TONIGHT ON METROFOCUS

February 24, 2018 at 5:30 am

Rachel Levinson-Waldman, Senior Council of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, gives us insight into the monitoring of social media by police post the Parkland shooting. She dives into the search for missed clues and a look at the modernization of police departments. The Long Island Salvadoran community is on edge as they fear the possible end of their temporary protection status (T.P.S.). We’ll hear one family’s fight to stay together. Feminist icon, Eve Ensler, is here to weigh in on the #MeToo movement and takes us inside her new one woman show, “The Body of the World.”

Aired on February 23, 2018.

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>>> TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS,"
POLICE MONITORING SOCIAL MEDIA
AFTER THE PARKLAND SHOOTING, A
SEARCH FOR MISSED CLUES AND THE
MODERNIZATION OF THE POLICE
DEPARTMENT HAS GONE DIGITAL.
>>> NERVES ARE FRAYED FOR A
FAMILY IN LONG ISLAND AS THEY
FACE THE END OF THEIR PROTECTION
STATUS.
>>> ALL THAT AND MORE AS
"METROFOCUS" STARTS RIGHT NOW.
>>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH
RAFAEL P. RAMON, JACK FORD AND
JENNA FLANNIGAN.
FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS
PROVIDED BY --
>> CORPORATE FUNDING FOR
"METROFOCUS" WAS PROVIDED BY
MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR
RETIREMENT COMPANY.
AND BYPSENG.
>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS," I'M JENNA PLAN
GONE.
SURVEILLANCE HAS COME A LONG WAY
SINCE THE CLASSIC STAKEOUT.
BUT WHAT ONE CONSIDERS OBSERVING
FROM A DISTANCE, CAN BE
MONITORING YOUR PRIVATE CONTINUE
VIA SOCIAL MEDIA.
WE TAKE AN IN-DEPTH LOOK NOT
ONLY AT THE MILL TARIZATION OF
DIGITAL POLICE, BUT ALSO THEIR
USE OF INFORMATION TO TRACK A
SUSPECT.
>> WE NOW HAVE DRONES THAT CAN
FLY IN FORMATION, AND THEY CAN
TALK TO ONE ANOTHER.
AND THEY CAN MAKE DECISIONS
ABOUT WHETHER TO FIRE A HELL
FIRE MISSILE OR NOT.
WHO MAKES THAT DECISION?
THE COMPUTER CAN MAKE IT MORE
QUICKLY OR MORE ACCURATELY THAN
YOU OR I CAN.
MAYBE WE SHOULD LET THEM DECIDE.
NOW WE'RE STARTING TO MOVE DOWN
THE TERMINATOR ROUTE, WE HAVE
ROBOTIC INTELLIGENCE THAT CAN
DESTROY HUMAN LIFE WHEN IT
THINKS IT'S AN APPROPRIATE THING
TO DO.
DO YOU WANT TO GO THERE, I THINK
IT'S INEVITABLE, BECAUSE THOSE
WAR MACHINES ARE GOING TO BE
MORE POWERFUL, MORE ACCURATE
THAN WHAT WE NOW HAVE.
I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW WE'RE NOT
GOING TO GO THERE.
I DON'T KNOW HOW AS HUMANS WE'RE
GOING TO MODERATE THE BAD THINGS
THAT CAN EVOLVE.
IT'S INEVITABLE.
IT'S ALL RIGHT SORT OF THERE.
>> JOINING ME NOW THE RACHEL
LEVENSON WALLEDMAN, THE NATIONAL
SECURITY PROGRAM WHICH SEEKS TO
ENACT NATIONAL SECURITY POLICIES
THAT REFLECT CONSTITUTIONAL
VALUES AS WELL AS THE RULE OF
LAW.
SHE'S WRITTEN EXTENSIVELY ABOUT
POLICE DEPARTMENTS MONITORING
SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS AS PART OF
THEIR SURVEILLANCE TACTICS.
RACHEL, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING
ME.
THIS IS A BRAVE NEW WORLD THAT
YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING AT.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
>> TELL ME A LITTLE BIT AND
BRING OUR AUDIENCE UP TO SPEED
AS TO HOW MUCH A POLICE
DEPARTMENT CAN FIND OUT ABOUT
YOU JUST FROM YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
ACCOUNTS.
>> SURE.
I THINK AS ANYONE WHO USES
SOCIAL MEDIA KNOWS, THERE'S A
LOT OUT THERE, PEOPLE PUT A LOT
OUT THERE ABOUT THEMSELVES, WE
KNOW AT THIS POINT, ALMOST EVERY
POLICE DEPARTMENT THAT HAS
SORTED REPORTED ON THEIR USE OF
SOCIAL MEDIA, FOR CRIMINAL USES,
INTELLIGENCE, THINGS LIKE THAT.
AND THEY CAN DO THAT IN A COUPLE
OF DIFFERENT WAYS.
IT CAN BE AS SIMPLE AS AN
OFFICER OR A DETECTIVE, LOOKING
SORT OF ONE-ON-ONE, MAYBE
THINKING, THIS IS SOMEONE OF
INTEREST TO ME FOR SOME REASON,
MAYBE I LOOK AT THEIR PROFILE
AND SEE WHAT'S THAT ABOUT.
OR IT COULD BE LOOKING FOR HASH
TAGS OR IT COULD BE USING
ANALYTICAL TOOLS THAT CAN CRUNCH
TOGETHER A LOT OF INFORMATION.
>> BUT PEOPLE SAY MY FACEBOOK IS
PRIVATE, MY TWITTER ACCOUNT IS
PRIVATE, I KEEP MINE PRIVATE, SO
IT SHOULD JUST BE MINE, CORRECT?
>> IN MOST CASES YES, IF YOU DO
HAVE PRIVACY CONTROLS LOCKED
DOWN, THAT SHOULD MEAN THAT A
LOT OF YOUR INFORMATION IS
PRIVATE.
THAT BEING SAID, I THINK THERE'S
A COUPLE OF CAVEATS TO THAT.
ONE IS, AS I WAS MENTIONING
SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS.
I THINK MANY PEOPLE DON'T
CONSIDER THEMSELVES EVER TO BE A
TARGET OF AN INVESTIGATION.
BUT SOMEONE CAN CONNECT WITH
PEOPLE AND FIND INFORMATION THAT
PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS ONLY ACT
SELLABLE TO THEIR FRIENDS AND
FAMILY.
AND WHILE THE PLATFORMS
THEMSELVES LIKE FACEBOOK MIGHT
HAVE RESTRICTIONS ON SETTING UP
UNDERCOVER ACCOUNTS, THAT
DOESN'T MEAN IT'S THAT HARD TO
DO.
>> TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE
RULE OF LAW, IT SEEMS AS IF
TECHNOLOGY AND WE HAVE TALKED
ABOUT THAT TECHNOLOGY HAS GONE
PAST WHAT LEGALITY HAS.
SO WHAT ABOUT IF A LAW
ENFORCEMENT OFFICER ASKS YOU FOR
YOUR PASSWORD FOR YOU'RE SOCIAL
MEDIA ACCOUNT?
>> I THINK ASKING FOR YOUR
PASSWORD, WHETHER OR NOT THE LAW
SAYS THEY CAN OR CAN'T DO IT,
PEOPLE DON'T HAVE AN OBLIGATION
TO HAND OVER THEIR PASS WORDS TO
THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS.
AND ONE OF THEIR BIGGEST USERS
OF SOCIAL MEDIA IS THE NYPD,
ESPECIALLY IN THEIR FOCUS ON
GANGS, FOCUS ON CREWS.
AND ESPECIALLY USE OF COLOR,
SOCIAL MEDIA HAS BEEN A BIG
SOURCE OF INFORMATION BY THE
NYPD AND WE HAVE LEARNED THAT A
PRACTICE IS ASKING FOR PASS
WORDS, SO THE POLICE WOULD NOT
ONLY BE ABLE TO SEE WHAT THEY'RE
POSTING, BUT PRIVATE MESSAGES
SHARED WITH PEOPLE.
AND I THINK THERE'S A
DISTINCTION BETWEEN ARE THEY
LEGALLY ALLOWED TO DO THAT OR
NOT?
SURE, THEY CAN ASK, AND WHETHER
PEOPLE MIGHT FEEL PRESSURED TO
HAND IT OVER, LOOK, WE'RE GOING
TO LET YOU GO IF YOU GIVE US A
PASSWORD TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
ACCOUNTS.
THEN THERE'S ACCESS TO SO MUCH
ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
>> ONE THING I WANT TO GET MY
HEAD AROUND, IS WHAT ARE THEY
DOING THIS WITH INFORMATION, YOU
MENTIONED HASH TAGS, AND
INFORMATION YOU MAY BE POSTING,
BUT ARE THEY BUILDING PROFILES,
DO THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO
THAT BASED ON WHAT I MIGHT OR
MIGHT NOT POST?
>> IN TERMS OF WHAT WE KNOW WITH
WHAT POLICE ARE DOING WITH
SOCIAL MEDIA, AND ESPECIALLY
DOING THINGS LIKE HASH TAG
SEARCHES, KEYWORD SEARCHES,
THERE'S BEEN A COUPLE OF POLICE
DEPARTMENTS, SORT OF THE WAY
THEY USE SOCIAL MEDIA
TECHNOLOGIES, THERE WAS A POLICE
DEPARTMENT THAT FILED A FOYA
REQUEST, THE BOSTON POLICE
DEPARTMENT HAD USED KEYWORD
SEARCHES AND A SOCIAL MEDIA
MONITORING TOOL, BUT IT GIVES
YOU A PICTURE OF HOW POLICE ARE
USING THESE KINDS OF TOOLS.
I WOULD SAY IN THE CASE OF THE
BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT,
LARGELY WHAT ENDED UP HAPPENING
WAS THE KINDS OF WORDS THAT WERE
BEING LOOKED FOR IS "COMMUNITY"
IN ARABIC, IT WAS SPECIFICALLY
TARGETING COMMUNITIES OF COLOR
AND MUSLIM COMMUNITIES, SORT OF
ACTIVISTS, SO WE THINK OF SOCIAL
MEDIA MONITORING, AMONG THIS SEA
OF INFORMATION, THIS IS HOW
POLICE ARE GOING TO FIND
THREATS.
AND BY AND LARGE, IT SEEMS TO BE
SOME COMBINATION OF TARGETING
VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES AND
BASICALLY PULLING UP A LOT OF
NOISE AND A LOT OF WORTHLESS
INFORMATION.
>> WE ONLY HAVE A MINUTE LEFT,
BUT I HAVE TO ASK, WITH ALL THIS
INFORMATION THAT'S AVAILABLE TO
POLICE DEPARTMENTS, WE RECENTLY
HAD A TRAGEDY IN FLORIDA AND
THIS YOUNG MAN WHO PERPETRATED
THIS TRAGEDY WAS POSTING ALL
OVER SOCIAL MEDIA.
HOW DID THAT FALL THROUGH THE
CRACKS?
>> I THINK PART OF THE ANSWER IS
THAT THE ISSUE WASN'T WHETHER
HIS SOCIAL MEDIA WAS BEING
TARGETED.
THERE WERE SO MANY RED FLAGS FOR
THIS PERSON.
UNFORTUNATELY, IT SOUNDS LIKE
HIS MOTHER HAD CALLED THE POLICE
ON HIM MULTIPLE TIMES, A POSTING
HE HAD PUT ON INSTAGRAM OR
YOUTUBE ACTUALLY HAD BEEN
REPORTED TO THE FBI.
HE HAD BEEN EXPELLED FROM THE
SCHOOL, HIS CLASSMATES HAD
RAISED KIND OF RED FLAGS ABOUT
HIM.
I ABSOLUTELY THINK, IF THERE'S
SOMEBODY ABOUT WHOM THERE IS A
SPECIFIC REASON TO BELIEVE THAT
THEY POSE A THREAT, I THINK
THAT'S A DIFFERENT MATTER IN
TERMS OF DOING KIND OF TARGETED
LOOKING AT SOMEBODY ON SOCIAL
MEDIA.
AND I THINK THAT'S VERY
DIFFERENT FROM THINKING ABOUT
DOING SORT OF DRAGNET MONITORING
OF EVERYONE OUT THERE USING
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS.
>> RACHEL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR
JOINING US ON THE PROGRAM.
I WANT TO URGE ALL OF YOU TO
WATCH "DO NOT RESIST" WHEN IT
PREMIERS ON PBS.
>>> TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS,
OR TPS HAS AFFECTED HUNDREDS OF
THOUSANDS WHO HAVE FLED
DANGEROUS CONDITIONS AND NATIONS
AND THEY DEPEND UPON IT TO
LEGALLY RESIDE IN THE UNITED
STATES.
BUT ARE THOSE PROTECTED NOW
THREATENED BY THE CURRENT
ADMINISTRATION'S STANCE ON THIS
ISSUE.
THE PRESIDENT HAS VOWED TO END
THEIR TEMPORARY STATUS.
WITH LOSS OF TPS, THESE PEOPLE
FACE DIFFICULT OPTIONS,
DECISIONS, SUCH AS GIVING UP
THEIR JOBS TO WORK OFF THE
BOOKS, SO THEY CAN STAY IN THE
UNITED STATES, OR GO BACK TO
THEIR HOMELANDS THAT THEIR
PARENTS HAD LEFT.
DO THEY MAKE A GO OF IT HERE IN
THE UNITED STATES, OR DO THEY GO
WITH THEIR PARENTS TO A COUNTRY
THEY SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW.
AND THE NATION WILL NOT ONLY
LOSE PEOPLE WITH TEMPORARY
PROTECTED STATUS, THE ARGUMENT
GOES IT WILL ALSO LOSE COLD HARD
CASH, ACCORDING TO THE CENTER OF
AMERICAN PROGRESS, SOME $164
BILLION OF GROSS DOMESTIC
PRODUCT MAY ALSO DISAPPEAR.
SOME OF OUR NEIGHBORS ON LONG
ISLAND SEE A RAY OF HOPE.
JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT ALL OF
THOSE ISSUES, TWO OF THOSE LONG
ILGD
ISLANDERS WHO ARE PUSHING FOR
CHANGE.
THE ORGANIZATION PUSHING FOR
CHANGE CALLED MAKE THE ROAD NEW
YORK.
TELL ME ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION
AND WHAT IT DOES.
>> WE PROVIDE WHAT WE CALL
SURVIVAL SERVICES FOR MANY
IMMIGRANT FAMILIES, ABOUT 22,000
PEOPLE ARE OUR MEMBERS.
AND WE PROVIDE BASIC SERVICES
LIKE ENGLISH CLASSES AND LEGAL
PRESENTATION AND COUNSELING FOR
IMMIGRANT FAMILIES ALONG WITH
SOME OF OUR ADVOCACY AND
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT WORK
WHICH IS HOW WE HAVE BEEN
WORKING WITH RODMAN AS A
COMMUNITY MEMBER.
>> RODMAN, LET ME BRING YOU INTO
THE CONVERSATION IF I MIGHT,
YOUR PARENTS CAME HERE FROM EL
SALVADOR, THEY WERE UNDER THE
CATEGORY OF TEMPORARY PROTECTED
STATUS.
NOW THEY'RE BEING TOLD THAT THAT
STATUS IS GOING TO EXPIRE.
WHAT HAVE YOU SAID WHEN YOU'VE
TALKED TO YOUR PARENTS ABOUT THE
PROSPECTS OF THE FUTURE FOR
THEM?
>> WELL, THE DECISION, THE
ADMINISTRATION'S DECISION TO END
TPS, THAT WAS ANNOUNCED EARLY IN
JANUARY, IT REALLY PULLED THE
RUG BENEATH OUR FEET.
MY PARENTS HAD BEEN LIVING IN
THIS COUNTRY FOR OVER 25 YEARS
AND THEY HAVE HAD -- THEY WERE
PROTECTED UNDER TPS SINCE 2001.
AND SO WE ALL SAT DOWN AS A
FAMILY SOON AFTER THE
ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE AND I CAN
TELL YOU IT WAS ONE OF THE
HARDEST CONVERSATIONS THAT YOU
COULD EVER HAVE.
TO IMAGINE MY PARENTS NO LONGER
AROUND FOR US.
IT'S SOMETHING THAT I WOULD
NEVER WANT TO IMAGINE.
BUT NOW THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
HAS GIVEN MY FAMILY A DEADLINE.
WE HAVE UNTIL SEPTEMBER 2019 TO
REALLY FIGURE OUT WHAT WE ARE
GOING TO DO.
>> WALTER, LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT
SOME OF THE LOGISTICS OF THIS,
IF IT WOULD.
THERE'S A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY
AROUND THIS.
INCLUDING IF INDEED IF IT
EXPIRES, WE HAVE HEARD THE
GOVERNMENT SAY, WELL, WE'RE
GOING TO BE SOMEWHAT SELECTIVE
ABOUT WHO WE ARE GOING TO FORCE
TO LEAVE.
UNDERSTANDING THESE
UNCERTAINTIES, WHAT KIND OF
ADVICE THEN CAN YOU GIVE TO
SOMEBODY LIKE RODMAN AND HIS
PARENTS?
>> YOU KNOW, WE KNOW THAT
THERE'S A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY,
BUT ON THE OTHER HAND WE ALSO
KNOW THAT THE ADMINISTRATION,
AND IN PARTICULAR THE REPUBLICAN
PARTY IN CONGRESS HAS MADE IT
CLEAR THAT THEY INTEND ON
SETTING UP AS BIG A DEPORTATION
MACHINE AS THEY CAN, AND WE'RE
SEEING THAT IN THE NEGOTIATIONS
THAT ARE ONGOING RIGHT NOW IN
THE SENATE AND IN THE HOUSE.
SO IT'S PRETTY CLEAR THAT EVEN
THOUGH THAT THEY ARE BEING
AMBIGUOUS ON PURPOSE, WHILE THEY
SET UP THIS DEPORTATION MACHINE
THAT WE'RE SEEING, FOR EXAMPLE
HERE ON LONG ISLAND, I.C.E. HAS
SET UP A CONTRACT TO BEGIN
HAVING AS MUCH AS 150
IMMIGRANTS, INCLUDING WOMEN AND
CHILDREN IN ONE OF OUR DETENTION
CENTERS IN ONE OF OUR LOCAL
JAILS.
SO THE INFRASTRUCTURE IS BEING
SET UP AND IT'S PRETTY CLEAR.
SO IN THE FACE OF THAT, WE ARE
WORKING PREDOMINANTLY WITH
FAMILIES LIKE RODMAN'S, SO THEY
CAN BE SHARING THEIR STORIES
BECAUSE WE THINK THIS IS A HUGE
INJUSTICE THAT'S HAPPENING TO
OUR COMMUNITIES AND TO FAMILIES
LIKE RODMAN, AND WE'RE ALSO
ADVOCATING, WE'RE ORGANIZING AND
ADVOCATING FOR POLPOLICIES.
BILLS THAT HAVE BEEN PROPOSED IN
CONGRESS, INCLUDING ONE WE
WORKED VERY CLOSELY WITH
CONGRESSWOMAN VELAZQUEZ, TO WORK
WITH THOUSANDS OF IMMIGRANTS,
NOT JUST FROM EL SALVADOR, BUT
FROM IN EAST AFRICAN COUNTRIES
SO THEY WILL HAVE A PATHWAY TO
ADJUSTING THEIR IMMIGRATION
STATUS HERE PERMANENTLY AND
REMAIN WITH THEIR FAMILIES
TOGETHER IN OUR COMMUNITIES.
>> IF SOMEONE CAME UP TO YOU,
RODMAN AND SAID I HEARD YOUR
STORY, AND I'M NOT AT ALL
UNSYMPATHETIC TO YOUR STORY, I'M
NOT, AND I DON'T WANT TO HARM
YOUR FAMILY.
HOWEVER, THE LAW IS WHAT THE LAW
IS, AND THE LAW ALLOWED YOUR
PARENTS TO COME INTO THIS
COUNTRY ON A TEMPORARY STATUS
BECAUSE OF WHAT WAS TAKING PLACE
IN EL SALVADOR AT THE TIME.
AND NOW THE LAW IS SAYING THOSE
CONDITIONS DON'T EXIST SO THE
TEMPORARY STATUS SHOULD NOT
EXIST.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THAT
PERSON.
AGAIN, UNDERSTANDING IT'S
SOMEONE THAT MIGHT BE
SYMPATHETIC TO YOU.
>> I WOULD TELL THEM, WELL, MY
FAMILY IS ONE OF HUNDREDS OF
THOUSANDS OF FAMILIES WHO HAVE
BUILT OUR ENTIRE LIVES HERE.
LONG ISLAND, THIS IS OUR HOME.
AND IT'S VERY IMPORTANT FOR OUR
GOVERNMENT AND LOCAL ELECTED
OFFICIALS THAT THEY RECOGNIZE
THAT PEOPLE LIKE MY PARENTS WHO
HAVE BENEFITTED SO MUCH FROM
TPS, THAT THEY HAVE CONTRIBUTED
ENORMOUSLY TO THE COMMUNITY AND
TO THE ECONOMY.
AND THAT THEY -- MY PARENTS,
THROUGH ALL OF THEIR HARD WORK
AND SACRIFICES THAT THEY HAVE
GIVEN ME SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES.
I'LL BE GRADUATING FROM COLLEGE
SOON.
AND IT WILL ALL BE BECAUSE OF MY
PARENTS SACRIFICES AND HARD
WORK, AND IT'S REALLY IMMORAL
AND UNJUST TO SEPARATE SO MANY
FAMILIES THAT HAVE BEEN LIVING
HERE FOR YEARS AND CONTRIBUTE SO
MUCH TO WHAT THIS COUNTRY IS, EL
SALVADOR IS A PLACE WHERE
THERE'S NOT THIS MANY JOB
OPPORTUNITIES AND TO TAKE PEOPLE
LIKE MY PARENTS AND SEND THEM
BACK TO EL SALVADOR, A PLACE
THEY HAVEN'T BEEN IN YEARS, IT'S
UN-AMERICAN.
>> DO YOU THINK THERE'S A
REALISTIC-THAT WOULD LEAD THEM
TO A PATH TO ANOTHER LEGAL
STATUS, LOOK, WE HAVE BEEN
PRODUCTIVE, WE HAVE RAISED A
WONDERFUL YOUNG MAN WHO'S
GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE, DO YOU
SEE SOMETHING ON THE HORIZON
THAT MIGHT HELP THEM?
>> WE THINK WE HAVE A MORAL
RESPONSIBILITY AS A COUNTRY TO
CREATE A PATHWAY FOR THESE
FAMILIES WHO NOT ONLY HAVE BEEN
WORKING HERE, THEY'RE
HOMEOWNERS.
>> A LEGAL PATHWAY, YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT?
>> RIGHT NOW THEY HAVE LEGAL
STATUS, A PATH FOR TPS STATUS
HAS ALWAYS BEEN A CONVERSATION
AROUND IMMIGRATION REFORM, UP
UNTIL THIS ADMINISTRATION THAT
HAS DECIDED TO END THIS PROGRAM
WITHOUT A SOLUTION, HAS CAUSED
MAJOR DISRUPTIONS TO COMMUNITIES
LIKE OURS, BECAUSE HERE ON LONG
ISLAND ALONE, CLOSE TO 5,000
PEOPLE ARE HOMEOWNERS, AND SO
THAT MEANS WITHIN THE NEXT YEAR,
5,000 PEOPLE WOULD HAVE TO LEAVE
THEIR HOMES AND
POTENTIALLYMORTGAGES.
WE HAVE ALREADY HAD A HOUSING
PROBLEM HERE ON LONG ISLAND.
WE BELIEVE THERE'S A BETTER
SOLUTION, WE DON'T BELIEVE THAT
THE NARRATIVE COMING FROM THE
ADMINISTRATION IS REFLECTIVE OF
HOW RODMAN'S FAMILY AND MINE DO
NOT BELONG HERE ON LONG ISLAND.
>> THANK YOU BOTH FOR COMING AND
SHARING YOUR STORIES.
>> THANK YOU.
>>> A BEST SELLING AUTHOR, AWARD
WINNING PLAY RIGHT AND ACTIVIST
HAS MADE A MAJOR IMPACT ON
CHAMPIONING WOMEN'S RIGHTS.
SHE FIRST GAINED NOTORIETY FOR
HER 1996 PLAY, "THE VAGINA
MONOLOGUES."
SHE HAS ALSO HELPED RAISE $100
MILLION FOR LOCAL GROUPS AND
ACTIVISTS.
SHE'S CONTINUING TO RAISE
AWARENESS OF WOMEN'S RIGHTS WITH
HER POWERFUL NEW PLAY BASED ON
HER MEMOIR.
THE PLAY CHRONICLES HER OWN
BATTLE WHILE HELPING RAPE
VICTIMS IN THE CONGO AND THEN
RECEIVING A LIFE CHANGING
DIAGNOSIS OF STAGE 3 UTERINE
CANCER.
>> SO HOW DID I GET IT?
WAS IT TOFU?
I ATE A [ BLEEP ] LOT OF TOFU,
WAS IT FEELING THAT I WASN'T
GOOD ENOUGH, WAS IT TALKING
ABOUT VAGINAS, WAS IT LAWN
PESTICIDES, CHERNOBYL?
IT FLEW OVER HERE.
>> YOUR PLAY IS AMAZING.
IT FEELS LIKE A WORK OF ART.
IN THE BODY OF THE WORLD, WHY
CHOOSE THAT TITLE?
>> I THINK FOR MYSELF, AND FOR
MANY OF US IF THE STATISTICS ARE
ACCURATE THAT ONE OUT OF THREE
WOMEN WILL BE BEATEN OR RAPED IN
HER LIFETIME, AND THAT INCLUDES
A BILLION PEOPLE ON THE PLANET.
AND WOMEN WHO HAVEN'T TOLD THEIR
STORIES, WHICH KNOW THERE ARE
MANY.
MOST OF US ARE BEING IMPACTED
WITH SOME SORT OF TRAUMA,
VIOLENCE, BATTERY, RAPE COMING
AT US.
AND WHEN THAT HAPPENS, WE LEAVE
OUR BODIES BECAUSE OUR BODIES
BECOME TOO DANGEROUS, TOO FULL
OF BETRAYALS, TOO FULL OF
TERROR, TOO FULL OF HUMILIATION
TO ACTUALLY LIVE IN THEM.
SO FOR ME, AS A VICTIM OF MANY
OF THOSE VIOLENCES, PHYSICAL
VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE.
I LEFT MY BODY AT A VERY YOUNG
AGE.
AND IT'S TAKEN ME YEARS AND
YEARS AND YEARS TO FIGURE OUT
HOW TO GET BACK IN HERE.
I THINK OFTEN THE VAGINA
MONOLOGUES OR A LOT OF PLAYS
THAT I HAVE WRITTEN HAVE REALLY
BEEN ABOUT THIS EXPLORATION OF
HOW TO WOMEN GET BACK INTO OUR
BODIES?
I THINK CANCER WAS THE THING
THAT KIND OF BLEW IT UP.
I MEAN, IT WAS SO RADICAL, IT
WAS SO PHYSICAL, IT WAS SO
LOSING NINE ORGANS, WAKING UP
WITH TUBES AND ALL KINDS OF
THINGS COMING OUT OF ME.
BUT IT WAS THE FIRST TIME I WAS
REALLY IN MY BODY.
AND I THINK THE JOURNEY OF THAT
COMING INTO MY BODY, MADE ME
REALIZE THAT WHEN WE'RE IN OUR
BODIES, WE ACTUALLY CONNECT WITH
THE EARTH, WE CONNECT WITH OTHER
PEOPLE, WE CONNECT WITH ALL
KINDS OF THINGS WE HAVEN'T BEEN
ABLE TO CONNECT WITH, BECAUSE
WE'RE NOT CONNECTED TO
OURSELVES.
>> I'M THINKING OF SO MANY
THINGS ABOUT THE PLAY, THE
LAYOUT OF THE STAGE AND THERE'S
A LOT THAT DEALS WITH HOW YOUR
BODY CONNECTS WITH THE EARTH,
BUT OF COURSE I DON'T WANT TO
GIVE THAT AWAY.
BUT I DO WANT TO TALK ABOUT IS
THIS SEEMS TO ME ONE OF YOUR
FIRST WORKS THAT YOU WENT SO
DEEPLY PERSONAL.
WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?
>> IT'S REALLY INTENSE.
IT WAS ONE THING TO WRITE THE
MEMOIR, BECAUSE YOU STILL HAVE A
STEP REMOVED.
I DON'T THINK I WAS AWARE OF HOW
INTENSE IT WOULD BE TO ACTUALLY
DO THIS AS A PLAY.
AND IT'S -- THE ONLY WAY I CAN
DESCRIBE IT IS ALCHEMMIC, I'M
PUTTING MYSELF OF THE THERE IN
AWAY -- BUT AT THE SAME TIME,
SOMEONE SAID TRANSPARENCY
TRANSCENDENCE, IF WE ARE HONEST
WITH OURSELVES, IF WE TELL THE
TRUTH, WE GET TO BE FREE, WE GET
TO TRANSCEND AND WE GET TO GO
SOMEPLACE ELSE.
AND SO MUCH OF OUR CULTURE IS
TRANSFORMATIVE.
MOST OF THIS COUNTRY IS LIVING
IN THE NEO LIBERAL WRATH, SOME
PEOPLE ARE ACCEPTED, THEN THE
NEXT MINUTE YOU'RE OUT.
YOUR VALUES CAN SO EASILY SLIP
OUT OF YOUR HANDS IF YOU BASE IT
ON OTHER PEOPLE.
SO WE'RE ALL PERFORMING, IT
SEEMS TO ME TO KEEP UP WITH THAT
VALUE.
AND I THINK WHEN YOU STOP
PERFORMING AND YOU SAY, YOU
KNOW, I POOP, I LOSE MY ORGANS,
I AM A CRAZY PERSON, I HAD A
REALLY ROUGH CHILDHOOD, IT ISN'T
WHAT IT APPEARS TO BE.
AND PEOPLE ARE SAYING, OH, THAT
WAS ME TOO, OH, I HAVE THE SAME
MOTHER, THAT'S MY STORY.
>> ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WAS
ALSO SO MOVING AND SHOCKING, BUT
ALSO BEAUTIFUL IN A LOT OF WAYS,
WAS THAT THIS ISN'T JUST ABOUT
YOU, YOU TALK SO MUCH ABOUT THE
WOMEN THAT YOU MET IN THE CONGO,
AND THEIR LIFE EXPERIENCES WHICH
FIRST OF ALL DON'T REALLY MAKE
ANY OF THE HEADLINES HERE IN
AMERICA.
>> NO, NO.
>> BUT YOU TALK ABOUT THEM AS
HUMAN BEINGS, AS INDIVIDUALS AND
PEOPLE, I THOUGHT THAT WAS SO
POWERFUL.
>> I LOVE THEM, YOU KNOW, I HAVE
SPENT ALMOST TEN YEARS IN THE
CONGO, BUILDING THE CITY OF JOY,
WORKING WITH SOME OF THE MOST
POWERFUL, INSPIRING, BRILLIANT
WOMEN I HAVE EVER MELT IN THE
WORLD, WHO PROBABLY SUFFERED
SOME OF THE WORST ATROCITIES ON
THIS PLANET AND YET THEIR SPIRIT
AND THEIR GENEROSITY AND THEIR
GRATITUDE AND THEIR LOVE AND
THEIR VISION IS SO POWERFUL.
AND I THINK MAMACIE IS ONE OF
THE CHARACTERS, SHE'S MY SISTER,
WE ACTUALLY WENT FIVE YEARS AGO
AND GOT TATTOOS OF THE CONGO SO
WE COULD BE SISTER IN THE CITY
OF JOY, WHICH IS A PLACE WHERE
NOW THOUSANDS OF WOMEN HAVE
RECOVERED AND MOVED FORWARD AS
POWERFUL ROLE MODELS IN THEIR
COMMUNITY AFTER THEY COME OUT OF
THE CITY OF JOY.
I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET PEOPLE
FOR TEN YEARS TO GET PEOPLE TO
PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT'S GOING ON
IN CONGO.
WE CAN'T EVEN GET PEOPLE TO PAY
ATTENTION TO WHAT'S GOING ON IN
TALLAHASSEE OR CHARLOTTESVILLE
TO ACTUALLY GET THEM TO HEAR
WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE CONGO.
I HAVE NOTICED HOW MANY MORE
DONATIONS ARE COMING, HOW MANY
PEOPLE ARE WRITING TO SAY WHAT
CAN I DO?
HOW CAN I BE PART OF IT?
EVERY NIGHT I FEEL LIKE THEY'RE
UP ON STAGE WITH ME AND I FEEL
SO HAPPY TO GET TO BRING THEM
HERE AND -- BECAUSE, HONESTLY,
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE CONGO,
IS KIND OF THE EPITOME OF THE
WORLD, IT'S AN ECONOMIC WORLD
FOUGHT FOR MINERALS, IT'S A WAR
THAT'S BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE
RAPE OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF
WOMEN, DESECRATED THEIR LIVES,
BUT IT'S ALSO A PLACE WHERE
CAPITALISM, SEXISM, RACISM,
COLONIALISM HAS BOILED INTO THIS
CALDRON OF TOXIC MADNESS THAT'S
BEING ENACTED ON WOMEN'S BODIES.
IT SEEMS SO MUCH OF THE WORLD
NOW IS BECOMING ABOUT PROFIT AND
WOMEN'S BODIES ARE SO OFTEN THE
LANDSCAPE OF WHICH --
>> FOR PROFIT, YEAH.
>> EVE, I CAN'T THANK YOU TOO
MUCH FOR YOUR MEMOIR AND THIS
PLAY, TRANSFORMATIVE IS A GOOD
WORD TO USE BECAUSE IT
DEFINITELY AFFECTED ME DEEPLY.
>> EVE ESSLER'S PLAY WILL BE
PLAYING UNTIL MARCH 21 AS PART
OF THE MANHATTAN CLUB'S SEASON.
FOR MORE INVESTIGATION LOG ON TO
METROFOCUS.ORG.
>> FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS
PF THE MANHATTAN CLUB'S SEASON.
PROVIDED BY --PROVIDED BY --