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In Charlottesville, Virginia, mourners gathered Wednesday for a memorial service for Heather Heyer, who was killed Saturday when a 20-year-old Nazi sympathizer named James Alex Fields plowed his car into a crowd of anti-fascist demonstrators. Heyer was a longtime anti-racist activist who repeatedly championed civil rights issues on social media. This is Heather’s mother, Susan Bro.
Susan Bro: “Remember in your heart: If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. And I want you to pay attention, find what’s wrong. Don’t ignore it. Don’t look the other way. You make it a point to look at it, and say to yourself, 'What can I do to make a difference?'And that’s how you’re going to make my child’s death worthwhile. I’d rather have my child, but, by golly, if I got to give her up, we’re going to make it count.”
The funeral came after Charlottesville anti-racist organizer Tyler Magill suffered a stroke Tuesday that friends say was brought on by injuries he sustained when a neo-Nazi protester beat him with a burning torch last Friday. Doctors say the stroke likely resulted from blunt force trauma to Magill’s neck.
Meanwhile, two women injured in the terror attack that killed Heather Heyer filed suit against James Alex Fields, the driver of the car, along with white supremacist organizers behind the “Unite the Right” event. The pair were among 19 injured in the attack. They’re seeking nearly $3.5 million in damages.
On Wednesday night, hundreds of people gathered for a candlelight vigil on the University of Virginia campus to call for peace, later marching on the same route used by hundreds of neo-Nazis and white nationalists in their torchlight march last Friday. In Philadelphia, thousands of demonstrators marched against last weekend’s violence in a rally dubbed “Philly is Charlottesville.” And in Berlin, Germany, hundreds gathered at the Brandenburg Gate to protest against neo-Nazi groups. This is one of the demonstrators.
Jason, protester: “I am here because I am against Nazis. My grandfather fought against Nazis in the Second World War, and I think it is a disgrace that Donald Trump is not against Nazis.”
President Trump grew increasingly isolated Wednesday for repeatedly blaming “both sides” for last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, as lawmakers, generals and prominent Republicans separated their positions from Trump by condemning white nationalists and neo-Nazis. In a statement, former Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush said, “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms.”
Their statement came as President Trump disbanded a pair of business advisory councils Wednesday as more CEOs exited the groups in protest of Trump’s failure to fully condemn white nationalists. After the heads of 3M and the Campbell Soup Company became the latest to resign Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” According to reports, President Trump knew at that point that the business leaders were all quitting the councils.
U.S. military leaders also condemned white supremacist groups Wednesday, with top generals of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, National Guard and U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff all issuing statements against racial hatred. The condemnations came after it emerged that the leader of the Vanguard America neo-Nazi hate group that rallied in Charlottesville—Dillon Ulysses Hopper—was a Marine Corps recruiter. The head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, also spoke out Wednesday.
David Shulkin: “Well, I’m speaking out, and I’m giving my personal opinions as an American and as a Jewish American. And for me, in particular, I think, in learning history, that we know that staying silent on these issues is simply not acceptable. … I am not going to, in any way, condone the behavior or the beliefs of the Nazis or white supremacists. This is an affront to American ideals. This is an affront to civilization.”
Fallout from President Trump’s handling of the Charlottesville violence came amid revelations that the Trump administration recently cut funds to organizations dedicated to fighting right-wing violence. One group, Life After Hate, which works to help white nationalists and neo-Nazis disengage from hate and violent extremism, was set to receive a grant under the DHS’s Countering Violent Extremism program, approved by the Obama administration. When Trump DHS policy adviser Katharine Gorka released the final list of grantees in June, Life After Hate had been eliminated. Gorka is the wife of Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, who has been linked to a Hungarian far-right, Nazi-allied group. Later in the broadcast, we’ll speak with the group’s founder, Christian Picciolini.
Meanwhile, leaders of four congressional caucuses are demanding the White House fire senior aides Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller over their white supremacist views. In a letter to President Trump, the Congressional Asian Pacific American, Hispanic, Progressive and Black Caucuses wrote, “We are deeply concerned that their continued influence on U.S. policy emboldens and tacitly approves the ideological extremism that leads White supremacists to spread violence and hatred.”
The letter came as Steve Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist, granted an extraordinary interview with Robert Kuttner of the liberal magazine The American Prospect. In an article titled “Steve Bannon, Unrepentant,” the former Breitbart News editor declared there is “no military solution” to the North Korean nuclear crisis, and said the U.S. should engage in an “economic war” with China. Bannon said he was looking to neutralize rivals in the Departments of Defense, State and Treasury, and criticized the white supremacists behind last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, calling them “ethnonationalists” and “a collection of clowns.” Bannon is the former head of Breitbart News, a site that’s been described as an online haven for white nationalists. It’s not clear whether Bannon knew his comments were on the record. The news site Axios reported one unnamed White House staffer said Bannon’s comments left him infuriated, saying, “I’ll put this in terms he’ll understand: This is DEFCON 1-level bad.”
The city of Greensboro, North Carolina, has apologized for its role in a 1979 incident that saw American Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan open fire on anti-fascist protesters, killing five people and wounding 10 others. Tuesday’s 7-1 vote by the Greensboro City Council acknowledges there were no police officers present to protect demonstrators against white nationalist violence. All of the killers were later acquitted in state and federal criminal trials, though a civil case found some of the Klansmen liable for one of the deaths.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions joined condemnation against violence in Charlottesville Wednesday, calling out “racism, bigotry, hatred and violence.” Sessions’ statement came despite his making racist comments throughout his career, including reportedly saying he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Meanwhile, Sessions repeated his threats to withhold Justice Department grants to so-called sanctuary cities whose police officers refuse to act as de facto immigration enforcement agents.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “These policies [of sanctuary cities] do far broader damage to the country than many understand. At its root—at its root, it is a rejection of our immigration laws and a declaration of open borders.”
In Syria, the journalistic monitoring group Airwars reports U.S.-led airstrikes on Raqqa killed at least 29 civilians and wounded scores of others Tuesday and Wednesday. Among the dead were three children—Marwa, Mariam and Ahmad Mazen Shehab—who were killed along with their mother. The latest civilian deaths came as displaced residents at a camp north of Raqqa said extreme summer heat and a lack of resources were making life unbearable. This is Yousef Faddawi, who fled Raqqa with his family.
Yousef Faddawi: “We get aid packages once a month, and 90 percent of the people are selling the packages in order to survive. With regards to healthcare, it is very bad. If someone is bitten by a snake or a scorpion, they must go to Kobani or Tal Abyad, and they might even die on the way. There is no first aid here at all.”
In the Gaza Strip, a suicide bomber detonated at the border crossing with Egypt Wednesday, killing a member of Hamas and wounding several others. Palestinian authorities said the bomber was a member of ISIS, which would mark the first time its suicide bombers have targeted Hamas inside the Israeli-controlled territory. The violence came as Gazans continue to suffer under extreme shortages of electricity brought on by Israeli cutbacks supported by Hamas’s rival, the Fatah party in the West Bank. This is Khan Younis resident Muna Abu Nemr.
Muna Abu Nemr: “There is no electricity. We barely get it for two hours, and we just barely manage to charge our mobile phones. There is no electricity. This is not a way to live. We used to have electricity for eight hours, and now it is only two hours. What can we do in two hours? We can’t do much.”
Last month, the United Nations warned Israel’s blockade and electricity cuts have made Gaza “unlivable” for its more than 2 million residents.
In Washington, D.C., trade representatives of the U.S., Canada and Mexico opened talks Wednesday to renegotiate NAFTA—the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Trump administration is pressing Canada and Mexico for concessions, claiming NAFTA is tilted against the United States. Meanwhile, thousands of indigenous activists, workers and campesinos marched in Mexico City Wednesday, calling for an end to NAFTA. This is Mexican farmers’ representative José Narro Céspedes.
José Narro Céspedes: “Until now, the effects of the treaty have been negative for the country’s indigenous people and for rural communities and, above all, for the sector that’s dedicated to small agriculture.”
After NAFTA went into effect in 1994, an estimated 2 million agricultural workers left Mexico’s rural areas for cities, as subsidized U.S. corn and other staples flooded the Mexican market.
In the Philippines, police killed 26 people in drug raids across the capital Manila overnight, continuing what human rights groups are calling the bloodiest week yet of President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called war on drugs. The killings followed 32 more deaths the previous night during police raids in Bulacan province. Authorities insisted those killed died in shootouts with police, but human rights groups say most of the dead were summarily executed. Filipino security forces and vigilantes have killed more than 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers since Duterte launched his campaign against drugs last year.
And in sports news, Seattle Seahawks star Michael Bennett sat on the sidelines during the playing of the national anthem Sunday, ahead of a preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Bennett said last weekend’s neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, inspired him to take a stand.
Michael Bennett: “I just want to be able to use my platform to be able to continue to speak on injustices. First of all, I want to make sure people understand I love the military. I love—my father was in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American. But I don’t love segregation. I don’t love riots. I don’t love oppression. I don’t love gender slander. And I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve.”
Click here to see our extended interview with the NFL star. Meanwhile, NBA star LeBron James took a jab at President Trump Tuesday during a charitable fundraiser, calling Trump the “so-called president of the United States” during a speech calling for healing after the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville.