PBS NewsHour


America in Black and Blue 2020: PBS NewsHour Weekend Special

Alison Stewart hosts "AMERICA IN BLACK AND BLUE 2020" - a PBS NewsHour Weekend hour-long special report on race and policing in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. His death has sparked demonstrations worldwide and raises the question: will this time be different?

AIRED: June 15, 2020 | 0:56:25


>> I'm Alison Stewart coming to

you from the Schomburg Center

for Research and Black Culture

in Harlem, New York City, for a

"PBS NewsHour Weekend" special

"America in Black and Blue


>> "PBS NewsHour Weekend" is

made possible by...

>> Good evening.

Thank you for joining us.

It was not quite four years ago

that we brought you a

"NewsHour Weekend"

special called

"America in Black and Blue."

At the time the country was

reeling from the death of an

African-American man in

Minneapolis, Philando Castille,

whose killing by a police

officer was caught by his

girlfriend on video and a police

dashboard camera.

[ Gunfire ]

>> You just killed my boyfriend!

>> That was after another black

man, Jamar Clark, was killed by

the Minneapolis P.D.

Local and national protests


>> Everybody who knew Philando

knew that he was a good man.

>> Hands up, don't shoot!

Hands up, don't shoot!

Hands up, don't shoot!

>> Now a Minneapolis police

officer has been charged with

murder for killing another

African-American man,

George Floyd.

Floyd's life was taken just

miles from where

Philando Castille's was.

A few weeks ago, George Floyd's

killing felt like a tragic

repeat of history.

But America and the world seems

to have said enough.

There's a growing consensus or

at least a hope that this time

it's different.

I'm joined now by a Minnesotan

who's been working on issues of

race and policing for years.

In fact, she was featured in our

"America in Black and Blue"

special back in 2016, speaking

out against the overenforcement

of very minor crimes such as

aggressive panhandling.

>> It does not actually benefit

public safety to have such petty

low-level offenses on the books.

And it's a huge waste of

taxpayer dollars and resources.

>> Nekima Levy Armstrong is a

lawyer, a professor, an ordained

minister, the former head of the

Minneapolis NAACP, and a former

candidate for mayor of that


She's also a veteran of many

Black Lives Matter protests.

What feels different to you this

time, if anything?

>> Well, one of the things that

feels different is the level of

awareness in the Twin Cities and

around the nation and even

around the world.

We already see departments that

are now eliminating the use of

chokeholds, that are pushing

forward in terms of reforms.

It has never happened this

rapidly before.

But the changes are not

happening in a vacuum.

And they are the result of the

power of the people, continuing

to take to the streets and

advocate for justice.

>> The Minneapolis City Council

says it wants to disband the

current police department.

What would you like to see in

its place?

>> A different system.

And that should be a system that

includes having mental health

responders to 911 calls instead

of law enforcement.

That should be a system that

includes social services and

other resources that our

community needs and not

continuing to spend so much of

our budget on law enforcement.

So I would like to see that, but

I would also like to see a

collaborative process and not,

you know, a handful of people

speaking on behalf of all of

Minneapolis when they haven't

done the boots on the ground

work to engage us as a


>> Where do you stand on reform?

There are some people that say

take the small wins now, make

the changes you can make in the

moment, that that's worthwhile,

instead of waiting for how long

it might take to defund the

police or abolish police.

>> Absolutely.

These changes could take one to

two years, assuming that there's

enough political will for

something like defunding the

police or dismantling the police

to take place.

In the meantime, we can't wait

for those things to happen to be

able to institute reforms that

are easy for local departments

to do.

So, for example, we know that

there are killer cops on our

police force.

We know there are cops with a

history of excessive force.

Those cops should be removed

from the force immediately.

Those cops have been a liability

for the city.

They've been a liability for

residents who live here.

They have made us feel unsafe,

and they have traditionally been

protected by the city of


So we want to see new standards

in place for police officers who

are currently on the force.

We want to see a removal of

militarized weapons and a ban of

the use of chemical weapons

against civilians who are out

there protesting.

We've been shot with tear gas

and rubber bullets since the

protesting began in the wake of

George Floyd's death, and that

was an excessive police response

when the root of us going out

there and protesting is police


And we want to see radical

shifts begin to happen


>> Nekima, what's your response

to the governor of Minnesota

saying he endorses sweeping

police reforms?

>> I would say it's about time

that the governor is stepping up

to the plate.

What we have proposed is a

completely independent body to

investigate deaths at the hands

of law enforcement officers, the

establishment of an office that

includes independent special

prosecutors, that includes

civilian oversight, that

includes credible investigative

teams who will rigorously

investigate these types of

issues, and will report back to

the public on their findings.

>> Nekima Levy Armstrong, thank

you for joining us.

>> Thank you for having me.

[ Crowd chanting "Black lives

matter" ]

The protest movement has been

massive, taking place not only

across America, but across

Europe and Africa,

South America, Australia, and

other parts of the Pacific.

>> We want change!

We want change!

Enough is enough!

Enough is enough!

Black lives matter!

Black lives matter!

I can't breathe!

I can't breathe!

Hands up, don't shoot!

What do we want?


When do we want it?


What do we want?


When do we want it?


>> And by some measures, it has

been successful.

California legislators have

proposed a measure to ban the

use of chokeholds by police.

On Friday, New York governor

Andrew Cuomo signed a series of

bills banning chokeholds and

repealing a law that kept police

personnel records, including

disciplinary measures, secret.

And Minneapolis is attempting to

move funds away from the police

department and dramatically

redesign the city's police


The protesters are asking for

far more, not simply reform, but

wholesale change to police

practices and the end of

systemic racism in America.

What are the prospects of that?

I asked that question of author

and cultural critic Roxanne Gay,

who wrote earlier this month in

The New York Times...

Roxanne, thanks for being with


So what do you think it is about

the call for equity and equality

this time that is different?

A lot of people are saying it's


>> Yes.

Actually I just wrote a piece

trying to think through what is

happening in this moment.

And I don't know.

I really can't say because the

previous murders of black people

by police officers were equally

as brutal.

And so I don't know why this one

pushed people over the edge, but

I think it's the timing.

We don't have the distraction of


We don't have the distraction of


We don't have work.

So we have a lot of time to sit

and contemplate the world.

>> I think often the

Chris Cooper video is left out

of this conversation.

The video of the birder in

Central Park that happened hours

before George Floyd's video, his

death, his murder, because I

think it really crystallized for

people how it can happen.

>> Sir, I'm asking you to stop.

>> Please don't come close to


>> Sir, I'm asking you to stop

recording me.

>> Please don't come close to


>> Please shut your phone off.

>> Please don't come close to


>> I'm calling the cops.

>> Please call the cops.

Please call the cops.

>> I'm going to tell them

there's an African-American man

threatening my life.

>> Please tell them whatever you


>> There is an African-American


I am in Central Park.

He is recording me and

threatening myself and my dog.

>> You know, I think that video

was haunting because we

understood how weaponized police

have become and how willing

white women are to weaponize the

police when they are mildly


And to know that that phone call

that she made was potentially

lethal also illuminates just how

extensive this problem is.

Like, every black person

immediately knew what was at

stake with that phone call.

>> You held a Q&A,

New York Times Q&A recently

where people were asking you all

kinds of questions for about an

hour and a half.

What's on people's minds as

they're trying to process this?

>> The main question on people's

minds is, how do we make sure

that this moment is more than a


How do we make sure that this is

the last time that we wonder, is

this going to be what it takes?

How do we sustain the energy?

And unfortunately, people

fatigue very easily when it

comes to doing the right thing

because we're already starting

to see white people who are

saying that, you know, it's been

a lot to have to think about

racism for three weeks.

And they're ready for the

conversation to move on.

But the conversation is just


>> One of the things that people

have been heartened by is the

outpouring of support from

members of the white community

and people acknowledging their

privilege or recognizing it for

the first time in some cases.

But there's this issue around

performative anti-racism.

Congressmen wearing kente


Should we call it out or should

we just applaud people for even


>> I think it's a step in the

right direction, however, a lot

of the people who are performing

anti-racism have not cleaned up

their houses first.

And so I think we should call

those people out.

When your company puts out a

really highly crafted

anti-racism message and you make

a $100 million donation to

anti-racist efforts, that's well

and good.

But when you don't have a single

black executive in the C suite,

and you don't have many black

board members and your black

employees are miserable?

Then that statement truly is a

performance and you're doing it

because you recognize that your

brand integrity will best be

supported by making this


And right now we're seeing a lot

of corporations fall in line.

They have not said a single word

about black lives mattering

this entire time.

And so they realize this is the

moment where they have to at

least acknowledge that black

lives matter.

>> Sometimes the media gets in a

certain groove or certain

narrative and will not shift out

of it.

What is a narrative that you

think needs to be abandoned and

what is a narrative you think

needs to be explored?

>> The key narrative I think

that needs to be abandoned is

this obsession with protests and

protests versus riots.

We see a lot of work being put

on the word "peaceful" for some

of the protests that are

happening, as if -- if we just

march calmly and quietly, like

good black people, that racism

will suddenly end.

Looting is wrong.

We all know it.

But it's such a fraction of

what's actually going on, but

it's getting a disproportionate

amount of media coverage, and so

I would love to see that change.

>> Roxanne Gay, thank you so

much for spending time with us.

>> Absolutely, thank you,


>> In our 2016 special, we

brought you a story from Newark,

New Jersey, a city with policing

problems so dire that it was and

still is under a federal consent


It was reported by New Jersey

public television's

Michael Hill, who grew up in


>> No justice, no peace!

No justice, no peace!

>> A protest in Newark against

police brutality is nothing new.

49 years ago this week,

New Jersey's most populated city

burned in rebellion.

Martial law was imposed and

indelibly stained the city and

those who lived through it, as I

did in New York's North Ward as

an 8-year-old boy.

I remember during that time my

mother repeatedly warning us not

to look out the window for fear

of being shot, but I managed to

sneak a peek or two from the

second floor window.

And by looking out, I could see

military vehicles and troops

with big guns rolling down

Fourth Street.

Barbara King remembers the fear

she had during the riots.

She says little has changed.

>> We're still dying.

But thank God people are still


>> Four years later, people are

still struggling as Michael Hill


>> In 2014, a U.S. Department of

Justice investigation revealed a

pattern of Newark police

division officers engaging in

constitutional violations, and

it deemed the Internal Affairs

unit unable to hold them


The NPD has been under federal

supervision since 2016.

Today the NPD is in the midst of

a reform effort that can boast

some success.

So it was surprising to some in

May of this year when this video

was posted to Facebook.

>> Put your [bleep] hands behind

your back.

>> Now more cops coming.


>> Stop doing that!

>> In the video a man comes face

to face with officers.

A friend pulls him away.

Officers follow.

One pushes the man.

The man shouts profanities as he

and the officers come face to

face again.

No de-escalation as the new

police training encourages.

Watch this.

[ Indistinct shouting ]

>> [Bleep]

Straight up.

>> Oh!

>> The police union president

blamed the man for escalating

the confrontation and he defends

the punch.

>> There's nothing in any use of

force continuum, anybody's

department policy on use of

force that says you can't punch

a person in a certain place.

>> Amol Sinha, executive

director of the state ACLU, says

the officer crossed the line.

>> People have a constitutional

right to curse at police, and

the solution there shouldn't be

to use force against them.

>> The Essex County prosecutor

is investigating the encounter.

Meanwhile, accountability

advocates such as Larry Hamm say

they're glad incidents like this

one aren't so common anymore.

>> We still have some police

brutality cases, but nowhere at

the level it was before the

Justice Department came in.

>> The mayor of Newark is

Ras Baraka.

He's the son of noted writer and

civil rights advocate

Amiri Baraka.

In 2014, before he was elected,

Ras Baraka was himself a

protester, demanding better


Now he's a big part of that


>> We have come a long way,

fighting those things in our


>> Newark residents say they

notice a change.

This is 26-year-old

Chiron Sillems.

>> Police, you got to respect

them right now.

>> Sillems says interactions

with police are better.

He credits city leadership.

>> Our mayor, we got to respect

Ras Baraka.

He's making a big difference

right now.

>> Former New Jersey attorney

general Peter Harvey leads the

federal courts team monitoring

the overhaul of the division,

from use of force training to

use of body cameras.

>> This department today is

miles ahead of where it was when

we began this consent decree


Frankly, it's miles ahead of

where it was when the Department

of Justice released its report.

>> Police say citizen complaints

and civil judgment payouts have


They post complaint descriptions

and disciplinary actions online.

Now, officers and supervisors

file excessive force complaints

against other officers,

something almost unheard of in

most police departments.

>> Today, unlike then, we have a

number of complaints that are

initiated by the department, by

the department itself.

And then officers are

disciplined today for those

types of complaints, which was

not happening at all back then.

>> What's happening in Newark

exemplifies how the force

changed, says the independent

federal monitor Peter Harvey.

>> It is very difficult, given

the strength of many police

unions, to muster that kind of

political will among city

councils and a mayor.

It's very difficult.

But a consent decree, a court

order, can require it.

>> The consent decree mandates

civilian oversight of the Newark

police division.

The city came up with a civilian

complaint review board, but in

four years it has not heard a

single case because the local

police union is challenging it

in court.

And the case has gone all the

way to the state's

Supreme Court.

Among the union's claims in its

virtual state Supreme Court

hearing, Newark illegally gave

the board subpoena powers.

>> I'd submit the ordinance as

written is quite simply unlawful

and unenforceable.

>> The state Supreme Court is

expected to rule any day.

Mayor Baraka hopes

George Floyd's killing and

coast-to-coast calls for change

will influence the New Jersey

Supreme Court's decision.

At this rally he urged

protesters to send the court the

George Floyd video.

>> Send the video of Floyd on

his stomach, saying, "I can't

breathe, they're gonna kill me."

Send that video, and hopefully

they have a conscience to vote

for a civilian complaint review

board because the police can't

police themselves!

>> In the summer of 1967, Newark

residents rebelled against the

racism, the poverty, the

unaccountable policing they had

experienced for years.

It began when two white police

officers beat up cabbie

John Smith and took him to the

17th Avenue precinct.

Witnesses say police in riot

gear charged a peaceful

demonstration outside, pushing

reform and accountability

demanding residents and

protesters over the edge.

Five days of rioting followed

years of cries for accountable


The rebellion ravaged retail and

residential neighborhoods.

This is Springfield Avenue today

in the Central Ward.

This three-story house is the

only structure on this block at

16th Street and

Springfield Avenue here in


It and the abandoned field

around it serve as symbols

of just how challenging it is to

attract investment to rebuild in

a place like Newark, a place

that burned 53 years ago in the

'67 rebellion.

There are many more like this.

And because of those facts, for

the generation that lived

through that period, this is a

stark reminder.

>> When the rebellion exploded,

my family, we literally watched

things happen from my second

floor porch.

>> Larry Hamm took us to another

neighborhood, back to his old

neighborhood, with just one

building left on the block.

The dry cleaners where his

mother had worked is now a


Hamm began organizing protests

at 17.

As the chairman of the People's

Organization for Progress, he

organized this year's May 30th

protest while other cities were


His march placed the mayor

behind the lead banner and

delivered a message to the


>> I don't think people want to

see Newark burned down again.

That's pretty clear to me when I

talk to people.

You know, that's why we're so

glad when we had that

demonstration, according to

The New York Times of 12,000

people on May 30th.

It turned out without incident,

without vandalism, without


And the narrative the next day

was exactly what we wanted.

Thousands gathered to demand

justice for George Floyd.

>> Statistics show 25% of the

calls to Newark police are


So in answering one national

protest demand, Newark plans to

shift 5% or more than

$11 million from the public

safety budget to bolster

community programs such as this

one, training police and others

in the community about

trauma-informed responses to


>> I see a real gap in

understanding the use of trauma

as a frame of analysis for

getting past this us versus them

with police and community.

I think that by understanding

trauma on both sides,

transformation is possible.

>> The reappropriation would

build on the police department

hiring three social workers in

2016 and expand the city

partnering with organizations

like the Newark Community Street


It does conflict resolution and

much more, such as holding

public safety roundtables.

>> It's essentially about

holding law enforcement, elected

officials, those who get funding

to provide services in our

community, accountable.

We're about putting the "public"

back into public safety.

>> The Street Team is a member

of the Peace Initiative that the

mayor deployed in the recent

Justice for George Floyd march.

The Baraka administration

insisted police keep a low

profile, no battle line of

officers in riot gear, no repeat

of '67.

Time may answer the question for

Newark and the nation, is this a

moment or a movement?

>> Federal consent decrees like

the one in place in Newark came

into being following the beating

of Rodney King at the hands of

Los Angeles police officers.

It was a progressive part of the

1994 crime bill, but consent

decrees and federal

investigations into policing

practices have been severely

curtailed by the Trump


But what about local police

departments themselves?

What can they do to make a


A new documentary called

"Women in Blue," which will run

on the PBS series

"Independent Lens" later this

year offers a clue.

More people of color and women

on the force, people like the

Minneapolis P.D. sergeant

Alice White.

>> I got assigned to become a

sergeant in the 4th Precinct

for a department that has a

total of six black female


It's important for the black

community to see women who look

like me in this role.

I honestly hope that seeing me

helps them feel like whatever's

going to happen is legitimate

because they trust me.

It's the first time I put this

shirt on with the stripes, and

it looks different.

[ Chuckles ]

The 4th Precinct is an amazing


It's gotten a bad rap, I think,

because it has the highest

percentage of violent crime in

the city.

Lots of domestics.

Lots of shootings.

But there's still a lot of

community in the 4th Precinct.

And that's North Point, a

community health center.

I grew up riding my bike up and

down Plymouth.

This is Plymouth Avenue.

And when I grew up, we called it

"the ave."

This is the 1600 block of


And this is the block that the

Jamar Clark shooting occurred.

To me, that shooting was just as

big as the Rodney King beating.

Like, Minneapolis was just one

shooting away from a riot.




[ Police radio chatter ]


>> 405 traffic.

[ Siren chirps ]

[ Police radio chatter ]

>> Hi.

>> Hi.

>> Do you know why I'm stopping


>> No.

>> You can calm down.

I see you're shaking.

Just relax.

Relax, it's all good.

You should have waited, let that

car go straight, and then you

made your left-hand turn.

That's what alerted me to you,


>> Okay.

>> Alright.

Do you have a valid driver's


>> I don't.

>> Okay.

>> But I was just dropping a

friend off, and I was like,

"Okay, fine."

>> So that's why you're nervous.

>> Yes.

>> Okay.

So I'm not going to take you to

jail for not having a valid

driver's license.

That's for sure, okay?

Do you have any warrants or


>> I don't have any warrants.

>> Anything in the vehicle that

I should be concerned about?

Okay, alright.

I'll be right back with you,



I'm not going to give you a

ticket for the driving after


I can't allow you to drive this

vehicle, though, so you're going

to have to have someone come

pick it up.

I'm not going to tow it either,


Have a better day.

>> Yep.

>> Alright.

When I walked up to that guy, he

was obviously shaking.

I know that fear.

Your heart starts racing.

Even as a police sergeant, I

still know what it's like to

feel nervous when the police get

behind me.

I just tell people don't be


I don't want to add to the


>> I spoke about that film

excerpt and more with a former

police officer who rose to

become the chief of police in

Orlando, Florida, and now serves

that state in Congress,

Representative Val Demings.

Representative Demings, what in

that excerpt speaks to you?

>> I don't know the sergeant, I

never met her, but believe me,

as I watched her, from putting

on her uniform and looking at

the shoes that she wears on her

days off versus what she wears

as a uniform, I have never met

her, but I know her.

And I know just the tremendous

amount of pressure, if you will.

The pressure to really be the

person who does exactly what she

did on the street.

I think women are just so good

at understanding that you cannot

arrest your way out of every


She could have made that arrest

because driving without a valid

driver's license is an

arrestable offense.

But why would you do that?

And her ability to talk to him,

her ability to just calm him

down initially I think was so

important and is so important.

She treated him like I think she

would treat her own son or

another member of her family.

And it starts with how you

communicate with people.

>> How do you change cultures in

police departments?

>> It goes back to who you hire.

And, you know, so I think we

have to do a better job of

recruiting because many people

who look like me, their fathers

weren't police officers.

Their mothers weren't police


They have no direct contact with

law enforcement officers.

Or if they do, there's not been

a positive experience.

So departments should reflect

the community in which they

serve, and then that diversity

should be reflected at all rank

levels, which means you have to

have men and women in the agency

who are the decision makers who

come from black communities.

And then we have to do -- we

have to look at training.

De-escalation training, as you

just saw the Minneapolis

sergeant so skillfully engage


And then we have to look at

those who are training other


You have to have a

zero-tolerance policy, that

racism or sexism or any other

"ism" will not be tolerated.

And it can't just be called out

from the top.

You know, it's great if the

chief has a policy that says,

"Look, it's not welcomed here."

When the rank and file hears it

or sees it, they have to call it

out as well.

I remember when we instituted

human diversity training.

I was a detective sergeant at

the time, and I told my squad

that we were all going to go

through it, and I remember some

of the white male officers

saying, well, they didn't have a

problem, that they didn't have

to go through the training.

And I said, "Well, let me just

ask you to think about this.

I hear what you're saying, but

let's think about you're out at

lunch with some of your white

colleagues, and the N-word comes

up at the table."

I said, "Until you get to a

point where you call it out

yourself, I think you and the

rest of us can benefit from the

human diversity training."

So it has to be a standard in

the rank and file and all the

way up to the top of the agency.

>> Many of the activists say the

police unions are an impediment

to all these things that you've

talked about and a lot of the

reformers have talked about.

What is the role of a police

union at this point?

>> You know, police unions, if

we liken them to a -- an

attorney, you're there to

represent the officers.

You are not there to condone or

even send the appearance that

you are condoning bad behavior.

I know that the union president

in Minneapolis likened the

Black Lives Matter movement to


That's just totally


That's a part of the problem and

not the solution.

And there are many unions that

do their jobs better than

others, but in order for us to

get to the place where we need

to be, and that's to assist good

police officers and get rid of

the bad ones, then we've got to

have unions that understand

their role in helping us to do


>> People are making a point of

how they want this country to


How do we get policymakers to do


>> What I think we realize with

this particular incident is that

racism is stubborn.

It has been the ghost in the

room for 400 years.

But, Alison, I've also realized

that the search for justice is

also stubborn.

And I can imagine those who were

engaged in the women's rights

movement said, "How are we ever

going to get Congress to move?"

Or those engaged in the civil

rights movement, "How are we

ever going to get our elected

officials to move?"

Voting rights.

How are we going to get there?

But somehow we did.

There's always been in our

history that turning point.

I really believe that this is

one of those moments.

We've heard, my colleagues on

the other side of the aisle, not

all of them -- we've heard

colleagues say we need to

change this, "I'm supportive of

banning all neck restraints," or

"I'm supportive of banning

no-knock warrants."

Some have said in certain

situations, but that's progress.

And what we have to do is take

that spark and turn it into a

raging fire that is in search

for justice.

>> Representative Val Demings,

thank you for being with us


>> Thank you.

>> The desire for change is


You might even say to a fever


But acts of police violence have

led us to similar moments in the


We might even have been on the

verge of real change not that

long ago.

That's according to lawyer and

criminal justice reform activist

Bryan Stevenson, best-selling

author of the memoir

"Just Mercy: A story of justice

and redemption."

He recently spoke with my

colleague Walter Isaacson on

"Amanpour & Co."

>> We have seen this kind of

violence for decades.

And it's frustrating to me

because five years ago, I was

part of a task force that was

convened by the White House,

motivated by too many of these

incidents of police violence,

that attempted to create

solutions, and we spent months

going around the country.

We held hearings.

We had police chiefs and

activists and academics and

experts and community leaders

all come together.

And we have 40 pages of

recommendations that I believe

would make it less likely that

we would see the kind of

violence that we see in that


>> What happened to those


>> Well, they've been completely


You know, the new administration

came in, retreated from

implementing any of those

reforms, didn't create the

financial incentives for

communities to take up these


And the infrastructure in the

Justice Department largely

disintegrated so that we don't

have that kind of pressure, that

kind of effort.

The Justice Department withdrew

from lawsuits that have been

made against cities that have

engaged in problematic behavior,

and the environment shifted in a

way that didn't create and

sustain the pressure that was


>> Tell me about some of those


Give me a couple of them that

you think we should be doing.

>> Sure.

Well, I mean, It's all about

changing the culture of


We have too many police officers

in this country who are trained

as soldiers.

We teach them how to shoot, we

teach them how to fight, we

teach them how to restrain


We don't teach them how to help

people in a mental health

crisis, how to interact with

people who are psychotic.

We don't teach them how to

de-escalate confrontations.

They don't know how to manage

with the skill that they should

manage complex situations when

people of color and others have

been provoked.

And because that orientation has

reinforced a mind-set where

police officers too often think

of themselves as warriors,

rather than guardians.

>> The barrier standing in the

way of what Bryan Stevenson

wishes to achieve are many.

Put another way -- there are a

lot of good reasons why this

time might not be different.

"NewsHour Weekend's"

Christopher Booker has more.

>> It's disgusting.

It's disgusting!

>> There's a video making the

rounds of New York police union

leader Mike O'Meara responding

to the criticism police have

been hearing in recent weeks.

>> 375 million interactions with

the public every year.

375 million interactions.

Overwhelmingly positive


But I read in the papers all

week, we all read in the papers,

that in the black community,

mothers are worried about their

children getting home from

school without being killed by a


What world are we living in?

That doesn't happen.

>> Contrast that with a 2018

video clip that's also been

making the rounds of comedian

Chris Rock.

>> Here's the thing, here's the


I know it's hard being a cop.

I know it's hard, I know it is,


But some jobs can't have bad



Some jobs, everybody got to be


Like pilots.

[ Laughter and applause ]

You know?

American Airlines can't be like,

"You know, most of our pilots

like to land."

[ Laughter ]

"We just got a few bad apples

that like to crash into


>> With the power of a

punchline, Rock lays bare just

how incidents that might seem

statistically insignificant can

be good cause for making

sweeping changes.

>> One of the police experts I

talk to a lot loves to bring up

the Tylenol scandal of the early


>> Shaila Dewan is a reporter

forThe New York Times and has

written extensively about the

challenges of police reform in

the United States.

She notes the corporate response

when seven people died of

poisoning in the notorious

Tylenol tampering affair in the

early 1980s.

>> Johnson & Johnson recalled

hundreds of thousands of bottles

of Tylenol, and they invented

those annoying foil tamper-proof

packaging things that we now

have on every single bottle

of medicine you ever buy.

So they didn't just say, "Oh,

there were just a few bad

bottles of Tylenol."

They had to reinvent the entire

thing and regain the trust of


Why do we not see the same

urgency in policing?

>> To start, Dewan says America

could look at its lack of

federal policing policy, its

lack of national policing

standards, and its lack of

national training criteria and


What the country does have is

some 18,000 police departments,

each operating independently.

>> Ferguson was our last moment

of national reckoning.

One of the biggest things after

Ferguson was just we need data.

We need to be able to know what

this problem is.

And the two databases that were

supposed to materialize, the

database for deaths in custody,

which would be George Floyd,

hasn't happened yet.

And the database for police use

of force, I understand, is about

to have its first data release,

but it's only covering 40% of

the nation's police officers

because it's voluntary.

>> How large of an influence are

police unions when it comes to

resisting reform?

>> Police unions have really

emerged as, I think, the biggest

roadblock to reform.

And that's because they have

their fingerprint on all the


So start with contractual

protections for police officers.

Not only can officers appeal

their discipline, they can

appeal their terminations, and

they're often reinstated, but

they can also put in things like

a "cooling-off period" after an

incident occurs so that officers

have a period of time before

they have to speak to


One of the things that happens

is that a chief comes in to

change things and is blocked and

opposed and can't get things

done, so then that chief is

caught between the union that's

opposing the changes and the

people that want the change that

think the chief is not going

quickly enough.

I mean, the country is littered

with reformist police chiefs

that are unemployed.

>> Last week the Minneapolis

Chief of Police

Medaria Arradondo announced the

withdrawal from contract

negotiations with the city's

police federation.

The union boss had pledged to

get the four officers involved

in George Floyd's death their

jobs back.

Officer Chauvin, the officer

accused of killing George Floyd,

who can be seen in the video

with his knee on his neck, had

at least 17 complaints on his


How is an officer like that

still working on the street?

>> This is one of the ironies,


The Minneapolis police

department was doing a lot of

things right.

They had done implicit bias


They had done reconciliation.

They had done "procedural

justice," which is all about how

officers treat the public when

they interact with them.

They had had the feds in to look

at their disciplinary system and

their early intervention system,

which is where they're supposed

to be able to identify officers

who may become a problem before

they become a problem.

They were doing all of these

things that departments are

supposed to be doing.

And yet you still see this.

And that tells you that changing

policies is not enough.

You have to also change culture.

>> Absent a real concrete set of

federal guidelines, do you think

culture change is even possible?

>> Yes, but I think it's really

hard to do.

And, you know, what you're

seeing now is not helping

because everyone's in their


You know, the cops are being

painted with a very broad brush.

Their opponents are being

painted with a very broad brush.

And it's very hard to have a

conversation then.

There's not just lack of trust

on the public side.

Cops also don't trust the public

to be able to understand what

they face on a day-to-day basis.

And in that circumstance,

culture change I think becomes

much more difficult.

>> As protesters and activists

call for a new kind of police

force, one question is, what

role will technology play?

And how will new systems avoid

making the same old mistakes on


"NewsHour Weekend's"

Hari Sreenivasan has more.

>> Joy Buolamwini is a computer

scientist at the MIT media lab.

She led a study that showed how

facial recognition software from

IBM, Microsoft, and Face++ were

more accurate with white faces

than with people that had darker


>> So from the onset you might

think a computer is just


So we have to think about facial

recognition technologies and

ask, how are they developed?

So, to teach a machine to see,

the current way of doing it is

to train the machine on a data


>> So that means that if I

program the computer only to

recognize white faces and the

computer sees me, it might not

know what to do with me?

>> Right.

So you have a greater risk of

being misclassified,

misidentified, if you're even

detected at all.

>> Buolamwini even said as much

to Congress last year about how

bad the misclassification can be

for people of color, citing bias

in Amazon's facial recognition


>> We tested Amazon and also

found that they had false --

They had error rates of over 30%

for darker-skinned females.

As we were doing the analysis,

we came across data sets that

had, let's say, maybe 70% men

and over 80% lighter-skinned


And so that's how a data-centric

technology that you might assume

is neutral because it's using

algorithms, because it's using

math, can become biased, right?

So, some people say garbage in,

garbage out, bias inputs, bias


>> We're all now looking more

closely at those biased outputs

for the role they play in


In 2016, the Georgetown Center

on Privacy and Technology found

that half of all American

adults' faces are in a law

enforcement database.

As this national conversation

now includes reforming police

departments and the practices

that they have, one of the

things that more and more police

departments have access to is

large volumes of video

surveillance, right?

So they've got hours and hours

of footage.

Where's the bad guy?

There he is, walking by, right?

So it seems like facial

recognition is going to be

pretty important for departments

going forward over time.

>> So, I think we really have to

take a pause when we say these

systems will be helpful.

Helpful to who and what is the

evidence that it actually works?

Across the pond in the U.K.,

where they have done tests of

facial recognition technology,

deployed purportedly to keep the

public safe, there is a good


What they found were false

positive match rates of over


>> Last week IBM, Amazon, and

Microsoft announced they would

stop or put a hold on offering

facial recognition technology to

police departments.

Brad Smith, the president of

Microsoft, says his company

won't lift that hold until

there's federal regulation on

facial recognition.

>> One of the things we've

advocated and is now in the

Washington state law is a rule

that says if you're a company

and you want to sell this

technology to the government,

for example, you must make it

available for third-party


Just think of the

Consumer Reports and what it

does for automobile safety.

We should have the similar

ability for experts to test

racial recognition technology

and compare whether it's biased.

>> Smith says engineers at

Microsoft have worked to include

more diverse data sets and

reduce bias in its facial

recognition software after

seeing Buolamwini's work.

But Smith is opposed to banning

facial recognition outright.

>> We have seen this technology

used to reunite families, to

identify, say, someone who

showed up in an emergency room

who was suffering from mental

health challenges who couldn't

be identified but through facial


I think that's the kind of

beneficial use that should be


>> Right now we're also in a

climate where we have actively

seen that there are drones

patrolling over protests in the

United States.

There are peaceful protesters

who have been tear-gassed away

from public squares.

So there is a significant

concern people have that

technologies like facial

recognition will be used against

them in their otherwise

constitutional rights.

>> One of the great concerns

that we've been raising since

2018 is the risk that facial

recognition could be used to

chill fundamental democratic

freedoms like the ability to

attend a peaceful and public


We said in late 2018, we will

not make our technology

available for that purpose.

>> It's definitely a step in the

right direction.

I want to point out that IBM has

said they will not sell

general-purpose facial

recognition technology at all,

which is a much further step

than saying not selling to law


A major question that I have for

Microsoft and for Amazon is, who

else are you selling to?

If we have to also question what

kind of facial recognition

technologies are being used not

just in law enforcement, but

throughout society?

Facebook has a patent that says,

given all of this face data that

they've collected over time, we

can actually provide a service

to retailers where when you walk

in, we take an indication based

on your face print to give them

background information, or even

come up with something like a

trustworthiness score.

>> Trustworthiness is going to

be the issue going forward,

whether or not Americans can

trust a technology or the

companies or the police forces

that use it.

>> Whatever the role technology

may play in the future, policing

will always involve human


"Amanpour & Co.'s" anchor

Christiane Amanpour spoke with

Art Acevedo, the chief of police

in Houston, George Floyd's

hometown, about why he believes

it is important to sympathize

with protesters but also defend

his fellow officers.

>> Explain to us a little bit

about the speech you made that

went so viral.

>> Let's be real clear.

I want to make it real clear.

The vast majority of the police

officers in this country,

100,000 of them, 18,000 police

departments, do a phenomenal


They serve 25, 30, 35, 40 years,

they never shoot anybody, they

never hurt anybody.

They serve with honor,

distinction, and courage.

But we still live in a country

where we make too many excuses

and tolerate mediocrity and

tolerate police abuse.

There is no excusing a police

officer putting his knee and

keeping it on the neck of a man

that's handcuffed, calling for

mercy and calling for his mama.

There is no excuse for that, and

there's no excuse for three

officers sitting there and not

intervening, as required, not

just by policy, not just by law,

but by our conscience, if we

have one, and by the God that

we're supposed to be following.

So we stand with the Floyd


We stand with our community, of

all colors, all races, all

creeds, and we are going to

stand with them and march with

them until they get justice

because that's what they deserve

and that's what's going to

finally bring this kind of stuff

not to an end, because the human

condition isn't perfect and we

will always have to deal between

good and bad, but it will

greatly reduce the potential for

this stuff happening.

>> I'm joined now by the

director of the

Schomburg Center, poet and

professor Kevin Young.

We're sitting in the Schomburg,

where it's all about black

history and black culture.

>> Yeah.

>> When you think about what's

been happening with these

protests and these calls for

civil rights and equity and

equality, what do you think?

>> Being in Harlem as we have

for 95 years, we've seen a lot.

We've been through unrest before

and uprisings before.

This one does feel different.

I think both having seen up

close and endured the

disparities for black and brown

people around COVID-19.

And as you know, George Floyd

survived having coronavirus,

only to be killed by a police

officer, in front of everyone,

almost nonchalantly.

And so I think it gave special

energy to this moment and

galvanized folks in ways that

we haven't always seen.

It's been a wide coalition of

people in the street.

And I think people are risking

life and limb, almost literally,

the danger of proximity, in

order to raise their voices

against a greater danger.

>> How important do you think it

was, the video was, in terms of

sparking this moment?

>> We've been here before,

whether it was Emmett Till and

the photographs that his mother

Mamie Till released to show just

how bloodied and horribly

disfigured he was in this


I've been thinking a lot about

witnessing and how witnessing

isn't just seeing something but

also saying something later.

And that video, which I can't

totally watch, really testifies

and provides witness in ways

that a lot of words that we used

to say haven't quite convinced

people of.

>> What do you think is

important to preserve in this


When I bring my kid back here in

25 years, what are we going to

be looking at when we talk about

the George Floyd exhibit?

>> Well, almost literally it

will be memories and videos and

placards and things like that of

this moment.

We just the other day had a

makeshift memorial that someone

called for and set up at our

fence outside.

So I think we're going to think

about this mix of protests, of

pandemic, of survival.

>> Kevin, you are a poet, and we

asked you to pick a poem you

think really speaks to this


Would you read one for us?

>> Absolutely.

This is a poem from my book


I have a triptych for

Trayvon Martin, and this is the

first poem in that triptych.

It's called "Not Guilty:

A Frieze for Sandra Bland."

And as you remember,

Sandra Bland died in police

custody in suspicious


"Not Guilty."

Because the night has no number,

because the thunder doesn't mean

rain, because maybe, because we

must say your names and the list

grows longer and more endless, I

am writing this.

You are no gun nor holster, no

finger aimed, thumb, a hammer

cocked back all the way.

I refuse to bury you, to inter

your name in earth or to burn

you back to bone.

To what we all know, the soft

song of your skull as an infant,

the place God or your mother or

same thing left untouched by


That halo grown whole till they

said you weren't, said that

death could be your breath,

could be a body or less.

And you grew more black and


I refuse to watch.

I refuse.

Not guilty.

Not guilty.

I know you will rise and stay

like the sea, the tide, all salt

and shifting.

Don't ever leave.

>> Thank you, Kevin Young, and

thanks to the Schomburg.

That's our report for tonight.

For everyone here at

"NewsHour Weekend," I'm

Alison Stewart.

Good night.





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