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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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Thousands of people rallied in cities across the United States on Sunday to protest deadly violence by a mob of Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.
A 20-year-old Nazi sympathizer killed one anti-racist activist and injured more than a dozen others when he intentionally drove his car through a crowd of people protesting against the KKK and neo-Nazis, who were rallying to oppose Charlottesville’s plan to remove a monument of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a downtown public park.
On Sunday, thousands poured into the streets of Seattle, Denver, Baltimore, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Miami and in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest white supremacist violence and mourn the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed in the attack. This is David Bodemer, speaking about Donald Trump at a rally in NYC.
David Bodemer: “It’s very interesting that he made a big point in his campaign about naming radical Islamic terrorism, and also he made this huge show of denouncing MS-13, but he can’t come out and denounce white supremacy. I mean, that’s outrageous.”
At least three people were arrested at the protest in New York City. Across the country, many of the protesters also condemned the Trump administration for its ties to far-right and white supremacist figures and President Trump’s refusal to explicitly denounce the neo-Nazis and KKK members for carrying out the deadly violence. This is Nino Brown, speaking at a rally organized by Boston Feminists for Liberation.
Nino Brown: “Black Panther Party, eliminated. Martin Luther King, eliminated. Fred Hampton, eliminated. The Ku Klux Klan? In the f****** presidency, in the White House. Right? So, lines are being drawn. And it’s all going to come down to which side are you on. That’s an old union song, right? Which side are you on?”
In Seattle, at least three people were arrested as hundreds of people rallied Sunday to denounce the violence in Charlottesville and to oppose a local demonstration by the pro-Trump far-right group “the Patriot Prayer.”
The white supremacist violence in Charlottesville began on Friday night, as thousands of neo-Nazis, KKK members and other white nationalists began descending on the city of Charlottesville to participate in the “Unite the Right” rally. Hundreds of white men and women bearing torches marched on the University of Virginia campus and surrounded the statue of Thomas Jefferson on Friday night, chanting “You will not replace us” and “White lives matter.”
Thousands of counter-protesters also descended on Charlottesville over the weekend, including clergy, students, Black Lives Matter activists, and protesters with the anti-fascist movement known as “antifa.”
On Saturday morning, more than 1,000 white supremacists marched to the public park, recently renamed Emancipation Park, which is home to the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Many were carrying Nazi flags and other white supremacist paraphernalia, wore body armor and carried assault rifles and pistols. They were met by the thousands of anti-racist counterdemonstrators.
Witnesses report police did little to intervene, even as fights broke out.
Around 1:45 p.m., a man named James Alex Fields, who had been rallying with the white supremacists earlier in the day, drove his Dodge Charger into a crowd of counterdemonstrators and then peeled away in reverse in what many are calling an act of terrorism.
A local paralegal named Heather Heyer was killed in the attack, and at least 19 others were injured. Heyer had repeatedly championed civil rights issues on social media. Her Facebook cover read, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” This is Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, speaking NBC News.
Susan Bro: “And that’s what she was doing that day, yesterday, when she was killed. She was doing that with people. She was saying, 'Well, tell me why you're here.’ And I know this because this is what her friends told me. And that’s what Heather’s life was all about: passion for fairness, passion for equality, passion for justice.”
One of James Alex Fields’s high school teachers says he was obsessed with Adolf Hitler and Nazi military history and showed clear Nazi sympathies that the teacher tried unsuccessfully to steer him away from. Fields has been charged with one count of second-degree murder and is slated to be arraigned today.
Two state troopers, Pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, also died Saturday, when their helicopter crashed en route to the scene of the violence.
Photographs and videos also show white supremacists beating other counterdemonstrators, including a young African-American protester named Deandre Harris. He said, “They were trying to kill me out there. The police didn’t budge, and I was getting beat to a pulp.”
This is Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe condemning the violence.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe: “And I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple: Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you’re patriots, but you are anything but a patriot.”
President Trump, however, refused to single out white supremacist violence.
President Donald Trump: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides—on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country—not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”
Trump’s comments sparked widespread outrage. A new White House statement on Sunday explicitly denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups, but it was attributed to an unnamed spokesperson and not the president himself. Other members of the Trump administration have more explicitly condemned the violence. Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the attack constituted terrorism.
Meanwhile, Lexington, Kentucky, Mayor Jim Gray says the city will remove two Confederate monuments from the former courthouse after the white supremacist violence in Virginia. After headlines, we’ll go to Charlottesville, Virginia, and spend the rest of the hour speaking with people who were there on Saturday, including a witness to the deadly attack, a nurse who treated the injured counterprotesters, a faith leader and more.
In Afghanistan, local officials say U.S. airstrikes killed 16 civilians, including women and children, on Thursday as the civilians were fleeing an ISIS-controlled area in eastern Afghanistan. One local resident, Mohammada Khan, who works as a truck driver, told The New York Times he lost six members of his family in the U.S. attack, including two children and two women. The Pentagon is claiming the victims of the U.S. airstrikes were militants.
In Syria, the local journalistic group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently says nearly 1,000 civilians have been killed amid the ongoing U.S.-led offensive to seize control of the city of Raqqa from ISIS. Over the last two months, U.S. Marines, U.S.-led airstrikes and U.S.-backed Syrian troops have carried out the offensive, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of residents from their homes and destroyed parts of the city.
Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently reports at least two doctors were killed over the weekend in Raqqa: Fouad Bashir Ojaili, reportedly killed by a U.S. airstrike, and Ibrahim Khalil Al Shawakh, reportedly killed as he attempted to flee the city by a landmine planted by ISIS.
Meanwhile, in Syria’s Idlib province, seven volunteers with the Syrian Civil Defense rescue group, better known as the White Helmets, were shot to death by unidentified attackers who stormed the White Helmets’ offices on Saturday. Another seven media activists with the Aleppo Media Center were also killed in the attack, which occurred in the rebel-held city of Sarmin.
In Pakistan, ISIS militants have claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a military truck that killed eight soldiers and at least seven other people in the southwestern city of Quetta on Saturday. The Pakistani military says the attack was targeting planning efforts for Independence Day celebrations. Today and tomorrow mark the 70th anniversary of India and Pakistan’s independence from British colonialism.
Vice President Mike Pence is in Colombia today for his first stop in a regional tour, where he and the Trump administration are facing widespread opposition to President Trump’s threat of launching a possible U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.
President Donald Trump: “We have many options for Venezuela. And, by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option. We have many options for Venezuela. This is our neighbor. This is—you know, we’re all over the world, and we have troops all over the world, in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away. And the people are suffering, and they’re dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary.”
That was President Trump speaking Friday. His comments sparked widespread outrage across Latin America and inside Venezuela. This is Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza.
Jorge Arreaza: “The warmongering declarations from President Donald Trump, clearly framed in the systematic aggressions of the U.S. administration against Venezuela, represent a direct threat against peace, stability, independence, territorial unity, sovereignty and the right to self-determination of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.’’
In Bolivia, indigenous people and environmentalists protested Sunday against the government’s move to resurrect plans to build a controversial highway through indigenous territories and a national park in the Amazon. Opponents of the highway say it will further the deforestation of the Amazon and destroy the land and livelihoods of indigenous communities. On Sunday, Bolivian President Evo Morales signed into law the controversial legislation stripping a national park of its protected status, paving the way for the highway’s construction. This is indigenous leader Fernando Vargas.
Fernando Vargas: “Morales is going to enact a law today which will bury indigenous peoples, Bolivian people’s heritage. And he is also driving a dagger into Bolivians, because he is destroying the heritage that belongs to Bolivia, just like Nicolás Maduro does in Venezuela.”
In Israel, thousands of protesters rallied outside the home of the Israeli attorney general to protest against corruption and President Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing a criminal investigation into allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu has been accused of trading political favors for $130,000 worth of luxury gifts, including cigars and champagne. He’s also reeling from leaked transcripts of secret recordings that show he traded favors for positive coverage from Israel’s dominant newspaper.
In Kenya, opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for a strike today to protest the deadly police crackdown against post-election demonstrations following last Tuesday’s presidential election. Odinga has rejected the election’s results, which show incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta beating Odinga by nearly 10 points. Over the weekend, police attacked pro-Odinga demonstrators in Nairobi and the port city of Kisumu with tear gas and live fire, killing at least 11 people. At least 24 protesters have been killed in demonstrations since the election nearly one week ago.
In Burkina Faso, at least 20 people have been killed after gunmen opened fire inside a Turkish restaurant in the capital on Sunday. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
Back in the United States, in Des Moines, Iowa, the FBI raided the Catholic Workers’ Berrigan House that is home to activists Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, who have taken responsibility for carrying out multiple acts of sabotage against the Dakota Access pipeline. A former Catholic priest who lives at the house says the FBI agents refused to identify themselves and barred the house’s residents from contacting their lawyers during the raid. The agents also briefly handcuffed Jessica Reznicek but did not arrest either her or Montoya. The FBI agents left after seizing some of the two women’s possessions. Click here to see a full interview with Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya.
And New York City has become the first major city in the United States to guarantee lawyers for low-income tenants facing eviction. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the legislation Friday. The new law comes after years of organizing by housing rights activists seeking to stop the widespread displacement of people of color and low-income tenants by New York City landlords, who often use harassment and illegal tactics to evict longtime tenants.