Get It Together (with Julie Gunnigle) | Crooked Media
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September 29, 2020
Pod Save The People
Get It Together (with Julie Gunnigle)

In This Episode


DeRay [00:00:01] Hey, this is DeRay, and welcome to Pod Save the People, on this episode. It’s me, Sam, Kaya, and De’Ara as normal talking about the news that you don’t know or understanding the news through the filter of race and justice. And then we have a check in with Netta, who’s talking about what’s going on in the nationwide protests. And then I sat down with Julie Gunnigle, the Democratic nominee for a top prosecutor in Arizona’s Maricopa County. I learned so much in that conversation. My advice is let this be a week of affirmation. That there are so many people in your life doing good things, hellp out pushing. Tell those people. Call them and say I appreciate you, call them and say, you mean a lot to me. Like this should be a week where you are affirming that people in your life. Let’s do it.

De’Ara [00:00:39] Hello. Hello. Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of Pod Save the People.

De’Ara [00:00:45] I’m De’Ara Ballenger. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @DeAraBallenger.

Sam [00:00:50] And I’m Sam Sinyangwe @Samswe on Twitter.

Kaya [00:00:52] I’m Kaya Henderson at Henderson, @HendersonKaya on Twitter.

DeRay [00:00:55] I’m DeRay @deray on Twitter.

De’Ara [00:00:58] So we’re gonna start off here at the little convo, little back and forth on Donald Trump and his taxes. I also just want to just surface the fact that when I started on this podcast, it was not talk about Donald Trump. But the closer we get to the election, I gotta just tell ya, we’re gonna be talking about Donald Trump.

Kaya [00:01:17] Talking about who? what?

De’Ara [00:01:19] I mean, just.

De’Ara [00:01:20] Sorry. Sorry. This is what’s happening. You know, we’re trying. We are trying to keep things hopeful.

De’Ara [00:01:26] But, you know, it is we’re getting to that point where it just is what it is. So we’re all going to do our best in processing what’s happening in the world and making sure that we are taking care of ourselves.

De’Ara [00:01:35] But with that, The New York Times has a very, very, very long story.

Kaya [00:01:40] It’s Long.

De’Ara [00:01:41] It’s long.

De’Ara [00:01:43] Just when I thought it was finished, there was like, more to go. And

De’Ara [00:01:47] But that’s how much reporting it takes to really cover the expansiveness of this man not paying taxes like for decades. And even I don’t even know how to really understand it.

De’Ara [00:02:00] I think as somebody that’s worked in government and where so many of these norms have just been something that we’re just what everyone did. Your financial disclosures, your reporting of the taxes, like all of those things that so many people that serve in government just have been doing, fascinating to me that we still really don’t have 100 percent clarity around this man’s taxes. And what we do know is that he pays less taxes than everybody that we know essentially.

Kaya [00:02:28] Everybody. Everybody

De’Ara [00:02:29] Even My 23 year old brother, okay, that has his first job. So, you know, we’re just going to chat it up a little bit and see, you know, what our thoughts on it. How do we think it’s going to impact the election or not? How do we think it’s going to impact his support or not. At this point with his base, like, I don’t really know how much a distraction it will be, Unfortunately, I think it is further indication of the lack of integrity. I mean, I think we’re at a loss of adjectives, We’ve used all the adjectives now to described this dude. So, yeah. What are ya’ll thinking?

Sam [00:02:59] 750 dollars paid in income taxes in 2016 and 2017. Seven hundred and fifty dollars. And what’s interesting about it is like the 750 dollar amount is like ridiculously low. But that is actually like the high end of the amount of tax that he’s paid over the past decades. So in most years, they found that he paid zero dollars in taxes. So he was just not even paying income tax, as you said, De’Ara, basically, everybody is paying more money than he is into this system, that he is then extracting money and wealth and privilege and power from.

Sam [00:03:34] And it’s a huge scam like it is a world historical level scam. And we’re all being scammed out of our rights, out of our resources, out of our opportunities, out of a decent way of life.

Sam [00:03:48] And he is like scamming everybody. So I hope that his supporters look at this differently. I don’t think they will. I don’t know what could get them to look at something differently. They’ll probably think that it’s great for him to have cheated the system and that he can cheat the system for them. And I think that’s how he sort of spinned it preparing probably for this moment. But I hope that there are enough people who are not his supporters that will not be supporting him because of this.

DeRay [00:04:11] Yeah, I think that this will be interesting for our people, actually. I do see these defenses of Trump from black celebrities, and you’re like, what are ya’ll doing? And maybe this will be the thing that shakes them. I think that this could also help mobilize our base. People who are like, well, you know, it may be that, you know, at this point like whatever it takes to get you to vote, I’m down for it. So this is gonna get you there. Like, let’s do it. My favorite tweet about it was from Jason Kandar. He said, “he’s broke. He lives in our house and he’s been stealing from us.” And that is probably just like the simplest way to sum this up.

Kaya [00:04:46] But none of that is news to us. We now have evidence of it. But this is what people have known and believed for a really long time. And so the conspiracist in me, I mean, I have so many feelings about this. On the one hand, just as an Indian. Well, who has paid more than seven hundred and fifty dollars in taxes every single year that I have been employed, I want to vomit. As I think about the fact that this man is using our tax dollars to pay for all of his excursions to his golf clubs wherever he goes. Every place that he goes is a Trump property. And so we are continuing to pay this man who cheats our country, who cheats our people. And no, nobody in his base is going to. I mean, sure, I’m sure somebody will be upset. But I don’t think this materially as as a couple of people have already said, will change much. But the real, like, galling part for me is I actually am the conspiracist in me is wondering, well, why is this coming out right now? There have been four years or almost four years that we could have gotten this information. Why is this coming out now? And the, you know, spooky Kaya says it’s because, I think the Republicans have gotten what they wanted, which is their next Supreme Court seat. And so, in fact, do we need this dude anymore? Maybe not. And so maybe it’s OK that he’s disposable at this point because they have what they need. And so, like, I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’m, you know, a conspiracist. I just. Oh, it has given me heartburn. And if it doesn’t give everybody in this country heartburn, then shame on us. Like we deserve the leadership that we have gotten. And this makes me want to fight even harder and more. But my fellow Americans like, what are we doing?

Kaya [00:06:41] If this man does not pay income taxes, then none of us should pay income taxes. Are you kidding me?

Kaya [00:06:47] My news today is following the ongoing saga of New York City schools reopening. New York City schools were originally scheduled to reopen on September the 10th, and then the opening was delayed until September 21st after the teachers union threatened to strike. And a principals union said the planning process lacked direction. Funding to schools has been inadequate. There hasn’t been a blueprint. There are questions around schedules, all kinds of things. And now we’re at a point where it just continues to push back and back in person. Learning will not fully be phased in until October one. And that brings us to today, where the New York City Principals Union called for Mayor de Blasio to cede control of New York City public schools. Why is this happening? This is an interesting, I think, pas de deux or a dance between the unions and the city government around what should happen in schools. You have the teachers union who is pushing really hard and has actually realized a deal where they’ve been able to ensure that you need different teachers to teach in different ways. So you need some set of teachers to teach in building. You need a different set of teachers to teach remotely. And you need a completely different set of teachers to teach hybrid. And in fact, there are no additional teachers in New York City public schools. And so where are all of these teachers coming from if each teacher can only do one type of learning? There are also fewer teachers in the system because of health accommodations that have been afforded to teachers. And you have each teacher who is teaching in person has to teach a smaller number of kids because of social distancing rules. So they are literally are just not enough people to cover remote learning and in-person learning and the hybrid learning due to the union deal that the teachers union has struck, which makes it an impossible logistical problem for school principals. The principals union says that they need an additional ten to twelve thousand teachers. Mr. de Blasio has deployed about 45 hundred additional teachers. There’s less lab teaching happening. The quality of the teaching is compromised. And while the unions have been incredibly outspoken about staffing and safety issues, they’ve been very quiet about requesting resources and support for improving remote teaching. And so we have ourselves at a point where the principals union has issued a vote of no confidence in the mayor and the chancellor. They’ve asked the state Education Department to intervene in this situation. We’re at this sort of impasse. But what’s interesting about it is labor and management have been at the table together for the last six months. Other districts have figured out how to do this. And here we are with the largest school district in the country that is paralyzed. And the people who? Lose our kids, right? Kids lose, kids aren’t getting instruction, they aren’t getting quality instruction. Families have no idea what’s going on and what’s not going on. And lots of people are leaving city hall and leaving the chancellor’s office in recent months. And ultimately, this request to cede control is really an issue around mayoral control of schools. Should it be should it not be? One of the promises of mayoral control is that it rests accountability with one person who you can unelect if you don’t think they’re doing a good job. But how do you on elect somebody who is a lame duck mayor, who’s ending his term, who has not created the kinds of labor management agreements that would allow school to move forward, and where city residents, where families and students, literally families, students, teachers, principals, all of these people are out here doing the best they can with what they have. And the city’s leadership is not supporting them in the mission, the critical mission of educating young people. New York City is a bell weather school district. It’s often said, as New York City goes, is how the rest of the country goes. And fortunately, that is not the case. Most other school districts are figuring out how to deal with this increasingly difficult situation that is remote learning. But most folks are in school doing it some way or another and they still have problems and they still have challenges. Principals, teachers, students, families. New York City can’t seem to get it together.

De’Ara [00:11:46] One of the most troubling things about I mean, there’s so many troubling things. But I think just as just operationally like understanding how many senior officials have left and kind of have left in protest and people that, you know, you need, like the chief operating officer, the chief human capital. We’re talking about needing all these teachers. I would imagine that that’s in that positions wheelhouse. So I think how do you get to an answer? How do you get to a strategy that’s operationalized if you don’t have the folks to do it, if you don’t have experienced folks who can do just that? So obviously, Kaya, you know better better than me. Like, if this if this, you know, vote of no confidence is going to get us in the right direction.

De’Ara [00:12:30] This is one of those things where here we go about hope again, where the hopelessness is actually in.

De’Ara [00:12:37] This is a situation where we may not have the people that we need to solve the problem.

DeRay [00:12:43] You know, it’s interesting too, so Kaya used to work in D.C. public schools. I used to be in Baltimore City Public Schools. Baltimore City just announced that they are laying off four hundred fifty temporary workers and that there’s a hiring freeze. And it’s like, you know, I think the sense of urgency that we keep bringing every week about education is like we got to figure this out in school systems, just can’t do it on their own.

DeRay [00:13:05] Like, that’s like that. Is it? Like the school systems can’t you don’t have to be like the city county government. But we’ve got like we got to figure it out because this is going to happen in a place like Baltimore. Especially where like, nobody’s hiring right now. Nobody. Not in math. So, like, you, you lay off a lot of these temps. This is like their only income. Schools need them and they are going to be you know, the way this works is that, you know, this historically, the city said they’re going to lay people off. Some state legislator like finds money and two months later, but the people are already impacted. So then they come back or like we go to recruit them back because we found money. They somewhere else, the school, you know, the damage is already done. And it’s like we could actually get in front of all of this. But there’s no new pandemic money come in right now and states don’t have the money to do it. The school systems are trying to cut as few permanent people as possible. But like the reckoning is coming around, the money, it is coming.

Kaya [00:14:03] The reckoning.

Kaya [00:14:03] We keep saying this. I feel like every week we talk about the layoffs that are coming. We talk about the the economic implications that have not yet hit. It is coming and is coming in droves.

Sam [00:14:14] So so my news is about the Supreme Court, where, as you probably already know, there is a massive fight around the proposed nomination by Donald Trump of Amy Cony Barrett, who has a track record that is out of control and way too many issues to mention on this pod in one segment. But what is fascinating and something that is an alarming trend with Trump’s nominations and ultimately the appointments to the federal judiciary, not only Supreme Court, with the lower courts as well, is a trend of nominations. Nearly 60 federal court confirmations now of justices who have refused to comment on whether Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided. That might sound wild and ridiculous. It is true. Like the they were asked if Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided, they did not say yes. And that is a trend, this is apparently something that is new, that emerged under the Trump administration as a pattern of justices just simply refusing to comment on this or deferring to existing Supreme Court precedent, saying they’re not qualified to comment on something the supreme Court decided pretty much dodging the question at every turn. And this is really, really problematic when you think about the control that the Trump administration has exerted over the federal judiciary. How many court appointments he’s made and now threatens to make to the Supreme Court and all of the cases that might be affected by a change in the composition of the Supreme Court. So not only Brown v. Board of Education, where it seems more and more justices now are at best, ambivalent around it and probably concealing an opposition that they were unwilling to voice. But also, cases like affirmative action, which was decided by one vote recently by the Supreme Court, now are in danger. So a whole host of. And that’s not even starting the conversation on Roe v. Wade, which is also in danger by this Supreme Court nomination. So I wanted to bring that to this pod because I think the full range of issues that are now hanging in the balance and tenuous because of this court nomination often goes under the radar.

De’Ara [00:16:21] Well, this I think what this makes me think about and I think it’s kind of, again, back to this larger notion of democracy, looking at like what the world deems a true democracy and like what those pillars are.

De’Ara [00:16:37] One of them is an independent judiciary. Now, I don’t know if we’re moving in the direction of having a truly independent judiciary, which is so wild to me because the last time I worked on a program about creating more space for an independent judiciary was in Yemen.

De’Ara [00:17:00] That’s the work I did in Yemen.

De’Ara [00:17:01] So here we are in the United States of America with the same concern, with the same concerns. I think it is looking at where we are in terms of education, in terms of human rights, in terms of our judiciary, in terms of police accountability. We’re just getting closer to the bottom of all these lists.

De’Ara [00:17:20] I do have some hopeful news today. Well, I hope you all find it helpful. I’m excited about it. I’m excited just to say.

De’Ara [00:17:27] Mwazulu. That’s right. That’s exactly…get to know it.  Mwazul.

De’Ara [00:17:33] Diyabanza, Is an activist, Congolese activists. In June, he walked in to the Quai Branly Museum, which basically houses all of these treasures from France’s former colonies. He and some colleagues of his, I’m sure other activists in the movement, bought a ticket, got in the museum, went to the African section. Then they started basic, then, like, I appreciate New York Times reporting this, but also the reporting I was like, mmmm?

De’Ara [00:18:02] So, I mean, if I knew how to use Twitter, well, I would tweet at this reporter. Maybe I still will. Anyway, what she said is that he made a ruckus demonstration.

De’Ara [00:18:12] And anytime I hear, ruckus and, black person, I’m like, nope, leave us alone.

Kaya [00:18:15] It might have been a party.

De’Ara [00:18:21] But then and then I watched the Facebook because he puts these. So basically he like does this whole, like, demonstration where he talks about French colonialism, European colonialism in general. And I watched him. It was in French. I don’t know what he was saying, but it sounded lovely to me.

De’Ara [00:18:36] And what it was not was a ruckus that is for sure. Seemed very organized.

De’Ara [00:18:42] So he is going on and on. And then him and his compatriot.

Kaya [00:18:47] Him and his boys.

De’Ara [00:18:49] And his boys, you know, but I like to say compatriots, because, you know, they are activists.

De’Ara [00:18:53] So he removed a slender 19th century wooden funerary post from a region that is now in Chad or the Sudan.

De’Ara [00:19:01] And then he headed for the exit. Get to the exit. Of course, the museum security stopped him. So he’s basically going to trial for this kind of like a, you know, alleged theft or trying to steal this artifact. But, of course, Mwazulu said that, how can you steal something that belongs to you?

De’Ara [00:19:23] That’s right, brother. That’s exactly right. You said, the fact that I had to pay my own money to see what had been taken by force, this heritage that belonged back home where I come from. That’s when the decision was made to take action.

De’Ara [00:19:37] Come on now. So he did this also in London in a museum in London. He also did this again at a museum in the Netherlands as well. And so I just. Obviously thought this was an interesting piece of news, because sometimes, racism in colonialism is so deep that we kind of forget all of these things have been stolen from us and stolen from so many types of indigenous peoples over hundreds of years. And so I think this act was actually fascinating because I think it gets people thinking in a different type of way. But I think it’s also going to really this is this trial is going to happen in Paris. So I think it’s also going to be an interesting look at the discussion about race in Paris, which we know can be interesting since they want to do things like take race out of the Constitution. So I don’t know. I just wanted to bring that to the pod because I’m obsessed with Mwazulu Diyabanza.

Sam [00:20:29] I just remember seeing those videos they like went viral, seeing him in that museum, like I didn’t know where it was or like what was happening. But I knew that, like, he was holding the artifact and he had a claim to that more and more claimed artifact that anybody in that museum did. And like I just thought it was such a brilliant direct action to bring attention to the obvious fact that all of that stuff in those museums is stolen. And in the article, it was they said there were 90,000 cultural artifacts from sub-Saharan Africa that were currently sitting in French museums. Ninety thousand. So, like the scale of this is just mind boggling. And like, that’s just what they put in the museum. You know, this all the stuff and random rich people’s homes and, you know, in random buildings and office buildings downtown, like, there’s all kinds of artifacts that you just see and you’re like, I don’t know how you got that, but I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t done legally. I’m pretty well, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t done consensually. And I’m pretty sure that you stole that from the continent. But it is like this, the scale of it’s mind boggling.

Sam [00:21:33] I’m glad that this conversation has been sparked in such a direct and brilliant way. And again, you know, I think, you know, past episodes we’ve talked about places like Burundi that are demanding reparations from for artifacts that have been stolen. I believe that Congo as well made similar claims. And so. So it’s cool to see. So this emerging movement that is it seems to be getting more and more steam like every single day that these artifacts need to be returned. The other thing that I didn’t know was that France had done that whole commission and agreed that they should be returning like the stolen cultural artifacts. So I want to know, like, what’s the progress on that?

De’Ara [00:22:15] They returned.

De’Ara [00:22:16] One thing, Sam. No. One thing has been returned.

Sam [00:22:17] One thing?

De’Ara [00:22:20] One. 27 restitutions have been announced and just one object has been returned. Out of those 90000. And it’s probably real small.

Sam [00:22:27] Wow. Wow.

Kaya [00:22:28] But that’s to me why this thing taking place, this trial taking place in France is actually interesting. Right. You have the the president of France saying, yes, we should we will give back African artifacts. And he said that in 2017, you have only 27 restitution so far and one object being returned. And then this man, who, in fact, has a very clear cultural tie to this thievery. Right. His his mother told him the story of artifacts that had been taken from his grandfather, his great grandfather, or what have you. And he’s out here doing his Kill Monger thing. Right? I was I was thinking about the Black Panther, right? And Kill Mongar going into the museum and taking what you know, what was Wakanda’s, now for bad reasons. But still, his point was was valid. I wonder how France is going to handle this trial when, you know, the president has already said that they need to return these things. And I think he’s going to be interesting to watch.

DeRay [00:23:34] I think this is a reminder to me that so many of these European countries don’t have a deep sense of culture and not rooted in colonialism.

DeRay [00:23:42] So their fear of returning the artifacts is like, what else do you look at there? Because it was people from all these colonies that built it all, made it pop, made it nice. We were the swag.

Kaya [00:23:55] It’s what we do.

DeRay [00:23:55] So, that’s what we do. We did it and this dear country and we did it across the world. So they are nervous. You get rid of this stuff in the museum. What how many Michelangelo’s can you look at? I mean, really, how many can you look at.

De’Ara [00:24:09] Well, that’s what that’s what one of the quotes was. Right.

De’Ara [00:24:12] The reporter said, the worry among museum administrators and cultural officials is that such actions will multiply in recarpet inside museums.

De’Ara [00:24:21] Yeah. Amen.

DeRay [00:24:21] Exactly. Because how many of these white people carved in bronze, can you look at?  You know, like. But that is what happens. So that’s one point. The second point is this reminder that this is what happens with race all the time. The people think the acknowledgment is the ultimate act. Right. So they are like the police are killing people and they, like, yell and scream, and you’re like, that is not the ultimate act. The museums have stolen, not the ultimate act. The fix is the ultimate act. Right. So when we say the police are killing people, the ultimate act is like no more police killing people and then shifting away from police as our response to public safety. We think about the museums. It’s like return the artifacts. Yes. And figure out ways that we celebrate people where they are and support them in those celebrations. Right. That’s actually the. But the acknowledgment is not the big act. White supremacy will always try to convince you that the acknowledgment is where the hardness was. Like France probably, I can only imagine the PR campaign they put out about acknowledging that they stole from people as if that was like some revelatory thing for anybody. But they will make that seem like the big thing so they don’t actually have to do the work that comes next. Okay, so my news is back on dire train is that people are running out of money. So that’s the takeaway. So you remember that there were the unemployment benefits. People some people got six hundred dollars extra and weekly unemployment payments and then the right was fear mongering, saying that this deincentivized people going back to work as they got, quote, paid more while they were not working than when they did work. The Congress has not approved anything else, so there’s nothing else since that. But there was this executive order that allowed for three hundred additional dollars and weekly benefits. But the states had to contribute to some of it. And what we found are what the Hill reports is a half of states run out of funds for Trump’s 300 dollar unemployment expansion. So the long story short is that there are a set of states that were like, cool, we’ll do this 300 dollar thing will participate in this program in the interim, like while we wait for another real stimulus coming from the federal government or for a real package coming from the federal government. And those states actually start a round of money. And it’s just this reminded that, like we have seen the worst hopefully, knock on wood of the medical impact of Covid. We think at least we understand now how to do hospitals and doctors like we we sort of figure that out. I do not think we have seen the worst of the financial impact at all. And like, when you get states, states and you are running out of money for this, I can only imagine what else you running out of money for. We just aren’t reporting it right now. We’re like sort of padding the numbers or we’re like not by you know, because I think about the school system. If I had to figure it out right now, we wouldn’t be paying any money for printers. Our electricity bill would probably be like we’d be making savings in these really weird places that would offset us reporting sort of bigger losses, but that would only last for so long. And like, I just, you know, if if Congress isn’t able to and maybe that’s one of the things that we hope for, is that we want Congress and the presidency, that Kamala and Joe will be able to come out with a really big pandemic package that just like helps to make people as whole as possible like that would be really powerful. But that’s January at best. And like, you know, the winter is gonna be a whole different time to be cooped up in a house like this. It’ll be just a whole different time that, you know, I think about what it’s like to feed your elderly neighbor. So like in the Midwest, in the South and the east, like these places where the winter is going to hit hard, this is gonna be a whole new ballgame for how we deal with the pandemic.

DeRay [00:28:09] So I just wanted to bring this here.

Sam [00:28:11] This act by Trump, the executive order authorizing that additional three hundred dollars in lieu of congressional action. It’s like a reminder of the limits of presidential power, which is like a nice way of saying, like Donald Trump says, he does things that he doesn’t really do. The idea behind this and it was sort of marketed as like we’re going to step in where the states are not and like fill that need and everything’s gonna be okay. And the Democrats are at fault. Blah, blah, blah. But in reality, like, this program is not funded at the level that it needs to be to meet anybody’s needs. Right. We’re talking about a program that is set to expire, that additional funding is set to expire very soon in a matter of weeks. And the total budget for it was 44 billion dollars administered by FEMA. And by the way, FEMA’s total budget is only 20 billion dollars. So this is like a massive amount of money for FEMA. And it’s like already like run through most of that money. And now we’re in a situation where, like, Congress needs to appropriate money. As we know it doesn’t look like the Republicans are in any mood to spend any money at all anytime soon, because it seems they’re busy with Supreme Court nominations and, you know, protecting Donald Trump’s power and undermining the election and not like taking up the actual needs of Americans. And so I think that is, you know, it’s it’s a reminder that that this program was sold in a way that wasn’t commensurate with the amount of money that people actually need. And they’re like, we need Congress to take action right now.

DeRay [00:29:42] Don’t go anywhere. More Pod Save the People is coming.

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DeRay [00:31:04] Pod Save the People is brought to you by the MacMilan Publishing. Ronald Goldfarb remembers protesting on the streets of DC the night after Dr. King’s assassination. But he says he has never seen a revolution quite like the one we are in the middle of now. Black Lives Matter, police brutality, walkouts. We are in the midst of a justice revolution and people are seeking answers to the problems of social, political and economic inequality.

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DeRay [00:32:01] And now, a quick check in with Netta about what’s going on.

Netta [00:32:04] Hey, what’s up everybody? It’s me Netta, and thanks for tuning back in.  The same day that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that a grand jury decided not to charge any of the officers for murdering Breonna Taylor in March, former Vice President Joe Biden weighed in, urging protesters to remain peaceful. He said, “they should be peaceful. Do not sully her memory or her mother’s by engaging in any violence. It’s totally inappropriate for that to happen. She wouldn’t want it, nor would her mother. So I would hope they do that.” Let me get the disclaimers right now for those who may write in. The Elzie household is a voting household. And while Biden is light years better than the current occupant in the White House, nobody is above critique. I’ve always found it interesting that black protesters, for virtually any cause in this country, are always met with frantic calls for peace. Can I say this another way? Our reactions to state sanctioned violence are supposed to be peaceful. I’m not one to advocate violence, but I also understand that violence begets violence and violence is in the DNA of this country. From the American Revolution to the way we’ve responded to attacks on our own soil like Pearl Harbor and 9/11. There is no turning the other cheek. And here we are with another call for protesters to be peaceful in response to state sanctioned violence. It is outrageous and is completely out of line for someone who is trying to position themselves as the successor of Barack Obama and running on being a friend of the civil rights movement. And it’s becoming very clear that Biden does not seem too friendly with this current protest movement, much like he wasn’t when Ferguson imploded in 2014. I can’t forget that. Now, not all the news last week after the grand jury decision was bad. LeBron James, the biggest male athlete on the planet, came out with a definitive statement on the verdict and continue to call for justice for Breonna Taylor. James has continue to leverage his celebrity and platform by telling reporters, “We want justice no matter how long it takes.” Hearing Lebron talk like this forces me into dream mode for years in our barbershops, beauty salons, living rooms and on social media, black people have been wondering what would happen if our athletes today began to raise their voices in service to black liberation and justice. What if athletes sat out until things changed? The NBA strike, because that’s what it was. Since the players are employees who withheld their labor gave us a glimpse of this future. Still, I can’t help but wonder what could a strike from players accomplish? I imagine a pro long strike would get owners, all billionaires, to get some of their powerful policy friends on the phone. Maybe we’ll see some sweeping changes overnight. A girl really can dream. Until that day comes, though, shout out to LeBron James, the GOAT. Whether he’s in Miami, Cleveland or L.A., shout out to Bron for speaking up when so many others remain silent. LeBron is clearly my favorite basketball player. I also can’t help but think of about the responses to, and tolerance of violence coming from the Right. While people admonish protesters of police violence to respond to the violence peacefully, we have yet another example of anti protester violence to report on. In Hollywood, a vehicle once again plowed into a crowd of protesters demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, striking one person. I wonder what the response would be if my black self turned my car into a lethal weapon and drove through a crowd of people who are protesting maybe the right to not wear masks during a deadly pandemic. What do you suppose the police response might be? Death immediately comes to my mind. I certainly wouldn’t be getting the hero’s welcome that Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse is receiving. While GoFundMe campaigns for Rittenhouse’s defenses have been taken down, It hasn’t stopped right-wing supporters from raising thousands of dollars on behalf of a killer. And just days after Taylor’s decision, Rittenhouse, his mother, received a standing ovation at a GOP event where her son was praised. Rittenhouse is charged with first degree intentional homicide for shooting and killing two protesters last month. His legal team is currently fighting his extradition to Wisconsin. There is far too much comfort on the right for violence against protesters exercising their First Amendment rights. A reckoning this coming because this is both unconstitutional and unsustainable. And enclosing. I just want to say that I will be taking a break from the pod, as I mentioned, like, the Breonna Taylor case, the grand jury announcement, the lack of justice for this black woman. But watching her become an object of even more capitalistic ventures over the summer as people plastered her face everywhere. It really impacted me. And I knew she was not going to get justice from her elected officials, from anyone in any sort of seat of power at the current moment. I just knew it. And I think just the realization that I knew that this is coming. Watching my friends in Kentucky have to go through the same things that they literally just lived us going through, six years ago. It’s just a little hard. So I’m trying to do some work to not internalize too much of this. So with that, I’m going to take a little break and I will be back one day. Thanks so much for having me. And I’ve enjoyed having this banter with you all every week.

Netta [00:38:04] Peace, ya’ll.

DeRay [00:38:05] Hey, you’re listening to Pod Save the People. Don’t go anywhere. There’s more to come.

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DeRay [00:40:08] Plus, free shipping on every order. Get 20 percent off a, spelled N U T R A F O, promo code, SAVETHEPEOPLE.  Julie Ginnigle Is running to be Maricopa County attorney, the top prosecutor whose scope would oversee nearly five million people in and around Phoenix, Arizona. She’s running up against a Republican incumbent who was sworn into office in 2019 when the former head of the department left amid numerous controversies. Today, we discuss the power that a prosecutor wields to create justice. And we talk about Gunnigle’s plans for the future of Arizona. Let’s go. Julie Gunnigle. Thanks so much for joining us today on Pottsy of the People.

Julie Gunnigle [00:40:47] Oh, my goodness. Thank you so much for having me.

DeRay [00:40:49] Now, you’re running for the county attorney in Maricopa County. Can you talk about why now? What got you to a place where this was going to be your calling or your desire? Like how’d you get here?

Julie Gunnigle [00:41:03] Yeah. Two really good questions. So first, just a little bit about the community that I’m, that I’m looking to serve. So, Maricopa County, if it isn’t on people’s radar in the 2020 election, it should be. It’s the fourth largest county in the country. It’s the third largest prosecutor’s office in our entire country. And the path to, you know, control of the Senate and the presidency run through this really important, super diverse and growing area of our country. So I was born and raised here, and I was someone who was drawn to public service because I quite literally grew up in Arizona classrooms, my mom was a public school teacher. So I spent my summer vacations you know, putting up her bulletin board. And, you know, while my career went towards being an attorney, I’ve always been drawn to serve the public. So I serve the public as a prosecutor in Elkhart County, Indiana. And then later as a financial crime and public corruption prosecutor in Cook County, Illinois. And, my passion is accountability. I just think that we should take crimes against our democracy really seriously. And I look at, around Arizona and the big problems we have, whether it be the racism in our criminal justice system, our pervasive underfunding of public education and our funding of private prisons. And I see conflicts of interest and corruption at the heart of it. So I want to do something about it.

DeRay [00:42:21] What do you think the prosecutor’s role in this municipality specifically? Like, why do you think this is an avenue of change?

Julie Gunnigle [00:42:29] So first, for example, you know, Phoenix had one of the worst spates of officers involved shootings in the entire country in twenty nineteen. And our prosecutor’s office did nothing about it, did nothing to acknowledge the pain and suffering of the community. And, you know, it has not been representative of the people. The other thing that I see is, you know, [00:42:54]in that they want [0.4s] I’m running against somebody who is unelected and is appointed. And the very first thing that they did when they got into office was disband the public corruption unit and instead put into place a unit that specifically prosecutes crimes committed against first responders.

DeRay [00:43:10] Wow.

Julie Gunnigle [00:43:11] And when doing that, you know, she sent a very clear message about who was important to her and who wasn’t.

DeRay [00:43:18] Now. So you would be the prosecutor for Phoenix, too?

Julie Gunnigle [00:43:21] Exactly. So it’s Phoenix, it’s Mesa. It’s you know, it’s all of Tuckey. It’s Glendale, it’s Scottsdale. It’s Fountain Hills. It goes all the way over to Buckeye and clear over to Apache Junction. It’s a huge, huge jurisdiction.

DeRay [00:43:34] Oh, my goodness. Wow. Yeah. You know, it’s interesting when I look at the police violence data, Mesa’s up there, Scottsdale’s up there. Phoenix is up there. It makes sense to me why this is now the fourth largest county, third largest prosecutor’s office. What about the issues around mass incarceration? What what would be the prosecutor’s ability to cut down on mass incarceration in Arizona, given the broad range of the office?

Julie Gunnigle [00:43:56] A lot of what happens within mass incarceration is as a result of policy decisions that are made by the prosecutor. So here in Arizona, there’s a few particularly egregious things that our prosecutor does. We have a policy of charging every single possible crime, and we have a plea to the lead system, which basically says that if someone is going to plead guilty to an offense, they have to plead to the highest offense charge, which has led to our mass incarceration crisis. We also have a legislature that is heavy on mandatory minimums and that’s driven up our incarceration crisis. We also have something called ‘truth in sentencing.’ And what that says is that any person who is sentenced has to serve 85 percent of their sentence, which really doesn’t place any sort of incentives for someone to rehabilitate. As a result, we’ve seen almost no programs offered in our prisons that would help someone once they’re released, you know, integrate back into their community, you know, get a job and be able to be independent. And then I suppose the most egregious thing that this office does, is we have this thing called Hannah Prior’s. And what it what that does is it allows a prosecutor to charge someone as a repeat criminal offender on their first offense.

DeRay [00:45:13] How?

Julie Gunnigle [00:45:15] So if somebody has, for example, you know, to arrest or maybe it’s two charges originating from the same criminal complaint. The mere presence of a second chargeable offense becomes chargeable and makes them a repeat offender on the very first time. It’s something that our legislature actually tried to end last session and our governor vetoed it and said that he likes the flexibility that this system provides for prosecutors. And it does. It provides a real hammer. It’s one of the reasons why we don’t see very many jury trials here in Maricopa County because we see a big jury tax that is a higher sentence for those who are convicted by a jury versus pleading to a charge. And our system of mandatory minimums just gives all the power back to the prosecutors.

DeRay [00:46:02] Wow, that’s fascinating. Can you, you mentioned charge stacking. Can you just explain that for people who don’t know what that is or just so we can all make sure we understand it?

Julie Gunnigle [00:46:11] Sure. Let’s say that we’re talking, for example, about a drug offense. Those are the most common charges that run through this office. And let’s say that someone is found in possession of an amount of marijuana, we’re one of the last states in the country to have marijuana be a felony. But let’s say that they also, for example, have a pipe or a baggie that holds the marijuana. Well, now you have not only marijuana possession as a felony, but now you have a paraphernalia charge. Let’s say it’s divided among two. Well, now that’s chargeable as an intent to sell. So what charge stacking does is say, well, in this criminal event, instead of just charging someone with the crime that might lead to most just sentence or the most just sanction, let’s charge everything possible so that we have the maximum leverage over those who we charge. It’s not right, it’s why there’s one hundred and fifty people right now in Arizona who are in our prisons for no reason other than simple marijuana possession. And meanwhile, they’re being exposed to Covid. It’s quite literally the death sentence for having marijuana.

DeRay [00:47:15] Wow.  And are private prisons in issue in Arizona.

DeRay [00:47:17] I know nationally it’s only eight percent of people incarcerated are in a private prison. But what does that look like in Arizona?

Julie Gunnigle [00:47:22] Yeah, it it’s higher than that in Arizona. We’re not yet 50/50, although I know that people would like to see it become that way. And it’s in my view, this is an issue of corruption. Right. Our private prison industry is a prolific funder of campaigns. And while they haven’t become directly involved in the county attorney race, there are, you know, multiple executive branch and legislative representative who who take money from private prisons and then go ahead and vote for a higher mandatory minimums that send more folks to jail and prison. So it’s a big issue here in Arizona, that kind of conflict of interest between legislators and the folks that they should be serving.

DeRay [00:48:04] And what about no knock warrants? What can prosecutors do there?

Julie Gunnigle [00:48:07] So as a matter of policy, a reform minded county attorney can stop supporting no knock warrants. These warrants go before judges and typically have to get signed off by prosecutors. Let’s stop asking for them. No knock warrants, in my opinion. And the research supports that they are dangerous.

Julie Gunnigle [00:48:24] First of all, and they’re not even powers that police originally asked for as part of the war on drugs, it was the brainchild of a 20 something congressional staffer who thought that it would look fierce to be able to knock down doors instead of doing what we know is a constitutional requirement of knock and announce. So I would be supportive of of ending that practice here in Maricopa County.

DeRay [00:48:48] How do you feel about qualified immunity? Is it. Are we overblowing this? Is this really not an issue? But it just takes up a lot of conversation in the public imagination? Is there something you could do about qualified immunity as a prosecutor? Like what’s the what there.

Julie Gunnigle [00:49:00] Yeah, so qualified immunity, well, at least in my view is that it needs to end and that is an unqualified statement. It absolutely needs to end. The question in my mind, though, is how to do it, because when you have something that originated at the federal court level, so a a doctrine that is judicially decided, the only way to end it is to get some federal legislation on the books to do that.

Julie Gunnigle [00:49:26] So I think a prosecutor’s role in that scenario is to be an advocate. Right. And in Maricopa County, our prosecutors have traditionally held an outside advocacy role down at our legislature, too, and many times it’s, you know, in cases that aren’t exactly just and they’ve used their power for advocacy to drive up sentences. But I really do see a role for good if we can get a reform minded person in there to do that important advocacy work.

Julie Gunnigle [00:49:55] The other thing I would note is that I’m the third largest prosecutor’s office in the country. Maricopa County should be leading. Why isn’t the only time that we hear about this person in the national news is because they’re being disbarred or their top prosecutor is being sanctioned or they send a politically motivated person down to the Kavanaugh hearings. Why is it that we never hear about someone in this role, you know, doing the good work of reforming and being a nationwide leader when it is such a large office?

DeRay [00:50:27] I wanted to talk to you about mental health. And it seems like in so many places across the country, mental health has been criminalized like people struggling with issues of mental health. What can a prosecutor do to make sure that we we treat mental health issues as a public health issue and not as a criminal justice issue?

Julie Gunnigle [00:50:42] You know, mental health has been one of the big reasons why people become involved initially in the criminal justice system. Right. So one of the things that we can do is that we can choose not to prosecute cases where we know that the conduct is motivated by a mental health event. In other areas of our state, we have World-Class deflection programs. And what those do is that takes someone who is who is in crisis and it diverts them directly to providers that can help and make sure that that person never enters the criminal justice process. And then we can really have a culture shift that our prosecutors office. So one of the ways that this office has made news in the past is that they have hired experts who have had not very scientific opinions about mental health, particularly in the juvenile justice system. They’ve also encouraged a culture of not believing people when they say that conduct was related to their mental health. In fact, we got the slides just last year that were being used to train prosecutors. And what they inferred is that anybody who says that their conduct was related to mental health was lying and fabricating it as part of their defense. So I just think that if we can really educate our. Prosecutors for what is a pervasive issue here in our county, I mean, we know disproportionately that folks with particularly serious mental illness are disproportionately represented in our incarcerated population. We can educate prosecutors about that and what that looks like. I think they can really do justice in their cases by taking that into account and treating each case with the discretion and the intelligence and sensitivity that each individual deserves.

DeRay [00:52:27] Well, and what do you say to people, you know, there’s some people who say that prosecutors really can never be an avenue for real change because, like, your job is predicated on putting people in jail like that is a core part of what you do. What do you say to people who who offer that.

Julie Gunnigle [00:52:42] Ha!

Julie Gunnigle [00:52:43] No, no, you’re getting it wrong. I mean, what we’ve seen nationwide is when you get a reformer into this office, like an Eric Gonzalez, or a Larry Krasner, like, what you can see is immediate day one change because our criminal justice system is a result of intentional choices. We empower prosecutors with nearly absolute discretion to determine who is charged and for what sort of conduct. And it would seem to me that if you could get someone into this role who governs with the whole community in mind and is really focused on doing justice, you can have a day one impact, especially in these larger prosecutors offices that have, you know, storied past of over incarceration and supporting corruption and of not treating people fairly. I think if we can get someone in this office who’s, you know, a quality minded, we can have real change. I think that community also wants it recognized who this office isn’t serving. Right. It’s not just that we need a prosecutor who can end mass incarceration and be intelligent with her charging decisions. We also, the big issue for who’s not believed. And here in Maricopa County, we know that undocumented folks, black, brown, indigenous people of color are pervasively not believed when they come forward as being victimized. This office still has a big justice gap on that front as well. And I think we need somebody who’s focused on doing justice for the entire community. And we get that as a matter of, you know, good policy and getting a reform-minded prosecutor in there.

DeRay [00:54:26] Another thing that I want to ask you, and this is, you know, somebody floated this by me and I just haven’t talked to a prosecutor since. They were like, what if we started to think about alternatives to the prosecutor being the person deciding if charges get filed against an officer? So what if the public defender had the power to charge an officer? Or what if another body could actually be the decider of whether an officer gets charged as a way to disrupt that sort of cozy relationship that the police and prosecutors naturally have with each other? What do you think about something like that?

Julie Gunnigle [00:55:01] I think that’s really smart. One of the things that I’ve been an advocate for, because it is by law, you know, the prosecutor’s office here in Maricopa County that has the jurisdiction over those offenses. So we need a change in statute to make that happen. But what I have promised is actual independence. So what needs to happen is we need people who don’t have that cozy relationship, and that cozy relationship, you know, in my experience has been as cozy as prosecutors, quite literally being married to police. But at a minimum, depending on police day in and day out to prove their cases. So what needs to happen is we need to have prosecutors who are independent of all of those other cases to intentionally evaluate these sorts of cases, do it with objectivity, and then have the expertize to when they prosecute, get it right. It does take expertize to do that in our county. We had over two years, several hundred reports of use of force call outs, and the county attorney only charged one of those officers. And when that case went to trial, was unable to get a conviction. So I think we need somebody who’s not just independent. I think it also needs to be community supervised as well. And whether or not that’s, you know, involving the defense bar or the public defender’s office and the community there that are most impacted by officer use of force cases. That’s what needs to happen.

DeRay [00:56:34] One other thing. One of the last things I want to ask you is, what are some myths that you encounter? I can only imagine that they are a lot of people who you talked to, as you see as a candidate now, who just have a warped views about like what actually happens in the system and what it really is like and and how justice really flows or doesn’t flow out. I want to give you a chance to talk about some of those things so that we can just clear the air.

Julie Gunnigle [00:56:54] So one of the things that I hear day in, day out. Is, you know, law and order, we still, how are you going to create these reforms and still be law and order? So drawing attention to the pervasive brokenness of our criminal justice system has been a challenge. It’s been an education challenge. Just yesterday, we got more information via the ACLU of things that are wrong in Maricopa County. We, for example, found that black folks serve on average seven months more than white folks for any charge here, on average. We found that Latinx folks will pay fines in excess of almost three hundred dollars more than white folks. And really just drawing attention to those disparities and educating the public, who, by and large, don’t often have the opportunity to come in contact with the criminal justice system in educating those voters. That part has been a challenge. One of the other issues that we talk about a lot, because I placed drug policy as one of the big issues in my campaign. It’s about two thirds of the cases that come through this office are drug cases. And if you were to add drug motivated crime or drug adjacent behavior, I mean, you’re talking about almost 90 percent of the cases that come to this office. And I’ve heard, even people who I thought would be like minded say things like, well, you know, why doesn’t prison work? It should be an opportunity for someone to sober up in these institutions. And really educating people about what it is like in prison. How is often easier to get drugs and substances inside our prisons than outside and how little we invest in rehabilitation and drug treatment inside our prisons? How it’s not even evidence based to have rehab inside prisons because there are few places that are more shameful and traumatic than jails and prisons. And we know that really the heart of getting the substance use issues deal with the trauma and the shame of addiction and how if we were to be, you know, more thoughtful, more humane, we’re willing to invest in people and not prisons, we could make a big difference. So that’s kind of what I’m seeing on the ground. It’s been a massive voter education effort. Thankfully, we’ve got polling back almost a year ago saying that over 80 percent of Maricopa County voters support criminal justice reform and well over 60 percent of them this is a long time ago recognized that there was systemic racism in our system. And now, in my view, it’s educating people about what to do about it.

DeRay [00:59:36] Where can people go to stay in touch with what you’re doing and to support the campaign?

Julie Gunnigle [00:59:39] So Gunnigle20/20 is the place to go. I’m on Facebook @Gunnigle2020 and on Twitter @JulieGunnigle.

DeRay [00:59:46] Cool. Well, let’s do it. Let’s do it. Sending you all the best luck. Can’t wait to talk to you after the election when we’re talking to the new D.A. and let’s make change.

Julie Gunnigle [00:59:55] Let’s do it.

DeRay [00:59:57] Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning into Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure to rate it wherever you get your podcasts, whether it’s Apple podcasts or somewhere else. And we’ll see you next week. Pod Save the People is a production of Crooked Media. It’s produced by Brock Wilbur and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our Executive producer is Jessica Cordova Kramer and myself. Special thanks to our weekly contributors, Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Ballenger, and Sam Sinyangwe. And our special contributor, Johnetta Elzie.