MetroFocus: June 30, 2020

Encore: September 11, 2020

George Floyd’s death has inspired protests across the U.S. and around the world, but it has also inspired crowds to evoke the names of other black men and women who have died in police custody – including 25 year old Freddie Gray. In 2015, Gray was arrested in Baltimore, put in a police van and shackled – with no seatbelt. At the end of what was later called a “rough ride,” Gray was found unconscious and with a broken neck. He died a week later. The protests that followed Freddie Gray’s death pitted protestors square against the police. But what many didn’t know was that Freddie Gray was born months premature, underweight, and addicted to heroin. He was also exposed to unsafe levels of lead as a child while living in public housing. Tonight, in his new book, Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City, author Wes Moore chronicles the uprising and the urgent need to address both inequitable policing that occurs in poor and black neighborhoods as well as the underlying conditions that he says, “oftentimes our citizens of color…constrained by poverty, racism and systemic injustice…are repeatedly being forced to endure.”

TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

> WELCOME TO SHOERK I'M JACK FORD.

-- WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

IN THE SUMMER OF 2014 THE CITY AND NATION WERE SHOCKED BY A SCENE THAT HAD BECOME ALL TOO FAMILIAR TO US A. YOUNG AFRICAN-AMERICAN MAN BY THE NAME OF FREDDIE GRAY WAS ARRESTED AFTER HAVING MADE EYE CONTACT WITH AN OFFICER AND THEN FLED.

AFTER HE WAS ARRESTED AND ALLEGEDLY HE HAD A KNIFE ON THEM AND THEN HE WAS THROWN INTO A POLICE VEHICLE AND TAKEN ON WHAT WAS CALLED A ROUGH RIDE AND HE WAS LEFT WITH SEVERE DAMAGE TO HIS SPINAL CHORD AND ULTIMATELY LED TO HIS DEATH.

THE AFTERMATH OF WHAT HAPPENED TO FREDDIE GRAY LEFT BALTIMORE IN SHOCK.

DAYS OF PROTEST FOLLOWED.

AND THEN DAYS OF VIOLENCE AND DESTRUCTION TOOK PLACE.

THAT STORY NOW IS BEING TOLD IN A COMPELLING NEW BOOK.

IT'S CALLED 'FIVE DAYS: THE FIERY RECKONING OF AN AMERICAN CITY'. THE AUTHOR IS WES MOORE.

HE WAS BORN IN BALTIMORE, RAISED IN THE BRONX, WENT ON TO BECOME A RHODES SCHOLAR A. DECORATED COMBAT VETERAN, A BEST SELLING AUTHOR AND CURRENTLY THE CEO OF THE ROBIN HOOD ORGANIZATION, THE LARGEST POVERTY FIGHTING ORGANIZATION IN NEW YORK CITY.

WE ARE DELIGHTED TO HAVE WES MOORE ON WITH US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE BOOK AND WHAT IS HAPPENING TODAY.

ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE YOU.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON.

I WANT TO START WITH THE BOOK.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE BOOK, AND THEN WE WILL SEGUE INTO WHAT IS TAKING PLACE TODAY AND WHO IS ROILING OUR SOCIETY.

YOU START THE BOOK, VERY FIRST PAGES WITH YOU SITTING IN A CHURCH FOR THE FUNERAL OF A YOUNG MAN YOU HAD NEVER MET, FREDDIE GRAY.

WHAT WAS IT THAT DREW YOU TO HIS FUNERAL?

I -- I WAS -- I WAS AMAZED THAT WHEN I FIRST WALKED INTO THAT -- FIRST WALKED INTO THAT CHURCH -- FIRST, EVERYBODY WAS THERE.

I SWEAR, THE ENTIRE CITY OF DRAMAT BALTIMORE CAME THERE.

AND I WONDERED WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATION FOR EVERYONE BEING THERE AT THAT POINT.

AND THEN ALSO, WHAT WAS -- WERE ANY OF US PREPARED TO DO WHATEVER IT WOULD TAKE TO MAKE SURE THAT A TRAGEDY LIKE HIS DIDN'T HAVE TO HAPPEN.

I FOUND MYSELF THERE.

LIKE YOU SAID, IT IS THE FIRST FUNERAL THAT I HAD EVER BEEN AT WHERE I DIDN'T ACTUALLY KNOW THE PERSON WHILE THEY WERE ACTUALLY LIVING.

I FELT LIKE THAT WAS PART OF THE PROBLEM.

WHY?

WHY DID YOU FEEL LIKE THAT WAS PART OF THE PROBLEM?

I FEEL LIKE IT WAS THE FIRST MOMENT THAT I OWNED AND STARTED THINKING ABOUT MY OWN COMPLICITY IN THIS MOMENT.

FOR THE FACT THAT REAR WAS A YOUNG MAN THAT IF -- YOU KNOW, IF WE ARE BEING COMPLETELY HONEST, MAYBE THE MOST PEACEFUL WEEK OF HIS LIFE WAS THE WEEK WHEN HE WAS IN A COMA, WHERE DOCTORS AND PROTESTERS AND LAWYERS KNEW HIS NAME, WHERE HE HAD PEOPLE WHO WERE GIVING HIM 24/7 CARE, WHERE THE SOCIETY CARED WHETHER HE LIVED OR DIED.

FOR THAT TO MAYBE BE THE MOST PEACEFUL WEEK OF HIS LIFE WAS PART OF THE PROBLEM.

AND SO IT REALLY BEGAN WHERE I WANTED TO GO THROUGH THIS WHOLE PERSONAL EXPOURLATION ABOUT -- YOU KNOW, ABOUT BOTH WHAT HAPPENED TO FREDDIE, BUT ALSO WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO MY HOMETOWN.

AND QUICKLY BECAME THIS LARGER -- IT TURNED INTO REALLY JUST A LARGER EXPLORATION ABOUT POVERTY AND INEQUITY, THAT PART OF THE BIGGEST TRAGEDY OF FREDDIE WASN'T JUST HIS DEATH, THE HORROR OF HIS DEATH, THAT A YOUNG MAN -- AND YOU SAID IT, JACK FORD, WHAT HE WAS GUILTY OF, SERIOUSLY, WHAT THEY WAS GUILTY OF WAS MAKING EYE CONTACT WITH POLICE AND RUNNING.

BECAUSE IN CERTAIN NEIGHBORHOODS, IN CERTAIN NEIGHBORHOODS DEEMED TO BE HIGH CRIME NEIGHBORHOODS SIMPLY MAKING MY CONTACT AND RUNNING FROM POLICE IS ENOUGH TO GIVE POLICE PROBABLE CAUSE.

HAD HE DONE THAT IN ANOTHER NEIGHBORHOOD HE WOULD HAVE BEEN GOING FOR A JOG.

BUT BECAUSE HE DID IT IN HIS NEIGHBORHOOD IT NOW DEEMED PROBABLE CAUSE.

AND HE WAS ARRESTED AND A WEEK LATER HE WAS IN A COMA.

SO MUCH OF THE ATTENTION AND ACTIVITY WAS AROUND HIS DEATH.

YOU BUT I WANTED TO BE ABLE TO DIG DEEPER, TO DIG INTO THE HORROR OF HIS LIFE, TO DIG INTO THE HORROR OF WHY THESE THINGS CONTINUE TO HAPPEN IN OUR COMMUNITIES AND WHAT WE CONTINUE TO DO IT.

YOU ARE AMONG OTHER THINGS I MENTIONED, A STORY TELLER, A WRITER.

AND AFTER BEING DRAWN TO THIS, AS YOU SAID, IN YOUR YOUR HOME TOWN, YOU DECIDED TO TELL THE STORY THROUGH THE EYES OF A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE.

WHY RATHER THAN JUST DOING A LINEAR STORY TELLING DID YOU DECIDE THAT THAT WAS THE APPROACH THAT YOU WANTED TO TAKE?

YOU KNOW, IT'S -- IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE WHEN I FIRST STARTED GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS I WAS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW DO YOU TELL THIS STORY?

THAT BALTIMORE IS A CITY OF - CHARACTERS.

HOW DO YOU FIND U KNOW, THE EIGHT THAT YOU WANTED TO FOCUS IN ON?

BUT I SELECTED THESE EIGHT BECAUSE I THOUGHT THEY ALL DID A REALLY WONDERFUL JOB OF TELLING A UNIQUE STORY THROUGH UNIQUE VANTAGE POINT WHERE I HONESTLY BELIEVE FOR A PERSON WHO IS READING THE STORY YOU WILL FIND SOMEBODY IN THAT BOOK WHO COMPLETELY RESONATES WITH YOU.

AND UB YOU WILL PROBABLY FIND SOMEONE IN THAT BOOK WHO IS THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF WHERE YOU ARE.

BUT THAT'S LIFE.

THAT'S HUMANITY.

AND SO WHETHER YOU ARE LOOKING AT IT THROUGH THE EYES OF TAWANDA JONES, A WOMAN WHO IS HELPING TO LEAD THE MARCHES AND STANDING WITH THE GREAT FAMILY -- AND THEY LEARNED ABOUT HER BECAUSE TWO YEARS BEFORE, HER BROTHER DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY.

AND EVERY WEEK, SHE LEADS PROTESTS.

EVERY WEDNESDAY, STILL TO THIS DAY, SHE LEADS PROTESTS DEMANDING FOR ACCOUNT SKPBLT JUSTICE FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO HER BROTHER.

BUT SHE WANTED TO SPEND TIME LEADING THE MARCH WITH THE GRAY FAMILY.

SO WHILE SHE IS HAPPY THE CITY IS STANDING BUT, SHE IS ALSO THINK TO HERSELF, WHERE WAS THIS WHEN MY BROTHER WAS KILLED?

WE ALSO HAVE A POLICE MAJOR, WHO IS ONE OF THE TOP RANKING AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THE BALTIMORE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT WHO ALSO GREW UP IN WEST BALTIMORE AND WHO TOLD ME.

HE SAID, LISTEN, I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT NONE OF MY COLLEAGUES WOKE UP THAT MORNING WITH HOMICIDE ON THEIR MIND.

I ALSO DON'T KNOW THAT FOR THE KIDS IN WEST BALTIMORE WHY THEY DON'T BELIEVE ME.

BY BEING ABLE TO FOLLOW A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, WHO HAS BEN A COMMUNITY ACTIVIST FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS, HIRING KIDS WHO NO ONE ELSE WOULD HIRE, AND HOW -- WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS BUSINESS DURING ALL OF THIS, PARTICULARLY ONCE THE LOOTING BEGAN.

TO THE SON OF THE OWNER OF THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES WHO IS THE HEAD OF BASEBALL OPERATIONS SO WHEN THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES PLAYED THE CHICAGO WHITE SOX AND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN BASEBALL HISTORY THEY PLAYED AN OFFICIAL GAME WHERE THE ATTENDANCE WAS ZERO AND THE REASON WAS BECAUSE BALTIMORE WAS IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY.

SO LOOK AT IT THROUGH ALL OF THESE VARIOUS LENS AND BE ABLE TO TAKE A READER ON THIS JOURNEY TO UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN MANY WAYS IS LIKE RELIVING HISTORY FROM WHAT WE ARE SEEING RIGHT NOW.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I HAVE SEEN YOU SAY ABOUT THIS -- AND I THINK IS VERY, VERY TELLING.

YOU TOUCHED ON IT A FEW MOMENTS AGO WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS WEEK IN THE COMA WAS THE MOST PEACEFUL TIME IN FREDDIE GRAY AS LIFE.

YOU TALK ABOUT THE NOTION THAT THIS STORY IS AS MUCH ABOUT HOW HE HAD LIVED AS IT IS ABOUT HOW HE HAD DIED.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

IF YOU LOOK AT HOW FREDDIE GRAY WAS EVEN BROUGHT INTO THIS WORLD, YOU SEE THE LEVEL OF UNFAIRNESS, AND FRANKLY, THE HEART BREAK THAT THIS WORLD LEVELED ON FREDDIE GRAY.

FREDDIE GRAY WAS BORN PREMATURE.

HE WAS BORN ADDICTED TO HEROIN, UNDERWEIGHT.

HIS MOTHER HAD BATTLED ADDICTION FOR MUCH OF HER LIFE.

HIS MOTHER HAS GROWN UP AND LIVED IN POVERTY HER ENTIRE LIFE.

SHE'S NEVER KNOWN ANYTHING ELSE.

SHE GIVES BIRTH TO FREDDIE AND HIS TWIN SISTER FREDRICKA.

AND WHEN THEY FINALLY GAINED ENOUGH WEIGHT TO LEAVE THE HOSPITAL THEY WENT TO A HOUSING PROJECT IN WET BALTIMORE ON NORTH CAREY STREET N. 2009 THAT HOUSE ALONG WITH 400 OTHERS WERE NAMED IN A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT BECAUSE THE ENDEMIC LEVELS OF LEAD INSIDE OF THAT HOME.

WE HAVE SEWN KNOWN FOR A CENTURY THAT LEAD IS A NEUROTOXIN.

WE KNOW, AND THE CDC TELLS US THAT IF SOMEONE HAS FIVE MICROBES OF LEAD IN EVERY DECILITER OF BLOOD THEN THAT PERSON WILL HAVE COGNITIVE DAMAGE FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE.

FREDDIE GRAY HAD 36.

THIS IS A PERSON WHO WAS BORN UNDERWEIGHT, ADDICTED TO HEROIN, LEAD POISONED.

AND BY THAT TIME IN HIS LIFE, HE'S 2 YEARS OLD.

THE POINT IS THAT FREDDIE GRAY NEVER HAD A SHOT.

THE POINT IS THAT FREDDIE GRAY'S LAST DAY IN SCHOOL WAS IN THE TENTH GRADE WHEN HE WAS 19 YEARS OLD, THAT FREDDIE GRAY WAS IN DEVELOPMENTAL COURSE WORK AND SPECIAL EDUCATION COURSEWORK HIS ENTIRE LIFE BECAUSE OF THE LEAD POISONING.

THAT A YEAR AND A HALF BEFORE FREDDIE GRAY DIED HIMSELF HE WATCHED HIS HALF BROTHER KILLED IN DOWNTOWN BALTIMORE, SHOT TO DEATH.

THAT WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE LIFE THAT FREDDIE GRAY HAD TO LIVE, WE HAVE TO BE JUST AS DELIBERATE ABOUT DEMANDING JUSTICE FOR HIS DEATH IS AS WE ARE ABOUT DEMONSTRATEDING JUSTICE FOR HIS LIFE AND MAKING SURE THAT THE CONDITIONS -- DEMANDING JUSTICE FOR HIS LIFE AND MAKING SURE THAT THE CONDITIONS THAT YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE FREDDIE ARE DEALING WITH AND EXISTING IN ALL OF THE TIME, THAT PART OF OUR SOCIETAL RESPONSIBILITY, PART OF OUR COMPLICITY, THE COMPLICITY THAT EVEN WEIGHED ON ME AS I WAS TRYING TO WRITE THE STORY IS HOW DO WE THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT CREATING THE PATHWAYS FOR THE CHILDREN AND FOR THE FAMILIES THAT END UP HAVING LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES NOT JUST ON US STRUCTURALLY, BUT FRANKLY, LONG TERM MORAL CONSEQUENCES ON WHO WE ARE AS A SOCIETY.

WE ARE TALKING WITH WES MOORE, THE AUTHOR OF THE COMPELLING NEW BOOK CALLED 'FIVE DAYS: THE FIRING RECKONING OF A CITY'. ALSO THE CEO THE ROBIN HOOD FOUNDATION.

THIS STORY AS I SAID AT THE BEGINNING IS SO POWERFUL.

AND THERE ARE SO MANY PERSONALITIES DRIVING THIS STORY -- ONE OF THE THING YOU TALK ABOUT HERE IS NOT JUST THE PHYSICAL DESTRUCTION OF THE CITY OF BALTIMORE, BUT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL DESTRUCTION OF THE CITY OF BALTIMORE.

HOW DO YOU MEAN THAT?

YEAH, IT'S THAT WHEN WE THINK ABOUT WHERE BALTIMORE IS.

BALTIMORE, WHEN PEOPLE SAY DO YOU FOLLOW EIGHT CHARACTERS?

IN MANY WAYS -- YOU JUST HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD -- IT'S ACTUALLY NINE.

THE CITY OF BALTIMORE IN MANY WAY IS A CHARACTER IN AND OF ITSELF IN THIS STORY.

AND WHAT TYPE OF DAMAGE WAS DONE NOT JUST BY THE UNRESTS, AND NOT JUST BY THE -- YOU KNOW, THE UPRISING THAT TOOK PLACE AROUND -- AROUND FREDDIE, BUT FRANKLY FOR THE FACT THAT FOR MANY PEOPLE IN BALTIMORE WHAT HAPPENED OVER THOSE DAYS WAS AMAZINGLY PREDICTABLE.

AND NOT EVEN --

PREDICTABLE IN WHAT SENSE?

YEAH.

WELL, PREDICTABLE ONE WAS THAT YOU SAW THAT FREDDIE REALLY REPRESENTED A LONGER LINE OF PEOPLE OF PEOPLE WHO HAD BEEN LOST IN POLICE CUSTODY AND WITH INEQUITABLE POLICE VIOLENCE.

BECAUSE EVEN FINISHES DID YOU TAKE A LOOK AT BALTIMORE ALONE, IN THE TWO YEARS PRIOR TO BALTIMORE, THERE WASN'T JUST -- IN TWO YEARS PRIOR TO FREDDIE GRAY, THERE WAS ALSO ANTHONY ANDERSON, THERE WAS CHRIS BROWN, THERE WAS TYRONE WEST.

SO FREDDIE GRAY ACTUALLY JOINED -- HE JOINED A FRATERNITY WHEN HE DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY.

AND FRANKLY, ONE OF THE MORE SETTLING GROUPINGS THAT BALTIMORE CITY STILL HAS TO WRESTLE AND CONTEND WITH.

WE ALSO KNOW THAT WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING AT BALTIMORE CITY AS A WHOLE, THE LEVEL OF ENTRENCHED AND CONCENTRATED POVERTY IN THAT CITY CANNOT GO -- CANNOT GO UNDISCUSSED.

WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE TYPE OF SCENARIOS AND THE EXAMPLES THAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.

WHEN WE SAY THAT WHAT HAPPENED WITHIN FREDDIE AND THE UNREST WAS VERY PREDICTABLE, YOU SAW THAT WHAT PEOPLE WERE SCREAMING ABOUT WAS ABOUT JUST MORE THAN JUST FREDDIE.

THERE IS ONE SCENE WHERE I TALK ABOUT HOW TAWANDA ONE OF THE CHARACTERS THAT WE FOLLOW WAS TELLING ME THAT SHE WAS HEARING THE SCREAMS OF THE CHILDREN AS THEY WERE YELLING AT THE POLICE OFFICERS WHO WERE ALL IN THEIR FULL RIOT GEAR.

SHE SAID YOU KNOW THE THING THAT AMAZED HER IS THAT THEY WEREN'T YELLING FREDDIE'S GAME.

THEY WERE YELLING OTHER STUFF.

THEY WERE SAYING 'THIS IS FOR MY UNCLE BUCK' OR 'THIS IS FOR THE TIME WHEN YOU PUT YOUR HANDS ON MY MOM'. THEY WERE YELLING OUT THOSE OTHER GRIEVANCES BUT THIS MOMENT WAS A CHANCE TO EXERCISE THEIR GRIEVANCES.

SO WHEN WE SAY IT IS PREDICTABLE, WHAT WE MEAN IS WE SAW A MOMENT THAT FREDDIE IN MANY WAYS WAS NOT THE EXPLOSIVE.

THE EXPLOSIVE WAS WELL PAVED.

WHAT FREDDIE WAS WAS THE SPARK, AND THE WICKS WITH REALLY SHORT.

BECAUSE OF THE HISTORY OF INEQUITY, BECAUSE OF THE HISTORY OF SYSTEMIC RACISM AND ALL THE CHALLENGE THAT EXIST.

SO TO TALK ABOUT THE CITY OF BALTIMORE WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THINGS LIKE RED LINING, WHICH IS BASICALLY PUTTING A MAP -- THE ESSENTIAL PART OF WHY THEY CALL IT RED LINE WAS THAT PRACTICE OF EARLY DIDDING BY RACE WHO COULD LIVE THERE.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO TALK ABOUT THE HISTORY OF BALTIMORE WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT DISCRIMINATORY LENDING AND DISCRIMINATORY LIVING AND THE GI BILL.

OUR COLLECTIVE LACK OF ABILITY TO BE ABLE TO TACKLE AND ADDRESS THOSE THINGS IS PART OF THE PROBLEM THAT WE SAW, THE EXPLOSION THAT WE SAW AT THAT MOMENT.

LET ME -- YOU TALK ABOUT AN EXPLOSION.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT LEAP, THAT EXPLOSIVE LEAP FROM FREDDIE GRAY AND THE STORY THAT YOU TELL IN' FIVE DAYS ' TO WHAT'S GOING ON TODAY.

YOU MENTIONED THAT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT YOU SAW WAS FREDDIE GRAY'S NAME WAS THROWING AN EVERY GROWING LITANY IF YOU WILL, OF NAMES OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS, OLDER AFRICAN-AMERICANS BEING EITHER KILLED OR DAMAGED AT THE HANDS OF THE POLICE AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM.

YEAH.

BUT IF IT SEEMS THAT -- AND CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG ME IF YOU THINK THIS IS WRONG.

IT SEEMS THAT FOR EACH OF THESE UP STANCES WE SAW AN PLOEGS LIKE YOU MENTIONED.

EACH PERSON WAS THE SPARK.

WE SAW AN EXPLOSION.

WE SAW ACTIVITY.

WE SAW PROTESTS.

WE SAW SOMETIMES VIOLENCE.

WE SAW SOME DEGREE OF A DEDICATION TO CHANGE THINGS.

AND THEN WE SEEMED TO -- THAT ALL SEEMED TO FADE AWAY.

YEAH.

YEAH.

NOW WE HAVE GEORGE FLOYD.

RIGHT.

AND GEORGE FLOYD SEEMS -- I WOULD LIKE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS.

IT SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN THE IMPETUS FOR CHANGE IN THE SENSE THAT THINGS FEEL A LITTLE DIFFERENT NOW, DIFFERENT IN THE SENSE THAT PERHAPS IN THE NOT GOING TO FADE AWAY.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?

I THINK WE ARE SEEING A RELATIVE MEASURE OF UNDERSTANDING THAT INJUSTICE COMPOUNDS, AND TRAUMA COMPOUNDS, AND PAIN COMPOUNDS.

AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, IT IS IMPORTANT TO I THINK TO HIGHLIGHT THE MOMENT THAT THIS IS COMING OFF OF.

THAT THIS IS ALSO COMING OFF OF THE FACT THAT 2020 HAS THROWN TWO GENUINE CRISES AT OUR DOOR STEPS, WITHIN A MATTER OF MONTHS OF EACH OTHER.

YOU KNOW, THE FIRST WAS THE INTRODUCTION OF A VIRUS, YOU KNOW, THAT HAS HAD CATASTROPHIC HEALTH AND ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS ON OUR SOCIETY.

AND THE OTHER WAS THE VERY UNNEEDED REMINDER OF HOW INEQUITABLE POLICING IS IN DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES.

AND -- BUT THE REALITY OF BOTH OF THESE CRISES IS DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY ARE VERY DIFFERENT, THEY EXPOSE THE SAME TRUTH.

WHILE COVID-19 IMPACTED EVERYBODY, IT DID NOT IMPACT EVERYBODY EQUALLY.

AND WHILE PEOPLE OF COLOR CONTRACTED COVID AT TWICE THE RATE AND ALSO DIED AT TWICE THE RATE.

AND POLICE REFORM IS NECESSARY FOR ALL COMMUNITIES.

BUT THE REALITY IS THAT WHEN YOU WATCHED GEORGE FLOYD'S BODY ON CAMERA, HANDCUFFED, LAYING ON THE GROUND, AND TAKING HIS FINAL BREATHS, BEGGING FOR AIR, YOU REALIZE -- AND WITH THE OFFICER NONCHALANTLY LEANING HIS KNEE INTO HIS NECK WE WATCHED HIS NAME BEING ADDED TO A MUCH LONGER LINEAGE OF OTHER NAME.

AND FRANKLY AT THIS POINT NAMES WEREN'T BEING CAUGHT ON CAMERA.

AND IT WAS THE NAME OF MANY AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEN LIKE WALTER SCOTT AND FREDDIE GRAYS AND THE TRAYVON BROWNS AND AHMAUD ARBERYS.

IT'S ALSO BLACK WOMEN.

IT'S SANDRA BLAND.

IT'S BREONNA TAYLOR.

WE SEE HOW WHEN YOU HAVE THESE TWO CRISES WHICH ARE DIFFERENT WE ALSO UNDERSTAND HOW SOLVING FOR COVID IS NOT JUST ABOUT DEVELOPMENTING A VACCINE.

AND WHAT PEOPLE ARE PROTESTING IS NOT JUST INEQUITABLE POLICING.

I THINK PEOPLE ARE UNDERSTANDING NOW IT IS A MUCH LARGER CONVERSATION ABOUT RACISM.

AND THAT THIS IDEA THAT IT IS NOT JUST A DIFFICULT ISSUE IN OUR COUNTRY, IT'S THE MOST DIFFICULT ISSUE THAT OUR COUNTRY HAS.

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT HISTORICALLY, WE TUSSLED WITH IT BUT WE HAVE YET TO FULLY DEFEAT IT.

AND THE RACIAL INJUSTICE THAT I THINK PEOPLE ARE FEELING AND SEEING AND THAT PEOPLE ARE PROTESTING OVER IS THE THING THAT ACTUALLY DOES FEEL DIFFERENT NOW.

WHERE THE BAR IS NOW HIGHER, THIS IS NOT JUST SIMPLY ABOUT -- WE DON'T JUST WANT CHARGES BUT WE WANT CONVICTIONS ON THE OFFICERS WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE MURDER OF MR. FLOYD.

BUT IT'S ALSO ABOUT HOW DO WE DEAL WITH ISSUES OF HEALTH INJUSTICE?

HOW DO WE UNDERSTAND THE FACT THAT LITERALLY RIGHT NOW A BLACK WOMAN WITH BREAST CANCER HAS A 42% HIGHLY LIKELIHOOD OF DYING THAN A WHITE WOMAN WITH BREAST CANCER?

HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THE REALITY THAT A BLACK COLLEGE GRADUATE RIGHT NOW HAS THE SAME EARNING POWER AS A WHITE HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT?

THAT'S DATA.

THOSE ARE FACTS.

I THINK WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING AND PROTESTING RIGHT NOW IS THAT WHAT WE ARE DOING -- THIS IS MUCH BIGGER THAN JUST SIMPLY ABOUT WE WANT TO DEMAND JUSTICE FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO A -- WHAT HAPPENED TO FREDDIE LIKE FIVE YEARS AGO OR EVEN WHAT HAPPENED TO MR. FLOYD A FEW MONTHS OR A MONTH BACK.

BUT THIS IS ALSO ABOUT HOW CAN THIS COUNTRY TACKLE THIS BIGGER ISSUE OF RACISM IN A WAY THAT'S DEFINITIVE, SINCERE AND MOVING OUR COUNTRY FORWARD IN A COLLECTIVE FASHION?

BECAUSE THAT'S THE THING WE HAVE AVOIDED AND THE THING WE HAVE MISSED FOR A VERY LONG TIME.

SHOULD THERE BE ANY CONCERN AS OUR FOCUS NOW IS ON POLICE REFORM -- AND WE'VE SEEN A FAIRLY UNIVERSAL OUTCRY FOR POLICE REFORM -- NOW, SOME OF THE SUGGESTIONS AS TO HOW IT SHOULD BE DONE VARY.

AT ONE END OF THE SPECTRUM YOU HAVE SUGGESTIONS THAT DO AWAY WITH POLICE DEPARTMENTS COMPLETELY.

THEN YOU HAVE ALL OTHER SORTS OF SCENARIOS ON THAT SPECTRUM AND DEFUNDING WHICH CAN BE A LOT OF THINGS.

RIGHT.

ARE YOU AT ALL CONCERNED THAT PERHAPS AN UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE OF US FOCUSING ON POLICE REFORM, WHICH WE NEED TO FOCUS ON, MIGHT TAKE FOCUS AWAY FROM THE OTHER -- THE HEALTH INEQUITIES, THE THINGS THAT YOU TALKED ABOUT BEFORE, THE WORKPLACE INEQUITIES, THAT WE MIGHT LOSE FOCUS ON THOSE BECAUSE WE ARE GOING TO CREATE A LASER FOCUS ON THE POLICE AND JUSTICE REFORM?

YEAH.

I THINK WE AS A COUNTRY HAVE TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH DEALING WITH THEM ALL.

AND DEALING WITH THEM ALL SIMULTANEOUSLY BECAUSE THE REALITY IS WHEN WE ARE LOOKING AT THE DEPTH OF DISPARITY THAT EXISTS IT DIDN'T HAPPEN IN A SINGULAR FASHION.

IT HAPPENED WITH A VERY HOLISTIC AND A VERY DELIBERATE NATURE TO IT.

WE HAVE TO DO THE SAME WHEN IT COMES THE REBUILDING ON OUR SOCIETY.

SO I DO WORRY IF PEOPLE THINK THAT SOMEHOW IF YOU JUST MAKE BASIC ADJUSTMENTS TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT THAT THAT'S SOMEHOW GOING TO SOLVE ANYTHING.

NOR DO I THINK THAT BEING ABLE TO LOOK AT THINGS LIKE -- SO FOR EXAMPLE, I DON'T WANT TO -- I DON'T WANT TO ABOLISH THE POLICE.

YOU KNOW, I WANT TO ABOLISH POLICE BRUTALITY.

I WANT TO ABOLISH RACIAL PROFILING.

I WANT TO ABOLISH THE HYPER MILITARIZATION OF POLICE.

BECAUSE I'M A DEEP BELIEVER THAT SOMETIMES WHEN YOU DRESS FOR CONFLICT, CONFLICT HAPPENS.

SO I'M A BIG BELIEVER IN THAT.

BUT WHAT I AM ALSO A BELIEVER IN IS THAT OUR BUDGETS ARE MORAL DOCUMENTS.

SO WHEN WE ARE LOOKING AT HOW WE EVEN THINK ABOUT FUNDING RIGHT NOW -- TAKE NEW YORK FOR EXAMPLE.

FOR EVERY DOLLAR THAT THE N.Y.P.D. GETS, YOUTH DEVELOPMENTS GETS 11 CENTS.

FOR EVERY DOLLAR THAT THE N.Y.P.D. GETS, HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE GETS 31 CENTS.

IN BALTIMORE CITY, THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT, THEIR JULY BUDGET HOVERS AROUND $41 MILLION.

THE POLICE DEPARTMENT IN BALTIMORE CITY, THEIR BUDGET HOVERS AROUND $509 MILLION.

SO PART OF THE ISSUE IS THAT WE ARE ASKING OUR POLICE, ASKING OUR LAW ENFORCEMENT TO TAKE ON OBSTACLES AND TAKE ON CHALLENGES THAT FRANKLY THEY ARE NOT THE BEST TEAM TO TAKE ON.

WE ARE ASKING THEM TO DO THINGS THAT THEY ARE NOT THE MOST QUALIFIED TO DO.

SO EVERYTHING FROM -- EVERYTHING FROM A BREAKING AND ENTERING TO IF A PERSON IS HAVING A MENTAL HEALTH BREAKDOWN TO IF SOMEONE IS -- IF SOMEONE DOESN'T LIKE THAT KIDS ARE LIGHTING FIRE CRACKERS FOR FOURTH OF JULY -- THE IMMEDIATE RESPONSE FOR ALL OF IT IS CALLING THE POLICE.

AND THAT'S WHAT LEADS INTO PART OF THIS CHALLENGE THAT WE HAVE, IS THAT WE DON'T -- WE CANNOT HAVE JUST A KINETIC SOLUTION TO EVERYTHING ELSE.

NOW WE ALSO THOUGH, YOU KNOW, TO YOUR POINT, HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT IN ORDER FOR US TO REALLY PRESERVE A SENSE OF EQUITY IN EVERYTHING THAT WE DO, IT ALSO JUST CAN'T END WITH CONVERSATIONS AROUND POLICE BUDGETS OR CONVERSATIONS AROUND DO WE BAN CHOKE HOLDS?

THAT IT REALLY DOES MEAN HOW ARE WE GOING TO BE AMAZINGLY AND REMARKABLY DELIBERATE ABOUT PUTTING TOGETHER SYSTEMS AND STRUCTURES THAT ARE GOING TO GIVE US THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE ABLE TO CREATE A BETTER SOCIETY.

HOW DOING FROM BEING -- SAYING -- YOU KNOW, SAYING -- NOT JUST BEING NOT RACIST TO ACTUALLY BEING ANTI-RACIST.

AND THAT MEANS -- YOU KNOW, THAT MEANS ACTIVELY IDENTIFYING BELIEFS AND ACTIONS AND POLICIES THAT ARE ENFORCING RACIAL INEQUITIES AND FORCING TO CHANGE THEM.

RARELY INEQUITIES ISN'T AN ACT.

THAT'S MISCONSTRUED THAT IF A PERSON DOESN'T SAY A RACIAL EPITHET THAT THAT PERSON IS NOT SOMEHOW RACIST.

RACISM ISN'T AN ACT.

IT IS A SYSTEM.

WE THEN HAVE TO BE INCREDIBLY DELIBERATE ABOUT COMING FORWARD WITH WAYS OF ADDRESSING THE CAUSE AND NOT SIMPLY JUSTINING TO GO AFTER THE EFFECT.

THINGS LIKE INEQUITABLE POLICING, AN EFFECT OF THIS LARGER CHALLENGE OF RACE THAT WE AS A SOCIETY STILL HAVE TO WRESTLE WITH.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

WE COULD TALK FOR HOURS HERE.

ABOUT GIVEN THE LIMITS OF OUR TIME, LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

ARE YOU NOW AT ALL OPTIMISTIC THAT PERHAPS THINGS MIGHT BE DIFFERENT NOW IN TERMS OF MOVING FORWARD, PAYING ATTENTION, AND AFFECTING REAL AND MEANINGFUL CHANGE?

WELL, YOU KNOW ME.

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL FOR ME.

RIGHT?

I AM AN INCREDIBLY OPTIMISTIC PERSON.

I'M ALSO A PERSON WHO UNDERSTANDS THAT -- THAT AS DR.

KING SAYS, THAT THE MORAL ARC IS LONG IN OUR COUNTRY AND IT BENDS TOWARDS JUSTICE.

BUT I ALSO BELIEVE THAT IT DOESN'T BEND TOWARD JUSTICE AUTOMATICALLY.

I BELIEVE IT BENDS TOWARDS JUSTICE BECAUSE PEOPLE MAKE IT BEND THERE.

I BELIEVE IT BENDS TOWARDS JUSTICE BECAUSE THERE ARE PEOPLE ON OTHER SIDE WHO ARE PULLING TO MAKE SURE THAT ARC ACTUALLY BENDS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.

BUT I THINK IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LOOK AT WHAT'S EVEN HAPPENED EVEN OVER THESE PAST MONTHS AND YEARS AND NOT HAVE A SENSE OF OPTIMISM.

I MEAN, I THINK ABOUT -- I THINK ABOUT EVEN JUST A SMALL EXAMPLE WHERE I WILL GIVE YOU THREE NAMES, PATRICE COLORS, OPAL TEMETI, AND ALICIA GARZA.

THESE WERE THREE WOMEN WHO YEARS AGO PEOPLE WERE LITERALLY CALLING TERRORISTS.

RIGHT, RIGHT.

WHERE THE ORGANIZATION THAT THEY STARTED, CALLED BLACK LIVES MATTERS, IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER WAS STARTED BY THREE BLACK WOMEN.

RIGHT.

WAS AN ORGANIZATION THAT WAS CALLED AN OFFICIAL TERRORIST ORGANIZATION.

NOW WE HAVE GOT EVERYBODY FROM CORPORATE AMERICA TO COMMUNITY MEMBERS TO EVERYONE SAYING BLACK LIVES MATTER.

AND PERHAPS THEY ARE MEANING IT NOW.

PERHAPS --

THEY ARE SAYING IT.

AND PERHAPS IT MEANS SOMETHING NOW.

THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT.

AND SAYING IT IN A WAY THAT, YOU KNOW, THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER WAS SIMPLY JUST A CALL FOR CENTURIES DINS DISPROPORTIONATE VIOLENCE AND TREATMENT OF BLACK PEOPLE THAT WE CAN ACTUALLY HAVE A CONVERSATION BICHLT WHEN I THINK ABOUT HOW THAT HAS MOVED I CAN'T HELP BUT BE OPTIMISTIC THAT WE CAN STILL DO BETTER AND WE WILL.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

Funders

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

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