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Democracy Now! at 25: Celebrating a Quarter-Century of Independent News on the Frontlines

StoryNovember 25, 2021
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Democracy Now! first aired on nine community radio stations on February 19, 1996, on the eve of the New Hampshire presidential primary. In the 25 years since that initial broadcast, the program has greatly expanded, airing today on more than 1,500 television and radio stations around the globe and reaching millions of people online. We celebrate 25 years of The War and Peace Report with an hour-long retrospective, including highlights from the show’s early years, some of the most controversial interviews, and groundbreaking reports from East Timor, Standing Rock, Western Sahara and more.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Today, a Democracy Now! special celebrating 25 years on the air. On February 19th, 1996, on the eve of the New Hampshire presidential primary, Democracy Now! aired for the first time on nine community radio stations.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! From Pacifica Radio, I’m Amy Goodman in Washington. Today on Democracy Now!, “Live Free or Die,” a look at the political landscape in New Hampshire, where the Republican Revolution has taken its toll.

ARNIE ARNESEN: If you want a taste of the country after the revolution, you might as well visit New Hampshire today, because we’re the state that has the most regressive taxes in the country, that doesn’t have mandatory kindergarten, that doesn’t invest in its infrastructure.

AMY GOODMAN: Also, the politics of race in the Granite State, and “Money Talks: Who are the Millionaires Having Their Way in Washington?”

JEFFREY KLEIN: You need to go up to Bob Dole, now that he’s on the corporate welfare line, and say, you know, “OK, that’s a great — that’s great that you’ve taken up this plank. Whose corporate jet did you fly up here on? Dwayne Andreas, the number three on the Mother Jones list, or Carl Lindner, the number four on the Mother Jones list?” You need to relentlessly expose them.

AMY GOODMAN: All coming up on Democracy Now! Today is President’s Day, and tomorrow is the New Hampshire primary. Welcome to the maiden voyage of Democracy Now!, Pacifica’s daily national election show. Greetings to our audiences in California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Washington state, Kansas City and Colorado. In this election year, we’re embarking on a nine-month journey through the country and hope to pick up community radio stations in many more states as we go, as we give voice to the grassroots.

AMY GOODMAN: And that nine-month project, well, began a quarter of a century ago. That’s right. Democracy Now! went on the air on nine community radio stations in 1996. It now airs in over 1,500 TV and radio stations around the globe and online at democracynow.org.

In 1998, Democracy Now! documented Chevron’s role in the killing of two protesters who occupied a Chevron-owned oil platform in the oil-rich Niger Delta in Nigeria. Democracy Now!'s Jeremy Scahill and I traveled to the Niger Delta to investigate and produced this special documentary, Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship. This is an excerpt.

AMY GOODMAN: Until now, Chevron has claimed that its only action against the occupation was to call the federal authorities and tell them what was happening. But in a startling admission in a three-hour interview with Democracy Now!, Chevron spokesperson Sola Omole acknowledged that Chevron did much more. He admitted that Chevron actually flew in the soldiers who did the killing. And he further admitted that those men were from the notorious Nigerian navy.

SOLA OMOLE: I guess —

AMY GOODMAN: Who took them in?

SOLA OMOLE: What’s that?

AMY GOODMAN: Who took them in?

SOLA OMOLE: Who took them in?

AMY GOODMAN: On Thursday morning, the Mobile Police, the navy?

SOLA OMOLE: We did. We did. We did. We, Chevron, did. We took them there.


SOLA OMOLE: Helicopters. Yes, we took them in.

AMY GOODMAN: Who authorized the call for the military to come in?

SOLA OMOLE: Chevron’s management.

JEREMY SCAHILL: And so, here we have, on May 28th, 1998, Chevron flying in the Nigerian navy and the Mobile Police to confront a group of villagers who thought they were in the midst of a negotiation with the oil giant, which brings us to another admission by Chevron spokesperson Sola Omole. Again, listen carefully.

AMY GOODMAN: Were any of the youths armed?

SOLA OMOLE: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. So I cannot say that they came armed with — there was talk about local charms and all that, but that’s neither here nor there.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you don’t think that they came onto the boat armed, you’re saying?


AMY GOODMAN: The youths.


ORONTO DOUGLAS: It is very clear that Chevron, just like Shell, uses the military to protect its oil activities. They drill. And they kill.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Again, environmentalist Oronto Douglas.

ORONTO DOUGLAS: They are shooting our people for just demanding for their right.

AMY GOODMAN: In 1999, Democracy Now! was in the streets of Seattle when tens of thousands of activists gathered to shut down a ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization. In Seattle, we we spoke with Indian scientist and activist Vandana Shiva and Lori Wallach of Public Citizen.

LORI WALLACH: The WTO constrains every country government about literally the level of food safety it can provide its public, or whether or not poor farmers can have access to seeds, whether or not workers can be safe from asbestos.

VANDANA SHIVA: Actually, the secrecy through which WTO was born is apparent in the fact that most parliaments had no idea what was the content of this treaty ’til months after it had been ratified and signed in Marrakech. The WTO wrote the rules. It sits in judgment about implementation of those rules, and it writes the inquisition.

AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now!, broadcasting live from Seattle.

AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now! grew into a daily television show in 2001, but one of our first broadcasts took place in August 2000 at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

AMY GOODMAN: From Pacifica Radio, this is Democracy Now! “Breaking with Convention: Power, Protest and the Presidency.” George Bush accepts the Republican nomination for president. We’ll get reaction from Barbara Gonzalez and Jello Biafra. Also, a look at the conduct of the Philadelphia police this week and a tour through the Independent Media Center. All that and more, coming up on Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now!

You are listening to Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now!, broadcasting on community radio stations around the country, on public access TV stations around the country, on the internet, both live-streaming and videocasting at www.democracynow.org, in an unprecedented community-media collaboration. I’m Amy Goodman, here with Juan González, as we continue our reaction to the nomination speech of — the acceptance speech of George W. Bush for nomination by the Republican Party as their presidential candidate. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes, as I said, an amazing speech by Bush in — you know, he actually attempted, basically, to portray himself as a caring, sensitive, compassionate conservative. But the reality of the message that he was bringing, of increased military spending, of privatization of Social — of portions of Social Security accounts, of charter schools that would help to begin to tear apart the public school system rather than raise the level of the public school system throughout, I think was one that was clearly, clearly at the right fringe of American politics today.

AMY GOODMAN: On Election Day in 2000, then-President Bill Clinton called Pacifica radio station WBAI in an attempt to get out the vote for Hillary for Senate and Al Gore for president. While he may have intended to spend about two minutes on the phone, WBAI host Gonzalo Aburto and I kept him on the line for about half an hour, asking him about topics that weren’t being discussed in the presidential race.

AMY GOODMAN: Mr. President, are you there?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I am. Can you hear me?

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, we can.


AMY GOODMAN: You’re calling radio stations to tell people to get out and vote. What do you say to people who feel that the two parties are bought by corporations and that they are — at this point feel that their vote doesn’t make a difference?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: There’s not a shred of evidence to support that.

AMY GOODMAN: President Clinton, U.N. figures show that up to 5,000 children a month die in Iraq because of the sanctions against Iraq.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: That’s not true. That’s not true. And that’s not what they show.

AMY GOODMAN: The past two U.N. heads of the program in Iraq have quit, calling the U.S. policy — U.S.-U.N. policy “genocidal.” What is your response to that?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: They’re wrong. They think that we should reward — Saddam Hussein says, “I’m going to starve my kids unless you let me buy nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and biological weapons. If you let me do everything I want to do, so I can get in a position to kill and intimidate people again, then I’ll stop starving my kids.” And so, we’re supposed to assume responsibility for his misconduct. That’s just not right.

AMY GOODMAN: President Clinton, since it’s rare to get you on the phone, let me ask you another question. And that is: What is your position on granting Leonard Peltier, the Native American activist, executive clemency?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Well, I don’t — I don’t have a position I can announce yet. I think if — I believe there is a new application for him in there. And when I have time, after the election is over, I’m going to review all the remaining executive clemency applications and, you know, see what the merits dictate. I will try to do what I think the right thing to do is based on the evidence.

AMY GOODMAN: Many people say that Ralph Nader is at the high percentage point he is in the polls because you’ve been responsible for taking the Democratic Party to the right.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: What is the measure of taking the Democratic Party to the right? That we cut the welfare rolls in half? That poverty is at a 20-year low? That child poverty has been cut by a third in our administration? … That the schools in this country, that the test scores among — since we’ve required all the schools to have basic standards, test scores among African Americans and other minorities have gone up steadily? Now, what —

AMY GOODMAN: Can I say what some people —

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Let me just finish.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me just say —

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Let me — now, wait a minute. You started this, and every question you’ve asked has been hostile and combative. So you listen to my answer, will you do that?

AMY GOODMAN: They’ve been critical questions.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Now, you just listen to me. You ask the questions, and I’m going to answer. You have asked questions in a hostile, combative and even disrespectful tone, but I — and you have never been able to combat the facts I have given you. Now, you listen to this.

AMY GOODMAN: That was President Clinton in a surprise call to WBAI on Election Day 2000. The White House would later call me and say they were thinking of banning me from the White House. I said, “But he called me. I didn’t call him.”

As for Native American leader Leonard Peltier, he remains in prison to this day. I had a chance to speak to Leonard on the phone from prison in Florida in 2012 during the Obama administration.

AMY GOODMAN: Leonard, this is Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! I was —

LEONARD PELTIER: Oh, hi, Amy. How are you?

AMY GOODMAN: Hi. I’m good. I was wondering if you have a message for President Obama?

LEONARD PELTIER: I just hope he can, you know, stop the wars that are going on in this world, and stop getting — killing all those people getting killed, and, you know, give the Black Hills back to my people, and turn me loose.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you share with people at the news conference and with President Obama your case for why you should be — your sentence should be commuted, why you want clemency?

LEONARD PELTIER: Well, I never got a fair trial, for one. … They wouldn’t allow me to put up a defense, and manufactured evidence, manufactured witnesses, tortured witnesses. You know, the list is — just goes on. So I think I’m a very good candidate for — after 37 years, for clemency or house arrest, at least.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Leonard Peltier. One guest who’s appeared multiple times on Democracy Now! over the years is the imprisoned former Black Panther and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to interrupt the broadcast because right now we have just gotten a call from Mumia Abu-Jamal from prison in Pennsylvania. Mumia Abu-Jamal is speaking to us for the first time no longer on death row.

OPERATOR: This call is from the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy and is subject to monitoring and recording.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: You’ve probably heard me refer to life as “slow death row.” It sounds a little dramatic, but it is really more truth to it than hyperbole. And that’s because, you know, in Pennsylvania, it has the highest population, or one of the highest populations, in the state, of lifers — in fact, juveniles with life sentences. And in Pennsylvania, there’s no gradation: You know, all lifers are lifers, and that’s for their whole life. … It’s slow death row, to be sure.

And when you see, as I’ve seen, going to chow or going to a meal and seeing what I call the “million man wheelchair march,” it makes an impact on you. You know, you look up in the morning, and there are 30 or 40 guys going through the handicap line, and they’re in wheelchairs. And although some are young, most are quite old. Life means life in Pennsylvania.

AMY GOODMAN: The words of Mumia Abu-Jamal. After a break, we’ll continue our look back at the past 25 years of Democracy Now!


AMY GOODMAN: Lila Downs, performing in our Democracy Now! studio.

On the evening of December 7th — that’s Tuesday — at 8 p.m. Lila Downs will join Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Arundhati Roy, Winona LaDuke and others as we celebrate online 25 years of Democracy Now! We hope you’ll join us. Visit democracynow.org for details.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return to our look back at excerpts of Democracy Now! over the past quarter of a century. On the morning of September 11th, 2001, Democracy Now! was on the air when the World Trade Center was attacked. Broadcasting on radio for over six hours, Democracy Now! covered the attacks just blocks from ground zero.

AMY GOODMAN: The latest news we have is that there have been widespread attacks that include at least three commercial jet crashes — we now believe perhaps four — three commercial jet crashes into significant buildings. In the first attack, a plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan shortly before 9:00, followed by another plane into the second tower about 20 minutes later. Both towers later collapsed. About an hour later, a plane crashed into the Pentagon, part of which later collapsed.

AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now! closely followed the fallout from the 9/11 attacks, both at home and abroad. In December of 2001, Masuda Sultan, an Afghan American woman, reported on Democracy Now! from Afghanistan about a U.S. air raid that killed 19 members of her family.

MASUDA SULTAN: They described the scene where they were running with their kids in their arms, dodging bullets left and right, while they had — while they saw balls of fire falling down to the earth. … They were just women and children running for their lives, being shot at by a helicopter hovering over their home. And these people were not Taliban supporters. They weren’t al-Qaeda fighters. They were simple Afghans, trying to stay safe in their own country.

AMY GOODMAN: After Masuda Sultan came back to New York, she came on Democracy Now! along with Rita Lasar, who lost her brother, Abe Zelmanowitz, at the World Trade Center.

RITA LASAR: I live on the 15th floor and ran to my neighbor’s house, and she has a clear view of downtown Manhattan. And I looked out her window and saw the second plane hit the second building. And it dawned on me: My brother works there. …

I went down to the hospitals to see if his name was on a list. And then I realized he had died. And because he had stayed behind to stay with his quadriplegic brother — I’m sorry, friend, who couldn’t get out, although he was on the 27th floor and he could have saved himself, he died.

And then President Bush mentioned him in the National Cathedral speech and cited him as being a hero. And I realized that my government was going to use my brother as justification for killing other people, and that had a tremendous impact on me. I didn’t want that to happen, not in my brother’s name.

MASUDA SULTAN: First of all, I want to express my condolences to Rita. I did before, but I think your brother is a hero, and you’re a hero for continuing his legacy. And it’s amazing to me that someone who’s lost so much isn’t as revenge-hungry as some of the other people that seem to want to, you know, go start bombing whoever, wherever.

AMY GOODMAN: Masuda Sultan and Rita Lasar in our firehouse studio at Downtown Community Television, DCTV. Rita died in 2017.

As we continue our Democracy Now! journey through the decades, we turn to May 20th, 2002, when East Timor became an independent country after decades of occupation by Indonesia. I had been reporting on the East Timorese independence movement for years. On November 12th, 1991, journalist Allan Nairn and I were there when Indonesian troops armed with U.S. M16s opened fire on thousands of unarmed East Timorese civilians who had gathered at the Santa Cruz cemetery.

JOSÉ RAMOS-HORTA: I lost one sister and two brothers.

EAST TIMORESE WOMAN: It was 10 days before I was to give birth. The army was shooting people, and they would die at our feet, but you couldn’t stop to help them.

JOSÉ RAMOS-HORTA: I know families that were totally wiped out.

EAST TIMORESE MAN: Two American newsmen badly beaten: Mr. Allan Nairn and Miss Amy Goodman.

AMY GOODMAN: The Indonesian army converged in two places.

ALLAN NAIRN: Hundreds and hundreds of troops coming straight at the Timorese.

AMY GOODMAN: When they came, they opened fire on the people.

PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: We pride ourselves, and I think properly so, in standing up for human rights.

AMY GOODMAN: At least 271 Timorese were killed that day. The Indonesian military fractured Allan Nairn’s skull. More than a decade later, East Timor became an independent country. Allan Nairn and I returned to the capital Dili for the celebration. Allan questioned former President Bill Clinton.

ALLAN NAIRN: In 1999, in April, the Indonesian military and their militias massacred 50 people in the rectory in Liquiçá. They hacked them with machetes. Two days later, Admiral Blair, the commander for the Pacific, your commander, met with General Wiranto, the Indonesian commander. He offered to help him in lobbying the U.S. Congress to get full U.S. military training restored. He made no mention of the Liquiçá massacre. During that same period, the Indonesian militias rampaged here in downtown Dili. They attacked the house of Manuel Carrascalão. They massacred the refugees there. Yet you continued for months with aid to the Indonesian military. Why?

BILL CLINTON: What’s your question, sir?

ALLAN NAIRN: Why did you continue with aid to the Indonesian military if they were killing civilians?

BILL CLINTON: Well, first of all, I can’t — I can’t answer the question you asked about Admiral Blair. You’ll have to ask him that, because I’m not aware of that.

ALLAN NAIRN: He was working for you. Why did you continue military aid to Indonesia?

BILL CLINTON: I understand, but — I understand that. I think, first of all, I don’t believe America or any of the other countries were sufficiently sensitive in the beginning and for a long time, and a long time before 1999, going all the way back to the '70s, to the suffering of the people of East Timor. I don't think we can defend everything we did.

AMY GOODMAN: That was East Timor in 2002. Almost a year later, on February 15, 2003, millions of people around the globe rallied to say no to the Iraq War. Democracy Now! broadcast live from massive protests in New York. This is actor and activist Harry Belafonte.

HARRY BELAFONTE: This is not the first time that we as a people have been misled by the leadership. We were misled by those who created the falseness the Bay of Tonkin, which falsely led us into a war with Vietnam, a war that we could not and did not win. We lied to the American people about Grenada and what was going on in that tiny island. We’ve lied to the American people about Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba and many places in the world. And we stand here today to let those people and others know that America is a vast and diverse country, and we are part of the greater truth of what makes our nation. Dr. King once said that if there is — if mankind does not put an end to war, war will put an end to mankind.

AMY GOODMAN: In 2004, Democracy Now! broke the news about the ouster of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a U.S.-backed coup.

AMY GOODMAN: From Pacifica Radio, this is a Democracy Now! exclusive.

REP. MAXINE WATERS: He was kidnapped. He said he was forced to leave Haiti.

AMY GOODMAN: Did U.S. security forces kidnap Haitian President Aristide? We’ll speak with Congressmember Maxine Waters and Aristide’s close friend, TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson.

RANDALL ROBINSON: He said tell the world it’s a coup, it’s a coup, it’s a coup.

REPORTER: Representative Waters is claiming on Pacifica stations on the West Coast that Aristide was led away in handcuffs by U.S. marines, and claiming the marines were part of a coup to remove him. I wonder if either one of you would gentlemen would comment on her comment or claim? Other than to smile.

DEFENSE SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD: I’m trying to pick the right words. If you’re asking me, “Did that happen?” the answer is no.

REPORTER: But any embellishment?


AMY GOODMAN: Years later, Democracy Now! reported on President Aristide’s return to the Caribbean.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s been an historic 48 hours. Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has defied Washington, returning to the Caribbean. Late last night, I returned to New York after a trip that began on Saturday, when I accompanied a delegation of U.S. and Jamaican officials who set off from Miami, Florida, on a mission to escort President Aristide and his wife Mildred back to the Caribbean. On the plane, I asked President Aristide why he believes the U.S. wants him gone.

PRESIDENT JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE: Those who want to invest in killing democracy, in bloodshed, they don’t accept you as an elected president.

AMY GOODMAN: We move forward in this Democracy Now! 25-year special to 2005, when Democracy Now! went down to New Orleans and the community of Algiers shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit. I spoke with Malik Rahim, co-founder of the Common Ground Collective. Malik showed us how a corpse still remained on the street unattended, two weeks after the storm.

MALIK RAHIM: Now, his body been here for almost two weeks. Two weeks tomorrow, all right, that this man’s body been laying here. And there’s no reason for it. … I mean, that’s just totally disrespect. You know? And, I mean, two weeks. Every day, we ask them about come and pick it up. And they refuse to come and pick it up. And you could see, it’s literally decomposing right here, right out in the sun. Every day we sit up and we ask them about it, because, I mean, this is close as you could get to tropical climate in America. And they won’t do anything with it.

AMY GOODMAN: Malik, do you know who this person is?

MALIK RAHIM: No. But regardless of who it is — I wouldn’t care if it’s Saddam Hussein or bin Laden — nobody deserve to be left here. And the kids pass by here, and they’re seeing it. I mean, the elderly. This is what’s frightening a lot of people into leaving. We don’t know if he’s a victim of vigilantes or what. But that’s all we know is that his body had been allowed to remain out here for over two weeks.

AMY GOODMAN: In September 2005, Democracy Now! spoke to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in his first sit-down interview in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Mr. President Hugo Chávez, your assessment of President Bush, of the invasion and occupation of Iraq? And do you think if it weren’t Iraq, it would have been Venezuela?

PRESIDENT HUGO CHÁVEZ: [translated] Now, it is clear that the U.S. government wants that oil. That’s why they planned. First they tried to get the Venezuelan oil. And, of course, the coup, they staged against us. That was an oil-motivated coup. They want to have the control over Venezuelan oil before going for the Iraq, for Iraq’s oil. They failed in Venezuela, so they, rather, went to attack Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: In 2007, Juan González and I interviewed then-CNN anchor Lou Dobbs on Democracy Now!

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So that the question is that there is a huge disparity between the economic levels in Mexico and the economic levels in the United States. And you have properly said many times on your show that American companies are creating the problems, rather than helping to alleviate the problems. All that would be needed to do is to raise the economic level in Mexico, and the entire illegal immigration population problems would decline in this country. And not only that, but the country, if it had a higher immigration quota in connection with —

LOU DOBBS: Are you giving me instruction, or are you telling me what we agree upon?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: No, we don’t agree. We don’t agree, because you are demonizing illegal immigration as a separate issue. …

LOU DOBBS: How in the world can you use my name and “anti-immigrant” in the same breath?

AMY GOODMAN: When we hear comments like —

LOU DOBBS: You hear —

AMY GOODMAN: — a third of the — from you — we’ve played them, so we can’t refute the videotape, Lou.

LOU DOBBS: Have you looked, Amy —

AMY GOODMAN: We can’t refute — a third of prisoners are —

LOU DOBBS: Yes. And we discussed that?

AMY GOODMAN: — are illegal immigrants —

LOU DOBBS: Have we discussed it?

AMY GOODMAN: No, a third of prisoners are illegal immigrants, not true. Seven thousand leprosy cases in the last three years because of illegal immigrants —

LOU DOBBS: Christine Romans misspoke —

AMY GOODMAN: — not true.

LOU DOBBS: — we said that. And that’s as straightforward as we can put it.

AMY GOODMAN: And you made an announcement on your show —

LOU DOBBS: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: — and you will say it here —

LOU DOBBS: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: — that it is not true. Illegal immigrants are not responsible for 7,000 cases of leprosy over last three years.

LOU DOBBS: Not over the last three years.

AMY GOODMAN: Lou Dobbs on Democracy Now! in 2007. Fox Business dropped his show earlier this year after he and Fox were sued for spreading lies about the 2020 election.

On September 1st, 2008, Democracy Now! producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Nicole Salazar and I were among the journalists arrested during a police crackdown at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. As the riot police came at Nicole shouting “On your face!” she shouted back “Press! Press!”

NICOLE SALAZAR: Where are we supposed to go? Where are we supposed to go?

POLICE OFFICER: Get out of here!

NICOLE SALAZAR: Dude, I can’t see! Ow! Press! Press! Press!

POLICE OFFICER: Get down! Get down on your face! On your face!

NICOLE SALAZAR: I’m on my face!

POLICE OFFICER: Get down on your face!

NICOLE SALAZAR: Ow! Press! Press!

AMY GOODMAN: That was Nicole Salazar screaming as the riot police took her down, bloodying her face. As Sharif Abdel Kouddous told the riot police to calm down, they kicked him twice in the chest, threw him against a wall and arrested him, as well. When I got the call on the convention floor about what had happened, I raced outside to the corner of 7th and Jackson, where the riot police had formed a line, having fully contained the area. I asked to speak with a commanding officer to get Sharif and Nicole released.


POLICE OFFICER: Ma’am, get back to the sidewalk.

DENIS MOYNIHAN: Release the accredited journalists now!

AMY GOODMAN: Sir, just one second. I was just running from the convention floor.

DENIS MOYNIHAN: You are violating my constitutional rights. You are violating their constitutional rights.

POLICE OFFICER: Sidewalk now!

AMY GOODMAN: Sir, I want to talk to your superior —


AMY GOODMAN: Do not arrest me!


AMY GOODMAN: Do not arrest me!

POLICE OFFICER: Hold it right there. You’re under arrest. Stay right there. Back up. Back up.

POLICE OFFICER: Everybody, you cross this line, you’ll be under arrest, so don’t do it.

CROWD: Let her go! Let her go!

AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, Nicole and I would successfully sue the St. Paul and Minneapolis police and the Secret Service for our arrests. When we come back, we’ll have more on our 25th anniversary special.


AMY GOODMAN: Tom Morello on Democracy Now! On the evening of Tuesday, December 7th, at 8 p.m. Eastern, Tom will join Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Arundhati Roy, Winona LaDuke and others as we celebrate 25 years of Democracy Now! Join us for the online celebration. You can check out democracynow.org for more information.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return now to our look back at excerpts of Democracy Now! over the past quarter-century. Let’s go to 2010, when the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks released footage of U.S. soldiers firing from a military helicopter on Iraqi civilians. The dead included two employees of the Reuters news agency: the 22-year-old photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and the driver Saeed Chmagh.

U.S. SOLDIER 1: Let me know when you’ve got them.

U.S. SOLDIER 2: Let’s shoot. Light ’em all up.

U.S. SOLDIER 3: Come on, fire!

U.S. SOLDIER 2: Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’.

U.S. SOLDIER 4: Hotel, Bushmaster two-six, Bushmaster two-six, we need to move, time now!

U.S. SOLDIER 2: All right, we just engaged all eight individuals.

AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, tell us how you got this footage?

JULIAN ASSANGE: We got this footage sometime last year. We don’t disclose precise times for reasons of source protection. When we first got it, we were told that it was important and that it showed the killing of journalists, but we didn’t have any other context, and we spent quite some months after breaking the decryption looking closely into this. And the more we looked, the more disturbing it became.
This is a sequence which has a lot of detail and, I think, in some ways covers most of the bad aspects of the aerial war in Iraq and what we must be able to infer is going on in Afghanistan.

AMY GOODMAN: As we continue to look at 25 years of Democracy Now!, we turn to the Egyptian revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Democracy Now!’s Hany Massoud and Sharif Abdel Kouddous were on the ground in Cairo.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: We’re on the edge of Tahrir Square. There are many rocks and stones that have littered the ground here. Army tanks are stationed, but they just stood by as Mubarak’s thugs came in on horseback and camel and attacked crowds. There’s many wounded here in slings. They are bandaged.

Here’s a child. He’s about 5 or 6 years old. He’s being fed yogurt by his mother. He’s bruised on the side of his face. I asked his mother what happened to him, and she said, “He’s a revolutionary. He’s fighting for his future.”

AMY GOODMAN: That report aired on Friday, February 4th, 2011. Hosni Mubarak resigned a week later. On September 17th, 2011, Occupy Wall Street. Democracy Now! was one of the only national news outlets to report on the first day of action. Democracy Now!’s Sam Alcoff filed this report.

SAM ALCOFF: On Saturday, thousands of protesters took to the streets of downtown Manhattan for what was described as an action to “Occupy Wall Street.” Inspired by the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring and the European anti-austerity movements, Adbusters, a Vancouver-based culture-jamming magazine, put out a call for Saturday’s protest on Wall Street in July. The goals were various, from limiting corporate contributions to political campaigns, to auditing the Federal Reserve, to challenging all of global capitalism. Protesters included 71-year-old Mary Ellen Marino of Princeton, New Jersey.

MARY ELLEN MARINO: I came because I’m upset with the fact that the bailout of Wall Street didn’t help any of the people holding mortgages. All of the money went to Wall Street, and none of it went to Main Street. Now, we’ve just learned that Geithner was actually asked to split up the Citibank, and he didn’t do it. And Obama didn’t do anything about it.

SAM ALCOFF: The plan wasn’t simply for a one-day protest, but an ongoing and creative occupation of the Financial District itself. Organizer Lorenzo Serna.

LORENZO SERNA: The idea is to have an encampment. Like, this isn’t a one-day event. Like, we’re hoping that people come prepared to stay as long as they can and that we’re there to support each other.

SAM ALCOFF: But on Saturday, after hundreds arrived, the NYPD shut Wall Street down itself, barricading activists off of Wall Street and forcing a move to the nearby Zuccotti Park. Despite sometimes tense standoffs with the police, hundreds slept in the park and have maintained that they will stay until their demands are met.

AMY GOODMAN: On September 21st, 2011, Democracy Now! broadcast live for six hours from the grounds of the prison in Georgia where Troy Anthony Davis was executed. We were the only news outlet to continuously broadcast live from the prison grounds that night.

AMY GOODMAN: From Georgia’s death row prison in Jackson, this is a Democracy Now! special broadcast. We are just an hour from the scheduled execution of Troy Anthony Davis, an execution the whole world is watching.

MARTINA CORREIA: And I just would like to say that, you know, I’ve been battling cancer for 10 years. And I’m — I don’t have cancer, but I’m reaping some of the effects of the medicine. Several months ago, I couldn’t — I was doing fine. And after that, I couldn’t get up out of the chair. But I’m here to tell you that I’m going to stand here for my brother today.

[with crowd] I am Troy Davis! You are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis!

KRISTEN STANCIL: The court-ordered execution of Troy Anthony Davis has been carried out. The time of death is 11:08 p.m. At this time, the media witnesses will be coming out to give their firsthand account of what happened during the execution.

AMY GOODMAN: Again, prison official sharing the news that Troy Anthony Davis was executed at 11:08. That was the time of death. I’m standing with…

WESLEY BOYD: Wesley Boyd. And I’d like to say this has been a travesty of justice. And I’d like to tell the — America ought to be ashamed of yourself. And God help America. And if you’re alive in America, please don’t come to Georgia. Don’t come to Georgia. Don’t buy any Georgia pecans. Don’t buy any Georgia peaches. Don’t buy any trade with Georgia. The whole world, don’t buy anything with Georgia. God bless America. God bless Troy Davis.

AMY GOODMAN: In July 2014, Israel launched a massive, 50-day assault on Gaza, ultimately killing more than 2,200 Palestinians, the majority of them civilian, including more than 500 children. An Israeli gunboat shelled a group of Palestinian children on a Gaza beach, killing four of them. Democracy Now!'s Sharif Abdel Kouddous was in Gaza, where he spoke with the boys' families.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: I also met with the mother today of Mohammed, the 11-year-old who was killed. She said he was a child that loved the sea. He had seven — he has seven sisters. His father ruined his back about 10 years ago fishing, and they were waiting for him to grow and become the family breadwinner. And there was just deep, deep tragedy and sorrow in the house.

AMY GOODMAN: On August 9th, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, Darren Wilson, a white police officer, fatally shot unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown. The shooting sparked mass protests and became a key moment in the Black Lives Matter movement. In the aftermath of the shooting, Democracy Now! traveled to Ferguson.

AMY GOODMAN: So, tell me your name, and tell me what your sign says. And what do you think?

RONA: My name is Rona. And my sign is “Negro Spring.” The same as the Arabs fought for their rights, for their civil rights, to oust their corrupt government, we’re fighting for our civil rights, our human rights. We would like, as an end result to this, one of the end results, for there to be a law. Police officers should not be allowed to hide behind a badge when they commit a crime. When we commit a crime, we have the penalties. They should have penalties. It’s not fair. They should not be treated like extra special humans.

PROTESTER: What do we want?

CROWD: Justice!

PROTESTER: When do we want it?


AMY GOODMAN: In July 2015, Democracy Now! interviewed all three co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement: Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza. This is Alicia.

ALICIA GARZA: The Black Lives Matter movement has to, by its very nature, be intersectional, because of the complexities of who Black people are in this country and throughout the world. There is nothing separate about wages from Black life and the survival of Black people than police violence and police terrorism. We even still have a situation in this country where we have Black workers who are not covered by federal labor protections, like domestic workers and farmworkers. So we certainly can’t just look at the issues of police violence. Police violence is the tip of the iceberg when it relates to the conditions overall of Black people across the globe.

AMY GOODMAN: In 2015, Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh and I and the team were in Paris for the historic U.N. climate summit. While in France, we traveled an hour and a half north to the city of Calais, site of the largest refugee camp in France. Six to seven thousand people were camped out in makeshift tents in what was known as “The Jungle.”

MAJD: My name is Majd. I’m from Syria. I’m here, like everyone. I’m a refugee, escaped from the war. … Everyone is fighting in my country, yes. So, I escaped from the war. I don’t want to be dead for nothing.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re just back from Majd’s tent, where he lives with two other men. And we’re now on the street of, well, makeshift restaurants. There’s a barbershop. This is the Kabul Café. And right here, as we’re going in, is a map of the whole camp.

SIKANDAR: My name is Sikandar. … I’m from Afghanistan.

AMY GOODMAN: The map of this camp, it’s like a map of the world, or a part of the world.


AMY GOODMAN: It’s a map of where refugees are from. Most of these countries have been bombed by the United States.

SIKANDAR: I really didn’t think about it. The map of The Jungle is looking like the map of the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan.

SIKANDAR: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s true. I didn’t think about it, but, yeah, it’s true.

SIDIQ HUSAIN KHIL: My name is Sidiq Husain Khil, and I am from Afghanistan.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, what do you think the U.S. should be doing now?

SIDIQ HUSAIN KHIL: You know, U.S. is just increasing the war. Actually, U.S. don’t want to finish the war. It’s their game. It’s the game of George W. Bush, Obama and all the European Union. They don’t want to finish that.

AMY GOODMAN: In September 2016, Democracy Now! traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to document the historic Indigenous uprising against the Dakota Access pipeline.

WATER PROTECTOR 1: Criminals! You guys are criminals! Go get your money somewhere else!

WATER PROTECTOR 2: Yeah, you! Yeah, you!

AMY GOODMAN: We’re standing at the construction site of the Dakota Access pipeline. It looks like there are at least three bulldozers that are, to people’s surprise, at this moment, actually bulldozing the land. There’s a helicopter above. There’s security here. And hundreds of people have been marching up, when they heard that the construction site is actually active right now.

WATER PROTECTOR 3: It’s not too late to go home!

WATER PROTECTOR 4: Yeah, that’s what you’re doing to it!

WATER PROTECTOR 5: You’re raping our mother!

AMY GOODMAN: People have gone through the fence — men, women and children. The bulldozers are still going. And they’re yelling at the men in hard hats. One man in a hard hat threw one of the protesters down. And they’re marching over the dirt mounds. Some of the security have dogs.

WATER PROTECTOR 6: Amy Goodman, this guy maced me in the face.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Why don’t — can you show us the label?

WATER PROTECTOR 7: Look, it’s all over my sunglasses. Just maced me in the face. Dog bit him right now.

VICTOR PUERTAS: Throwed the dog on me. This [bleep] throwed the dog on me. Look at this. Look at this. You throwed the dog on me. No, you did it on purpose, man.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me see. Let me see.

VICTOR PUERTAS: Over there, with that dog. I was like walking. Throwed the dog on me and straight, even without any warning. You know? Look at this. Look at this.

AMY GOODMAN: That dog bit you?

VICTOR PUERTAS: Yeah, the dog did it, you know? Look at this. It’s there. It’s all bleeding.

AMY GOODMAN: Ma’am, your dog just bit this protester. Your dog just bit that protester. Are you telling the dogs to bite the protesters?

WATER PROTECTOR 7: She keeps siccing them after people.

AMY GOODMAN: The dog has blood in its nose and its mouth.

Why are you letting their — her dog go after the protesters? It’s covered in blood!


AMY GOODMAN: Only a few hours before the attack, we sat down with Standing Rock Sioux tribal historian LaDonna Brave Bull Allard.

LADONNA BRAVE BULL ALLARD: I don’t understand why we are expendable in America. I keep telling people, we do our best. We have always been here. This is our land. Why should we fight to live on our own land? Why should we have to do that over and over again? … So we have no choice. We have to stand. No matter what happens, we have to stand to save the water.

AMY GOODMAN: North Dakota issued an arrest warrant for me after the Democracy Now! video of the dogs attacking Indigenous water protectors went viral. We returned for the arraignment, but they would ultimately drop the charges.

In late 2016, Democracy Now! became the first foreign television news crew to get into occupied Western Sahara in years.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re in occupied Western Sahara, in Laayoune, the capital of what many call Africa’s last colony. Morocco occupied Western Sahara more than 40 years ago, in 1975.

Western Sahara, where peaceful protesters, led by women, are beaten in the streets. Thousands have been tortured, imprisoned, killed and disappeared while resisting the Moroccan occupation.

SULTANA KHAYA: [translated] He jabbed right at my eye with his baton. I was yelling at him, “Hey, you Moroccan! You pulled out my eye!”

AMY GOODMAN: Where natural resources are plundered, from phosphates to fish.

HMAD HAMMAD: [translated] I say that our damnation comes from the natural resources we have here. If it wasn’t for these natural resources, Morocco would never have invaded Western Sahara.

AMY GOODMAN: Where a massive wall divides a people, the Sahrawi, the native population, denied a vote for self-determination.

ELGHALIA DJIMI: [translated] If we don’t speak out, especially us, as victims who have suffered all of this, if we don’t speak out and defend our cause, this problem will remain.

AMY GOODMAN: In the days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, Democracy Now! closely covered the growing protest movement, from the historic Women’s March to protests over Trump’s Muslim ban. This is Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh at Kennedy Airport.

PROTESTERS: Let them in! Let them in! Let them in! Let them in! Let them in! Let them in!

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We’re outside New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport, outside Terminal 4, where thousands of people have gathered to protest the Trump administration’s executive order, which has prevented many people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, more than 10 of them here detained at Terminal 4. Thousands of people here are chanting “Let them in!” “This is what democracy looks like!” and “Refugees welcome here.” Let’s talk to some of the people here.

MOUMITA AHMED: My name is Moumita Ahmed, and I’m here today because, as a Muslim woman, I find this ban extremely just personal to me, because I have family members who are on visa, and now they’re — they are at risk of not being able to leave or enter the country.

PROTESTERS: No hate! No fear! Refugees are welcome here!

RUHI KAPURIA: My name is Ruhi Kapuria [phon.], and I’m from Long Island, Valley Stream.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: What are your concerns for Muslims who are here already in the U.S. under a Trump administration, under this administration?

RUHI KAPURIA: Well, I would say, all my Muslim brothers and sisters, there’s nothing to fear. Your actions are more important. Keep doing what you’re doing, and we are not going to do anything wrong. We are going to be unapologetic Muslims.

PROTESTERS: Whose country? Our country! Whose country? Our country!

AMY GOODMAN: In 2018, the Democracy Now! team reported from the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Brownsville, Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Behind me, the border wall, that stretches, in sections, all the way through California. This Rio Grande Valley is the epicenter of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that’s led to the forcible separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents.

People who are at the Keep Families Together rally here in Brownsville have now walked forward to enter the federal courthouse here in Brownsville, where so many migrants have been taken, so many migrants who have been separated from their children. They’re demanding to go inside. Police are here, security of the Department of Homeland Security. We’ll see what happens.

JULIE MADRIGAL: My name is Julie Madrigal. We’re here to request access to the court hearings that are taking place. So, that’s the main reason we’re here. We want to be allowed into the hearings at this moment.

PROTESTERS: If they don’t get it, shut it down! If she don’t get it, shut it down! If he don’t get it, shut it down!

JUANITA VALDEZ-COX: We’re about to enter the federal courthouse to see the treatment of the children and the parents, to see — because Trump has said that the parents can’t — they won’t be separating the children, but Trump also said that they shouldn’t even have court or lawyers or judges.

PROTESTERS: ¡Sí se puede! ¡Sí se puede! ¡Sí se puede!

AMY GOODMAN: On election night 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave Democracy Now! one of her first interviews as she was elected to Congress.

REP.-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I do believe that our president has abdicated his responsibility as a leader of all people in the United States. He has very clearly drawn lines into which Americans he champions and which Americans he doesn’t. And that is why I feel we have a very important duty to not only fight against the spread of antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, but that we need to affirmatively champion the causes of these communities and our neighbors, because this is a — this is a very dangerous time in our democracy, and this is a very dangerous administration that we cannot take for granted. And we need to make sure that we are shoring up support of these communities in very tangible ways.

AMY GOODMAN: Weeks later, December 2018, Democracy Now! traveled to Poland for the U.N. climate summit, where I spoke with then-15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in her first broadcast interview in the United States.

GRETA THUNBERG: Because what we do now, future generations can’t undo in the future. We are deciding right now how we want our future to look like.

AMY GOODMAN: And when did you decide climate change was the issue you wanted to devote your life to?

GRETA THUNBERG: I mean, I have read a lot about it. And one thing that I found very scary is tipping points, that once we reach tipping points, then there’s no going back. Then we start a chain reaction beyond our control. And that is very scary. And so that I thought, instead of worrying about how future might turn out, you should try to change it while you still can. So that’s what I wanted to do.

AMY GOODMAN: And we end our 25th anniversary special with the words of Angela Davis, speaking in June 2020, just weeks after Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd, sparking racial justice protests across the country and around the world.

ANGELA DAVIS: This is an extraordinary moment. I have never experienced anything like the conditions we are currently experiencing, the conjuncture created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recognition of the systemic racism that has been rendered visible under these conditions because of the disproportionate deaths in Black and Latinx communities. And this is a moment I don’t know whether I ever expected to experience.

AMY GOODMAN: Those are just some of the highlights from the first 25 years of Democracy Now! We’ll be celebrating our 25th anniversary online, hopefully with you, on the evening of December 7th at 8 p.m. Eastern with a virtual event featuring Angela Davis, Arundhati Roy, Noam Chomsky, Winona LaDuke, plus others, with musical performances by Lila Downs and Tom Morello. Visit democracynow.org for details.

We want to thank the thousands of people who have helped us over these 25 years. What an honor it has been to work with all of you, and how many years more we look forward to. With my colleagues Juan González and Nermeen Shaikh, we thank you all for being with us for these 25 years. I’m Amy Goodman.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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