Democracy Now!

"He Wasn't Invited": How Trump's Racist Mt. Rushmore Celebration Violated Indigenous Sovereignty

Amid ongoing protests against systemic racism and state violence, Trump attacked protesters, vowed to defend statues of colonizers and white supremacists, and ignored Indigenous sovereignty over the area, when he held an Independence Day rally at Mount Rushmore, sparking even more protests that led to 15 arrests. “The Black Hills, or what we know as He Sápa, is the cultural center of our universe as Lakota people,” says Indigenous scholar and activist Nick Estes, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. “More than 50 different Indigenous nations actually have origin stories or ties or spiritual connections to the Black Hills.”

Headlines for July 6, 2020

"America's Moment of Reckoning": Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor & Cornel West on Uprising Against Racism

Scholars Cornel West and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor respond to the global uprising against racism and police violence following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “We’re seeing the convergence of a class rebellion with racism and racial terrorism at the center of it,” said Princeton professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. “And in many ways, we are in uncharted territory in the United States.”

"What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?": James Earl Jones Reads Frederick Douglass's Historic Speech

In a Fourth of July holiday special, we hear the words of Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery around 1818, Douglass became a key leader of the abolitionist movement. On July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York, he gave one of his most famous speeches, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” He was addressing the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. This is actor James Earl Jones reading the speech during a performance of historian Howard Zinn’s acclaimed book, “Voices of a People’s History of the United States.” He was introduced by Zinn.

Did the Army Ignore a Soldier's Murder? Questions Mount over Vanessa Guillén Disappearance

The U.S. Army says it has a suspect in custody in connection with the disappearance of Vanessa Guillén, a missing 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier whose family says her remains were likely found in a shallow grave near the Texas Army base. A second suspect in the case — a soldier who the Guillén family lawyer named as Aaron Robinson — killed himself in Killeen, Texas, as officers approached. The news comes after months of anguish for Vanessa Guillén’s family, who say she was sexually harassed by a higher-up prior to her disappearance and that the military was slow to investigate when she went missing. We get an update from the family’s attorney, Natalie Khawam.

Barbara Ransby on the Biden Problem: Social Movements Must Defeat Trump & Also Hold Dems Accountable

Amid a mass uprising against racism and state violence, social movements are not just fighting hostility and backlash from President Trump, but also dealing with a “Biden problem,” according to historian, author and activist Barbara Ransby. “I think it’s fair to say that Joe Biden is not our dream candidate, by any means,” she says. “We should be critical of Joe Biden. We should be ready to hold Joe Biden accountable come January. But we should be clear about the need to defeat Trump in November.”

The Untold History of Mount Rushmore: A Friend of the KKK Built Monument on Sacred Lakota Land

As tribal governments call on President Trump to cancel his Mount Rushmore Independence Day celebration, we look at why Native Americans have long pushed for the removal of the monument carved into the sacred Black Hills and designed by a sculptor with ties to the Ku Klux Klan. “This place is very, very sacred to our people,” says Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of the NDN Collective. “Stealing our land and then carving the faces of four white men who were colonizers, who committed genocide against Indigenous people, is an egregious act of violence.”

Headlines for July 2, 2020

Ed Yong on the "Disgraceful" U.S. Pandemic Response & How Medicare for All Could Have Saved Lives

As the United States experiences the world’s worst outbreak of COVID-19, we speak with Ed Yong, science writer for The Atlantic, who warned of the country’s unpreparedness for a viral outbreak in 2018. Now he says “it’s truly shocking and disgraceful” how badly the pandemic has been handled in the United States, and blames a lack of federal leadership for most of the damage. “A country with the resources that we have should not be in this state,” he argues, and adds that Medicare for All could have saved lives.

Jamaal Bowman on NY Primary Upset, Rent Strikes, Police Brutality & Opposing West Bank Annexation

As a surge of a progressive candidates of color see victories in Democratic primaries across the country, we speak with former Bronx middle school principal Jamaal Bowman about his upset victory over New York Congressmember Eliot Engel, the 16-term Foreign Affairs Committee chair. Bowman ran on a Green New Deal, Medicare for All platform and recently joined protests demanding an end to racism and police brutality. He says his upset over Engel came down to mobilizing people who are “disenfranchised and ignored” by the political establishment. “We didn’t just target those who consistently vote in primaries. We targeted everyone,” he says. Looking forward, he describes his support for Palestine, a rent strike and police accountability.

Headlines for July 1, 2020

Headlines for July 1, 2020

#OccupyCityHall: Mayor's "Tone Deaf" Pledge to Move $1B from NYPD Budget Fails to Satisfy Protesters

New York police have closed in on peaceful protesters camped outside City Hall who are demanding $1 billion be cut from the police department’s $6 billion budget, as the city approaches its July 1 budget deadline. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a budget deal that would move $1 billion in NYPD funding in an apparent nod to protesters’ demands, but organizers say they’re not satisfied. “All they’ve really done is shifted money from the NYPD budget over to school safety officers,” says Bianca Cunningham with the #OccupyCityHall encampment, who adds that school safety officers still contribute to a school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately hurts Black and Brown communities. “It shows that they are completely tone deaf about what this moment is about,” she says.

Parents in NJ Fight Gentrification & Demolition of Public School, Displacement of Latinx Students

In a story Democracy Now! has followed closely, Juan González shares an update on efforts to prevent the demolition of the Lincoln Annex public school in New Brunswick, New Jersey. City officials are trying to proceed with demolishing the public school this summer, in a move that would force 760 students to be bussed to other schools for years, and parents and local activists are holding a rally in front of the Lincoln Annex School. “They want to keep the pressure on in the streets and to call on allies … who support public education, who are against gentrification and the abuse of immigrants, to join the rally,” González says.

NAACP Head Derrick Johnson on Mississippi's State Flag, Trump's Hateful Rhetoric & Boycotting Facebook

In a historic vote, the Mississippi state Legislature passed a bill to remove the Confederate battle emblem from its state flag, making it the last state to do so, after an ongoing nationwide uprising against racism and police brutality and a mounting pressure campaign in Mississippi. Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, says it has been a “long journey” to change the Mississippi flag. “We’ve had to fight both against the symbol of racial oppression, the revisionist history of racial oppression, and now the next step is to fight against the structural racism that’s embedded in the public policy, not only in the state of Mississippi but across the country,” Johnson says. He also addresses how President Trump shared a video on social media of a Trump supporter chanting “white power,” as well as the growing boycott of Facebook for allowing the spread of hateful and false information on its platform.

"Moment of Elation": In 1st Big Abortion Case of Trump Era, SCOTUS Strikes Down Strict Louisiana Law

In the first big ruling on abortion in the Trump era, the Supreme Court has struck down a restrictive abortion law in Louisiana that would have left the state with just one abortion clinic. The 2014 law required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic, an onerous requirement that often made it impossible for abortion providers to continue to operate. “It was a moment of elation,” says Lakeesha Harris, director of reproductive health and justice at Women with a Vision, a women’s rights organization based in New Orleans. “Many of us have been working years, so this was justice in the making.”

Headlines for June 30, 2020

Louisiana Activists Face 15 Years for "Terrorizing" Oil Lobbyist with Box of Plastic Pollution

Two environmental activists with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade face up to 15 years in prison for leaving a box of plastic pellets, found on the Texas coast, at the home of an oil and gas lobbyist in December. Advocates say the “terrorizing” felony charges reflect longtime attempts to criminalize environmental activists in Louisiana and come amid a campaign to block Formosa Plastics from building a new plant in St. James Parish, an area known as Cancer Alley. We speak with Anne Rolfes, director of the group Louisiana Bucket Brigade and one of those facing felony charges, and Gregory Manning, activist and pastor of Broadmoor Community Church, who was charged with inciting a riot as he led a peaceful protest along Cancer Alley in October of 2019.

"Atrocious": Police Killed Elijah McClain in 2019. Why Did It Take Colorado So Long to Launch Probe?

Colorado Governor Jared Polis has ordered a new investigation into the 2019 police killing of 23-year-old Elijah McClain in Aurora, which is facing renewed scrutiny and outrage amid the nationwide uprising against police brutality. McClain was walking home from a store last August when someone called 911 to report a “suspicious person.” Three Aurora police officers who answered the call tackled McClain to the ground and placed him in a chokehold as he pleaded for his life, and medical responders who arrived then injected McClain with the powerful sedative ketamine. He suffered a cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and died several days later. “It’s really atrocious that it’s taken almost a year for this case to gain the kind of attention that it should have gained immediately,” says Mari Newman, attorney for the McClain family.

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