MetroFocus: September 28, 2021

CHASING THE DREAM HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH FEATURE:

GERALDO RIVERA AND DISABILITY ADVOCATES OUTRAGED OVER MAYORAL CANDIDATE ERIC ADAMS’ COMMENTS THAT CLOSING “WILLOWBROOK” WAS AN “OVERREACTION TO ADVOCACY”

It was almost 50 years ago that attorney, reporter and talk show host Geraldo Rivera, using a stolen key, entered the Willowbrook State School for the developmentally disabled and exposed its nightmarish conditions on WABC-TV. Tonight he recounts the shock of what he saw at the defunct Staten Island institution in this tearful and raw conversation featuring his own personal footage of “Willowbrook: The Last Disgrace.”

The Young Lords’ New York chapter was a Puerto Rican nationalist movement with a focus on neighborhood empowerment and community improvement. They played a role in the awakening of political consciousness in El Barrio and they play a significant role in our guest Sonia Manzano’s novel as they fashioned themselves after the Black Panthers and notably, several of their founding members went on to become journalists- like Geraldo Rivera.

Geraldo discusses the founding of the revolutionary Puerto Rican activist organization, the Young Lords and tells the backstory of how he became their lawyer.

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

TRANSCRIPT

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

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

THE JPB FOUNDATION.

> IT WAS 43 YEARS AGO MY NEXT GUEST USING A STOLEN KEY AND INSIDE TIP ENTERED THE WALLS OF THE WILLOWBROOK SCHOOL FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED ON STATEN ISLAND.

WHAT HE CAPTURED WAS A STORY SO SHOCKING, IT CHANGED THE FACE OF MENTAL HEALTH AS WE KNOW IT.

LET'S TAKE A LOOK.

THE DOCTOR HAD WARNED ME THAT IT WOULD BE BAD.

IT WAS HORRIBLE.

THERE WAS ONE ATTENDANT FOR PERHAPS 50 SEVERELY AND PROFOUNDLY RETARDED CHILDREN, CHILDREN, LYING ON THE FLOOR NAKED AND SMEARED WITH THEIR OWN FECES.

THEY WERE MAKING A PITIFUL SOUND, THE KIND OF MOURNFUL WAIL THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO FORGET.

THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE, THIS IS WHAT IT SOUNDED LIKE, BUT HOW CAN I TELL YOU THE WAY IT SMELLED?

IT SMELLED OF FILTH, IT SMELLED OF DISEASE, AND IT SMELLED OF DEATH.

WE RETURNED WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION AND THROUGH A BACKDOOR.

IT WAS THE FIRST DAY ALL OVER AGAIN.

FOR THESE PEOPLE LIFE IS JUST ONE HOUR AFTER ANOTHER OF LOOKING AT THE FLOOR.

EVERY CHILD CAN BE TRAINED, YOU KNOW.

THESE KIDS, THERE'S NO EFFORT.

WE DON'T KNOW WHAT HE'S KIDS ARE CAPABLE OF DOING.

HOW IS IT LIVING ON THE WARD THAT YOU LIVE?

DISGRACE.

A DISGRACE?

YES.

WE ASK FOR CHANGE.

WE DEMAND CHANGE.

WHAT YOU SEE HERE, IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY.

WITH ME NOW IS GERALDO RIVERA.

GERALDO, WELCOME.

YOU KNOW, I SEE THAT AND IT CHOKES ME UP TO THIS DAY.

IT'S ALMOST LIKE AN AUTOMATIC RESPONSE.

IT JUST EVOKES -- AND I HAVEN'T SEEN IT IN A WHILE.

IT JUST EVOKES THAT ORIGINAL SENSATION, THAT FEELING THAT I HAD WHEN I WALKED IN.

THERE WAS NO -- I HAD NO CONNECTION AT ALL TO WHAT THE POPULATION USED TO DEFINE AS MENTALLY RETARDED AND NOW DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED.

SO SEEING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME, IT WAS LIKE A TRAUMATIC SHOCK.

IT WAS LIKE I HEAR DESCRIBED -- I'M SORRY, I HEAR DESCRIBED HOW GIs REACTED WHEN THEY SAW THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS WHEN THEY WERE LIBERATED, EVEN THOUGH WHO INTELLECTUALLY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE GETTING INTO.

AND IT'S LIKE A FORM OF POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS ALMOST.

REALLY?

AND BERNARD, I WAS WITH BERNARD LAST FRIDAY.

THE YOUNG MAN WITH THE MUSTACHE.

YEAH.

HE WAS 21 YEARS OLD ON THAT DAY.

SO WE COULD SPRING HIM, GET HIM OUT.

HE COULD SIGN HIMSELF OUT AT THE AGE OF 21 BECAUSE TECHNICALLY IT WAS A STATE SCHOOL THEY CALLED IT.

WE GOT HIM OUT, AND BERNARD WAS A CLASSIC EXAMPLE.

A GUY WITH CEREBRAL PALSY AND OTHER DISABILITIES, BUT HE WAS NOT A LOW IQ.

IN OTHER WORDS, HIS IQ WAS NORMAL, WITHIN THE NORMAL CHANGE.

HE WAS JUST MISDIAGNOSED.

IN THOSE DAYS, THEY PUT EVERYBODY IN THE INSTITUTION.

HERE HE IS, CEREBRAL PALSY, THREE YEARS OLD, LIVING ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE, PUERTO RICAN MOM.

THE DOCTOR SAYS, YOU CAN'T HANDLE THIS KID.

TAKE HIM, AND WE'LL PUT HIM IN THIS INSTITUTION.

WILLOWBROOK, STATEN ISLAND IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT WASN'T LIKE BELARUS OR ASIA SOMEPLACE.

IT WAS NEW YORK CITY.

AND THEY PUT HIM IN THERE AT THE AGE OF 3.

THIS IS 18 YEARS LATER WHEN WE FOUND HIM.

AND I WANT TO MAKE THIS ONE POINT, RAFFY, HE'S WORKING FOR THE CITY, STILL WORKING, FOR THE STATE OF NEW YORK, PATIENT ADVOCATE.

SO HE'S HAD A LONG CAREER.

HE'S NOW 66 YEARS OLD AND HE'S ABOUT TO RETIRE, BUT HE'S EXACTLY WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT IN TERMS OF POTENTIAL UNREALIZED FOR THAT POPULATION.

BUT WHAFT WAS WILLOWBROOK SUPPOSED TO BE?

WHAT DID IT SELL ITSELF AS?

WHAT SERVICES DID IT PRETEND TO PROVIDE?

GREAT QUESTION.

REMEMBER IT WAS STYLED A STATE SCHOOL.

THE IDEA WAS PUBLIC SCHOOLS WERE FOR ABLE-BODIED CHILDREN AND STATE SCHOOLS FOR THE DISABLED.

BUT WHAT HAPPENED OVER TIME, AND SOME OF THIS HAS TO DO WITH THE UNION STRUCTURE AND RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE UNION AND STATE GOVERNMENT, BUT OVER TIME IT BECAME LIKE A CATCH BASIN.

IN OTHER WORDS, YOU SAW IN THAT VIDEO -- AGAIN, I HAVEN'T SEEN IT IN A LONG TIME, YOU SAW KIDS WITH DROWN SYNDROME, YOU SAW KIDS THAT WERE OBVIOUSLY PROFOUNDLY RETARDED IS THE WAY WE DESCRIBED THE POPULATION.

YOU SAW OTHERS WITH LESS SEVERE BUT STILL SIGNIFICANT DISABILITIES.

SO EVERYBODY WAS PUT TOGETHER AND THERE WAS NO REMEDIATION.

IT WAS CALLED A SCHOOL BUT THERE WAS NO EDUCATION OR REMEDIATION OR VOCATIONAL TRAINING.

THIS WAS NONE OF THAT.

I WAS READING ABOUT WILLOW GROVE BROOK AND THIS SURPRISED ME AS FAR BACK AS 1965, ROBERT KENNEDY HAD BEEN SPEAKING AGAINST WILLOWBROOK, ABOUT THE CONDITIONS IN WILLOWBROOK.

SO HOW DID IT LAST SO LONG?

HOW DID IT GO SO LONG AS IT WAS?

GREAT QUESTION.

THEY HAD A SCHEME, AND THE SCHEME WAS THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY.

IN OTHER WORDS, KENNEDY GOES IN 1965, ROBERT F. KENNEDY, SENATOR, GOES IN 1965.

HE SEES IT, CALLS IT A SNAKE PIT, BUT THERE'S NO PICTURES.

WHY ARE THERE NO PICTURES?

BECAUSE IT'S THE RIGHT OF PRIVACY OF THE RESIDENTS, INMATES, STUDENTS OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO STYLIZE.

SO THE OUTRAGE IN HIS VOICE AND HIM BEING MOVED, ROBERT KENNEDY BEING MOVED, IT CAME AND IT WENT BECAUSE THERE'S NO NIGHTMARE HAUNTING IMAGE.

ONCE YOU SEE THEM --

IF YOU SAW WHAT WE SHOWED --

IT'S UNDENIABLE.

SUDDENLY, THERE'S NO OTHER SIDE TO THE STORY.

KENNEDY COMES, HE'S EMOTIONAL BUT THEN THE DIRECTOR COMES ON AND SAYS, WELL, YOU KNOW, I DISAGREE WITH THE SENATOR.

WE'RE DOING THIS OR THAT.

AND THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO THE STORY.

YOU SEE THE PICTURE, THERE'S ONLY ONE SIDE.

AND WHAT WAS ACTUALLY GOING ON IN THERE?

WAS IT JUST GROSS NEGLIGENCE OR WAS IT ACTUAL PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL ABUSE?

ALL OF THE ABUSE HAPPENED FOR SURE, BUT THE BIGGEST ABUSE WAS THE -- WAS THE CONCEPT THAT YOU COULD MASS PRODUCE CARE OF THE DISABLED IN THE WAY YOU MADE FORD MOTOR CARS, YOU KNOW, AN ASSEMBLY LINE.

OR YOU KEEP THEM ALL THERE AND NOW YOU LINE THEM UP, NOW YOU FEED THEM.

THEY FED THEM THIS KIND OF SLOP.

THE KIDS WOULD LIKE OPEN THEIR MOUTH AND THEY WOULD THROW A BIG GLUMP OF OATMEAL IN AND MOST WERE DYEING FROM PNEUMONIA BECAUSE OF THE WAY THEY WERE BEING FED.

THAT WAS THE SCHEME.

THE SCHEME WAS IT WAS BASICALLY A HOLDING PEN, A KENNEL FOR THESE -- FOR HUMANITY, DISGUISED AS A SCHOOL.

DID ANYBODY GO TO JAIL AS A RESULT OF YOUR REPORT?

NOBODY WENT TO JAIL BUT SOMETHING MUCH MORE SIGNIFICANT HAPPENED.

WHAT HAPPENED WAS THE MYTH THAT THIS STATE WAS DOING THE BEST IT COULD, THIS STATE, EVERY STATE, EVERY CIVILIZED NATION WAS DOING THE BEST THEY COULD WITH THIS POPULATION WITH THESE INSTITUTIONS.

THAT MYTH WAS EXPOSED.

AND IT BEGAN A MOVEMENT WHERE THERE WAS NO LONGER PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY THAT WE WERE DOING THE BEST WE COULD IN A DIFFICULT SITUATION.

NOW EVERYONE KNEW THAT THE INSTITUTION WAS NO WAY TO CARE FOR THOSE POPULATION.

IT ABSOLUTELY BEGAN THE END OF THE INSTITUTIONAL ERA THAT HAD EXISTED SINCE BEDLAM IN THE UNITED KINGDOM IN THE 19th CENTURY.

SO THAT'S WHAT ENDED.

WHAT BEGAN AS A RESULT OF THIS REPORT?

IT IS RARE THAT THERE IS A HAPPY ENDING TO THESE STORIES.

IT'S ALSO RARE THAT TELEVISION NEWS IS ENGAGED IN THE PROCESS OF POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE.

SO EASY TO DO AN EXPOSE, COMPLAIN ABOUT SOMETHING, MOVE ON, NEXT STORY, ANOTHER EXPOSE.

HERE'S A FIRE, HERE'S A TERRIBLE THING, NEXT.

IN THIS CASE WE KNEW WHAT THE SOLUTION WAS, THE SOLUTION WAS SMALL COMMUNITY-BASED RESIDENCES WHERE THIS POPULATION RATHER THAN BEING STUCK IN THESE WARDS, SCORES OF THEM, PEOPLE COULD LIVE THREE, FOUR, FIVE SIX IN A RESIDENCE, IN A HOME, IN A REAL HOME, A HOUSE/HOME WITH BASICALLY ONE-TO-ONE ATTENTION WHERE THEIR HUMAN POTENTIAL COULD BE REALIZED, WHERE THEY COULD LEARN TO SEW OR WORK AT FAST FOOD OR DO WHATEVER IT IS THAT THEY WERE ABLE TO DO, THEY GOT TRAINING, THEY GOT REMEDIATION, THEY GOT COUNSELING, THEY GOT MUCH BETTER PHYSICAL CARE.

AND IT REALLY CHANGED THE WORLD AND THE INSTITUTIONS BEGAN CLOSING IN THIS STATE, MORE PROGRESSIVE BLUE STATES FIRST AND THEN SWEPT THE NATION AND REALLY SWEPT THE CIVILIZED WORLD.

AND HOW DID THIS REPORT, YOU DOING THIS REPORT, CHANGE YOUR LIFE?

OH, MY GOODNESS, IT WAS A CHANGE -- I THINK THAT -- I DON'T WANT TO GET ALL EMOTIONAL AGAIN, BUT FOR A LONG TIME, RAPHE, FOR A LONG TIME I LIVED WITH A GUILTY FEELING THAT MY LIFE HAD CHANGED FAR MORE THAN THEIR LIVES, THE LIVES OF THE RESIDENTS OF WILLOWBROOK.

BECAUSE IT MADE YOU.

BECAUSE I BECAME A STAR.

I BECAME KIND OF -- IT WAS A GO-GO ERA WHERE I SUDDENLY BECAME THE GOLDEN BOY OF THE CITY AND OF THE UNDERPRIVILEGED.

AND IT REALLY WAS -- I MEAN, YOU HAVE TO LIVE UP TO IT AND THAT KIND OF FAME IS FLEETING, BUT IT WAS DEFINITELY, IT WAS A SHOCKINGLY PROFOUND DIFFERENCE IN MY PERSONAL LIFE.

BUT YOU ALSO, YOU DIDN'T ABANDON THE PEOPLE THAT YOU COVERED IN WILLOWBROOK, RIGHT?

YOU TOOK ACTION.

TELL US ABOUT WILLOWBROOK.

WELL, THE FIRST THING WE DID IS NOW WE HAD THE IDEA OF THE SMALL COMMUNITY-BASED RESIDENCE, MOST OF THE PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE IN THE FIELD SAID THAT WAS THE WAY TO DO IT.

BUT NOW YOU HAD TO MAKE MONEY TO FUND THESE RESIDENCES, SO THAT BECAME MY CAUSE.

THAT BECAME MY CRUSADE, MY CRUSADE TO FUND THESE HOMES, THE ONE-TO-ONE TYPE HOMES WHERE THE POPULATION COULD THRIVE IN A WAY.

SO FIRST, YOU KNOW, I WAS FRIENDS WITH JOHN LENNON AND YOKO AT THE TIME.

JOHN'S 75th BIRTHDAY JUST BEING RECOGNIZED NOW.

IMAGINE 35 YEARS AGO, SUCH A SIN.

HE'S A DEAR FRIEND.

AND JOHN'S LAST CONCERT OF HIS LIFE WAS THE TWO ONE-TO-ONE CONCERTS AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN THAT MADE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

THEN WE STARTED WITH TELETHONS.

THEN I DID WALL STREET BOXING MATCHES WHERE I WOULD FIGHT WHOEVER THEIR DESIGNATED CHAMPION WAS.

THAT WAS IN MADISON SQUARE GARDEN ALSO.

IT'S A CAUSE THAT I'M INTIMATELY INVOLVED IN TO THIS VERY DAY.

I JUST DID 'CELEBRITY APPRENTICE.'

ALL THE MONEY I MADE WENT TO THIS CAUSE AND IN THIS CASE THE AGENCY OF LIFE'S WORK.

THERE ARE OTHERS I'M INVOLVED IN.

LIFE'S WORK, QUEENS, NEW YORK, NASSAU COUNTY BASED ORGANIZATION OF PARENTS, THEY OPENED MORE THAN 40 OF THESE HOMES.

THERE ARE SCORES OF THEM IN NEW YORK STATE AND NEW JERSEY AND CONNECTICUT, ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.

AND I BELIEVE THAT IT IS THE GREATEST CONTRIBUTION I HAVE EVER MADE IN MY 45 YEARS OF PUBLIC LIFE.

I'M VERY PROUD OF IT AND IT'S SOMETHING I WILL GO TO THE GRAVE.

I'M ENGAGED NOW IN THE COLLEGE OF STATEN ISLAND, WHICH WAS BUILT ON THE GROUND OF WILLOWBROOK.

AND THEY TELL ME THEY WANT TO NAME A SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK AFTER ME, AND I WANT TO BE BURIED THERE ALSO.

IT'S SOMETHING THAT IT WAS THE BEGINNING IN ONE WAY AND LET IT END THAT WAY.

GERALDO RIVERA, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE.

> SANYA, IN THE BOOK YOU TALK A LOT ABOUT THE YOUNG LORDS.

WHO WERE THE YOUNG LORDS AND WHAT WERE THEIR RELATIVES TO THE PUERTO RICAN COMMUNITY IN NEW YORK?

THEY WERE COLLEGE STUDENTS PRIMARILY, AND THEY DECIDED TO CALL ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT -- THAT EMBODIO WAS NOT HAVING THE SERVICES WAS AS THE REST OF THE CITY AT SANITATION, AND THEY ARE WERE PART OF -- THEY FASHIONED THEMSELVES AFTER THE BLACK PANTHER.

THEY CHANGED SOCIETY LIKE EVERYBODY WANTED TO CHANGE SOCIETY IN '69.

THEY WENT AROUND TO THE COMMUNITY, HOW SHOULD WE CHANGE SOCIETY?

SHOULD WE FREE PUERTO RICO FROM THE UNITED STATES, PUERTO RICO SHOULD BE INDEPENDENT?

AND ALL OF THE GUYS OUTSIDE PLAYING DOMINOS SAID, YOU KNOW WHAT, WE SHOULD CLEAN UP THE STREET.

AND THEY WERE SURPRISED THEIR BIG STAND FOR SOCIAL INJUSTICE WAS GOING TO BE CLEANING UP THE STREETS.

AND THEY STARTED TO CLEAN UP THE STREETS AND SORT OF PUT LATINS ON THE MAP.

THESE GUYS, A LOT OF THE LEADERS THAT YOU TALK ABOUT, YOU DON'T MENTION THEIR NAMES BUT I CAN TELL WHO THEY WERE BY THEIR DESCRIPTIONS, ENDED UP BEING WELL KNOWN IN NEW YORK AND THE COUNTRY.

YOU HAVE FELIPE LUCIANO, GUZMAN, JUAN GONZALEZ AND THEIR LAWYER, GERALDO RIVERA.

RIGHT.

WHY DID ALL OF THESE GUYS BECOME JOURNALISTS AND TV PERSONALITIES?

I THINK BECAUSE THEY ALWAYS WANTED TO EXPOSE THINGS AND I THINK IT'S INTERESTING THEY CONTINUE THE WORK THEY STARTED WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG MEN AND STARTED THE YOUNG LORDS.

> ON JULY 26th, 1969, A GROUP OF YOUNG LATINOS STOOD UP IN NEW YORK CITY'S EAST VILLAGE AND MADE AN ANNOUNCEMENT, THEY WERE FOUNDING A NEW BRANCH OF A REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION CALLED THE YOUNG LORDS.

THEIR INSPIRATION, THE BLACK PANTHERS.

AMONG THEIR GOALS, PUERTO RICAN INDEPENDENCE, COMMUNITY CONTROL, ARMED SELF-DEFENSE AND A SOCIALIST SOCIETY.

THEIR LAWYER, GERALDO RIVERA.

AND HE JOINS ME NOW.

GERALDO, WELCOME.

SOUNDS HARSHER, BUT THEY DID THE TIME.

WE'LL GET TO THE PROJECT IN A SECOND.

TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE YOUNG LORDS.

WHO WERE THEY?

HOW DID THEY COME TO BE?

THEY WERE A GROUP OF YOUNG ACTIVISTS, AND ALTHOUGH THEIR ANNOUNCEMENT OF THEIR EXISTENCE, THEY WERE VERY REVOLUTIONARY, TO ME THEIR BIGGEST EMPHASIS AND REASON THEY WERE SO UNIQUE IS THEY WERE THE FIRST PUERTO RICAN ACTIVIST GROUP WHOSE FOCUS WAS NOT PRIMARILY THE STATUS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO, INDEPENDENCE OF PUERTO RICO, BUT RATHER THE SOCIAL CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE LIVING IN SPANISH HARLEM ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE AND SOUTH BRONX, PUERTO RICAN AND LATINO COMMUNITY HERE IN THE FIVE BOROUGHS.

BUT AS I SAID, PART OF THEIR PLATFORM, LITERALLY, THAT WAS A 10 OR 12-POINT WAS SOCIALISM, ANTI-CAPITALISM, INDEPENDENCE F FOR PUERTO RICO.

WAS THAT YOUR POLITICS BACK THEN?

IT WAS MY POLITICS LARGELY.

I JUST REMEMBERED, AS YOU WERE SPEAKING, I REMEMBER ONE EVENT WHERE I HAD A '68 VOLKSWAGEN CONVERTIBLE.

I WAS VERY PROUD OF IT, MY FIRST CAR, MY FIRST NEWISH CAR.

AND I REMEMBER DRIVING AND LEADING A PARADE FROM THE HEADQUARTERS OF 111th STREET DOWN LEXINGTON AVENUE TO THE UNITED NATIONS TO PROTEST PUERTO RICO'S STATUS, AND GETTING TO THE HILLS AT LIKE 99th STREET AND LOOKING BACK AND SEEING 40,000 PEOPLE STRETCHED OUT, JAMMED ON LEXINGTON AVENUE ALL THE WAY TO 116th STREET.

IT WAS AN AMAZINGLY VIBRANT AND RELEVANT MOMENT.

MY POLITICS WERE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME.

IT WAS A WILD TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY.

THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT HAD TURNED VIOLENT IN MANY WAYS.

THE URBAN RIOTING, NEWARK BURNED IN '67, WATTS.

THE CITY -- THE COUNTRY WAS DEFINITELY ON EDGE, DIVIDED IN MANY WAYS.

THE CIVIL RIGHTS, ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT WAS RAGING.

MANY OF US, YOU KNOW, PASSIONATELY ENGAGED, LOOKING BACK ON IT, MAYBE HAD TO DO WITH THE WONDERFUL DODGE OF THE DRAFT, WANTING THE WAR TO END BEFORE WE ALL GOT SUCKED INTO IT.

I HAD VERY LONG HAIR.

I SAW MYSELF, THAT WAS THE YEAR '68 THAT I GREW THE MUSTACHE.

I HAVEN'T SHAVED IT SINCE.

THE MUSTACHE IS OLDER THAN MY WIFE.

AND THOSE WERE MY -- THOSE WERE MY POLITICS.

THEY SAY IF YOU'RE NOT A SOCIALIST AS A KID, YOU HAVE NO HEART.

IF YOU'RE NOT A CONSERVATIVE AS A GROWN-UP, YOU HAVE NO BRAINS, BUT I DON'T BUY INTO STEREOTYPES.

BUT YOU'RE CONSERVATIVE AND YOUR POLITICS DID CHANGE BECAUSE YOU WERE GOING TO RUN AS A REPUBLICAN IN NEW JERSEY FOR THE U.S. SENATE.

I AM A REGISTERED REPUBLICAN AND I WAS A REPUBLICAN THEN IRONICALLY.

IT WAS ACCIDENTAL.

I'M AN ACCIDENTAL REPUBLICAN.

MY DAD BECAME A REPUBLICAN WHEN WE MOVED FROM WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN TO WEST BABYLON, BECAUSE THAT WAS THE ONLY WAY TO WORK FOR THE TOWN WAS TO BE THE PARTY THAT RAN THE UP TO OF BABYLON, AND IT WAS REPUBLICANS.

I WANTED A JOB WITH THE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT.

MY DAD BECAME A REPUBLICAN, SO I BECAME A REPUBLICAN SO I COULD WORK ON THE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT.

SINCE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT POLITICS, LET ME DIGRESS FOR ONE SECOND.

DONALD TRUMP, YOU WERE ON 'CELEBRITY APPRENTICE.'

I THINK HE'S STILL A FRIEND OF YOURS, CORRECT?

HE IS.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE ABOUT THE STATEMENTS, SUPPORTING THE 11 MILLION UNDOCUMENTED, PARTICULARLY MEXICANS?

FIRST OF ALL, I LOVE DONALD TRUMP, WHOM I HAVE KNOWN FOR DECADES, BUT BECAME ESPECIALLY CLOSE TO DONALD AND HIS FAMILY.

HE'S A WONDERFUL FATHER AND GREAT GRANDFATHER.

I HAVE SEEN IT WITH MY OWN EYES.

HE'S A GREAT, GENEROUS, OPEN-HEARTED, SMART, DYNAMIC, ENERGETIC, CREATIVE AND IN SOME WAYS HISTORIC GUY.

WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS, AND I HAD THE CONVERSATION SO I CAN SHARE IT WITH YOU WITH HIM FACE TO FACE WAS APPALLING, IT WAS WRETCHED, IT SMACKED OF A KIND OF RACIAL STEREOTYPING THAT WAS SO SLOPPY AND INACCURATE AND HURTFUL TO SO MANY PEOPLE.

AND I TRIED TO SHARE THAT WITH HIM.

I SAID TO HIM, YOU KNOW, YOU CAN BE FOR STRONG BORDER CONTROL, BUT TO CALL A WHOLE RACE OF PEOPLE DRUG DEALERS AND RAPISTS AND TO SAY THAT YOU'RE GOING TO DEPORT NOT ONLY THE 11 MILLION WHO ARE HERE, EVEN IF THEY HAVE BEEN LAW ABIDING, BEEN HERE FOR DECADES, BUT ALSO THEIR U.S.-BORN CITIZEN CHILDREN IS DRACONIAN AND -- AND SO INDEFENSIBLE.

DOES HE MEAN IT?

YOU KNOW, I SAID, JUST SAW YOU'RE SORRY.

JUST SAY WHAT I'M SAYING NOW, THAT YOU WANT BORDER CONTROL, PEOPLE HAVE TO OBEY THE LAW, ALL OF THE THINGS YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH, SAY THAT BUT IN A WAY THAT RESPECTS THIS GROUP, THE VAST MAJORITY OF WHOM ARE WONDERFUL PEOPLE, WHO HAVE REINVIGORATED TOWNS LIKE PASSAIC AND PATTERSON, WASHINGTON HEIGHTS.

YOU LOOK AROUND AND --

HERE IN THE CITY.

NEW YORK CITY.

THERE ARE 500,000 UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS IN THE NEW YORK METRO AREA.

YOU NEVER HEAR ABOUT THEM.

WHY?

THEY'RE NOT COMMITTING CRIMES OR RAPING OR SHOOTING.

I THINK IT'S VERY UNFORTUNATE AND HE WILL NOT BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

HE MAY BE THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE, BUT HE WON'T BE THE PRESIDENT.

LET'S GET BACK, HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNDER LORDS?

THEY MADE THEIR ANNOUNCEMENT, YOU REPORTED ACCURATELY, JULY 1969, THE MONTH AFTER I TOOK MY BAR EXAM FROM BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL.

I KNEW THEIR HEADQUARTERS WERE UNDER PARK AVENUE UNDER THE MARQUETTE THERE, L THERE.

I SAID YOU KNOW SOMETHING, YOU'RE THE PUERTO RICAN ACTIVIST GROUP, I'M THE PUERTO RICAN LAWYER, I'M YOUR LAWYER.

THEY HAD FINE ACTIVIST ATTORNEYS, YOU KNOW, LAWYERS GUILD AND ALL OF THE OTHERS.

I SAID NO, I'M YOUR LAWYER.

AND THAT'S HOW I BECAME A PUBLIC PERSON.

AND ONE OF THE -- CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG, BUT I THINK MOST OF THE FORMER YOUNG LORDS THAT I KNOW WERE NOT BORN IN PUERTO RICO, THEY'RE WHAT WE CALL NEW PUERTO RICANS AND PART OF THE LURE OF THE YOUNG LORDS WAS IT HELPED RECONNECT THEM WITH THEIR PUERTO RICAN ROOTS.

WAS THAT A LURE FOR YOU?

OH, SURE, OH, SURE.

GROWING THE MUSTACHE IN '68, THE YEAR BEFORE THAT, AND STYLING MYSELF GERALDO, RATHER THAN GERRY, WHICH IS WHAT I WAS CALLED AS A YOUTH, I WANTED TO BE THAT PERSON.

I WANTED TO BE THE BRIDGE, THE NEW OREAKAN.

SO YOU LOOK WHO YOU HAVE, JUAN GONZALEZ, PABLO GUZMAN, DENISE OLIVER.

THESE ARE ALL PEOPLE THAT I THINK DIDN'T, ONE, GO TO COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.

THESE WERE NOT GHETTO KIND OF POOR FOLKS, THESE WERE PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO WERE REALIZING WHO THEY WERE AT THIS VIBRANT, VITAL TIME IN NEW YORK HISTORY, AND TOGETHER WE DID MAKE HISTORY.

BY THE WAY, I HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS IN A DOCUMENTARY WHERE AT ONE POINT YOU WANTED TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE YOUNG LORDS.

I WAS ALMOST A MEMBER.

I WORE A BERET.

I REPRESENT FELIPE GONZALEZ -- I MEAN FELIPE LUCIANO SAYING A STORY ABOUT HOW HE WAS RUNNING FROM THE COPS AND YOU RAN WITH HIM AND GOT BETWEEN HIM AND THE COPS AND SAID, STOP, I'M HIS LAWYER.

THAT'S TRUE.

LINCOLN HOSPITAL.

THE COP SAID SOMETHING TO HIM AND I --

BUT YOU WANTED TO BE AN OFFICIAL MEMBER AND THE LEADERSHIP SAID NO AND YOU TOOK THAT BADLY.

WHAT WAS THEIR MOTIVATION?

YOU KNOW TO NOT ACCEPT MY MEMBERSHIP?

I THINK THEY WERE PROTECTING ME.

WHAT HAPPENED WAS, I WAS THERE FOR THE GLAMOROUS SEIZURE OF THE BUILDING AND THREE DAYS IN A ROW ON THE FRONT PAGE OF 'THE NEW YORK TIMES' AND THE 'TODAY' SHOW DOING REMOTE CAMERAS, VERY UNIQUE AT THAT TIME.

NOW IT'S A DIME A DOZEN.

BUT THOSE DAYS WHEN A SHOW LIKE THE 'TODAY' SHOW MOVED TO EAST HARLEM TO DO A LIVE REMOTE --

YOU'RE TALKING WHEN THE YOUNG LORDS TOOK OVER THE CHURCH.

TOOK OVER THE CHURCH IN JULY.

THAT WAS SUCH A VIBRANT, VITAL TIME.

BUT LATER, MANY WENT TO JAIL FOR DRAFT EVASION, TRESPASS, RESISTING ARREST, ASSAULT ON POLICE OFFICERS.

THE SYSTEM DRAGGED THEM DOWN WITH A THOUSAND CUTS, AND THE IDEALISM THAT FUELED THAT INITIAL ENERGY, WHERE THEY WANTED TO DO GREAT THINGS, FREE LEAD PAINT POISONING TESTING, FREE BREAKFAST, DAY CARE, UNIVERSAL DAY CARE.

BETTER GARBAGE PICKUP, THE SIMPLE --

WHAT THEY WANTED WAS NOT A RADICAL AGENDA.

THEY WERE RADICALIZED BUT THE AGENDA WAS VERY COMMON SENSICAL AND SOMETHING NOW I SUBMIT IS NOT FAR FROM de BLASIO'S AT LEAST ANNOUNCEMENT THIS YEAR.

JIMMY BRES LAN SAID THE YOUNG LORDS GRADUATED MORE FIRST CLASS JOURNALISTS THAN COLUMBIA JOURNALIST SCHOOL, WHICH IS TRUE.

YOU MENTIONED ALL OF THEM, RIGHT?

PHILLIPE LOUSE ANNIO, CARLOS GUZMAN, YOURSELF.

WHY IS THAT?

YOU KNOW, IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS AND I LOOK AT IT, RAFAEL, AND I SAY TO MYSELF, DID WE MAKE THE TIME OR DID THE TIME MAKE US?

AND I SUBMIT TO BE IN THAT MOMENT IN HISTORY, IT WAS JUST LIKE ONE OF THOSE SERENDIPITOUS THINGS, WE CAME TOGETHER AT A TIME WHEN YOU HAD THESE HUGE FORCES WE HAD NO CONTROL OVER, WERE SWIRLING AROUND AND EVERYTHING CAME TOGETHER AND CRYSTALLIZED.

AND FOR THE SAME THING THAT ATTRACTED ME, THAT SAME ALLURE, THE WHOLE CITY WAS ENGAGED.

SOME OPPOSITE OR OPPOSED, MOST I WOULD SUBMIT, BUT OTHERS WORRIED THAT THE CITY WAS CHANGING AND THE FACE OF THE CITY WAS CHANGING BUT NOT AN INSIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF PEOPLE SAYING ABOUT TIME SOMEBODY IS STANDING UP FOR THIS POPULATION, THIS EMERGING, BURGEONING POPULATION WITH NO VOICE.

NOW THEY HAVE A VOICE.

AND YOU GUYS WERE FORCED TO BECOME ELOQUENT TO SPEAK ON THEIR BEHALF.

TALK IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, AL PRIMO ON EYEWITNESS NEWS ACROSS THE STREET SAW ME AND SAID HEY, KID, YOU WANT TO BE ON TV?

AND A LOT OF PEOPLE WENT ON TV BECAUSE YOU WENT ON TV.

I SUBMIT I'M ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.

I ACCEPT YOU AS ONE OF MY PRODIGIES.

GERALDO, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, THE JPB FOUNDATION.

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