×

Search. Find those deep cuts.

Menu Crooked Media
Crooked Media
Pod Save The People

Interrogate the Obvious (In the Dark)

DeRay, Sam, Brittany and Clint discuss  a plan to fix inequality in San Francisco, officers illegally using information from sealed arrests, why women are more vulnerable in cars, and protests against the construction of a telescope at Mauna Kea. Samara Freemark and Natalie Jablonski join DeRay to talk about the latest season of ‘In the Dark’ and the Supreme Court case, Flowers v. Mississippi.

Show Notes

  • CityLab: A Clue to the Reason for Women’s Pervasive Car-Safety Problem
  • Colorlines: WATCH: The 50-Year History of Mismanagement at Hawai’i’s Mauna Kea
  • KAHEA: Donate to the Aloha ‘Āina Support Fund
  • Vox Recode: A plan to fix inequality would target CEOs who make 100 times more than their employees
  • The Marshall Project: Your Arrest Was Dismissed. But It’s Still In A Police Database.
  • APM Reports: In the Dark Season 2

Transcription below:

[00:00:00] DeRay: Hey, this is DeRay welcome to Pod Save the People. In this episode we have me, Brittany, Clint and Sam as usual and then Samara Freemark and Natalie Jablonski join me to talk about the investigative reporting and producing they’ve been doing for the American public media podcast “In the Dark.” This season they focus on the case of Curtis Flowers. A case you’ll hear more about during the interview.

Samara: Even though the US Supreme Court just said this prosecutor yet again has discriminated against black people in jury selection in a way that literally violates the US Constitution; same prosecutor has the right to just try Curtis again and have another try at it.

DeRay: And the advice this week is relatively simple. It is checking on your friends, you know somewhat, a lot of people are traveling people think that everybody’s just having a good time in general and I’ve had a lot of friends who have really been struggling. I’ve had some not so great days and not so great weekends and weeks and it has been my friends who knew something was off, my friends who just loved me enough to say like “hey is everything okay? You sure everything’s okay?” Or who also were just like let’s go do this thing. So, check your [00:01:00] friends. We’ll never win the battle if we are not as whole as we can be and sometimes that takes us reaching out not only when people directly ask for help, but it takes us anticipating the needs of the people that we love Let’s do it.

Brittany: Hey y’all. It’s the news. This is Brittany Packnett  at mspackyetti on all social media.

Sam: And this is Sam Sinyangwe at samswey on Twitter.

Clint: And this is Clint Smith at ClintSmithIII, and special guests baby Smith number two on the ones and twos take-your-daughter-to-work day.

DeRay:  Baby two Baby two years and this is DeRay at Deray on Twitter.

Brittany: Oh my gosh. Okay. I’m gonna try to stay focused on the news. I have baby fever a little bit. I’m just like, oh my God, I’m freaking out. Okay, but let’s focus because there’s a lot going on in the world and we should probably establish some ground rules here for our listeners. Ground rule number one: Rhetoric about going back to where you belong where you supposedly came from or being [00:02:00] sent back period is textbook racism 101. It is rhetoric that is borrowed from the Jim Crow era and far older and it is fundamentally about exerting power and control and ensuring that people who are not white internalize the idea that they do not belong in America irrespective of the people that originally lived here or the people that built this joint for free. So, I just want to establish that ground rule before, you know, we move on I’m pretty sure our audience knows that but we should just be clear given everything that’s going on with the squad with congresswoman Omar and this guy in the white house that I won’t name.

Clint: Something that often comes up is this idea that it is  un-American something that often comes up is this idea that this is somehow not reflective of this country or who this country has ever been and I think you know as many have pointed out this is something that has existed as long as America has existed and long before, you know, I think there’s so many different instances both can point to, certainly lots of different immigrant populations have experienced this. Certainly black [00:03:00] folks have experienced this and black folks have experienced this since we came over and 1619. Right? Like I’m thinking a lot about these days the American Colonization Society which was a group of people who said that we should abolish slavery but upon abolition We should send the enslaved black people back to Africa or resettle them in South America or resettle them in Haiti and the vast majority of black folks were like they had been in the United States for Generations at that point. And so this idea that you would send them back to a country that they never knew or send them even to country that they never lived in simply because you did not see them as your equal simply because you did not want to live with them that you didn’t want to accept that you would live in a country in which there was black Freedom there are a lot of parallels here. And that’s one that I’m I’ve been thinking about a lot.

Sam: Not only was this another blatantly racist comment. But you know, this is something that it’s been fascinating to see in the days since the coverage on this and the struggle yet again, it seems every time this man makes another racist comment [00:04:00] there’s a new cycle of at least 48 Hours where people sort of debate whether or not this was racist and it’s getting harder and harder even for the deniers to even function in this environment and part of the reason is the legacy of these comments that they go all the way back you know, this is something textbook racism Jim Crow era racism. Even the US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission which is the federal government body that enforces cases of racial discrimination they have In their definition of what constitutes discrimination it says word for word I quote: “examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults taunting ethnic epithets such as making fun of a person’s accent or comments like go back to where you came from whether made by supervisors or by co-workers.” So we’re talking about conduct that is just textbook discrimination textbook racism textbook xenophobia, and this is something that if you did this in your job if you did this, [00:05:00] really anywhere other than in the White House, apparently you would be fired right and rightfully so and yet this is another example of a president that acts Above the Law and institutions that have continued to fail to hold him accountable for doing that.

Brittany: And to be clear Sam because employment law was the very first thing that I thought about Upon asking if he would be subject to that knowing full well that he probably wouldn’t be what I found out is that obviously Congress wrote and created a lot of the federal employment law that currently exists but Exempted themselves, so it doesn’t apply to the federal government in the same way Right? So, if you are working in one of the agencies, for example, it applies differently than if you are a member of Congress or you’re the president.

Sam: So, the more powerful you get the less accountable you can be held.

DeRay: One of the things that I’m reminded of when we think about this is first, I don’t know if you all know that the Illinois Republican party came out with the squad comment has really fired up the Democratic base I think that there are a lot of people like me I like all of us who were waiting for people to fight back against Trump because it [00:06:00] seems like the party has just been so sort of weak in the presence of trump. So, shout out to the squad. They’re great. And I wish I could have been in Minneapolis when the community was there to greet Congressman Omar because shout out to her but the Illinois Republican party just released an ad that calls them the Jihad Squad. This is a real thing.

Brittany: What?

DeRay: I wish y’all could see Brittany and Sam and Clint’s face when I said that so it’s a poster of them again as the Jihad Squad. You have to see it for yourself. Y’all should, while I’m talking can Brittany Google it so you can see the picture because the picture. 

Brittany: I’m pulling it up.

DeRay: Like the way they posed the for women’s bodies is wild and racist in and of itself like without even being called the Jihad Squad, but it is really wild. It’s nuts. Like it is really something to behold that this is actually put out by the Illinois Republican party.

Brittany: This is so racist and disrespectful.

DeRay: Yeah, you got to see it. But we want to remind people that racism is racism right. That like this conversation about is Trump racist or is the [00:07:00] party racist is really meant to just keep you in this Perpetual cycle so you never actually deal with the content. What they want to do is keep us talking about the theory of racism and not the practice of racism and we always want to fight people about the practice. Do you want to fight people at the practice of words and enable behavior that harms want to fight people about the practice of discrimination that’s encoded in policies practices and laws We want to push people in the practices of exclusion and separation and other-ing that ultimately dehumanize people who want to push people in the practice of definition of saying who’s an Insider who’s an outsider Who belongs and who doesn’t belong. Who’s a citizen and who has the right to be alive. And we want to push people on the practice of withholding resources. Those are the practices of the way racism works that they want to keep us trapped in this conversation about is Trump racist as is if racism is a feeling and we always remind people it’s the practice so Trump’s practices have been racist and let me tell you just because Trump called the prime minister of Sweden which probably didn’t even happen about ASAP [00:08:00] Rocky doesn’t all of a sudden mean that Trump isn’t still racist. He probably frankly made the situation worse.

Sam: He did make it worse. They said they’re going to extend his incarceration.

Brittany: They’re like we don’t want to talk to you!

DeRay: Exactly.

Brittany: Have him call here one more time and see what happened.

DeRay: It’s a mess. So again, like I want to focus people on the practices of racism. Yeah, but the Jihad Squad y’all I cannot believe they did that.

Brittany: I also want to point to something that I heard on NPR when the author of ‘how to be an anti-racist’ by Doctor Ibram X. Kendi spoke on there about this particular incident because he set forth a really important reminder that the denial of racism is Central to the practice of racism that everyone who’s ever been racist is always going to say that’s not racist. That’s just me being a good American so you should identify that as a Telltale sign not as an exit. He has tried to walk this thing back only enough to communicate to people that he meant what he said, but he maybe shouldn’t have [00:09:00] said it in such an incendiary way because clearly there are lots of people who want him to be a much more polite racist than he is currently being people much prefer polite racism because It gets after the same end goal without ruffling people’s feathers and clearly lots of people were mad. Not that he was racist but that he wasn’t polite about it. We have to be wise enough and understand the nuance and the language and the rhetoric enough to call it out when we see it. My news is fundamentally about belonging and most importantly about indigenous communities in this country demanding what they deserve. So, in Hawaii hundreds of protesters have been on the mountain Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is a sacred mountainscape it is tens of thousands of Acres it is 14,000 feet high and it is considered by the community to be a life-giving force that it is sacred that it is incredibly meaningful to native Hawaiians beliefs culture and [00:10:00] practices part of that land was leased to the University of Hawaii over 50 years ago and during the last 50 years we’ve seen a number of abuses of Mauna Kea. At the hands of the various agencies that have been responsible for scientific work on the mountain. And so right now the controversy is around the fact that U of H wants to build a 30-meter telescope and Observation Center that will take up thousands of square feet It would be the 14th telescope built on this mountain in 50 years and over that 50 years there has been a continual ignoring of the people’s demands. So many of the telescopes over the 50 years were built without permits and when the community complained about that essentially in a lot of cases retroactive permits were created in order to try to justify the building of these even though it went against the law. We also know that there’s been a lack of accountability for the organizations and agencies that are supposed to [00:11:00] oversee these observation centers and telescopes and remember these are not tiny telescopes like the ones you might have in your house. It’s 14,000 feet and observations that are where hundreds of people come through. We know that in 1995 the oversight of these areas was so bad the $20,000 worth of trash had to be airlifted out that had been accumulated over time. We also know that there is toxic sewage and other chemicals. It’s leaking into the land there and this is precisely what protesters and native Hawaiians are complaining about the destruction of Sacred indigenous lands is not new to America. It’s not new to Hawaii. When we talk about the existence of Mount Rushmore; mount Rushmore was carved into the Black Hills, which are sacred to the Lakota Sioux people that Nation had the Black Hills be a part of their sacred identity for generations and then settlers came along and literally carved the faces of their colonizers into the sacred Hills. So, this is not a new story and yet we continue [00:12:00] to see people place their need above the needs of native communities. This is a conversation about land and its preservation. This is a conversation about culture and honoring it. This is a conversation about colonization and how many people think that they have a right to come in and do whatever they want to do. So, there are a couple of folks on Twitter who brought this to my attention. There was a massive protest in Hawaii. There’s a bail fund that people can donate to that. I will make sure the link is in the show notes, but most importantly I wanted to bring this here because we talked about indigenous issues before but they’re not past their present indigenous people are still here and they’re still fighting for their rights and they should at the very least be receiving a level of solidarity from the rest of us.

Sam: So at its core, I mean, this is another manifestation of white supremacy, right the ability of the state and the university to decide that they were just going to go forward with building a 14th telescope on Mauna Kea despite opposition from indigenous groups native Hawaiians who had [00:13:00] been there for longer than any of those institutions have been and it’s about who has the power who has the right to decide what happens on their own land. It’s been inspiring; it’s been incredible to see protesters really pushing back against this telescope and even some folks who are astronomers and others who have spoken up and said actually this is not a necessary telescope right building a 14 telescope is not more important than protecting the cultural and spiritual Heritage of indigenous populations and pushing within the scientific Community to say that this is actually not okay and that we should be incorporating this in our decision-making It shouldn’t just be about you know, where we think the best place to put a telescope is for scientific reasons. This should be about considering all of the other perspectives and Heritage and history and culture involved in deciding where that telescope should be if it’s built at all. I would encourage folks to reach out and look for accounts to follow Jamaica Osorio as one account that I followed recently of [00:14:00] somebody who’s been protesting there I mean as a scholar on these issues, but I think this is also an opportunity for all of us to learn more about what’s going on about the historical context that you spoke about Brittany and really trying to be better informed about how we make decisions moving forward.

Clint: I think it’s important to understand that this struggle around the telescope really has to be understood in the context of a much larger inner generational struggle that native Hawaiians have been engaging in for a long time and something that this is done for me is serve as a reminder that it’s important to be cognizant of whether it be when we’re traveling or even here in the places where we live like how many of us are cognizant of the history of indigenous communities where our homes are how many of us are cognizant of the history of indigenous communities in places that we go visit for our vacations. What does it mean that we go stay at a resort in Hawaii or anywhere that might be on land that was taken from an indigenous Community there? What does it mean that our homes are apartments are built on land that was stolen [00:15:00] from people generations and generations and generations ago. So, I think this is a moment for me that really serves as an important reminder to be more proactive. To be more thoughtful about engaging in the history both in where I live and where I travel and I think I’ve had moments where I’ve been good about it, but I’ve been inconsistent and I think this is the sort of reminder that I needed to ensure that I’m honoring the land upon which I’m stepping and I’m on during the people who were taken off that land and were killed on that land.

DeRay: You know, I seen some people be like we need to build a telescope. We need to do it for Science a mountains a mountain and it’s like, you know, if you’re religious or if there’s a sacred land to you or a religious land that your family cares about you would be up in arms if they just decided to build a telescope in the middle of the church or the sacred ground or the synagogue or whatever It is like you would be like that’s unacceptable and just because you might not understand another culture sacred practices doesn’t mean that they aren’t valid and I see that coming up a lot and this conversation like people don’t have a frame of reference [00:16:00] for it or they’re like, well, it’s not church So what how is this sacred and it’s like just because you don’t understand it doesn’t make it less sacred. The other thing is it this is a reminder of the power of activist that you know, you look at the activism people are passing out fact sheets people are informing people at Resorts, like people are doing a lot to say if you need to build a telescope There are other places to build it, but just not this one and I will say that actually hadn’t heard of this news at all Britney before you brought it up like it’s sort of wild how such big activism could be happening about an important issue and Trump has just taken over so much of the news that like, I worry that we’re missing so many important things that are happening in the country, especially for people who want to get involved So thanks for bringing this here. 

Hey, you’re listening to pod save the people stay tuned. There’s more to come. This podcast is made possible by you the listeners. But who are you we know that somewhere in the world you download this podcast this episode, but we literally know nothing else about you If you have a few minutes, you can [00:17:00] help us out and help us make the show better by telling us more about you and what you want to hear. Just go to go.crooked.com/survey to take a short survey and leave your feedback about the show. That’s Go.crooked.com/survey. As a thank you You’ll be entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card $100 for a couple minutes You got this.

Brittany: Those all-purpose cleaners we grew up with are full of harmful chemicals that have been linked to everything from respiratory problems to cancer. Yeah, you don’t need toxins to have a clean home. Especially not with Grove collaborative.

DeRay: Grove collaborative is the Online Marketplace to delivers all-natural home beauty and personal care products directly to you. Grove takes the guesswork out of going green and every Grove.co product is guaranteed to be good for you your family your home and the planet so you don’t have to spend your time reading confusing labels.

Brittany: You can get chemical-free Brands like Mrs. Meyers method and Seventh Generation. They also have great products like aluminum-free deodorant and sunscreen that safe for you to use. I mean who doesn’t need good deodorant and sunscreen during the summer especially in this heat wave shop [00:18:00] Grove. You don’t have to shop multiple stores or search endlessly online to get all the natural Goods you need for you and your family.

DeRay:  Join over half a million families who trusts Grove collaborative to make their homes happier and healthier plus shipping is fast and free on your first order for a limited time when our listeners go to Grove.co/People and place an order of $20 or more. You will get a free five-piece cleaning set for Mrs. Mayer and Grove. A $30 value.

Brittany: Go to Grove.Co/people to get this exclusive offer. That’s Grove dot c– o– / people.

Sam: So, my news is about Crash Test Dummies. It turns out that according to the University of Virginia Which did an extensive study of more than 31,000 people involved in car accidents between 1998 and 2015 what they found was that women are 73 percent more likely to be injured in a car accident than men now I had no idea this was [00:19:00] happening but it turns out that the reasons that we don’t have more answers as to why this is happening have to do with Crash Test Dummies historically, there’s only been one type of crash test dummy and that was a crash test dummy that was designed to be modeled after what they call an average male, right? They don’t give the specifications, but I’m imagining somebody maybe five foot ten maybe 200 pounds but since 2000 they’ve actually created a female crash test dummy. However, the problem is that the female crash test dummy is 5 feet tall and a hundred and ten pounds. So, the only two. Dummies that they use to actually test what car models are safe what aspects of a car may be causing injury to somebody in a car accident are these two dummies neither of which are designed to really reflect the diversity of sizes and body types of the population writ large and especially of women. And this is a huge huge issue because they simply do not have the research to help [00:20:00] diagnose this problem and solve this huge differential in the likelihood that you’ll be injured in a car accident. So, wanted to talk about this I had no idea this actually was something that was happening and that women were substantially more likely to be injured in a car accident So would love to hear thoughts.

Brittany: Well, I can tell you as a woman who is neither five feet tall nor am I a hundred ten pounds this is terribly frustrating but sadly unsurprising news to read just for the record the average American woman is a hundred seventy pounds and is 5 foot 3 with a waist measuring 38.2 inches So clearly we’re not even getting test dummies that are average height and weight of women and we keep seeing examples over and over and over again in 2019 of precisely why diversity as the floor not as the ceiling but as the floor matter so much as a reminder diversity is about the amount of different kinds of people in the room. It is a question of [00:21:00] representation. But more than that, we have to Aspire toward inclusions that all of those people feel welcome and Equity so that each and every one of those people has the same opportunities and access to achieve the same things as one another so diversity is not the ceiling It’s not the ultimate aspiration. It is merely the floor and just a reminder to companies and organizations before somebody writes an article about it before somebody drags you on Twitter before you become a trending hashtag do the work of auditing your Equity now. Proactively look at whether or not diversity even exist in your workplace let alone equity and inclusion You don’t have to be caught up in these awful stories like the ones that were reading now and most certainly you don’t have to be causing harm because you can take care of that right now. You can look at diversity equity and inclusion in the places that you occupy right now, so that unforced errors and preventable issues like these stop happening.

Clint: One of the things I thought was [00:22:00] interesting about this is that the person who was interviewed for this article said that retooling crash test dummies isn’t something that can just they can’t just say, oh we haven’t had enough women Crash Test Dummies. We need to make some more that it takes 20 to 30 years a biomechanical research and testing to build and fine-tune each one of these Crash Test Dummies, you know us becoming cognizant of this Now this means that we still won’t have these models for another 20 or 30 years and so the implications of a history of sexism in this technological field even though we become cognizant of it now, it’s almost like climate change, right even though we’re cognizant of what we need to do now, even if we started acting the next 20 years have already essentially been decided. So, I thought that that was even more unsettling because the length of time it takes in order to even do the testing to ensure that you don’t have such a disparity in injuries is far longer than I was cognizant.

DeRay: I will say that I have to believe that there’s a disruptive model out there that can shorten the time frame for data so that the only women [00:23:00] aren’t 5 feet and under 10 pounds Like I want to believe that 20 years is really dramatic that it probably didn’t take 20 years for the models for men to be made that there was enough data around and we should continue to push this industry to just do better by that but I didn’t know that what they call the danger divide was first identified in a 2011 study that came out of UVA that found For men and women who wear seat belts women were nearly 50 percent more likely to be seriously or fatally injured and another study just came out of UVA found that the odds for Serious injury or death for female car crash victims is 73% higher than males. So that was the one that Sam is bringing up I didn’t know that this had been around for a while that this isn’t necessarily like a finding that is just been new. But what struck me about it was that it was like for people who wore seat belts like it. I don’t know. I was like really shocking to me because I love these numbers would be like people who didn’t wear seat belts but to think that women are 50% more likely when they wear seat belts is actually pretty frightening and that should be an alarming thing for the industry to just be forced to move. I [00:24:00] also didn’t know that in the latest study was 31,000 people who were in crashes in between 98 and 2015. So, the data is recent. And the good thing that came out of the study is it was an acknowledgement that about more than half of the people who get injured in newer cars the cars after 2009 fair better So that is good that like new cars are safer than they were before. The other thing is that they can’t identify like why the women’s model is just so non-representative of the population of women and I have to believe it probably was like some random person was in charge of it and like wrote down five feet 110 and like probably was based on no data, which is why the people are like it’ll take 20 years to make any data because it’s probably not updating a deep data set It is probably creating a data set, but it is a reminder that the bureaucracy has a huge impact on people’s lives at like being at the table and deciding like oh the weight of a dummy or the height in [00:25:00] all those factors actually matter a ton. And even you think about like how many car crashes that happened before this study came out in 2011 like because 11 is pretty late for this to be something that people are talking about and imagine how many lives could have been saved. So my push to everybody is to ask more questions in whatever industry you are in about things that might seem to really be off and if you remember we talked about this before we talked about the representation issue because it’s the same thing around gender when we think about clinical trials not as many women or people of color in clinical trials So some of the quote leading medication isn’t as effective with some women. And with some people in underrepresented races and ethnicity simply because they are just not in the clinical trial. So really important huge impact on people’s lives.

Clint:  So, for my news this week, I want to talk about a new tax that is being proposed in San Francisco So this tax will try to raise about a hundred million dollars for mental health services in the city. Money that proponents think would be helpful in getting people off the streets and if it passes [00:26:00] Progressive leaders think it could prompt a national movement that’s similar in trying to solve other social ills with the targeted tax on companies that are most seriously driving income inequality across the country and Vox has done some great  reporting on this. The measure that slated to appear on the ballot in San Francisco in March would increase the gross receipts tax against companies that paid their CEO more than a hundred times what they pay their median worker in San Francisco in the grand scheme of things it’s fairly modest tax, but would increase on an escalating scale depending on the pay ratio What the highest tax assessed against those companies that pay their CEOs more than 600 times what the typical employee makes. If adopted the proposal would be pretty far-reaching it’s meant to apply to any company public or private with San Francisco employees and not just those that are headquartered there the Chamber of Commerce However, which opposes the tax argues that companies will try to manipulate this ratio by moving their lower paid workers outside of the city so that they don’t necessarily qualify. Well that might work technically because the proposal merely considers how much [00:27:00] the median employee in San Francisco like located in the city makes the chamber has to admit that it doesn’t have any proof that these companies will actually do that because this is all conjecture and they don’t actually know proponents of the San Francisco measures say that they don’t actually know which or how many companies will be affected which is part of the issue itself while companies are as of late required to publicly share their overall CEO to median worker ratio pay with the SEC. There’s no public data that discloses that ratio for solely their San Francisco employees which will be quite different from their National media. So, for example, the CEO of Gap, which is headquartered in San Francisco makes three thousand five hundred and sixty-six times more than what the average Gap retailer pulls in. A CEO of another retailer Williams-Sonoma earned 2447 times more than the typical employee and there are a range of other San Francisco-based company Including Levi Strauss Wells Fargo Salesforce Charles Schwab Visa Glu [00:28:00] Mobile Yelp that have in excess of a hundred to one ratio of CEO as compared to the median worker. Private polling has suggested that there’s 75 percent support from San Francisco voters for this proposal and the measure needs two thirds support in order to pass. So the private polling suggesting it’s well over that but we’ll see and the hope is that again that this hundred million dollars can be used to get people off the streets and shorten San Francisco’s months long waiting list for beds for those who are homeless and mentally ill so some really interesting things happening in San Francisco That Could set a national precedent and I thought it was worth talking about that.

Sam:  Clint This was fascinating in part because obviously San Francisco has a huge problem in terms of there not being enough bed space for folks who are experiencing homelessness or having a mental health crisis, and this would appropriate an estimated hundred million dollars to fund that. What’s also fascinating About this is you know; it’s really framed as [00:29:00] being about tech companies and the negative influence that a lot of tech companies moving into San Francisco have had in terms of increasing income inequality. But when you do the math a lot of the companies that are actually going to be impacted by this proposed policy would actually be retailers. So, in terms of the difference in Pay between the median worker and the CEO, Gap is listed as having the highest differential of all of the companies where such data were available in San Francisco. So, you know, this is an example of the narrative not necessarily being consistent with the data and the facts and you know, we’re talk about income inequality often times We think about tech we think about the shiny new industry or the boogeyman of what’s out there and what’s considered to be the real threat, but you know, it turns out that income inequality is not unique at all to the tech sector and that there are a whole bunch of other Industries including those in San Francisco that are just as problematic if not more so And it’s good that this policy as written will [00:30:00] tax those companies as well and isn’t limited to just focusing on the tech companies.

Brittany:  Sam I think you are wise to point us to what things can look like in theory versus what they can look like in action that said hopefully this is at least moving us toward the right direction and what we always have to remember is that it is never going to be a single strategy or single solution that gets us to the equity that we aim for that it is always going to be a suite of Policies a combination of ideas and actions that actually start to get us to arrive at this place. I saw an article the other day where $1,200 a month bunk beds are being rented in San Francisco. And that actually they are sold out. So even if you wanted this $1,200 a month bunk bed, you couldn’t get one right now because they’re full and so in as much as it is about combating income inequality through taxes It is also about things like affordable housing. It is about ensuring that the basic needs of people are met it [00:31:00] is about ensuring that we don’t simply gentrify people out of their neighborhoods while we are building more things. It is about making sure that people can afford to access a quality of life in a city that many people have been living in for decades and generations that certainly wasn’t priced at this point and where the level of the gap didn’t exist as this.

DeRay:  And Portland is the first and only City to implement such a tax. They’re going to get about 3.5 million dollars in Revenue. It’ll be interesting to see how they spend the money 3.5 million is point six percent of the total general fund the city’s general fund is around six hundred and twenty 1 million dollars. So, it is a small drop in the bucket, but it’ll be interesting to see when you think about a tax like this like Where the money goes will it actually go to the work of wealth redistribution. Will it go to resources for people who are homeless in Portland? OR will this just go to like fund more police for instance right like so I’m interested to see how it’ll pan out in Portland. The other thing is that in Oregon [00:32:00] It is not clear yet that the tax has actually done anything to CEO pay in the area. So that is sort of an interesting thing like while I think we need to do more things to make sure that we manage income distribution and especially the disparities. I am mindful that like we want the disparities to close So we need to do things to make them close and I’m interested to see how this plays out long-term. The third thing I’ll say is that we should be getting more and more creative about how we tackle some of the biggest problems. I often say that we fight for what we think we can get now what we think we deserve and if we think that we deserve a world where CEO employee pay is not so disparate then we should fight like hell for it and I do appreciate these bold Innovative tax plans that are like attempting to get to the issue I’m interested to see how the money is actually spent from a city perspective, especially in a city like Portland to actually help people who are struggling right now or to change something at the system level, so. So, my news is about an article that is [00:33:00] called your arrest was dismissed, but it’s still in a police database. So, the short version of it is that there is a lawsuit happening in New York City right now because there is a guy who was arrested. And the police essentially had a record of every single arrest he gotten before that was dismissed or dropped and under the law. These things are supposed to be sealed or destroyed and the short version is that they found in New York City that they were not being sealed or destroyed So under the statutes law enforcement is only supposed to be to access the records with the court order or when conducting a background check on somebody applying to be a police officer or a few other things. But in the case, it’s referenced in the article that is titled. Your rest was dismissed, but it’s still in a police database that was published by the Marshall Report. They found that the police are actually using a whole host of data in routine issues and that they’re essentially saying that it’s in the name of Public Safety. So there are some states that really do seal the arrest records, but the problem even [00:34:00] in the places where the records are sealed is that the burden is often on the person to hire a lawyer into like a court and do all those things to prove That the criminal history either should be expunged or like to actually prove that it’s being misused the Bronx Defenders lawsuit. They are suing the city of New York right now and noted that more than 400,000 cases in the city should have been sealed in between 2014 and 16 alone mostly from stop and frisk and that more than 80% of the people involved are black Latino and they were for low-level offenses such as subway fare evasion. I bring this here because it is just a reminder of couple things one. It’s fascinating because the police are using a whole host of data that they shouldn’t be using and are barred from using to continue to criminalize people in cities. The second is that almost all these police departments have Clauses that make it impossible to have any discipline data about them You can’t know when they were disciplined how they were disciplined and makes a discipline secret and New York is one of the states where discipline is very very hard to get but again, Arrest [00:35:00] records that should be sealed or have been dropped or dismissed. The police are using those willy-nilly and the third is that wild things might change from a legal perspective We have seen some institutions like the police continue to do whatever they want. And until we have mayor’s or city council people or legislators, like just stand up and be willing to force these institutions to do better letting people go like don’t wholesale changes will never get the Justice in our lives deserve

Sam: So DeRay, like you said there’s a huge hypocrisy here between the way that the police operate and the way that they are treating Everyday People, right? And you know, not only are the records sealed or unable to be accessed by the public in States like, New York. But they’re destroying those records on police misconduct right in their police Union contracts and places like Cleveland after one to two years police disciplinary records are required to be destroyed. Chicago It’s five years, right? So they’re destroying the evidence even more recently in Phoenix after the [00:36:00] Plain View project released their information about racist social media posts by number of Phoenix police officers, the Phoenix police Union got up and their representative said, well, we’re actually hiring a firm to come in and scrub those officers online history, so you can’t even figure out you know, what post those officers made in addition to all of these other systemic aspects that are destroying records of discipline behind the scenes. And so what that means is that the police are using tools like predictive policing using data that they shouldn’t be using that should have been expunged or removed to find people and to arrest people and Target them and surveil people but We actually can’t even use many of those tools on the police to figure out which police are most likely to engage in misconduct because they’ve destroyed their own records proactively destroyed the evidence that would allow us to hold them accountable. So, you know, this is something that requires systemic change It requires changes on the police side to make things more transparent to [00:37:00] change those police Union contracts repeal police Bill of Rights laws. And then on the civilian side, it’s going to require legislation that proactively prohibits police departments and anyone from using data on people that should have been expunged only 25 states have such a law in place in the other 25 States It’s actually entirely legal to use information on arrests. Even if the charges were dropped even if those cases were supposed to be sealed. And so that’s going to take State legislation to change.

Brittany:  What this is a consistent reminder of is the fact that the convoluted nature of the problem is the point we often talk about the cruelty being the point, but it’s also the Point that these things are incredibly difficult and cumbersome to unravel that not only do we have to stay vigilant in paying attention to them. But dismantling them will take a lot of nuanced hard work over a long period of time Sam the numerous things that you just laid out take different bodies to [00:38:00] legislate that it takes different bodies to make decisions and choices on that and it will take a group of people over a long period of time in a single City Let alone across the country. To get that done and so often we talk about the very convoluted and mixed up nature of all of this. But in a lot of ways that is really the point the point is to Tire us out so that we stop fighting after we get one law passed or one policy changed or one regulation shifted knowing full well that there is just another way that the system can come around that win and continue to perpetuate Injustice For the sake of the status quo. This is why the work is long-term. This is why the work requires a great deal of discipline. And this is why we have to keep paying close attention.

Clint:  Yeah. So the only thing I’ll say is that one of the worst parts of this is that as direct said even in the states where you do have statutes protecting sealed arrest records the burden is often on the people themselves to hire a lawyer to go to court to pay the fee and to prove that they should have their criminal history [00:39:00] which again never resulted from any criminal conviction that that should be expunged right? And so, we talked all the time about all the ways that poverty is expensive right like how difficult it is to live in poverty and how so many things about living in poverty are exacerbated by poverty itself. So the idea that someone more likely to be entangled in the criminal legal system is someone who is living in poverty It is Insidious that they would be the ones who have to go to court pay a fee hire a lawyer and do all these things that are necessary in order to prove their innocence when the reason that they’re so entangled in this system is because they don’t have money in the first place. And so, this continues to be exacerbated in the Amplified and magnified in ways that continue to perpetuate the Schism that exists between folks who are entangled in the system and those who aren’t.

DeRay:  That’s the news. Hey you’re listening to Pod Save the People don’t go anywhere. There’s more to come. Give yourself support this season with the Boost whether you’re looking for energy better sleep to maintain stress or something else to help you feel your healthiest.

Brittany:  Care/of’s online [00:40:00] quiz takes only 5 minutes You answer easy questions. Like how much sleep are you getting? Are you looking for more energy or healthy hair skin and Nails, hashtag all of the above for me. It gets really personalized. These are all things I’m thinking about even more than usual since my wedding is coming up. The quiz is seriously easy to take plus It’s kind of fun.

DeRay:  Depending on your personalized care of planning. You’ll get daily vitamin packs and or protein powder sent right to your door.

Brittany:  It’s so cute. And so, customized the packets even say your name on them.

DeRay: Care/of make sure what you’re putting in your body comes from the best sources back by Honest guidance and transparency all available to you in their website the individually wrapped vitamin packet to now made from compostable plant-based film that meet the same safety standards So your vitamins are kept fresh while now being better for the environment. You can learn more about the compostable packs on care/of’s the website.

Brittany:  For 25% off your first care of order go to takecareof.com and enter people. Again for 25% off your first care/of order go to [00:41:00] takecareof.com and enter people.

DeRay: And now my conversation with Samara Freemark and Natalie Jablonski who join me to discuss the most recent season of in the dark and the Curtis flowers case. Samara and Natalie thanks so much for joining us today on Pod Save the people.

Samara: Thanks for having us were really happy to be here.

Natalie: Yeah, thank you

DeRay: So excited to talk to you about today because you focus on a case that I knew very little about so let’s start there. How did you even get to in the dark? How did you start to cover the case of Curtis flowers? How did this all begin for you?

Samara: Sure. So, we work for a part of Minnesota Public Radio, which is called A.P.M Reports. It’s the investigative team of Minnesota public radio and within that team we have a group called in the dark which makes investigative podcasts. We’ve done two seasons so far and so our mandate is to just tell long-form serialized stories that are deeply investigative in nature. So, our first season looked at a failed investigation into a child abduction that [00:42:00] happened in Minnesota and then our second season looked at this case of a man named Curtis flowers who was on death row in Mississippi for a quadruple homicide So that’s. Our second season was about and we’ve continued to cover it over the past year. And yeah, we follow the cases. It’s moved actually through the Supreme Court at this point.

DeRay:  How do you explain the case two people?

Samara:  I think the story really begins back in 1996 in this little town in northern Mississippi called Winona in 1996 in July four People were found shot to death in a furniture store on the Main Street of this little town and there were no witnesses to the crime there really wasn’t much evidence. But almost right away investigators focused in on a former employee of the store whose name was Curtis flowers. He was a young black man. He’d worked at the store actually just for a couple of days a few weeks before the murders just about three days, but they focused in on him and over the course of the next month’s built an [00:43:00] investigation against him and then he was brought to trial for the murders in 1997. And he was tried before a mostly white jury and he was convicted and sentenced to death and so that was in 1997. But that was actually just the beginning of things for Curtis flowers because over the next year’s Curtis flowers has actually gone on to be tried six times for those murders his convictions kept getting overturned. Or the juries would hang, you know, there would be a mistrial the jury’s couldn’t agree on a verdict But every time something like that would happen the prosecutor who has been the same prosecutor throughout the whole case would just have the option of trying Curtis flowers again, and that is what has happened over the past 20 some years over and over again and so Curtis flowers last trial was in 2010 It’s been in appeals since then and just recently the US Supreme Court heard that appeal and ruled in favor of Flowers overturned his conviction.

DeRay:  In the first episode is teasing you say that the case became a political problem. What did you mean by that?

Natalie:  [00:44:00] Yeah, so when this crime happened back in 1996 a quadruple murder a small-town furniture store It happened in the morning in broad daylight. It was a shocking crime, you know, probably the worst crime this town had ever seen. It was a huge deal. It really shook the town and so law enforcement I think was under a lot of pressure to solve this crime to figure out who did it. And Doug Evans the prosecutor in this case He’s an elected official. So, he’s also under pressure from his constituency to prosecute.

DeRay:  Have you ever talked to Curtis flowers?

Samara: No, never after all this time reporting.

Natalie: No, we haven’t.

DeRay:  They won’t let anybody get to him?

Samara:  Yeah, the Mississippi Department of Corrections won’t allow us to interview him.

DeRay:  Just you or anybody?

Natalie: As far as we know No one. I don’t believe a reporter has talked to Curtis flowers not officially as far as I can tell I mean he has a call list. So, his family can talk to him. He does have some contact with the outside world and that way but he hasn’t had the right to talk to [00:45:00] reporters. And I think that’s not just the case with Curtis flowers I think it’s it’s an interesting element of the black box that is the prison system often people have their first amendment rights taken away along with all their other rights. And so, they just are not allowed to tell their stories to the media.

DeRay:  I have to believe that both of you have learned so much in the process of the podcast in the recording either about prosecutors about lawyers about the criminal justice system What are some of the things that you learned in this process that you didn’t know before?

Samara:  Yeah, so I mean a big part of our story focuses on the power of the prosecutor. So, in this case this man Doug Evans who tried Curtis flowers six times he’s elected and so he doesn’t have a boss. There’s no one who can step in and say that’s enough stop trying this case It’s really up to him and he’s only accountable to the voters. And right now, for example, he’ll be running for re-election this fall and he’s running unopposed. So that’s something [00:46:00] that you know, I think we were aware of like the idea of the power of the prosecutor, but that we definitely learned a lot more about and became a lot more Vivid for us during the course of reporting.

Natalie: And then I think there’s also we talked a lot about how there’s a lot of data about the criminal justice system. It’s technically public but it is not actually available. So we saw this a lot in looking at what was happening in juries and who was being allowed to serve on juries specifically this question of our black people being struck off of juries at disproportionate rates, and you know, all this information is technically public So any of us can go into a courtroom and watch jury selection and most of the cases that happen across the country, but very few people actually do that. And then once the trials actually happened the information is just not readily available. It’s not like you can go online and type in what is my local prosecutor doing in jury selection Who is he striking off his juries and find the answer like finding the answer to what seems like a very simple [00:47:00] question ends up taking just like a tremendous amount of time and effort and that was surprising to us because it seems like a pretty essential question. It’s a constitutional question and its part of what it means to be a citizen It’s a fundamental right so you would think the information about that would be a little more accessible.

DeRay:  Do you have any idea about why Doug Evans is still pursuing this do you think that he really believes you think it’s the idea of losing that’s so dramatic to him. I mean six losses is a lot.

Natalie:  I don’t think he would say that it’s losses because Curtis has never been acquitted So I think from Evans perspective in the conversations we’ve had with him. He has gotten convictions in four of the six trials that he has had and two trials have been mistrials. So he I think would say that he sees this as a case of the courts meddling and dwelling on these technicalities that really pale in comparison to the true thing, which is that a killer has killed four people, I think that is how Evans sees that and I [00:48:00] think yeah, I think he thinks Curtis flowers is guilty.

DeRay:  Doug Evans gave an 11-minute interview to you all. I think it’s 11 minutes, right? Why was it just 11 minutes did he only wanted to be 11-minute City walk out. Did you only wanted to be 11 minutes?

Natalie:  Cuz he only wanted it to be 11 minutes I mean because

Samara:  he walked away.

DeRay:  Are there other cases that you were thinking about doing if you didn’t do Curtis’s case, like was there runner-up?

Samara:  I mean, we actually get a lot of story pitches and a lot of them are really interesting what stood out about this case I think we got a tip we got an email There’s this guy Mississippi. He’s on death row. He’s been tried six times for the same crime and that just stood out to us right away. Like how can that be like that can’t be right,

Natalie: you know people often say to us like oh this case is so extraordinary and it is extraordinary in a lot of ways being tried six times for the same crime is not normal that is not something that happens in a lot of cases and it was what Drew us [00:49:00] into the case. On the other hand, a lot of what happened in this case happens in cases all over the country forensic science that’s not really science dubious witness testimony that’s based on faulty memories. Certainly, what happened in jury selection is not only something that happened in Curtis flowers case And so I think we’re looking for stories that are both really interesting on their face and are extraordinary in their details, but also have something to tell us about how the justice system works for everybody.

DeRay:  Do we know what’s next after this room Court decision?

Samara:  So the US Supreme Court overturned Curtis’ conviction That was just a few weeks back and I should just back up and say like the fact that the US Supreme Court heard this case in the first place was pretty remarkable and it was something that no one was expecting because this is not the kind of case that the u.s. Supreme Court usually likes to hear like they don’t see it as their role to just intervene if there has been a local Injustice That’s not the role of the Court they’re there to deal with like really big constitutional questions [00:50:00] and the Curtis flowers case is not like a bush V Gore or a row v Wade. It’s not a case like that. And so, the fact that the court even agreed to hear the case was really interesting and unexpected. And then the fact that they ruled in favor of Curtis and in fact it was Justice Cavanaugh the newest Justice one of the most conservative justices on the court who wrote the decision overturning Curtis’s conviction, I think was really striking and the Court’s decision was 7 to 2. So, seven justices ruled in favor of overturning the conviction. So, once that happens, there’s kind of a process that’s set-in motion Curtis is now no longer convicted of those murders, so he’s not a guilty man right now, but he does remain under indictment that same indictment that dates back to 1997. He still indicted for the murders. He is currently still in Parchman prison where he’s been for a very long time. And at a certain point probably in the next couple of weeks, he’ll be moved out of parchment and placed in pretrial detention at a local jail And at that [00:51:00] point he will be waiting to see whether the district attorney the same district attorney who’s Tried Him six times before D.A. Doug Evans whether Evans will decide to try them again for a seventh time, which is completely within Evans rights. He could absolutely do that if he chose to even though the US Supreme Just said this prosecutor yet again has discriminated against black people in jury selection in a way that literally violates the US Constitution, even though that was just the ruling of the US Supreme Court the highest court in the land, same prosecutor has the right to just try Curtis again and have another try at it.

DeRay: How did it feel to know the Supreme Court cited your work in the decision? Was it the filling of vindication? Was it like a relief like who we did all this work and it actually turned into something.

Natalie:  I mean, we hope our work reaches the maximum number of people that can I mean that’s our goal.

Samara: It was a little wild to see – Natalie I think it’s under selling just a little bit. I mean it is like that highest court in the land right? It’s like the third branch of government. [00:52:00] So that was gratifying you want your work to have impact.

DeRay:  Is there anything that people can do I guess on electing the guy that the prosecutor is one thing but is there anything else or is there other advocacy people can do?

Samara: You know, we get asked a lot this question people ask us all the time. Like what can I do for Curtis flowers? And it’s a question we’re deeply uncomfortable with I will say because I think it’s not that question is not in our wheelhouse. We are journalists were not Advocates and we’re not activists in this case And so it’s not really our job to tell people how they can help or what they can do. Our job is to really just dig into something and expose what is going on to the best of our abilities. That said I think what we always ask people to do is to actually take a look at their own communities and their own District Attorney’s the people who are elected in their own communities and ask, you know, what’s going on with them Like what is my prosecutor doing in jury selection? What is my prosecutor doing in the courtroom? What choices is he making when he decides [00:53:00] who to prosecute and what sentences to seek? Is he behaving ethically or unethically and that’s as far as we can tell the public because that’s our role is to spread information as much as we can.

DeRay: Makes sense. I guess my only push should be that part of your work is in the uncovering process and that you have access to uncover things that even the average citizen or even the average activist probably just won’t have the resources to uncover. And in that process, you’ll find these levers that we wouldn’t even know about So maybe not like pushing people to Advocate but I do think there’s an opportunity to help people see the levers that they could press If Only They knew they were levers.

Samara:  Absolutely. It’s actually a really interesting way to phrase it and I haven’t thought about it in exactly those terms but I think you’re exactly right Again, I think so much of the key here is for the public to even know what questions to ask of their elected officials like of the people who are in charge and even knowing what that question is can be very confusing to people and so for example in our first season that looked at this failed investigation into this very notorious child abduction A big theme that [00:54:00] emerged from that reporting was about clearance rates and about the ability of law enforcement to solve crime and how bad some local departments were and that was something that it just never occurred to a lot of people to ask before like can my local law enforcement agency actually solve crime And so actually we provide a fair amount of technical help to listeners. We have people who contact us and ask like, how can I look up the clearance rate of my local department? And we’ll serve talk them through that our data recorder will help. Out with how to go about getting that information but I think with these elected officials so much of it comes down to information because the lever as you put it which is a nice way to put it the mechanism is the vote. It’s what happens at The Ballot Box its people running against this person and its other people voting for the person who’s running against them and I think the only way to succeed there is to have as much information as you possibly can.

DeRay:  Because I think about even in the Curtis Flower’s case I like didn’t know until I was reading up on the case that they asked the black jurors around three times more questions the white jurors. I had no clue like when [00:55:00] I thought about the jury selection process is being bias I thought that it was potentially like the question itself was biased I never thought about the volume of questions as a lever or like something to even focus on you know what I mean?

Samara:  Right? Absolutely. I mean the tragedy of this issue though is like how hard it is to get that information like it took the work of multiple reporters over the course of six to twelve months of like digging through abandoned Plastics factories and like old jails trying to come up with the documents and scanning them in and coding them and it’s an overwhelming effort that most people cannot do but I think even just being able to like you said just to articulate the question of like wait a second this is a way that I can assess what my prosecutor is doing is valuable I think.

DeRay:  On the topic of data collection. I want to believe that because you knew that it existed but it’s probably forms that were almost inaccessible at best. Are there any best practices that you’ve learned about data collection of this sort? I’m assuming you probably seen the worst [00:56:00] of it too But I think the lessons learned that you can share around how places can do better with the data?

Natalie:  I mean a lot of stuff is online now. I mean, I think a lot of current court records are digitized in some places. So, you know, I think things are changing. It’s sort of a case of I think a lot of the older records It’s like local clerks local districts just don’t have the resources to like go back and digitize all of their criminal case files from you know, the 90s, but I think it does vary from place to place.

DeRay: Do you know at all if he’s listening to the podcast?

Natalie: We have passed along transcripts of the podcast So I think he’s not able to listen to the audio but we’ve provided transcripts.

Samara:  You know, we certainly have communicated a lot with his lawyers and you know our feeling on this we’re always very careful about this because again, Not playing an advocacy role but playing a journalistic role we would not want to provide any opportunities or information to Curtis’ lawyers that we would not be willing to provide to the district attorney [00:57:00] So we have certainly talked to Curtis has lawyers more than the district attorney because they’ve been more willing to talk. Our roles are different and so we are in close communication with them, but we certainly are not collaborators.

DeRay:  I was curious what made you all question that the validity of the informant was that like a question that you walked in with or did you stumble upon something that made you sort of look into the informants role a little better What’s the what?

Samara:  So when we first began reporting on this one of the first things we did was read the trial transcripts for all six trials, which was a very lengthy process as you can imagine six trials tens of thousands of pages and the evidence against Curtis flowers really seem to come down to these three things. One of which was the witnesses who were not eyewitnesses to the murders. They were just people who months and months later had told law enforcement that they had seen Curtis flowers walking through the neighborhood and the D.A. I’ve put them on a map and use them to tell a story of credit hours walking from his house to the site of the murders that was part [00:58:00] one And then there was some ballistics evidence that even on its face from reading the transcript seemed odd to us and upon further examination was indeed very strange. And then the third part was the informant testimony and you know jailhouse informants in general not just in this case are not the most reliable of testimonies you asked about like what have we learned about the criminal justice system I think I’ve learned to if I see a case that has a jailhouse informant testifying that there’s been a confession it is Increasingly difficult for me to take that case seriously because I think this kind of confession testimony seems to really be a hallmark of a weak case and yet that evidence the jailhouse informant testimony, which was testimony that Curtis flowers had confessed to this man cookie Hallman while they were in prison together That was actually the only piece of what’s considered direct evidence in the whole case. Everything else was circumstantial and so it was kind of the strongest evidence that the D.A. Had [00:59:00] so of course we are interested in looking into this testimony because it was the strongest piece of evidence and also it just seems strange that Curtis flowers after not confessing to his family or anything like that would confess to this random guy in prison. There was also the element that we noticed that in the first trial there were two other jailhouse informants who went on to recant their testimony to defense lawyers later and so, you know, there had been two informants who later recanted and then this third and informant emerged in a later trial that seems sketchy to us So, you know, we spent a lot of time reporting on what was going on with this third and informant Cookie Holman, you know, by the time we started reporting on the case cookie Hallman was actually in prison himself and the same prison that Curtis flowers was in because cookie Holman had Killed 3 people just a few years back. He had murdered three people including the mother of his child. So, we spent a lot of time looking at cookie hallman’s criminal record because we wanted to know [01:00:00] did this guy get a deal? You know, the DA has always said he did not but we wanted to see if that was really true and from our reporting and digging up like the very voluminous criminal history of Odell Holman We realized that there were a couple of charges. He was facing at the moment that he gave his statement to the District Attorney’s investigator that then mysteriously vanished after he had made a statement that Curtis flowers had confessed to him. So that was very suspicious to us. And those have never been disclosed a prosecutor is allowed to cut An informant a deal but you have to disclose it and that was never disclosed in the Curtis flowers case. I was finally able to reach Odell Hallman at Parchman. He has multiple Contraband cell phones from inside his high-security cell. So, I was able to talk to him multiple times on those Contraband cell phones and he told me that his testimony was alive that Curtis had never confessed to him

DeRay: I want to ask about the fifth circuit to you know, have a case of the fifth [01:01:00] circuit because a police officer the fifth circuit are going to overturn the dismissal and we’re sort of stuck in legal limbo right now, but I bring that up because one of the things that came out in your jury piece was that there’s no complete record of cases before the fifth circuit, and I thought that was wild.

Natalie: We’ve talked about this a little bit already. But when we set out to ask this question about Doug Evans, the prosecutor’s office and their history of striking black jurors in that District, like were black jurors being struck at a disproportionate rate as compared to White jurors. I mean a basic part of that question well first we have to figure out well how many trials were there and no one can just tell you like that’s not in a database somewhere So the first step even before we could analyze the juror strikes was just to compile a list of the trials that had happened. So even though it’s like basic things are not easily available.

DeRay:  And a lot of people in this moment who are losing hope who have voted email call protested done all the things they’re supposed to do in the world hasn’t [01:02:00] changed in the way they wanted it to what do you say to those people?

Samara:  We did an interview as part of one of the episodes of the podcast with one of the Supreme Court Justices from the Mississippi state supreme court a man who had actually been part of the state court that overturned criticized conviction a couple of times is name’s Oliver Diaz And we’re asking him about this question. And I think he would take the Curtis flowers case and see it as an example of the system working. I mean, that’s what he said. He was like the system works every time the prosecutor screwed up. Curtis flowers got a new trial and that’s what the system is supposed to do and that’s what the system did. So, the system is working for Curtis flowers. Okay, fair enough and yet like heard of flowers has been incarcerated for more than 20 years. He’s like literally been in jail or prison for all of that time. And so that’s not the best example from our perspective of the system working So, what would we say to people losing hope? I mean, what would [01:03:00] you say to Curtis flowers? I think from his perspective. He’s a very religious man. He trusts in God. He has faith that he will be released. I think that’s where he finds his hope but I do not know, if I reporting points to anything particularly hopeful.

DeRay:  And what’s the piece of advice you’ve gotten over the years that has stuck with you?

Natalie:  You know, one of the things I have learned a lot from our own lead reporter and host Madeline Baron. She’s really incredible at preparing for an interview. And just really thinking about all the questions you want to ask someone all the turns this interview could take and kind of gaming it out. Like what could happen when I ask this question what might they say and what am I going to say in response And so that’s something that I am constantly striving to be better at I really like that to sort of really think through deeply what could happen in an interview and the different ways it could go.

Samara:  I can’t really single out a specific piece of advice. But I do think there are things that we’ve all [01:04:00] learned like doing this work over the past years for me One of those things is this idea of like how important it is to use this phrase? It’s kind of wonky. But to interrogate the obvious to see a fact on the ground and not automatically think to yourself like oh this is the way things are and therefore it’s okay. And what I’ve learned is actually a lot of things that are outrageous can be exposed by just looking at something that a lot of other people have looked at and just tweaking the frame a little bit like tweaking the focus and asking a different question of it And as soon as you ask the right question of a situation. Things can become a lot clearer.

DeRay: Well, thank you I shall look forward to continue to follow your work and to follow how this case unfolds.

Samara:  Thank you so much. We will continue to cover it.

Natalie: Thank you. 

DeRay: Well, that’s it. Thanks, so much for tuning in a pod save the people this week Tell your friends to check it out. Make sure to rate it wherever you get your podcast or this apple podcast or somewhere else and I’ll see you next week [01:05:00].

More on this Topic