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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  March 4, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PST

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r/ [captioning made possible by democracy now!] ♪ >> from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> what we have seen with the justice department announcing its findings regarding ferguson is a testament to the courage and determination of the young people and the organizers and activists in ferguson. there was no way the justice department would have investigated ferguson or announced these findings if it had not been for the young people in ferguson standing up
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when michael brown got shot down. >> the justice department concludes the police and city courts in ferguson missouri routinely engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against african americans. the report cites one e-mail from a ferguson e-mail joking, obama would not last long as president because what black man holds a steady job for four years? another sites a cartoon depicting african-americans as monkeys. we will speaalexander author of "the new jim crow." >> millions of people have been rounded up arrested, primarily for minor crimes, nine via lan -- nonviolent offenses and offered into a parallel social universe. this is not just about ferguson. it is about a much larger system of racial control.
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>> michelle alexander for the hour. all that and more coming up. ♪ welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu has made his case for stopping in nuclear deal with iran. in a congressional address that saw him compare the iranian leadership to the islamic state and invoke the nazi holocaust he said an agreement would put a ron on a pastor nuclear weapons. -- iran on a path to nuclear weapons. >> lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade -- that is why this deal is so b ad. it does not block iran's path to the bomb, but paves its path. >> president obama offered a
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detailed rebuttal, pointing out his previous dire warnings about iran's nuclear capabilities being wrong. he also said netanyahu has offered no viable alternative to reaching an agreement. >> how do we prevent iran from getting a nuclear agreement? the path we proposed is the best way to do that. that is demonstrable. prime minister netanyahu has not offered any kind of viable alternative that would achieve the same verifiable mechanism to prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon. >> also netanyahu received a bipartisan welcome, around 50 house and senate democrats boycotted his address, among them senators elizabeth warren bernie sanders, and al franken.
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congressman criticized his comments. >> what do we know today that we did not know before he gave the speech? there is one thing. he is a rejectionist. there is no agreement that this administration could achieve wihtth iran that would be good enough for him. >> the house of representatives is the most prestigious venue and the world and to use it for political purposes was something that i did not want to be part of. >> nancy pelosi called the address in salting adding "i was near tears throughout the speech, saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the united states and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation." demonstrators gathered on
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capitol hill to support and oppose netanyahu's speech. brian becker said iran has the right to a peaceful nuclear program. >> they have the right to develop nuclear power for civilian use, as does every other country on the planet. the iaea inspects iran more than any other country in the world. israel refuses to sign the treaty with the international atomic energy agency because israel has nuclear weapons. >> netanyahu's a dress, as the iranian nuclear talks continue in switzerland. secretary of state john kerry is convening with allies as part of a bid to meet a deadline.
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iran has rejected the current proposal, calling it excessive and illogical. iraq says it has recaptured several villages as part of its offensive to dislodge the islamic state from to create -- tikrit. the iranian involvement comes as defense secretary ash carter has confirmed the u.s. was not asked to take heart. -- part. >> the iraqi government did not ask for our support in this particular operation. i think that we need to be watchful as we take, together with the iraqi government, takeback territory from isil, that we continue to conduct this campaign in a multi-sectarian way. >> defense secretary ashton
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carter was speaking before a senate panel, where he also disclosed a pentagon official is facing an internal inquiry for telling reporters about a u.s. backed plan to retake the city of most soul. -- mosul. a justice department probe revealed that ferguson city and police officials engaged in a pattern of discrimination and harassment against blacks in the town. despite comprising about 66% of the local population, african-americans and accounted for 93% of arrest 90% of citations, 85% of traffic stops. investigators found rampant racism and sites at least two offensive e-mails.
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the ferguson probe comes as a white house task force on policing has called for a series of reforms, including increased transparency and independent probes of fatal shootings. we will have more with michelle alexander after headlines. congress has resolved a standoff over the department of homeland security after a retreat by the republican leadership. the agency nearly shut down last week as republicans sought to link its budget to reversing president obama's executive actions on immigration. on tuesday, house speaker john boehner brought down and brought up a clean spending bill. the measure funds the dhs through the end of the year. president obama's signature health care law's spec before
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the supreme court today to determine whether millions of low income people lose their health insurance. right-wing opponents are waging a technical argument against specific language in the law which concerns tax subsidies to help people afford insurance. the challengers claimed the language does not allow people to receive subsidies if they get there and the -- insurance through a federal exchange. if the supreme court sites with the challengers -- sides with the challengers, more than 9 million people in the largely republican states could lose their health care. the case marks the third challenge to obama care heard by the supreme court. in 2012, the court narrowly upheld the individual and eight -- mandate at the large -- laws core. alabama's top court has taken new action in a bid to block
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marriage equality. on tuesday, the alabama supreme court ordered a halt to marriage licenses for lgbt couples. the move follows a standoff last month that saw the state supreme court justice demand judges and officials ignore a federal court ruling that struck down alabama's ban on same-sex marriage. "the new york times" reports that hillary clinton exclusive use of a personal e-mail account during her tenure at the state department has allowed her to thwart public records requests for her communication. her e-mails were not included in records provided to congressional investigators probing the attacks on the diplomatic compound in benghazi, libya because she used only a private account. it was not until last month that house investigators received about 300 of her e-mails related to the attack after her and
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visors selected about 50,000 of her e-mails to provide to the state department. she did not have a government e-mail address at all during her tenure as secretary of state and her aides failed to preserve her e-mails on government servers in a possible violation of federal law. the associated press traced her e-mail server to an internet service registered to her family's home in new york. the ap writes that the highly unusual practice of a cabinet level official physically running her own e-mail would have given clinton impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. news outlets say that they have been unable to obtain the clinton's communications through public record requests. the department spokesperson defended clinton under questioning by reporters. >> as soon as we reached out,
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secretary clinton provided the e-mails covering the breadth of her time at the state department on a wide variety of issues. it is my understanding that those were provided in that way. >> that is everything. we are talking about the retention. it does not say vast majority. >> right. >> we reached out and asked them to provide them and they provided them. >> so just say it is everything. >> fred, i am not in her e-mail. >> did she say it is everything? >> she said it was what she had. >> an attorney for edward snowden has reasserted that the nsa's whistleblower is willing to come home. a team of international lawyers continues to work on terms that would see snowden returned to the united states. snowden is prepared to end his asylum in russia on the condition he has given a guarantee of a legal and impartial trial. to date, the justice department
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has only guaranteed he won't face the death penalty. >> talk of edward snowden's return comes as a government leaker of a different sort has reached a plea deal. retired four-star general and former cia director david petronius will plead guilty to one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified information. the fbi and federal prosecutors had recommended felony charges against patricia s for providing -- david the trias for providing classified information to a woman who with the had a next her marital affair. he gave her access to a cia e-mail account and the names of undercover operatives in afghanistan. under his plea deal, he faces a maximum of one year in prison the prosecutors will seek a suspended sentence that would spare him any time behind bars.
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those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. >> on juan gonzalez. attorney general eric holder ordered the report that is being issued today after the police shooting of unarmed african-american teenager michael brown last august. his death sparked months of protests in ferguson and around the country. in a separate report, the justice department is expected to clear the police officer darren wilson of civil rights violations in the shooting of brown. the justice department's study of ferguson's records found african-americans made up 93% of arrests in ferguson, while accounting for only 67% of the population.
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the report found that in 88% of the cases in which police officers used force, it was against african-americans. >> investigators also found that african-americans constituted 96% of people arrested in traffic stops solely for an outstanding warrant. 95% of jaywalking charges, 94% of failure to comply charges 92% of disturbing the peace charges. with traffic stops african-american motorists are twice as likely to be searched even though searches of white drivers are more likely to turn up drugs or other contraband. the justice department report uncovered three municipal ferguson e-mails containing racist language or images. one e-mail joked that barack obama would not remain as president for long because what black man holds a steady job for
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four years? another e-mail suggested more abortions by african-american women would lower crime. it read, and african-american woman in new orleans was admitted to a hospital in pregnancy termination and she received a check for $5,000. the hospital said it was from crimestoppers. a third e-mail uncovered showed a cartoon depicting african-americans as monkeys. it has not been repealed who wrote those e-mails. the justice department report has renewed calls for police accountability from activists and those close to michael brown's family. this is antonio french and brown family attorney anthony gray. >> think the chief has to resign. it is the only way the community has to remove forward. no shock, no surprise. we have to take what is publicly known to be a situation, come up
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with solutions, then execute whatever those solutions are pull back and measure the results. >> for more, we're joined by michelle alexander the author of the best-selling book "the new jim crow." she is a law professor at ohio state university. her new york times op-ed is called "telling my son about ferguson." >> i'm happy to be here. i know you are giving -- >> i know you are giving to major addresses while you are here in new york. but let's start with that op-ed. what did you tell your son about ferguson? >> it is difficult to have to tell your son that i knew that the officer who shot michael brown would not be charged i
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knew it before the grand jury came back. i knew it before the justice department announced that it would not be filing charges. i knew it because police officers are almost never charged for killing unarmed black man. that is the way it is in this country. it is incredibly difficult. i began to talk to him about the realities of race and justice and i was tempted to lie. i was tempted to say nothing like that could ever happen to him. parents have to have conversations with their children that are you're really reminiscent of a kind of conversation parents had to have with their kids decades ago. it is my hope and my prayer that
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the uprising we saw in ferguson is the beginning of a new, bold radical, courageous movement for justice that will ensure that parents do not have to tell their children that in the eyes of the law, they don't matter. >> you talk about parents having to have these conversations. the mayor bill de blasio discussed that issue in the midst of the ferguson protest about having to have a conversation with his biracial son about watching out for interactions with police and he took enormous heat and enormous attacks by the local police union over even daring to talk about it. >> the truth is not popular today. that is the reality. i think what we have seen in recent months is the necessity
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of telling the truth. i look at what has gone down in the last few months and it seems clear to me that first and foremost, change comes when people stand up, speak unpopular truths and are willing to take real risks in the name of justice. there is no way that the justice department would have investigated what was going on in ferguson if the young people had not stood up and taken to the streets. what the justice department report demonstrates is that we are not crazy. the young people in ferguson, the old people in ferguson has said, we feel like we are living in occupied territory, they were telling the truth. we have some sense based on this report of why michael brown might have been so frustrated and so angry when he was being harassed by the police for jaywalking. you get some sense of what is really going on in these communities.
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we are not crazy. there is a system of racial and social control in communities of color across america. if we don't stand up, speak unpopular truths, take to the streets and organize, things are not going to change. what we see now is that we do have the power to make a change. are we going to transition from protest politics to long's term strategic movement building? >> i was struck in this report that 94% of all the people arrested for jaywalking you would think the most inconsequential of misdemeanors or violations, were african-american. clearly, african-americans don't jaywalking a greater percentage than white americans. it is astonishing. >> absolutely. you see the disparity in new york city, as well. we should not think of this as a problem in ferguson that is
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somehow unique to that community. thanks to broken windows policing here in new york city you have statistics that rival the ones we see in ferguson. the new york civil liberties union issued a report showing that here in new york city more than 80% of those who are issued summons for things like jaywalking are people of color. the revenue streams that fund the criminal courts in new york city, just like those in ferguson, come from poor people paying tickets for minor offenses that are being enforced against them, but are not being enforced in other parts of town. >> we see that it is lethal. the jaywalking, what exactly was michael brown stopped for by darren wilson? because he was walking in the middle of the road. this was not a very trafficked
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road. it was a back road to the main road. the fact that these two young men were simply walking on the street. how is it, you're an attorney you clerked for justice blackmun , how is it the darren wilson did not get charged with violating civil rights, let alone indicted, but now the ferguson police, the courts are found to be systematically discriminating against and those figures are being cited like stopping an african-american for jaywalking? >> i think what we have here is an unwillingness to hold individual officers accountable. for the unjustified lethal force that is being used against african-american men and others. we have seen what has happened with latinos in other parts of the country. this is not just limited to
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black men. we see this kind of force has used against black women. i think we see an unwillingness to hold individual officers accountable in the face of overwhelming evidence that the system is discriminatory. >> did this report give you any hope as you talk to your son now? no, darren wilson was not indicted no he was not found guilty of violating the civil rights of michael brown, but the report is coming out today that says that the ferguson police and the city courts do violate the rights of african-americans. >> the report does not give me hope. what gives me hope is that people across america are finally waking up. that is what gives me hope. a single report even a single indictment, is not going to make a difference unless people become organized and commit themselves to the hard work of movement building on behalf of poor people of all colors.
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i see that beginning and that is what gives me hope. >> and yet these kinds of shootings continue. in washington, a man was shot by police this past sunday. a homeless man in los angeles shot and, in video. we have these continued incidents recurring. >> and they will continue. they will continue until we move the on sporadic protests that occur to serious movement building. that is the challenge. we should not get too easily satisfied with minor reforms or when the justice department says, here is a report or we are going to file one suit. the kind of change that needs to happen in our police departments and our criminal justice system as a whole is of such a scale that it is not going to happen merely by the good intentions --
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with a single consent decree or the good intentions of some legislators tinkering around the edges. we need transformational change of our criminal justice system not just a handful of consent policy reforms. >> we are going to talk about what that transformational change will look like. we are talking to michelle alexander, author of "the new jim crow. co stay with us. ♪ [music break] ♪
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>> "be free" by j.cole. we are here with michelle alexander. her book is called "the new jim crow." it has taken the country by storm.
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cornell west called it an instant classic. forbes magazine called a devastating. in the new york review of books it said alexander deserves to be compared to dubois in her ability to lay out a mighty and complex argument. >> part of the justice department investigation of ferguson focused on traffic stops and found african-americans account for 85% of traffic stops and 90% of citations, 93% of arrest and 88% of cases in which police used force. african-american drivers were twice as likely to be searched but less likely to be found with drugs or guns. in all 14 incidents and with a police dog bit a suspect, the person bitten was african-american. the findings reinforce details
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of a class-action lawsuit filed by ferguson residents who accused local officials of creating a modern debtors prison scheme. we spoke with herbert nelson junior, a plaintiff in the lawsuit who has been arrested multiple times. he was asked how his experience made him feel about the police. >> that is a good question. the last time i was arrested the officer said i should not be afraid of officers. he was so excited to arrest me. that alone made me afraid because a lot of my friends and family won't even come to see me because of where i live. they don't want to come into the county of north st. louis because of the police and how quick they are to arrest you over minor traffic tickets. >> when we were there, there
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were some hope among some residents that things might get better in the aftermath of these protests. has anything improved in the six months since michael brown was killed? >> as far as policing, no, it hasn't. it got worse because it seemed like the crime has went up and the jails are just running. they are way more packed than they were before mike brown was shot. the jails are way more packed. it has not improved at all. >> that is herbert nelson jr, a plaintive in this lawsuit. one of his sister's arrests was being in the car with a suspended license. the problem was that she was in her backyard in a parked car
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just sitting inside. for that, she was taken away. michelle alexander brought in this story from arrests to what they are calling modern-day debtors prisons. >> this is part of the story that many people are unaware of, the ways in which poor people particularly poor folks of color are targeted by our criminal justice system, arrested for extremely minor offenses, the very sorts of crimes that occur with equal frequency in middle-class communities or on college campuses, but go largely ignored -- targeted, arrested or cited and then saddled with fines and fees that are nearly impossible for them to pay back. then war insert issued for their arrest -- warrants are issued
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for their arrests, leading them into a system through which they have little hope of ever truly escaping. we can look back in history and see that this is not the first time we have done something like this. slavery by another name is an important book that americans should read. convict leasing began after the end of slavery. african-american men were arrested en masse after the end of slavery for extremely minor crimes like loitering vagrancy, jaywalking, they were arrested and sent to prison and then leased to plantations. the idea was they were supposed are in their freedom, but they could never pay back the plantation owner or the corporation the cost of their clothing and shelter.
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they were effectively re-enslaved. today, we see millions of poor people and folks of color who are trapped yet again in a criminal justice system, which is treating them like commodities, like people who are easily disposable. >> the impact of this, not only for those who were jailed and then lose their voting rights, but even for those who are arrested and then this stays on their record and the issue of being able to get a job with your arrest record available to employers with databases being able to locate any kind of information, the impact for people to have any kind of social mobility. >> i hear people say, come on,
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it is just like a misdemeanor. it is not like they have a felony. today, a misdemeanor can show up on your record through a few keystrokes on your computer. it can be the reason that you are denied an opportunity to work. it can also be the reason you are denied access to housing. public housing officials are free to discriminate against you on the basis of criminal records, including arrest records. even for these extremely minor offenses, people find themselves trapped in a permanent second-class status and struggling to survive. it is critically important that we not dismiss these kinds of charges that are being brought against folks as being minor and shrug them off. they can actually alter the course of one's life. >> i was wondering if you could read the first paragraph of your book?
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this is a stunning story that goes back to slavery that i think is so important. it leads us right into this weekend. people marching 50 years ago for voting rights, but where we are today 50 years later. >> jarvis cotton cannot vote. like his father, grandfather great-grandfather, and great, he has been denied. his family tree tells the story of several generations born in the united states, but denied the most basic freedom that democracy promises. his great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. his great-grandfather was beaten to death by the ku klux klan for attempting to vote. his grandfather was prevented to vote by clan intimidation. his father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tax -- tests.
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jarvis cannot vote because he is labeled a felon and is currently on parole. >> where are we today, 50 years after selma? >> it is common today for people to say, particularly on martin luther king day, that we have come a long way, but we still have a long, long way to go. i think the events of recent months, as well as the astonishing rates of incarceration and the existence of this permanent second-class status that in traps millions, shows us that, no, we are not on the right path. it is not a matter of having a long way to go. we have taken a u-turn and are off course entirely. that is why i say over and over again that it is not about
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making minor reforms and plodding along in the same direction. it is about mustering the courage to have a major reassessment of where we are as america, reckon with the racial history and our present and build a broad-based movement rooted in the awareness of the dignity and humanity of us all no matter who we are aware we came from or what we may have done. >> yet we have a supreme court that only recently eviscerated the voting rights act in a decision. i'm wondering your reaction when you heard that decision. >> i think it is a reaction to where we are at this moment. i believe the u.s. supreme court and the american population really want to imagine that race and racial inequality is something we don't have to think about anymore worry about anymore.
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color blindness means being blind to racial inequality. it does not mean being blind to race itself. that is the moment we are in. how do we respond? i'm thrilled by the protests we have seen, the creative courageous, nonviolent protests but now the question is how do we transition from protest politics to long-term movement building? >> just recently john legend and rapper common won the oscar for best original song for "glory" for "selma." >> it is an artist's duty to reflect the times in which we live. we wrote this song for a film that was based 50 years ago, but we say that selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now. we know that the voting rights
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act to they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. [applause] we know that right now the struggle for freedom for justice israel. we live in the most incarcerated country in the world. there are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. when people are marching with our song, we want to tell you we are with you, we see you we love you, march on, and god bless you. >> "selma" did not -- was nominated for best picture, that the director was not nominated for best director. there were no black actors or directors who were nominated this year, leading to that #oscarssowhite.
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many commentators said that john legend was citing your work. if you could talk about the significance of this. tens of millions of people saw this. culture is so important in getting out information. >> i was so proud of john legend for using his moment on that stage to speak to the crisis of mass incarceration in the united states and to raise awareness of the toll it has taken on african-american communities. i am hopeful that more celebrities and people who have a big microphone will follow his lead and begin speaking up and speaking out. we are not going to be able to engage in this movement building if we remain asleep and in denial about its existence. unlike the old jim crow there
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are no signs alerting us to the existence of this new cast system. if you are not directly impacted , this does not actually affected directly, you can go your whole life and have no idea what is really going on. if we are going to build this movement, we are going to have to pull back the curtain speaker a just truths -- speak courageous truths, and help inspire a much broader awakening so that the work of movement building can get underway. >> i want to ask you about another tragic shooting in the aftermath of that shooting. the to mere rice -- tamir rice shooting. he was shot by police holding a gun. the attorneys for the city of cleveland argued in a legal
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brief that he was responsible for his own death. we are wondering about the ways that the legal system, the lucid's own reason just to be able to come up with justification. >> i thought that what transpired there, that in papal orders filed in court, they blamed that boy for the fact that the police showed up and killed him within two seconds of their arrival, that it was his fault, that somehow he had brought this police response upon him -- in so many ways, that is an illustration of the larger system of mass incarceration. those who are targeted and of those who find themselves behind bars are blamed. they say, it is your fault. you brought all of this on yourself. over the last few decades, many in the african-american community have been seduced by the argument that this is all our fault. we have somehow brought mass incarceration on ourselves. a phone that we would pull up
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our pants or stay in school or not experiment with drugs. the phone and we could be perfect and never make a mistake, the number of this would make a mistake -- young white kids who make mistakes commit misdemeanors and smoke weed, they are able to go off to college if they are middle-class. but if you are poor or you live in the hood, the kinds of mistakes that people of all colors and classes make cost them their lives. yet, we turn around and blame them and say, this is all your fault. >> we have to break. we are going to come back to this discussion. ♪ [music break] ♪
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>> john legend and common singing "glory" from the
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oscar-winning film "selma." we are with michelle alexander a civil rights advocate and the author of the best-selling book "the new jim crow." she is a lie professor at ohio state university. talk about your own transformation -- law professor at ohio state university. talk about euro own transformation. what happened to you? >> when i began working as a civil rights lawyer and advocate, i understood that our criminal justice system was biased in many ways and i assumed it was biased just like every institution in our society is infected with conscious or unconscious bias and stereotyping. i thought it was my job to join with other advocates and lawyers to root out racial bias whenever
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and wherever it might rear its ugly head in the criminal justice system. it really was not until after years of representing victims of racial profiling and police brutality and investigating patterns of drug law enforcement for communities of color and attempting to assist people who had been released from prison to reenter only to have one closed door in their face after another that i had a series of experiences that began my own awakening. i came to see that our criminal justice system is not just another institution in our society infected with racial bias. it is a different beast entirely. at that time, there were activists who were saying that. at the beginning of the book, i talk about how i saw posted on a telephone pole, a sign that said
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the drug war is the new jim crow and i just dismissed that is nonsense. you can't compare it to jim crow or slavery. but i had a number of experiences that began to open my eyes. one of them included a young man who came to me with a story of being framed by the police and drugs being planted on him and i did not believe him. it was only after i came to see that he was telling the truth about vast corruption that was happening in the oakland police department that my own biases and stereotypes and my own class privilege had prevented me from hearing him, acknowledging the truth, and seeing the reality of what was hidden in plain sight. that is what began my journey of doing an enormous amount of research and trying to listen much more carefully to the
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stories of those cycling in and out of prison. >> what we are going through in new york city right now, the startling number of cases that are now being reviewed, especially in brooklyn, that were at the height of the crack epidemic and scores of people who were sentenced to prison with false testimony, with police coercion. one after another, police are being released after spending years in prison because it was all false testimony that was put together by police officers against african-americans and latinos. people could not believe that the system was this corrupt that it was doing this on a massive scale. >> who do we believe? could we listen to? who do we hear from? who do we believe? over the last few decades, we have heard from the police and politicians and prosecutors, but very rarely do we hear the stories in the media of the
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people who have been targeted and demonized. even when we do, how often do we disbelieve them and think, it must be exaggeration or over-the-top? what we have seen from the justice department report and with the overwhelming evidence and i tried to put in my book we need to pay a lot of attention, a lot more attention to the stories and the lived experiences of people who have been trapped in the system. >> i want to ask you about another aspect of mass incarceration. 50% of all federal prosecutions these days are immigration related prosecutions. you are having the growth of these private prisons and the mass incarceration of immigrants. congress is attempting to fund homeland security and is assisting that everybody from
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central america be jailed if they are caught coming across the border. this whole issue of the expansion of mass incarceration expanded to the immigrant population. >> this system of mass incarceration in order to continue to grow, is adapting. it is looking for new populations to bring under its control, in particular the profit motive and the private prison industry is hoping to try much of that impulse. we talk about ending mass incarceration and we must talk about ending mass deportation and the criminalization of immigrant communities in the united states today. we see that the same racially divisive politics that gays -- gave rise to the war on drugs are the same racially divisive politics that are taking aim at immigrant communities and helping to ensure the continued
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expansion of the prison industrial complex by including immigrants under its control. >> your book "the new jim crow" came out under president obama. what is your assessment? is president obama made any difference? has it made things better? have things gotten worse? >> it is better and worse. i think having an african-american president has been a beautiful, wonderful thing in many ways. i am grateful that my children know a world where a black man can be president of the united states. it makes a difference to them to know that that is possible. that such a thing is possible. i think there has also been real difficulty as a result of his
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presidency. one of the difficulties is the reluctance among african-americans to be as courageous in their criticism and their critique of the drug war and mass incarceration and many of the policies that we see continuing under the obama administration that they might otherwise be. the reality is that the rhetoric has changed in the obama administration, but when you take a look at the policies they have been much slower to change. under the obama administration we have heard consecutive drugs ours say that we should no longer be at war with our own people. we don't like the language of the drug war. but when you look at the drug war budget, basically the same ratio of dollars is invested in enforcement, as opposed to treatment and prevention, as under the bush administration.
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i think that it is very tempting to imagine that more progress has been achieved when there is an african-american in the white house and a black attorney general saying all the right things, but i think we have to not be so easily seduced by the imagery and insist upon the kind of large-scale policy reform and structural reform and in and to the actual war on drugs, not the language. >> in february, the fbi director called for police nationwide to confront unconscious racial bias in the wake of the killings of african-americans. he said the nation's endemic racism must be addressed. >> much research points to the widespread unconscious bias. many people in our white majority bias -- culture have
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unconscious racial biases. police officers on patrol often work in environments where a hugely disproportionate percentage of street crime is committed by young men of color. something happens to people of goodwill working in that environment. after years of police work, officers often cannot be -- help of be influenced by the cynicism they feel. a mental shortcut becomes irresistible and maybe even rational by some lights. we need to come to grips with the fact that this behavior complicates the relationship between the police and the communities they serve. >> that was fbi director james commie talking about unconscious bias. not the institutionalized use of racial bias. >> i have to applaud him for knowledge inc. -- acknowledging that the risk on just and
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unconscious bias that pervades law enforcement today. he tends to attribute it to police officers being in constant contact with black and brown criminals and that that jade's them. i think that that tells only a very small part of the larger story. we have been at war with certain communities. our elected officials declared wars on crime and wars on drugs which were not wars on either of those things, but were wars on communities defined by race and class. that war mentality has affected law enforcement in ways that seem nearly irreparable. i think it is important for us to recognize that these biases and stereotypes can exist within law enforcement and that they are not a product of having to deal with a lot of bad guys on the streets, but that it is a
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product of a portman talladega. it has been -- a war mentality that has been institutionalized in the united states. >> what needs to happen? you talk about a movement. but also as you look at mass incarceration, what has to change? >> a number of things have to change. there was a whole laundry list of reforms that need to be adopted. i think we really need to come from the perspective of a monopoly not had we tinker with this thing or tweet get, but what would a truly just system look like? would we criminalize the simple possession of drugs? or would we treat drug use and drug addiction as a public health problem rather than a crime. following the lead of a country like portugal, which is decriminalized all drugs across the board and stopped caging people who may be in the need of
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help and investing in drug treatment and education and support for the communities in which they come we need to end the war on drugs and the war mentality that we have, which means ending zero-tolerance policies. it means transforming our criminal justice system from one that is purely punitive to one that is based on principles of restorative and transformative justice. a system that takes seriously the interests of the victim, the offender, and the community. we need to abolish all of the laws that all the rise legal discrimination against people who have criminal records. legal discrimination that denies them basic human rights, to work, to shelter, to education to food. we have to decriminalize immigration. we have to grant the right to vote to people upon release from prison. i have trouble with the framing
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of this is being a movement to end disenfranchisement. we should be allowing people in prison to vote like many other western democracies do. there are often voting drives within prison. here in the united states, we deny people the right to vote when they are in prison and often when they are out and sometimes for the rest of their lives. there is so much work to be done in transitioning from a war mentality to a mentality where we extend care, compassion, and concern to poor people and people of color and do not respond with a purely punitive impulse. >> we thank you for being with us. the conversation continues. "the new jim crow" she is a law professor at ohio state university. she will be speaking tonight at union theological seminary. she will be speaking at columbia university on friday night. democracy now is hiring a
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part-time camera operator. i'm amy goodman. /ñ>xxúlú
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