MetroFocus: September 22, 2022

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a civil lawsuit – for an estimated $250 million in penalties – against former President Donald Trump, three of his adult children, and the Trump Organization – for alleged business fraud.  The suit would also ban the former President, his three children and members of their executive team from operating businesses in New York state.  Former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey joins us for analysis of the case.

At age 12, Vic Barrett experienced the wrath of Superstorm Sandy, and noticed how the storm disproportionately affected people of color.  Years later, Barrett is one of 21 plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States, the groundbreaking lawsuit moving through the courts which alleges that the federal government violated Vic’s rights by knowing for decades that fossil fuels create pollution that leads to climate change.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, THE STATE OF NEW YORK VERSUS DONALD TRUMP.

THE FORMER PRESIDENT, HIS BUSINESS, AND THREE OF HIS CHILDREN SUED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL ALLEGING FRAUD.

HOW THIS LEGAL BOMBSHELL COULD BLOCK MR. TRUMP FROM EVER RUNNING A BUSINESS IN NEW YORK AGAIN, AND COULD CRIMINAL CHARGES BE NEXT?

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

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

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> THE PATTERN OF FRAUD AND DECEPTION THAT WAS USED BY MR. TRUMP BE THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION FOR THEIR OWN FINANCIAL BENEFIT IS ASTOUNDING.

INFLATING THE VALUES OF ASSET BY WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY TO INCREASE MR. TRUMP'S PURPORTED NET WORTH.

GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THAT WAS NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL LETITIA JAMES ANNOUNCING A SWEEPING LAWSUIT YESTERDAY AGAINST FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, THIEF HIS CHILDREN, AND THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION.

THE CIVIL LAWSUIT ACCUSES THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF NUMEROUS ACT OF FRAUD AND DELIBERATELY INFLATING HIS NET WORTH BY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN ORDER TO OBTAIN LOANS, INSURANCE, AND TAX BREAKS.

THE SUIT INVOLVES SOME OF MR. TRUMP'S MOST PRIZED ASSET, INCLUDING PROPERTIES IN MANHATTAN.

IT SEEKS $250 MILLION IN PENALTIES AND WOULD ALSO LOOK TO BAR THE TRUMPS FROM EVER RUNNING A BUSINESS IN NEW YORK STATE AGAIN.

IN A STATEMENT POSTED ON THE TRUTH SOCIAL WEBSITE, TRUMP CALLED IT ANOTHER WITCH-HUNT MOTIVATED BY JAMES' RE-ELECTION BID.

JOINING US TO UNDERSTAND ALL THIS IS KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA, ONE OF THE NATION'S LARGEST PROSECUTION OFFICES.

KENNEDING, WELCOME.

NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

THANKS FOR INVITING ME, JACK.

LET'S START OFF WITH THE LAWSUIT ITSELF.

I MENTION IN THE INTRODUCTION, IT IS A CIVIL LAWSUIT, BUT YOU HEAR WORDS WITHIN ITS CONTEXT THAT SOUND LIKE WORD YOU HEAR IN CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS SUCH AS DEFRAUDING BANKS OR INSURANCE COMPANIES.

EXPLAIN TO US BRIEFLY FOR CONTEXT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS AS A CIVIL LAWSUIT AND A FEDERAL CHARGE OR A CRIMINAL CHARGE I SHOULD SAY.

THERE ARE A LOT OF CATEGORIES, ESPECIALLY OF WHITE COLLAR CRIME, ALLEGED FINANCIAL IMPROPRIETIES, FALSIFICATIONS TO BANKS, THAT CAN BE SUED UPON CIVILLY BECAUSE THEY VIOLATE THE CIVIL LAW, AND ONE CAN SEEK DAMAGES AS A PRIVATE PARTY OR NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL.

AND THOSE SAME ACTS AND CONDUCT, IF PROVEN IN TERMS OF INTENTIONALITY BEYOND INTO THE EXCLUSION OF A REASONABLE DOUBT, CAN ALSO BE PROSECUTED AS CRIMES.

AND THE SYSTEM ALLOWS YOU TO HAVE WHAT WE CALL PARALLEL INVESTIGATIONS OR PARALLEL CASES WHERE BOTH OF THEM GO ON AT THE SAME TIME.

NOW, HERE, TO BE VERY CLEAR, THERE HAVE BEEN NO CRIMINAL CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST THE TRUMP FAMILY, AND NONE AT ALL WITH RESPECT TO THIS SET OF ALLEGATIONS.

NEVERTHELESS, THE CONDUCT CAN SEEM TO BE CRIMINAL TO A LOT OF MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC, BUT IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT THESE, ALTHOUGH THEY ALLEGED FRAUD, THESE ARE CIVIL ALLEGATIONS BASED ON THIS LAWSUIT NO ONE'S GOING TO JAIL.

JUST EXPLAIN AGAIN, LAST POINT ON THIS DIFFERENCE HERE, ONE OF THE SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A CIVIL LAWSUIT AND CRIMINAL PROSECUTION IS THE STANDARD OF PROOF.

JUST GIVE US A QUICK -- I KNOW YOU HAVE BEEN A LAW PROFESSOR FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS.

GIVE US A QUICK INDICATION OF WHAT THE DIFFERENCE IS BETWEEN THE TWO.

WELL, AS WE KNOW, TO PROVE A CRIMINAL CASE YOU HAVE TO PROVE ALL THE ALMOSTS, WHICH INCLUDES REQUISITE INTENTION, STATE OF MIND, BEYOND THE EXCLUSION OF A REASONABLE DOUBT, AND THAT CAN BE A CRITICAL BURDEN PROSECUTORS SOMETIMES CAN MEET AND WHY THERE CAN BE CASES WHERE IT SEEMS LIKE SOMETHING'S REALLY WRONG HERE, BUT THEY NEVER RESULT IN A CRIMINAL PROSECUTION BECAUSE A THAT HEAVY BURDEN.

A CIVIL CASE JUST GOT APPROVED MORE LIKELY THAN NOT IT HAPPENED.

AND OF COURSE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A CIVIL CASE COULD BE A LOT OF MONEY.

THERE COULD BE DISQUALIFICATIONS OF TRUMP FAMILY MEMBERS, BUT THEY DON'T INCLUDE PRISON TIME.

LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE ANTICIPATED DEFENSES HERE BASE ON COMMENTS WE'VE SEEN BY THE FORMER PRESIDENT OR HIS REPRESENTATIVES.

YOU CAN GIVE US A SENSE OF WHAT THEY WOULD ARGUE AND THE FLIPSIDE BY THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERALS AFTER OFFICE.

ONE OF THE MORE PROMINENT DEFENSES SUGGESTED HERE WAS THAT THE BANKS DIDN'T LOSE ANY MONEY.

THEY ALLEGE THIS WAS NOT A SITUATION WHERE THE LOAN WAS DEFAULTED ON BE THE BANK WAS OUT MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

THE BANKS, THEIR LOANS WERE REPAID OR ARE CURRENT.

TELL ME HOW THAT WOULD PLAY OUT FROM THE ZBEFS WHAT THE RESPONSE WOULD BE FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE PUBLIC, IT MAKES THE CASE LESS CULPABLE, LESS GUILTY.

BUT IT IS STILL A CRIME TO SUBMIT FALSE FINANCIAL RECORDS TO A BANK.

EVEN IF IT'S REPAID, BOTH UNDER CIVIL LAW, CRIMINAL LAW, STATE, AND FEDERAL.

WHAT THE A.G.'S OFFICE DID THOUGH WAS MADE THE POINT THAT THIS ISN'T SCHISMLY A NO HARM, NO FOUL DAYS.

WHAT HAPPENED IS BECAUSE ACCORDING TO THEIR THEORY, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION GROSSLY INFLATED ITS ASSETS, IT GOT BETTER FINANCIAL TERMS.

IN OTHER WORDS, THE BANK GAVE THEM LESS OF AN INTEREST RATE, MAYBE LESS OTHER FEES, AND SO WHETHER OR NOT IT WAS REPAID, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION GOT A BIG FINANCIAL BENEFIT.

AT ONE POINT IN THE COMPLAINT THEY SAY IT'S $150 MILLION BETTER POSITION WITH RESPECT TO THE FINANCING AND, LOGICALLY THAT MEANS THE BANKS COULD HAVE, SHOULD HAVE, WOULD HAVE GOTTEN A LOT MORE MONEY BASED ON THE TRUE, NOT THE INFLATED -- THE TRUE FINANCIAL CONDITION OF THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION.

WHAT ABOUT THE ARGUMENT THAT GOES, WELL, YOU KNOW WHAT?

ALL THESE BANKS, THEY HAD THEIR ABILITY TO DO THEIR OWN EVALUATIONS OF THIS PROPERTY, AND IF THEY ACCEPTED OURS, WELL, THAT WAS THE BUSINESS DEAL.

THAT'S ANOTHER GREAT POINT THAT SORT OF FOLLOWS IN A SIMILAR WAY.

YES, IN THE REAL WORLD, IN THE FINANCIAL WORLD, BANKS DO PLENTY OF THEIR OWN INVESTIGATION, AND THEY HAVE PROFESSIONALS ON STAFF AND SEASONED BANK OFFICERS THEMSELVES WHO CAN MAKE DETAILED JUDGMENTS ABOUT VALUATIONS, AND THEY'RE OFTEN VERY SKEPTICAL OF BORROWERS WHO HAVE AN ETERNAL OPTIMISM ABOUT WHAT THEY THINK THEIR ASSETS ARE WORTH.

NEVERTHELESS, THE FACT THAT THE BANK WAS PERHAPS NOT DOING EVERYTHING IT SHOULD HAVE DONE ON ITS END OR THE FACT THAT THE BANK IN EFFECT DIDN'T DO ENOUGH DUE DILIGENCE TO KNOW THAT THE MISINFORMATION WAS WRONG, THAT'S NOT REALLY A DEFENSE, AND IT COMES DOWN TO, YOU CAN'T BASICALLY FALSIFY THINGS, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF, YOU KNOW, FALSE INFORMATION, AND THEN PUT THE VICTIM ON TRIAL BY TELLING THE VICTIM, HEY, YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.

YOU NEVER SHOULD HAVE BELIEVED MY FINANCIAL STATEMENTS.

HOW ABOUT -- YOUR LAST COMMENT GETS ME TO THE NEXT QUESTION, WHICH IS -- AND AGAIN, WE HEARD THIS I BELIEVE FROM THE FORMER PRESIDENT AND HIS REPRESENTATIVES WITH REGARD TO THIS.

THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY, IT'S A NOTORIOUSLY SUBJECTIVE BUSINESS TRYING TO PUT VALUATIONS ON PROPERTIES.

EXCUSE ME.

AND WE KNOW THAT -- AND AGAIN WE'VE HEARD THIS -- OFTEN TIMES, FOR WHATEVER REASON, THEY MIGHT SAY, YEAH, THIS IS WORTH A LOT MORE.

OR MIGHT BE IT'S NOT WORTH SO MUCH.

BUT AGAIN, THE ARGUMENT SEEMS TO BE, HEY, IT'S THE WAY EVERYBODY DOES BUSINESS IN THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY.

WHAT ABOUT THAT ARGUMENT IS THIS.

THAT GETS CLOSER TO A REAL DEFENSE WHICH IS VALUATIONS OF REAL ESTATE ARE VERY SUBJECTIVE.

WE'VE ALL, JACK, HAD OPINIONS WHERE EXPERTS ON REAL ESTATE GO INTO A COURT AND TESTIFY AND HAVE TOTALLY DIFFERENT OPINIONS OF THE VALUE OF REAL ESTATE TO HAVE VALUE OF A BUSINESS.

SO I THINK A KEY AND PERHAPS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE DEFENSE WOULD BE, LOOK, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION HAD THEIR VIEW OF THE VALUES.

YOU COULD HAVE FIGURED IT OUT FOR YOURSELF, AND THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION AND FAMILY MEMBERS WEREN'T INTENTIONALLY LYING.

THEY WERE OPTIMISTIC, BUT THEY WERE TAKING ACCOUNT OF MAYBE SOME OTHER FACTORS THAT WERE ON THE LANDSCAPE, THAT WERE ON THE HORIZON, THAT COULD REALLY ENABLE THEM TO JUSTIFY IT.

FOR EXAMPLE, THERE WAS ONE PROPERTY THAT I THINK WAS SAID TO BE, IN TERMS OF WHAT REAL ESTATE APPRAISERS THOUGHT, MAYBE $200 MILLION VALUE.

AND THAT WAS AROUND 2010.

WELL, TRUMP EXPERTS MIGHT SAY THE VALUES WENT UP A WHOLE LOT AFTER 2010.

REMEMBER, WE WERE COMING OUT OF THE GREAT RECESSION.

SO I THINK YOU CAN EXPECT A LOT OF DEFENSE EFFORT AND TESTIMONY ON THE BASIC PRINCIPLE THAT, YOU KNOW, MAYBE WE'RE OFF.

MAYBE YOU DON'T AGREE WITH OUR NUMBERS, BUT THESE WERE INTENDED TRUTHFULLY, NOT INTENDED TO BE A FRAUD THAT CAUSED IN EFFECT US TO GET BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF INFLATED VALUES AND CAUSED US TO GET MUCH, MUCH BETTER FINANCIAL TERMS AND BASICALLY SAVE $150 MILLION OR MORE BECAUSE WE WERE VIEWED AS A MUCH STRONGER BORROWER WITH MUCH GREATER FINANCIAL VALUE.

THERE'S AN INTERESTING TWIST TO THIS, AND IT MIGHT BE SURPRISING TO SOME PEOPLE.

IT'S BEEN REPORTED THE FORMER PRESIDENT BE AT LEAST ONE OF HIS CHILDREN DECLINED TO ANSWER QUESTIONS.

THEY WERE ORDERED TO SIT FOR A DPGS BUT ESSENTIALLY RELIED ON THEIR FIFTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS NOT TO ANSWER QUESTIONS PERHAPS HUNDREDS OF TIMES DURING THIS DEPOSITION.

JUST WATCH TELEVISION TO KNOW IF IN A CRIMINAL MATTER YOU RELY ON YOUR FIFTH AMENDMENT THAT CANNOT BE USED AGAINST YOU.

IN A TRIAL A JURY WOULD NOT KNOW I DID THAT.

WHAT ABOUT IN A CIVIL CASE?

ISN'T THERE A DIFFERENCE HERE?

THERE'S A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

AND WHILE IN A CIVIL CASE IN A DEPOSITION, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE THE FIFTH AMENDMENT -- AND A LOT OF TIMES ON ADVICE OF COUNCIL, PEOPLE DO WHEN THEY'RE BEING INVESTIGATED FOR ALLEGE FRAUD.

THEY TAKE THE FIFTH AMENDMENT ON ADVICE OF COUNSEL, BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY IT'S A FAR GREATER CONCERN WHETHER YOU ARE AT RISK OF CRIMINAL PROSECUTION THAN YOU GET SUED, EVEN BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, BECAUSE LAWSUITS GIVE YOU PLENTY OF TIME TO FIGHT, TO DEFEND.

BUT A FEDERAL INDICTMENT FROM THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK IS TERRIFYING, AND THOSE HAVE AN OVERWHELMING LIKELY HAD OF WINDING UP WITH SOME FORM OF A CONVICTION.

SO TRUMP'S LAWYERS PROBABLY DID THE PRUDENT THING INSTRUCTING HIM TO TAKE THE FIFTH AMENDMENT.

BUT AS YOU SAY, IT HAS A VERY SIGNIFICANT CONSEQUENCE IN A CIVIL CASE BECAUSE IF YOU TAKE THE FIFTH AMENDMENT IN A CIVIL CASE, THE JUDGE OR JURY IS ORDINARILY ALLOWED TO INFER, TAKE AN INFERENCE THAT THE TESTIMONY YOU REFUSED TO PROVIDE WOULD BE HARMFUL TO YOU, THAT THE TESTIMONY THAT YOU REFUSE TO PROVIDE BY INVOKING THE FIFTH AMENDMENT COULD ACTUALLY TEND TO PROVE THE CASE THAT'S BEING BROUGHT AGAINST YOU.

AND SO YEP, CRIMINAL PROTECTION IS IMPORTANT.

IT'S RIGHT IN THE CONSTITUTION.

BUT YOU DO CREATE SIGNIFICANT CONCERNS WHEN YOU TAKE THE FIFTH AMENDMENT WITH REGARD TO A CIVIL CASE.

AND I REFER TO IT AS A CLIENT OR DEFENDANT FIGHTING WITH ONE HAND BEHIND THEIR BACK.

VERY HARD TO OVERCOME THE ASSERTION OF THE FIFTH AMENDMENT.

COULD THEY, NOW THAT THEY'VE SEEN ALL THE ALLEGATIONS THAT THE STATE OF NEW YORK IS PRESENTING, COULD TRUMP'S LAWYERS SAY, WE'LL REVIEW THIS AND CONSIDER TESTIMONY NOW?

I ASSUME SO.

TAKE A LOOK AT IT.

KENDALL, THIS HAS BEEN VERY HELPFUL.

THE NEXT STEP YOU NEXT SECOND DOWN THIS HAS BEEN REFERRED TO THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK OF NEW YORK AND THE INTERNAL REVENUE VIS.

THANKS.

YOU BE WELL.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON, JACK.

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

WILDFIRES, HURRICANES, COASTAL FLOODS.

THERE IS A WHOLE GENERATION OF AMERICANS WHO HAVE GROWN UP WITH THE FIRSTHAND VIEW OF THE DEVASTATING EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME WEATHER.

NOW THAT GENERATION IS OF VOTING AGE AND, MORE IS MORE YOUNG PEOPLE SAY CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE MOST CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME.

OUR NEXT GUEST IS PART OF THAT GENERATION.

VIC BARRETT WAS 12 YEARS OLD WHEN HIS HOME WAS HIT BY HURRICANE SANDY, AN EVENT HE REMEMBERS VIVIDLY.

SINCE THEN HE'S DEDICATED MOST OF HIS YOUNG LIFE TO ACTIVISM.

HE'S EVEN SPOKEN BEFORE THE U.N.

AND HE'S ONE OF 21 SUING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE, ALLEGING IT IS IN -- OF THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.

VIC BARRETT JOINS US NOW.

VIC, WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

SO, YOU KNOW, I REALLY WANT TO GET INTO THE NOTION OF CLIMATE ACTIVISM AND BEING A YOUTH-LED MOVEMENT.

THIS SEEMS LIKE SOMETHING EVERYBODY SHOULD BE INVESTED IN, BUT FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, WHY WOULD YOU SAY YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE A PARTICULARLY UNIQUE INTEREST?

YEAH, I THINK YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE AN INHERENT CARE ABOUT THE CLIMATE CRISIS.

NO GENERATION BEFORE US HAS HAD SUCH AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT, SUCH A MASSIVE THREAT TO THEIR LIVELIHOODS, TO THEIR FUTURES, TO WHAT COULD COME NEXT.

MOST SCIENTISTS AGREE 350 PARTS PER MILLION OF CARBON IN THE ATMOSPHERE IS WHAT COULD EXIST FOR A SAFE AND STABLE CLIMATE, AND EVEN WHEN I WAS BORN IN 199 WE WERE AT 370 PARTS PER MILLION, AND TODAY WE'RE AT -- SO YOUNG PEOPLE ARE BORN EVERY DAY INTO A WORLD THAT'S NOT CAPABLE OF SUSTAINING A HEALTHY CLIMATE FOR THEM.

THAT'S INTERESTING JUST THE WAY YOU TALK ABOUT IT.

YOU KNOW WHAT THE CARBON MONOXIDE LEVELS ARE PARTS PER MILLION.

THAT'S NOT A WAY YOUNG PEOPLE USED TO TALK.

TELL ME ABOUT HOW YOU AT LEAST SEE THE MOVEMENT GROWING ESPECIALLY WITH SO MANY YOUNG PEOPLE NOW OF VOTING AGE.

YEAH, I THINK THE CLIMATE MOVEMENT IS REALLY SPECIAL BECAUSE IT'S SUCH AN INTERSECTIONAL ISSUE.

IT HAS TO DO WITH RACIAL JUSTICE, GENDER JUSTICE, REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS.

IT HAS TO DO WITH CLASSISM.

AND IF PEOPLE CAN AFFORD TO PICK UP BABY FORMULA OR THE FOOD THAT THEY NEED.

CLIMATE CHANGE IS A MASSIVE ISSUE THAT DEALS -- IS A PART OF ALL THE ISSUES THAT PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT.

JUST LIKE RACIAL JUSTICE AND GENDER JUSTICE AND ALL THE THINGS THEY MENTIONED, CLIMATE CHANGE IS A SYMPTOM OF A SYSTEM THAT ISN'T NECESSARILY WORKING.

SO, I'M WONDERING IF YOU COULD EXPAND ON THAT JUST A LITTLE BIT.

A LOT OF PEOPLE MIGHT HEAR, OKAY, BUT THE CLIMATE LITERALLY EFFECTS EVERYBODY.

HOW IS IT UNIQUELY DETRIMENTAL WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT INTERSECTIONAL ISSUES AS YOU DID, ABOUT RACIAL JUSTICE, GENDER JUSTICE, ET CETERA.

EXPLAIN HOW CLIMATE IT.

PACTS VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES.

I LOVE YOUR USE OF THE WORD VULNERABLE, BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE I WAS GOING TO GO WITH THAT.

CLIMATE CHANGE MAKES US ALL VULNERABLE, AND THERE ARE COMMUNITIES THAT ARE ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE ALREADY DUE TO WHETHER IT'S OVERPOLICING, LACK OF FOOD IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS.

CLIMATE CHANGE ISN'T JUST ABOUT THIS BIG PICTURE ISSUE.

LIKE I TALK ABOUT CARBON.

IT'S NOT JUST THAT.

IT'S, DOES YOUR NEIGHBOR HAVE AIR-CONDITIONING IN A CITY THAT'S GETTING HOTTER EVERY YEAR?

DOES YOUR NEIGHBOR HAVE SUCCESS TO TRANSPORTATION IN A CITY THAT IS GETTING MORE SNOW EVERY YEAR?

SO IT HAS A LOT TO DO ALREADY WITH WHAT PEOPLE CAN ACCESS.

AND CLIMATE CHANGE MAYBE MAKING IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO ACCESS THAT.

OR CLIMATE CHANGE CREATING MORE NEEDS FOR THEM THAN THEY ALREADY ARE STRUGGLING WITH IN THE FIRST PLACE.

A LOT OF THE REASON THAT I GOT INVOLVED WITH CLIMATE JUSTICE IN PARTICULAR WAS LEARNING ABOUT NO NEW YORK CITY HOW LOW INCOME HOUSING AND HOUSING THAT IS PREDOMINANTLY LIVED IN BY PEOPLE OF COLOR IS OFTEN BUILT IN AREAS THAT ARE FLOOD ZONES AND THE CITY KNOWS ARE FLOOD ZONES AND ARE SUSCEPTIBLE TO FLOODING.

SO NOT JUST IN NEW YORK CITY.

ALL OVER THE COUNTRY THERE ARE ALREADY VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES BEING PUT ON THE FRONT LINES OF ISSUES WE KNOW ARE GOING TO GET WORSE.

SO IT'S KIND OF LOOKING AT WHAT SYSTEMS AND POLICIES AND ALL OF THESE THINGS CONSIDER SACRIFICE ZONES, AND IT TENDS TO BE ALREADY VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES THAT LIVE IN THOSE.

YOU SORT OF TOUCHED ON THAT WHEN YOU TALKED ABOUT FLOOD ZONES AND WHICH COMMUNITIES LIVE THERE.

I DO WANT TO POINT OUT THAT YOU DEFINITELY IDENTIFY AS BLACK, LATINX, QUEER, AND OBVIOUSLY A YOUNG PERSON.

BUT I WANT TO YOU TAKE US BACK TO YOUR EXPERIENCE.

I GUESS WHAT WOULD BE YOUR MOST TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE, AND THAT WAS THROUGH SUPERSTORM SANDY WHEN THAT HIT NEW YORK CITY.

CAN YOU TAKE US BACK TO WHAT YOUR EXPERIENCE WAS WHEN YOU WERE 12?

YEAH, I JUST REMEMBER A LOT OF FEAR, A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY, NOT KNOWING WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT.

ALSO JUST GOING HOME AND WATCHING THE NEWS AND SEEING PEOPLE WHO WERE BEING IMPACTED EVEN MORE THAN I WAS IN THE MOMENT.

I DIDN'T GET INVOLVED IN CLIMATE WORK UNTIL I WAS 14 YEARS OLD.

SO I GOT THIS OPPORTUNITY TO REFLECT ON THAT EXPERIENCE AND ALSO MEET YOUNG PEOPLE WHO, JUST LIKE ME, HAD TO LEAVE THEIR WHOLE HOMES BEHIND, DIDN'T HAVE A HOME TO LIVE IN ANYMORE.

I THINK A LOT OF -- HURRICANE SANDY WAS REALLY EYE-OPENING TO ME IN TERM OF REFLECTING ON IT AND LOOKING AT THE RELATIONSHIPS I WAS BUILDING AND UNDERSTANDING THAT PEOPLE WHO LOOK JUST LIKE ME WERE IMPACTED GREATLY, UNIMAGINABLY.

THE SAME PEOPLE THAT I WAS WALKING TO THE SUBWAY WITH AFTER SCHOOL OR EATING FREE PIZZA WITH AT AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS, THEIR WHOLE LIVES WERE UPROOTED, SO --

DID YOU FEEL AS THOUGH THIS WAS A UBIQUITOUS FEELING ACROSS OTHER -- I HATE TO KEEP SAYING YOUNG PEOPLE, BUT ACROSS OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS -- LET'S FOCUS ON NEW YORK CITY.

BECAUSE AGAIN, AS YOU POINTED OUT, THIS DIDN'T IMPACT ALL OF YORK IN THE SAME WAY.

THERE WERE PEOPLE WHO HAD THE LUXURY OF PICKING UP AND MOVING SOME PLACE ELSE, WHERE AS OTHER PEOPLE HAD TO RIDE OUT THE STORM SOME AS YOU GOT INVOLVED IN THIS PARTICULARLY YOUTH BASED CLIMATE ACTION, DID YOU FEEL AS THOUGH EVERYONE WAS ON THE SAME PAGE?

HONESTLY, WHEN I FIRST GOT INVOLVED, THE FIRST CAMPAIGN I WORKED ON WHEN I WAS 14 WAS FOCUSED ON CLIMATE EDUCATION AND TRYING TO MANDATE CLIMATE EDUCATION IN NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, BECAUSE ME AND MY PEERS IN THIS PARTICULARLY AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAM, LEARNING ABOUT HUMAN RIGHT, HOW TO RUN A CAMPAIGN, HOW TO MEET PEOPLE, WE ALL COLLECTIVELY WERE AWARE OF THE FACT THAT NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE UNLESS YOUNG PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THE ISSUE IS.

SO I FEEL LIKE WHEN WE FIRST STARTED TO WORK, I DEFINITELY FELT A GAP BETWEEN YOUNG PEOPLE KNOWING HOW CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS THEM OTHER THAN KIND OF THE SAME IMAGES THAT WE'RE FED CONSTANTLY -- TREE GETTING CUT DOWN AND POLAR BEARS NOT BEING ABLE TO MOVE ACROSS THE ICE.

WE HAVE THESE GENERAL IMAGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE THAT YOUNG PEOPLE AT THAT TIME A FILE LIKE GOT SEE A LOT, AND I MAKE IT A MISSION TO TEACH ABOUT HOW IT IMPACTS HUMANS AT THE END OF THE DAY.

AND I THINK THAT THAT NARRATIVE HAS GOTTEN MORE UNDERSTOOD AND COMMON, BUT WHEN I FIRST STARTED IT DIDN'T FEEL AS UNDERSTOOD.

LET'S PUT YOUNG THEM ASIDE AND TALK ABOUT US OLDER GENERATIONS.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE UNDERSTANDING AND UNDERSTANDING THE URGENCY?

WHILE THERE SEEMS TO BE A LOT OF PASSION ON THE PART OF YOUR PEERS, YOUR CONTEMPORARIES, A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE IN CHARGE OF GOVERNMENTS, WHO ARE ACTUALLY MAKING THE DECISIONS, MIGHT NOT SEEM TO HAVE THAT SAME LEVEL OF URGENCY, CRITICAL URGENCY THAT WE SEE A LOT OF YOUTH EXPRESS.

YEAH.

I THINK THAT A LOT OF DECISIONMAKERS MAKE DON'T SEE THE -- THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND THE IMPLICATIONS IN THE SAME WAY YOUNG PEOPLE DO.

GEN Z IN PARTICULAR, I'M 23, AND YOUNGER AND A LITTLE OLDER, HAVE KIND OF AN INHERENT EMPATHY AND AN INHERENT CONSIDERATION FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES EXPERIENCE AND SITUATIONS THAT MAYBE OLDER GENERATIONS DON'T POSSESS IN THE SAME WAY BECAUSE THEY WEREN'T BORN INTO THE SAME WORLD THAT WE HAVE BEEN BORN INTO.

I THINK THAT THERE'S DEFINITELY A LACK OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT ABOUT THE JUSTICE PART OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND ABOUT THE IMPACTS THAT CLIMATE CHANGE HAS ON HUMAN BEINGS.

BECAUSE I THINK THAT WE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE IN A TOO DISTANT, ABSTRACT WAY FOR A REALLY LONG TIME.

POLITICIANS -- AND THIS IS SOMETHING THAT COMES UP IN THE LAWSUIT THAT I'M A PART OF.

POLITICIANS, PRESIDENTS HAVE KNOWN GOING BACK TO THE 1950s AND 1960s HAVE BEEN BRIEFED OP CLIMATE SCIENCE AND THE FACT THAT FOSSIL FUEL INFRASTRUCTURE WAS GOING TO LEAD TO MORE CLIMATE CHANGE AND STILL DECIDED TO PRIORITIZE PROFIT OVER POSTERITY AND WHAT WAS GOING TO COME NEXT.

SO I THINK THAT A LOT OF POLITICIANS ARE WORKING AT A DIFFERENT BASELINE THAN YOUNG PEOPLE ARE WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE ISSUE OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

THE AVERAGE LAWMAKER IN THE UNITED STATES TENDED TO BE ABOVE 50 YEARS OLD, AND THAT'S A DIFFERENT LIVED EXPERIENCE THAN SOMEONE WHO IS 23.

SOMEBODY WHO WAS BORN IN THE '50s OR '60s IS GOING TO HAVE AN INHERENTLY DIFFERENT OUTLOOK THAN SOMEONE BORN IN 1999.

OR LIKE I SAID, SOMEONE WHO WAS BORN WHEN THE EARTH WAS CAPABLE OF SUSTAINING THE WAY OF LIVING IS GOING TO HAVE A HARD TIME UNDERSTANDING A GENERAL RIGS THAT WAS BORN WHEN EARTH WASN'T CAPABLE.

WE HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT.

I WANT TO ASK, WE ARE OF COURSE IN A MIDTERM ELECTION YEAR.

PRIMARIES ARE COMING UP, ET CETERA.

HOW DO YOU AS A CLIMATE ACTIVIST AND YOUNG PERSON, HOW DO YOU AND HOW DO YOU MOTIVATE OTHER PEOPLE, TO INCREASE THE PRESSURE ON THOSE LAWMAKERS TO ENSURE THAT THEY ARE TAKING THIS SERIOUSLY AND MAKING SOME OF THE CORRECTION DECISIONS TO MAKE THE PLANET MORE SUSTAINABLE AND LESS CHAOTIC, WEATHERWISE?

YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

I THINK IT COMES DOWN LETTING YOUR LOCAL POLITICIANS -- REMINDING THEM THEY'RE ACCOUNTABLE TO YOU, THAT YOUR THEIR CONSTITUENT, REMINDING THEM YOUR JOB IS TO BE ACCOUNTABLE TO YOU AS A VOTER AND ALSO JUST AS A CITIZEN.

SO I THINK THAT THAT'S A HUGE PART OF IT.

AND ALSO, SOMETIMES WORKING IN LEGISLATIVE POLITICS OR TRYING TO ENGAGE IN THE LEGISLATIVE SYSTEM CAN BE WEARY AND DISHEARTENING, SO ALSO REMEMBERING THAT THERE ARE SYSTEMS OUTSIDE OF THAT.

JUST MUTUAL AID, JUST CHECK ON YOUR NEIGHBOR, JUST LOOKING AT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD AND SEEING WHERE PEOPLE NEED THINGS IS REALLY EMPOWERING IN A SYSTEM THAT TENDS TO BE PRETTY DISEMPOWERING.

SO I WOULD SAY THAT, YOU KNOW, I VOTE EVERY YEAR.

I VOTE IN MIDTERM ELECTIONS, PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, ALL OF THEM.

AND THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT.

A LOT OF PEOPLE FOUGHT REALLY HARD TO MAKE SURE I COULD DO THAT, SO IF I HAVE TO FILL OUT SOME PAPER WORK AND SHOW UP SOMEWHERE, I'M GOING TO.

AFTER THAT, SHOW UP TO YOUR LOCAL FOOD PANTRY, MAYBE CHECK IN ON THE ELDERLY PERSON THAT LIVES IN YOUR BUILDING.

JUST PAY ATTENTION TO PEOPLE THAT YOU TEND TO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO I THINK IS ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO NAVIGATE THE WORLD THAT WE'RE IN RIGHT NOW, AS WELL AS DOING WHAT YOU CAN IN A SYSTEM THAT DOESN'T LET YOU DO MUCH.

ALL RIGHT, WELL, VIC, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.

I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING SCHOOL BUS FOR SOME VERY USEFUL WORDS OF WISDOM.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US AND FOR YOUR CONTINUED WORK IN CLIMATE ACTIVISM.

ABSOLUTELY.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

©2022 WNET. All Rights Reserved. 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

WNET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 26-2810489