This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first ever show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust. Maybe you rely on our daily headlines. Maybe you come looking for the in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. One thing you know you can count on is that Democracy Now! is always free—you'll never hit a paywall. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust--all without ads or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.
Please do your part today.
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a former marine has killed three police officers. The shooting began just before 9 a.m. on Sunday at a gas station on the city’s Airline Highway, a mile from the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters. The police department has been the site of more than a week of protests against police violence. The demonstrations were sparked by the fatal shooting of Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling by police. On Sunday, Baton Rouge officers were reportedly responding to a 911 call of shots fired when they were ambushed by a gunman. Three officers were killed, and three others were wounded. One is in critical condition. Police have identified the shooter as Gavin Long, a resident of Kansas City, Missouri. Long served in Iraq and was discharged at the rank of sergeant in 2010. In the week before the shooting, Long, who is African-American, recorded a video in which he discusses his anger toward police for the killing of African Americans. Using the alias Cosmo Setepenra, Long urges African-American men to “fight back” against the police. Meanwhile, Montrell Jackson, one of the slain officers, had posted recently on Facebook about the atmosphere in Baton Rouge after Alton Sterling’s killing, writing, “I swear to God I love this city, but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty, hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat. … These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart.” Alton Sterling’s aunt Veda Washington-Abusaleh appealed for calm after Sunday’s shooting.
Veda Washington-Abusaleh: “We don’t call for no bloodshed. That’s how this all started—with bloodshed. We don’t want no more bloodshed. So if you’re not in accord with us, leave, go home, go wherever you come from. This is our house. You can’t come in our house, killing us. That’s what you’re doing, because at the end of the day, when these people call these families and they tell them that their daddies and their mamas not coming home no more, I know how they feel, because I got the same phone call. No justice. No justice, no peace! That’s what we’re calling for. Stop this killing! Stop this killing! Stop this killing!”
Sunday’s shooting came only two days after hundreds of people gathered for the funeral of Alton Sterling. Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden did not attend. Holden has reportedly not even called the Sterling family yet. Hundreds of people protested outside the Mayor’s Office, demanding his resignation in the wake of Sterling’s death. Other prominent officials, including staff of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Congressmember Cedric Richmond, did attend Alton Sterling’s funeral on Friday.
Meanwhile, in the wake of Sunday’s fatal shooting of three police officers, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump repeated his claim that he is the law and order candidate, while Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said the attack was “an assault on all of us.” In May, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a so-called Blue Lives Matter law, which expands Louisiana’s hate crimes statute to include police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel. Following the shooting, multiple politicians used the phrases “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter,” including former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
Bobby Jindal: “We’ve got to say that all lives matter. It doesn’t matter what color you are—black, white, brown, red. It doesn’t matter. All lives matter. We’ve got to protect and value our police.”
Shepard Smith: “Governor, you know that that phrase you just used is one that’s seen by many as derogatory, right? And I just wonder why it is that you use that phrase, when there’s a certain segment of the population that believes it’s a real dig on them?”
Bobby Jindal: “Well, Shepard, it’s not meant to be. The point is this: We’ve got to move beyond race.”
In response, some Fox News viewers called for Shepard Smith to be fired.
The government of Turkey has arrested more than 6,000 people accused of participating in a failed military coup over the weekend. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania, of masterminding the coup. Gülen has lived in the U.S. since 1999, when he fled Turkey after being accused of organizing religious extremists against the government. He had been an ally of Erdogan until a few years ago. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. still has not received a formal extradition request for Gülen.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “We have not had a formal request for extradition. That has to come in a formal package. It has to come with documentation for the request, and go to the Justice Department. And we will deal with it.”
Erdogan attended funerals over the weekend for some of the nearly 200 civilians killed in Friday’s attempted coup. Supporters of Erdogan continued to celebrate across the country today. Other citizens found an uneasy calm on Monday as the coup appeared to have been definitively defeated. There is fear that Erdogan, who before the coup was accused of becoming an autocrat, will use the coup to justify further actions against his political opponents.
The Republican National Convention opens in Cleveland, Ohio, today, with more than 50,000 people flooding into Cleveland for the convention, where the Republican Party is slated to formally nominate real estate mogul Donald Trump to be the party’s presidential nominee, and to ratify the party platform. More than a dozen Republican leaders have decided to skip the RNC. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham says he’s not coming because he doesn’t support Donald Trump. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake says he’s staying home because he’d rather mow his lawn. Montana Senator Steve Daines told Politico he is skipping the RNC because “It’s a good time to be fishing in Montana.” Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Arizona Senator John McCain and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will be skipping the convention. But many other party leaders and operatives are thrilled about the opening of the 2016 RNC, including Georgia Congressmember Rob Woodall, who said, “The place we’re going to pick the next leader of the free world? Heck yeah, I’m going!”
Editor’s Note: The original headline inaccurately attributed the quote about fishing to Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), who is also not attending the RNC. Also, Daines changed his mind and made a brief appearance at the RNC on Tuesday.
Thousands of police, federal agents and military personnel are also flooding into Cleveland, which has received nearly $50 million in federal funding to beef up security. At least 3,000 FBI, Secret Service and other federal agents have been sent to Cleveland, in addition to 1,500 county police officers and state troopers. The Pentagon has also deployed Ohio National Guardsmen, U.S. Coast Guard officers, military personnel from U.S. Northern Command. The Cleveland Police Department ordered an additional 2,000 sets of riot armor in advance of the convention. Police officers have also begun carrying AR-15 semiautomatic rifles and military-style M-14 rifles, which are typically reserved for snipers.
Civilians may also be carrying military-grade weapons in downtown Cleveland this week. Like Louisiana and Texas, Ohio is an open-carry state. The head of Cleveland’s largest police union, Steve Loomis, has called on Ohio Governor John Kasich to suspend open-carry laws for the week of the RNC, saying: “I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point.” Loomis spoke further on CNN.
Steve Loomis: “It’s absolute insanity to me. This is an open-carry state. Most police officers, generally, love the Constitution and will take a bullet to defend it, as we saw, you know, admirably in Dallas. But at the end of the day, it’s not responsible. It’s legal to bring your guns, but it’s not responsible.”
Michael Smerconish: “You don’t want them doing it?”
Steve Loomis: “Absolutely not.”
Michael Smerconish: “You don’t want them exercising their, quote-unquote, 'right'?”
Steve Loomis: “Absolutely not. That makes for mayhem.”
In response, Ohio Governor John Kasich said, “Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested.”
After weeks of speculation, Donald Trump has named Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate.
Donald Trump: “I’ve found the leader who will help us deliver a safe society and a prosperous, really prosperous society for all Americans. Indiana Governor Mike Pence was my first choice. I’ve admired the work he’s done, especially in the state of Indiana.”
Governor Pence joined Trump on stage to accept the vice-presidential nomination. In his speech, he highlighted his conservative values.
Gov. Mike Pence: “People who know me well know I’m a pretty basic guy. I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order. Now, while I’m currently—I currently have the privilege of serving the state that I love, I’m really—I’m really just a small-town boy who grew up in southern Indiana with a big family and a cornfield in the backyard.”
Mike Pence was first elected to Congress in 2000, then was elected governor in 2012. In 2015, he signed into law the highly controversial anti-LGBT Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which gave businesses license to discriminate against LGBT people. The law caused a nationwide backlash. Dozens of companies and professional sports teams and leagues, including the Indianapolis-headquartered NCAA, threatened to boycott Indiana. Apple CEO Tim Cook slammed the law, likening it to the Jim Crow laws of the American South. Ultimately, Pence was forced to enact a revision specifying the law does not authorize anti-LGBT discrimination. As governor, Pence also oversaw a cut in Planned Parenthood funding in the state and signed legislation, since blocked, that would have restricted abortion access statewide. He was also a co-sponsor of the bill that authorized the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her running mate this week, ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week. Some of the people on her short list reportedly include Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro. Clinton also met with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday, although many are speculating Warren will not be chosen as Clinton’s running mate, because she’s been asked to speak on the first night of the DNC. Running mates usually speak later in the conventions.
The Obama administration has finally declassified 28 pages from the September 11 report detailing possible ties between the Saudi government and the 9/11 attacks. The report states, “Prior to September 11, the FBI apparently did not focus investigative resources on [redacted text] Saudi nationals in the United States due to Saudi Arabia’s status as an American ally.” The declassified document raises new questions about the role of a Saudi consular official based in the Los Angeles area. He personally helped two of the hijackers after they arrived in Los Angeles in early 2000. The document also reveals details about an incident in 1999 when a flight from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., was forced to make an emergency landing due to suspicious activity by two Saudi men, including one who attempted to enter the cockpit twice.
In news from France, police say they have made two more arrests in connection to the attack last week that left 84 people dead in the city of Nice. The attacker, 31-year-old French citizen Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, was shot dead by police after driving a truck through crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day. Police say they have made a total of six arrests in connection to the attacks, including Bouhlel’s estranged wife and an Albanian couple. A website affiliated with ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack over the weekend, but police say there is no evidence Bouhlel acted on behalf of the group.
In news from Kashmir, a curfew continues for a 10th day amid massive protests and the worst violence in the disputed territory in more than five years. Human rights groups say at least 40 people have died in the ongoing clashes. Protests began 10 days ago after Indian security forces shot dead Kashmiri independence activist Burhan Muzaffar Wani. India has shut down printing presses and imposed a ban on some newspapers in Kashmir from printing amid the ongoing protests.
In Baltimore, Maryland, police arrested 65 protesters during an anti-police brutality march Saturday. The protesters attempted to shut down Interstate 83. Protests have erupted in dozens of cities following the killings by police of two African-American men, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Baltimore is currently awaiting the decision in the trial of a police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Gray died of injuries sustained in police custody last year, sparking nationwide demonstrations.
And on Staten Island, hundreds marched Sunday to mark the second anniversary of the death of Eric Garner, who died in a fatal police chokehold on July 17, 2014. At the march, one of the protesters spoke out.
Darius Alonzo: “My name is Darius Alonzo, from Brooklyn, New York. And I’m here because this is the second anniversary of the death of Eric Garner, and I just want to pay respect to the man who lost his life foolishly on these very streets. It’s a shame that in this country we see the same thing time and time again with no answers for it. And the only thing I can demand is for revolution, because nothing that we’ve been doing has been working. We need real, legitimate change that’s going to do something. But this isn’t it. We need to do more than just marching. We need to do more than just posting on Facebook. We need a revolution.”
The march was organized by Eric Garner’s daughter, Erica. Click here see our full interview with Erica Garner.