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In Dallas, five police officers have been shot dead, and six others wounded, in one of the deadliest attacks on police in U.S. history. The police were patrolling a demonstration in downtown Dallas against the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Videos of the two African-American men being killed by police have sparked protests across the nation. Authorities in Dallas described Thursday’s assault as a planned ambush. The gunfire erupted at around 8:45 p.m. local time, just as the peaceful protest was wrapping up. Four of the slain officers worked for the Dallas Police Department; the fifth was part of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit force. At least one protester was injured in the shooting. One of the suspected snipers reportedly died from a self-inflicted gunshot. Three other people have been taken into custody. Earlier this morning, President Obama spoke in Warsaw, where he is attending the NATO summit.
President Barack Obama: “These law enforcement officers were targeted, and nearly a dozen officers were shot. Five were killed. Other officers and at least one civilian were wounded. Some are in serious condition, and we are praying for their recovery.”
At the time of this broadcast, no information has been released about the suspected shooters. As of May, more than 70 percent of police killed this year were killed by white men.
As news about the Dallas shooting unfolded, former Illinois Congressmember Joe Walsh sparked controversy by declaring a war against President Obama and Black Lives Matter activists. Walsh tweeted: “3 Dallas Cops killed. 7 wounded. This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you.” Walsh later deleted the tweet. This comes as many commentators are inaccurately claiming there has been a rise in violence against police officers under the Obama administration. In reality, the opposite is true. During the first seven years of Obama’s presidency, an average of 54 officers were shot and killed annually. That’s less than the average of officers killed each year under Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. In fact, the safest two years for police officers over the last century were during the Obama presidency: the years 2013 and 2015, which also coincided with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Protests against police brutality are spreading across the country in the wake of the fatal police killings of African-American men Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. In Oakland, California, more than a 1,000 people blocked Interstate 880 for hours. Hundreds more marched in Denver, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Baton Rouge. More than 40 people were arrested amid a massive march in New York City. In Minnesota, thousands of people attended vigils for Philando Castile outside the Montessori school where Castile had worked and outside the governor’s mansion in St. Paul, where his girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, spoke out.
Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds: “They held me in a room. No water, no food. They took my phone. No numbers. I don’t have my phone. They took over my Facebook. They took—nothing. They took my groceries. They took everything that I had at the time. And then they seized the car for evidence. They seized my phone for evidence. They seized my Facebook. Everybody who shared that video, they don’t want you guys to be a part of this. They don’t want us to stand up for one another. They don’t want us to support each other. They want everybody to stand up for them. They are going to tamper with evidence. They are going to tamper with witnesses. They’re going to do whatever they have to do to cover their butts. And this is not right. It’s not acceptable.”
Diamond Lavish Reynolds live-streamed the video of the aftermath of her boyfriend’s death, narrating while she was still in the car, with an officer pointing a gun at her and her daughter, as her boyfriend lay dying next to her. The officer who fatally shot Castile has been identified as 28-year-old Jeronimo Yanez. A second cop at the scene has been identified as Officer Joseph Kauser. Both officers are currently on paid leave. On Thursday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said the fatal shooting was motivated by racism.
Gov. Mark Dayton: “Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver and the passengers, were white? I don’t think it would have. So I’m forced to confront, and I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront, this kind of racism exists and that it’s incumbent upon all of us to vow that we’re going to do whatever we can to see that it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t continue to happen.”
We’ll have more on the fatal police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, as well as the shootings in Dallas, Texas, after headlines.
This comes as the FBI is investigating the case of a black man found hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park, Atlanta. A Fulton County medical examiner initially ruled the hanging a suicide, sparking outrage. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed then referred the case to the FBI.
In New York City, Ramsey Orta, who filmed the police killing of Eric Garner, is slated to go to jail for four years—making him the only person at the scene of Eric Garner’s killing who will serve jail time. On Wednesday, Orta took a plea deal on weapons and drug charges. He says he has been repeatedly arrested and harassed by cops since he filmed the fatal police chokehold nearly two years ago.
Meanwhile, in Baltimore, the fourth trial has begun for police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, who died after sustaining spinal injuries in police custody. Officer Brian Rice is the highest-ranking officer to be tried so far. Two of Rice’s fellow police officers have already been acquitted.
FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress Thursday over the agency’s decision to recommend no charges be brought against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over her use of multiple private email servers while she was secretary of state. South Carolina Congressmember Trey Gowdy pressed Comey on the discrepancies between Hillary Clinton’s statements that none of the emails had been marked classified at the time they were sent and the FBI’s findings.
Rep. Trey Gowdy: “Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her emails, either sent or received. Was that true?”
James Comey: “That’s not true. There were a small number of portion markings on, I think, three of the documents.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy: “Secretary Clinton said, 'I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.' Was that true?”
James Comey: “There was classified material emailed.”
In news from the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has announced a proposal to eliminate tuition at in-state public colleges and universities for families earning less than $125,000 a year. The proposal stops short of that of her rival, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who has proposed making tuition at public universities free for all students. Still, Clinton’s new position is seen as her largely embracing one of Sanders’ core issues in order to court Sanders supporters, particularly younger voters. Sanders is expected to give a formal endorsement of Hillary Clinton next week.
In Iraq, another suicide attack claimed by ISIS has killed at least 35 people near a Shiite shrine north of Baghdad. This comes as the death toll from this weekend’s massive suicide truck bombing has risen to nearly 300 people. It was the deadliest attack in Baghdad since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Iraq’s health undersecretary spoke out.
Hazim al-Jumaily: “The death toll from the Karrada bombing is 292; 115 of them were identified and delivered to their relatives, while 177 others have not been identified yet. Forensic officers are working day and night to identify the dead bodies in order to give them to their bereaved families.”
This comes as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has defended his position to push Britain into the Iraq War, claiming the world would be in an even worse position without the invasion of Iraq that ousted Saddam Hussein. This comes after the release of the long-awaited Chilcot report, which blames Tony Blair for deliberately exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in the lead-up to the Iraq War. The report also revealed Blair had been warned multiple times by Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee that the invasion of Iraq would increase the threat of terrorism by al-Qaeda and other militant groups.
In Brazil, lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha has resigned in tears, amid an ongoing corruption investigation against him. He is one of the conservative lawmakers most responsible for orchestrating the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Rousseff has called her suspension and impeachment a coup.
In Honduras, another activist from the indigenous rights organization COPINH has been killed. Forty-nine-year-old Lesbia Janeth Urquía was a mother of three and a member of COPINH since the 2009 U.S.-backed military coup. She had been one of the leaders of a campaign against the construction of a privatized hydroelectric dam along a river in the region of La Paz. Her body was found near a garbage dump on Wednesday. She had been stabbed to death. Olivia Zúñiga, the daughter of murdered environmentalist and COPINH leader Berta Cáceres, spoke out.
Olivia Zúñiga: “This great defender of Mother Earth was initially kidnapped, and we know this unofficially because there is no official version from the government. She was later found murdered with a blunt weapon, and this coincides precisely with the consultation that was going to take place on Sunday organized by a human rights advocacy organization called CIPRODEH. As coordinator of an organization, I was also planning to participate to say a resounding no to the construction of dams in the department of La Paz.”
Scientists have confirmed this June was the hottest June ever recorded, making it the 14th straight month to smash global temperature records amid human-fueled climate change. This comes as the amount of Arctic sea ice has hit an all-time record low. Scientists have confirmed that a vast stretch of ice, roughly twice the size of Texas, has vanished over the last three decades, and that the rate of ice melting is accelerating.
And in Michigan, dozens of activists have protested outside the house of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to demand he move to shut down an aging oil pipeline known as Line 5. A University of Michigan study says that hundreds of miles of Michigan’s shoreline would be at risk of contamination if Line 5 leaks. The pipeline is owned by Enbridge, the company responsible for a massive pipeline break in 2010, which dumped about 800,000 gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River.