Democracy Now! - June 22, 2015

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Democracy Now! - June 22, 2015

Church bells tolled Sunday and hundreds filled the church’s pews of the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, for the first service since Dylann Roof’s attack on a Bible session in its basement last Wednesday. An estimated 20,000 people formed a Bridge to Peace unity chain on the Ravenel Bridge to show solidarity with his victims. A website discovered Saturday called "The Last Rhodesian" shows photographs of Roof at Confederate heritage sites and hosts a 2,500-word manifesto he is believed to have written that explains why he chose to carry out his mass murder spree. "Roof might have been a high school dropout, but he was an excellent student, it seems, of the white supremacist world," says Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He is co-author of an editorial published today in The New York Times titled "White Supremacists Without Borders."

Wednesday’s massacre of nine African-American churchgoers by white supremacist suspect Dylann Roof have reignited protests over the Confederate flag, which still flies on the grounds of South Carolina’s Capitol. In photos posted online, Roof is seen posing with the flag and in front of a car with a front license plate that reads, "Confederate States of America." "People’s tax dollars ought not go into supporting the idea of the Confederate States of America," says Kevin Alexander Gray, a South Carolina civil rights activist and community organizer who edited the book "Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence." As former president of the stateACLU, he argued, "the flag flying on the statehouse dome was compelled speech. You were compelling people to support an ideology of white supremacy."

Civil rights activist Kevin Alexander Gray and Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, discuss whether the shooting in Charleston was an act of domestic terrorism. "Dylann Roof was a human drone, and every Tuesday morning the Obama administration uses drones to kill people whose names we don’t even know and can’t pronounce," Kevin Alexander Gray says. "So I don’t know if I feel comfortable with the idea of expanding this word 'terror.'" But Richard Cohen calls the shooting "a classic case of terrorism." "It’s politically motivated violence by a non-state actor and carried out with the intention of intimidating more persons than those who were the immediate victims," Cohen says. "I think in some ways it’s important to talk about terrorism in that way, not so we can send out drones, not so we can deny people their due process rights, but so we can understand the true dimensions of what we’re facing."

In a Democracy Now! exclusive, Dr. Jill Stein officially launches her campaign as a Green Party candidate for the 2016 presidential race. "I have a people-powered campaign," Stein notes. "I am running with the only national party that does not take corporate funding." Stein, a physician and activist who first ran in 2012, outlines her platform. She joins the fray as the race for the Democratic Party nomination heats up. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, has emerged as Hillary Clinton’s main rival for the party’s nomination, as his poll ratings have surged in recent weeks. "Hillary is the Wal-Mart candidate. She has been a member of the Wal-Mart board. On jobs, on trade, on healthcare, on banks, on foreign policy, it is hard to find where we are similar."

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