Massive protests against white supremacy spread across the United States over the weekend, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets from coast to coast to condemn violent white nationalist groups and to call for the removal of Confederate monuments and other statues memorializing slavery and racism. In downtown Boston, 40,000 people poured into the streets around the Boston Common to protest a planned so-called free speech rally by white nationalists. The flood of counterprotesters so overwhelmed the white nationalist rally that aerial photos show only a handful of the extremists even showed up and that they spent the day huddled in a gazebo on the Boston Common. This is one of the 40,000 counterprotesters.
Protester: “There are so many groups that are marginalized in our community—people of color, women, people of many gender expressions—and I think we need to stand together and say that that’s not OK. Well, I mean, I think, as a country, we have a right to free speech. I mean, that’s part of why we exist as a country, and I don’t think that should go away. But there’s a difference to me with hateful speech and free speech. And a lot of what the separatists are saying is hateful speech, and I don’t think there’s a place for that in our country. I don’t think we’re based on hate. I think we’re based on love, as a country.”
President Trump first condemned the 40,000 people marching against white supremacy in Boston, tweeting, “Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.” Trump then twice attempted to tweet something positive about the protests, but both times had to delete his tweets after he confused “heel”—as in to obey—and “heal”—as in recover—tweeting, “Our country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heel, & we will heel, & be stronger than ever before.”
Trump finally spelled the whole tweet correctly on the third try.
Many commented that Trump’s error was a curious slip, given that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had famously used the word “heel”—spelled H-E-E-L—in her now-infamous 1996 comments in which she called black youth “superpredators” and said, “We have to bring them to heel.”
Tens of thousands more protesters took to the streets of other U.S. cities over the weekend, a week after one person was killed and dozens more wounded by white supremacists and neo-Nazis at a protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. On Saturday, thousands rallied at City Hall in Dallas, Texas, to call for the removal of the city’s three Confederate monuments. Overnight on Friday, someone spray-painted the word “Nazis” onto the Dallas statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Thousands more marched Saturday in New Orleans to demand the removal of Confederate monuments, while hundreds gathered to protest white supremacy in Houston; Memphis; Atlanta; Laguna Beach, California; and Durham, North Carolina. This is North Carolina NAACP President William Barber.
Rev. William Barber: “You can’t just denounce what happened in Charlottesville. You’ve got to denounce what happened before Charlottesville that made the people emboldened enough to go to Charlottesville.”
In Virginia, residents are demanding the name of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson be removed from a high school in Prince William County. This is Ryan Sawyers of the Prince William County School Board.
Ryan Sawyers: “To me, it’s very simple. A guy that gave his life, quite literally, to the enslavement of a race, to prevent them from all sorts of things, including an education, should not have a school named after him.”
In New York City, members of the group Black Youth Project 100 rallied on Friday to demand the removal of a statue of James Marion Sims, a white doctor who is known as the “father of gynecology” after he experimented on enslaved black women, without using anesthesia, in order to develop his surgical techniques. Activists are calling for the statue to be removed and replaced by a statue of three women—Anarcha, Betsey and Lucy—who were forced to suffer Sims’s medical experiments.
Thousands also protested against white supremacists and neo-Nazis at multiple international rallies over the weekend. In Berlin, Germany, more than 1,000 anti-fascists faced off against a much smaller crowd of neo-Nazis. This is counterprotester Anja Herbig.
Anja Herbig: “I am here today to honor my grandfather, who died in a concentration camp. He was German and was taken for not throwing a blind Jewish woman out of a bunker during an air raid, and lost his life for that. I am here today in remembrance of my grandfather.”
In Vancouver, Canada, thousands more gathered outside City Hall on Saturday to counter a group of anti-immigrant protesters. Hundreds more gathered in Quebec City to protest against a rally by far-right-wing extremists.
President Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has left the White House and rejoined the far-right-wing website Breitbart News as the executive chairman. Breitbart has been described as an online haven for white nationalists, which frequently publishes far-right-wing and white nationalist propaganda. Bannon has been one of Trump’s closest and most trusted advisers.
After departing the White House, he said, “In many ways I think I can be more effective fighting from the outside for the agenda President Trump ran on. And anyone who stands in our way, we will go to war with.” In an interview with The Weekly Standard, Bannon also said he feels “jacked up” now that he’s returned to Breitbart, saying, “I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ’It’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition.” He also said, “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over.”
His departure came after a series of meetings last week with billionaire funder Robert Mercer, who funds Breitbart and funded Trump’s campaign. Bannon met with Mercer Wednesday, and Trump met with Mercer on Thursday. Bannon departed the White House Friday. Later that day, billionaire investor Carl Icahn also left his role as regulatory adviser to President Trump, just before The New Yorker published an article entitled “Carl Icahn’s Failed Raid on Washington.” The article detailed Carl Icahn’s potential conflicts of interest, including his heavy lobbying for a rule change about blending ethanol into gasoline, a rule which affects the profits of Icahn’s Texas-based petroleum refining company.
Bannon and Icahn’s departures are only the latest in a series of ousters and resignations of top Trump officials, including two communications directors, Mike Dubke and Anthony Scaramucci; Press Secretary Sean Spicer; National Security Adviser Michael Flynn; Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland; Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh; and five other high-level officials. Trump also fired FBI Director James Comey and acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Trump is now also facing pressure to oust his senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and national security aide Sebastian Gorka over their ties to white nationalists and extremist views.
The entire President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned on Friday, becoming the first entire presidential committee to resign in protest. In their resignation letter, the artists spoke out against Trump’s failure to quickly condemn the deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, writing, “The Administration’s refusal to quickly and unequivocally condemn the cancer of hatred only further emboldens those who wish America ill.” They also called on Trump to step down. The first letter of each paragraph of their letter spells out the word ”RESIST.”
The United States and South Korea have launched massive military drills on the Korean Peninsula, amid rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. More than 17,000 U.S. troops and 50,000 South Korean troops will participate in the military drills. Soldiers from Australia, Britain and Canada will also take part. The military drills come after President Trump threatened to attack North Korea with “fire and fury” and members of the Trump administration continue to make the case for a preemptive military strike against North Korea.
President Trump is slated to announce an update on the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia during a televised address at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time tonight. The announcement comes after Trump gathered with his top military advisers at Camp David in Maryland on Friday. The Trump administration has been sharply divided on the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Trump’s top generals have been pressing Trump to deploy thousands more U.S. troops, while former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and other members of the administration had been pushing to privatize the U.S. war. This plan now seems less likely after Bannon’s departure from the White House. Former Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who has been proposing the privatization plan, was barred from Friday’s trip to Camp David.
In Iraq, the U.S.-backed Iraqi military has launched a new campaign to seize control of the city of Tal Afar from ISIS. Tal Afar, which sits about 50 miles west of Mosul, is one of the last major cities in Iraq under ISIS control. The U.S. military is supporting the battle with a bombing campaign. The new offensive comes after as many as 40,000 civilians were killed during the nine-month battle to seize control of Mosul.
In the Philippines, protests are growing against President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called war on drugs, which has killed more than 12,500 people over the last year. There are three separate demonstrations scheduled for today to protest the death of 17-year-old high school student Kian delos Santos, who was one of 80 people killed in drug raids last week alone.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, mourners wore T-shirts reading “Kill drugs, not people” as they carried the coffin of Leover Miranda to a cemetery in Manila. This is his mother, Elvira Miranda.
Elvira Miranda: “My son was screaming 'Mother, mother!' I didn’t hear him. Then I heard gunshot right outside his house, gunshot after gunshot. I said, 'My son, my son!' Didn’t they know that my son had mental health issues?”
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than 200 people have been killed by a massive mudslide triggered by heavy rainfall. Most of the victims are from a small fishing village in the Congo’s northeast.
In Pakistan, the Parliament is poised to pass a landmark law outlawing discrimination and violence against transgender people and ensuring full rights for people of all gender identities. The legislation has the support of all major political parties in Pakistan.
In Hong Kong, more than 20,000 people took to the streets on Sunday to protest the jailing of three student leaders of the pro-democracy Occupy movement, who organized large protests in 2014 calling on China to allow free elections in Hong Kong. This is activist Joseph Cheng.
Joseph Cheng: “It is obvious that dissatisfaction and anger in the society have been growing. And I’m sure that the Hong Kong government will eventually pay its price. People are now casting doubt on the very last pillar of the political system—namely, the independence of the judiciary.”
Pioneering comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory has died at the age of 84. In the early 1960s Gregory became one of the most popular comedians in the country and paved the way for generations of African-American comedians, from Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor to Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle. After headlines, we’ll spend the rest of the hour playing clips of Dick Gregory speaking in his own words about comedy, activism, race in America and his long struggle for social justice.
And today, a total eclipse will be visible from coast to coast across the continental United States for the first time in 99 years. Total eclipses are rare celestial events in which the moon moves perfectly in between the Earth and the sun. For more than an hour today, the eclipse will be visible from Portland, Oregon, to the coast of South Carolina, and thousands of people are flocking to areas across the U.S. to get the best view of the event—although people should not look directly at the sun without special glasses. The next solar eclipse visible from the continental U.S. will be in 2024.