tv Democracy Now LINKTV April 26, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PDT
04/26/16 04/26/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from santa fe, new mexico, this is democracy now! >> this has been a very difficult time for the rice family. there is no price that you can of the loss of a 12-year-old child. amy: $6 million. that is how much the city of cleveland has agreed to pay the
family of tamir rice to settle a federal lawsuit after cleveland police shot the 12-year-old boy dead. at the time, tamir was in a park by himself holding a toy pellet gun. but under the settlement the city admits no wrongdoing. we will speak to the family's attorney. then a year ago this week, a new york prisoner named samuel harrell died after as many as 20 corrections officers kicked, punched and threw him down a , flight of stairs. the officers were known as the beat up squad. a year later, no one has been charged in his death. >> he was my friend. he was more -- so much more than just an inmate who was brutally been the debt by 20 corrections to death bybean 20 corrections officers. we are here today because of those officers and what they took from us. amy: we will speak to samuel harrell's sister and father.
they just finished a five day hunger strike to demand action. today is the 30th anniversary of the nuclear disaster at chernobyl. all of that and more coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are broadcasting from santa fe, new mexico. in cleveland, ohio officials pay to settle a $6 million lawsuit filed by the family of tamir rice. the african-american 12-year-old was fatally shot by police in 2014 while playing with a toy pellet gun in a cleveland park. the 911 caller reported seeing him with a weapon but noted it , was probably fake. that information was not relayed to the responding officers. officer timothy loehmann shot tamir within two seconds of arriving at the scene. neither loehmann or his partner, frank garmback, administered any
first aid. when tamir's 14-year-old sister rushed to her brother's side, they tackled her to the ground, handcuffed and put her in the cruiser. tamir died the next day. last year, a grand jury failed to bring charges against either of the officers. cleveland mayor frank jackson announced the payout, which is likely the largest ever for the city in a police-related case. >> while we have settled the legal side of this in the court proceedings side of this, for $6 million, there is no price that you can put on the life of the loss of a 12-year-old child. amy: after the announcement, the head of the police union, sparked controversy by suggesting the rice family use part of their settlement to "help educate the youth of cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms." we'll speak with an attorney for tamir rice's family and a black
lives matter organizer after headlines. voters head to the polls today in connecticut, delaware, maryland, pennsylvania, and rhode island for the so-called "acela primary," nicknamed for the high-speed amtrak train that runs through the states. on the republican side, the primaries come after ohio governor john kasich and texas senator ted cruz announced plans to coordinate to defeat donald trump in three upcoming states, though the alliance appears to be unraveling already. cruz's campaign has said it will focus on the may 3 primary in indiana in order to allow kasich to compete with trump in oregon and here in new mexico. trump mocked the alliance at a stop in warwick, rhode island. it is alitics, because rigged system, because it is a corrupt enterprise, in politics you're are allowed to collude. so they colluded. actually, i was happy.
it shows how weak they are. it shows how pathetic they are. now you look at kasich, i don't think you -- did you see him? he has a news conference all the time when he is eating. i have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion. amy: democratic candidate bernie sanders rallied voters in pittsburgh, pennsylvania, saying he could triumph in today's contests if voter turnout is high. >> all over this country, what we have found is when the voter turnout is high, we do very well. [applause] ad i believe that if there is high voter turnout tomorrow, we're going to win here in pennsylvania. amy: a new survey from harvard university's institute of politics shows sanders is still the most popular candidate among young people between 18 and 29. polling director john della volpe told the "washington post" -- "he's not moving a party to the left.
he's moving a generation to the left." democratic rival hillary clinton meanwhile took aim at republican frontrunner donald trump during a campaign stop in wilmington, delaware. >> so donald trump says wages are too high in america and he doesn't support raising the minimum wage. i have said, come out of those towers named for yourself and asked a talk and listen to people. amy: clinton and trump share one thing in common in delaware -- an address known for helping companies avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. the guardian reports the two-story office building wilmington is the registered address of more than 285,000 companies, more than any other address in the world. by registering in delaware, companies can avoid taxes by shifting earnings from other states. clinton and trump both have companies registered at the address, and both have refused to explain why. billionaire environmentalist tom steyer has announced his super pac will spend at least $25
million to mobilize young people to vote. the outreach campaign will focus on the swing states of ohio, pennsylvania, iowa, colorado, nevada, new hampshire, and illinois. steyer was the single largest political donor of the 2014 midterm election cycle, spending $74 million to support democrats through his super pac, nextgen climate action. he is the biggest super pac donor of 2016 to date. a federal judge has upheld sweeping voter restrictions in north carolina which could be a , key swing state in the november election. the ruling upholds the requirement of a photo id as well as a weeklong cut in early voting and restrictions barring people from registering and voting on the same day or from registering before their 18th birthday. critics found to continue protesting the rules, which they say disproportionately impact african-americans, latinos, and the elderly.
more than 50 people were arrested at the north carolina state house monday night protesting the state's new anti-transgender law. bars transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity and nullifies local ordinances aimed at preventing anti-lgbt discrimination. opponents delivered 187,000 signatures demanding a repeal. reverend william barber denounced the law, known as house bill 2. >> hate bill 2 is not a bathroom bill. it is not a bill to protect women and children from predators. to pit cynical attempt supposedly christian values against our families best interest in our morality. amy: meanwhile, corporations and entertainers have continued to join the national outcry against hb 2. demi lovato and nick jonas have become the latest musicians to cancel shows to protest the law.
in bangladesh, a gay rights activist has been hacked to death in the capital dhaka. julhas mannan was the editor of bangladesh's only lgbt magazine. he was murdered alongside another man by a group of five or six attackers wielding machetes. the killing comes just days after a university professor was also hacked to death. a canadian man held hostage by militants in the philippines has been beheaded. john ridsdel was captured six months ago by the group abu sayyaf, which executed him after a ransom deadline passed. canadian prime minister justin trudeau condemned the killing. >> this was an act of cold-blooded murder and responsibility rests squarely with the terrorist group who took him hostage. the government of canada is committed to working with the government of the philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for this heinous act and bring them to justice. amy: a pennsylvania appeals
court has paved the way for a criminal sexual assault case against bill cosby to move forward. the court dismissed cosby's bid to have the charges thrown out in a case involving andrea constand, who says cosby drugged and assaulted her in 2004. more than 50 women have come forward to accuse cosby of sexual assaults dating back decades. an australian politician has set a river on fire to protest the gas drilling technique known as fracking. video shows green party mp jeremy buckingham leaning out of a small boat and setting the river in queensland ablaze with a lighter. >> sometimes the picture says a thousand words will stop haaaava look at this. the river in southwest queensland on fire. the fracking just a kilometer away. methane coming up. and now the river is alive. unbelievable. the most incredible thing i have seen, a tragedy in the basin.
this is the future of australia if we do not stop the fractures who want to spread -- frackers who want to spread and do this to your community. amy: and ukraine is holding commemorations today to mark the 30th anniversary of the worst nuclear disaster in history. the meltdown at the chernobyl plant sent a cloud of radioactive fallout into russia, belarus and over a large portion , of europe. a vast rural regiobecame uninhabitable, including the town of prypyat, which remains abandoned. lyudmila kamkina, a former chernobyl employee, spoke at a memorial ceremony in the ukrainian capital kiev. >> we do not think this accident will change all of our lives in our lives will be divided into before the war and after the war as we call it. it was silent nuclear war for us, for those who lived there in prypyat and worked at the station. amy: and those are some of the
headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are broadcasting from the round house in santa fe, new mexico. the state capital building. we begin our show with a landmark settlement in the fatal shooting of tamir rice, the youngest victim in a spate of well-known police killings of unarmed african-americans. cleveland officials have agreed to pay to settle a lawsuit filed $6 million by the rice family. it may be the largest settlement cleveland has ever reached in a police-shooting case. under the terms of the deal cleveland will reportedly , admit to no wrongdoing and the rice family will drop its complaint against the two officers, including the one who shot the 12-year-old child. cleveland mayor frank jackson spoke to reporters on monday. >> we have settled the legal the lawsuit in regards to the rice family and the
state. as you also know, this has been a very difficult time for the rice family, in particular, but for cleveland in general and the community. and while we have settled the legal side of this and the court proceeding side of this, for $6 million, there is no price that you can put on a life of the loss of a 12-year-old child. amy: tamir rice was killed on november 22, 2014, while playing with a toy pellet gun in a cleveland park. a 911 caller reported seeing him with a weapon but noted it was , probably fake and that the individual was probably a juvenile. that information apparently was not relayed to the responding officers. but family members and their supporters say that miscommunication did not justify what followed. after their police cruiser
pulled up in front of tamir, officer timothy loehmann shot him within two seconds. neither loehmann or his partner, frank garmback, administered any first aid to try to save tamir's life. they then tackled tamir's 14-year-old sister to the ground as she ran to her brother's side, and handcuffed and put her in their cruiser as the boy lay dying on the ground. tamir died of his injuries the following day. last year, a grand jury failed to bring charges against either of the officers, but a federal civil rights investigation is still pending. one of the officers, timothy loehmann, was deemed unfit for police service over two years ago when he worked in the suburb of independence. a letter from a superior specifically criticized his performance in firearms training saying "he cannot follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts a recollections and his handgun performance was dismal." that happened before he was an
officer in cleveland. meanwhile, officer frank garmback, the ops are driving the cruiser, also had a troubled history. cleveland reportedly paid out $100,000 to a cleveland resident named tamela even to settle an excessive force lawsuit against garmback. for more we're joined by zoe salzman, one of the attorneys representing the tamir rice family. and we're also joined via democracy now! video stream by rian brown, she is co-founder of the cleveland chapter of black lives matter. we welcome you both to democracy now! zoe salzman, can you explain the settlement and what does it mean that cleveland has to admit no wrongdoing? collects as part of most legal settlements like this, amy, the defendants in the case typically do not admit wrongdoing. it is a way to end a lawsuit summit but especially in the case like this, there is no real resolution or closure for tamir
's family. there is no amount of money that could ever make things right for them. they lost a son and brother and a 12-year-old child on november 22, 2014. there is nothing that could ever make that right for them. amy: what are the terms of the settlement? >> it is quite simple, amy. it is a payment, as you said, a $6 million. the bulk of which is allocated to the estate of tamir rice. a small portion of which is allocated to the separate claims of his mother and his baby sister, who as you said, had her own terrible interaction with the police that they when she learned her brother had been shot and ran to the scene. she was tackled by the police. one witness described it as close lining her. she was then handcuffed and dragged to a police car. they made her sit in a police car for over half an hour while her brother lay dying next to her in the snow.
this is a child who is experienced something that none of us can really comprehend. part of the settlement is to compensate her as well. tamir's sister, spoke on "today" about how after the shooting the police tackled her to the ground, as you said, handcuffed her, placed her in the cruiser come a feed from her dying brother. -- i ran to the gazebo and i did not get all the way there to him because an officer attacked me, threw me on the ground, tackled me on the ground, put me in handcuffs and put me in the back of the police car right next to his body. , does thislzman settlement, the $6 million vote billion settlement
price is the only lawsuit they had? >> yes. the family brought this case in several dust under the federal civil rights statute to really try to get some justice in some accountability for tamir's death and prevent any other family from expensing the loss they experienced. that was very much the hope in bringing the case and very much the hope that there is a settlement. it is a historic settlement. while it is not enough to compensate the life of a 12 euro boy, it is the largest amount that the city of cleveland has ever paid to settle a police shooting like this and certainly the hope of the rice family that the settlement will really shine a light on the problem of police excessive force and violence that is plaguing our country. hopefully, serve as a platform for broader reform and change that is so desperately needed. amy: i mean, the history of these two officers, timothy loehmann, who was forced out of
the independent police force because of his low impulse control around a gun, and frank garmback, the police department just settled excessive force case involving him. is there no chance of prosecution now? and what about a department of justice investigation? >> at the local level, the former prosecutor timothy mcginty really carried out a great miscarriage of justice in the way he handled the grand jury process there. he was determined to exonerate these officers and a make sure they never faced criminal accountability for their actions. he hired experts to defend their actions and to tell the grand jury they had done nothing wrong. he allow them to testify with out cross-examining them at it of the day, he recommended to the grand jury that no criminal charges be brought. it is been the view of the rice family for a long time now that, unfortunately and regrettably,
there has been no real impartial investigation and attempt to prosecute the officers who killed tamir rice. at the local level, it appears that process is truly at an end. that is why the family reached out to the federal department of justice and it is certainly their hope that at the very least, the department of justice will conduct an impartial investigation we have not had to date and hopefully, there will be an ability to bring charges at the federal level. but as far as the local level is concerned, it seems that the prosecutor was successful in getting these officers off the hook. as you say, these are officers who never should have been carrying guns in the streets in the first place. they never should have been hired. they were poorly trained. they were part of a department that has a long history of excessive force that has been monitored for over a decade now. all of that really set the stage, if you will come almost a perfect storm of events leading up to the shooting of tamir rice
. but i want to make very clear, i think there has been a sense from local officials in cleveland that this was an accident or a tragedy and that somehow tamir himself was to blame for part of that tragedy. that is simply not the case. our investigation revealed that tamir was shot in less than one second. officer loehmann jumped out of a still living police car. the car had not come to a stop yet. he left out of the car with his gun already drawn, already pointed at tamir, the safety off and in less than one second, he fired the fatal shots that killed tamir. >> i want to bring rian brown into the conversation, organizer of the cleveland chapter of black lives matter. your response to this record settlement in cleveland, $6 million to tamir rice's family? >> i think my first response was, this is not justice and this is not enough.
as a registered voter, i'm really disappointed of the city of cleveland back and pay millions of dollars to let donald trump and governor kasich run a ring ring circus -- three ring circus really only stops at $6 million was enough for all of the, and violence that they've done to the rice family. amy: on monday, the head of the cleveland police union issued a statement saying tamir rushes family should use the money from the six money dollars settlement to educate children about the .se of look-alike firearms in a statement, steve loomis said -- "we can only hope the rice family and their attorneys will use a portion of this settlement to help educate the youth of cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms. something positive must come from this tragic loss. that would be educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm." what is your response?
collects i think steve loomis has continued to be disgusting to the rice family and make awful comments and just reinflate trauma. notink my response is tuesday loomis, but to mayor frank jackson and calvin williams. i think something good can come out of this is actually we should use these officers and rianto fund franchise and invest in black youth. if we nt to usany mone we shld use the city of cleveland's money because it is disgusting that these two officers that did a drive-by and a 12-year-old boy in the park are still employees of the city of cleveland. is black lives matter -- what will be the official response and where do you go from here, rian brown? >> yeah, so i don't know how
many of you all are aware, but we had a recent victory. we actually got timothy mcginty out of office for his lack of accountability to black folks in the city of cleveland. we voted him out of office. timothy mcginty the longer has a job. our next step -- amy: he lost the primary? >> yes, he lost the primary. that was a victory of our organizing efforts in the campaign called mcginty must go. what is next for black lives matter is to make sure these officers no longer have a job. i think we have shown that we're building the people power to do lots of things. amy: so both officers, loehmann and garmback, remain on the cleveland police force? >> that is correct. amy: we're going to end it there. thank you for being with us, rian brown organizer with a black lives matter and zoe
salzman, attorney representing the tamir rice family. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. ton we come back, we go another case, this one in new york, the story of sam law -- samuel harrell who was beaten and thrown down a flight of stairs in prison by group of officers, guards known as the beat up squad. he died. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: "ballad for tamir" by blitz the ambassador. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we're on a 100-city tour, broadcasting now from the roundhouse, the state capital building in santa fe, new mexico. we turn now to the first anniversary of the death of samuel harrell, an african-american man who died on april 21, 2015, a year ago after , as many as 20 corrections officers kicked, punched and threw him down a flight of stairs while he was incarcerated at the fishkill correctional facility in beacon, new york. an autopsy report obtained by "the new york times" determined
that harrell's death was a homicide caused by a physical altercation with corrections officers. some of the officers were known around the prison as the beat up squad. officers then called an ambulance and told the medical crew harrell may have overdosed on synthetic marijuana known as k2. harrell died that night in a nearby hospital. the autopsy showed that harrell had no illicit drugs in his system. a few weeks after samuel harrell's death was reported by the "new york times," the superintendent at fishkill, william connolly, abruptly resigned. both the dutchess county district attorney's office and the u.s. district attorney's office have launched investigations into the case. but more than a year later, no one has been charged in samuel harrell's death, and the correctional officers involved in the assault are still working at the prison. this weekend, family members and friends of samuel harrell launched a five-day vigil and hunger strike to demand action. at a vigil near the prison on
sunday, his sister, cerissa, spoke out. >> me and my family decided -- and some friends, decided to do a hunger strike. the reason for the hunger strike is to give up. we're willing to not eat, you know, to give something in return. what we want in return is justice. it is been a year. nothing has happened. doesn't hurt? it hurts a lot. do i think about it? every day. do i forget about him? never. justice will mean so much to me right now. are still working, living our lives like it is nothing, like they did nothing. like they did not take somebody else's life or part of somebody's family and just throw it away. amy: for more we're joined by sam harrell's father, samuel, and his sister cerissa.
we're also joined by soffiyah elijah, executive director of the correctional association, which monitors conditions in new york state prisons. all three were on this hunger strike. we welcome you all to democracy now! cerissa, let us begin with you. why you came to new york and the significance of this anniversary death, whather's you want to see happen right now. >> thank you for having me. the significance of my brothers death -- i would like to see, you know, justice be brought for him. those guards to be put on administrative leave. like, they should not be able to continue working and torturing other people while, you know,
the investigation is still going. you know, getting the justice that we need at the conclusion of this would mean a lot. they should not have to take a year for them to make a decision when a life is taken. it should not have to take a year for those guards to continue to work while we have to suffer and be reminded every day, you know, my brother is not here. i don't get phone calls anymore. is just heartbreaking that, you know, it takes so long to get change done. when you say wrongdoings, it should just happen automatically. wrong is wrong and right is right. , talk aboutrell your son and what you understand
happened on april 21 last year. >> well, i'm grateful for being here today and thank everyone for allowing us to speak as a family. i wish for everyone to realize that it is been a hard year, but through it all, we continue to , you know,r struggle sticking together and loving one another. speaking about my youngest son, little sam whom i named after me , i miss him very much. you know, to the point that it is very painful just to imagine the last seconds of his life as and totrying to hold on do his time and serve it out and to come home.
.e had plans we had things we wanted to still accomplish together. was reallyppened him a tragic ending. it is really hard to really visualize a way to think about it at times as, you know, life goes on without him being here. as we go on day by day now, there is still a struggle for the innocence, a struggle to things thatm, and we would like to see happen within the system so that something like this will never happen again to another family. , you received a
call from another prisoner last year on april 21? >> yes, ma'am. amy: what did that prisoner say to you? >> key called, i was expecting it to be my brother. when i heard the voice i am like, who is this? me.s like, listen to i'm like, ok. then he is like, sam -- something happened to sam. , hiscalled him j-rod nickname. i was like, what do mean? he was like, the guards. he got hit by the guards and you need to call the jail. i'm like, call the jail? is he hurt? he was like, i don't know, i don't know, just call the jail. they took him and he hasn't came back. nobody has seen him. nobody is hurt anything. just call the jail. i'm like, ok, who is this?
and he hung up. i called his wife diane immediately. that is his emergency contact. when i called her and told her i'm like, you know, we have to call and then go visit him. she is like, all right. not even to the minute after i spoke to her, she called me back and told me that they called her that he was gone. i'm like, gone? where? she's like, he's dead. i'm like, these dead? i just lost it. i'm like, what you mean, dead? those words i would never -- he just turned 30 december 18. i turned 31 december 7. we had just seen him that saturday. i just spoke to him that sunday. you know?
i was expecting him to call me back that monday, and he didn't. i was devastated. like, i'm never going to hear his voice again. we have never been apart. we have never been apart except for when he got in trouble and went to jail. we were like twins. we are year and 11 days apart. we have never been apart. so to know i have to live the next however many years that i'm on this earth without him is very painful. i have an older brother, you know, but we're used to seeing three. it is still three, but physically it is two now and it hurts. it hurts a lot. we have not heard anything, we're just waiting --
, i want to ask your dad, i want to ask sam harrell about your son's suffering from bipolar. they say he attacked his back that night and said he was going home. can you explain also the way the local media covered this, talking about there was a fight? but was your son handcuffed through this beating? >> yes, he was hang cap. prior to that, i believe there was some type of isolation, some type of punishment that they were sending him through for a number of days. believeetained in -- i had some type of solitary confinement known as the shu where they put incarcerated men
for periods of days, that i see to be really karen this -- horrendous. i do chance to witness what it was like. i saw it myself, went inside and it is horrible. realized what led up -- once he was released out of the solitary confinement that his mental health -- he was suffering. and due to the lack of medical attention, which i really wish that they would have had called immediately once they had taken them out, realizing that he was making a phone call to my daughter here saying he was coming home, which we all knew he was still incarcerated but to him, i'm thinking he was thinking that his time was up.
i mean, clearly, in that some typeanyone with of training, any type of training would realize that we medical attention immediately. instead, i heard that they and there co's over were a gang of them. there were a lot of them. what happened from there was that they did not handle it properly, you know, according to, i feel, according to the way the policies and procedures should have been taken. he was handled viciously. handcuffed, kicked, thrown down stairs. it was just horrendous.
it was terrible. to the point where i am sure he was about to give up. felt all alone where no one -- i mean, the people that were supposed to be watching over him were just taking full advantage of torturing him. it ended his life. soffiyahnt to bring elijah into this conversation with the correctional association of new york. what you also participated in this hunger strike that you all just ended last night. if you could talk about where theharrell was held, particular prison, and who this beat up squad was -- is. >> thank you for having me. i had the correctional association of new york, an independent not-for-profit organization, 171 years old.
it has a legislative mandate unique to it to monitor the conditions in the prisons throughout new york state. we have focused our attention on fishkill and the issue of violence and abuse throughout the new york state system because what happened to mr. harrell, sadly, is not uncommon. it has happened many, many times. i participated in the fast with the harrell and in memory of girl taylor, who was murdered not long before mr. harrell at the sullivan facility on april 13 of 2015. there are beat up squad steadily a fish go, but many facilities, including clinton and including attica. as i said, other facilities. so mr. taylor and mr. harrell were handcuffed and beaten viciously by a group of guards and beaten until they died from those horrific beatings.
amy: we are talking to soffiyah elijah elisha, correctional association of new york. talked further about what you understand took place and how it is these officers are still working in this prison. mr. have been informed that harrell was attacked by a group of guards, as his father explained, after he indicated that he wanted to go home and that he was going home. and similarly, mr. taylor was attacked by a group of guards on april 13. and this is what happens throughout the new york state system in prison after prison. the guards do this with impunity. the way the union contract protects them allows them to do these acts of viciousness in violating people's human rights. and the administration has very little at his disposal in order
to discipline them. the contract for the union is actually under negotiation right now, and my organization and other advocates have called for radical changes in this union contract so that these guards cannot continue to beat and abuse people and murder people with impunity. the guards that beat mr. harrell and mr. taylor and so many others are continuing to work in the corrections system, despite their violations and their crimes against people. about theou talk more three to 11 shift, the shift of correction officers that killed sam? >> the 3:00 to 11:00 shift we have found is the timeframe where the majority of these atrocities happen. and that is because the superintendent and the rest of the administrators leave the
facility around 3:00 in the afternoon. isn the 3:00 to 11:00 shift free to do its dirty work against the population, and there is no retribution for their actions. so many of the atrocities that we learned about happen between 3:00 to 11:00 in the evening. i can assure you that probably tonight between 3:00 to 11:00, somebody, some place in the new york state system, whether they are in a men's facility or women's facility, will be beaten viciously like mr. harrell and mr. taylor were. had bipolarharrell disorder. can you talk about how people with mental illness are dealt with in the prison and how he was dealt with? you have the reports in "the new york times" and other places of sam and very depressed that day, i just staring at the tv of his friends, inmates asking if he was ok, if you wanted to talk.
his mom had just recently died. >> when people have mental health challenges, they need to be placed in a therapeutic setting. there's nothing therapeutic about putting someone in a cage. had recently come out of solitary confinement. i should explain that the correctional association and other advocacy groups were successful a few years ago and getting a law passed called the shu exclusion bill, mandating those who had serious mental health diagnoses should not be placed in solitary confinement specifically because of the harms that scientific evidence shows that people suffer from being placed in solitary confinement. solitary confinement harms everyone, but it takes particular effect on people who have mental health challenges. so mr. harrell should not have been placed in solitary confinement because of his mental health challenges. same holds true for mr. taylor in many, many other people.
we as a society need to stop placing people who have mental health challenges in prisons because they are not going to thrive. ,my: finally, cerissa harrell sister of samuel harrell, you finished your hunger strike last night. you're leaving new york. what are you calling for? what do you want to see happen? >> what i would like to see happen? number one, those guards being accountable for their actions. like any other citizen of any state would be charged. secondly, i would like to see body cameras being used in the correctional facilities. seedly, i would like to ng better training for the escalating situation and then dealing with people with mental illnesses.
i believe it would change a lot. it would change a lot of things going on in there. if those things, you know, could get done, i think it could change a little part of a big problem. that is just a little part. there's a lot more than needs to happen, too, but that is just something that we had to deal , so that isamily the part i would like to start with. as a whole. if we can get that done, i think, you know, the prison system would be all right. they will go in there and be able to come out rehabilitated instead of scared were dead -- were dead. sam harrell,and thank you for being with us come also our condolences.
amy: the music from a vigil held for samuel harrell. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we're on the road in santa fe, new mexico. we end today marking the 30th anniversary of the chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the former soviet state of ukraine, still considered the worst nuclear disaster in history. it sent a cloud of radioactive fallout into russia, belarus and over a large portion of europe. 50,000 people living in chernobyl's immediate surroundings had to be evacuated, and a vast rural region became uninhabitable, including the town of prypyat, near where the damaged reactor was located. residents had to be permanently relocated d the to remains abandoned. lyudmila kamkina, a former employee at the chernobyl plant, spoke at a memorial ceremony held earlier today in the ukrainian capital of kiev. >> we do not think this accident will change all of our lives and our lives will be divided into before the war and after the war as we call it.
it was silent nuclear war for us, for those who lived there in prypyat and worked at the station. amy: the legacy of chernobyl and the fukushima daiichi nuclear power accident, which occurred five years ago last month in japan, particularly resonates with residents here in the southwest and in the western united states. los alamos, new mexico, is the birthplace of the nuclear age. the atomic bombs used in world war ii were designed and developed there, and it remains one of two places that design every nuclear weapon in the united states arsenal. the other, livermore lab in california. recently, i sat down with marylia kelley executive , director of tri-valley cares, or communities against a radioactive environment, a partner group with the alliance for nuclear accountability.
the group just put out a new report called "trillion dollar , trainwreck: out-of-control u.s. nuclear weapons programs accelerate spending, proliferation, health and safety risks." i asked her to talk about contamination where she lives at livermore. >> livermore lab is a superfund cleanup site, meaning it is on the epa's list of most contaminated locations in the country. i recently moved that under my old home was an off-site groundwater plume emanating from the lab was toxic waste in it. there is leaking down to the , a numberthe aquifer of toxic and radioactive materials that come from the nuclear weans work. they fou elevatelevels o plutium a big tre park where i live. jo
there have been major, major accidents. two of the three biggest accidents in the country with radioactive hydrogen,hich is lled tritiumhappened up vermore b. airbne releas of this radioactive drogen. there ha been aiorne reases of uranium, plutonium, etc. amy: are you have a situation where the scientists live in this community, this endangered community. and perhaps there is no one more than the scientists who understand the dangers of the environment they are in. are you finding allies within livermore? >> try valley cares was founded in 1983 and one of our founding handful of folks, one of our founding six was a laboratory scientist. we now have 5600 members and so there are hundreds of lab scientist and engineers and
technicians among our membership. some go into denial. others really want to do something to make the environment better list of some want to ask a change the lab's ssion to civiliascience mission. r us, thissue is't shld our untry havecientist the ise is, wh should ey be id to d we are very pro-science. we want to see the small, tiny part of the lab where they do actual civilian science grow and become the center of the lab. amy: you talk about leaving radioactive waste where it is. what are the communities of the united states that house nuclear waste and what should be done about it? >> nuclear waste is a very, very difficult issue. stop producing it. once you produce nuclear waste, you have to sort of choose the
best of the bad options. there was a very politically dump highgram to level -- this is the irradiated nuclear fuel rods -- in yucca mountain in nevada, which we opposed. right now the department of energy is going through what it calls a consent-based process to try to find communities that will consent to becoming either interim storage or disposal sites. the department of energy -- amy: do they consent because they are poor? what do they get for this? >> well, this is what we're discussing. what this consent -- informed consent means they undstand e risks how does cmunity consent for future generations that are unborn? i will give you one example. come weapons has
grade plutonium, has a half-life of 24,400 years. a hazardous life is roughly 10 half-lives. 240,000 years. how do you truly consent for 240,000 years? is in charge that of our nuclear weapons program, the right agency to go out and talk about consent? they have shown they do not understand consent. doe's modus operandi, we call it d.a.d., they don't understand consent. an independent agency needs to be taking a look at this. in the meantime, where it is safe, the nuclear waste should stay in place and we are recommending that it be put in hardened on-site storage so that it is not vulnerable where it presently sits.
ultimately, something will need to be done. it is the department of energy prevails on a particular community to consent to having an interim storage site, i predict that the first hole in the ground they get will be where the waste stays for a very, very long time. and so we need a process that is much, much better. we need to understand that communities are and will be sacrificing because we have produced these wastes for the future, we ateast owe ito our ildren and grandchildren and their chdren and grandchildren for the next couple hundred thousand years not to continue producing these wastes. was marylia kelley, she is with communities against
a radioactive environment, and a resident of livermore, california. that is for the national lab livermore is. we're broadcasting from new mexico, home of the -- two of the three national labs at los alamos and sandia. today's the 30th anniversary of the nuclear disaster in chernobyl. we will be in los alamos today at noon where i will be speaking as part of our 100 city tour. i want to say congratulations to democracy now!'s isis phillips on the birth of her daughter. we are on a 100-city tour marking democracy now!'s 20th anniversary. today at noon, i'll be speaking in los alamos and then this evening in santa fe. on wednesday, i will be in flagstaff, on thursday in phoenix and tucson, then on friday in fresno. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to email@example.com or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]