Democracy Now! - September 15, 2015

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Friday that she would not be seeking re-election in the city’s 2016 mayoral race so that she could focus on governing a city on edge over the trials of six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, an African-American man who died in April after being arrested and transported in a police van. The announcement came at the end of a week that saw several developments in the case. On Thursday, Judge Barry Williams ruled that the six officers charged in Gray’s death will face separate trials. Williams also refused defense attempts to dismiss the charges, move the case out of Baltimore, and remove prosecutor Marilyn Mosby from the case. And earlier in the week, the city reached a $6.4 million settlement with Gray’s family. A key piece of evidence in the case against the officers is the video showing Gray screaming in apparent agony as police drag him to a van. It was shot by Kevin Moore, a Baltimore resident who lives in the Gilmor Homes housing projects where Freddie Gray lived. We speak with Moore, who, after filming the event, became a member of WeCopwatch, a nationwide effort to reduce police violence and harassment by videotaping encounters with the community. He also founded a WeCopwatch chapter in Baltimore.

Schools are closed in Seattle again today as the city’s first teacher strike in 30 years enters its fifth day. Last week, teachers, represented by the Seattle Education Association, unanimously voted to go on strike, demanding fewer standardized tests for students, more time to prepare for classes, and better pay. The impasse has delayed the start of the public school year for about 53,000 students. The strike comes after Washington’s Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the state’s new charter school system is unconstitutional.

We turn now to an explosive new report that claims the U.S. government has secretly targeted Bolivian President Evo Morales with a drug sting code-named "Operation Naked King." The report — just released by The Huffington Post this morning — draws on court documents filed by a longtime DEA confidential informant, Carlos Toro. It appears to confirm Morales’ long-standing suspicion that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, has sought to undermine Morales’ government.
In 2008, Morales expelled the DEA from his country, accusing the agency of bribing police officers, violating human rights, covering up murders and destroying infrastructure. Morales then embarked on his own strategy of combating drug trafficking by working cooperatively with coca growers to diversify crops and promote alternative development. His government’s efforts were largely effective: The United Nations announced last month that the cultivation of coca leaf in Bolivia has fallen to a 13-year low. Despite that victory, the DEA announced this week plans to officially "decertify" Bolivia — a bureaucratic move that would cost Bolivia financial assistance, and amounts to an accusation by the DEA that Bolivia is not sufficiently cooperative in combating drug trafficking. We speak to Nick Wing of The Huffington Post and Kathryn Ledebur, director of Andean Information Network.

We end today’s show with another story about Evo Morales. In 2013, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange played a pivotal role in helping National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden leave Hong Kong for Russia. Once Snowden made it to Russia, Assange explored ways to help him reach Latin America. During the U.S. hunt for Snowden, Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was forced to land in Austria for 14 hours because of rumors Snowden was on board. Last week, Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept interviewed Assange via video stream for the launch of the book "The WikiLeaks Files." Assange talked about WikiLeaks’ efforts to help Snowden gain asylum.

Amy Goodman Democracy Now! Freddie Gray Julian Assange

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