Democracy Now! - November 24, 2015

Chicago is bracing for several new developments in the police-involved death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot and killed over a year ago. Officer Jason Van Dyke will reportedly be charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday, and the city has until Wednesday to release the video footage of the shooting, ordered last week by Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama. An autopsy report shows McDonald was shot 16 times on October 20, 2014, including multiple times in the back. Police have said that the teenager lunged at the officer with a small knife. But people who have seen the video from police dashcam footage say it contradicts the police account, instead showing Van Dyke opening fire on the teenager while he was walking away, and continuing to shoot him even after the teenager was lying on the pavement. Despite the fact that McDonald’s family did not file a lawsuit, the city paid them $5 million in April and fought to conceal the video, even after the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune and a freelance journalist all filedFOIA requests for its release. Van Dyke remains on paid desk duty, as the shooting is investigated by the FBI and the United States attorney’s office in Chicago. For more we are joined by Jamie Kalven, founder of the Invisible Institute, a nonprofit journalism outlet that recently released tens of thousands of pages of civilian complaints filed against the Chicago Police Department — 97 percent of which resulted in absolutely no disciplinary action. Kalven is also the freelance journalist who uncovered Laquan McDonald’s autopsy report.

As Chicago braces for protests ahead of the release of video footage of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, we speak with Charlene Carruthers, the National Director of the Black Youth Project 100. Her organization declined a meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office on Monday as the city tries to quell impending protests. "For us, it was important not to take a meeting with the mayor where it was clear to us that this series of meetings was about how are we going to quell our fears — being the mayor’s office’s fears — about what young, black people are going to do once this video is released," Carruthers said. "They’re very concerned with the city remaining peaceful, but unfortunately, the community, or the target, that is being told to remain peaceful is not the Chicago Police Department."

The firestorm of controversy that erupted over whether the United States should continue to accept Syrian refugees after the deadly attacks in Paris includes a bill by House Republican lawmakers to restrict Iraqi and Syrian refugees from resettling here. At least 31 U.S. states have said they will not accept the refugees, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said, "We can’t have them. They are going back." Others are drawing historical parallels with a different refugee crisis the country faced in the 1930s, when Jewish refugees sought refuge here. Case Western Reserve University history professor Peter Schulman recently tweeted a Fortune Magazine poll question from 1939 that asked, "Should the U.S. government permit 10,000 mostly Jewish refugee children to come in from Germany?" The results showed 61 percent of respondents at the time said no. Among those seeking refuge and denied entry were Anne Frank and her family. "The nativist response then has very clear echos now," says Ishaan Tharoor, foreign affairs reporter for The Washington Post, whose recent article is headlined, "Yes, the comparison between Jewish and Syrian refugees matters." We also speak with Ilya Lozovsky, an editor at Foreign Policy and author of the article, "I’m a Russian-born American Jew. My people’s rejection of Syrian refugees breaks my heart." He says he decided to speak out because "[e]ven if Donald Trump never becomes president, this type of discourse has become legitimized."

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