MetroFocus

FULL EPISODE

MetroFocus: September 15, 2020

Frontline and The New Yorker writer/historian Jelani Cobb traveled to Newark, New Jersey for a close look at efforts to change its trouble police department. Also, PBS Voces: Building the American Dream: Chronicling the plight of immigrant construction workers fighting for fair working conditions.

AIRED: September 15, 2020 | 0:27:57
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

METROFOCUS IS MADE

POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR

WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ

ROSALIND P. WALTER

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG

JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER,

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD,

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN

FAMILY,

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ,

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON,

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN

FOUNDATION.

>>> THE COUNTRY IS ON FIRE AND

THEIR ANGER IS DIRECTED AT LAW

ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS.

>> A NATIONAL OUTCRY AND ONE

POLICE FORCE TRYING TO CHANGE.

>> CAN THIS BE DONE IN A WAY TO

RESPECT PEOPLE'S RIGHTS?

>> NEW YORK REPORTER JELANI COBB

INVESTIGATES.

>> THE WAR MUST END.

>> THEY DON'T WANT TO RUN TO THE

TRAFFIC STOP FOR A $20 BILL.

THEY DON'T WANT TO BE MURDERED.

>> WELCOME TO MARYETRO FOCUS.

I'M JACK FORD.

>>> RACE AND POLICING IN AMERICA

HAS TAKEN ON A NEW URGENCY.

QUESTIONS IN EVERYBODY'S MIND

INCLUDE DO POLICE DEPARTMENTS

NEED TO BE INFORMED.

INDEED CAN POLICE DEPARTMENTS BE

REFORMED AND IF SO, JUST HOW?

IN 2016 FRONTLINE AND HISS

TORRIAN JELANI COBB TRAVELS TO

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, TO TAKE A

CLOSER LOOK AT EFFORTS TO CHANGE

A TROUBLED POLICE DEPARTMENT.

NOW IN THE WAKE OF NATIONAL

POLICE BRUTALITY, FRONTLINE AND

JELANI COBB RETURNED TO NEWARK

TO SEE IF ANYTHING HAS CHANGED

AND WHAT COULD BE LEARNED BIR

THEIR EXPERIENCES THERE.

JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THE

RESULTING DOCUMENTARY ENTITLED

"POLICING THE POLICE: 2020," AND

PART OF OUR CHASING THE

INITIATIVE DREAM ON POVERTY AND

OPPORTUNITY IN ERK AMERICA,

WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE

HISTORIAN AND WRITER GEL JELANIB

BACK WITH US.

JELANI, THANK YOU FOR JOINING

US.

>> THANK YOU.

>> LET ME START WITH WHY YOU

WENT TO NEWARK.

I MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION

YOU WENT BACK BUT GIVE US A LOOK

AT WHY YOU WENT TO NEWARK.

>> TWO THINGS.

ONE, THIS IS THE AFTERMATH OF

FERGUSON AND THE CONTROVERSY

THAT WAS HAPPENING AROUND POLICE

AND RACE THEN, ALTHOUGH NOT

NEARLY TO THE DIMENSIONS TO THE

CONVERSATION WE ARE HAVING NOW

ABOUT IT.

NEWARK HAS HISTORIC RESIDENTS.

IN 1967 WAS FAMOUSING TUPRISING

IN THE CITY WHERE OVER THE

COURSE OF FOUR, FIVE DAYS

HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLAR

WAS DONE AND IT WAS ALL SPARKED

BY AN INSTANCE OF POLICE

BRUTALITY AGAINST A BLACK CAB

DRIVER BY THE NAME OF JOHN

SMITH.

AND TO MAKE IT EVEN MORE

CONTEMPORARY, THE CITY OF NEWARK

HAD JUST BEEN FOUND BY THE ERIC

BE HOLDER DOJ TO HAVE VIOLATED A

PATTERN OF PEOPLE'S

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS.

ALL OF THOSE THINGS MADE NEWARK

A FERTILE PLACE TO GO IF YOU

WANTED HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT

WHAT WAS HAPPENING WITH POLICING

IN THE UNITED STATES.

>> SO YOU DECIDE TO GO BACK TO

NEWARK TO SEE WHAT THEY HAVE

DONE.

OBVIOUSLY, WITH THE BACKDROP OF

EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN TAKING

PLACE MORE RECENTLY HERE.

I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT A QUOTE

THAT YOU USE EARLY ON IN THE

DOCUMENTARY HERE.

YOU SAY RACE IS SHORTHAND FOR A

SET OF LIFE PROBABILITIES.

>> RIGHT.

>> WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

>> SO, I MEAN, WE KNOW RACE

DOESN'T EXIST AS A BIOLOGICAL

CATEGORY.

IT'S JUST A CONVENIENT THING

THAT WAS MADE UP BY PEOPLE,

BASICALLY WE COULD CATEGORIZE

BASE ON SKIN PIGMENTATION, WHICH

WE THINK ABOUT IT FOR MORE THAN

A SECOND, IT SOUNDS SILLY, BUT

WHAT HAS HAPPENED IS THAT THIS

CATEGORY HAS BEEN REIFIED AND

MADE CONCRETE THROUGH THE

INTERACTION OF AMERICAN

INSTITUTIONS.

SO WE CAN LOOK AT A PERSON'S

RACE AND HAVE A FAIR DEGREE OF

UNDERSTANDING OF SOME THINGS IN

TERMS OF PROBABILITY ABOUT

EDUCATION, ABOUT INCOME, ABOUT

LIFE EXPECTANCY, ABOUT INFANT

IMMORTALITY, ABOUT LIFETIME

INCOME, HOUSING, ALL THE KINDS

OF THINGS THAT FORM AN

INSTITUTION ALIVE AND WE SEE

THOSE THINGS HAVE A ROUGH

CORRELATION TO RACE, OF WHAT WE

UNDERSTAND TO BE RACE IN THIS

COUNTRY.

>> I TALKED WITH YOU ABOUT WHAT

YOU FOUND IN TERMS OF THE ISSUES

THAT ARE WOVEN THROUGHOUT, THE

CRISES WE'RE EXPERIENCING NOW IN

TERMS OF POLICING AND EQUITABLE

JUSTICE.

AND I JUST WANT TO LET OUR

VIEWERS KNOW YOU AND I ARE GOING

TO CONTINUE THIS CONVERSATION

TOMORROW NIGHT.

TOMORROW WE'LL TALK ABOUT

POSSIBLE REMEDIES AND DIFFERENT

APPROACHES THAT CAN BE TAKEN.

LET'S FOCUS NOW ON THE ISSUES,

WHAT THEY ARE, WHERE THEY COME

FROM.

AND ONE OF -- CERTAINLY ONE OF

THE ISSUES THAT IS WOVEN

THROUGHOUT ALL OF THESE

CONVERSATIONS, IS AND YOU TALK

ABOUT IN THE DOCUMENTARY, IS THE

HISTORICAL MISTRUST OF POLICE ON

THE PART OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY.

>> YES.

>> TALK ABOUT THAT.

>> YES.

SO ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I

THINK ABOUT THIS IS THAT THERE'S

AN ARC OF PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING

OF WHAT THIS CONVERSATION ABOUT

RACE AND DISTRUST OF THE POLICE

HAS BEEN, AND HAS BEEN

FACILITATED BY THE USE OF CELL

PHONE CAMERAS.

PROO IRTO THIS, PEOPLE LIVED IN

TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

REALITIES.

BUT WHEN WE LOOK AT THE MAJOR

CONFLAGRATION IN AMERICAN CITIES

IN THE 20th CENTURY, IT WAS

POLICE BRUTALITY.

THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED IN HARLEM

IN 1965, HARLEM 1935, AND

DETROIT IN 1967 AND WATTS IN

1965.

YOU CAN JUST KIND OF RATTLE THEM

ALL OFF.

MIAMI IN 1980.

WE CAN GO INTO THE 21st CENTURY,

FERGUSON AND MINNESOTA AND THE

WAVE OF VIOLENCE THAT WE SAW

OVER THE COURSE OF THE SUMMER.

AND SO I THINK THAT WE HAVE A

KIND OF HISTORIC BASIS FOR

UNDERSTANDING POLICE THAT IS TO

A LARGE DEGREE IMPACTED BY WHAT

YOUR SKIN LOOKED LIKE.

AND FOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS, EVEN

WHEN WE TALK ABOUT JIM CROW, THE

POLICE WERE THE PEOPLE THAT

ENFORCED JIM CROW.

SO IT'S HARD TO HAVE A CONCEPT

OF THEM AS PUBLIC SERVANTS IS

THEY WILL LITERALLY BE PEOPLE

WHO ARE TELLING YOU, YOU CANNOT

GO TO THIS SCHOOL, YOU CANNOT

DRINK FROM THIS FOUNTAIN AND SO

ON.

>> WHAT'S AGAIN WE'RE TALKING

ABOUT JELANI COBB, HISTORIC

WRITER OF THE DOCUMENTARY TITLED

"POLICING THE POLICE: 2020."

AND YOU TALK ABOUT THE VISUAL

ASPECTS OF SEEING POLICE

INVOLVED WITH PEOPLE OF COLOR,

THAT THE SELMA BRIDGE, IF YOU

WOULD, WE SAW THE POLICE WITH

THEIR BATONS AND YOU TALKED

ABOUT ALL OF THE OTHER SCENES.

RODNEY KING, PEOPLE DON'T

REALIZE, IF IT WASN'T FOR A

NEIGHBOR WHO HAPPENED TO HAVE A

CAMCORDER, ONE OF THOSE OLD, BIG

BOXES YOU PUT ON YOUR SHOULDERS,

WE WOULD KNOW NOTHING OF RODNEY

KING AND HE PROBABLY WOULD HAVE

BEEN CONVICTED OF ASSAULTING

POLICE OFFICERS AND THERE HAD

NEVER BEEN A RODNEY KING CASE.

AND YOU MENTIONED SO MUCH OF

THIS NOW IS THE RESULT OF THE

AVAILABILITY OF VIDEO.

>> RIGHT.

>> LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT

SOME OF THE OTHER ISSUES.

ONE OF THE THINGS WE TALK ABOUT

AND YOU TALK ABOUT HERE IS THE

NOTION OF A LACK OF

ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE POLICE

DEPARTMENTS.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU TALK

ABOUT THE ABSENCE OF

ACCOUNTABILITY OR LACK OF

ACCOUNTABILITY?

>> THERE ARE A LOT OF WAYS IN

WHICH THIS PLAYS ITSELF OUT.

ONE IS ON THE LOCAL INTERMEDIATE

LEVEL.

IN NEWARK WE SAW THIS.

VERY OFTEN THERE WOULD BE

INSTANCES IN WHICH PEOPLE IN THE

2016 DOCUMENTARY PEOPLE

COMMITTED ACTS OF VIOLENCE THAT

WEREN'T CATALOGED AND WEREN'T

RECORDED.

THERE WERE NOT REPORTS ABOUT

WHAT THE POLICE HAD ACTUALLY

DONE.

IN OTHER INSTANCES THE

MECHANISMS OBVIOUSLY WENT TO

MAKE A COMPLAINT TO INTERNAL

AFFAIRS, EXTERNALLY OR FROM

WITHIN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT

ITSELF WERE DIFFICULT AND NOT

LIKELY TO CULMINATE IN ANY

ACTUAL DISCIPLINARY ACTION BEING

TAKEN.

BEYOND THAT YOU HAVE THINGS LIKE

QUALIFIED UNITY THAT MAKE POLICE

ESSENTIALLY INVULNERABLE,

REGARDLESS --

>> TALK ABOUT THAT A LITTLE BIT.

I KNOW, I'M A FORMER PROSECUTOR,

FORMER DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

ATTORNEY.

PROSECUTED POLICE OFFICERS AND

DEFENDED POLICE OFFICERS.

I KNOW PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND

THAT NOTION OF QUALIFIED

IMMUNITY.

THEY WILL SAY, THE POLICE CAN DO

WHATEVER THEY WANT AND THERE'S

NO LEGAL REPERCUSSIONS?

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

>> THIS IS ESSENTIALLY A

DOCTRINE THAT LOOKS AT THE

NATURE OF POLICING AS BEING SUCH

THAT WE'RE ASKING PEOPLE TO USE

FORCE ON BEHALF OF A SOCIETY AND

THEY'RE IMMUNIZED FOR THE

CONSEQUENCES OF IT IN A WAY

OTHER PUBLIC SERVANTS WOULD NOT

BE, OR RAISES THE BAR TO WHICH

PEOPLE CAN BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

AND THERE'S BEEN A LOT -- THERE

HAVE BEEN OTHER KINDS OF LEGAL

MECHANISMS, OR, EXCUSE ME, EXTRA

LEGAL MECHANISMS LIKE WHAT THE

POLICE UNIONS HAVE NEGOTIATED IN

MINI CITIES, WHERE AN OFFICER IS

INVOLVED IN A SHOOTING, YOU

SHOULD 48 HOURS BEFORE YOU HAVE

TO ACTUALLY SAY WHAT HAPPENED.

AND THAT'S CERTAINLY NOT A

LUXURY THAT'S AFFORDED TO THE

PEOPLE BEING ARRESTED FOR

SHOOTINGS.

AND SO THERE'S A WAY IN WHICH

ACCOUNTABILITY FOR POLICE LOOKS

VERY DIFFERENT THAN IT WOULD FOR

PEOPLE IN OTHER WALKS OF

SOCIETY.

>> HOW ABOUT THE CULTURE OF

POLICING?

AGAIN, LOOK, PEOPLE HAVE SAID

THIS BEFORE, AND IT'S NOT AS IF

THE MOVEMENT, THE CURRENT

MOVEMENTS ARE TRYING TO CONDEMN

ANYBODY WHO HAS EVER SERVED AS A

POLICE OFFICER, OR ANYBODY WHO

IS CURRENTLY SERVING AS A POLICE

OFFICER.

BUT THE ISSUE HAS BECOME MORE

THAN ARE WE JUST TALKING ABOUT A

FEW BAD PEOPLE IN A PROFESSION,

UNDERSTANDING ALL PROFESSIONS

MIGHT HAVE A FEW BAD PEOPLE.

OR IS IT SOMETHING THAT'S MORE

CULTURALLY IMBEDDED HERE?

FOR INSTANCE, YOU SAW WITH

GEORGE FLOYD, THERE ARE PEOPLE

WHO USED TO THINK -- AND I

INTERVIEWED SOME OF THEM, A FEW

BAD PEOPLE, NOT EVERYBODY.

BUT MAYBE YOU WATCH THAT AND SAY

MAYBE IT IS A CULTURED PROBLEM

BECAUSE YOU HAD THREE OTHER

OFFICERS JUST STANDING THERE,

RELUCTANT TO DO ANYTHING.

>> RIGHT.

>> DOES THAT SUGGEST A MORE

EMBEDDED CULTURE PROBLEM HERE?

AND YET YOU'VE GOT THE COMPETING

SIDE IS THIS, YOU'VE GOT A

POLICE OFFICER SAYING WE'RE THE

ONES OUT THERE DOING THE JOB.

IF YOU REMEMBER THE LINE JACK

NICHOLSON'S LIVE FROM A MOVIE "A

FEW GOOD MEN" WHERE HE SAYS, YOU

WANT ME ON THAT LINE.

YOU NEED ME ON THAT LINE.

WELL, YOU'VE GOT THAT PART OF

THE ARGUMENT FOR POLICE TOO.

AND THEN THE OTHER PART OF THE

CULTURE IS, WE'VE GOT TO CIRCLE

OUR WAGONS TO PROTECT OURSELVES

BECAUSE WE'RE THE ONES OUT THERE

DOING THE JOB.

HOW DO WE CONFRONT THAT?

>> THE PROBLEM WITH THE

ARGUMENT, YOU WANT ME OUT THERE,

YOU NEED ME OUT THERE, THAT IS

MUCH MORE APPEALING TO PEOPLE

WHO ARE RELATIVELY SAFE.

THE PEOPLE WHO ARE THE HIGHEST

PROPORTION -- CHRONICALLY THE

HIGHEST PROPORTION OF HOMICIDE

VICTIMS IN THE UNITED STATES ARE

PEOPLE WHO ARE LEAST LIKELY TO

ENDORSE THAT KIND OF POLICING.

IT'S NOT THAT PEOPLE DON'T

UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOOD FOR THEM,

IS THEY'RE MAKING A CALCULATION

ABOUT AT WHAT COST?

SO IN NEWARK WE WOULD SEE THINGS

LIKE POLICE IN THE NAME OF

PROTECTING COMMUNITY DOING STOP

AND FRISK THAT ENTATELED

STOPPING PEOPLE ON THE STREET

AND PEOPLE AND PULLING THE

WAISTBAND OF THEIR PANTS AND

UNDERWEAR AWAY FROM THEIR BODY,

LOOKING DOWN THE FRONT AND

LOOKING DOWN THE BACK.

I THINK MOST PEOPLE WOULD BE

AGHAST, CERTAINLY IF YOU WENT TO

A SUBURBAN COMMUNITY.

>> IT'S NOT WHAT YOU WOULD

EXPECT TO HAPPEN AND IT'S NOT

WHAT YOU WANT ON THE LINE.

JOHN, WE HAVE A LJELANI, WE HAV

TO TALK ABOUT HERE.

I WANT TO REMIND PEOPLE THE

DOCUMENTARY IS CALLED "POLICING

THE POLICE: 2020."

CAN YOU GO TO METRO FOCUS.ORG.

YOU AND I ARE GOING TO CONTINUE

THIS TOMORROW NIGHT AND FOCUS ON

WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS NOW?

JELANI, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US

AND WE WILL CONTINUE THIS

CONVERSATION REAL QUICK.

TAKE CARE NOW.

>>> WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."

THE NEW YORK SKY LINE HAS SOARED

TO HEIGHTS IN RECENT YEARS

THANKS IN LARGE PART TO

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS.

BUT AMID THIS BUILDING BOOM,

DOZENS DIED ON THE JOB DESPITE

THE REGULATIONS INTENDED TO KEEP

THEM SAFE.

WORKPLACE TRAGEDIES CONTINUE TO

HAPPEN AT JOB SITES ACROSS THE

COUNTRY.

NOW A 2NEW FIFTH "BUILDING THE

AMERICAN DREAM" IS GIVING US A

FIRSTHAND LOOK AT THE ABUSE OF

IMMIGRANT LABOR AND FIGHT FOR

FAIR LEGISLATION.

THE AUTHOR OF THE CLAIMED

DOCUMENTARY SERIES PRODUCED BY

LATINO PUBLIC BROADCASTING, THE

FILM TAKES US TO TEXAS THAT

SHOWS THE DOWNSIDE OF

PRIORITIZING BUSINESS OVER

WORKERS.

HERE'S A PREVIEW.

[ SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ]

>> ONE IN FIVE TEXAS

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS ARE SUBJECT

TO A INJURY OR FATALITY.

>> THESE ARE ONE IN TEN WORKERS

THAT HAS THE HARDEST YOU CAN

POSSIBLY DO.

[ SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ]

>> AND JOINING US NOW AS PART OF

OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE

ON POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN

AMERICA IS THE FILM'S PRODUCER

AND DIRECTOR CHELSEA HERNANDEZ.

CHELSEA, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

>> GREAT TO BE HERE.

>> CHELSEA, FIRST OF ALL, WHAT

DREW YOU TO THIS PARTICULAR

ISSUE AND WHAT ULTIMATELY LED

YOU TO MAKE A FILM ABOUT IT?

>> SURE.

SO I WAS ATTENDING COLLEGE AT

THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS BACK IN

2009, AND WHILE I WAS ATTENDING

FILM SCHOOL THERE, THERE WAS A

CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENT NEAR

CAMPUS, AND THREE WORKERS HAD

FALLEN TO THEIR DEATH AFTER THE

SCAFFOLD HAD COLLAPSED.

AND SO THAT KIND OF JUST WOKE ME

UP TO REALIZE THAT THE WORKERS

WHO WERE BUILDING IN MY HOMETOWN

WERE DYEING OR BEING INJURED AT

THE JOB.

AND I FOUND THIS ORGANIZATION

THAT FRIENDS WERE VOLUNTEERING

AT CALLED WORKERS DEFENSE

PROJECT AND THAT'S WHEN I

LEARNED TEXAS WAS THE DEADLIEST

STATE FOR CONSTRUCTION AND THAT

NEARLY HALF A MILLION -- HALF A

MILLION OF THE WORKFORCE WAS

UNDOCUMENTED.

SO I WAS JUST SHOCKED THIS WAS

HAPPENING IN MY HOMETOWN AND

HAPPENING ACROSS THE STATE AND

REALLY WANTING TO DO SOMETHING

ABOUT IT.

I STARTED FILMING IN 2014 AND

FILMED FOR ABOUT 4 YEARS.

>> MOST OF THE WORKERS IN THE

FILM ARE UNDOCUMENTED, NOT ALL,

BUT MOST.

THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO

INCREDIBLY VULNERABLE TO ABUSE

AND TO EXPLOITATION, RIGHT?

AS FAR AS THE LAWS ARE NOW.

>> YEAH, IMMIGRANT WORKERS ARE

MORE AT RISK OF BEING INJURED ON

THE JOB, FACING WAGE GAPS MORE

THAN AMERICAN WORKERS AND THAT'S

JUST THE REALITY OF THE

INDUSTRY.

THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON A LONG

TIME.

TEXAS IS THE ONLY STATE IN THE

COUNTRY THAT DOESN'T REQUIRE

COMPANIES TO PROVIDE WORKMEN'S

COMPENSATION AND I THINK THAT

LEADS TO A LOT OF EXPLOITATION

ON THE JOB, ESPECIALLY

IMMIGRANTS.

>> YOU KNOW, AS THE FILM

PROGRESSES THE WORKERS IN YOUR

FILM BEGIN TO ORGANIZE, BEGIN TO

FIGHT BACK AND HAVE SOME

SUCCESSES.

I DON'T WANT TO GIVE TOO MUCH

AWAY, BUT THERE'S ONE PARTICULAR

WORKER WHO'S VERY ACTIVE AND

VERY IMPRESSIVE AND JUST AFTER

SHE HAD SOME SUCCESS, SHE GETS

PICKED UP BY ISIS.

IS THAT A COINCIDENCE OR

RETALIATION?

>> YEAH, I'M NOT SURE IF IT WAS

IN REGARDS TO HER COMING OUT AND

COMPLAINING ABOUT NOT BEING

PAID, BUT REALLY, IT'S THE FEAR

THAT MOST IMMIGRANTS FACE,

ESPECIALLY UNDOCUMENTED

IMMIGRANTS, IS THE FEAR OF BEING

DEPORTED.

SO NOT ONLY DOES SHE GO TO WORK

EVERY DAY TO A DANGEROUS SITE

WHERE SHE COULD POTENTIALLY GET

INJURED OR DIE ON THE JOB, BUT

ALSO FACE WAGE STATS SHE WAS

GOING THROUGH OR EVEN JUST

DRIVING TO THE GROCERY STORE OR

PICKING UP HER KIDS, SHE COULD

POTENTIALLY BE DEPORTED.

>> THERE ARE A NUMBER OF

CAPTIVATING PORTIONS.

THERE'S ONE YOU FOLLOW A FAMILY

WHOSE SON DIED FROM LEAST

EXHAUSTION.

HE WAS WORKING IN OVER

100-DEGREE WEATHER TEMPERATURES

WITHOUT A BREAK.

STILL, THE FAMILY GOES TO THE

DALLAS CITY COUNCIL PUSHING FOR

AN ORDINANCE THAT ASKS -- THAT

REQUIRES TEN MINUTES -- A

TEN-MINUTE BREAK EVERY FOUR

HOURS.

EXTREMELY MODEST.

I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I

WAS SO SURPRISED TO HEAR THE

COUNCIL MEMBERS ARGUE AGAINST

THAT.

I WAS SURPRISED AND ANGERED.

I WONDER, WAS THAT YOUR REACTION

AS YOU WERE WITNESSING THIS?

>> IT REALLY WAS.

I MEAN, I WASN'T SO MUCH

SURPRISED THAT THEY WERE -- THEY

HAD THIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS

WORKERS AND TOWARDS REGULATIONS

OF BUSINESSES AFTER RESEARCHING

YEARS BEFORE WE STARTED PICKING

UP THE CAMERA, I KNEW THAT THE

BUSINESS -- OR THE POLITICAL

SECTOR WAS DEFINITELY ON BOARD

WITH LITTLE REGULATIONS AND

WANTED BUSINESSES TO FLOURISH

AND WASN'T LOOKING OUT FOR THE

LITTLE GUY, THE EMPLOYEE.

BUT I WAS REALLY SHOCKED THAT

THEY WERE SAYING SOME PRETTY

MEAN STUFF IN FRONT OF THE

FAMILY WHO JUST LOST THEIR SON

TO HEATSTROKE ON THE JOB.

CALLING THEM AND THE GROUP THAT

WERE FIGHTING FOR REST BREAKS

CHARLATANS, TO QUIT TELLING

BUSINESS NO.

THAT WAS REALLY SHOCKING TO ME

THAT THEY WERE JUST SO OPEN

ABOUT IT IN A PUBLIC FORUM.

IT WAS A PUBLIC CITY COUNCIL

HEARING BEING RECORDED.

MEDIA WAS THERE.

THAT WAS REALLY SHOCKING TO ME

BUT I THINK IT'S ALSO EMBLEMATIC

OF HOW GOVERNMENT AND THE

INDUSTRY WORKS TOGETHER HERE IN

THE STATE.

>> BUT YOU KNOW THE INSULTS

ASIDE, THE FUNDAMENTAL ARGUMENTS

THAT THESE COUNCIL MEMBERS ARE

MAKING AND THAT TEXAS -- TEXAS,

BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT, TENDS

TO MAKE, TEXAS HAS HAD ITS

ECONOMIC SUCCESS, THE TEXAS

MIRACLE, BECAUSE IT HAS SO FEW

REGULATIONS, BECAUSE IT HAS SUCH

A RELATIVELY CHEAP AND DOS ILL

W

DOCILE WORKFORCE.

AND IF THEY LOSE THOSE

ADVANTAGES, EVERYBODY LOSES THE

WORKERS.

HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

>> I THINK IT'S REALLY NOT TRUE.

YOU KNOW, IN TEXAS THERE'S A

LARGE SHORTAGE OF WORKERS, AND

MANY HAVE FLED BACK TO THEIR

HOME COUNTRIES BECAUSE THE FEAR

OF RETALIATION, THE FEAR OF

DEPORTATION, ESPECIALLY IN OUR

CURRENT TIMES WHERE WE HAVE A

PRESIDENT WHO IS FEELING

ANTI-IMMIGRANT RHETORIC TO

PUBLIC.

BUT THE MYTH OF THEM TAKING AWAY

JOBS, OR IF WE ADD ON

REGULATIONS, BUSINESSES ARE NOT

GOING TO MANY COULD.

OFTEN IN DALLAS MOST HAVE REST

BREAK ORDINANCES AND COMPANIES

CONTINUE TO FLOURISH.

SO WE DON'T SEE THE LACK OF BOOM

THAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS STATE,

AND IN REALITY I THINK WE COULD

REALLY ADD TO THE WORKFORCE, AND

HELP FILL THAT SHORTAGE OF

WORKERS IF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

THEY'RE GOING TO A SAFE WORK

ENVIRONMENT, THAT THEY WON'T GET

KILLED ON THE JOB, MAYBE THE

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY CAN

ACTUALLY EXPAND AND REALLY DO

WELL AT PROTECTING THEIR

WORKERS.

>> YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE THINGS

THAT THE FILM DOES SO WELL,

"AMERICAN DREAM" IS IN THE TITLE

AND THAT'S A PHRASE BY MULTI

GENERATIONS OF AMERICANS ARE

SEEN AS A SLOGAN OR CLICHE BUT

CERTAINLY NOT THE PEOPLE YOU

FILM.

FOR THE PEOPLE YOU FILM, THE

AMERICAN DREAM IS VERY REAL.

NOT ONLY THAT, THEY ARE ALREADY

BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAMS IN

THEIR LIVES, EVEN WITH ALL OF

THE OBSTACLES THEY FACE.

YOU SHOW THAT VERY SUBTLY.

YOU DON'T TALK ABOUT IT BUT YOU

SHOW IT.

THE FAMILIES ARE DOING WELL,

THEY'RE HARD WORKING AND THEY'RE

KIND OF CONSERVATIVE.

AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE, OZZY AND

HARRIET, MUCH MORE THAN MOST

AMERICANS ARE.

AND THESE PEOPLE WOULDN'T BE

ORGANIZING AND FIGHTING IF THEY

DIDN'T HAVE TO.

THEY'RE WORKERS AND CONSERVATIVE

AND SAY THE PLEDGE OF

ALLEGIANCE, AND IT'S IRONIC WHO

THE CONSERVATIVES THAT SHOULD

SEE THEM AS CONSTITUENTS THAT

ARE KIND OF FIGHTING THEM.

IS THAT CHANGING IN TEXAS,

BECAUSE IT'S CHANGING NATIONALLY

A LITTLE BIT?

WHAT'S YOUR EXPERIENCE?

>> YES, YOU'RE SO ON POINT AND

THESE WORKERS ARE VERY PRIDEFUL

TO BE IN THIS COUNTRY.

I KNOW CLAUDIA, ONE OF THE

ELECTRICIANS FEATURED IN THE

FILM, SHE WAS ALWAYS WEARING

T-SHIRT THAT'S HAD THE AMERICAN

FLAG AND WAS KIND OF BOASTING

THESE PATRIOTIC IMAGES AND SO

THEY'RE VERY PROUD TO BUILD WITH

THEIR HANDS AND BUILD THESE

BUILDINGS THAT MAKE UP THE SKY

LINE.

BUT I DO THINK THERE IS A CHANGE

AND CURRENTLY WITH THE PANDEMIC

HAPPENING, PEOPLE ARE REALIZING

THAT WORKERS ARE ESSENTIAL, AND

SO I THINK -- ESPECIALLY

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS, YOU KNOW,

IN TEXAS, CONSTRUCTION WORKERS

WERE WORKING THROUGH THE

PANDEMIC.

THEY WERE CONSIDERED BY THE

GOVERNOR AS ESSENTIAL BACK IN

APRIL.

BUT KNOWING THAT THEY DON'T

HAVE -- THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE

SAME CONDITIONS BEFORE THE

PANDEMIC, WHO'S TO SAY THEY WILL

BE PROVIDED THE SAFE CONDITIONS

NOW DURING THE PANDEMIC?

I THINK PEOPLE ARE REALIZING

WORKERS ARE IN DIRE SITUATIONS

AND NEED BETTER WORKING

CONDITIONS.

SO I DO THINK IT IS CHANGING AS

FAR AS THE ATTITUDE TO PROTECT

WORKERS AND HAVE THAT PATRIOTISM

FOR THE COUNTRY BUT FOR THE

WORKERS THEMSELVES FIRST.

>> QUICKLY, I KNOW THE FILM IS

ABOUT TEXAS BUT NOT NEW YORK.

BUT YOU KNOW A LITTLE BIT ABOUT

NEW YORK.

NEW YORK IS CONSIDERED A

PROGRESSIVE STATE.

HOW DOES IT COMPARE IN TERMS OF

WORKER SAFETY AND GENERAL

STATEMENTS OF UNDOCUMENTED

WORKERS?

>> YEAH, I MEAN, NEW YORK

DEFINITELY HAS MORE UNION

WORKERS THAN TEXAS.

I BELIEVE TEXAS IS ABOUT 1%

UNIONIZED SO IT'S A LITTLE BIT

HARDER TO FIGHT FOR LAWS AND

THAT'S WHY WORKER CENTERS ARE

REALLY IMPORTANT AND COLLABORATE

WITH UNIONS TO PUSH FOR

LEGISLATION.

NEW YORK IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT

BECAUSE THEY DO HAVE A BIGGER

UNION WORKFORCE.

HOWEVER, IS SINCE THE CITY

BUDGET, THE STATE BUDGET HAS

KIND OF DECREASED THEIR FUNDING

FOR CITY PROJECTS, THAT'S WHEN

YOU TEND TO SEE COMPANIES,

DEVELOPERS HIRING CONTRACTORS

THAT ARE NOT UNIONIZED THAT

DON'T HAVE A RAPPORT AND THEY

END UP, YOU KNOW, GETTING

WORKERS ON THE STREETS WHO DON'T

HAVE ANY TRAINING.

I DO KNOW THAT IN NEW YORK, I

THINK THEY JUST PASSED A

LEGISLATION NOW WHERE

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS DO HAVE TO

GET AN OSHA CERTIFIED TRAINING,

WHICH IS REALLY GREAT FOR THE

CITY IN MAKING SURE THAT PEOPLE

ARE WORKING CORRECTLY, PROVIDING

THAT SAFE ENVIRONMENT AMONG EACH

OTHER.

BUT, YOU KNOW, YOU CAN SEE WHEN

THERE'S A LACK OF SAFETY ON THE

JOB, YOU'LL HAVE MAJOR ACCIDENTS

HAPPEN AND IN NEW YORK, THEY'VE

HAD ACCIDENTS INCREASE OVER THE

PAST FEW YEARS.

THERE WERE HORRENDOUS CRANE

ACCIDENTS THAT HAPPENED THERE.

AND IT MAKES YOU WONDER WHAT

KIND OF WORKING CONDITIONS WERE

THOSE WORKERS IN, IN THE FIRST

PLACE?

>> WE ONLY HAVE ABOUT 20 SECONDS

LEFT.

ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE

FUTURE OF THE WORKERS IN AMERICA

IN GENERAL BUT SPECIFICALLY THE

UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS?

>> YES, I'M VERY OPTIMISTIC.

I DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO

CHANGE OVERNIGHT, BUT I THINK

THERE'S A GROWING MOVEMENT AND I

HOPE THAT THIS FILM ENCOURAGES

OTHER WORKERS TO STAND UP

AGAINST EXPLOITATION AS WELL AND

PUSH FOR MORE CHANGES IN LAW.

>> CHELSEA, IT'S A WONDERFUL

FILM.

I HOPE A LOT OF PEOPLE SEE IT.

I KNOW HAD WILL HAVE A GOOD

IMPACT.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING

US TODAY.

IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU

HERE.

>> THANK YOU.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE

BY

SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,

JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER,

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD,

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN

FAMILY,

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ,

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON,

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN

FOUNDATION.