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    The Impact of Racial Bias In The Age of Coronavirus | Need To Know

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    – Training is not enough We have to start having systems of accountability, transparency into what's going on, both for the officer's sake and for the community's sake

    – This pandemic has shed light on a number of inequities that have existed far before this outbreak, and police bias is among the latest to be addressed by lawmakers Right now we have Senator Cory Booker and Dr Armen Henderson, who experienced mistreatment firsthand So we'll jump right into it Senator Booker, what prompted you, Kamala Harris, and the rest of your colleagues to send this letter off to Attorney General Barr and Chris Ray? – Well, look, when those folks were getting appointed, I'm on the Judiciary Committee, I talked to them both very long about implicit racial bias in policing

    You know, the number of police shootings in our country are still unconscionably high, and you have a lot of police leaders talking about the problem of implicit racial bias A previous FBI Director admitting openly that if I was walking down the street and there were white kids on this side and black kids on this side, the FBI Director said I would be more afraid of the black kids, and worried about the black kids And so now you add to the problem, that this administration that came in, they've stopped their accountability for police forces like Obama was doing for cities all across America, including Newark And now you have all these stories that I've started hearing about young black men wearing masks, as they're being instructed to do, then having that becoming a trigger for even more police action and police activity So, this is a problem that exists and could grow over time, and we should be doing nationwide implicit racial bias training period, but we should be especially doing it now with the challenges that are coming up as a result of mask wearing

    – What's really interesting about this to me is, because when this pandemic first began, and we really saw that this was going to be a real issue, you started hearing this commentary about this becoming the great equalizer That something that affects so many people would tie us or bind us together, but what would happen, and exactly what happened when Hurricane Irma hit, the most at risk or vulnerable populations end up bearing the brunt of it Can you speak to that a little bit more? – Right, because everybody's like, oh, we got to shelter in place, but if you don't have a house, if you live on the street, then it's, it's pretty much impossible to do So we started providing tents and toiletries and masks, and we started testing individuals, and just making sure that people knew what the pandemic was about They were educated about it, hand-washing techniques

    And then we, now we provide showers, hand-washing stations and bathrooms as well – So why are you doing this work on April 10th? What happened? – So I mean, I was just putting tents in my car, taking the tents out of Amazon boxes, and putting them into my van, when this police officer stopped in front of my van, he had all these questions that he asked Do you live here? Do you work here? And what's going on with this trash? And blah, blah, blah And so I answered the questions, and I thought our conversation was over, and he decided to jump out of the car And so when he jumped out of the car, he basically asked me for ID, and, you know, I'm trying, I'm rushing to be somewhere, to deliver tents to homeless individuals, I had to be there in 30 minutes

    And so I just said, look, I don't have my ID on me right now, which I didn't And then that's when he decided basically to put me in handcuffs And when he put me in handcuffs, I called for my wife He took me to the front of the car and decided to yell in my face without a mask on, he didn't have any gloves on He detained me for no apparent reason

    He said I should call him sir, or Sergeant And I mean, at that point I was upset, but I was really more so focused on what I had to do So I kind of just let it roll off of my shoulders, and when my wife came out, she basically was able to deescalate the situation Do you see how these situations can get out of hand at any given moment? And it looked like it was his whole MO to approach me and to escalate the situation from the beginning And he was promoted to sergeant, he has 12 use of force complaints

    He had six citizens' complaints – So Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris have written a letter to the DOJ and the FBI asking for anti-bias police training in light of the pandemic What were your thoughts when you found out about the letter that they sent, and what do you think it'll take to actually turn this issue on its head? – It's not having anti-bias training, it's actually holding individuals accountable It's looking at the system of policing – There's ways to use big data to actually see if the training has changed the behavior

    And by the way, it's the flip side of this as well When Obama did this with his 21st century policing task force, what they found out was, is that there are predictive analytics That's a fancy term that means looking at data, you can predict people's behavior And they found out they could predict situations in which police misconduct would happen For example, one of the indicators they found is that police officers who have a repeat of a certain type of stressful situation, are more likely to lash out and have a police misconduct claim

    And that one of those particular types of stressful situations is suicide calls You remember that Texas pool party, where that little black girl was sat on by that police officer? That officer who sat on that little girl had two suicide calls in the month before! You know, are we instituting the kind of systems that prevent that interaction? And no, we're not And we have the capability of doing it – How do you think this pandemic will change the way you govern and your colleagues govern moving forward? – My prayer for us, and I want to try to not just hope it happens, but try to make it happen, is that we expand our empathy, moral imagination, and it translates into laws and policies that address this We've got to be a country on the constant march to make real the promise of America for everybody

    So this is a crossroads in that all of us have to be activists in that cause We cannot just hope it happens

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