Major Neill Franklin has more than 30 years experience wearing the badge of law enforcement. Today Neill is the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership which has thousands of experienced police, prosecutors and legislators calling for an end to drug prohibition. Neill is one of the stars of our forthcoming, September 11 Premiere of our video Production: SEEEKING THE MORAL HIGH GROUND (On Drugs). To learn more please visit www.LEAP.cc
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Monday, July 20, 2020
Mon, 07/20/2020 - 12:15
DEAN BECKER (00:00):I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High and this is Cultural Baggage.
So in our ongoing series of Becker's buds in our lead up to seeking the moral high ground, it is my great privilege to bring you one of my best friends. Man. I traveled halfway across the country with, uh, in the leap, mobile back for the caravan for peace and justice of the executive director of law enforcement action partnership. My bud Neil Franklin. Hello Neill.
NEILL FRANKLIN (00:35):
Mr. Dean Becker? How are you doing good to see you?
DEAN BECKER (00:38):
I'm good, Neil. Now I, uh, I don't want to discount the fact that you were a, uh, a major, uh, working for a law enforcement there in, in the, uh, Baltimore area. And you're still training officers. Are you not?
NEILL FRANKLIN (00:55):
Yeah. I'm still training officers. As a matter of fact, just last week, I was up in Philadelphia for a three day leadership training in the Philadelphia Sheriff's office and all of their command staff.
DEAN BECKER (01:06):
No, this, this speaks to your, your experience, but your expertise, your knowledge, your awareness, your ability to, uh, police safely, uh, and, uh, to train others to do so, correct?
NEILL FRANKLIN (01:20):
Yeah, absolutely. Even though I I'm still training officers now, when I was in law enforcement with the Maryland state police in Baltimore city, I was head of both of their training divisions at one time. Right
DEAN BECKER (01:34):
Now, Neil, we have in this country, it depends on when you want to look at it. So you want to talk about Nixon declaring drug war. You want to go back to the Boggs act, or you want to go back to 1914, the Harrison narcotics act. But, um, you can go back to 1898 or something to some opium, exclusion act. We have had a hundred years of drug war in this country.
NEILL FRANKLIN (02:01):
Oh yeah, we have, that's what you want to call it. But as we both know, Dean, you can't have a war against an inanimate objects such as drugs at a war against our people.
DEAN BECKER (02:12):
Right. And, and what has become, um, better exposed? I won't say exposed because it's been known by folks like you and me for a long time, but the racism built in inherent part of this drug war is rearing its ugly head, uh, uh, more so than ever before. Correct?
NEILL FRANKLIN (02:32):
That's absolutely correct. Um, all, all of the periods in time, I mentioned mainly, uh, you know, mr. Anslinger got into it back in the 1930s as who we consider our nation's first drugs are. Right. Um, he really made it an issue of race. Um, for, I guess you could say multiple cultures. Yes. We had the, our opium policies before that with the Chinese, but that was about the Chinese and doing what we could as a country here too. Uh, I gotta say prevent these from taking jobs and becoming a, uh, I guess an economic force, if you might say, in the us economy. So it was about the Chinese, but when Harry Anslinger got into it, he made it about the, you know, of course we was already about to Chinese, but he made it about the Mexicans. He made it about blacks, people of color. And, uh, we've been rolling ever since with this, uh, with these drug prohibition policies and so-called war on drugs, war on people.
DEAN BECKER (03:39):
And, you know, it was with the, the flat out murder of, uh, um, George Floyd, um, and so many others that they're still coming out and, and, uh, uh, the videos are showing up every week, still the, uh, police abusing people at the very least if not murdering them. Uh, and it's, uh, too often if black people being singled out and if I dare say taught a lesson, Oh, which seems to be, what many of these law enforcement officers seem to be trying to do is to teach a lesson and your thought there, new Franklin.
NEILL FRANKLIN (04:20):
Yeah. It's, I'm sad to say, but, um, as a society in general, we we've developed our perceptions of people and our stereotypes of people and, you know, in, in the policing culture. Um, now I'll be honest with you. Yeah. We, we have a, we have a big racial problem within policing, but anything goes beyond that, into this place of class, right? So it doesn't matter what color you are. If you're not at a certain class level, you've got problems with the police. If you're a poor white, you have a problem with the police. Generally speaking, if you're homeless, you have a problem with the police. And the police have gotten to this place of dehumanizing people, right. Especially when it comes to class and when it comes to color and they've gotten to this place where they see people, uh, on a lower economic scale and people of color, they see them as objects.
NEILL FRANKLIN (05:29):
They, they don't refer to them as people, they refer to them as subjects. You know, they, they refer to them in some name, some of the names I won't even mention on your show, derogatory names that we give people. And that kind of gives them the, I gotta say it kind of protects them emotionally from when they decide, uh, to do harm to people. Um, when they don't see as a person, when they don't see him as human and they see him as an object, then it kind of freezes their mind to treat that individual as they see fit. And as you said, Dean, teach them a lesson, right. And when we have training, um, there's been some really radical training within the policing community over the past few decades. Um, that gets police in to this place of thinking that they are these super men and super woman type saviors, right.
NEILL FRANKLIN (06:29):
Um, and, uh, training that invokes the use of violence against people. Um, you know, it didn't, it is very biased in nature. And, uh, that's why many police departments have restricted this type of training by their members. Uh, recently every begun, the strict restrict this type of training for their members. Um, but we have to get to a place in ending the war on drugs, ending drug prohibition is one of the pieces of public policy that we have to move on to begin to change how police view people. And a lot of the derogatory terms that we use in policing, uh, deal with the drug using community. Um, I mean, you name it, you know, the junkie to scumbag the, uh, tweaker. I mean, you know, you, it's just a whole list of names, derogatory names. And, um, it's, it's the one I've been rattling here for a second, but I gotta mention, I gotta say this. There was a video I watched today that the got me thinking about something, it was a video of someone complaining about someone else in the neighborhood. And when they ran out of things to say about this person, because everything else they were saying, just wasn't sticking, it just didn't make sense. They resorted to, Oh, you're just a bunch of drug dealers.
DEAN BECKER (08:06):
NEILL FRANKLIN (08:07):
That term, you know, drug dealer that we use, when we want to send a message, a derogatory message about somebody, you know, and put that person in this place of being suspect, you label them as a drug dealer. And typically when you use that term, most people think of young black male, when you hear that term drug dealer because of the media and because of society and what we've done regarding the war on drugs. But when you really think about it, most of the drug dealers in this country are white males. Yeah, yeah. Or Mexican for that matter. I'm talking about the ones wearing suits and ties.
DEAN BECKER (08:51):
Yeah. There you go. And you, you brought up a very valid there. Neil, I want to say this, that, uh, and I'm trying to remember, was it a Haldeman or was it Ehrlichman talking to Nixon about what we have to do is go after the blacks and the hippies of the black for heroin, the hippies for weed. And we'll be able to keep them from voting in the, in jail and, and not out on the streets demonstrating and so forth. And I can say this, you said it's not always the blacks that are suspect. And back in those days, I had long hair, which meant I could drive down the street.
NEILL FRANKLIN (09:24):
One of the hippies that Nixon was after,
DEAN BECKER (09:26):
And I could be pulled over in a heartbeat for no reason whatsoever, other than the length of my hair. And that's pretty much gone away, but not quite, but, um, it's just another example of how we demonize people for their appearance. Right.
NEILL FRANKLIN (09:44):
Absolutely. So, and it's a good point that you made a back during the beginning of Nixon's war on drugs and the two groups of people, the blacks and the Vietnam war protesters, you know, with marijuana and then the blacks with, with heroin and maybe cocaine and you're right. You just wanted to vilify both groups of people on nightly TV night after night, and then they could do anything they wanted, you know, using law enforcement, they could do anything. They wanted to infiltrate their groups and to basically vilify them and persecute them, lock them up and put them away.
DEAN BECKER (10:17):
No. When I tell folks that you are based in Baltimore, you worked in Baltimore for most of your career. And a lot of folks ask me, well, does he know about the wire? Was it the wire real that doesn't need a valid, a set of facts they put forward to how real was Dwyer Neil?
NEILL FRANKLIN (10:36):
Well, a lot of people don't think it was real, but David Simon, who is the writer of the wire, along with another guy by the name of ed burns, ed burns was a retired homicide detective in the Baltimore police department just had decades of just great information, true information, historical what David Simon did. He took about 40 years or more of Baltimore history, history, maybe closer to 50 years of Baltimore history. And he compressed it into five seasons, five annual seasons of politics, of policing, of education, of those main topics, subject matter that he used in his series. And he just took periods of time and he jumbled them around and he would put maybe one that was 20 years ago in front of one that was five years ago. And, um, the characters that were being portrayed in the wire, they were real folks, people. I knew many of them people I knew or still know, um, and the way things occur.
NEILL FRANKLIN (11:49):
There's, there's not one thing in that series that I can to your listeners that, Oh, that was completely false. That was fake. As a matter of fact, for those who have watched a wire bunny Colvin, who was the Western Western district police, uh, uh, yeah, the district police commander, um, who did the drug free zone, if you might say that was actually done in the Eastern district by a, uh, district commander by the name of, uh, um, Pete France and Pete France is actually one of our speakers now for leap. Yes. So, you know, whether you're looking at car Ketty, who was a depiction of Martin O'Malley Oh my God. Spot on, spot on the other politicians depicted in the series, uh, people selling drugs in the series, the police officers in the series, man, I tell you, I can point to every moment in time, I can point to every character and tell you a story about them. That's relevant to the series of wire. So yeah, pretty much
DEAN BECKER (12:58):
That's, that's good to know. I look at it this way that the lessons being brought forward, the lessons being taught, if you will, within the wire and that are taught, um, you know, through various television shows these days, there is a lot of truth that does sneak through and, and what it shows. Is it, again, it goes back to what we were talking about in the beginning that you give these names, these designation scumbag in the, you know, tweaker and whatever to demonize these people, to make it, if I dare say easier to kick in the door, easier to threaten the household, easier to kill somebody. If they scare you, let alone have a gun or any other, uh, implement of destruction.
DEAN BECKER (13:53):
I don't know how to say this. And I don't mean to disparage law enforcement because I think it's brave men and women who commit their lives and, and, and, um, on a daily basis, what too many have become cowards and, and, and, and, um, easily drawn to, well, easily draw their weapon, easily use their weapon more so than perhaps training would allow your thought there. And, you know,
NEILL FRANKLIN (14:22):
Oh, absolutely. And I think what's central to a lot of what you're speaking to is the failed war on drugs it's put is in it's very adversarial place. You know, the police and citizens in the community, you know, and again, all you have to do is look at the HBO series of wire. If your viewers have not seen it, I, it's probably on, I think it's something you can find it on HBO or Netflix or one of those streaming services. Um, you need to look at it. One of the things that
NEILL FRANKLIN (14:52):
Two things, I just want to point out, number one is the policing culture that's depicted in the wire is so true. And it's so real. And it's now played out in real life in Baltimore city with the arrest of so many police officers who were a member of his gun trace task force, who were robbing people on the street corners, robbing drug, dealers, planning, guns, planning, drugs, committing home invasions. These are the police wearing a badge and carrying a gun. Um, so actually play it out on our streets. And the other thing I wanted to point out was the violence, the street violence that was depicted in the wire, all because of drug prohibition policies, the street corners depicted in a wire and used for the actual filming in a wire where the actual violent corners were drugs were being sold, where we actually had shootings in real life.
NEILL FRANKLIN (15:48):
This wasn't a Hollywood set. It was filmed right in the streets of Baltimore. Doesn't look like this is Baltimore behind me, but that's not the drop. The backdrop depicted in the HBO series of wire, talking about our impoverished neighborhoods with the, the abandoned homes blocks of completely abandoned homes. And of course the violence and went with that. The police corruption that went with that, the political corruption that went with that. And, and as in the wire, all of that leads to deplorable school systems and everything else that fails within the city like Baltimore. Now I was when we traveled with the caravan for peace and we made a stop in Baltimore, and I got to spend an evening there in those neighborhoods, you're talking about the abandoned buildings in the rundown neighborhoods. And I, um, I don't know what to say other than the despair that comes from living or adapting to that situation, uh, is part of the, the moral conundrum that once you get that drug bust, you can't get a job. You can't get credit, you can get housing, you can get an education. What are you supposed to do? And, um, so many people are in essence, stuck, uh, with participating in the world's largest multilevel marketing organization, the black market and drugs. And, and we, we, we have no means for them to remove those restrictions are that burden of, um, guilt, if you will, of having been a druggie it's, it's it, it never leaves you your thought Neil Franklin.
NEILL FRANKLIN (17:42):
No. Well, yeah. What you, what you were referring to and what you saw in Baltimore when you were here was really the results of a war zone. Um, the carnage of people being incarcerated, many of which returned back home, couldn't get jobs. Couldn't return to some of their family units because their families, unfortunately, many of them would have to move into public housing because, you know, when you break up a family and you send and you incarcerate folks, the income, the economic state of that family has been destroyed. So now what's left. They end up in public housing. And then when the man is released from being incarcerated, he can't go to public housing because he's restricted from going to the very place where his family is, then he can't get a job. So if he can't get a job, he can establish himself to get, to find a place to live, to bring his family.
NEILL FRANKLIN (18:52):
There is this conundrum. We have all of these vacant homes. When people return home from being incarcerated, they can occupy these homes, homeless people can out occupy the home. So, you know, what I said is that your, you saw a war zone, literally a war zone, but here's what really pisses me off. We instigate become part of these Wars, all across, all around the globe, all around the world. And when we devastate a country, as we've done to many, what, what do we do? We, we go back into that country with billions of dollars and rebuild it. We rebuild it, brick and mortar. We rebuild it financially, re rebuild it,
DEAN BECKER (19:50):
Their educational systems
NEILL FRANKLIN (19:52):
And so on and so on. But we've yet to see that happen in our communities here in the United States, from one city to the next, where we've literally ripped these cities apart with the war on drugs.
DEAN BECKER (20:09):
Well, Neil, you, you bring up the cities around the globe and I want to bring this up. You reminded me that my city of Houston had the Harding street bus. I hope you've heard of it. Where the cops came, kicked in the door and street clothes, um, did not have a valid warrant, were lying to the judges, were lying to everybody. They say they had an informant. They had no informant. They say they made a drug bust. I mean, I drove by, there was no drug by, and, um, I think six of the officers involved in that, uh, uh, division 15 drug squad are under indictment too for murder. Um, and, and I guess what I'm trying to say here is that that's, they're not alone, that that's not a deviation, a huge deviation from the norm. This is bound to be a representative, uh, perhaps in the extreme, but representative of all of those drug divisions, uh, not just in Houston, but around the country, because of that same perspective, you brought forward that if you can demonize the people you're after it, it allows you to your conscience to basically get away with most, anything.
NEILL FRANKLIN (21:24):
It does not just, and not just your conscious, the, the community at large will allow you to treat people that you demonize that way. Right? And, uh, so hopefully we're getting to a place where people are starting to realize just what you said, that that's not just unique to Houston. It's not just unique to Baltimore. It's not just unique to Chicago. You can go to any major city and not just major cities. You can go to rural counties in the South, the same thing where they're stealing money from people through, uh, asset forfeiture, uh, programs, you know, sitting on highways or Sheriff's department, sitting on highways, stopping cars without a state tags and taking any cash that they may have by trickery, literally by trickery. You know, so it's not unique to our big cities. It's our small towns and it's our, it's our rural counties as well.
NEILL FRANKLIN (22:31):
And, you know, I hate it when I hear my peers say, well, it's just a few bad apples Dean, just a few bad apples. Don't broad brush the entire policing world because of these few bad apples. I'm going to tell you something, it's not a few bad apples. The borough, the actual Apple barrel is rotten. So when he's young kids come through these police academies with the mindset that they're going to do good by people that they want to really help people after a year or two in that uniform on the street, they're just like the rest of the apples that are in that barrel because the barrel is rotten. Anytime you have these police departments and these so called good officers, sit by and watch description and watch the crime is being committed by those wearing a uniforms and sit by idly as with George Florey, you know, where the other three officers knew that mr. Floyd was in distress with showman's knee on his neck. When you have that, when you fail to intervene or fail to hold your peers accountable for the dirt that they do, you're rotten also.
DEAN BECKER (23:57):
And that was a situation where officer Chauvin was that his name was training these rookies and how to go about police business. Uh, it's horrifying to think about that. If there had not been that camera there, what would have ensued next?
NEILL FRANKLIN (24:18):
Well, the whole narrative would have been completely different because the police reports would not, would not have reflected what actually occurred. Right. They would not have been held accountable as we're seeing now.
DEAN BECKER (24:31):
Now, one other thought, uh, I mentioned the Harding street bus, and I'm proud of my district attorney Kim AWD for standing forth and saying, she's going to dig down to the root of this, not just within that division 15, but within the whole narcotics, um, divisions. I don't know, I guess, or 15 or more, I don't know, but, uh, and the whole of the police department, because it was not as we were talking about not just, uh, a unique situation, it was a ongoing problematic. And I guess where I want to go next is that the, the patrol men's union was very upset with her thinking she was demonizing them and setting them up, which perhaps she is, I don't know, but it brings to mind that even for a district attorney to stand up to this malfeasance is dangerous, your thought to her please.
NEILL FRANKLIN (25:30):
Absolutely. And as we deal with this issue of police reform now, um, the police unions have so much power. Yes. And it's because we've given them so much power. Um, but I'll tell you some, I think it's more of a perceived power of influence. Our elected officials tend to be rather timid or frightened of these police unions, thinking that they have so much influence to change, uh, the mindset of the average voter. Right? So it seems like all of these representatives, political representatives want to support the unions because they're looking at votes. That's what they see all the time votes. How do I get more votes? So, so do you want to cater to, you know, they want to court these unions and these unions throughout a lot of money, they put a lot of money into the pockets of our elected officials, and that's something
NEILL FRANKLIN (26:44):
That we're working to change. Um, we believe it's a conflict of interest. We believe it's very problematic in our political world. Um, we're also working to change, uh, the laws that have been put in place to protect these police officers and, and their unions, uh, qualified immunity needs to change. We need to be able to Sue a police officer just like we can Sue a doctor. Right. And so this needs to change. So we're working on the influence that the unions currently have. And, um, we believe that we're going to have some success there. Um, and once we do that, I think we'll begin to see the changes that need to take place because another real problem is as we've been working on police reform, literally for decades in this country, right, it's been the police unions that tend to come out just about every time, pushing back against reasonable police reform, uh, efforts. And, you know, so our politicians are running scared, but as you said, Kim, OB, uh, God bless her. I, you know, um, she's going to do just fine. And hopefully, you know, as Kim Argh and others begin to challenge these unions and elected officials begin to see it well, they don't have the power that we think they have. Sure. There may be, they'll develop some backbone and stand up against these unions.
DEAN BECKER (28:23):
Again I remind you because of prohibition, you don't know whats in that bag, please be careful.