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President Obama is speaking in Dallas, Texas, today at a memorial service for the five Dallas police officers killed by a sniper Thursday evening. Former President George W. Bush is also slated to speak at today’s memorial service. The shooter, Micah Xavier Johnson, opened fire at the end of an anti-police brutality march, killing five officers and wounding at least seven more. Johnson was an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan in 2014. While on tour in Afghanistan, a female soldier accused him of sexual harassment, took out a restraining order against him, and he was sent back to the U.S. by the Army. Delphine Johnson, Micah’s mother, has said military service changed him, turning him into a hermit.
This comes as the shooting in Dallas is making Republican National Convention organizers in Cleveland increasingly concerned about Ohio’s open-carry laws. During the sniper attack in Dallas Thursday, Texas’s open carry laws made it difficult to determine who were suspected shooters and who were protesters. At least 20 marchers attended the protest openly carrying AR-15s and other military-style rifles—which is legal in Texas. During the Dallas attack, police circulated a photo on Twitter identifying an African-American protester carrying a weapon as a shooting suspect. The man, Mark Hughes, turned himself in to police and was released after being detained and questioned for hours. His lawyer has said he’s since received hundreds of death threats. After the attack, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he supported increased gun control: “There should be some way to say I shouldn’t be bringing my shotgun to a Mavericks game or to a protest because something crazy should happen. I just want to come back to common sense.” Ohio also has open-carry laws. The RNC begins in Cleveland next week.
In news from the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is casting himself as the “law and order candidate” in the wake of the Dallas shooting. This is Trump speaking in Virginia Beach.
Donald Trump: “America’s police and law enforcement personnel are what separates civilization from total chaos and the destruction of our county as we know it. We must maintain law and order at the highest level, or we will cease to have a country. One hundred percent, we will cease to have a country. I am the law and order candidate.”
This comes as the Republican Party is expected to formally endorse Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Members of the Republican National Convention platform committee successfully petitioned to have language calling for the wall added to the platform text Monday. The proposal has sparked significant opposition across the U.S. Experts have also cast doubt on the overall feasibility of Trump’s border wall. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is expected to name his running mate within the coming days, ahead of the Republican National Convention. He’s said to be considering Indiana Governor Mike Pence, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, today, where Sanders is expected to give Clinton his formal endorsement. This comes as Republican leaders are calling on the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Clinton lied in her congressional testimony last fall about the multiple private email servers she used while she was secretary of state. Last week, FBI Director James Comey said the agency was recommending no charges be brought against Hillary Clinton over her email use, although he called her “extremely careless.”
Demonstrations are continuing across the United States over the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. On Monday, hundreds rallied in Chicago and Atlanta, where Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed met with protesters following a sit-in outside the governor’s mansion. In multiple cities, including Atlanta and Baton Rouge, rival gangs the Bloods and the Crips have called truces in order to organize together against police brutality—a move reminiscent of the Los Angeles gang truce during the Rodney King protests. Meanwhile, white activists in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement also held a day of action in seven different cities, including in Fairfax, Virginia, where four people were arrested blocking traffic. This comes as the Triple S convenience store owner who filmed Alton Sterling’s death one week ago has sued the police. Abdullah Muflahi says the police took his phone, locked him for hours in a police car and seized his security camera footage without a warrant.
In Baton Rouge, District Attorney Hillar C. Moore has recused himself from the investigation into the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling. Moore says he has a close relationship with officer Blane Salamoni’s parents. Both of Salamoni’s parents are longtime members of the Baton Rouge Police Department. On Monday, Moore said, “Given the history of a long and close working relationship with the parents of one of the officers involved in this shooting, there would always be questions of my partiality.”
Meanwhile, Dallas Police Chief David Brown is calling on protesters to join the police department.
Police Chief David Brown: “Become a part of the solution. Serve your communities. Don’t be a part of the problem. We’re hiring. We’re hiring. Get off that protest line and put an application in.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron says he will resign Wednesday and formally cede power to Theresa May. May has served as Britain’s home minister since 2010 and will be the second British woman to serve as prime minister. Cameron initially announced he would resign following Britain’s shocking decision to leave the European Union in June. Speaking Monday, Cameron called for continuing a close relationship with Europe.
Prime Minister David Cameron: “I believe it’s in our fundamental national and economic interest to remain very close to the European Union—for trade, for business, for security, for cooperation. So let that be our goal.”
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced the Pentagon is deploying another 560 U.S. troops to Iraq. This brings the total number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq to more than 4,600. There are also at least 3,000 U.S. military contractors in the country. Carter announced the deployments while in Baghdad Tuesday.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter: “And I’m pleased to report today, in that connection, that we agreed for the United States to bolster the Iraqi efforts to isolate and pressure Mosul by deploying 560 additional troops in support of the ISF, and especially at the Qayyarah West Airfield. This contingent will help the Iraqis establish a logistical springboard for their offensive in Mosul, which Prime Minister Abadi reaffirmed to me that he wants to accomplish this year.”
In Syria, an airstrike has destroyed a hospital, killing three people. Journalists and activists have accused the Syrian government and its allies of deliberately and repeatedly bombing infrastructure such as bakeries and hospitals. The Syrian Network for Human Rights says there have been attacks on 80 medical facilities in Syria in 2016 and that at least 81 medical workers have been killed in 2016.
Seventy-six prisoners remain in the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, after the U.S. transferred three prisoners in the past 48 hours. Yemeni citizen Fayiz Ahmad Yahia Suleiman is being sent to Italy after being approved for transfer nearly six years ago. Yemeni national Mansur Ahmad Saad al-Dayfi and Tajik national Muhammadi Davlatov were both sent to Serbia. Twenty-seven more prisoners remaining at Guantánamo have already been approved for release. President Obama promised to close the prison at the beginning of his first term in office nearly eight years ago.
And a former Black Panther held for more than two decades in solitary confinement has won a permanent reprieve from solitary and nearly $100,000 in a settlement with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Russell “Maroon” Shoatz was convicted in 1970 of first-degree murder for an attack on a Philadelphia police station that left one officer killed and another wounded. In the 1980s he became active with the Pennsylvania Association of Lifers and worked to abolish sentences of life without parole. He was placed in solitary confinement for the next 22 consecutive years. Shoatz issued a response to the settlement through his lawyers, saying, “I have always chosen to fight! Frederick Douglass was right when he said 'Power concedes nothing without a demand.' So have no doubt that I see this settlement as anything but the latest blow struck.” Many people say Shoatz’s more than two-decade stay in solitary confinement was retaliation for his activism. This is War Resisters League leader Matt Meyer speaking on Democracy Now! in 2013 about Russell “Maroon” Shoatz’s solitary confinement.
Matt Meyer: “I think it’s important for people to realize that despite whatever issues, political or otherwise, related to his conviction, the reason he’s in solitary confinement is because he was elected by an official prison-approved body to be the head of this lifers’ group. And it was because he was seen, correctly, as a key organizer, even amongst his fellow inmates, that he was put into the hole. He was not put into solitary confinement initially, once convicted; it was only an immediate and very direct reaction to his organizing work.”
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