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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  July 17, 2013 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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07/17/13 07/17/13 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is democracy now! must stand our ground to ensure our laws reduce violence and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent. >> attorney general eric holder says it is time to push back against stand your ground laws nationwide and calls for the department of justice to file civil rights charges against george zimmerman for the killing of unarmed teenager trayvon martin.
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we will speak with michelle alexander, author of "the new jim crow." >> the appearance of racial equality that barack obama election has afforded, serves to deeply disturbing, underlying racial reality, which is that large segments, a majority of african-american men in some urban areas are either under the control of the criminal justice system are branded felons for life, blocked in a permanent second-class status. >> and what happened at trayvon martin, and the like a punishment faced by his killer, is not unique area did we will look at a report by the malcolm x grassroots movement that found at least 100 36 unarmed african americans were killed by police and security over the course of 2012. go to california were
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prisoners have entered the 10th day of a hunger strike calling for better conditions -- many of them held in solitary confinement for over a decade. today, july 16, 2013, 2493 inmates in 15 state prisons are participating in a mass hunger strike. 201 inmates in seven state prisons refuse to go to work today. >> all of that and more coming up. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. protests are continuing nationwide in the aftermath of the week and acquittal of george zimmerman for the killing of trayvon martin. indreds of people marched los angeles and san francisco on tuesday night for the fourth straight day. and washington, d.c., the reverend al sharpton gathered with other civil rights leaders outside the justice department to call for rallies in 100 cities this weekend demanding justice for trayvon. it is nowbe clear,
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because of these laws and upheld by a jury in this trial where anyone walking, committing no crime, can be followed or approached by another civilian and they can use deadly force and say was self-defense. that is something that is frightening and cannot be allowed to sustain itself in our society. >> and florida, protesters have begun a sit in and the governor's office in tallahassee. organizers with the group dream defenders want him to call a special legislative session to repeal florida's stand your ground law. they vow to remain until their concerns are addressed. demonstrators rallied tuesday the florida department of justice field office in gainesville as well. speaking tuesday tuesday at the naacp annual convention in
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orlando, attorney general eric said it is time to push back against stand your ground laws nationwide. >> by allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety. the list of resulting tragedies is long, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent. it is our collective obligation. we must stand our ground to ensure our laws reduce violence and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent. >> the music legend stevie wonder has announced he is boycotting florida and all other states with stand your ground laws in the aftermath of george zimmerman's acquittal. during a performance in canada, stevie wonder said he would no longer perform in florida until stand your ground is repealed. , until thed today stand your ground law is abolished in florida, i will never perform their again.
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[applause] wherever i find that law exists, i will not perform in that state or that part of the world. [applause] >> the loan juror from george zimmerman's trial to publicly speak out since the controversy, on tuesday, juror b37 as she is known told cnn's anderson cooper she thinks trayvon martin's killing was justified. >> in your heart and in your head, your 100% committed that george zimmerman and taking out his gun and pulling the trigger did nothing wrong. >> i am 101%. that he should have done what he did, except for the things he did before. >> you mean he shouldn't have gotten out of the car, he shouldn't have pursued trayvon martin, but in the final
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analysis, in the final struggle -- >> when the end entity and -- >> he was justified. >> he he was justified in shooting trayvon martin. >> in a statement, four other jurors of the six woman jury from the trial sought to distance themselves from the comments saying the opinions of juror b37 or her own. we will have more on the aftermath of the george zimmerman verdict later in the broadcast. edward snowden has formally apply for temporary asylum in russia. snowden has been stranded in russia unable to travel to latin america where three countries have offered him refuge. on tuesday, russia lawyer who helped prepare his application said he fears returning to the u.s. it's objecting in the torture were even the death penalty. he is being persecuted by the united states of america or rather by the u.s. government. that is what he wrote. he fears for his life, for his safety. he fears torture or the death
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penalty can be used against him. >> by seeking temporary asylum rather than political asylum, snowden technically won't need the personal approval of russian president vladimir putin to order -- in order to stay. vladimir putin has said snowden can remain so long as he stops leaking u.s. secrets. and washington, d.c., press secretary jay carney renewed the administration's demand for snowden's extradition. he said snowden is neither an activist or a dissident. >> our position is mr. snowden ought to be expelled and return to the united states, and that he should not be allowed to engage in further international travel except as necessary to return to the united states. if he is not a human rights activist, he is not a dissident, he is accused of leaking classified information. he has been charged with three felony counts related to that. and for those reasons, he should
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be returned to the u.s. >> the secret court overseeing government surveillance is order the obama administration to release the 2008 decision authorizing the internet spying program prism. yahoo had asked the fisa court for permission to disclose prism after edward snowden revealed its existence last month. snowden has alleged prism cap struggling to the servers of the nation's internet giants to collect millions of communications in the u.s. and abroad. the white house has until late next month to decide which parts of the decision will be published. hasalition of 19 groups filed a lawsuit challenging the nsa's whole still collection of phone records. brought by the electronic frontier foundation, the suit accuses the nsa are violating the groups right of association through the collection of metadata on all u.s. calls. it is the first legal action to directly target the nsa since its massive surveillance operations were revealed.
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republicans have dropped their blockade of a number of president obama's appointees in return for preservation of the senate filibuster. senate majority leader harry reid had threatened the so- called nuclear option of using democrat senate advantage to push through new rules ending republicans ability to stall presidential picks and leap top positions unpeeled. after republicans backed down, the senate voted to confirm richard cordray is the first permanent director of the consumer financial protection board. the deal means confirmation votes were six other nominees including thomas perez for labor secretary and gina mccarthy to head the environmental protection agency. in return, democrats agreed to replace two obama picks for the national labor relations board appointed during the senate recess. the new pixar nancy schiffer an cio, and with the afl- the chief counsel to the current nlrb chair mark peers spread the united nations continues the conflict is fueling this worse
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refugee crisis since rwanda genocide. ofonio iteris said most series 1.8 million refugees have fled since the beginning of the year. >> there are nearly 1.8 syrian refugees known to us in the region. two thirds of them have fled theous -- serious and beginning a year, an average of over 6000 people a day. we have not seen it escalated such a frightening rate since the rwandan genocide almost 20 years ago. this has been going on for much longer than anyone feared with humanitarian consequences. >> the official u.n. death toll for serious more than two-year conflict is near 93,000. egypt's interim government sworn in its first cabinet since the ouster of president mohamed morsi earlier this month.
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the army general who led the defensestays on as the minister the cabinet includes three women with no positions are held by members of the muslim brotherhood or other islamist parties. the muslim brotherhood says it does not recognize the new government, calling it illegitimate. more than 100ina, people, most of them women, were arrested during the 11th weekly moral monday protest at the state legislature. the action focused on the republican-controlled legislation to curb abortion rights and the not guilty verdict in the george zimmerman trial. it came just days after the north carolina house approved a sweeping anti-choice restrictions onto a motorcycle safety bill. the state senate is expected to pass the bill and north carolina governor pat mccrory has said he will sign it despite his head pain promise not approve new abortion restrictions. more than 800 people had been arrested in the weeks of protests organized by the naacp
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against republican agenda in north carolina,, including cuts to social programs am a restrictions on voting rights, and the rejection of medicaid expansion president obama's health care law. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. prisoners in california have entered their 10th day of a nationwide -- statewide hunger strike meant to call attention to what they say are inhumane conditions. an activist to met tuesday with men leading the strike in pelican bay prison confirmed one of them have lost about 10 pounds. authorities told democracy now! the number of participants now on strike is hovering around 2500. this is california department of corrections and rehabilitation spokesperson terry thorton. today, july 16, 2013, 2493 inmates in 15 state prisons
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are participating in a mass hunger strike, 200 one inmates in seven state prisons refuse to go to work today. >> the man's include a call for adequate and nutritious food and in and to group punishment. another key demand is a pushed in the long-term solitary in the state's high-security special housing units known as shus. more than 3000 prisoners are held in the isolation units with no human contact and no windows. some of them for more than a decade. prison spokesperson terry thornton told democracy now! those who continue to join the strike could face additional punishment. asthe inmates identified leading and perpetuating mass hunger strike, the work stoppage, this disturbance -- they can be subject to disciplinary action and it can include removal from general population housing and being placed in administrative segregation unit. that is pursuant to state law
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and the hunger strike policy. prisoners at pelican bay issued a new statement tuesday saying 14 of them had been placed in administrative segregation last week in response to their protest. they wrote -- >> meanwhile over the weekend, a rally to support the hunger strike through hundreds of around california and more events are scheduled this week. for more we go to los angeles where we are joined by dolores canalis who helped start the group california families to abolish solitary confinement. has beenohn martinez in solitary confinement at pelican bay for more than 12 years. after confidential informants labeled him a gang member. ispittsburgh, jules lobel
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with us, lead attorney representing prisoners at ccr's lawsuit challenging long-term solitary confinement in california prisons. we did invite the california department of corrections to join us, but they declined citing the ongoing lawsuit against them by our guest. in a moment we will play some of their comments from interviews recorded on tuesday. we want to welcome you both to democracy now! aboutlobel, can you talk the latest a man's of the prisoners? >> their main demand is to end indefinite solitary confinement, which has resulted in a most 100 of them being there for not over a decade, but two decades. the are put there not because they have been any misconduct in prison, they have not an assault or other disciplinary misconduct, but simply because they labeled as either a gang member or even simply having some vague association with a gang free at such as having some
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artwork of an aztec warrior that gang people say is related to again or having a tattoo are being found on some anonymous list of so-called gang members area did what they want, and their main demand, is to put an end to that system, they are against solitary confinement in general, but if someone is going to be put there, they should be put in for some definite period of time, not indefinitely, and because they have committed some bad act. >> jules lobel, why is it they are placed indefinitely in solitary confinement? this is a highly unusual practice. how and when did it began and on what grounds is it permissible? 1980s.egan in the what happens is, if you commit murder in a california prison, you're given a hearing, due process, and if found guilty, you're given a definite term
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which can be no more than five years in solitary. on the other hand, if you're simply labeled by some gang investigator is a member of some gang, and that can be son -- done simply because you have artwork or a tattoo or have a birthday card from someone who is in a gang, anything like that, you are then given an indefinite sentence, which can go on for years and years and years and decades. it is that system, labeling someone as a gang affiliates and giving them an indefinite sentence, that the prisoners want ended. to find?e these gangs these are gangs within the prison or outside the prison? >> they are defined by membership of gangs inside the prison, but most of the people are not even seen as members. they are simply seen as "associates," which can mean you have a friend and a gang or you speak to someone in it gang --
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in a gang. >> how does solitary confinement in california compare and other places in the country and in the world? there's another hunger strike going on right now, jules lobel, at guantánamo. >> exactly. -- isnter is in course involved in representing people in both contexts. shane bauer, who was imprisoned for four months in solitary in iran, when he was finally citizen, an american imprisoned in iran, he went and visited pelican bay. , what is them difference between this and what you experienced in iran? he thought and said, the difference is, i had a window. my clients have spent, in some cases, over two decades in a
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cell with no windows. they are not allowed any phone calls. the only way i can get a phone call is through court order. otherwise, they are allowed no legal phone calls, no family phone calls, no phone calls from friends. this is a more to connie and situation than most situations -- draconian situation than most in the world. about 80,000 people in the u.s. are put in solitary. in california, they place people without windows or phone calls, trying to totally isolate them. as thecracy now! california department of corrections spokesperson terry thornton to describe the reforms implemented since the last prisoners hunger strike in 2011. >> the new strategy places an emphasis on documented behavior is something the inmates were concerned about in 2011. it provides individual accountability. it is behavior-based,
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incorporates additional elements of due process through the validation system. we have a new step down program that gives inmates another way out of security housing units, and they don't even have to disavow their prison gang to do it read they just have to refrain from criminal gang behavior. they need to demonstrate their commitment and their willingness to refrain from gang behavior. you cannot really have these discussions about the security housing unit without looking at the issue of gangs in the state of california. inmates in california prisons have been involved in gang activity, have been entrenched in gang behavior going back to the 1950s. many of these prison gangs performed in the 1950s and 1960s area did the department has had to respond to this for decades. there is no state probably in the united states that has had to deal with the issue of gangs as much as california has.
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in fact, last year i sat in on a briefing by the federal bureau of investigation, by the sacramento police department, and a talked about the activity of more than 400 gangs just here in the city of sacramento, in the city where i live. gangs are huge problem. in many of the street gangs, they are subservient to prison gangs, the shot callers who are incarcerated. so ccr as a law-enforcement agency has had to respond to that issue. fox how do you respond to those critiques that perhaps the way in inmate can be labeled involved in having gang activity could be expanded instead of contracted? >> one of the biggest reforms the department implemented is that security threat group associates, which is the majority of inmates that are housed in security housing units, will no longer be placed in a shus based solely upon her
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validation to their security unless there is a nexus to confront gang activity. moving we use now are violations. in inmate can be validated -- using the national terminology the department is using, to move toward the restriction of any group who threatens security. it could be a prison gang, a street gang, it could be a disruptive group. it could even be a terror group. in this post-9/11 world we live in, there are all kinds of groups to threaten the safety of people both inside of our present and our communities. but validation alone will not be used to place in inmate administrative lead into a security housing unit. it used to be the department did that read the department is no longer doing that area did we have improve the validation
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system as well. -- moving toward this behavior-based system and using rule violation reports adds the extra layers of due process because any time in inmate violates a rule, any role in prison, there is this whole process the inmate has to be served the notice that there has been a possible violation, probable cause. there has to be an investigation. there has to be a hearing. so we are using a process that that already-- exists into how we validate inmates. >> that is california department of corrections and rehabilitation spokesperson terry thornton. jules lobel, your response? orwellian.uous and it reminds be of alice in alice in wonderland. says they now have moved to a behavior-based system. they are using behavior in way
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that nobody would recognize. system wherent a you can get put into shu and you get out based on whether or not you have disciplinary violations. what california defined as behavior is whether your behavior such as having artwork or tattoos, that they see as behavior and you could still be kept in the shu or put their for simply having tattoos under their new system or having our work under their new system. who areo clients associates and have spent more than 15 years in solitary. all they have done is have some artwork in their cell. they are still there under this new program. nothing is happen to them. and it won't because they claim behavior is not behavior meaning you have done some bad act -- which i would see it as a nothing normal americans would
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but behavior means have you assaulted someone, have you killed someone, have you created a riot? do youan as behavior, have artwork in your cell or do you have a tattoo? that is your behavior. it is not behavior in terms of to spend area misconduct. 10 years ago, california instituted a reform where they said you will be able to get out if you are inactive. and every six years, which is an enormously long time, they review people to see whether -- my guys are sitting there in their cell saying, we are inactive, we are not engaging in any disciplinary misconduct. but they define active as simply having a birthday card or having a tattoo or having artwork. therefore, telephone is a master at using words -- california as a master at using words that
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normal americans would not recognize. >> we want to bring in dolores canales into the conversation. she is the mother of john martinez and a member of the california families to abolish solitary confinement. can you speak about the experience of your son john martinez and his participation in this case in the letter he has recently written? >> yes, good morning, thank you for having me. my son has been held in solitary confinement going on almost 13 years. he spent 10 years in corcoran state prison and then transferred about two and half years ago to pelican bay. my son is a self-proclaimed joe house lawyer. he has studied. what i have found through this organization that we have found it is numerous prisoners that are housed in the solitary confinement unit are actually , areouse lawyers
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knowledgeable in the law, that utilize the appellate process that terry thornton herself was talking about that they have within the prison system. this appellate process that she was also speaking of, you're not even legally entitled to enter into the court until you you have exhausted the system within, which means filing numerous levels of appeals and being heard by their same officers read so often times they are delayed, are actually denied and you just have to keep going through this you have exhausted that whole system. for me, since my son has been transferred to pelican bay state hard., it has been it has been really hard because of course you have society that says, who cares about the prisoner and let them die in their. any of the system that was designed to create -- and any other system that was was designed to create suicidal
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tendencies or go insane. dr. patterson's report says it all in his 354-page report where he lists 34 suicides throughout the year of 2011 that all took place in solitary confinement. in either the minister enters or the sick -- my son is housed maybe were the prisoner before him may have taken his light or went mad. my son is housed in a cell that jules lobel was saying, there is no window. you don't know when day transitions into night. you just go by the food tray they slide you. is there breakfast or dinner tray. even their yard is just exists of another cell. they bring them out and put them in another cell surrounded by brick walls and this guy covering covered in plexiglas. -- and the sky is covered by
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plexiglas. i feel myself at times as if i am buried alive, i wake up at night and cannot breathe and i have anxiety because i just be ine what it is like to day in and day out in a cell like that. >> when was the last time that john saw natural light? >> it was on the bus ride, about two and a half years ago, when he was transferred to pelican bay. >> why is he in solitary confinement? >> it is not for any rules they use a system of things like other prisoners statements against them. their name could be in a note read they didn't even have to have the note. their name could be in a note, things like that. it is an accumulation of things like that. >> how do you know he is on
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hunger strike? >> i went to go see him fourth of july weekend. i was very emotional because i knew july 8 a were going to start a third hunger strike. i was just asking him, please, don't do it. or maybe just do it for two or three days. you don't want to see your loved one go through this. he looked at me and said, mom, i like the area did he said, i love food. then he said, we have used our 602's. you tell us another option? can you tell us what we can do that would make a difference to change things? he says, because if you have a better solution, i would love to hear it. i sat there and just stared. what we hear over and over with our organization is we get letters that the men are still going to their committee reviews
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to be reviewed to be released, and that igi is still saying, you have a drawing or we saw your name in a note or yet another prisoner's name or things like that, and they're it will be retained until the next six-your review. they are still using the same process. >> democracy now! as the california correctional healthcare services spokesperson whether any of the prisoners could be force-fed as they continue their hunger strike. >> there is only two instances in which this could occur as to force-feeding. if someone has not clearly stated their intentions for danced directives and they were to lose consciousness, then we will do everything that we can to protect life. pretty much whatever we can to keep them alive for it the second instance in which someone would be force-fed is if the
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participant is deemed unable to give informed consent. the institution would have to obtain a court order to treat the participant three at however, force-feeding shall not take place in anywhere but a licensed healthcare facility by licensed clinical staff. >> is there any special treatment or change for procedures for inmates who are in shu were held in solitary confinement conditions? >> all inmates are treated the same way per our policy, however, if someone is in segregated housing unit, then due to security reasons, we would have to possibly treat them in their cells or they would be treated more in a different area. a may not go to the clinic vomit may be observed in their cell. at is more of a security issue. , can you comment
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on what she said regarding force-feeding hunger strikers at pelican bay? >> i would hope they're going to do everything they can to keep people alive because my clients want to lead, -- want to eat and don't want to die, but they're prepared to dive they have to, but they don't want to. i hope the california procedure does what they can to keep people alive in the situation. >> how long do prisoners tell you they're going to go on with this hunger strike? >> they tell me they will go on as long as it takes because 50 years from now, we are going to look back at the system in california and other states and say, this is state sanctioned torture. it is unbelievable we put up with this and allow this to happen in our name. said, dolores canales these folks have done everything they can and they say this is their last straw, their last effort. >> jules lobel, thank you for
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being with us, president for the center of constitutional rights, lead attorney representing aisoners at pelican bay in lawsuit challenging long-term solitary confinement in california prisons. also a professor the university of pittsburgh school of law. we also want to thank dolores canales who helped start the group california families to abolish solitary confinement. her son john martinez has been held in solitary confinement for more than 12 years. she was speaking to us from los angeles. we will be back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!,
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democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. pressure is mounting on the justice department to bring civil rights charges against george zimmerman, after he was acquitted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of unarmed african-american teenager trayvon martin. during the news conference tuesday, reverend al sharpton and other civil rights leaders called for rallies in 100 cities this weekend to demand justice for trayvon. sharpton also denounced florida's stand your ground law, which has since spread to about 30 other states, and allows people fearing for their lives to use deadly force without retreating from a confrontation. >> let us be clear, it is now because of these laws and upheld by a jury in this trial where anyone walking, committing no crime, can be followed or approached by another civilian
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,nd they can use deadly force and say it was self-defense. that is something that is frightening and cannot be allowed to sustain itself in our society. attorneyzimmerman's did not directly use florida's stand your ground defense, the law impacted the instructions to the jury, who were told he -- on tuesday, u.s. attorney general eric holder condemned stand your ground laws during his address to the annual convention of the naacp. >> separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation's attention, it is time to question laws that senselessly
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expand the concept of self- defense and so dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods. [applause] these laws try to fix something that was never broken. there has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if -- and the "if" is important -- if no safe retreat is available. we must examine laws that eliminated, since in age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely, i allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations escalate in public for such laws undermine public safety. the list of resulting tragedies is long. unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent.
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it is our collective obligation. we must stand our ground to ensure -- [laughter] [applause] we must stand our ground to ensure that our laws reduce violence and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent. >> that was u.s. attorney general eric holder addressing the annual convention of the naacp in orlando, florida, not far from where trayvon martin was killed. on tuesday, protesters began a sit in at florida governor rick scott office to demand justice for trayvon three at the group known as the dream defenders is calling for special legislative session to address florida's stand your ground law. they vowed not to vacate the governor's address and other
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concerns are addressed. stevie wonder has also come out saying he will not perform in florida or any other state with a law on its books. >> for more we go to columbus, ohio, where we're joined by michelle alexander. she is a civil rights advocate the author of the best selling book, "the new jim crow: mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness." --ently she wrote it is a mindset that views black men and boys as nothing but a threat, good for nothing, up to no good no matter who they are what they're doing. it is the zimmerman mindset that has brick the penal system unprecedented in world history, and relegated millions to permanent underclass to. >> i think it is important that george zimmerman not only tilden is this an man, but that trayvon martin would be alive today if
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he had been born white. white, it isd been beyond any reasonable doubt that he would not have been stopped by zimmerman and he would not have found himself in a fight with george zimmerman. there would have been no fight, no trial, no verdict, no dead boy. as we reflect on what this democracyns for our and our racial presence, i think it is critically important that we not allow ourselves to get bogged down in the details of who said what, when. but rather step back and consider ourselves -- what this zimmerman mindset, a mindset that views a boy walking in his never led caring nothing but candy and iced tea as a threat. this mindset that used black men and boys as a perpetual problem
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to be dealt with. this mindset has infected our criminal justice system, infected our schools, has infected our politics in ways that have had disastrous consequences, birthing a prison system unprecedented in world history, and stripping millions of basic -- millions of people of basic civil and human rights once they have been branded criminals and felons. it is this mindset that some of us defined largely by race and class are unworthy of our basic care and concern and to be dealt with harshly, written off with impunity, that has led to the birth of the prison industrial complex and i think a great deal of indifference to the plight of those who are locked up in cages in prisons, but also locked out of jobs and opportunities and
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find themselves trapped in ghetto-like communities. >> you have also suggested that if zimmerman were actually a police officer, we would not be having this conversation. could you explain what you mean by that and what the implications of that are? >> absolutely. there has been an outpouring of anger and concern because of the actions of george zimmerman, a private citizen who profiled a young boy in pursued him and tried to confront him perhaps, but what george zimmerman did is no different than what police officers do every day as a matter of standard operating procedure. we have tolerated this kind of and therofiling stopping and frisking of young black and brown men. we have tolerated this kind of conduct for years and years.
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recognizing that it violates basic civil rights, but allowing it to go on. the reality is, it is a crime for a private person to go up to another private person armed with a loaded weapon and them,nt them i'm a stalk perhaps search their body to see what they may have on them. that is a crime read it is assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery or aggravated assault. but a police officer does the same thing, it is called stop and frisk. as we know, stop and frisk policies are routine nationwide. in new york city alone, more than 600,000 people are stopped and frisk every year, overwhelmingly black and brown men. nearly all are found to be
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innocent of any crime or infraction, and are harassed simply because they seem out of place, seem like they're up to no good. the same kinds of stereotypes and hunches that george zimmerman used when deciding that trayvon martin seemed like a threat in his neighborhood. law enforcement officers the time. i believe trayvon martin's life might well have been spared if many of us who care about racial justice had raised our voices much, much sooner and much, much more loudly about the routine stereotyping and profiling of young black men and boys. it is because we have tolerated these practices for so long that george zimmerman felt
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emboldened, i believe, to act in a discriminatory mindset that night. >> i want to ask you about this .ase of morris alexander she's the 31-year-old african- american mother of three who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing what she maintains was a warning shot at her abusive husband. she has insisted she was defending herself when she fired a gun into a wall near her husband. alexander had turned out a plea bargain that would have seen her jailed for three years. she attempted to use florida's stand your ground law in defense, but a march 2012, the jury convicted her after only 12 minutes of deliberation and she was sentenced to 20 years behind bars under a florida law known 10-20-life that carries a mandatory minimum for searching gun crimes, regardless of the circumstances. this was angela corey prosecuting, the special prosecutor in the trayvon martin
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trial. michelle alexander, can you talk about this florida law and the issue of mandatory minimums in general? >> absolutely. the case you just described is a stark example of the discriminatory application of the stand your ground law itself. here is a woman firing shots in the air to protect her self from what she believes is an abusive spouse, and she winds up getting 20 years while george zimmerman is released scot-free after pursuing someone based on racial stereotypes and assumptions of criminality. received a 20 year sentence because of harsh mandatory minimum sentences the sentences that exist in florida and in states nationwide.
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mandatory minimum sentences given no discretion to judges about the amount of time the person should receive once a guilty verdict is rendered. harsh minimum sentences for drug offenses were passed by congress in the 1980s as part of the war on drugs and the get tough movement, sentences that have helped to fuel our nations prison boom and have also greatly aggravated racial disparities, particularly in the application a mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine. it is the zimmerman mindset, the mindset that some people reviewed largely by race and class are a problem that must be dealt with harshly and just walked up and throw away the key that has helped to drive the
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adoption of many of these mandatory minimum sentence laws. if we are serious about ending the zimmerman mindset, we must be committed to much more than ending vigilante justice. we must be committed to repealing all of the mandatory minimum sentence laws reflect that kind of zimmerman mindset, the mentality that some people , our simply be disposed of problem, not people who have problems, but people who are the embodiment of problems that could be treated like they are throwaways. >> i want to correct, her name is marissa alexander, the woman who was sentenced to 20 years in jail for shooting a gun. >> michelle alexander, you heard the comments of eric holder. what do you think the justice department should be doing in response to this and in response to some of the trends you have spoken of in the criminal justice system?
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to the georget zimmerman case, i think they are right to continue their investigation into whether federal civil rights charges can be brought against george zimmerman. i think it is highly unlikely the justice department will actually file suit against george zimmerman, but i'm encouraged they're actually continuing the investigation. but simply investigating this one case does not even begin to scratch the surface of what must be done. although attorney general eric holder does not have the authority to repeal mandatory minimum sentences and undo the helped ton that has create the prison industrial complex, what he can do is insist we have a national debate and dialogue.
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he can say the passage of these mandatory minimum sentences was wrong and that it was done with the discriminatory mindset, that it was down with an attitude of overwhelming in punitive this towards poor people in general and poor people of color in particular that has had disastrous consequences for poor communities of color and that we has been the harm that done and repeal these laws so that a more restorative and rivulet date of approach to criminal -- rehabilitative approach to criminal justice might be possible. he can do this area did this is a conversation that i think he is well-positioned to lead and began, but as we have seen with president obama's administration although both the president and attorney general eric holder often say they want to encourage frank dialogue about race, we
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have seen relatively little in terms of actual initiative and leadership shown around issues of racial justice. i would hope in the months that follow the trayvon martin tragedy that we will see much more courage and boldly to ship coming from the justice department. >> shall alexander, i would like you to stay with us. we're going to take a quick break. she is the author of "the new jim crow: mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness." then we will come back to talk about a new study, african- americans killed by police or security guards just in the last year. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. >> we turn now to report that that examines how what happened to trayvon martin and the lack of punishment phase by his killer is not unique. in 2012,ey conducted the malcolm x grassroots movement found at least 136 unarmed african-american s were killed by police
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, security guards, and self- appointed vigilantes over the course of a single year. one black person killed every 28 hours. >> for more we're joined by kali , "let youror of motto be resistance: a handbook on organizing new afrikan and oppressed communities." his organization's report is ghetto storm,"on documenting the extradition of killing of 313 black people in 2012 read shall alexander still with us, author of "the new jim crow." , very quickly, just go through what you found. >> what we found is that this practice is very systematic throughout the country. we found police officers rarely or security guards were those who are deputized such as jurors zimmerman, are rarely if ever
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persecuted for the crimes they commit, for the killings they commit. as youd overwhelmingly, mentioned some of the figures, overwhelmingly most of the folks were killed do not have any 47%ons and the main reason, of those who were killed him at the reasoning that was offered by the police is that they felt threatened. so similar argument that you hear in the zimmerman case. this was very systematic. we also found 313 is what we do definitely verify, but we believe this is an under out. and this is primarily because the police, how they document these killings, often in the states there is no race designated. of what you can do is look at the geographic and kind of make some summaries. but the federal government really is not compiling this information. not many people are trying to
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compile this information, so there is a pretty significant gap in terms of the cold reality of looking at it segregated by race but what is action taking place in our community. ina trial began this week milwaukee, wisconsin for a case compared the trayvon martin shooting. men, john henry spinner, is facing first-degree intentional murder charges for the fatal shooting of his unarmed neighborhood, a 13-year- old african-american boy named areas simmons in may 2012. according to the criminal complaints, spinner accused the boy of stealing from his home. when simmons denied it, spinner shot him. the boy's mother witnessed her son's murder. his aunt spoke at the vigil after the shooting. >> his mom wants everyone to know he had his hands up standing in front of him when he was shot. then he turned to run and he shot him again in the back. >> after witnessing her son's
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patricia larry was reportedly forced to remain in a police car for more than an hour instead of being allowed to be with her son's body. home for theed her firearms spinner had accused the boy of stealing, but found nothing. they also arrested another of her sons on-year-old truancy violation. on monday, at least one potential juror for the spinner case was not chosen after he expressed anger over the zimmerman verdict. of the 14 jurors selected monday, only one is african- american. could you tell us more about this, kali akuno? >> recently, you see the same , particularly in the jury selection. same pattern of how the police were derelict in their duties of gathering information, how they treated the mother and the rest of her family. as if they were guilty. we see the same pattern. it speaks to the mindset of blackness,ng criminalizing black people that michelle alexander was breaking down to you. that we see it throughout the
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country and really we have to get at the heart of it and a much deeper conversation. i think the mass movement that is taking place in response is an opening shot to have that conversation, to really talk basically deal with the policies that we need to transform the stop and frisk, the war on drugs. >> michelle alexander, very quickly, before we conclude, your final comment? >> just that i think it is critically important that we think beyond traditional forms of politics. if we are serious about building a movement that will in the zimmerman mindset, that will and mass incarceration and break our nation's habit of treating black and brown men as disposable, it is going to take organizing and civil disobedience and it is going to take a commitment to movement building far beyond the
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forms of traditional advocacy that have been so prevalent in recent decades. >> michelle alexander and kali akuno, thank you for being with us. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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