Democracy Now! - October 7, 2015

On August 26 in Roanoke, Virginia, two journalists were fatally shot on live television during a morning broadcast of the local news station WDBJ. Twenty-four-year-old broadcast journalist Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward died after Vester Flanagan approached the set and began shooting. Flanagan was a former journalist at the station who had been fired two years ago. Flanagan later shot himself. It was the 246th mass shooting in the United States this year. Just over a month later, a gunman named Chris Harper-Mercer opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, killing nine people before taking his own life. Later that same day in northern Florida, a gunman killed two people and injured another before taking his own life. Then on Friday, one person died and four others were injured in a shooting in Baltimore—bringing the year’s total of mass shootings to at least 296. We speak with Andy Parker, the father of Alison Parker. Since her death in August, Parker has called for the passage of stronger gun laws. He says he’ll dedicate his life to this fight.

As the United States experiences more than one mass shooting per day, the issue of gun regulation is emerging as a hot topic on the 2016 presidential campaign trail. As Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has vowed to curb gun violence, Republican presidential candidates have refused calls for gun control in the wake of last week’s massacre at Umpqua Community College. Donald Trump told NBC’s Meet the Press that mass shooters are "geniuses in a certain way. They are going to be able to break the system." John Kasich told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, "I don’t think gun control would solve this problem. The deeper issue is alienation. The deeper issue is loneliness." Ben Carson implied that the Oregon shooting victims didn’t do enough to save themselves, saying, "I would not just stand there and let him shoot me." And Jeb Bush seemed to shrug off last week’s mass shooting, saying on Friday afternoon, "stuff happens." We’re joined by Andy Parker, the father of 24-year-old broadcast journalist Alison Parker, who was shot dead on live television in August, and by Arkadi Gerney, senior vice president at the Center for American Progress who formerly worked with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the national coalition, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

A new report by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal has documented hundreds of cases of Palestinian rights activists in the United States being harassed, disciplined, fired, sued, censored or threatened for their advocacy around Palestine. Eighty-five percent of these cases targeted students or scholars. We look at the case of Steven Salaita. Last year, his job offer for a tenured position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was withdrawn after he posted tweets harshly critical of the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. The school had come under pressure from donors, students, parents and alumni critical of Salaita’s views, with some threatening to withdraw financial support. His case caused a firestorm, with thousands of academics signing petitions calling for Salaita’s reinstatement, several lecturers canceling appearances and the American Association of University Professors calling the school’s actions "inimical to academic freedom and due process." In August, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise resigned after she was implicated in a scandal that involved attempting to hide emails detailing Salaita’s ouster. We speak with Steven Salaita and attorney Maria LaHood, who is representing Salaita in his ongoing lawsuit against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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