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This week, Democracy Now!'s team has been on the ground reporting live from COP23, the UN Climate Summit. From the industry panelists in their corporate suites to the activists protesting in the streets, Democracy Now! has been there, shining a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. Democracy Now! is different because we don't accept government or advertising dollars—we count on you, our global audience, to fund our work.Will you donate $3 today to support Democracy Now!'s vital reporting? If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, please do your part today.
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Massive protests against white supremacists and the Trump administration continued nationwide on Monday, from the streets of North Carolina, where a crowd of activists toppled a confederate statue in Durham, to the halls of Washington, where three separate corporate CEOs resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council over Trump’s failure to quickly condemn the deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.
In Durham, the crowd of activists shouted “We are the revolution!” as a woman climbed up a ladder, looped a rope around the top of the Confederate Soldiers Monument in front of the old Durham County Courthouse, and then pulled the statue to the ground, as the crowd erupted in cheers.
Protesters: “We are the revolution! We are the revolution! No Trump! No KKK! No fascist U.S.A.!”
Meanwhile, in Nashville, Tennessee, activists rallied around the bust of Confederate Army General Nathan Bedford Forrest, putting a black cloth over his head and demanding the bust be removed from the state Capitol. In Gainesville, Florida, workers removed a Confederate soldier’s statue from downtown, while officials in Baltimore, San Antonio and Jacksonville, Florida, all said Monday they would take steps to remove Confederate statues from public spaces.
Major protests were also held in Washington, D.C., in Naples, Florida, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where activists burned an effigy of a Nazi, and in New York City, where thousands of people poured into the streets to protest as President Trump arrived home to Trump Tower. This is Brooklyn resident Jelani Wilson.
Jelani Wilson: “The American people are not going to sit back and take the rise of the far right in the United States sitting down. We have seen this before, and we know what to do. We stand up, we make our voices heard, and we do not stop. We’re going to send these trolls right back to their caves. They will have no power in this country. They might be up in the White House. They might be hiding behind plastic shields and in right-wing cosplay. But it’s the power of the people that makes this country work, and we’re going to prove that. And we will prove it again and again and again, for as long as we have to, to show that there is no place for hate in the United States.”
Three corporate executives also resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council on Monday in protest of Trump’s failure to quickly condemn the deadly neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, which erupted after more than 1,000 Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and white supremacists descended on Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to remove a Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee.
On Monday morning, the CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck, Kenneth Frazier, who is African-American, resigned from the council, saying, “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”
While it took President Trump two days to condemn the violence of the white supremacists in Charlottesville, it took him only an hour to attack Frazier for resigning, tweeting, “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
The CEO of Intel and the CEO of Under Armour also resigned on Monday from the council in protest, even after Trump made his statement Monday. Even the company that makes the tiki torches that were wielded by hundreds of white supremacists during their torch-bearing march on Friday night in Charlottesville has spoken out, condemning the white nationalists and their ideology. The company, Tiki Brand Products, wrote, “Tiki Brand is not associated in any way with the events that took place in Charlottesville and are deeply saddened and disappointed.”
Amid the extraordinary pressure of the growing street and corporate protests Monday, President Trump finally condemned the deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, which killed one person and injured dozens.
President Donald Trump: “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
After making his statement, Trump refused to take any questions from reporters, despite having promised to hold a news conference. Later in the day, after a separate announcement, CNN’s Jim Acosta tried to ask Trump about his Charlottesville statements.
Jim Acosta: “Mr. President, can you explain why you did not condemn those hate groups by name over the weekend?”
President Donald Trump: “They’ve been condemned. They have been condemned.”
Jim Acosta: “And why are we not having a press conference today? You said on Friday we’d have a press conference.”
President Donald Trump: “We had a press conference. We just had the press conference.”
Jim Acosta: “Can we ask you some more questions then, sir?”
President Donald Trump: “It doesn’t bother me at all. But, you know, I like real news, not fake news. You’re fake news. Thank you, everybody.”
Jim Acosta: “Mr. President, haven’t you spread a lot of fake news yourself?”
Despite Trump’s begrudging condemnation of white supremacist violence, he also tried to deflect and distract from this violence by retweeting a tweet about crime in Chicago by a far-right-wing conspiracy theorist. The tweet was originally written by right-wing extremist Jack Posobiec, known for spreading conspiracy theories, such as Pizzagate. Trump also failed to succumb to mounting pressure, both from within and outside the administration, to fire his chief strategist Stephen Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, which promotes far-right-wing and white nationalist propaganda.
The United Nations also condemned the Nazi violence in Charlottesville over the weekend. This is Farhan Haq, spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, speaking Monday.
Farhan Haq: “We are against all racism and bigotry. We believe that there must be no place in our societies for the violent racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and discrimination that we’ve seen in Charlottesville, Virginia, in recent days. Obviously, we condemn any of the violence that affected civilians, and we express our condolences to the family and loved ones of the victims and wish a speedy recover to all those who were injured.”
In Charlottesville, Virginia, James Alex Fields Jr. appeared in court via video link from jail for his first court appearance, where he was charged with second-degree murder for driving his car through a crowd of counterprotesters during the white supremacist rally on Saturday, killing counterprotester Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. He was denied bond.
Twenty-year-old Fields is a Nazi sympathizer who had driven from Ohio to Charlottesville to rally with the white supremacists before allegedly carrying out the deadly assault with his car. More details about Fields’s life emerged on Monday. He’s been accused of repeatedly assaulting his mother, Samantha Bloom, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair. Records show his mother repeatedly called 911 to report Fields was threatening her or had assaulted her. She says he’s threatened her with a foot-long knife, hit her on the head and spit on her.
Military records show he entered the Army in 2015 but flunked out of basic training just a few months later.
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.
Far-right extremist groups are planning a series of protests for this upcoming weekend in at least nine cities: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and in Mountain View, California. The rallies are being called to protest Google for having fired a white male engineer who authored a sexist manifesto, which he emailed to all of his colleagues, in which claimed that women are biologically inferior and less capable of assuming leadership roles in the tech industry. The now-fired engineer has become a hero among far-right extremists. There are also white supremacist rallies planned for San Francisco and Berkeley, California, later this month. Counterprotests are already being planned. Meanwhile, Texas A&M University has canceled a planned White Lives Matter rally, which was slated to take place on September 11, amid concerns about the possibility of deadly white supremacist violence.
A board member of the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has resigned in the wake of this weekend’s white supremacist violence in Charlottesville. Waldo Jaquith tweeted, “I just resigned from the ACLU of Virginia board. What’s legal and what’s right are sometimes different. I won’t be a fig leaf for Nazis.” Ahead of this weekend’s white supremacist rally, the ACLU represented rally organizer Jason Kessler on free speech grounds in a case against the city of Charlottesville, which was trying to revoke the permit for the event.
In Boston, Massachusetts, the New England Holocaust Memorial was vandalized on Monday by a teenager who threw a rock through a glass panel etched with numbers symbolizing the numbers tattooed on the arms of Jews and others imprisoned in Nazi Germany concentration camps. It’s the second time this summer that Boston’s Holocaust memorial has been vandalized. Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council said, “The images of Nazis marching in the streets of America over the weekend in Charlottesville and now shattered glass once again at this sacred space in Boston are an affront to our Jewish community and to all those who stand-up against bigotry, hatred and anti-Semitism.”
President Trump says he’s considering pardoning the notorious former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been convicted of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop his deputies from racially profiling people and then detaining them on suspicion of being undocumented. Trump called Arpaio a “great American patriot” and said he’s considering pardoning Arpaio as early as this week. Arpaio is a major supporter of Trump whose policies have included detaining immigrants in a scorching outdoor tent city jail, which Arpaio once referred to as his own “concentration camp.”
The Justice Department is demanding web hosting provider DreamHost turn over 1.3 million visitor IP addresses of people who visited the website DisruptJ20.org, which was used to organize the protests against President Trump’s inauguration. The Justice Department is also seeking names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and other information about the owners and subscribers of the website. More than 200 protesters were arrested during the Inauguration Day protests and are now facing decades in prison on trumped-up charges. The web hosting provider DreamHost is fighting the Justice Department request.
In international news, in Syria, the journalistic monitoring group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently says as many as 30 civilians were killed and up to 60 more were wounded by U.S.-backed airstrikes and shelling in Raqqa on Monday. The group also says the U.S.-led offensive has destroyed the oldest market in the city amid the ongoing offensive to seize control of the city from ISIS.
North Korea says it will hold off on attacking the U.S. territory of Guam, saying they will wait to see what the “foolish Yankees” will do before making any decisions. Tensions have been escalating between the U.S. and North Korea. President Trump startled the world last week by threatening to attack North Korea with “fire and fury”—sparking concerns about the possibility of a nuclear war. In response, North Korea threatened to hit the waters off the U.S. territory of Guam, home to two major sprawling U.S. military bases. Residents have spent decades opposing the militarization of their island. Click here to see our full interview about resistance to U.S. militarization of Guam.
Meanwhile, in Japan, tens of thousands of residents of the island of Okinawa protested over the weekend against U.S. military bases on the island. For decades, residents have called for the expulsion of U.S. troops from Okinawa, which houses about two-thirds of the 50,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Japan.
In Venezuela, thousands poured into the streets for an anti-imperialist march on Monday to protest President Trump’s comments saying the U.S. may launch a military intervention in Venezuela. This is the Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.
Vladimir Padrino: “We do not admit into our country imperialist lords of the United States government. It seems to us a delirious attitude, a threatening attitude, a crazy attitude to threaten Venezuela with weapons because, simply, all the previous phases could not be consummated. The North American imperialists have removed their masks and have gone directly to military aggression. They have completely removed the masks.”
On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence defended President Trump’s comments about a possible U.S. military intervention.
Vice President Mike Pence: “President Trump has made it very clear: We will not stand by while Venezuela collapses into dictatorship. We will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles. But it’s important to note, as the President said, that a failed state in Venezuela threatens the security and prosperity of our entire hemisphere and of the people of the United States of America.”
Venezuela is home to some of the world’s largest oil reserves. Vice President Mike Pence made the comments while speaking in Colombia. Pence is in Argentina today as part of a regional tour across Latin America.
In Sierra Leone, mudslides triggered by massive rainfall have killed more than 300 people near the capital Freetown. The number of casualties is expected to rise, as search and rescue teams are still looking for thousands of missing people. Increased rainfall has been linked to human-driven climate change.
And in the Israeli-occupied territories, five Palestinian journalists were released from Israeli custody Monday in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The journalists were arrested by Israeli authorities last week on charges of “leaking sensitive information to enemy groups.” Human rights and press freedom groups say Israel has been increasingly cracking down on freedom of the press and Palestinian journalists. Israel is also trying to shut down Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem and revoke the press credentials of Al Jazeera’s journalists in Israel. This is Ammar Dweik, head of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights.
Ammar Dweik: “During the few past months, almost since last March, we are witnessing a regression in the freedom of speech and in the freedom of journalism in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. And it is a result to the escalation in the dispute between Palestinians, and it might be because of what is happening in the region of regional conflicts that can have a negative reflection on the Palestinians.”
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