METROFOCUS: JANUARY 22, 2020

January 23, 2020 at 5:30 am

Did New York lawmakers go too far by eliminating cash bail for many misdemeanors and non-violent offenses? Or is the statewide shake-up leading to a more just system for the state? We investigate. In Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a neighborhood with a long history of racial tension, a community leader with a track record of healing sets out to bridge the divide between black youths and Hasidic Jews.

Aired on January 22, 2020. 

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>>> TONIGHT, ON "METROFOCUS,"
DID NEW YORK DEMOCRATS GO TOO
FAR BY ELIMINATING CASH BAIL FOR
MANY MISDEMEANORS AND NONVIOLENT
OFFENSES OR IS THE STATEWIDE
SHAKEUP LEADING TO A MORE JUST
SYSTEM FOR ALL NEW YORKERS?
WE'LL INVESTIGATE.
>>> THEN AS ANTI-SEMITIC HATE
CRIMES SURGE IN NEW YORK, IN
CROWN HEIGHTS, A NEIGHBORHOOD
WITH A LONG HISTORY OF RACIAL
TENSION, A COMMUNITY LEADER WITH
A TRACK RECORD OF HEALING SETS
OUT TO BRIDGE THE DIVIDE BETWEEN
COMMUNITIES AND FORGE A PATH
FORD.
THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS
"METROFOCUS" STARTS RIGHT NOW.
>> Announcer: THIS IS
"METROFOCUS," WITH RAFAEL P.
ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA
FLANAGAN.
"METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY
JAMES AND MERYL TISCH, SUE AND
EDGAR WALKENHEIN III, THE
PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMISM IN, BERNARD AND IRAN
SCHWARTZ, ROSALYN P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND
BY --
>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
I'M JACK FORD.
NEW YORK'S BAIL REFORM LAW.
THE QUESTION IS, IS IT FAIR OR
IS IT DANGEROUS?
CONTROVERSIAL NEW REFORMS WENT
INTO EFFECT AT THE BEGINNING OF
2020, ELIMINATING CASH BAIL FOR
ALMOST ALL MISDEMEANORS AND
NONVIOLENT CRIMES.
SUPPORTERS SAY THAT THESE
REFORMS CREATE A FAIRER CRIMINAL
JUSTICE SYSTEM, ONE THAT DOES
NOT DISYIM NATE AGAINST THE POOR
AND KEEPS PEOPLE OUT OF A A
LOCKUP BEFORE THEY'VE BEEN
CONVICTED OF A CRIME.
STAY REPUBLICAN PARTY LEADER AND
MEMBERS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT,
HOWEVER, HAVE RALLIED AGAINST
THE CHANGES.
THEY POINT TO CASES LIKE THAT OF
A SUSPECTED BANK ROBBER WHO WAS
RELEASED ON BAIL ONLY TO GO OUT
AND ALLEGEDLY ROB ANOTHER BANK
AND THEN SUPPOSEDLY YET ANOTHER.
AMID THE BACKLASH, GOVERNOR
ANDREW CUOMO SAYS THE STATE IS
LOOKING AT THE ISSUES AND AT
POSSIBLE CHANGES.
>> IT'S A COMPLICATED SYSTEM.
YOU MAKE ONE CHANGE IN ONE PART
OF THE SYSTEM THAT HAS
RAMIFICATIONS IN OTHER PARTS OF
THE SYSTEM.
WE'RE SPEAKING TO ALL SORTS OF
ENGAGED AND INFORMED SOURCES AND
OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, WE'LL
BE HAVING THE CONVERSATION WITH
THE LEGISLATURE AS TO WHAT
ADJUSTMENTS DO WE WANT TO MAKE.
>> OUR FIRST GUEST TONIGHT WAS
HEAVILY INVOLVED IN THE LOBBYING
EFFORT TO GET THIS BAIL REFORM
PASSED, INSHAW RAKMAN IS AN
ATTORNEY AND DIRECTOR OF
STRATEGY AND NEW INITIATIVES AT
THE BUREAU INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE,
THE NONPROFIT WORKS WITH LEADERS
IN GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY TO
IMPROVE THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE
SYSTEM.
INSHAW, WE ARE DELIGHTED TO HAVE
YOU WITH US TONIGHT.
LET ME ASK YOU TO START OFF BY
GIVING US A SORT OF BIG PICTURE
OF WHAT WENT ON HERE, FOR THOSE
WHO MIGHT NOT HAVE FOLLOWED AND
BE FAMILIAR WITH ALL THE
DETAILS.
WHAT WERE THE CONCERNS ABOUT NEW
YORK'S BAIL SYSTEM THAT DROVE
THIS CONVERSATION AND WHAT ARE
THE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES THAT
WENT INTO PLACE?
>> THANKS SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME,
JACK.
GLAD TO BE HERE AND GLAD TO BE
TALKING ABOUT THIS IMPORTANT
ISSUE THAT'S REALLY TOP OF MIND
FOR MANY NEW YORKERS.
SO NEW YORK'S BAIL SYSTEM HAS
RESULTED FOR DECADES IN
INEQUITY.
THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE SITTING
IN JAIL WHO SIMPLY CAN'T AFFORD
THE PRICE OF THEIR FREEDOM, AND
SO WHAT THAT ACTUALLY TRANSLATED
INTO IS 24,000 NEW YORKERS IN
JAIL ON ANY GIVEN DAY ACROSS THE
STATE, 70% OF WHOM HAVE NOT BEEN
CONVICTED OF A CRIME, PRESUMED
INNOCENT AND THE VAST MAJORITY
ARE THERE BECAUSE THEY CAN'T
AFFORD THE DOLLAR AMOUNT OF
THEIR BAIL.
AND SO THIS BAIL REFORM THAT
CAME INTO PLAY IN NEW YORK IT'S
NOT UNIQUE TO NEW YORK.
OTHER JURISDICTIONS HAVE ENACTED
BAIL REFORM.
OUR NEIGHBORS IN NEW JERSEY
ENACTED BAIL REFORM TO MUCH
SUCCESS THREE YEARS AGO SO IT'S
REALLY LEARNING FROM WHAT OTHER
JURISDICTIONS HAVE DONE, HOW DO
YOU MAKE SURE PEOPLE AREN'T
SITTING IN JAIL SIMPLY BECAUSE
OF THE SIZE OF THEIR WALLET AND
THAT WE'RE ACTUALLY ENHANCING
PUBLIC SAFETY BY MAKING SURE
THAT PEOPLE CHARGED WITH
MISDEMEANORS, NONVIOLENT
FELONIES, LOW-LEVEL CRIMES ARE
IN FACT GETTING TO STAY HOME
WITH THEIR FAMILIES, STAY IN
THEIR JOBS AND THEIR COMMUNITIES
AND NOT BE SITTING INSIDE A JAIL
CELL.
>> I WAS' ALWAYS BEEN SURPRISED
THAT MANY PEOPLE DIDN'T
UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF BAIL
AND SOME SENSE THEY THOUGHT
ISN'T THIS A HEAD START ON
PUNISHMENT?
BUT THAT'S NOT THE ANSWER.
WHAT IS IT THAT BAIL INITIALLY
WAS DESIGNED TO SECURE AND TO
PROVIDE?
>> HISTORICALLY THE PURPOSE OF
BAIL IS INCENTIVE TO GET PEOPLE
TO COURT.
IT USED TO BE AN IOU, A PROMISE.
THE JUDGE WOULD SAY IF YOU DON'T
SHOW UP TO COURT YOU'RE ON THE
HOOK FOR THIS AMOUNT OF MONEY.
OVER TIME AND THIS HAS BEEN IN
THE LAST CENTURY IN THIS
COUNTRY, JUDGES STARTED SETTING
BAIL, YOU HAVE TO PAY THAT MONEY
UP FRONT.
WHO DOES THAT IMPACT?
THAT IMPACTS PEOPLE WHO ARE
POOR, WHO DON'T HAVE THAT MONEY.
SO THAT'S LED TO THE CRISIS THAT
WE HAVE NOW HERE IN NEW YORK AND
ACROSS THIS COUNTRY, WHERE
NATIONWIDE THERE'S ALMOST
500,000 PEOPLE IN JAIL TODAY
SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY CAN'T PAY
BAIL AND HERE IN NEW YORK,
24,000 PEOPLE IN JAIL, 70% OF
WHOM ARE PRESUMED INNOCENT,
HAVEN'T BEEN CONVICTED OF A
CRIME BUT THERE BECAUSE THEY
CAN'T AFFORD BAIL.
THAT DEFEATS THE INITIAL PURPOSE
OF BAIL WHICH WAS INCENTIVE TO
SHOW UP TO COURT, NOT
NECESSARILY PUNISHMENT BEFORE
CONVICTION, WHICH IS HOW BAIL
HAS FUNCTIONED IN RECENT
DECADES.
>> WHAT WOULD YOU SAY, ANSWER A
CONCERNED CITIZEN WHO SAYS TO
YOU LOOK, I UNDERSTAND WHAT
YOU'RE SAYING AND I APPLAUD THE
NOTION OF TAKING PEOPLE WHO ARE
CHARGED WITH NONVIOLENT
OFFENSES, OFTENTIMES THE FIRST
TIME THEY'RE INVOLVED IN THE
JUSTICE SYSTEM AND LET THEM OUT.
'COSTING THE CITY AND STATE
ENORMOUS SUMS OF MONEY, COSTING
THEIR FAMILY ENORMOUS SUMS OF
MONEY.
THEN THEY SAY TO YOU, HOWEVER,
HOW DO WE PROTECT OURSELVES, WE
BEING THE PUBLIC FROM PEOPLE WHO
WE LOOK AT AND WE SAY ALL RIGHT,
WE KNOW THAT THEY HAVE A HISTORY
OF CRIMINAL EVENTS.
LOOKING AT WHAT THEY DID HERE
THERE'S A PRETTY GOOD CHANCE
WE'RE GOING TO SEE THEM AGAIN
AND THAT DOES NOT PROTECT US.
SO HOW CAN WE ON THE ONE HAND
SAY LET'S MAKE SURE PEOPLE WHO
DON'T BELONG THERE WHO HAVE NOT
BEEN CONVICTED OF ANYTHING GET
OUT AND YET STILL PROTECT THE
PUBLIC?
WHAT'S THE ANSWER TO THAT
DILEMMA?
>> PUBLIC SAFETY IS OF PARAMOUNT
CONCERN FOR ALL OF US, INCLUDING
THOSE OF US WHO WERE DEEPLY
INVOLVED IN MAKING SURE THESE
NEW LAWS PASSED, AND HERE IS
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE USE OF
JAIL AND PUBLIC SAFETY IS THAT
IF SOMEBODY IS ACCUSED OF A
CRIME, EVEN A SERIOUS CRIME, AND
YOU PUT THEM IN JAIL, YOU KNOW
THAT YOU HAVE BROKEN THEIR TIES
TO THEIR COMMUNITIES, THEIR
LOVED ONES, ANY ACCESS TO
SERVICES SUCH AS MENTAL HEALTH
TREATMENT OR DRUG TREATMENT, OR
OPPORTUNITIES TO BECOME
EMPLOYED, SO ACTUALLY THAT STINT
IN JAIL WHICH FOR MOST PEOPLE IS
A MATTER OF DAYS, WEEKS OR
PERHAPS EVEN MONTHS, BUT WHEN
THAT PERSON IS RELEASED, THEY'RE
ACTUALLY MORE LIKELY TO CONTINUE
TO BE INVOLVED IN THE CRIMINAL
JUSTICE SYSTEM.
ONE OF THE BEST PARTS OF THE NEW
BAIL LAW THAT WAS PASSED IS THAT
JUDGES NOW EXPLICITLY ARE
REQUIRED AND CAN CONSIDER WHAT
PRETRIAL CONDITIONS OF RELEASE,
WHAT SUPPORTIVE SERVICES, WHAT
KINDS OF MONITORING AND
SUPERVISION CAN WE PROVIDE
INDIVIDUALS SO THAT WE ACTUALLY
DO BREAK THAT CYCLE, SO THAT
THOSE CONCERNS ABOUT PUBLIC
SAFETY ARE MET.
IT'S ACTUALLY A FALSEHOOD TO
ASSUME THAT JAIL AND
INCARCERATION WILL GIVE US MORE
PUBLIC SAFETY.
SURE, IT WILL GIVE A TEMPORARY
PERIOD OF KEEPING SOMEBODY OFF
THE STREETS, IF YOU WILL, BUT IT
ACTUALLY KICKS THE CAN DOWN THE
ROAD, TO ANSWER YOUR REAL
QUESTION ABOUT HOW DO WE MAKE
SURE PEOPLE ARE ABLE TO TURN
THEIR LIVES AROUND, AND STAY OUT
OF TROUBLE, AND STAY OUT OF
CRIME AND HOW WE DO THAT BEST IS
TWO WAYS.
ONE IS TO GIVE PEOPLE ACCESS TO
THE RESOURCES AND SERVICES THAT
GIVES THEM THAT OPPORTUNITY, AND
THE SECOND, LET'S BE VERY CLEAR
HERE IS SOMEONE WHO COMES INTO
OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS
NOT ACTUALLY CONDUCT THAT IS
CONCERNING OR REPREHENSIBLE BUT
IT'S ACTUALLY ABOUT POLICING AND
ENFORCEMENT AND WHAT WE CHOOSE
TO CRIMINALIZE.
BOTH OF THOSE ISSUES ARE AT PLAY
HERE.
>> WHAT SORT OF POWER DO JUDGES
NOW HAVE?
BY WAY OF COMPARISON, WE KNOW
THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INSTITUTED BAIL REFORM A LITTLE
BIT, BEFORE NEW YORK DID.
BUT THEIR JUDGES DO HAVE STILL
SOME ABILITY TO SAY ALL RIGHT,
ORDINARILY YOU MIGHT LOOK LIKE
YOU FIT IN A CATEGORY THAT SAYS
NO BAIL, GO HOME, COME BACK WHEN
YOUR CASE IS UP BUT THEY HAVE
THE ABILITY TO SAY NOT YOU, NOT
UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.
I'VE GOT AN EXEMPTION HERE, AN
EXCEPTION AND I'M GOING TO
UTILIZE IT AND HAVE BAIL OR
YOU'RE NOT GETTING OUT AT ALL.
DO NEW YORK JUDGES HAVE SOME
SIMILAR POWERS, AND SHOULD THEY?
>> SO NEW YORK JUDGES UNDER THE
NEW BAIL LAW HAVE THE DISCRETION
TO HAVE THE POWER TO CONTINUE TO
SET BAIL, IT'S BUSINESS AS
USUAL.
ON THE MORE SERIOUS CASES,
VIOLENT OFFENSES, CASES
INVOLVING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE THE
CASES THAT CAUSE CONCERNS ABOUT
PUBLIC SAFETY, AND NEW JERSEY,
JUDGES ARE DETAINING THOSE
FOLKS, TOO, UNDER THEIR NEW BAIL
REFORM LAW.
WITH DISCRETION THE MOST
PROBLEMATIC AND IT'S REALLY
RESULTED IN RACIAL DISPARITIES
OF WHO IS IN JAIL AND WHO IS
DETAINED PRETRIAL IS WHEN IT
COMES TO LOWER LEVEL OFFENSES,
MISDEMEANORS AND NONVIOLENT
FELONIES.
WHAT WE HAVE SEEN IN NEW JERSEY,
WHICH UNDOUBTEDLY HAS HAD
SUCCESS WITH BAIL REFORM, THEY
HAVE 30% FEWER PEOPLE IN JAIL
TODAY THAN THEY DID BEFORE BAIL
REFORM TOOK PLACE THERE AND
PUBLIC SAFETY HAS INCREASED,
VIOLENT CRIME IS DOWN, ALL
MEASURES OF CRIME ARE DOWN IN
NEW JERSEY, BUT THE ONE PROBLEM,
AND THIS IS REALLY A FUNCTION OF
JUDICIAL DISCRETION, THE ONE
PROBLEM WITH THE JAIL REFORM IS
RACIAL DISPARITIES AND WHO IS
STILL DETAINED PRETRIAL HAS NOT
CHANGED SINCE BEFORE THE BAIL
REFORM LAW, AND SO NEW YORK
LEGISLATORS AND OFFICIALS LOOKED
AT THAT PROBLEM OF HOW NEW
JERSEY'S BAIL REFORM LAW HAS
PLAYED OUT AND DECIDED TO SAY
JUDGES WE'RE GOING TO CURTAIL
THEIR DISCRETION, TO SET BAIL OR
HOLD PEOPLE IN JAIL ON
MISDEMEANOR AND NONVIOLENT
FELONIES, THAT'S A KEY PART OF
NEW YORK'S NEW BAIL REFORM LAW.
HOWEVER, JUDGES HAVE LOTS OF
DISCRETION, IN FACT THEY HAVE
MORE EX-POLICITY DISCRETION NOW
UNDER THIS NEW LAW THAN UNDER
THE OLD REGIME TO SET CONDITIONS
OF RELEASE SUCH AS SUPPORTIVE
SERVICES, MONITORING,
SUPERVISION, THAT MAKES SURE
THAT PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY COMING
BACK TO COURT, AND STAY ARREST
FREE DURING THE PENDCY.
PENDANCY.
>> COMMENTS BY NICOLE
MALEATAKIS, CONGRESSWOMAN,
TALKING ABOUT HER CONCERN OVER
THIS.
LISTEN TO THIS, IF YOU WOULD.
>> THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK KNOW
IT'S WRONG.
THE DEMOCRATS KNOW IT'S WRONG.
THE GOVERNOR'S SAYING THAT NEEDS
TO BE DONE AND SECOND WEEK OF
SESSION, WE'RE HERE NOW AND
NOBODY'S DONE ANYTHING TO
ADDRESS IT AND IT'S BEEN US, THE
REPUBLICANS, THAT ARE PUTTING
FORWARD LEGISLATION FOR FIXING,
AND I GOT TO TELL YOU, IF IT
DOESN'T GET FIXED, THERE'S GOING
TO BE BLOOD ON GOVERNOR CUOMO'S
HANDS.
>> NOW I DON'T KNOW IF SHE MEANS
LITERALLY OR FIGURATIVELY BUT
THAT'S A FAIRLY DIRE PREDICTION.
HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?
>> HER PREDICTION IS COMPLETELY
FALSE AND INCORRECT IS
ESSENTIALLY FEAR MONGERING.
IF HISTORY IS ANY TELL AND IT IS
A TELL, I BROUGHT UP NEW JERSEY
THAT ENACTED BAIL REFORM THREE
YEARS AGO AND BACK THEN, IN
2017, THERE WERE THE SAME SORT
OF CONCERNS ABOUT PUBLIC SAFETY
AND WOULD THERE BE BLOOD ON
PEOPLE'S HANDS AND BLOOD ON THE
STREETS AS A RESULT OF LETTING
MORE PEOPLE OUT OF JAIL
PRETRIAL, AND YOU CAN SEE THAT
IN THE NEWSPAPERS OF NEW JERSEY,
THAT CONTINUES THROUGHOUT THE
FIRST SEVERAL MONTHS THE BAIL
REFORM IS THERE, EXACTLY LIKE
THE PRESS THAT'S GOING ON HERE
IN NEW YORK.
WHAT WE KNOW THREE YEARS IN, IN
NEW JERSEY, IS THAT THERE ISN'T
BLOOD ON ANYBODY'S HANDS.
THERE ISN'T BLOOD ON THE
STREETS.
ALL MEASURES, CRIME IS DOWN FROM
VIOLENT CRIME TO LOW-LEVEL
CRIME.
ARRESTS ARE DOWN.
THERE ARE FEWER PEOPLE IN JAIL.
THAT'S ACTUALLY A SUCCESS STORY.
THAT'S A STORY OF MORE PUBLIC
SAFETY, AND THAT'S THE STORY
THAT WILL HAPPEN HERE IN NEW
YORK, IF WE ACTUALLY GIVE THESE
REFORMS TIME TO PLAY OUT.
>> DO YOU SEE ANYTHING THAT YOU
MIGHT SUGGEST THAT SAYS ALL
RIGHT, LET'S SEE IF WE CAN
ADJUST THIS IN SOME FASHION TO
SATISFY ALL THOSE LEGITIMATE
CONCERNS?
>> THOSE CONCERNS ARE
LEGITIMATE, AND CONSIDERING
AMENDMENTS OR TWEAKS TO THE BAIL
LAW, IT IS LEGITIMATE BUT ONLY
AFTER WE'VE GIVEN IT ENOUGH TIME
TO HAVE ENOUGH DATA, ENOUGH
RESEARCH, ENOUGH IN THE WAY OF
PROOF POINTS TO KNOW WHETHER OR
NOT THIS IS WORKING, AND TWO
WEEKS IN IS NOT MERELY ENOUGH
PROOF POINT, AND THE ONLY PROOF
POINTS THAT THOSE WHO ARE
CONCERNED ABOUT PUBLIC SAFETY
WITH THESE NEW BAILOUTS IS A
HANDFUL OF ISOLATED CASES, AND
THEY ARE TERRIBLE, EACH OF THOSE
INCIDENTS ARE AWFUL AND SHOULD
NOT HAPPEN TO ANYBODY, BUT THAT
IS IGNORING THE HUNDREDS OF NEW
YORKERS WHO HAVE BEEN RELEASED,
WHO HAVE GONE HOME, WHO ARE SAFE
AT HOME AND WHO ARE COMING BACK
TO COURT AS A RESULT.
IF ANY TWEAKS OR AMENDMENTS ARE
TO BE MADE IT SHOULD ONLY BE
MADE MONTHS DOWN THE ROAD, AFTER
WE'VE HAD TIME TO STUDY AND TO
SEE THE IMPACT OF THIS NEW LAW.
>> WELL IT'S CLEARLY A
COMPELLING AND COMPLEX ISSUE.
INSHAW, I THANK YOU FOR SPENDING
SOME TIME WITH US AND SHARING
YOUR THOUGHTS.
MY HOPE IS YOU CAN GET BACK TO
US SOON AND CONTINUE THIS
CONVERSATION.
THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.
YOU TAKE CARE.
>>> AS THE CITY STRUGGLES WITH
THE WORRYING SPIKE IN
ANTI-SEMITIC HATE CRIMES, BLACK
COMMUNITY LEADERS ARE RALLYING
BEHIND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY AND
SAYING MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO
STOP THE HATE.
THE RECENT NO HATE NO FEAR MARCH
ACROSS THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE DREW
THOUSANDS OF NEW YORKERS FROM
ALL BACKGROUNDS AND RELIGIONS
AND IN BROOKLYN, WHICH HAS
BECOME ONE OF THE EPICENTERS OF
ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS, PASTORS
AND RABBIS HAVE BEEN MEETING AND
PRAYING TOGETHER TO FORGE A PATH
FORWARD.
ACCORDING TO THE NYPD DATA,
ANTI-SEMITIC HATE CRIMES WENT UP
SOME 26% LAST YEAR COMPARED TO
THE YEAR BEFORE.
THE NYPD HAS NOT RELEASED
RECORDS ON SPECIFIC INCIDENTS
BUT SEVERAL CASES, ACCORDING TO
LOCAL REPORTS INVOLVED BLACK
YOUTHS ATTACKING JEWS IN
BROOKLYN'S CROWN HEIGHTS
NEIGHBORHOODS.
THAT'S DISTRESSING TO MANY
INCLUDING RICHARD GREENE, A
LOCAL ACTIVIST WHO FOR 40 YEARS
HAS BEEN WORKING TO BUILD
BRIDGES BETWEEN BLACK AND JEWISH
COMMUNITIES IN THE AFTERMATH OF
THE INFAMOUS CROWN HEIGHTS RIOT
BACK IN 1991.
GREENE IS THE FOUNDER AND CEO OF
THE CROWN HEIGHTS YOUTH
COLLECTIVE WHICH RUNS A NUMBER
OF OUTREACH PROGRAMS FOR AT-RISK
YOUTH.
THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.
>> THANK YOU FOR INVITING ME
OVER.
>> I WANT TO GET TO SOME OF THE
SPECIFICS ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE BEEN
DOING, WHAT YOU THINK NEEDS TO
BE DONE, BUT LET'S START BY
SETTING THE STAGE WITH A BIGGER
PICTURE, QUESTION, IF I CAN.
>> UM-HUM.
>> WE TALKED ABOUT 26% INCREASE
IN THE LAST YEAR.
REPORTS WERE THAT THERE WERE AT
LEAST 14 ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS
THAT TOOK PLACE IN THE LAST TWO
WEEKS ALONE OF 2019.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS DRIVING
THIS SURGE, THIS RECENT SURGE OF
ANTI-SEMITIC VIOLENCE?
>> WELL, THERE'S A NUMBER OF
THINGS HAPPENING THERE.
ONE, THE FACT THAT THESE YOUNG
PEOPLE GET A LOT OF THEIR
INFORMATION FROM EACH OTHER
THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA, AND
SOMETHING LIKE THAT HAPPENS, IT
SORT OF HAS A WAY OF SPREADING
THROUGH THAT MEDIUM, AND THESE
YOUNG PEOPLE ARE NOT THEN MADE
AWARE OF THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT
WE'VE HAD IN THAT COMMUNITY, NOT
ONLY THAT COMMUNITY BUT
HISTORICAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN
BLACKS AND JEWS THROUGHOUT THE
HISTORY AND THAT'S SOMETHING I
KEEP EMPHASIEMPHASIZING, THE
SCHOOLS
HAVE TO PICK UP, THE PARENTS,
COMMUNITY PEOPLE HAVE TO PICK
THAT UP, IT'S A RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN US AND BEEN THERE
HISTORICALLY.
>> LET ME JUMP BACK NOW, ABOUT
40-SOME YEARS, WHEN YOU STARTED
YOUR ORGANIZATION, WHAT WAS IT
THAT CAUSED YOU TO DO THAT AND
WHAT WERE YOU HOPING TO DO WITH
THE ORGANIZATION?
>> WELL, YOU KNOW, I GREW UP IN
CROWN HEIGHTS.
I'VE BEEN IN CROWN HEIGHTS NOW
SINCE THE DODGERS WERE GETTING
READY TO LEAVE.
IT'S BEEN A WHILE.
BUT I HAVE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY
TO LIVE IN THAT COMMUNITY.
I WENT TO SCHOOL THERE FROM THE
FIFTH GRADE ON, AND I COULD
REMEMBER GROWING UP, ONE OF THE
THINGS THAT I DID ON SATURDAY
WAS THEY WOULD LEAVE A COIN ON
THE PLATE AND I WOULD GO INSIDE
FOR THEM AND FLIP THE SWITCHES
BECAUSE THE HASIDIC COMMUNITY
COULDN'T LIGHT LIGHTS ON THE
SABBATH.
I WAS ACROSS FROM 770, THE
HEADQUARTERS, AND I HAD THAT
RELATIONSHIP THROUGHOUT MY TIME,
MY LITTLE ONES GREW UP THERE,
BUT NOW YOU HAVE A NEW
GENERATION OF THE 21st CENTURY
CHILDREN THAT ARE COMING UP.
THEY HAVE NO CONNECTION TO
SCHOOLS, I WHEN I WENT TO HIGH
SCHOOL, RASNUS WAS AN INTEGRATED
HIGH SCHOOL.
IT DOESN'T HAPPEN ANYMORE, SO
OUR YOUNG PEOPLE, THEY HAVE NO
WAY OF KNOWING THEIR NEIGHBORS.
>> WHAT DO YOU THINK CREATES
THAT DIVIDE?
AS YOU MENTIONED, HISTORICALLY,
THERE WAS A BOND, A RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN BLACKS AND JEWS.
YOU HEARD HISTORIANS SAID EACH
RECOGNIZE BOTH GROUPS WERE
VIEWED AS OTHERS SO IT WAS
HELPFUL TO BOND TOGETHER.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS NOW THAT
THIS GENERATION, ESPECIALLY OF
YOUTHS, DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THAT,
AND LOOKS AT EACH OTHER AS AN
OTHER, AN OTHER TO BE AVOIDED
AND AS WE'RE SEEING, SOMETIMES
TO BE ATTACKED.
>> UM-HUM.
WELL YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOU
MADE MENTION OF W.B.DUBOIS
COMING INTO THE 20th CENTURY
WITH BLACKS AND JEWS, FORMED AN
ORGANIZATION CALLED NAACP, AND
THAT ORGANIZATION WAS THERE AT
THE FOREFRONT OF THE SPEARHEAD
OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.
THAT ORGANIZATION WAS IN THE
COURTS.
MANY OF THE JEWISH LAWYERS WHO
WERE THERE TO DEFEND WHETHER IT
WAS THE SCOTTSBOROUGH BOYS OR
THE OTHER ISSUES AROUND, THERE
WAS THAT RELATIONSHIP.
WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE AND TEACH
THAT HISTORY AGAIN FULL FORCE.
SO THIS IS THE HISTORY THAT I
SORT OF HOLD VERY SACRED, THAT
IT HAS NOT BEEN TOLD NOW, AND
AGAIN, WHAT THESE YOUNG PEOPLE
ARE HEARING ARE THINGS THAT ARE
PRETTY MUCH BLOWN OUT OF
PROPORTION, AND IT'S GOT TO BE A
NEW, CROWN HEIGHTS 1991, AFTER
THAT, WE HAD SO MANY PROGRAMS
THAT WERE GOING UNDER FORMER
DAVID DENKINS' ADMINISTRATION.
>> LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THAT, TO
GET TO THAT.
I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT 1991.
CROWN HEIGHTS RIOTS.
QUICK SYNOPSIS, A JEWISH
RELIGIOUS OFFICIAL DRIVING A CAR
ALONG WITH A GROUP,
UNFORTUNATELY HITS AND KILLS A
YOUNG BLACK CHILD.
SHORTLY THEREAFTER, THERE IS A
ROSENBAUM 27-YEAR-OLD RABBIICAL
STUDENT FROM AUSTRALIA IS
TRACKED DOWN AND MURDERED BY A
YOUNG GROUP OF BLACKS, MOST
PEOPLE BELIEVED IT WAS IN
RETALIATION FOR THE CAR
ACCIDENT.
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE
EXPLOSION THAT TOOK PLACE THEN,
AND MAYBE MORE IMPORTANT, WHAT
IT DROVE IN TERMS OF PROGRAMS
AND APPROACHES TO TRY TO REMEDY
WHATEVER THAT RIFT WAS BETWEEN
BLACKS AND JEWS.
>> THE EXPLOSION, AS YOU WOULD
SAY, THAT FIRST COUPLE OF DAYS
WE HAD A LOT OF THINGS
HAPPENING.
THE MAYOR CAME OUT.
WE MET ON THE CORNER WITH THE
LEADERSHIP IN THE HASIDIC
COMMUNITY, SOME OF THE YOUNG
PEOPLE FROM BOTH SIDES, AND WE
STARTED A PROGRAM RIGHT AWAY.
THE SCHOOL 167 WAS ON THE CORNER
OF SCHENECTADY AND THE EASTERN
BLOCK, WE USED THE SCHOOL AS A
HEADQUARTERS SETTING, TO BRING
YOUNG PEOPLE FROM BOTH
COMMUNITIES TOGETHER.
IF YOU SAT THERE AND HEARD THE
MISNOMER INFORMATION THAT THESE
YOUNG PEOPLE HAD ABOUT EACH
OTHER, AND WE STARTED THAT
CONVERSATION GOING.
WE STARTED OUT OF THAT CAME THE
STREET OUTREACH PROGRAM WHICH
WAS ORIGINALLY AN EVENT THE
MAYOR PUT TOGETHER, THE
COUNCILMAN PUT IT TOGETHER, AND
THEY WOULD GO OUT ON THE STREET,
IF THE MOUNTAIN WON'T COME TO
MOHAMMAD, MOHAMMAD HAS TO IF TO
THE MOUNTAIN.
WE HAVE TO MEET THE YOUNG PEOPLE
ON THE BLOCK THAT THEY HUNG OUT
AND BRING THEM INFORMATION.
WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE
INFORMATION THEY WOULD GET WOULD
GIVE THEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE
THEIR JEWISH NEIGHBORS NOT AS
BEFORE, TWO SHIPS PASSING EACH
OTHER IN THE NIGHT, NOT PICKING
EACH OTHER UP, NOT KNOWING WHO
EACH EITHER IS.
THAT GENERATION NOW HAS GROWN
UP.
THEY'RE PROBABLY GRANDPARENTS
NOW.
SO WE HAVE TO NOW RETURN TO GET
TO THAT YOUNG POPULATION.
>> AND YET THE OUTREACH, STREET
OUTREACH WAS EFFECTIVE BACK
THEN.
>> IT WAS SERIOUSLY EFFECTIVE.
>> NOW IT'S DIMINISHED.
IT'S THE NUMBER SAYING AT ONE
POINT IN TIME YOU HAD 21 VANS.
>> 21 VANS THEN.
>> HOW MANY NOW?
>> WE'RE DOWN TO ONE.
WHEN I GOT THAT ONE VAN THAT
CAME FROM QUEENS, I THINK
ANOTHER AGENCY, AND HE SAID THAT
WOULD BE THE LAST ONE ON THE
ROAD.
STREET OUTREACH DOES NOT THAT
HAVE SAME MOMENTUM AS IT HAD
BEFORE
>> WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
>> YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED, IN
OUR WORK, WHEN IT GETS, WHEN WE
WIN, THEN IT SORT OF, IT'S NOT
REALLY A WIN FOR US, IT'S A WIN
FOR THE CITY IN GENERAL.
WE HAVE SOUTH CENTRAL L.A. NOT
LONG AFTER CROWN HEIGHTS.
WE WERE ABLE TO HOLD.
WE HAD WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, WE
WERE ABLE TO HOLD THESE
COMMUNITIES, WE WERE ABLE TO
TALK TO PEOPLE FROM OTHER PARTS
OF THE COUNTRY, TO TALK ABOUT
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR COMMUNITIES
FROM GOING TO WHERE WE WENT TO,
AND THANK GOD, CROWN HEIGHTS
WAS, WE'VE HAD INCIDENTS OUT
THERE NOW SINCE THAT TIME, BUT
WE WERE ABLE TO KEEP IT DOWN TO
A MINIMUM, AND THAT IS WHAT I
THINK THE VANS AND THE OTHER
PROGRAMS THAT WERE ABLE TO DO
WAS THERE.
I THINK WE HAVE THE GREAT
OPPORTUNITY NOW TO KEEP THAT
GOING.
I'M NOT SAYING AS I SAID AGAIN,
41 YEARS I'VE BEEN DOING THIS
WORK.
41 YEARS IS A GOOD LENGTH OF
TIME, YOU KNOW.
I TELL FOLKS I'M 71 YEARS OLD.
I JUST LOOK 70.
>> NOT A DAY OVER 69.
>> THANK YOU.
BUT I'M CONCERNED THAT MY GRANDS
AND GREAT GRANDS TO PASS ON THIS
INFORMATION.
THIS GREAT CITY OF OURS, WE ARE
PLACED IN OUR CHOICES BETWEEN
AMERICA AND THE WORLD, WE HAVE A
GREAT OPPORTUNITY.
CROWN HEIGHTS IS A PLACE HALFWAY
BETWEEN NEW YORK CITY AND UNITED
STATES, TO PASS ON THIS
INFORMATION, TO GROOM THE NEXT
GENERATION.
>> WHAT DO YOU THINK WE NEED TO
DO?
I'M GOING TO ASK YOU TWO SORT OF
TWO CATEGORIES HERE.
ONE I'M GOING TO LUMP TOGETHER
WHICH IS THE CITY AND THE
SCHOOLS.
>> OH, YES.
>> AND THE OTHER, FAMILIES.
PARENTS.
WHAT DO WE NEED TO GET FROM BOTH
OF THOSE ENTITIES SO THAT WE CAN
GET YOUNG BLACKS TO SAY JEWS ARE
NOT OUR ENEMIES.
WE DON'T NEED TO ATTACK THEM, TO
HAVE THE JEWS SAY BLACKS ARE NOT
OUR ENEMIES, GO BACK TO WORKING
TOGETHER.
WHAT HAS TO BE DONE?
>> YOU MENTIONED THE FAMILIES
ARE VERY IMPORTANT.
YOU HAVE TO GET YOUNG PEOPLE
FORMULATED WHEN THEY WALK OUT
THOSE DOORS BUT INSIDE THE
SCHOOLS, AFTER CROWN HEIGHTS WE
HAD THE SCHOOL BUILDINGS OPEN AT
NIGHT FROM THE TIME AND THAT'S
HOW I GREW UP IN THE SCHOOLS.
THE SCHOOL BUILDINGS HAVE TO BE
OPEN, AND WE WERE ABLE TO DO SO
MANY THINGS WITH THAT
AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAM.
IT WASN'T JUST COMING IN AND
THROW A BALL AROUND.
IT WAS A PROGRAM THAT YOU HAD
COUNSELING, WE HAD JOB
OPPORTUNITIES, OTHER THINGS, WE
HAD INFORMATION WE PASSED ON TO
THEM.
THAT HAS PRETTY MUCH BEEN
DIMINISHED RIGHT NOW.
THE NUMBERS JUST ARE NOT THERE
ANYMORE.
AND THE FAMILY, THE FAMILIES,
MOTHERS AND FATHERS HAVE TO BE
ABLE TO EDUCATE THE LITTLE ONES
GROWING UP, BUT AGAIN OUR
PARENTS IN THE MEANTIME ARE
WORKING.
IT'S A KIND OF A TOUGH BALANCE
TO BE A FAMILY.
THE FAMILY AS WELL AS -- SO THE
COMMUNITY HAS TO BECOME THE
FAMILY.
WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO -- THE
CHURCHES HAVE TO BECOME THE
FAMILY.
WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO HELP THESE
FAMILIES ALONG WITH INFORMATION.
WE HAVE TO TAKE THESE YOUNG
PEOPLE AND YOU KNOW, SAY LISTEN,
BECAUSE I GET THE CALLS.
I HAVE THE GRANDMOTHER CALL ME,
MENTION WHEN HER GRANDSON WAS IN
SOME ISSUES THAT HAPPENED OUT ON
THE STREET OF CROWN HEIGHTS AND
NORMALLY, AN INCIDENT LIKE THAT
WOULD BE A MATTER OF GOING,
HELPING THEM OUT.
ONCE IT BECOMES, GRADUATES TO
THAT LEVEL OF ANTI-SEMITISM,
THAT 14-YEAR-OLD WILL BE TREATED
AS AN ANTI-SEMITIC CRIME AND
THAT'S ANOTHER PIECE WE HAVE TO
EDUCATE THESE YOUNG PEOPLE IN
THE STREET, AS I TOLD THERE'S
NOTHING I CAN DO AT THIS POINT
IN A NORMAL SCENARIO, NOT NOW.
IT'S IN THE HANDS OF A HATE
CRIME UNIT, WHATEVER UNIT THAT
HANDLES THAT.
>> GET THEM TO UNDERSTAND WHAT
MIGHT HAVE BEEN A SMALLER
OFFENSE IN THE PAST, IT CAN NOW
BE LIFE ALTERING.
>> ABSOLUTELY, ABSOLUTELY.
>> YOU'VE DONE WONDERFUL WORK.
>> THANK YOU, KINDLY.
>> FOR ALL THESE YEARS AND WE
STILL NEED YOU TO CONTINUE TO DO
THIS.
>> I'LL BE AROUND FOR A LITTLE
WHILE.
>> WE WILL COUNT ON IT.
THANK YOU FOR SHARING WITH US.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING WITH
YOU AGAIN.
>> TAKE CARE.
>> FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE
YOUTH COLLECTIVE VISIT OUR
WEBSITE AT METROFOCUS.ORG.
>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY JAMES AND MERYL TISCH, SUE
AND EDGAR WALKENHEIN III, THE
PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
AN TIE SEMITISM, BERNARD AND
IRENE SHWARDS, ROSALYN P.
WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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