MetroFocus

FULL EPISODE

MetroFocus: May 15, 2019

RIVAL GANGS UNITE, SPECIAL ELECTION RESULTS, “THE HARLEM RATTLERS.”

AIRED: May 15, 2019 | 0:27:10
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>>> TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS."

A CALL FOR PEACE.

RIVAL GANGS IN THE BRONX UNITE

IN AN EFFORT TO END THE VIOLENCE

ON OUR CITY STREETS.

MEET THE FORMER GANG MEMBER.

THE DETAILS ON THE CITY COUNCIL.

AND THE HEROIC FROM WORLD WAR I.

A BAN OF BROTHERS WHOSE REFUSAL

TO RETREAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS

"METROFOCUS" STARTS RIGHT NOW.

>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH

RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND

JENNA FLANAGAN.

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE

BY

JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,

SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,

ROSALIND P. WALTER,

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,

AND BY --

CORPORATE FUNDING FOR

"METROFOCUS"

WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF

AMERICA,

YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

AND BY PSE&G, SERVING

CUSTOMERS, STRENGTHENING THE

BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND INVESTING

IN THE FUTURE.

>>> WE NOW KNOW WHO WILL FILL

THE CITY COUNCIL SEAT VACATED BY

JUMAANE WILLIAMS.

AT LEAST FOR THE TIME BEING.

THE FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF

DEFEATED SEVEN OTHER CANDIDATES

TUESDAY IN A SPECIAL ELECTION TO

REPRESENT BROOKLYN'S 45th

DISTRICT.

>> I FEEL HONORED.

I AM GRATEFUL.

DISTRICT 45, WE'RE GOING TO

CHANGE THINGS, WE'RE GOING TO

CHANGE THE WORLD.

I'M SO EXCITED TO GET STARTED

AND GET TO WORK.

>> LEWIS WILL FILL THE SEAT

UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR.

IN A NEW YORK CITY ELECTION SHE

FACES A DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY NEXT

MONTH.

SO JOINING US NOW TO SORT IT ALL

OUT FOR US IS CITY AND STATE

POLITICS REPORTER JEFF COLTON.

WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

NOW WE KNOW WHO WON.

WHAT DO WE KNOW OF THE TURNOUT?

>> SO THE TURNOUT WAS RELATIVELY

LOW BUT ALSO, IT WAS WHAT WAS

EXPECTED.

THERE WERE AROUND 9,000 VOTERS.

EACH DISTRICT HAS SOMETHING LIKE

175,000.

SO DO THE MATH.

THAT'S AROUND 6% TURNOUT.

>> NOT A HUGE PERCENTAGE OF THE

DISTRICT CAME TO TURN OUT.

BUT THIS IS A RANDOM SPECIAL

ELECTION.

IT WAS COLD AND RAINY TUESDAY.

>> WHY DOES THIS NEED TO HAPPEN

AGAIN?

>> THAT'S THE CITY CHARTER.

THE RULES THAT GVERN THE CITY.

WHOEVER WON THE SPECIAL ELECTION

YESTERDAY, SHE WILL REMAIN THE

CITY COUNCILMEMBER FOR THE

DISTRICT UNTIL THE END OF 2019.

>> SO DECEMBER 31st OF THIS

YEAR.

>> EXACTLY.

IN A MONTH, ON JUNE 25 THS,

THERE IS THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY

FOR THE SAME SEAT.

AND THE WINNER OF THAT RACE,

WELL, THE WINNER OF THE GENERAL

ELECTION IN NOVEMBER, WE KNOW

THAT IT IS ESSENTIALLY THE

GENERAL, THE WINNER WILL TAKE

THIS COUNCIL SEAT FOR THE

REMAINDER OF THE TERM THAT IS

THE FULL YEARS OF 2020 AND 2021.

>> OKAY, OKAY.

>> SO WITH ALL OF THAT IN MIND

THEN, ARE THERE ANY PLANS?

FIRST OF ALL, DO THE EXACT SAME

PEOPLE CONTINUE ON STAY ON THE

BALLOT?

ARE THERE ANY PLANS TO SWITCH

THIS UP?

OR DO THE CAMPAIGNS HAVE ANY

INTENTION TO PUSH AND GET OUT

THE VOTE WHEN IT SEEMS LIKE -TH

BROOKLYN?

>> IT IS TOO EARLY TO KNOW

EXACTLY WHICH ONE OF THE

CANDIDATES WILL BE COMING BACK.

AND RUNNING HARD IN THE PRIMARY

HERE.

I DON'T THINK ANYBODY MADE

STATEMENTS YET, WHETHER THEY'LL

BE DROPPING OUT OR PUSHING HARD

TO WIN.

THIS IS PRECEDENT.

THERE HAVE BEEN ELECTIONS WHERE

SOMEBODY WON A SPECIAL AND THEN

LOST THE PRIMARY SOON AFTER.

>> THAT SAID --

>> THE WINNER OF THE SPECIAL

CERTAINLY HAS THE UPPER HAND

HERE.

THEY SAY SHE WON THE ELECTION.

THE SITUATION IS THE SAME NEXT

MONTH.

I'LL BE WATCHING AND SEE WHAT

HAPPENS.

>> THERE'S ANOTHER BIG ELECTION

COMING UP.

THAT'S FOR THE QUEENS D.A.

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

THAT IS THE BIG TICKET ELECTION

ON THE SAME DAY.

IT IS FOR THE ENTIRE BURROUGH OF

QUEENS.

ALL 2.5 MILLION RESIDENTS THERE

FOR THE TOP PROSECUTOR JOB.

THERE ARE SEVEN CANDIDATES VYING

FOR THAT IN THE DEMOCRATIC

PRIMARY.

SOME REALLY BIG NAMES LIKE THE

CURRENT QUEENSBORO PRESIDENT.

SHE'S PROBABLY THE FRONT-RUNNER

IN THIS RACE BECAUSE SHE ALREADY

REPRESENTS THE WHOLE BURROUGH,

WHICH HAS PRETTY GOOD NAME

RECOGNITION.

A NUMBER OF OTHER CANDIDATES

PUSHING HARD AND IT SEEMS LIKE

THEY'RE GIVING HER CHASE.

THAT INCLUDES THE CRIMINAL

JUSTICE CHAIRMAN IN THE COUNCIL.

HE WORKS ON THESE ISSUES AND

OVERSEES IT.

THERE'S ALSO TIFFANY.

THE FIRST TIME CANDIDATE.

SHE'S VERY YOUNG.

31 YEARS OLD.

SHE'S A PUBLIC DEFENDER.

SO SHE HAS GOTTEN A LOT OF

SUPPORT FROM THE REALLY LEFT

LEANING GROUPS IN THE CITY.

THE WORKING FAMILIES.

THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF

AMERICA.

SHE'S TRYING TO GARNER THAT

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ ENERGY

AND USE IT TOWARD HER CAMPAIGN

FOR QUEENS DISTRICT ATTORNEY.

>> AND THIS ELECTION WILL BE

HELD WHEN AGAIN?

>> THIS ELECTION TUESDAY, JUNE

25 THS.

SO JUST ABOUT A LITTLE OVER A

MONTH AWAY.

AND YOU KNOW, THERE ARE POSTERS

ALL OVER QUEENS.

SOME CANDIDATES HAVE STARTED

PUTTING UP TV ADS.

I THINK THIS WILL REALLY RAMP

UP.

>> SO SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD

TO.

>> AND LASTLY BUT VERY QUICKLY,

YOU DID SEE SOME PERHAPS

MOVEMENT FROM THE MAYOR WHEN IT

COMES THE ANY BIG DECISIONS HE

MIGHT BE MAKING.

HE'S BEEN OUT DOING SOME VERY

PUBLIC EVENTS.

IT WAS HIS PUSH FOR GREEN ENERGY

IN A TRUMP TOWER, ET CETERA.

WHAT DO YOU SEE FROM HIM?

>> THE MAYOR HAS SAID THIS WEEK,

FINALLY, IT IS GOING TO BE HIS

DECISION WHETHER OR NOT HE RUNS

FOR PRESIDENT.

EVERYTHING THAT I'VE HEARD AND

SEEN IS THAT HE WILL JUMP IN TO

BECOME THE 23rd DEMOCRAT IN THE

PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY.

WE WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN THE

COMING DAYS.

NO ONE ASKED YESTERDAY.

HE KEPT IT CLOSE TO THE VEST.

>> THAT'S SOMETHING WE CAN HAVE

YOU BACK TO TALK ABOUT.

>> THANK YOU FOR BREAKING DOWN

NOT ONLY THE WINNER OF THE

BROOKLYN ELECTION BUT OF COURSE,

HOW THE PROCESS HAPPENED.

AND WE WILL DEFINITELY BE

FOLLOWING UP ON THE QUEENS

DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S RACE.

>> THE ELECTIONS NEVER STOP.

>> THEY NEVER STOP!

>> THANK YOU SO MUCH.

>>> IT WAS A SIGHT TO BEHOLD IN

THE BRONX.

RIVAL GANGS IN THE STREETS BUT

WATCHING TOGETHER IN THE NAME OF

PEACE.

HUNDREDS REPORTEDLY TOOK PART IN

THIS APRIL'S KINGS STOP KILLING

KINGS EVENTS INCLUDING THE

BLOODS, THE CRIPS.

THE FALLEN RAPPER INSPIRED THIS

REMARKABLE CALL TO ACTION.

N

N

NIPSY WENT FROM GANG MEMBER TO

ARTIST.

HIS LIFE CUT SHORT OUTSIDE HIS

LOS ANGELES CLOTHING STORE.

HOWEVER, MISS MESSAGE OF UNITY

CONTINUES ON RESONATE BRINGING

COMMUNITIES TOGETHER.

FOR MORE ON THIS STORY, WE

WANTED TO TALK WITH SHAWN WHO

HELPED ORGANIZE THE NEW YORK

MARCH AND IS THE FOUNDER AND CEO

OF THE NONPROFIT GROUP CALLS

GANGSTERS MAKING ASTRONOMICAL

COMMUNITY CHANGES.

GMAC.

AND WE'LL SPEAK TO THE

REPRESENTATIVE THAT WORKS TO

CHANGE THE LIVES.

GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US I

SUSPECT PEOPLE ARE LISTENING TO

THAT SAYING THAT SOUNDS ALMOST

IMPOSSIBLE TO BELIEVE.

THAT GANGS WHO WE KNOW HAVE

ENGAGED OFTENTIMES IN VIOLENCE

WOULD BE ON THE STREET AND

WATCHING TOGETHER FOR PEACE.

HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

>> SO YOU MENTIONED NIPSEY

HUSTLE.

THAT'S IMPORTANT FOR OUR

COMMUNITIES.

SOME OF US COMING FROM THAT

LIFESTYLE.

IT IS A DIVISION OF US PUT OUT

THERE.

AND NIPSEY'S DEATH WAS ABLE TO

BRING SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO OUR

COMMUNITY.

A LOT OF PEOPLE DIDN'T KNOW THAT

SOMEONE WHO WAS CLASSIFIED A

GANG MEMBER COULD DO SO MUCH

GOOD.

WHAT THAT DID WAS START TO

INSPIRE OTHERS WHO WERE PART OF

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF GANGS.

WE GOT A CALL FROM THEM.

IN THE COMMUNITY, CONTINUING

ADVOCATING THE VIOLENCE.

HE FELT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO

BRING IT TO NEW YORK CITY.

AS A COMMUNITY BASED

ORGANIZATION WHO FOCUSED ON GUN

VIOLENCE, THOSE, WE ARE PART OF

THAT MATCH.

>> HOW DO YOU GET THESE GROUPS

TO COME TOGETHER IN A MARCH FOR

PEACE.

>> WHEN YOU'VE BEEN IN THE GANG

FOR SO LONG, YOU SEE A FELLOW

GANG MEMBER, EVEN A RIVAL GANG,

WE'RE OUT HERE.

WE KNEW WHAT THE MESSAGE WAS AND

WHAT THE MARCH WAS ABOUT.

IT WASN'T HARD TO SAY, THIS IS

WHAT WE'RE HERE FOR.

>> HOW DID THE MARCH GO?

>> IT WENT KIND OF SMOOTH.

IT WENT REALLY GOOD.

A LOT OF PEOPLE CAME OUT MORE

THAN WE EXPECTED.

A LOT MORE GANG MEMBERS THAN I

EXPECTED.

>> SO COMMUNITY MEMBERS OUT

THERE.

BUT YOU DID GET GANG MEMBERS

FROM RIVAL GANGS TOGETHER ON THE

STREET.

A LOT OF PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW

ABOUT THAT GANG BUT THEY'RE A

STRONG GANG IN PRISON AND THE

BRONX.

SO YOU LOOK AT THE LATIN KINGS.

THE PREDOMINANT GANGS, THAT

DIVIDE OUR COMMUNITIES WERE NOT

MEN TO DO SO.

WE TALK ABOUT THAT AND WE BRING

IT BACK TO THE FOREFRONT.

>> OTHER THINGS THEY'RE SUPPOSED

TO BE DOING?

WHAT WAS, DO YOU FIND, BOTH OF

YOU HAVE BACKGROUNDS AS GANG

MEMBERS.

I WOULD THINK GIVES YOU SOME

CREDIBILITY ON THE STREET WHEN

YOU TALK TO PEOPLE.

ARE THEY LISTENING TO YOU?

>> OF COURSE THEY'RE LISTENING.

WE'RE CHANGING EVERY DAY.

NO MORE TRYING.

>> WE STARTED WORKING ON IT.

NOW IT'S NOT.

WE'VE GIVEN 60%.

>> THE NUMBERS ARE SIGNIFICANT.

SIGNIFICANT DECREASE.

>> WHEN YOU GET SOMEBODY FROM

THE NEIGHBORHOOD TO HAVE TIES

AND YOU SEE A LOT OF THIS IS

EMULATED.

AND THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE WITH

THE YOUTH.

YOU MIGHT CATCH A BLOOD TALKING.

SPEAKING BLOOD LINGO.

THEY DON'T REALLY KNOW IT.

YOU WAKE UP.

YOU SEE THE FACADE.

>> WHAT GETS YOU?

SO GIVEN YOUR OWN BACKGROUND AS

A GANG MEMBER, WHAT GOT YOU TO

THE POINT WHERE YOU SAID, THIS

HAS TO CHANGE?

AND I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING TO

HELP CHANGE IT?

>> WELL, ORIGINALLY, I BECAME A

BLOOD BECAUSE OF WHAT IT MEN.

IT MEN BROTHERLY LOVE OVER

DESTRUCTION.

THERE IS NOTHING ABOUT VIOLENCE

AND MURDER.

>> THIS WAS A GROUP FOR YOU

PROVIDING FOR YOUR FAMILY.

>> THERE WAS A LOT OF VIOLENCE.

THE KINGS WERE ONE OF THE MAIN

ARRIVES THAT I BECAME BLOOD

BECAUSE OF.

AND EVENTUALLY, HE CAME TO A

TRUCE TO START CONTINUING IN THE

STREET.

SO WE FOUND COMMON GROUND.

THINGS THAT MAKE SENSE.

IN THE PROTECTION OF THE

COMMUNITIES.

I SAW A FATHER WHOSE CHILD CAME

TO PRISON FOR 35 YEARS OF HIGH

OF AT THE AGE OF 17.

I DIDN'T WANT THAT TO BE AN

EXAMPLE TO MY CHILDREN.

I REALIZED THAT I COULD USE MY

REPUTATION DIFFERENTLY.

I PUSHED THE VIOLENCE IN THE

PAST.

>> HAVING BEEN THERE.

>> IT WAS EASY FOR ME.

I WAS KNOWN TO BE VIT.

IT WAS ALL I WAS KNOWN FOR.

TO BE ABLE TO SWITCH THAT, AND

I'M AN EXAMPLE THAT HELPED

CHANGE HIM.

THESE ARE GENTLEMEN WHO WAS

RUNNING STREETS, THAT CAN NOW

TELL YOU DON'T PULL THE TRIGGER.

>> WHAT WAS IT ABOUT, ALL OF A

SUDDEN HE COMES OUT.

AND HE'S PREACHING A VERY

DIFFERENT SERMON.

WHAT WAS THAT IT GOT YOU TO SAY

MAY BE I NEED TO CHANGE MY LIFE.

>> SEE FOR ME, I KNOW THIS MAN

FOR OVER 20 YEARS.

SO I DO KNOW THE VIOLENCE THAT

HE HAS.

I GREW UP WATCHING HIM.

TO SEE HIM COME BACK, YOU'RE NOT

DOING THAT.

YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING?

>> WHAT HE DID WAS AMAZINGLY, HE

SHOCKED ME.

HE HAD NOTHING BUT WIRES, COPPER

SHOWING, THINGS OF THAT NATURE.

IT WAS JUST A GUTTED BUILDING.

HE SAID, YOU KNOW, THIS RIGHT

HERE, THIS SPOT HERE IS WHERE

WE'LL BUILD THIS FOUNDATION

HERE.

MAYBE A MONTH OR TWO LATER HE

CALLED ME BACK AGAIN.

AND WHEN I CAME BACK AGAIN, THE

WALLS WERE GREEN.

MIRRORS EVERYWHERE.

HE SAID YOU'RE CUTTING THE

RIBBON.

>> WE GOT A REAL STRIKE.

>> IF I HAD SAID THAT TO YOU,

YOU MET ON THE STREETS.

>> WHAT WAS ABOUT IT HIM THAT

MADE YOU SAY, OKAY.

>> IT'S THE LIFESTYLE.

>> THIS IS SOMEBODY I KNOW.

THEY MADE RULES UP FOR HIM.

IN THE GAME.

BECAUSE OF HIS BELIEFS, BEING

RIGHTEOUS.

HE WAS CARRYING OUT THE RIGHT

WAY.

WHEN HE SAID BROTHERLY LOVE,

YES.

BROTHERLY LOVE.

TOGETHER TO OVERRIDE THE

DESTRUCTION.

>> TELL ME ABOUT SOME OF THE

THINGS YOU'RE DOING.

AS WEAPON, IN AREAS WHERE YOU'RE

WORKING, YOU'VE SEEN DRAMATIC

DECREASES IN VIOLENCE.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO EFFECT

THAT?

>> WELL, YOU LOOK AT THE

VIOLENCE IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS.

IT IS PRE DOMINANTLY COMMIT BY

THE SAME SMALL PERCENTAGE.

A QUESTION ABOUT THAT 3 TO 5%.

IT WAS CONSTANT.

THEN I GET THOSE SERVICES.

AND THE INDIVIDUALS PULLING THE

TRIGGERS.

WE FOCUS ON THOSE WHO ARE EVEN

UNEDUCATED.

YOU ASK THEM, A YOUNG PERSON,

WHOO IS THE DIFFERENCE?

IT'S JUST THERE.

I WAS TOLD.

>> RIGHT.

COULD NOT EXPLAIN WHY.

>> WHERE IT WAS FROM.

THE ORIGINAL, YOU CANNOT REALLY

GET TO THE FACTS.

SO WE CANNOT ARGUE THE FACTS.

>> SO LACK OF RESOURCES.

CREATE THE PROGRAM FOR SOMEBODY

WHO WAS AT HIGH RISK TO RISK OR

BE SHOT.

>> THE BIGGEST PART OF THAT IS

YOU.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?

THAT'S THE DIFFERENCE.

YOU HAVE EVEN THE NEIGHBOR THAT

CAN DETER YOU FROM VIOLENCE AND

BEING VIOLENCE.

AND YOU MIGHT TURN THE OTHER

CHEEK.

>> YOU DON'T THINK LIKE THAT.

>> BECAUSE WE WOULD NOT BE DOING

THAT.

IT IS NOTHING TO DO.

>> THAT'S WHO YOU WERE.

BACK IN YOUR LIFETIME.

IN A MORE HIGHLY PUBLICIZED

KILLING.

EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT.

AND FOR ME, I GOT TO SEE HIM.

I GOT TO GO WITH HIM.

THIS IS SOMEBODY THAT IS NOW ON

THE UP AND UP AND MOVING

FORWARD.

I KNOW IT IS EVERYTHING IN HIM.

HE CAN CHANGE.

>> ARE YOU SEEING, ARE YOU

SEEING REAL CHANGE ON THE

STREETS?

YOUNGER PEOPLE NOT FEELING, ALL

RIGHT, TO BE ANYTHING OUT HERE

ON THE STREETS.

I HAVE TO BE PART OF IT.

ARE YOU GETTING A SENSE WHERE

YOU'RE WORKING?

WHERE GMAC IS WORKING THAT

CHANGE IS TAKING PLACE?

>> I WOULD SAY YES AND KNOW.

WHEREAS THE NEED TO CONTINUE TO

BE PART OF SOMETHING IS GOING TO

CONTINUE TO HAPPEN.

THAT'S HUMAN NATURE.

THE COMMUNITY WE COME FROM.

SO THE DEALING WITH DIFFERENT

CONFLICTS, WITH MASS

INCARCERATION, LEADERSHIP IN THE

HOUSE.

IF THAT HAPPENS, THE THING ABOUT

OUR PHONES.

WE'RE NOT TRYING TO TAKE YOU

AWAY FROM WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO BE

PART OF.

THAT'S WHAT SOCIETY IS DOING.

WHAT YOU ARE AND CRIMINAL SIZING

WHAT YOU ARE.

IT IS BECAUSE THERE'S RESOURCES

AND FINANCES THERE THAT IS

DIFFERENT THAN THE PERSON WHO

BECOMES THE BLOOD AND THE CRIPS.

SO THEY HAVE THE NETWORK TO HELP

THEM.

ASSESS THE OPPORTUNITY THAT

POSSESSES THEIR LIVES AND FAMILY

LIVES.

WE NEED TO SEE THE

ACCOUNTABILITY FROM THE

GOVERNMENT.

WE TALK ABOUT POLICE SHOOTINGS.

>> BECOME PARTNERS WITH THE

COMMUNITY AND THE LAW

ENFORCEMENT AGENCY.

>> AND NOT HAVE THAT RIGHT.

WE DON'T WORK FOR.

WE DON'T SHARE INFORMATION BUT

THEY HAVE A JOB TO DO.

THEY TAKE GUNS, ALL OF THAT.

OUR JOB IS TO PREVENT VIOLENCE

FROM HAPPENING.

SO THE NEIGHBORHOOD, NOW WANTS

TO CHANGE HIS LIFE.

AND HE IS LEAVING THAT COMMUNITY

INSTEAD OF MONEY FOR DRUGS.

THE RESOURCES TO GIVE HIM MONEY

TO EMPLOY.

>> YOU'RE DOING WONDERFUL WORK.

IMPORTANT WORK ON THE STREETS.

AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANT, THE

FACT IS YOU CAN SHOW RESULTS.

BASED UPON WHAT YOU'RE DOING.

SO I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR

SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US.

WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO TALK

WITH YOU ALL.

GET SOME SENSE OF THE PROGRESS

YOU'RE MAKING.

>> THANK YOU.

>>> WHAT'S NEXT IN AMERICAN

HEROES?

THERE ARE MANY ANSWERS TO THAT

QUESTION BUT HERE'S ONE YOU

PROBABLY DIDN'T KNOW.

IN THE FINAL YEAR OF WORLD WAR

I, AMERICAN TROOPS WERE FIGHTING

GERMAN SOLDIERS ON THE WESTERN

FRONT.

IN MAY HAVE 1918, AMERICA'S ONLY

ALL BLACK REGIMEN, THE HARLEM

RATTLERS, WERE WARNED OF AN

IMPENDING RAID.

THE RATTLERS HELD THEIR GROUND

WITH ONE SOLDIER, HENRY JOHNSON,

WOUNDED, AMBUSHED AND

OUTNUMBERED BY TWO DOZEN ENEMY

TROOPS.

AND AS HE FOUGHT ON, HE

ALLEGEDLY SHOUTED, I'M AN

AMERICAN AND I NEVER RETREAT.

THAT MOTTO NOT ONLY CAPTURED THE

SPIRIT OF THE 369th, BUT ALSO

THE UNIT'S FIGHT FOR EQUAL

RIGHTS AND RECOGNITION FROM THE

WHITE COUNTER PARTS ON THE FRONT

LINE HERE AND AT HOME.

THIS WAS THE STORY ALMOST LOST

TO TIME UNTIL RECENTLY WITH

JOHNSON WAS AWARDED THE MEDAL OF

HONOR AND HISTORY CAUGHT ON WITH

THE HELL FIGHTERS.

I HAD A CHANCE TO SPEAK WITH THE

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR

WHO DOCUMENTED THEIR HEROICS IN

THE NEW BOOK, HARLEM RATTLERS

AND THE GREAT WAR.

AND I ASKED HIM, HOW THIS GROUP

OF WARRIORS APPEARED ON HIS

RADAR.

>> I HAD SEEN WILLIAM MILES' MEN

OF BRONZE.

A DOCUMENTARY IN 1977, ON THE

SO-CALLED HARLEM HELL FIGHTERS.

THEY WERE ON MY RADAR.

>> GIVEN THIS WAS A TIME WHEN

THE ARMY WAS VERY HEAVILY

SEGREGATED, THIS WAS STILL JIM

CROW AMERICA.

SO WHY WAS IT SO IMPORTANT TO

PROPERLY BRAND THIS GROUP TO

MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE WERE ABLE

TO REMEMBER?

HAVE IT STICK IN THEIR MINDS?

>> YES, WELL, FIRST OF ALL,

BLACKS WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE

COMBAT IT'S.

IT WAS ASSIGNED TO STEVEDOR

DUTIES, TO BATTALION WORK, ET

CETERA.

AND THE FRENCH ARE THE ONES WHO

PUT THE PRESSURE ON GENERAL

PERSHING AND THE WAR DEPARTMENT

TO TURN THESE MEN OVER TO THEM.

THE FRENCH HAD BEEN IN THE WAR

SINCE 1914.

AND DESPERATELY NEEDED

REINFORCEMENTS.

AND EVENTUALLY PERSHING RELENTED

AND THE UNIT SPEND ONE MONTH IN

TRAINING WITH THE FRENCH BEFORE

GOING TO THE FRONT.

AND SERVED 191 DAYS ON THE FRONT

WHICH WAS THE LONGEST OF ANY

AMERICAN UNION.

>> I WANT TO FOCUS ON HIM

BECAUSE HIS BRAVELY WAS

UNBELIEVABLE FIGHTING OFF THE

SOLDIERS.

BY HIMSELF.

TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT WHAT WE

LEARNED ABOUT WHO HE WAS AND

WHAT KIND OF A CHARACTER THAT HE

HAD.

>> HE WAS A SURVIVOR.

INCREDIBLE.

DURING THE WAR AND AFTER.

HE TOOK ON THIS GERMAN RAIDING

PARTY ALONG WITH NEEDHAM ROBERT,

WHO WAS INCAPACITATED EARLY IN

THE FRAY.

HENRY FOUGHT IT OFF WITH HIS

RIFLE.

THE BUTT OF HIS RIFLE WHEN HE

WAS OUT OF AMMUNITION.

AND THEN EVENTUALLY, WITH A BOLO

KNIFE.

HE WAS SO FEROCIOUS THAT HE

ACTUALLY RAN THE SURVIVING

GERMANS OFF.

THEY WANTED TO CAPTURE HENRY AND

NEEDHAM FOR TENSION REASONS, AND

ALSO, FOR MORALE PURPOSES TO

HURT THE MORALE OF THE UNIT.

REMEMBER THE 369th NEVER HAD A

MAN CAPTURED AND NEVER LOST A

FOOT OF GROUND THAT IT HAD TAKEN

IN THE WAR.

SO THAT WAS AN IMPORTANT

ACHIEVEMENT.

OF COURSE HE WAS RECOGNIZED BY

THE FRENCH.

THE FRENCH CROSS OF WAR WITH THE

HIGHEST LEVEL.

AND THAT IS AT THE LEVEL OF THE

ARMY.

HE DID NOT RECEIVE AN AMERICAN

HONOR UNTIL 1996.

AND THAT WAS THE PURPLE HEART.

THEN IN 2003, HE RECEIVED A

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS

DURING THE BUSH II

ADMINISTRATION.

MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT WAS A

CYNICAL EFFORT TO TAKE WIND OUT

OF THE SAILS OF THE MEDAL OF

HONOR CAMPAIGN WHICH HAD BEEN

GOING ON SINCE THE 1980s.

AND THERE WERE CONSTANT

REJECTIONS OF HENRY BEING

HONORED WITH THE MEDAL OF HONOR,

WHICH IS THE NATION'S HIGHEST

MILITARY HONOR.

SO HE WAS A TREMENDOUS SYMBOL OF

PRIDE TO ALL AMERICANS, AND

ESPECIALLY AFRICAN-AMERICANS.

WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT THIS

EVENT TOOK PLACE IN MAY OF 1918.

AND THE U.S. SOLDIERS, WHITE

SOLDIERS, HAD REALLY DONE

NOTHING IN TERMS OF COMBAT IN

WORLD WAR I AT THAT POINT IN

TIME.

IF HE WAS THE FIRST REAL

AMERICAN INFANORY COMBAT HERO OF

THE WAR.

>> GIVEN THAT SO MUCH PRESTIGE

GOES I KNOW WHAT THE MEDAL OF

HONOR, DO WE KNOW WHAT BECAME OF

IT NERLS HIS FAMILY OR WHAT

HAPPENED AFTER THAT?

>> WELL, THERE WAS NEVER ANY

PROOF ESTABLISH THAT HAD HENRY

JOHNSON HAD A SURVIVING FAMILY.

I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO ATTEND

THE CEREMONY IN THE EAST WING OF

THE WHITE HOUSE.

>> OKAY.

THIS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT PIECE

OF AMERICAN HISTORY.

>> HOPEFULLY MORE PEOPLE WHEN WE

LOOK BACK ON THE QUOTE/UNQUOTE

REAL AMERICAN HERO WILL ALSO

REMEMBER HENRY JOHNSON FROM

WORLD WAR I.

>> THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS.

>> THANK YOU.

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE

BY

JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,

SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,

ROSALIND P. WALTER,

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,

AND BY --