Thousands of people gathered at a lakeside park in Orlando, Florida, Sunday for the largest vigil to date honoring the 49 victims of an attack on a gay nightclub on June 12. Many of those killed in the attack were young, Latino and many members of the LGBTQ community. Perris Williams was among those to pay homage to the victims.
Perris Williams: “The 49 people who died at Pulse is that I would want you to know that this is not in vain, that I’m here for you, I’m one of you, and that I will continue to carry your spirit with me for the rest of my days.”
The Senate is expected to vote on four gun control measures today. All are expected to fail. The vote comes after Democratic Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy staged a filibuster for nearly 15 hours last week to demand action on gun control after the Orlando massacre.
As the debate over gun control rages, an Ohio gun shop owner has been fatally shot during a class on concealed carry. Investigators say a student appears to have accidentally fired the gun, fatally hitting 64-year-old James Baker in the neck.
In Connecticut, a judge hears arguments today over whether to dismiss a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the gun used in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Families of the victims are suing Remington Arms, the parent company of Bushmaster Firearms, which makes the military-style assault rifle used in the massacre. A similar gun was used in the Orlando nightclub killings. The families say the company should have known the gun is a military weapon, too dangerous to sell to civilians. Remington has sought to dismiss the lawsuit.
As Orlando reels from the massacre of 49 people, Charleston, South Carolina, marked the first anniversary of its own massacre. On June 17, 2015, suspect Dylann Storm Roof opened fire at Emanuel AME Church during a Bible study, killing nine black worshipers. Roof embraced white supremacist views and was shown in photographs posing with the Confederate flag. State Senator Marlon Kimpson was among the officials at Friday’s memorial.
Sen. Marlon Kimpson: “Dylann Roof was not part of ISIS. He was a home-grown terrorist filled with hate right here in South Carolina. What sense does it make to have a background check law if the background check does not have to be complete before the gun is sold? What kind of sportsman needs an assault rifle to hunt deer? Why do we allow someone who is suspected of terrorism to purchase a gun, but not board a plane? If you can’t fly, you ought not be able to buy.”
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has spoken out in favor of racial profiling in the wake of the Orlando killings. Trump told CBS’s “Face the Nation” profiling is “not the worst thing to do.”
Donald Trump: “I think profiling is something that we’re going to have to start thinking about as a country. And other countries do it. And you look at Israel and you look at others, and they do it, and they do it successfully. And, you know, I hate the concept of profiling, but we have to start using common sense, and we have to use—you know, we have to use our heads.”
In the latest sign of a revolt within the Republican Party over Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan has said Republicans should follow their “conscience” when it comes to deciding who to vote for. Ryan made the comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Speaker Paul Ryan: “The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that’s contrary to their conscience. Of course I wouldn’t do that. Look, believe me, Chuck, I get that this is a very strange situation. This is a very unique nominee. But I feel, as a responsibility institutionally as the speaker of the House, that I should not be leading some chasm in the middle of our party, because you know what I know that will do? That will definitely knock us out of the White House.”
Richard Armitage, who was the deputy secretary of state under President George W. Bush, says he will vote for Hillary Clinton.
The United Nations says a record 65 million people have been displaced by conflicts around the world. It’s the first time the number of displaced people has topped 60 million. Most have been forced to flee to areas within their own countries, largely in Syria and Iraq. Despite the focus on the influx of refugees in European countries, 86 percent of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing regions close to conflict zones, like Turkey, Jordan and Ethiopia. Today is World Refugee Day.
On Sunday, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned of what he called a “climate of xenophobia” in Europe. His remarks came three days after Labour Party Parliament member Jo Cox was shot and killed by a constituent in Britain. The Southern Poverty Law Center said the shooter, Thomas Mair, is a longtime supporter of the neo-Nazi National Alliance and attended a 2000 meeting of British white supremacists. Todd Blodgett, a paid FBI informant, helped arrange the meeting in London. In court Friday, Mair gave his name as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” Britain votes Thursday on whether to leave the European Union.
In Japan, tens of thousands of people gathered on the island of Okinawa to demand the ouster of U.S. military bases. Activists said 65,000 people attended what they called the largest protest in two decades against the U.S. military presence. The protests erupted after a former marine working as a civilian contractor at a U.S. base was accused of raping and murdering a 20-year-old woman. The victim’s father has called for the removal of all U.S. bases on Okinawa, which hosts about 26,000 U.S. troops. At Sunday’s rally, Lia Camargo said U.S. soldiers should also be held accountable for their crimes.
Lia Camargo: “The slogans are like 'get the bases out of here,' but I don’t think it’s that simple. I think making sure that the responsibility of the soldiers, if they do commit a crime, that has to be weighed in the same gravity as a Japanese person who commits that same crime.”
Aid groups have warned of a humanitarian crisis as tens of thousands of Iraqis flee the city of Fallujah. Iraqi forces said Friday they had reclaimed large swaths of the city from ISIL after a weeks-long offensive. The Norwegian Refugee Council warned about 30,000 people have fled to nearby camps since Friday alone, with another 32,000 displaced since the fighting began last month. The International Organization for Migration has put the total displaced in the four-week battle at more than 80,000.
A new investigation has found that despite the declaration of an end to the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan, the majority of U.S. airstrikes there this year have been conducted in support of ground troops, including Afghan forces fighting the Taliban. President Obama declared an end to the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan in 2014, turning the fighting over to local forces. But the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said their data shows more than 200 strikes have been conducted in defense of ground forces, suggesting “the U.S. has been drawn quietly yet significantly into fighting the Taliban-led insurgency.”
In California, Black Lives Matter activist Jasmine Richards, whose conviction on a charge known up until recently as “felony lynching” sparked protests around the country, has been freed. Police had accused Richards of trying to de-arrest someone during a peace march. She was released Saturday, less than two weeks after being sentenced to 90 days in jail, minus time served. She is due back in court next month for pretrial hearings in two other cases.
In Vancouver, Washington, more than 100 people formed a human blockade across railway tracks to protest the transportation of oil by rail. The action came after a Union Pacific oil train derailed in Mosier, Oregon, earlier this month, causing a massive fire and prompting evacuations. Mia Reback of Portland Rising Tide spoke as activists sat on the tracks.
Mia Reback: “Behind me right now over 100 people are sitting in on the rail tracks owned by BNSF, where oil trains are frequently sent through Vancouver, Washington. We’re responding to the recent oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon, where an oil train derailed, catching fire, spilling oil into the Columbia River and polluting the city’s aquifer, and also calling for an immediate end to oil trains and fossil fuel infrastructure as a response to the climate crisis.”
Earlier in the day, the fire chief of Mosier, Oregon, addressed the crowd who gathered before the direct action. Chief Jim Appleton had previously defended the safety of oil by rail, but he has become an outspoken opponent of the shipments following the fiery derailment in his town.
Chief Jim Appleton: “Our community would like to see the Mosier derailment and the process of putting our community back together as both the straw that broke the camel’s back and a model for our transition to renewable, global energy. Mosier proves that those trains are too dangerous. Let’s make our policies reflect that new realization and ban those trains.”
In the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, police descended on teachers protesting against neoliberal education reform and the arrests of their colleagues. At least six people were killed and dozens more wounded. Activists said police also cut power to the Oaxaca city center. The teachers have set up blockades to protest the reforms and the arrest of two teachers’ union leaders last week on what protesters say are trumped-up charges. Last week marked the 10th anniversary of the popular rebellion in Oaxaca, when a bloody state crackdown on striking school teachers sparked a popular uprising against Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. In Mexico City Friday, thousands took to the streets to protest President Enrique Peña Nieto’s education reforms, which include teacher evaluations opponents say could be used to justify mass layoffs. Teacher Francisco Bravo denounced the reforms.
Francisco Bravo: “There are two issues that we’re dealing with. We demand that the government reverse education reform, which is not about education. Fundamentally, it’s about labor and an end to repression. In particular, we demand our political prisoners to be freed and our dismissed colleagues to be reinstated.”
In Italy, Virginia Raggi has been elected the first woman mayor of the capital Rome. The Italian city of Turin also elected its first woman mayor, Chiara Appendino. Both candidates are from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.
And WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has marked the beginning of his fifth year holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Assange entered the embassy June 19, 2012, to avoid extradition on sex crimes allegations, most of which have been dismissed. Assange has repeatedly denied the allegations, for which he has never been charged. He fears Sweden would extradite him to the United States, where he could face trial for WikiLeaks’ revelations.