are heavier than most only a few helicopters in the world could lift these heavy containers off them.

Cranes from shore is a tough reach. You're talking again a very high reach. This vessel is 200 feet across. It's an extremely difficult endeavor to get those containers off.


And I think what we're going to see them do is work on getting the fuel, get the water off, get the oil off. The surveyors are going to do a survey of it. They announced the agent that they're going to to try on the high tide tomorrow. I'm not hundred percent they're going to try to do that, but they're definitely going to try on the high tide on Tuesday and Wednesday. That's the spring tide. That's really one of the big things.

If they miss that spring tide, the highest tide they have, it's going to be a little bit more difficult. Then you're going to see them really get in to take those containers off.

HOLMES: Yes. Wow, what a job that will be. I mean, it is hard to get around how big this is. It's bigger than an aircraft carrier, 14-story building-high, as you're saying. Wow. Going to leave it there.

Sam [SIC] -- Sal Mercogliano, thanks so much. Really appreciate it again.


HOLMES: And actually, just in the last few minutes, we've got a statement from the Suez Canal Authority, which is telling us that they are attempting, again, right now, to refloat this ship, the Ever Given. They're using 10 tugs, according to the statement.

They're being divided to pull it from the bow, from the front, to try to pull it back into the canal. At the same time, pull it from the stern, the rear, pulling the other direction. Basically, sort of levering it out, back into the main part of the canal.

There's been several attempts, so far, which have failed. They're at it again, and we are monitoring their progress. We'll bring you up to date, if there are any developments.

Meanwhile, when we come back here, we're going to bring you Myanmar's military killing in an astounding number of children as it cracks down on dissent. And the U.S. president taking notes.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's terrible. It's outrageous.


HOLMES: Plus, the latest on a terror attack in Mozambique that is going on for days. We'll have that, too, when we come back.



HOLMES: We are getting a better sense of the carnage of the day's long terror attack in Mozambique. A military spokesman says dozens of people are dead, dozens more are missing after Islamist militants attacked the city of Palma.

The fatalities reportedly including locals and foreigners working in the region. Mozambique's military says they're still trying to secure the city.

The terror group, which is believed to be affiliated with ISIS, attacked Palma on Wednesday. Witnesses say many people died trying to evacuate, including one South African man, Adrian Nel. His mother says he was shot while trying to escape by car with his father and younger brother. They survived.

The U.K. government is advising all British nationals in Myanmar to leave the country immediately. It comes as Myanmar's armed forces continue to escalate their brutal crackdown on dissent.

The latest chilling example of just how bad it's gotten: UNICEF says 35 children have been killed by security forces since the military seized power less than two months ago.

The group also says almost 1,000 children and young people have been detained arbitrarily, and countless more have been wounded.

A warning: this next video is graphic. Among those injured, a one- year-old baby girl. She was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet on Saturday. She is expected to survive. How lasting her injuries are, we do not know.

Activists are calling Saturday the Day of Shame. Security forces reportedly killed at least 114 people across the country, including several children.

The U.S. president is paying attention.


BIDEN: waIt's terrible. It absolutely is outrageous. Based on the reporting I've gotten from an awful lot of people, they've been killed totally unnecessarily.


HOLMES: Ivan Watson, following all of this from Hong Kong. Ivan, you know, there's the increase in killings. The military's posture, perhaps, signaled it might be about to ramp up violence? That, perhaps, in a way, it's cornered itself?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, one of the problems from the beginning, from February 1, when the military staged its coup and put all of the elected civilian government officials in detention, incommunicado, was that there was not really an off ramp for the military.

And now, seemingly, for the protest movement, as well. They're just kind of on this collision course, and the violence just keeps getting worse and worse.

The vast bulk of the killing, of the slaughter on Saturday, being blamed by top United Nations officials, and by the armed forces chiefs of the U.S., Australia, Japan, South Korea, a number of European countries and others, on the Myanmar military with kind of some of the denunciations, just openly accusing the military of mass murder.

And there is something kind of perverse about the military throwing itself a parade on Saturday and celebrating Armed Forces Day while also carrying out the deadliest day yet since the coup, on February 1. Slaughtering civilians, according to one local news outlet in Myanmar, in at least 44 different cities and towns across the country.

The military still is unable to get many parts of the economy back in gear because so much of the civil service is still on strike, this civil disobedience movement, which has succeeded in grounding much of the economy to a halt, to the effect that, I'm told, that even if you go to, like, a cafe, or a store, they don't even collect sales tax anymore. That's one example of how things have been brought to a halt on that side of things.

The violence has spread beyond the cities and towns to the ethnic enclaves, with the military carrying out airstrikes on Saturday, possibly in retaliation for an ethnic group that attacked a military outpost and claimed to have killed a number of soldiers.

So this has the scenario here of expanding to a broader civil war, and that's what one of the ethnic armed militia leaders told CNN in an interview this weekend, Michael.


HOLMES: All right. Ivan Watson following developments there in Hong Kong. Thank you, Ivan.

And we're going to take a break. Ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, Chile successfully vaccinating its population against the coronavirus. So why aren't cases spiking? We'll talk about that after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and

all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes, and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Mexico is getting its first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from the U.S., one and a half million doses in all. And this comes after a stunning revelation, where the Mexican government admitted its COVID death toll has been grossly under-reported by roughly 120,000 people.

Now that would put the total number of dead in Mexico since the pandemic began at more than 321,000. We're talking about a 60 percent jump from the most recent official number. And by that count, the second highest death toll in the world, going ahead of Brazil.

A new health ministry report looked at so-called excess deaths over the past year. It is believed a lot of these COVID victims were uncounted because of a lack of testing and many people dying at home.

Chile has one of the world's highest coronavirus vaccination rates. That's good news. But still, they're facing a second wave of infections and more lockdowns. It's gotten so bad that Chile's president says he's going to ask Congress to postpone elections from April to May.

Rafael Romo with the latest.



RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): Light traffic on the streets. Nearly-deserted sidewalks and bus stops. And empty parks. Around 60 million people, including Santiago, the Chilean capital, are under a full lockdown that started over the weekend after record numbers of new coronavirus cases.

"For the love of Chile," President Pinera pleaded with his fellow citizens, "let's all maximize personal precautions and follow health guidelines."

The daily number of new COVID-19 cases reached 7,626 Friday, a record since the beginning of the pandemic. In the country of roughly 19 million, the total number of cases is now approaching a million. Enrique Paris, the Chilean health minister, is worried.

He says intensive care units around the country are at 95 percent capacity, and the new spike in cases is bound to strain the national health system even more.

Everything is not bad news for Chile. Well over six million people, or nearly a third of its population, have received at least one dose. The South American country has the third highest vaccination rate in the world, after Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and is ahead of countries like the U.K. and the U.S.

Rosanna Ampa (ph), a nurse who stopped by one of the vaccination centers open around the country to get her shot, says the problem is that many people simply lowered their guards.

"People have been responsible," she said. "We thought that after getting the first dose, we would all be immune, and that's simply not the case."

The Chilean health ministry is asking people to contact police to report parties or other gatherings that are now technically illegal. For now, Santiago's metropolitan area will remain on lockdown indefinitely.

(on camera): Chileans are supposed to go to the polls on April 11 to choose members from assembly that will be tasked with writing a new constitution.

For the first time over the weekend, the president, Pinera, said the government will be paying close attention to the health emergency and didn't rule out the possibility of postponing the process if the situation doesn't improve.

Rafael Romo, CNN.


HOLMES: And we will be right back.



HOLMES: All right. I want to update you now on one of our top stories. the Suez Canal. Authorities trying to get the Ever Given container ship refloated. Tug boats working on that right now.

Ben Wedeman joins me now from Cairo with more details. What have you been hearing, Ben?

WEDEMAN: Well, what we're seeing, for instance, on the maritime tracking sights is that the Ever Given does seem to have shifted somewhat.

And we know that overnight, 10 tug boats, including two very heavy ones that arrived yesterday afternoon, have been trying to nudge this ship free.

Of course, let's not forget this is a gargantuan task. You're talking about 18,300 containers on board that ship. But the Egyptian authorities at the Suez Canal have been working around the clock, dredging around the ship.

The other day, we did understand that they were temporarily able to free the propeller, and the rudder, as well. So it does appear that there has been progress overnight.

We're still waiting for precise details. But as I said, it does appear that the ship has been moved somewhat. It's not clear at this point, however, how soon the canal itself will reopen, Michael. HOLMES: Yes. I mean, I just keep coming back to how big this thing is.

It's as tall as a 14-story building. Bigger than an aircraft carrier, and it is blocking one of the most important shipping routes in the world.

Do you think, Ben, that you know, at the end of this, in the postmortem, they're going to be talking a little bit about, you know, how the heck this can happen and whether, you know, either these gargantuan ships don't belong there in the Suez Canal or whether something is going to change.

WEDEMAN: We heard Osama Rabie, who's the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, saying that in terms of their investigation into what's happened, that yes, there were 40-knot winds on Tuesday morning. There was a sandstorm, but they seem to be tending in the direction of the possibility of human error.

Now when a ship enters the Suez Canal, Egyptian pilots get on and guide it. But the captain of the ship has ultimate authority over the actions taken in the pilot room.

What is clear is that these ships are a challenge when going through the Suez Canal. Keep in mind, Michael, that since 1956, the width of the canal in that area has been doubled. And it's still tight for a ship the size of the Ever Given.

Now between 2014 and 2015, Egypt did this massive project under the direction of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to create two lanes in the Suez Canal. But they didn't do it in this area, which is closer to the mouth of the canal in the Red Sea.

They didn't do it because that was -- it was a gargantuan effort. In the first place, very expensive. But perhaps, they might reconsider the possibility of expanding the Suez Canal in that area, as well, to avoid this sort of problem in the future.

But what is clear is that something has to change in terms of just the size of these ships, how they get through the canal. And I think there's going to be a lot of postgame thinking about how to change things in the future -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. And just real quick, I mean, what is the traffic jam like on either end? Still -- how many ships are out there? And what's being held up?

WEDEMAN: Well, there's more than 350 ships at the moment. And in terms of what is being held up, the question is what's not being held up? We are talking about consumer goods, fuel, livestock, basically everything under the sun. Thirty percent of world container traffic passes through the Suez Canal.


But already we know that there are real-world effects as a result of this delay. Syria, for instance, yesterday announced that it would start rationing fuel, because fuel shipments aren't reaching there. We know that shipping rates in the last week have more than doubled.

So there's a lot at stake here. And a lot of people involved in business, and definitely, the Egyptian government because its pride and prestige are on the line, are definitely hoping that today the canal will -- we will definitely hear that the canal will soon reopen for business -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. They are hoping for a good day, indeed. Ben Wedeman in Cairo tracking it for us. Good to see you, Ben. Thanks for that. And we will continue to monitor it.

WORLD SPORT is next for our international viewers. For those of you here in the U.S., I'll be right back with more news after the break.



HOLMES: There is a state of emergency in Nashville, Tennessee, after flash flooding killed at least four people over the weekend. Rescuers saved at least 130 people from homes and vehicles, some clinging to trees or sheltering in their attics as the water rose.

A number of rivers and streams in the region overflowed, leaving many roads impassable.

The latest now from CNN's Martin Savidge.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT: For the most part, the floodwaters have receded, but the destruction they leave behind is significant.

(voice-over): This was not a citywide flood. The flooding was pretty much limited to South Nashville. But in the communities and areas where the flash flooding went, the destruction is amazing to see.

(on camera): This apartment complex is just one example. Residents here say that early Sunday morning, they heard the torrential rain. Then they heard the alerts on their cell phones, and then finally, they heard the fire alarms going off in the buildings.

When they looked out to see what was burning, they were stunned to realize their building had been completely surrounded by raging water. And then they heard the screams of their neighbors from the bottom apartments here, because the water first had trapped them, and then the debris began shattering the windows, and now they were being flooded.

Amazingly, everyone got out alive, but they won't soon forget that horrible, horrible night.

(voice-over): Nashville's endured a lot in the last year. It had a tornado that killed several people. Then it endured the pandemic, and then on top of that, it had a bombing at Christmas. (on camera): And now flooding that has left at least four people dead.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Nashville.


HOLMES: Opening statements will begin in the coming hours in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with killing George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota. On Sunday, Floyd's supporters held a large rally in his honor and demanded justice.


PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: This is George's city. Because when you think of George, you think of Minnesota. This is where he was killed by four officers who used barbaric tactics to put him down. They say he died of asphyxiation. But in the black community, that's equivalent to dying of being choked to death.


HOLMES: Now Floyd's death sparked dozens of protests last year and set off intense debates on social justice and police accountability. As CNN's Omar Jimenez reports, those issues will likely be addressed again in the coming trial.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The eyes of a movement --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives matter!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Black lives matter!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black lives matter!

JIMENEZ: -- one that sparked protests worldwide in the name of George Floyd, shift to a courtroom in Minneapolis.


JIMENEZ: Now to opening statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin. The former Minneapolis police officer has pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces: second-degree unintentional murder, second-degree manslaughter, and third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd.

Outside the courtroom, emotions will be running high.




JIMENEZ: There have already been multiple protests throughout the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've done so peacefully. And that's assembled and gathered peacefully. We will continue to expect more demonstrations.

JIMENEZ: But the destruction that happened in May 2020 in the aftermath of Floyd's death is still fresh on the minds of city officials, and it's why the building that houses the courtroom has virtually become a fortress, due to increased security measures with the mayor saying there's more to come.

MAYOR JACOB FREY (D), MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: Residents should be expecting a gradual increase in law enforcement and National Guard presence as we progress through the trial.

JIMENEZ: The first step in this trial --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does that make you feel?


JIMENEZ: -- was getting through jury selection, which lasted exactly two weeks.

CAHILL: You will serve on our jury.

JIMENEZ: Resulting in 15 jurors, 14 of which will be a part of the trial.

CAHILL: This 15th juror was to make sure that we have 14 people show up on Monday.

JIMENEZ: Their identities remain unknown for now.

Attorneys for the Floyd family are pleased the trial can now proceed and wrote, "This is not a hard case. George Floyd had more witnesses to his death than any other person ever."

And it will be witnesses who now come to the stand, called by both prosecutors for the state and defense attorneys for Derek Chauvin. Among what we know will be talked about --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put them up on the dash.

JIMENEZ: -- a portion of a 2019 George Floyd arrest, for which he was never charged, but one where he ended up being sent to the hospital instead of jail. And interaction with police, defense attorneys for Chauvin argued, was similar to May 2020. A paramedic from that day in 2019 is also expected to testify.


CAHILL: The whole point here is we have medical evidence on what happens when Mr. Floyd is faced with virtually the same situation. Confrontation by police, at gunpoint, followed by a rapid ingestion of


system of justice is a bit on trial. Can we give Mr. Chauvin a fair trial, because that's essential? Can we give the state a fair chance to find him guilty under the law and the evidence?

JIMENEZ: The trial is expected to last up to four weeks. All the while, a city, a family, a movement watches anxiously over what criminal accountability looks like in the death of George Floyd.

(on camera): Now, despite all of the eyes and the pressures on this trial, the only thing that really matters now is what happens within the walls of this courtroom, specifically in regards to the cause of George Floyd's death and Derek Chauvin's intent in all of this.

All of these charges are going to be considered separately, so Chauvin could be convicted on all of them, some of them, or none at all. But the process begins with opening statements when court gets back into session at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, Monday morning.

Omar Jimenez, CNN, Minneapolis, Minnesota.


HOLMES: A group of U.S. lawmakers and Asian community leaders are calling for the Atlanta area spa shooting suspect to be charged with a hate crime.

They retraced the 27-mile route that the gunman followed nearly two weeks ago when he opened fire on three Asian-owned businesses, killing eight people, including six Asian women. They say it shows just how far he had to travel to deliberately target Asians.

CNN's Natasha Chen with more.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The members of this congressional delegation wanted to see for themselves the route the suspect took from the first spa location in Acworth in Cherokee County to this location and the one across the street in Atlanta.

They said the drive was about 27 miles, took them 45 minutes with no traffic. They said the suspect definitely could have stopped after killing four people at the first spa, but making that trip, to them, underscored the idea that he sought out and targeted -- targeted these locations.

Now, they came to lay flowers, pray, and pay respects at each of the locations, then met with some of the victims' families, including the family of Xiaojie Tan.

Now, Tan's shared this photo with us, and they said the meeting was emotional. They expected it to be more like a business setting, but they said they were wrong. The lawmakers, to them, honestly appeared to be grieving with them. Afterward, the members of Congress spoke to the media about their

goals in supporting the Asian-American community and preventing further violence like this. They also talked about how, in their minds, this is definitely a hate crime, even though such charges have not been filed.

REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): These are the issues that we need to deal with, and I tell you that everything that we saw today gave me even more determination to go back to Washington, D.C., to ensure that we have our Department of Justice use its resources to call these murders a hate crime; to make sure that they interview all the witnesses in their own languages, that they look at the ethnic media, that they look at the social history of this shooter and take every opportunity they can to call it what it is.

CHEN: Congresswoman Chu also talked about how, in California, where she's from, there is a ten-day waiting period to release a firearm to someone who purchased it. She says that allows time for some people to calm down and re-evaluate their actions.

And she said something similar in Georgia would have prevented this gunman from buying his weapon the same day that he killed eight people.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: Democratic lawmakers are slamming Georgia's new voting law, saying it is now imperative to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act that seeks to protect all Americans' rights to vote.

Georgia-based companies, Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Delta Airlines weighing in on the Republican-backed bill this weekend, but some Democrats are calling on them to do more.

CNN's Sara Murray with that.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are continuing to see the fallout of this sweeping elections bill that passed in the state of Georgia. This is the same bill that President Joe Biden called "sick" and "un-American."

Now, this is a bill that would require voter identification for those handing in their absentee ballots. It also limits access to those ballot drop boxes.

And in a move that's generating a ton of controversy, it would make it a crime to hand out food and water to voters who are waiting in line.

Now, all of this has ramped up pressure on the president, as well as Senate Democrats to do something to make sure that a bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives that would address some of these election issues, make it harder for states to make these kind of changes, to ensure that that legislation passes the Senate.


Here's what Senator Raphael Warnock had to say about that.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): We have to pass voting rights no matter what, and the reason why I have insisted that we talk to our Republican sisters and brothers on the other side of the aisle is because, if we don't do anything else in the Senate, we have to stand up for the democracy.

The filibuster, at the end of the day, is about minority rights in the Senate. How are you going to insist on protecting minority rights in the Senate while refusing to protect minority rights in the society?

MURRAY: So you can bet this is a major agenda item that Senate Democrats, as well as the president, are going to get questions on in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, even though this law is going into effect in the state of Georgia, there are already civil rights groups that are challenging it in court.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: A second top doctor at the Russian hospital where opposition leader Alexei Navalny was first treated has died. The hospital says the 63-year-old doctor suffered a stroke in December and could not recover, and passed away on Friday.

He had worked at the emergency hospital for 30 years.

Now, this follows the February death of the deputy chief physician at the same hospital. A spokeswoman said, quote, "Preliminary data showed he died of a heart attack at age 55."

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM, spending part of your day with me. I will be back, though, with more news after the break.