06/17/20 Vanita Gupta

T he House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on June 10, 2020 entitled Oversight Hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability. We’ll hear from some of the witnesses, including: Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Paul Butler, Albert Brick Professor in Law at Georgetown University Law Center; and Professor Phillip Atiba Goff, PhD, the inaugural Franklin A. Thomas Professor in Policing Equity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and co-founder and president of the Center for Policing Equity.

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Guest: 
Vanita Gupta
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DEAN BECKER: The failure of drug war is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens prosecutors and millions more now calling for decriminalization, legalization and the end of prohibition. Let us investigate A Century Of Lies.

HOST DOUG MCVAY: Hello and welcome to Century of lies. I'm your host Doug McVay the house Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing recently on police practices and law enforcement and Counting bilL. We're going to hear some testimony from that on today's show first Vanita Gupta is the president and CEO of the leadership conference on civil and human rights

VANITA GUPTA: While the recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of for Minneapolis police officers put the issue of police brutality in the National Spotlight, the outpouring of pain and anger is anything but a reaction to one isolated incident or the misconduct of a few bad apples.

Instead the outcry is a response to the long cycle of stolen lives and violence with impunity toward black people in our nation. We are now at a turning point. There is no returning to normal. We have to create a new way forward one that does more than Tinker at the edges that promotes data and training. We need something that truly transforms policing and leads to more accountability for communities. It is imperative that we get this right and that Congress is responsible In This Moment appropriately reflects and acknowledges the important work of black lives matter the movement for black lives. And so many people that are bringing us to this Tipping Point. My tenure as head of the Justice Department's civil rights division began two months after 18 year old Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson. The justice department was hardly perfect, but we understood our mandate to promote accountability and constitutional policing in order to build Community Trust.

VANITA GUPTA: During the Obama Administration. We open 25 pattern or practice investigations to help realize greater structural and Community Center change often at the request of police Chiefs and Mayors who needed Federal leadership. After making findings. We negotiated consent decrees with extensive engagement and input from Community Advocates who not only identified unjust an unlawful policing practices, but also helped develop sustainable mechanisms for accountability and systemic change.

That is not the justice department that we have today, under both Attorneys General Jeff sessions and Bill Bar. The department has abdicated its responsibility in abandoned the use of tools like pattern and practice investigations and consent decrees instead. It is focused on dismantling police accountability efforts in halting any new investigations the disruption of crucial work in the Civil Rights Division and throughout the Department of Justice to bring forth accountability and transparency in policing is deeply concerning. In the absence of federal leadership the leadership conference education fund launched the new era of Public Safety initiative a comprehensive guide and toolkit outlining proposals to build trust between communities and police departments restore confidence and imagine a new paradigm of Public Safety.

VANITA GUPTA: While much of these changes must happen at the state and local level success is going to require the leadership support and commitment of the federal government including Congress last week the leadership conference in more than 400 civil rights organizations sent a letter to Congress to move us forward on a path of true accountability the recommendations included the following one create a national necessary standard on the use of force to prohibit racial profiling including robust data collection 3 ban the use of chokeholds and other restraint Maneuvers for and the militarization of policing, five prohibit the use of no-knock warrants, especially in drug cases, 6 strength and federal accountability systems and increase the Justice Department's authority to prosecute officers that engage in misconduct 7 create a national police misconduct registry and eight end qualified immunity. The leadership conference was pleased to learn that the Justice in policing act introduced Monday by both members of the House of Representatives and the Senate reflects much of this accountability framework. This is congress's most comprehensive effort and decades to substantially address police misconduct by taking on issues critical, issues affecting black and brown communities.

VANITA GUPTA: And as the bill advances toward passage, we will continue to work on it and to ensure that real change is achieved. But let me just say in closing that policing reform alone is not going to solve the crisis that were in today this moment of Reckoning requires leaders together with communities to Envision a new paradigm of Public Safety that respects the human rights of all people that means not just changing policing practices and culture But ultimately shrinking the footprint of the criminal legal system in black and brown people's lives.

And it means shifting our approach to Public Safety from exclusively focusing on criminalization and policing, towards investments in Economic Opportunity Education Health Care and other public benefits police Chiefs and officers talk about the same thing. This approach will not only further Equity but also constitute effective policy when we stopped using criminal justice policy as social policy, we will make communities safer and more prosperous now is the time for Congress to pass lasting Accountability measures and we look forward to working with you until the day that these reforms are signed into law. George Floyd's death has impacted the world and now it is on us to change it. Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Vanita Gupta president and CEO of the leadership conference on civil and human rights. She was testifying at a hearing on policing practices and law enforcement accountability that was held recently by the house Judiciary Committee. You're listening to Century of lies. I'm your host Doug McVay. Paul Butler is the Albert Brick professor in law Georgetown University Law Center,

ALBERT BRICK: there has never not for one minute in American history, then peace between black people and the police and nothing since slavery has sparked the level of outrage among African-Americans as when they feel under violent attack by the police , black people have endured Jim Crow segregation being shut out of Social Security in the GI Bill, Massive Resistance to Us to school desegregation non-stop efforts to prevent us from voting and poison water. But that rare times black people have set aside traditional civil rights strategies and instead have risen in the streets, destroyed property and resisted symbols of the state because of something that the police have done Watson 65 in Newark and 67 Miami 1980.

LA 1992 Ferguson 2015 Baltimore 2016 Minneapolis and 2020. All of those cities went up in Flames because the police killed another black man. Unlawful violence is never acceptable either as a misguided approach of a few or as an abuse of the power and Trust we place in law enforcement officers. The main problem is not bad apple. Cops officers have difficult jobs and many serve with honor and Valor still almost every object evinces negation of a police department finds that police as policy treat African-Americans with contempt the police kill wound pepper spray beat up, detain, First handcuffs and used dogs against black people and circumstances in which they do not do the same to white people when armed agents of the state are harming American citizens in our name.

ALERT BRICK: The people must ask why in the past two weeks we've seen acts of Grace and bravery by police officers cops in New York took a knee in Houston Chief Acevedo arranged for an honor guard to accompany. Mr. Floyd's body when he came home. Unfortunately. We have also witnessed these past two weeks police officers commit deplorable acts of violence against the Citizens. They've sworn to Serve and Protect.

In New York officers drove to large police vehicles into a crowd of protesters and Atlanta officers broke the window of a car dragged out to college students and shot them with a stun gun, in Buffalo Police officer knocked a 75 year old man to the ground but what happened next was just as bad when two officers were disciplined for that criminal conduct 57 other officers quit the Squad in protest President Obama's task force on policing decried the warrior mentality present among too many law enforcement officers and Buffalo the nation saw warriors on steroids. African-American and Hispanic people disproportionately bear the cause black about 20% of the population of Minneapolis, but 60% of the people who cops use violence against the result is that they're more black people than the criminal legal system today than there were slaves in 1850 when I mentioned to a young man. I Mentor that if he attended protest he should wear a mask. He said he certainly would try but he wanted me to know that as a young black man. He has a greater risk of dying from police violence them from the Coronavirus, according to the National Academy of Science 1 in 1,000 African-American men, and boys will be killed by the police.

ALERT BRICK: But African Americans need to realize Equal justice under the law is for Selective enforcement and police brutality to end. We need the police to stop killing us to stop beating us up to stop arresting Us in situations in which they would not do those things to white people. The Justice in policing that is a common-sense reform among other things. It requires cops to be trained and understanding racial bias in Minneapolis has three officers

The life out of mr. Floyd and another served as a lookout somebody in the crowd said to the cops, he's human bro. But these four officers did not treat. Mr. Floyd like a human being too often police work seems to enforce the dehumanization of people of color understanding the history and reality of racism in the United States will make our men and women in blue more effective officers and the end this here, hearing about the legitimacy and sustainability of our democracy. No justice. No peace is not a threat. It is simply a description of how the world works the multiracial multi-generational demonstrations that have risen up all over the United States reflect the wonderful diversity of our great nation and the potential of ordinary citizens to make our country live up to its highest ideals. The Justice and policing active 2020 Harold's the urgency of transformation and the promise for all Americans of equal justice under the law.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Professor Paul Butler a former Federal prosecutor who is currently the Albert brick professor in law at Georgetown University Law Center. Now, here's Professor Butler outlining his 10 commandments for black men.

ALERT BRICK: If you're an African-American man police and prosecutors are coming for you.

I know this because I was a prosecutor. It was my job to lock up black men. I am also a black man and cops treat me like one. I've been stopped and frisked more times than I can count don't against a cop car twice and worst of all, I was arrested and prosecuted for a crime I didn't commit. I beat my case because I know how to work the system now, I want you to know what I know. I can't take back all those brothers who I locked up, but now I'm a law professor at Georgetown and I can help people avoid the Chokehold the Police and prosecutors here are the 10 commandments for black men.

ALBERT BRICK: This is real talk about how to get the police to leave you alone. And if you do catch a case how to deal with the system that is out to get you these tips are focused on black men, but we're not the only people who get mistreated black women and other groups also have big problems and these Ten Commandments will work for them to stop and frisk is a joke. Stop him sisters when the cops roll up and pat you down.

The Law says they can't do that unless they have Reasonable Suspicion. The street says 12 can stop you for almost anything police don't need a real reason and in many cases they just make one up here are some of the things cops tell me make them start looking at a brother hard a black man in a black SUV, three or more black men, in our car a black man running, a black man with a white woman, a black man in a black lives matters t-shirt. I'm not saying don't do

Do these things? I'm just saying be aware of the biases. We face is black men. And if you don't want to deal with the cops act like, you know, keep you cool on the rest will change your life. So be smart when the police stop you if you get stopped the cop wants to dominate you you have to play along. If you want to avoid an arrest you have to give them that respect even if they don't deserve it, say officers sir, and ma'am asked politely. Officer, Am I free to go they say no.

ALBERT BRICK: Don't curse or lose your cool that will only make things worse. Don't admit to anything cops lie, if they say just tell us what you did will let you go. Don't trust that but they say we know it was self-defense. Don't trust that if they say we know you were just holding it for somebody else definitely do not trust if they ask if they can search you and you have anything Goin you just say no people do that and it's stupid you trying to get locked up or what you have the right to shut the hell up.

Everybody's heard of Miranda rights. You have the right to remain silent anything. You tell police can be used against you in a court. You have the right to an attorney. If you can't afford a lawyer one will be provided for you the police don't read you your rights. That's not a get-out-of-jail-free card. It just means they can't use your statement against you. If you go to trial at the cops arrest you you can't talk your way out that didn't even work for me and I was a prosecutor. The best thing to do is shut the hell up repeat like a sample.

ALBERT BRICK: They read you your rights say this and nothing but this I invoke my right to silence and my right to a lawyer. I would not talk to you without a lawyer if the cops keep trying to say it again. I invoke my right to silence and my right to a lawyer. I would not talk to you without a lawyer. Don't say another freaking word about the case call your mother. If you do get locked up, they usually let you make a call if you have a lawyer called them first. If not, call your mom your girl or boy your cousin anyone that'll stop what they're doing to deal with the mess your life has just become so you have a public defender. Chill. A lot of times. They have way more Courthouse experience than a payed lawyer. Let's keep it real. Some appointed lawyers are lousy. And if you have major concerns about your appointed counsel there Comes A Time to hire a pay lawyer, especially if the charges are serious, here are three things a good defense attorney should do for you name one your lawyer should file a motion for your release. They should ask the judge to dismiss it and will probably lose judges almost never drop cases. But in the hearing your lawyer will learn more about the prosecution's case. I mean if the cops don't show up the case might get dismissed thing to your lawyer should ask the prosecutor for Discovery and Braden if your lawyer says, what's that run for the hills my dude, then three your lawyer should hire an investigator this way you can get a version of the fact that doesn't come straight from the police.

ALBERT BRICK: to snitch or Not to snitch. That is the question the prosecution might offer you a deal. If you're thinking about snitching you're going to want to check off three boxes first. Nobody gets hurt. Don't snitch if somebody's going to get God it's worth don't snitch unless you get to go home or get less time. It's the right thing to do. Don't snitch. If you have to lie or incriminate somebody you care about dress to impress when I was a prosecutor. We used to crack off but how some defendants dressed in

ALBERT BRICK: They made our jobs easy because they look guilty baggy pants white T-shirt gold chain sneakers when a black man has his fate in the hands of a judge or jury. He needs to wear a suit and polish shoes. Trust me bro judges and juries notice takes the stand or take the fifth. If you go to trial taking the stand as your decision, but be sure they're listen to your lawyer's advice understand that a good prosecutor can make an innocent person look guilty. That's why you're a lawyer might want you to take the fifth if you choose to testify keep your answers short and to the point the prosecutor will try to get you heat it. Don't fall for it. Throw yourself on the mercy of the Court. Let's say you lose. Sorry my dude a lot of brothers have been in this situation more than 500,000 at this very moment to be exact. So what's next there are sentencing time for the most important performance of your life get your teachers boss and Pastor to write letters.

Them and your whole family except kids show up in court when judges see people there for you in your corner. It helps prepare a statement where you say, you're sorry. This judge has your whole life in their hands. You got to get them to see the whole you not just what happened on that horrible day and you caught this cake do this all feels like a horror flick. That's how the criminal legal process is for African Americans the country that black men live in Is Not Free.

The next time you see those flashing lights or the cops step up to you in the street. Remember these Commandments the black man, and the horror movie is usually the first to die. You can be that brother who survived.

DOUG MCVAY: that was Professor Paul Butler with his 10 commandments for black men. Audio came to us courtesy of the Georgetown University Law Center. You're listening to Century of lies. I'm your host Doug McVay now handful of people on social media have tried to make something out of George’s criminal record tried to use his past to somehow justify as murder. It's grotesque and it's wrong and they're even making up lies to do it now is asked to research his cases. I looked over records at the Harris County District Court. And what I found is that George Floyd was wronged, repeatedly and badly by the Texas Criminal Justice System. He was preyed upon repeatedly by the Houston Police Department what they did to George Floyd shows. Just how corrupt and awful. The system is one arrest for supposedly selling less than a gram of cocaine was definitely bogus. He got framed by a crooked. Cop named Gerald Goines. Gerald Goines was a Houston police officer who lied manufactured evidence ruined the lives of countless false arrests. He got two innocent people killed in the infamous Harding Street raid in January 2019. That's when things really fell apart for officer Goins and his partner Steve Bryant and the whole of Houston Police Department's Squad 15.

DOUG MCVAY: Gerald Goins is named as the undercover in the 2004 alleged cocaine deal supposedly the sale of less than a gram. George Floyd was notified in March of 2019 that his case was one of the ones being investigated now the very first time the George Floyd was arrested in 1997. That was also for allegedly selling less than a gram of cocaine to an undercover cop cops word against his he pleads no contest. You got a state jail felony sentence of a hundred and eighty days with credit for 29 days time served did he really do it doubtful? It was 1997. What is a Narcotics cop in Houston bloody Texas doing making Dimebag by bus in the first place? That's a rhetorical question. Obviously what he was doing is ruining lives and fueling the Texas prison system adding one more number to a growing body count. The point is that first offense that first jail sentence was probably a bogus charge now about the assault conviction the one that certain right-wing media like the Daily Mail were going to town over. There's no question to me, At least the George Floyd was railroaded in that case. The charge was aggravated assault with a weapon. It happened on August 9th 2007 a home invasion of sorts a witness had seen people getting out of a black Ford Explorer in entering the house little over three months later on November 15 2007 a couple of unnamed narcotics cops claimed they happened upon that Black Ford Explorer and lo and behold it's being driven by George Floyd more than three months later. I mean already this stinks. This is all according to the affidavit in support of bringing the charges the narcs at notify officer Jay Tapia from Houston's robbery division. Officer Tapia brings in the two witnesses shows them a photo array gets the victim to tentatively identify, mr. Tentatively as a quote identify. Mr. Floyd as her attacker.

DOUG MCVAY: They get to arrest him and bring him in now. There's no physical evidence. There's no forensics. They're claiming that he held onto a vehicle that had been used in a home invasion. For more than three months after the fact police officers, then manipulate the eyewitnesses more than three months after it happened and to making tentative identifications. It's America and that's enough he fit the profile. So they arrest him. There's a high cash bail and he can't get out unless you pay and bad media coverage and his brutal cops.

DOUG MCVAY: Deceptive and corrupt prosecutors this story plays out countless times in cities and counties around the country Houston and Harris County far from the exception. But for a long time, it was one of the worst when George Floyd finally copped a plea on that assault. He was sentenced to five years in a Texas prison. He was given credit for almost a full year of time served in Harris County Jail, which is a horribly overcrowded and awful facility. He didn't plead guilty because he was guilty, he took a Plea because he wanted to eventually get out from behind bars. He didn't want to die in jail. Like I said an editor here I work for assigned me to do this research folks who follow me on social media as seen bits and Bobs from it, but now here's the thing George Floyd his background doesn't matter he was murdered period his record is utterly irrelevant. He was murdered by police it was wrong, but for what it's worth. He was probably not guilty of the crimes he'd been convicted of Remnants guilty pleas be damned our system coerces confessions in guilty pleas out of people all the time. No one should be surprised by this the criminal justice system preyed on George Floyd is whole life and in Minneapolis the system finally took his life. George Floyd's case his murder. It's not the exception. It's been the rule.

DOUG MCVAY: Rules. Yeah, I mentioned Bruce Harvey's rules of police earlier one cops lie to Cops always lie, three cops always lie about drugs so true today. And in fact, it's time to add a fourth rule rule number four cops always lie about everything and that's why people are protesting. This is why people are demanding that the rules, the whole bloody system has to change fundamentally and Holy because George Floyd life mattered because black lives matter.

DOUG MCVAY: You're listening to Century of lies. I'm your host Doug McVay. Now while we still have time. Let's hear from dr. Phillip. Phillip Atiba. Goff PhD is the inaugural Franklin a Thomas professor in policing Equity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He's co-founder and president of the center for policing equity and he's an expert in contemporary forms of racial bias and discrimination as well as the intersections of race and gender

DR. GOFFI have to say that what we have seen in the streets of the United States in the past two weeks nearly defies description. Some have called it massive protests others have called it a riot others have called it a revolution.

What I am confident is that what we have seen has been larger than the incident that sparked Collective outrage and is still tearing at the fabric of our democracy, but it spilled out onto the streets of this nation is even larger than our grief at the brutal Extinction of George Floyd Light and the light of the Thousand citizens per year are killed by police a number that has not changed significantly since newspapers began cataloging those numbers in 2015.

What were you doing on the streets of the United States is a past-due notice for the unpaid debt of black people for 400 plus years.

DR. GOFF: The responses to this moment are not proportional to that debt. I fear we will continue to pay it with interest again and again and again turning to the complex issue of police reform. I applaud the work of chairman Nadler congresswoman bass putting forth a comprehensive proposal to rethink how we best hold law enforcement accountable to the ideal of equality the Justice in policing active 2020 contains a number of critical reforms including Banning neck restraints and creating a National Registry of police misconduct my capacity at CPE. However, I want to spend a moment focusing on what science says about bias in policing. I feel it's important to set a baseline especially with all of the false information, sir. Waiting in media given the normal vacuum in the ecosystem on evidence in this area.

DR. GOFF: First there is no doubt that black native and latinx people in this country have more contact with law enforcement than to white people. There's also relative agreement that where there are fewer public services. So fewer drug treatment mental health drop training programs law enforcement has more contact with residents. There is evidence of racial bias in who was contacted by police and who was targeted for Force. However, it is also the case that clearly not all that we see from police policy or behavior. It is some but not all a given this understanding of biased policing. What are we to do we've already heard today the most recent debate is between institutional reform and defunding the police while there is no quantitative research literature on abolishing policing. There are reasons to believe that many with in Black communities are not fully aligned with this Vision historical and polling research revealed the black community support less biased and less deadly law enforcement more than eliminating it with the mood of the nation changing so quickly the so to made these attitudes and still the degree that a path for involves using police budgets to invest in Black communities. The process must be led by evidence, evidence about what programs work both in policing and in communities and evidence about where cities can safely receive a higher return on their investment in community empowerment.

DR. GOFF: Regardless there is no need to wait for a decision on police budgets to invest in our most vulnerable communities wherever the country lands on police budgets. We can all agree the communities that have the resources to solve their own problems at do not need to call the police in the first place, are safer communities that are better equipped to realize the American dream. There is no reason to avoid this obvious truth and there is no reason not to act on it now

DOUG MCVAY: that was Professor Phillip Atiba Goff pH. The co-founder and president of the center for policing equity and that's it for this week. Thank you for joining us. You have been listening to Century of Lies where production of the drug truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation radio network on the web at drugtruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay editor of drugwarfacts.org. We'll be back in a week with 30 more minutes of news and information about drug policy reform in the failed War on Drugs for now for the drug truth Network. This is Doug McVay saying so long.

So long, for the drug truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition. The Century of Lies Drug Truth Network programs are kind at the James A Baker III Institute for public policy.