A Post-Memphis Pulse Check on Policing (with DeRay Mckesson)
It’s hard to tell if the nation is making progress on police reform when another high profile killing like that of Tyre Nichols hits the news. Have body cameras helped? How about diversifying staff? Or doing away with no knock warrants? Andy poses those questions to activist DeRay Mckesson, who began Campaign Zero after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. DeRay explains why police violence persists, outlines the positive steps made in the last decade, and shares how you can continue the work at the local level.
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Follow DeRay Mckesson on Twitter @deray.
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- Learn about how to get involved with Campaign Zero: https://campaignzero.org/
- Learn about the eight use of force policies DeRay wants all cities to adopt: https://8cantwait.org/
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Andy Slavitt, DeRay McKesson
Andy Slavitt 00:19
This is IN THE BUBBLE with Andy Slavitt. Welcome, hey, you have a few more days left to fill out our survey, if you haven’t filled it out yet, you can find it right in our show notes. And you could tell us what you want to hear. And one of the things that you told us you want to hear is you want to hear from actual experts on topics that matter 85% of you want to hear from actual experts on topics that matter. And so when it comes to what happened in Memphis, with the killing of Tyre Nichols, I thought, Okay, why not bring on an expert that people can really hear from the source of what is really going on inside of the Black community and inside police departments and police reform. And so we have DeRay McKesson who’s coming on the show today, you might know DeRay first became visible to many people. During Ferguson, you’ll hear about his background, so I won’t go into it and all the detail, but DeRay can track kind of what’s actually been happening. And what’s actually been changing since Ferguson since Freddie Gray, since the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd to Tyree Nichols, because I think when you hear those things that you see on the news in your hike, I’m sure you’re like me, you’re like, oh, here we go. Again, I thought we were done with this. And it’s hard to tell whether we’re making any progress. We you know, we’ve had body cams? Why isn’t that enough? We have all of these things we’ve done and sit here. And you think logically, we just are better than this, where you know, we’re not going to see people beaten senselessly for no reason helplessly. And yet, here we are again. And so apropos to our survey, we have DeRay on the show, because I think, you know, no one can talk about this. No one has spent more time on what’s happening inside police departments, what’s changing what’s not changing, then DeRay and I put the question to him, have things change? Are things getting better? Or are we exactly the same? And his answer surprised me. And I think his answer will surprise you, perhaps. So I want you to hear from DeRay. I think it sounds like one of the things you tune into the show, please again, look at the survey, fill it out just takes a minute or two. And of course, if you got something more to say, you can always email me. And that’s at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will read your email. And if you have shown ideas, or thoughts, we’ll play them for you. I hope you’re having fun listening to show reppin fun making it for you. Let’s bring in DeRay.
Andy Slavitt 03:04
Welcome back to the bubble, DeRay It’s been a while since you’ve been back on.
DeRay Mckesson 03:09
Andy. It’s always an honor to be here. And I will never forget my very first conversation with you so many years ago now.
Andy Slavitt 03:16
Yeah, we’re like old friends now.
DeRay Mckesson 03:18
I know you were the first person to help me understand this Medicare Medicaid. It was a defining moment in my podcast career.
Andy Slavitt 03:23
And I will say you’d like you’re looking a little more old and distinguished than when I first met you to you. Back then I was like, This guy’s so young and so accomplished. Now I’m like, he’s so mature.
DeRay Mckesson 03:33
I’ve chilled out I you know, the world’s still crazy, we still got a lot of work to do. But chill.
Andy Slavitt 03:39
For those who don’t know you. Can you talk a little bit about how you got connected to activism around police violence, and go back to Ferguson?
DeRay Mckesson 03:51
So as are the original protests in Ferguson during 2014, when Mike Brown was killed by the police, and spent 400 days in the street with so many other incredible people. And then afterwards, we’re trying to figure out like, how do we employ these funds once and for all started a campaign zero organization that changes laws and policies to make sure that we can move beyond policing and in mass incarceration.
Andy Slavitt 04:14
So we’ve all seen the video, or most of us have seen the video of what happened with Ture Nichols. We start out with why does this happen?
DeRay Mckesson 04:25
Yeah, you know, zooming out, it’s like the police kill an average three people a day. So this has happened and like much more than makes the news or videos that you see in the dirt of all the people killed by strangers actually killed by police officers. Is it happening a lot standpoint, it is, you know, 2014 people that I was just forgetting, but we see that it’s all across the country. Now the why it’s happening, you know, some of it is just straight up racism. And then some of it is like, you know, why do we send a person with a gun to respond to a whole host of things I don’t know. Like why does a person with the gun have to be the person tell you that your tail lights out or that you didn’t stop at a stop sign like that doesn’t really make a lot of sense. And the third is the institution of policing not only the historical roots, but what would it be like if you had a job where it was impossible to get in trouble, like, of the 1200-ish police who people get killed each year, the police that killed them, the highest number of convictions ever, for officers who kill people as 1% in a given year, 11 officers, so you pretty much know that if you kill somebody, there is going to be no consequence to it. And I think that that really has a lot to do with why the outcomes look the way they do.
Andy Slavitt 05:34
Okay, so some of that is gonna get into the culture of policing, because it sounds like that has something to do with this. I think maybe explore all three of those pieces. But I just want to maybe respectfully start with Tyree and his family. What does justice look like in a situation like this?
DeRay Mckesson 05:52
Yeah, so I remember we think about the Ministry of Justice, accountability, Justice comes before the trauma justice, the idea that you shouldn’t have to experience a trauma in the first place. The best that they can get at this point is accountability. So the officers got fired, the officers are being charged with crimes, the unit has been disbanded. I think that the other thing that we have not seen that is sort of special in this case, is that remember that the police chief who fired the officers and who disbanded the unit, she is the person who created the unit in the first place. She made the scorpion unit what she didn’t inherit it, she made it. So I think that removing her feels like the next logical thing. I don’t know how she is not as responsible as anybody else in this moment.
Andy Slavitt 06:30
So what has changed? And what hasn’t changed since Ferguson between Ferguson and George Floyd between what happened to George and what happened to Tyre in the police’s relationship with the Black community and police violence in general?
DeRay Mckesson 06:47
I think from 2014 to 2020. It was people finally accepting that this is happening all across the country. I remember 2014 I remember 15′ and 16′, where people were like, oh, you know, Ferguson is bad. Or when Freddie Gray I kill it. They’re like, Oh, it’s bad. And it’s bad in Baltimore. And Walter Scott got killed. They like it’s bad in Charleston, but people weren’t like there’s a problem across the country that you’re like, there’s a problem in these places. I think when George Floyd was killed by the police, I think that people were like, Okay, I get it. That was like a thing all across the country. I think 2020 to today, I think that we’ve seen some structural things change and a good way and be proposed and not change, but the proposals are good. And I think that we’ve actually seen city council people and local officials, which is which is really who matters in this in this area. I think we’ve seen them move away from defending the police as like the best people for safety, but just not knowing what to do. So like 19 states pass use of force laws, law enforcement officer Bill of Rights, which are like state level protections for the police that are pretty wild. Maryland was the first state to have them Maryland two years ago was the first state to repeal there’s we’ve seen no knock legislation so no knock either restricted or banned and six or seven states that’s a good thing. So we’ve seen some stuff happen that just historically is it’s never happened before and never happened at this pace. Is it enough? No. It is making some difference? Yeah. And it’s good that like there’s a model for some Maryland has the best No knock bill, no knock restrictions in the country. Minneapolis has the best. So a no knock is what killed Breonna Taylor the police just like show up at your door and break in. The reality is that banning no knock warrants. So like the just the piece of paper that allows it to happen doesn’t really do much because the police don’t need a knock warrant to break into your house. They can use a regular search warrant, get to your house and be like, I heard the toilet flush. And they will say hearing the toilet flush is evidence that evidence is being destroyed. Or they’ll be like saw the blinds flicker and that’ll be enough evidence to say that they you were hiding something so they’ll just break into your house. So up until we did these laws like in Maryland, the law now says that the police have to wait 20 seconds before they enter 20 seconds isn’t enough, but it used to be zero. In Minneapolis, the police have to wait 30 seconds at night. It’s the highest restriction United States before the laws change. The police didn’t have to say they were the police. They didn’t have to wear uniforms. They said they were the police, right? Like, you know, so it’s those sort of things that seem basic, but they weren’t the law anywhere. There’s like no reporting. So these sorts of things do actually save people’s lives, restricting nighttime raids, like you shouldn’t be able to throw a flashbang through somebody’s window in general, but definitely not at 9pm when the kids are like that doesn’t make sense. So those things actually really do matter are the simple stuff like banning neck restraints. You’d be shocked. It’s like an uphill battle to ban neck restraints across the country that police literally like if we can choke people to death will get killed. That is their best argument for why they need to be able to choke and strangle people.
Andy Slavitt 09:43
Let’s take a break and let’s come back to talk about why some of the things that we believed would solve this problem. Like body cameras haven’t exactly worked. There are some common, I don’t know if they’re tropes or truths or things that people would throw around, oh, well just give the police body cameras. We got to have a police that quote unquote, look more like the community. A lot of things that I think for a time people felt like, well, if we just do this one thing, there’ll be no more police violence. We have body cameras, we have more representation in the police department, at least in some communities, but they don’t necessarily seem to be making a difference. Are these tropes wrong? And if so, why? Are they wrong? Or what did they miss?
DeRay Mckesson 10:58
Yeah, so body cameras might do something, they just don’t do what people want them to do. So people think that body cameras change police behavior. Now that we’ve had them long enough, it’s not clear that that is the case. Like they’re not studies that are like, cool, when you put body cameras in communities are safer. Well, the studies do say is that communities often feel safer, it doesn’t mean that use of force decrease, but they might feel safer, and as we’ve seen with our own eyes, and confirmed by studies, is that it just doesn’t change police behavior. Like they don’t necessarily act differently, because there’s a camera there.
Andy Slavitt 11:27
Does it surprise you, that doesn’t change behavior.
DeRay Mckesson 11:29
No, because they get to control when the camera can, you know, I will tell you what happened with body cameras is that body cameras became a thing in this moment, before any of the activists sort of like, introduced a framework for it. So across the country, officers can look at their body camera footage before they write reports they can you know, there’s some places Andy that say that, that their supervisors can only look at their body camera footage twice a year, you’re like, that’s crazy, right? So I wasn’t surprised that the body camera footage didn’t change their behavior. I think what is also true about body cameras and cameras in general is that we it’s almost impossible to get an officer held accountable without footage. So if you’re trying to get somebody fired, or whatever, cameras super important, if you want them not to do the thing in the first place. Cameras, questionably important, right? Same thing with training is that like, you know that a lot of studies on police training, don’t change police behavior, do they probably do some good things that aren’t behavior changes? Yes. But if the goal was to train them, so they harmed communities less like this doesn’t do that. And then there’s only a handful of studies about the representation of officers in or like race representation. And there’s one study that suggests that departments with over 30% people of color, do you actually hurt people less, but there are only a handful of departments that fit that criteria, and the effect is negligible, right. But what we see across the country is that there really is no accountability, like officers are not getting terminated, they certainly aren’t being convicted. So if you’re an officer, you, if you just hedge your bets and do something wild, you’re probably going to be okay.
Andy Slavitt 12:57
So, like everything else, it shouldn’t surprise us that if you just do one thing, and sit back and go, oh, we had to fix the problem. It feels like a lazy way to address a situation that we would never do about something that matters. And the thing that I learned from you is at approach, it’s more comprehensive, that covers all the root cause elements, and importantly, is grounded in the data. It’s hard to what you know, why are these things happening? What actually works where our best practices and you introduce this through a can’t wait and Campaign Zero? And what have you talk a little bit about that and what your current thinking is on what the actual comprehensive approach to really ending this situation is.
DeRay Mckesson 13:45
Yes, I think it’s like not one thing, as you said, and you know, we did this thing called eight can’t wait, which about use of force, it’s like, the police should not shoot into moving cars. That sort of makes sense, right? Like I’ve been in rooms with police chiefs, Andy and won’t be like, well explained to them if you kill the driver, it doesn’t stop the car. And they’re like, good point, you’re like, yeah, that’s I’m not really a genius for point that one out, right, like shooting into Moon vehicles is bad. You shouldn’t choke people to death or strangle them like that is simple. There’s an interesting one, that’s part of the eight that’s the police should have to report every single time they point their gun at people that actually does decrease the number of shootings in a city by police because what we find is that they point their guns at people way more than you’d ever imagine. But when they have to report it, they actually do it less, which is a good thing. Requiring de-escalation right. So there are all these things that are like should be the floor should have been in place. I mean, that’s our thing. Memphis publicly, has been like they did all eight of eight can’t wait. We read the policy. They’ve only done two of them. One of them we wrote into the law in 2021. So they’ve only done one on their own. They have six more to do and they could literally do them tomorrow. No vote, no hearings like they could just do it and they have not.
Andy Slavitt 14:53
We’re gonna put a link up for people and I really encourage people to look at what the eight items in the He Can’t Wait campaign. Are and some of the other things that arrays referring to we also have an episode that dates back to 2020. With DeRay. That will also put a link to where we talk in real detail about police reform suggestions. But there’s something specific to this case which raise at least for the public new questions for your questions I know you’ve been dealing with trying to call people’s attention to what is this Scorpion unit, these police units, not specific to Memphis, of course, but you know, LA, as had big, big, historical famous problems with a very similar type of police unit, you go through and look at the literature do you could document how these units, I don’t know if every time but certainly huge examples of them becoming unaccountable, dangerous, corrupt, and out of control. So I’m wondering if you just help us? Can you help us understand the psychology behind these police units? Are they all bad? Why? And if so, like, it seemed like, they’re all bad to me, but why are they bad? And what makes them bad?
DeRay Mckesson 16:09
Yeah, you know, Memphis has a case study that, like, if you think about the most elite unit, why are they doing traffic stops? Like, if you’re supposed to be doing like, if you’re supposed to get in, like the worst crimes, then like, why would you be doing try that? So that just shows you that like, is shady by nature. What I’ll say too, is that, you know, the most recent scandal is the JTTF in Baltimore. So there was a gun trace task force that was an elite unit focused on getting guns off the street, what we come to find out is that they are robbing people. They are stealing from people’s homes. They are planting evidence on people in the way we find out as an officer gets put on the unit, a new guy, he gets assigned to the unit. He’s asked to commit a crime pretty early in his time, like first week in the unit. He thinks that it’s like a moral test. He thinks that he’s being tested, so he doesn’t do it. Then he realizes no, no, that’s actually what they do. He goes to the FBI, and they ultimately indict the vast majority of this unit. And those officers are in jail, but it disbands the whole unit. And it comes out that like no oversight, they were actually selling drugs themselves. They were stealing. There’s like footage of people’s home cameras, like in their house, where they’re like going and taking stuff out of their safes. But they were the police. And like you only do that when there’s no accountability with no oversight. In Baltimore, when used to file a complaint against an officer, you’d have to go to a police precinct, they would destroy it at the precinct. That’s crazy.
Andy Slavitt 17:37
There’s a TV show about this unit, trying to remember what it’s called, we own the city. If you haven’t seen that, and you like good quality TV, I thought it was an amazing show. And amazing go, wow, that’s a cool piece of fiction. And you’re like, No, this is real. Unbelievable. Unbelievable. So the way I pictured these units getting set up, and maybe I’m wrong, but is that some politician is feeling the heat to do something about crime, and show that you’re doing something. And so they say we’re setting up this unit is that normally how this happens that the mayor, the police chief is like, see, we’re gonna try out this very elite unit to show you that we’re still serious about violent crime or drug crime or whatever it is, or trying to appease what they think is what the public wants.
DeRay Mckesson 18:29
Yeah, I think that some of the, and they actually started around what we call hotspot policing. It’s this idea that we should flood communities with high crime rates with the police, and we would say is that you should flood those communities with resources, right? Like not the police, but these elite units come out of this idea of like, find the hotspot and heavily target them. And while we thought that was always a bad idea, the data hasn’t come out to show that that’s actually led to a decrease in crime, right. So you flood there with the police and like problems are decreasing. You know, the only thing that we have seen is that when you do actually concentrate resources in those neighborhoods, crime goes down. And you’re like, that makes sense. And people are broke and feel like they got to steal, they will make different choices, right? We even think about things like adult literacy is a public safety strategy. If you’re 17 years old and can read, you’re making different choices in the world, right?
Andy Slavitt 19:21
All right, let’s take one more quick break. And then DeRay. Let’s come back and talk about whether or not you feel hopeful and optimistic about where we’re headed with the future of policing or whether that which is stuck. So, you mentioned the three causes of police brutality, and I want to make sure we’re touching at least on all the But to some degree, the first one you mentioned was racism. We had Keith Ellison, on the show on Martin Luther King birthday holiday to talk about the prosecution of the police officers in the George Floyd shooting. And then he ran a race for attorney general in Minnesota against someone who said he’s soft on crime. And, of course, you know, he’s making the point everybody needs to feel safe, not just people in communities but people need to be feel safe from the police. George Floyd needs to feel safe. Yet he almost lost because there was this demigod issue saying, Keith is often crime, he wants to defund the police, et cetera, et cetera. And so it feels like you get this political pendulum, where Republicans and even some liberals are saying, hey, we need law and order. And you need people go, hey, wait a minute. What happens here? This is exactly what causes police departments, oversteer, get too much power and creates violence. How do you see that kind of discourse?
DeRay Mckesson 21:01
I think you’re right. I think that if there’s any work for the movement to keep doing, it’s the how we do it. I think that people are aligned on the what, Minneapolis is a great example. People like okay, this feels sort of crazy, right? Can’t Have the police everything did it. When the what became no police department, people were not the majority of people were not there. And that was really hard. Right? Like, you know, some people wanted to abolish the police department to make that new Department of Community Safety and some people didn’t. And I think that there actually is there are not as many solutions that are really public as people want. And I think that you know, people are for it, some people are for and the demagoguery around the crime data is really hard to so crimes. So there are 66-ish cities that collect crime data on a regular basis. For the first time ever. 60 of those cities had a spike in homicides. We’ve never seen it since and never seen it again. But it is untrue to say that that was sustained or, you know, that was like this weird blip that happened with the pandemic. But people got really spooked. But when we pull people in, ask them, have you seen crime increase? They’re like, No, but we asked them Do they feel like crime increased? They said yes. And that’s like a that’s just the way the crime stuff happens. But Minneapolis, like the best no knock law in the United States at the city level, hands down. traffic enforcement, like very few people in Minneapolis today are being pulled over for traffic. Like it’s just moving violations are not really being in Minneapolis anymore. There has been some real movement on this. I think that we had to lay the groundwork to help people imagine a world beyond the police when there still are homicides and stuff like that. Now, the thing about homicides that we were on people is that homicides are rarely random. They’re almost always relational, most violent crime is relational, not random.
Andy Slavitt 22:42
Well, the reason they imagined it is because politicians say, look at these immigrants, look at these drug dealers. And fear sells. I mean, there’s a whole political party that has as one of its strategies make people fearful, and they will make irrational decisions. And we’ll have live closer to a police state. I mean, Donald Trump didn’t really beat around the bush on that title. He wasn’t very subtle about saying that. I mean, he called Governor Walz, after the joy float shooting, when people were in the streets and said, I will send the National Guard to start killing people. He told Governor Walz told me that they would have also said that another sentence. So they tap into something that has these types of consequences.
DeRay Mckesson 23:22
No, I think you’re right. And I think that the left has to be, I think we have to be louder, especially our elected officials that like a counter narrative that reminds people of like, what is true and what’s not true? I think about the crime data, it was hard to see people on the left like by these talking points, you’re like, No, it just like they didn’t happen. It was not crazy. And like, it just didn’t happen. You don’t I mean, I do think that we got to fight people on the facts a little bit more than we do often.
Andy Slavitt 23:46
So should we be feeling like there is some amount of progress that we should be not discouraged, but encouraged to do more of some of the things that we know are effective? Or should we feel like things aren’t getting better enough? Because there’s these ingrained cultural things that are very hard to deal with the police unions? Some of the other things you’ve talked about that are just endemic to beliefs in this day and age? Which side of that do you come out on?
DeRay Mckesson 24:21
So I think they were in a good shape, because in a lot of cities, there are new people being elected office who are like down for the ride. They are like, let’s do the thing. Now the challenge but those he was at, they don’t really know the content like that. We got to teach them the content, but in terms of are they on our side and ready to take big risks and do big things? They’re actually there. And I’ll tell you, in 2014 1516, I would talk to city council people and they would fight me and be like, the police have the answer. Today what’s happening in a lot of cities, especially progressively, they are like, DeRay we know the police aren’t the answer, but you gotta give me something else. That is what I’m hearing more of now. They’re like, Okay, I’ll fund the other thing. I’ll do it So that’s one the second thing and, uh, you know this because you used to work in the government at scale, it is different. There’s a difference between saying we did this in a neighborhood, and we did this at the city level, right. And some of the best solutions that we’ve seen that alternatives work at the block level, they work at the three block level, how you scale it is what becomes a little more complicated. And that’s what we’re trying to from a policy perspective. That’s what we’re trying to help other activist thing because like, the city legislators are only interested at scale. They’re like, tell me this, the police are easily scalable. It doesn’t work all that well. But can you scale it? Yeah, that’s they passed this case. So like traffic enforcement, people keep coming up to me and like, what’s an alternative to traffic enforcement? Good question. They’re things that work at the block level. But one of the most popular alternatives to the police pulling people over is cameras. Do I want to put red light cameras all over the city? No, right? Do I want to record every neighborhood in the city all day long? Just for it? No, like, do I want to get people fines? If I told you, we’re gonna stop traffic enforcement by the police and put cameras everywhere and you start getting $50 tickets, when you go two miles over the speed limit? You’re gonna be pissed pretty quickly. And we’re gonna give you all these fine, like the poorest people are going to be penalized at a rate that the wealthy people are never going to. So like, you might be able to afford a $50 fine, but two $50 fines for somebody making minimum wage is a burden that is much higher than your chance of randomly being pulled over by the police. Do you hear me?
Andy Slavitt 26:30
So let’s say with this example, what is a better solution than just sort of scaling the sort of camera at stoplights kind of approach?
DeRay Mckesson 26:38
No, this is I’m saying we don’t know. I don’t know. Like this is these are trying to figure out it’s not the police. And we also feel pretty confident that it’s not city wide surveillance mechanism that that that is not the answer. Right. There are interesting things that you can do at the block level, it’s just different at the city level. Does that make sense?
Andy Slavitt 26:57
Yeah, it does. It really does. In your work, have you done much in communicating and spending time with police officers with police departments?
DeRay Mckesson 27:08
So we run 35 campaigns, which are like different issues that we run nationally. So in a lot of those, we’re pushing police chiefs in lieutenants to like change their policy. So we’re working alongside them to push them to do that. Even if we’re on different sides of it, we need to call them to be like, hey, change your policy. Some we’re a lot more adversarial, publicly, right? Because they’re trying to, like no knocks, when we say that the police have to wait 30 seconds to enter literally, they come to the hearing and say you’re trying to get us killed. That is what they say. So we are just at odds with them. When those right with some we are pushing them on their policy, some we are fighting them at the legislature. And it depends on the campaign. But we were with them a lot. And I’ll tell you, whether we’re across the table from them or fighting them very deeply. I haven’t heard many compelling arguments like they fear is their best argument. Like in Washington, we helped the advocates passed a law that said that the police had probable cause for car chases, feels pretty basic, right? What the police said is that they start letting people drive against traffic, and they wouldn’t stop them. And they were like the law said I can’t chase them anymore. And that sort of stuff freaks out the legislators. So then we have to come and be like, hate, they’re lying. But people don’t want to call the police liars. They really don’t. And it baffles my mind. But like, that becomes a thing, you know.
Andy Slavitt 28:25
So in the conversation, whether it’s adversarial or whether or not they’re just trying to get you to understand their world. Fear is what you hear the most.
DeRay Mckesson 28:34
Yeah, I think that the things I hear more today are it’ll get us killed, regardless of what the thing is. That becomes sort of there. They used to say that like you don’t understand the job, I don’t hear that as much I hear that this thing will get us killed. Like that is sort of the I hear that the most. I also hear like the general fear mongering that people need higher consequences, right. They like it’s the two lacks too lenient. The third thing that I think legislators understand now is that the police don’t really understand the law. So like one of the things that happened in Washington, is that the legal definition of probable cause was something that the police didn’t understand like chiefs didn’t get it. So they wanted the standard to be lowered, not because it was the wrong standard, but because it was an easier standard for everybody and understand because it really meant nothing to the police don’t really understand the law and sometimes they fight against things being like as to call you’re making it too complicated. If you make this too complicated, we can’t do it. So when we put a chokehold back when we put a neck restraint band in, they literally said, Well, you put all these use of force restrictions in my guides, and now I’m gonna have to carry a handbook around and when somebody is hurt, they’re gonna have to put a handbook and figure out how to help them. And you’re like, well, that, you know, you know, that’s not true. You know what I mean?
Andy Slavitt 29:48
Okay, so tell me the other time what do you hear from folks that you actually go? Yeah, I get where you’re coming from. That’s a point that comes from a place of honesty. And I respect it and it is it due to difficult issue.
DeRay Mckesson 30:02
You know, the police often talk about due process and we’re trying to think about disciplining them. They like due process. And there’s a part of that, that I’m I completely agree. Should you have a hearing? Should you have a fair did it? Yes. Right. They just take it too far. I think that the other thing is that I’m with them on the police occupied different role in society, right? Different sounds really different power. I say that that means more responsibility and more accountability. They think that that means more freedom and less accountability. So they’re like, you know, we’re so different that we should be able to […]. And I’m like, well, you’re so different that this should be a higher standard. Tonight. Me.
Andy Slavitt 30:39
Yeah. Well, I want to just affirm something you said. And I’m pleased to hear you report that you feel like we’re making progress. I mean, do large part to your work? I mean, we have President Biden signed an executive order, implementing reforms for federal officers banning chokeholds, creating a registry of discipline officers. I’m sure there’s more that can be done. But that’s evidence that at least we got an administration that’s focusing on this at the highest level. And of course, the House passed a bill, the George Floyd justice and policing Act, which the Senate has never taken up, which bans chokeholds and no knock warrants, and tracks abusive police in a database. Are those the right steps? And should we be pushing hard on this legislation? Or do you have a different perspective on legislation like that being effective?
DeRay Mckesson 31:28
No, they’re good. You know, I think that the thing that frustrates me about the George Floyd act in public conversation is remember that there are 18,000 police departments, almost everything that touches your real life is going to be local. It’s like your governor, your mayor, city council, and legislature, the federal government cannot make police departments do anything. So the George Floyd Act should pass, the only thing it will mandate is federal agencies, the biggest federal agencies, border patrol 20,000 people. So in the absence of the George Floyd act, passing what Biden did was he made rules for federal government. And what he can do for local is that they can incentivize it heavily. They can say like, if you do this, we’ll give you grant money. If you don’t do this, you won’t give you your money. That’s the best people have talked about the George would act as like, it’s going to change the simple, easy, it is not going to do that, like it’s not going to do that. And our skepticism around the hardest departments with regard to funding is that the only American president in recent history who has ever withheld money from the police was Trump. And he did it because he was just having a bad day. It wasn’t there was like nothing methodical about it. He just was like, we’re cutting these programs, because he was cutting programs. So there’s a law right now, this is the police have to report everybody they kill in custody, only 40% of American police departments participate, there is no consequence, they don’t lose grant funding, they don’t get cut off from anything, and they are willfully non-comply with the law. So we are questioning whether when the judge way, if it passes, whether there’ll be a consequence, when they don’t comply, because there’s no consequence for not complying on the basis. They just gotta report the deaths today and don’t do it, you know?
Andy Slavitt 32:57
So one of the taking away from this, DeRay, is that more and more we know what to do. There are questions still around how to do it. And there are there’s a strong question of we’ll be able to convince people to get it done. But this is not in the category of we don’t know how to do this, given that that’s the case that if that’s the case, I want to just close by asking if people want to get involved. What advice would you give folks to how they can and the most productive way for them to get involved?
DeRay Mckesson 33:31
Yeah, I’d say, remember that all the policing issues are really local. So like, if there’s a way to plug in with a local group, that will be one of the most effective ways because the thing that’s really going to change is gonna be like your police chief, your mayor, your city council, we’d love for people to volunteer with us at campaigns here on the policy and legal front. So if you go to campaigns.org, you can just click the button to join a volunteer, we’ll loop you into whatever we have going on. And the third thing is to be a part of the conversation, you are smart enough to know all these issues, like none of this stuff is beyond you. So your gut is normally right to at least ask the questions. And when we deal with this and communities across the country. You know, if people have the information, they normally end up in a place that is pretty progressive, right? If they have the information, they sort of push and ask questions. Do they have the information is really the challenge?
Andy Slavitt 34:19
Got it. Well, we’ll put the links to do that volunteer Campaign Zero. That’s really excellent. It’s such thoughtful and passionate work. And, look, I think you’re bringing together around an issue that I think people have historically viewed as impossible to move, a sense that we can move if we validate that if we share facts, if we talk about these issues, if we advocate for these issues. And so I love having you on I learned something every time. So thanks for being in the bubble.
DeRay Mckesson 34:51
So good to be here and I will see you later.
Andy Slavitt 35:07
Okay. Thanks, DeRay. Thank you for listening. Friday, a lot of talk about outer space balloons, things being shut down. What about if we really went into outer space? Got me thinking. So we have the head of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is a major part of NASA. The director Laurie elections coming in the show, we’re going to talk about stuff that’s even further out in space, including whether there’s life out there. So that will be fun. I think you’ll love that one. It’s all sciency. But she’s an amazing explainer of what what’s happening to find life out in the universe. Megan Ranney on Monday, another expert, we’re going to talk about the end of the public health emergency, we’re going to talk about what it means to not be in an emergency anymore. And bird flu and other public health topics. She’s terrific. Well look forward to that. Enjoy the next couple of days, folks, please tune in on Friday and email me anytime. Don’t forget our survey.
Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kathryn Barnes, Jackie Harris and Kyle Shiely produced our show, and they’re great. Our mix is by Noah Smith and James Barber, and they’re great, too. Steve Nelson is the vice president of the weekly content, and he’s okay, too. And of course, the ultimate bosses, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs, they executive produced the show, we love them dearly. Our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, with additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia where you’ll also get the transcript of the show. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter. If you like what you heard today, why don’t you tell your friends to listen as well, and get them to write a review. Thanks so much, talk to you next time.