MetroFocus

FULL EPISODE

MetroFocus: September 16, 2020

Producer/Director, Jesse Sweet takes us inside the boiling point of tension between a deeply religious Hasidic Jewish community and their secular neighbors in “City of Joel.” Also, we continue our conversation with The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb, about his new Frontline documentary on race and policing in America.

AIRED: September 16, 2020 | 0:28:22
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH

RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND

JENNA FLANAGAN.

"METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY

SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMMING 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.

FUNDING FOR "CHASING THE DREAM"

IS PROVIDED BY THE JPB

FOUNDATION.

ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR "CHASING

THE DREAM" IS PROVIDED BY SUE

AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

>>> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 38 YEARS

NEW YORK STATE HAS A NEW

MUNICIPALITY, THE TOWN OF PALM

TREE.

IT CAME INTO EXISTENCE JANUARY

1st OF 2019.

LIKE ANY OTHER BIRTH STORY, IT

DID NOT COME WITHOUT CAUSING

SIGNIFICANT PAIN.

PALM TREE IS THE LATEST

ITERATION OF A TINY VILLAGE

CALLED CURIOUS JOEL.

TIMELY ONLY REFERS TO THE LAND

MASS OF THE VILLAGE.

CURIOUS JOEL IS A DEEPLY

RELIGIOUS HASIDIC JEWISH

COMMUNITY WITH A FISCAL FOOT

POINT OF ONE SQUARE MILE AND A

POPULATION OF OVER 20,000 AND

GROWING FAST.

THEY NEEDED MORE SPACE TO BUILD

MORE HOUSES.

THE TOWN ON MONROE, OF WHICH

CURIOUS JOEL WAS A PART OF,

EXPRESSED DEEP RESERVATIONS

ABOUT ALLOWING THE FAST GROWING

COMMUNITY TO ANNEX ANY MORELAND.

THIS BOILING POINT OF TENSION IS

WHERE THE FILM "CITY OF JOEL"

BEGINS.

LET'S TAKE A LOOK.

>> IT'S AN ONGOING BITTER TURF

WAR.

>> JUST 50 MILES NORTH OF NEW

YORK CITY.

>> IT'S A VILLAGE, LITTLE MORE

THAN A SQUARE MILE THAT HAS

RAPIDLY GROWN IN SIZE TO MORE

THAN 20,000 PEOPLE.

>> CURIOUS JOEL IS A VILLAGE

WITHIN THE TOWN OF MONROE.

MEMBERS OF THE SAT MOORE

COMMUNITY FROM BROOKLYN

ORIGINALLY MOVED IN OVER HERE.

>> THE HASIDIC LIFE REVOLVES

AROUND FAMILY AND CHILDREN.

>> GROWING UP, WE ALWAYS KNEW

THAT THE LOCAL PEOPLE DON'T LIKE

US.

>> THERE'S A HIGH DEMAND FOR

HOUSING IN CURIOUS JOEL.

A PETITION WAS SEEKING

ANNEXATION OF 570 ADDITIONAL

ACRES.

>> WE NEED MORE ROOM.

THEY'RE JUST NOT GOING TO GIVE

US WHAT WE NEED.

>> THIS ANNEXATION NEEDS TO

STOP.

>> WE NEED TO PROTECT THE

SCHOOLS, NOT JUST FOR THE KIDS,

BUT HOME VALUES.

>> THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND

ANYTHING ABOUT OUR LIFE.

WE LIVE THE WORLD OF TODAY --

PEOPLE ARE AFRAID OF --

>> HAVE EMPATHY FOR YOUR WAY OF

LIFE.

WHAT ABOUT --

>> THE TENSIONS THAT ARE CAUSED

BY ALL THESE EVENTS TRANSLATE

INTO EXPLOSIVE ANTI-SEMITISM.

>> MONROE IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE

TO LIVE.

IT'S ALSO WHERE A CLASH OF

CIVILIZATIONS IS TAKING PLACE

MORE HERE THAN ANYWHERE ELSE IN

AMERICA.

>> I'M JOINED NOW BY THE FILM

PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR JESSE

SWEET.

JESSE, WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS".

>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE.

>> SO I JUST WANT TO ASK, HOW

DID YOU EVEN COME ACROSS THIS

STORY?

IN ALL TRANSPARENCY HERE, I HAVE

BEEN COVERING NEW YORK STATE FOR

A WHILE.

ALSO AS A RESIDENT OF THE HUDSON

VALLEY, I WAS VERY FAMILIAR WITH

THE STORY.

IT FELT LIKE A HYPER LOCAL THING

AND IF YOU WEREN'T IN THE MID

HUDSON REGION, YOU MIGHT NOT

HAVE KNOWN WHAT WAS GOING ON.

>> YEAH.

I'VE BEEN IN NEW YORK CITY 20

YEARS NOW.

I HADN'T HEARD ABOUT CURIOUS

JOEL BEFORE I STARTED MAKING

THIS DOCUMENTARY.

I FIRST GOT INTERESTED IN THE

TOPIC WHEN I MOVED TO CROWN

HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN, ABOUT 12

YEARS AGO.

I'M EASTERN EUROPEAN, JEWISH

AMERICAN.

ALL FOUR OF MY GRANDPARENTS WERE

BORN IN EASTERN EUROPE AND

EMIGRATED IN THE EARLY 20th

CENTURY.

THERE'S A LARGE COMMUNITY HERE,

AND I HAD MIXED EMOTIONS ABOUT

IT.

ON THE ONE HAND I FELT A

SOLIDARITY LIKE THESE ARE MY

PEOPLE.

WE SORT OF COME FROM THE SAME

VILLAGES AND HAVE SPLIT OFF.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I FELT LEAK I

DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THEM A LOT AS

A MORE REFORMED JEWISH PERSON, I

DIDN'T UNDERSTAND A LOT OF THE

CULTURE, GENDER, POLITICS, THEIR

FORM OF JUDAISM.

BEING A GOOD DOCUMENTARY

SOLDIER, I THOUGHT I WANT TO

BRING SOMEONE LIKE ME CURIOUS TO

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HASIDIC

CULTURE INTO IT.

I FIRST THOUGHT A GOOD ENTRY

POINT COULD BE PEOPLE WHO LEFT

THE COMMUNITY.

AFTER I SPENT A LITTLE TIME WITH

SOME OF THEM, I WAS MORE

INTERESTED IN THE PEOPLE WHO

STAYED.

THROUGH THE PEOPLE I INITIALLY

MET IN BROOKLYN, SOME OF WHOM

HAD LEFT, I STARTED LEARNING

ABOUT CURIOUS JOEL BECAUSE SOME

OF THEM LEFT CURIOUS JOEL AND IT

STRUCK ME AS A RICH MATERIAL FOR

A DOCUMENTARY BECAUSE IT HAS A

WAY TO EXPLORE HASIDIC IDENTITY

IN THE 21st CENTURY, IT'S A VERY

PURE FORM OF IT IN THAT IT'S ITS

OWN COMMUNITY, MORE ISOLATED.

EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE DOES

REVOLVE AROUND THEIR

INTERPRETATION OF WHAT IT MEANS

TO BE A HASIDIC JEWISH PERSON.

I INITIALLY WENT UP THERE

THINKING THAT WOULD BE A

GREAT -- WHAT'S IT MEAN TO BE A

HASIDICPERSON IN THIS DAY AND

AGE DOCUMENTARY.

AND THEN I SAW THE TENSION

BREWING -- NOT BREWING.

BY THE TIME I GOT THERE, IT WAS

OUT IN PLAIN SIGHT.

I REALIZED THAT COULD BE A GOOD

WAY TO EXPLORE SOME OF THE -- TO

GIVE A NARRATIVE DRIVE TO THE

FILM SO THAT THERE WOULD BE THIS

TICKING CLOCK OF WHAT'S GOING TO

HAPPEN AND THAT COULD SORT OF

BRING IN SOME OF THE ISSUES OF

IDENTITY, CULTURE, RELIGION.

THAT'S HOW I ENDED UP THERE.

>> YOU SORT OF TOUCHED ON IT

WHEN YOU EVEN COMPARED LIVING IN

NEW YORK CITY IN CROWN HEIGHTS

WHERE, AS YOU SAID, THE

LUBAVITCH COMMUNITY IS.

WHILE THEY ARE ALSO A COMMUNITY

WITHIN A LARGER COMMUNITY, YOU

HAVE THAT AS WELL WITH CURIOUS

JOEL EXCEPT THERE WAS

SIGNIFICANT TENSION.

SO I TRIED TO LAY IT OUT A

LITTLE BIT IN THE INTRO WITH THE

ISSUE OF LAND, WHICH IS REALLY

WHAT THIS CAME DOWN TO, WAS LAND

USE AND WHO WAS GOING TO BE ABLE

TO USE ADDITIONAL LAND OF A

COUPLE HUNDRED ACRES TO BUILD

MORE HOUSING, BUT THERE WAS A

REAL POINT OF TENSION BETWEEN

THE TOWN OF MONROE AND THE

VILLAGE OF CURIOUS JOEL.

>> YEAH.

AND I MEAN I THINK -- OBVIOUSLY

WE GET INTO THIS IN THE FILM.

WE SORT OF TEASE IT OUT THERE.

PART OF IT IS THE BACKSTORY THAT

I THINK YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND

WHICH IS CITY OF JOEL REFERS TO

JOEL TEITELBAUM WHO IS THE

REBBE, THERE ARE DIFFERENT SECT

IN THE HASIDIC COMMUNITY AND

THEY'RE NAMED AFTER THE VILLAGES

WHERE THEY WERE CREATED.

EACH HAS A REBBE WHICH IS THE

SPIRITUAL LEADER OF THAT

COMMUNITY.

MOST OF THE REBBES WERE KILLED

DURING THE HOLOCAUST.

JOEL TEITELBAUM WAS ONE OF THE

FEW TO SURVIVE.

IT WAS A REAL SOURCE OF PRIDE

THAT THERE WAS A REBBE WHO COULD

HELP REJUVENATE HASIDIC

PRACTICES IN THE UNITED STATES.

BRIER TO THAT, SOME -- MY

ANCESTORS WERE LIKE -- THERE WAS

AN INITIAL WAVE OF JEWISH PEOPLE

WHO EMIGRATED.

SOME WHO STAYED THOUGHT YOU

CAN'T BE JEWISH IN AMERICA,

THERE'S TOO MUCH CAPITALISM, YOU

GET SEDUCED BY THE BRIGHT LIGHTS

AND MONEY.

THERE WAS A RESISTANCE TO

COMING.

JOEL TEITELBAUM FELT LIKE AFTER

HE CREATED A COMMUNITY IN

BROOKLYN, WE NEED TO GO -- THAT

WAS TRUE, THAT WE SHOULD GO OUT

AND CREATE MORE OF LIKE AN OLD

WORLD TYPE COMMUNITY WHERE WE

CAN HAVE EVERYTHING REVOLVE

AROUND RELIGION AND NOT HAVE TO

WORRY ABOUT THE OUTSIDE

INFLUENCES OF DAILY LIFE AND

WHAT PEOPLE ARE EXPOSED TO ON

SIDEWALKS.

THEY HAD A HARD TIME FINDING

LAND.

THEY HAD LAND DEALS FALL THROUGH

WHEN PEOPLE FOUND OUT THEY WERE

HASIDIC.

THERE'S A CERTAIN -- WHEN THEY

WERE FIRST IN STATEN ISLAND AND

NEW JERSEY.

BEFORE THEY GET THERE, THERE'S A

CERTAIN SENSE THAT THEY WEREN'T

WANTED IN PLACES.

I THINK THEY VERY MUCH SAW IT AS

WE HAVE TO BE PROACTIVE AND

CREATE ENOUGH SPACE WHERE WE CAN

GROW.

I THINK THAT'S THEIR MIND --

OBVIOUSLY IT'S A COMPLICATED

GROUP, 20,000 PEOPLE AND 20,000

DIFFERENT OPINIONS.

ONE COMMON THING IS WE NEED TO

GET AHEAD OF CREATING A PLACE

WHERE WE CAN HAVE ENOUGH SPACE

TO CONTINUE TO GROW WHICH IS

PART OF OUR, YOU KNOW, BEING A

GOOD MEMBER OF THE SECT.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I FELT LIKE

THERE WERE PEOPLE WHO SAW THIS

GROUP COME IN IN THE 1970s AND

THERE WERE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE AT

FIRST WHO DIDN'T LOOK LIKE THEM,

DIDN'T TALK LIKE THEM.

IT FELT LIKE THERE'S SOME --

THIS IS NOT MY VIEW AND

CERTAINLY NOT THE VIEW OF OTHER

PEOPLE, SOME PEOPLE LIKE, THESE

PEOPLE AREN'T PART OF OUR

COMMUNITY AND THEY'RE TAKING IT

OVER.

THERE WAS I THINK A FEAR FROM

SOME PEOPLE IN MONROE THEIR WAY

OF LIFE WAS BEING ERODED BY

HAVING THIS FAST GROWING

COMMUNITY THAT ARE VERY

DIFFERENT FROM THEM.

THERE'S THIS KIND OF DEEP

PSYCHOLOGICAL ANXIETY BETWEEN

THE TWO GROUPS THAT I THINK, AS

YOU POINT OUT, BEFORE EVEN THE

ANNEXATION BEGINS, IS THERE AND

THEN THE ANNEXATION IS SORT OF A

FLASHPOINT FOR IT.

>> IT IS.

IT'S VERY INTERESTING BECAUSE,

AS YOU EXPLORE WHERE THESE TWO

GROUPS ARE COMING FROM -- FIRST

OF ALL, THE FILM TAKES, FROM

WHAT I CAN TELL, TOOK GREAT

PAINS TO NOT TAKE EITHER SIDE

BUT SIMPLY TO LAY OUT WHERE BOTH

GROUPS WERE COMING FROM.

BUT CONSIDERING THAT EVERYONE

LIVED THEORETICALLY WITHIN THE

SAME TOWN OR WITHIN THE SAME

AREA, THERE WAS VERY LITTLE

INTERACTION SO EVERYTHING SEEMED

TO BE RIFE WITH MISUNDERSTAND

DINGS OR MISINTERPRETATIONS.

IT SEEMED TO BE THE KIND OF

BREEDING GROUND TO CREATE THE

KIND OF TENSION THAT YOU

ULTIMATELY SEE AT THIS TOWN HALL

MEETING.

>> YEAH.

I THINK IT IS A CASE WHERE

THERE'S -- WITHIN THE HASIDIC

COMMUNITY UP THERE, AND I THINK

THIS IS WHERE ONE THING IS

DIFFERENT FROM BROOKLYN.

I THINK IT'S MORE INSULAR.

I THINK THE INS SUL LAYERITY OF

IT, IT GIVES THEM STRENGTH

BECAUSE THEY DO WANT TO KEEP OUT

ASPECTS OF CULTURE THAT THEY

DON'T AGREE WITH.

THERE'S A LOT OF PARTS OF

MAINSTREAM CULTURE -- AS A

PARENT, I'M LIKE, MY GOD, MY KID

IS EXPOSED TO THAT.

THEY THINK BY BANNING TOGETHER

AND CREATING A POCKET WHERE IT'S

A PRETTY HOMOGENEOUS POPULATION,

THAT THEY'RE GOING TO ONLY

EXPOSE THEMSELVES TO THE

RELIGIOUS TEACHINGS AND CULTURE

THAT THEY WANT THEIR CHILDREN TO

BE EXPOSED TO.

IT ALLOWS THEM TO REALLY THRIVE

IN A LOT OF WAYS.

IT'S ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING

COMMUNITIES IN THE UNITED

STATES.

I BELIEVE IT HAS THE HIGHEST

BIRTH RATE IN ONE OF THE

YOUNGEST POPULATIONS.

IT'S THRIVING IN A LOT OF WAYS.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT IS CUT

OFF FROM THEIR CLOSE NEIGHBORS.

SO I THINK THAT IS RIFE -- I

THINK IF THIS DISCUSSION ABOUT

ANNEXATION HAD BEEN WITH A

LITTLE MORE OPEN-HANDED WAY FROM

BOTH SIDES BEGAN, THEY COULD

HAVE NOT GONE TO THE WAR FOOTING

THEY DID.

BECAUSE THEY WERE -- YOU HAD

THIS INSULAR GROUP AND THE GROUP

IN MONROE, SOME OF WHO JUST

DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THEM.

SOME OF THEM MIGHT HAVE BEEN

BIASED AGAINST THEM, THAT IT IS

A SITUATION WHERE A SMALL

MISUNDERSTANDING INSTANTLY GOES

TO DEEP ESCALATION.

>> COMPLETELY, YES.

AND THE FILM DOES ALSO

ADDRESS -- THERE WERE

ACCUSATIONS THROUGHOUT THIS

DEBATE BEFORE THE TOWN CAME TO A

DECISION, AND THAT WAS --

ACCUSATIONS OF ANTI-SEMITISM, IN

THAT THERE WERE VOICES, VERY

UGLY VOICES COMING OUT OF THE

MONROE COMMUNITY AS WELL.

THAT IS ALSO ADDRESSED IN THE

FILM.

>> IT'S A COMPLICATED THING

BECAUSE THERE ARE CERTAIN VOICES

OF ANTI-SEMITISM.

I THINK THE HASIDIC COMMUNITY

HEARS THAT.

HOW CAN THEY NOT?

THEY'RE CONDITIONED TO REALIZE

THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO DON'T

LIKE JEWISH PEOPLE WHO ARE THEIR

NEIGHBORS.

IT BECOMES HARD TO DISTINGUISH,

ONCE THAT KIND OF -- THERE'S

SOME ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE DEBATE

IS HARD TO DISTINGUISH THERE'S

SOMEONE BEING ANTI-SEMITIC OR

ARE THEY CONCERNED WITH DENSITY

AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT AND

SOME OF THOSE THINGS.

SOME OF THOSE TERMS WOULD BE DOG

WHISTLES FOR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT

WANT TO BE ANTI-SEMITIC.

CERTAINLY I THINK THE MAIN

CHARACTERS WHO WE FOCUSED ON IN

THE OPPOSITION WERE NOT

ANTI-SEMITIC.

BUT THEIR LANGUAGE COULD

SOMETIMES GET CO-OPTED BY PEOPLE

WHO WERE ANTI-SEMITIC.

IT BECOMES A VERY -- WHEN YOU

HAVE TWO GROUPS WHO AREN'T

TALKING TO EACH OTHER TO BEGIN

WITH WITH HASIDIC PEOPLE,

CURIOUS JOEL AND THEIR

NEIGHBORS, WHEN THERE WAS

ANTI-SEMITISM, IT BECOMES EASY

TO THINK IT'S ALL ANTI-SEMITISM.

>> UNFORTUNATELY WE'VE COME TO

THE END OF OUR TIME.

I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS FILM

ENOUGH.

IT HAS, OF COURSE -- "CITY OF

JOEL" HAS AIRED ON PBS AND YOU

CAN STREAM IT ON AMAZON PRIME.

JESSE, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR

TELLING THIS INCREDIBLY

COMPLICATED NUANCED STORY WITH I

THINK RESPECT AND DIGNITY TO

BOTH SIDES.

>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>>> WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."

I'M JACK FORD.

TONIGHT WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE

OUR CONVERSATION WITH NEW

YORKER'S JILLANI COBB ABOUT HIS

DOCUMENTARY ON RACE AND POLICING

IN AMERICA.

IT'S CALLED "POLICING THE POLICE

2020."

IN IT HE EXAMINES THE QUESTION

OF WHY ACCOUNTABILITY IS SO HARD

TO COME BY WHEN IT COMES TO

POLICE.

IT ALSO LOOKS AT SOME WAYS THAT

THE CITY OF NEWARK HAS TACKLED

SOME OF THE MORE INTRACTABLE

PROBLEMS FACING ITS POLICE FORCE

OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS JILLANI

COBB, WELCOME TO YOU.

WE'RE DELIGHTED WE CAN CONTINUE

OUR CONVERSATION.

>> THANK YOU.

>> WE SPOKE LAST NIGHT ABOUT

MANY OF THE UNDERLYING ISSUES.

WE TALKED ABOUT WHY YOU HAD

ORIGINALLY GONE TO NEWARK SOME

YEARS AGO, WHY YOU WANTED TO GO

BACK TO SEE WHAT NEWARK HAS BEEN

ABLE TO DO SINCE THAT TIME.

SOME OF THOSE UNDERLYING ISSUES,

ACCOUNTABILITY, A POLICE

CULTURE.

THE EXPECTATIONS IN TERMS OF THE

COMMUNITY AND THE POLICE

DEPARTMENT.

SO LET'S START OFF THIS PART OF

THE CONVERSATION BY TALKING

ABOUT WHEN YOU WENT BACK TO

NEWARK.

WHEN YOU WENT, YOU RODE IN

POLICE CARS AND GOT A SENSE OF

WHAT GOES ON ON THE STREETS.

WHAT STRUCK YOU AS MOST

DIFFERENT FROM THEN TO NOW?

>> WELL, NOW I THINK IS A MUCH

MORE RECEPTIVE ATTITUDE AROUND

THE IDEA THAT THE POLICE

DEPARTMENT HAS TO CHANGE.

I THINK THAT THE DEPARTMENT

ITSELF SEEMS TO HAVE KIND OF

COME AROUND TO SAYING THAT WE'VE

DONE SOME THINGS THAT WE'VE

OPERATED IN WAYS THAT WEREN'T

THE BEST WAY AND THE MOST

EFFICIENT WAY OF POLICING THIS

PARTICULAR COMMUNITY.

IN ADDITION, THERE ARE THE

BEGINNINGS OF A MORE DIVERSE SET

OF APPROACHES TO PUBLIC SAFETY

BEYOND JUST DOING POLICING.

>> LET ME GET TO THAT IN A FEW

MINUTES.

IT'S FASCINATING TO SEE WHAT'S

HAPPENING THERE.

TO SET THE STAGE FOR THE

CONVERSATION, ONE OF THE THINGS

YOU HEAR ALMOST REGULARLY NOW,

WHEN PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT THIS

ISSUE AND LOOKING IN TERMS OF

REMEDIES, YOU SEE AND HEAR THE

TERM DEFUNDING THE POLICE.

WHAT DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT TERM

TO MEAN?

>> IT MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS,

BUT GENERALLY, THE MOST

CONSENSUS DEFINITION THAT I'VE

HEARD IS THAT IT WOULD ENTAIL

USING REVENUE, TAKING MONEY AWAY

FROM POLICE DEPARTMENT BUDGETS

AND USING THAT REVENUE TO FUND

DIFFERENT KINDS OF ORGANIZATIONS

THAT WILL RESPOND TO COMMUNITY

NEEDS IN PLACE OF SIMPLY USING

THE POLICE.

>> GENERALLY SPEAKING,

CONVERSATIONS YOU'VE HEARD,

THERE ARE SOME SAYING DEFUND THE

POLICE MEANING ABOLISH THE

POLICE.

ARE YOU SEEING THAT AS BEING A

VIABLE ALTERNATIVE OR SUGGESTION

GIVING WHAT YOU'VE SEEN IN TERMS

OF YOUR REPORTING?

>> JUST IN TERMS OF MY

REPORTING, WE TALKED TO A LOT OF

DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN NEWARK.

WE TALKED TO COMMUNITY MEMBERS,

TALKED TO PEOPLE ON THE POLICE

FORCE, WE TALKED TO PEOPLE IN

LEADERSHIP, WE TALKED WITH THE

MAYOR, A WHOLE SPECTRUM OF

PEOPLE.

WE DID NOT FIND A GREAT DEAL OF

SUPPORT FOR ABOLISHING THE

POLICE.

WHAT WE DID FIND WAS A PRETTY

SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF SUPPORT

FOR DEFUNDING, MEANING, IF

YOU'RE GOING TO OFF-LOAD THINGS

IN THE PURVIEW OF POLICE TO

OTHER HANDS-ON ORGANIZATIONS.

JUST AS A QUICK NOTE, THE FIRST

TIME I EVER HEARD THE IDEA

ASSOCIATED WITH WHAT'S BECOME

THE DEFUND THE POLICE MOVEMENT,

THE FIRST TIME I HEARD THOSE

IDEAS IT CAME FROM POLICE

OFFICERS.

>> INTERESTING.

THE POLICE OFFICERS THEMSELVES

ARE SAYING -- IN WHAT SENSE?

ARE THEY SAYING, LOOK, THERE ARE

THINGS WE'RE GOOD AT AND WE

SHOULD DO BUT THERE ARE THINGS

THAT OTHER PEOPLE SHOULD BE

DOING WHO ARE GOOD AT IT?

>> EXACTLY.

TO A LARGE PART, PEOPLE ARE

RESPONDING TO THE LANGUAGE

AROUND IT.

THIS IS NOT A NEW IDEA.

IF YOU GO BACK TO THE OLD KERNER

COMMISSION REPORT IN 1968 ABOUT

THE CIVIL DISTURBANCES OF 1967.

THEY SUGGEST SOMETHING THAT'S

BASICALLY THE SAME THING SAYING

IF YOU USE POLICE FOR EVERY

SOCIAL PROBLEM YOU'RE INEVITABLY

GOING TO CREATE FRICTION BETWEEN

COMMUNITIES AND POLICE.

THAT'S NOT WHAT POLICE

DEPARTMENTS ARE CREATED FOR.

COPS KNOW THAT.

LOTS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE COMMUNITY

MEMBERS KNOW THAT.

IT'S AN IDEA THAT IS PROBABLY

LESS RADICAL IN PRACTICE THAN IT

SEEMS IN RHETORIC.

>> ONCE AGAIN WE'RE TALKING WITH

JILLANI COBB ABOUT HIS FRONT

LINE DOCUMENTARY CALLED

"POLICING THE POLICE 2020."

GO TO METROFOCUS.ORG AND YOU CAN

FIND WHEN AND WHERE YOU CAN SEE

THAT.

LET'S FOCUS NOW ON NEWARK.

YOU GO BACK.

NEWARK HAS -- LET ME ASK YOU,

ACTUALLY, TO CHARACTERIZE IT

RATHER THAN ME.

WHAT KIND OF PROGRESS HAVE THEY

MADE, AND WHAT SORT OF THINGS IN

PARTICULAR CAN YOU POINT TO?

>> ONE OF THE THINGS THAT THE

FEDERAL MONITOR SAID, A MAN BY

THE NAME OF PETER HARVEY WHO IS

CHARGED WITH OVERSEEING THE

REFORMS IN NEWARK, ONE OF THE

THINGS HE SAID WAS HE THOUGHT

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS REALLY

NEEDED TO KNOW THE LAW.

>> THAT SEEMS INTERESTING.

YOU WOULD THINK THAT THAT WOULD

BE FOUNDATIONAL.

>> IN MANY INSTANCES THEY HAVE

NOT.

THEY'VE HAD INTENSIVE TRAINING

ABOUT WHAT OFFICERS ARE ALLOWED

TO DO BY LAW AND WHAT THEY'RE

NOT ALLOWED TO DO BY LAW.

IN ADDITION, THEY'VE GOTTEN NEW

POLICIES AROUND TREATING MEMBERS

OF THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY WITH

RESPECT AND RECOGNIZING THEIR

RIGHTS AND SO ON, JUST SOME

PROACTIVE KINDS OF THINGS.

ONE OF THE MORE INNOVATIVE

THINGS, IN ADDITION, THE NEWARK

COMMUNITY HAS A GROUP, THE

NEWARK COMMUNITY STREET TEAM

WHICH DOES ESSENTIALLY

DIPLOMATIC WORK IN HIGH-VIOLENCE

COMMUNITIES TRYING TO DEESCALATE

CONFLICTS BEFORE THEY RISE TO

THE LEVEL OF NEEDING THE POLICE

TO BE INVOLVED.

>> WHAT ABOUT THE NOTION OF MORE

PEOPLE OF COLOR BEING PART OF

POLICE DEPARTMENTS?

I THINK IN SOME WAYS, THAT'S

BEEN TOSSED OUT, BUT IT MAY BE

TOO SIMPLISTIC A SOLUTION.

IT GOES BACK TO THE CULTURE THAT

YOU AND I TALKED ABOUT

PREVIOUSLY.

YOU LOOK AT THE POLICE OFFICERS

SURROUNDING GEORGE FLOYD, THERE

WERE OFFICERS OF COLOR THERE AND

STILL NOBODY STEPPED UP AND SAID

THIS ISN'T RIGHT, WE HAVE TO

STOP THIS.

HOW DOES THIS PLAY INTO, DO YOU

THINK, THE REMEDY SCHEME, IF YOU

WILL?

>> IF YOU GO BACK TO 1967, THE

REPORT THAT CAME OUT OF THE

UPRISINGS THERE SAID THEY NEEDED

TO DEFENSIVE VEARS PHI THEIR

POLICE DEPARTMENT.

THE DEPARTMENT NOW IS MAJORITY

PEOPLE OF COLOR.

I THINK THERE'S A VALUE TO THAT,

BUT IT IS NOT A PANACEA.

YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE POLICE

WHO ARE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE

COMMUNITIES, BUT CERTAINLY YOU

CAN STILL HAVE THOSE KINDS OF

PROBLEMS, AS WE SAW IN 2014.

YOU STILL HAD THOSE KINDS OF

PROBLEMS WHILE EVEN HAVING A

DIVERSE POLICE FORCE.

>> WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT

POLICE FORCE, YOU'RE TALKING

LOCAL FORCES.

YOU HAVE LOCAL COMMUNITIES, THE

STET LEVEL AND FEDERAL LEVEL.

WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING AT NEWARK,

FOR INSTANCE, YOU'RE LOOKING AT

WHAT THE PEOPLE IN NEWARK, THE

LEADERS, THE MAYOR, WHAT THEY

HAVE DONE IN THE LAST FEW YEARS.

WHAT ABOUT AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL

IN TERMS OF EITHER MONEY OR

GUIDANCE OR DIRECTION, ARE WE

SEEING WHAT WE NEED TO SEE IN

TERMS OF LEADERSHIP FROM THE

FEDERAL LEVEL?

>> UNFORTUNATELY NOT RIGHT NOW.

THE DOJ HAS THE CAPACITY TO

CONDUCT OVERSIGHT OVER POLICE

DEPARTMENTS.

NOW, IT'S A DROP IN THE BUCKET

KIND OF SITUATION.

THERE ARE 18,000 POLICE

DEPARTMENTS IN THE COUNTRY.

THE DOJ DOESN'T HAVE THE

RESOURCES TO OVERSEE ALL OF

THEM, BUT THE MOST TROUBLED, THE

MOST PROBLEMATIC ONES, THEY CAN

STEP IN AND CONDUCT OVERSIGHT IN

THOSE INSTANCES.

BUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE

LAST FOUR YEARS HAS BEEN THAT

THE DOJ HAS SYSTEMATICALLY

STEPPED AWAY FROM OVERSIGHT AND

SAID THEY DON'T WANT TO

INTERFERE WITH POLICE MATTERS

AND EVEN DISMISSING THE IDEA AS

YOU COULD HAVE SUCH A THING AS A

CHRONICALLY PROBLEMATIC POLICE

DEPARTMENT.

WE HAVEN'T SEEN A GREAT DEAL OF

REFORMED LEADERSHIP ON THAT

LEVEL.

>> HOW ABOUT THE IDEA OF -- YOU

USED THE TERM DIPLOMACY, POLICE

OFFICERS, POLICE DEPARTMENTS,

NEWARK.

I KNOW YOU STUDIED THIS.

THE CAMDEN POLICE DEPARTMENT IN

THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, THE

CAMDEN POLICE DEPARTMENT

BASICALLY WENT AWAY AND REBUILT

ITSELF FROM ZRACH A NUMBER OF

YEARS AGO.

ONE OF THE THINGS I WAS STRUCK

BY IS AS PART OF YOUR FIRST DAY

ON THE JOB AS A POLICE OFFICERS,

PART OF WHAT YOU DO IS YOU GO

KNOCK ON DOORS AND INTRODUCE

YOURSELVES TO THE RESIDENTS AND

THE COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND YOU

SAY, LOOK, WE'RE HERE TO PROTECT

AND SERVE.

HOW ABOUT THAT, THAT IDEA OF

DIPLOMACY.

HOW SIGNIFICANT DO YOU THINK

THAT COULD BE?

>> I THINK THAT'S HUGE.

I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS YOU

HEAR WHEN YOU TALK TO PEOPLE IN

THE COMMUNITY IS A PERVASIVE

SENSE THAT THEY HAVE NOT BEEN

TREATED WITH RESPECT.

I THINK A GOOD DEAL OF FRICTION

THAT ARISES COMES IN THE COURSE

OF DAY-TO-DAY INTERACTION.

I DON'T EVEN HEAR THAT SIMPLY

FROM COMMUNITY MEMBERS.

I HEARD THAT FROM POLICE

OFFICERS WHO KIND OF OFF THE

RECORD SAY, YEAH, I KNOW WE'RE

GOING ABOUT THINGS IN A WAY THAT

MAKES PEOPLE HATE US.

WE'RE TRYING TO GET CRIME DOWN

AND MAYBE THIS IS NOT THE BEST

WAY TO DO IT.

I THINK THAT'S A REALLY BIG PART

OF IT.

>> ONE OF THE THINGS -- I'VE GOT

ABOUT A MINUTE AND A HALF LEFT

WITH YOU.

BUT WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING FOR

SOLUTIONS HERE -- AND I'VE HEARD

POLICE OFFICERS SAY THIS,

SAYING, LOOK, WE NEED TO MAKE

CHANGE, WE RECOGNIZE WE NEED TO

MAKE CHANGE.

THEY ALSO POINT TO THE FACT THAT

VIDEOS, AS YOU MENTIONED IN OUR

CONVERSATION YESTERDAY, ARE

CAPTURING THINGS THAT DIDN'T GET

CAPTURED IN THE PAST, BUT THE

POLICE SAY THEY'RE NOT CAPTURING

ALL THE GOOD THINGS THAT POLICE

OFFICERS WILL DO ON THE STREET

AS A COUNTERBALANCE, IF YOU

WILL, OR JUST A BETTER PICTURE,

A MORE COMPREHENSIVE PICTURE.

HOW ABOUT THAT?

>> SURE.

I THINK WE NEED TO HAVE AS

COMPREHENSIVE A RELATIONSHIP

WITH THE POLICE, DEPICTION OF

POLICE AS POSSIBLE.

SO WE HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF

THE WHOLE PICTURE.

THAT SAID, WE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO

OFFSET REALLY EGREGIOUSLY BAD

BEHAVIOR FROM GOOD BEHAVIOR.

WE SHOULD SIMPLY HAVE A BEHAVIOR

THAT MEETS THE BASELINE FOR A

MINIMUM STANDARD AND BEHAVIOR

THAT EXCEEDS THAT AS REALLY GOOD

OR REALLY GREAT.

>> SO THE NOTION OF LET'S MAKE

SURE WE TRUMPET THE GOOD THINGS

THAT ARE BEING DONE, BUT WE

DON'T HAVE TO DO IT BY PUTTING

IT IN A SCALE.

>> EXACTLY.

>> -- THE TERRIBLE THINGS THAT

ARE TAKING PLACE.

LITERALLY I HAVE 30 SECONDS.

ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC THAT NOW

MIGHT BE THE TIME FOR CHANGE?

>> I BELIEVE SO.

I THINK IT'S POSSIBLE.

NOTHING IS GUARANTEED.

BASED ON WHAT I SAW IN NEWARK, I

DO THINK IT IS AT LEAST

POSSIBLE.

>> ONCE AGAIN FRONT LINE

DOCUMENTARY IS TITLED "POLICING

THE POLICE 2020."

OUR GUEST JILLANI COBB, NEW

YORKER HISTORIAN AND WRITER.

WONDERFUL WORK FOLLOWING UP FROM

THE ONE 40 YEARS AGO.

WE APPRECIATE YOU TAKING TIME TO

TALK WITH US.

HOPEFULLY WE'LL GET A CHANCE TO

CHAT MORE AS WE MOVE FORWARD TO

SEE WHAT SORT OF PROGRESS WE'RE

MAKING.

AGAIN OUR THANKS.

TAKE CARE.

>> TAKE CARE.

>>>"METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE

BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMMING 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.