Imprisoned journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal has spoken out from a prison infirmary about the police killing of Walter Scott in South Carolina. Abu-Jamal, who is seriously ill at SCI Mahanoy, rose from his infirmary bed to record the commentary after a fellow prisoner wheeled in a TV so he could watch coverage of the shooting. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we air an excerpt from Abu-Jamal’s Prison Radio commentary about Michael Slager, the now-fired police officer who shot Scott during a traffic stop. "Is he a punk? A predator?" Abu-Jamal asks. "Or what Huey P. Newton called 'a pig'?" Abu-Jamal’s supporters say he remains severely ill after he was hospitalized recently for diabetic shock. Today his supporters have called a national day of action with protests in 10 cities to demand he be allowed to see a diabetes specialist. Abu-Jamal is in prison for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, but has always maintained his innocence. Amnesty International has found he was deprived of a fair trial.
Democracy Now! co-host Juan González discusses how video of the Walter Scott killing echoes other videos of police shootings, such as Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Eric Garner in New York City. "People wonder why the Black Lives Matter movement has grown and spread so rapidly across the country," González writes, "when people are seeing these videos where people who are shot and not even given immediate aid." González writes about the issue in his new column for the New York Daily News headlined "When Will the Killings of Black Males by Cops Cease?"
President Obama has arrived in Panama to attend the Summit of the Americas along with other leaders from Canada, Central America, South America, the Caribbean — and for the first time, Cuba. On Thursday, Obama announced the State Department has finished its review of whether Cuba should be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The move would allow the two countries to reopen their embassies and move forward on historic efforts to normalize relations that were announced in December. Meanwhile, the United States faces other tensions at the summit over its recent sanctions against Cuba’s close ally, Venezuela. An executive order signed by President Obama last month used the designation to sanction top Venezuelan officials over alleged human rights abuses and corruption. This week, the United States announced it no longer considers the country a national security threat. Other topics expected to be on the summit’s agenda include trade, security and migration. We speak with two guests: Miguel Tinker Salas, professor of Latin American history at Pomona College and author of the new book, "Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know," and Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and president of Just Foreign Policy. His article in The Hill is headlined "Obama Could Face Disastrous Summit Due to Venezuela Sanctions."
As the Summit of the Americas commences, several U.S.-based groups and university officials have signed a letter to President Obama questioning his response to the 43 students missing from the Mexican state of Guerrero for over six months. The letter asks why the Obama administration has placed sanctions on Venezuela, but maintained normal relations with Mexico, despite the students’ disappearance. Mexican authorities have declared the 43 students dead, saying local police acting on the orders of the mayor of Iguala attacked them and turned them over to drug gang members, who killed and incinerated them. But so far the remains of only one of the 43 have been identified, and reports have pointed to the involvement of federal authorities. We are joined by two relatives of the missing students who live here in New York: Antonio Tizapa is the father of missing student Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño; and Amado Tlatempa is the cousin of another missing student, Jesús Jovany Rodríguez Tlatempa. "What I would tell President Obama is to stop supporting Plan Mérida, because the weapons, the arms that are supposedly supporting the war against drugs, those arms are being used to annihilate our students," Tizapa says.
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