Democracy Now! - May 20, 2015
Newly released video has revealed the dying moments of an African-American active-duty soldier who checked himself into the El Paso, Texas, county jail for a two-day sentence for driving under the influence, and died while in custody in 2012. Authorities claimed Sgt. James Brown died due to a pre-existing medical condition, but shocking new video from inside the jail raises new questions about what happened. The video shows guards swarming on top of him as he repeatedly says he can’t breathe and appears not to resist. By the end of the video, he is shown naked, not blinking or responding, his breathing shallow. Attorneys say an ambulance was never called. Brown was eventually brought to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His family had long suspected foul play in his death but received little information from authorities. They’ve now filed a lawsuit against El Paso County saying his constitutional rights were violated. We are joined by Brown’s mother, Dinetta Scott.
As the Black Lives Matter movement grows across the country, the names of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray have become well known. All died at the hands of local police, sparking waves of protest. During this time, far less attention has been paid to women who have been killed by law enforcement. Today, a vigil under the banner of Say Her Name is being organized in New York to remember them. We are joined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, professor of law at UCLA and Columbia University, founder of the African American Policy Forum and co-author of the new report, "Police Brutality Against Black Women."
Last year on August 14, just days after Michael Brown was fatally shot in Ferguson, Michelle Cusseaux was killed at close range by a Phoenix police officer who had been called to take the 50-year-old woman to a mental health facility. The officer, Sgt. Percy Dupra, claims Cusseaux threatened him with a hammer. Her family joined supporters the week after her death in marching her casket from Phoenix City Hall to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to call for an outside investigation. Phoenix police say they are now creating a crisis intervention squad to respond to calls involving the mentally ill. We are joined by Michelle Cusseaux’s mother, Frances Garrett.
Rekia Boyd was 22 years old when she was killed in 2012 by an off-duty Chicago police detective. Dante Servin fired several shots over his shoulder into a group of people Boyd was standing with near his home, striking her in the back of her head. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, marking the first time in 15 years a Chicago police officer was charged for a fatal shooting. But last month, in a dramatic dismissal, Judge Dennis Porter acquitted Servin on a legal fine point. While speaking from the bench, Porter suggested prosecutors should have actually charged Servin with murder. "The act of intentionally firing a gun at some person or persons on the street is an act that is so dangerous it is beyond reckless; it is intentional, and the crime, if there be any, is first-degree murder," he said. We speak to Rekia Boyd’s brother, Martinez Sutton.
A major campaign is underway in Seattle against oil giant Shell’s plans to drill in the remote and pristine Arctic this summer. On Monday, hundreds blocked the entrance to the the city’s port, where Shell has docked its 400-foot-long, 355-foot-wide Arctic-bound Polar Pioneer drilling rig. On Saturday, about 500 environmentalists and indigenous leaders took to kayaks and small boats in a protest described as "Paddle in Seattle." The Shell rig arrived Thursday even after Seattle’s mayor announced its permit as a cargo ship does not apply to oil rigs. Now the Seattle City Council has issued a notice of violation against Shell and could issue fines of up to $500 a day. All this comes after the Obama administration announced conditional approval for the company’s plans last week. We are joined by Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who was among the hundreds of kayakers in Saturday’s action.
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