In This Episode
- Minneapolis residents are voting on a ballot measure, Question 2. If it passes, the city’s police department would be replaced with a Department of Public Safety. But despite what some fear-mongers say, this would not actually replace the police and the police are not being defunded.
- An FDA advisory committee is expected to meet today to discuss Pfizer/BioNTech’s authorization request for a lower dose of its vaccine designed for children 5-11. Children in a trial got two doses of the vaccine, each dose one-third the strength of what adults get.
- And in headlines: the military staged a coup in Sudan, students at Howard University are protesting the school’s housing conditions, and a federal civil rights trial began against the white supremacists who helped plan a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- Ballotpedia: “Minneapolis, Minnesota, Question 2, Replace Police Department with Department of Public Safety Initiative” – https://bit.ly/3pCbXiJ
Gideon Resnick: It is Tuesday, October 26th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, the podcast that bought up all the little plastic spiders at Party City.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we definitely made supply chain issues worse by buying a thousand Halloween spiders. And honestly, we don’t regret it.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, don’t blame us. Blame Biden for your lack of spiders.
Gideon Resnick: This is what you get for electing him.
Josie Duffy Rice: On today’s show, we preview today’s FDA panel on vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11. Plus a military coup takes control of Sudan.
Gideon Resnick: But first Election Day of this year is just one week away. There are many important local, state and national races that we’re going to keep talking to you about and revisiting in the coming days, but today we’re going to start with a potentially historic referendum on police in Minneapolis. So Josie, can you give us some of the lead up to this?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So Minneapolis really made headlines in June of 2020, when the city council voted to disband the city’s police department. And the decision came after now-convicted police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis in May of 2020. It was the most recent in a string of incidents of extreme police brutality, especially against Black residents. So now, almost 18 months later, Minneapolis voters will vote on Measure 2, an amendment to the city’s charter that would, as Political framed it, “limit the size, scope, and influence of the city’s police department.”
Gideon Resnick: OK, so when we look at this, what does it actually do?
Josie Duffy Rice: So, OK, if enough people vote yes on Amendment 2, the Minneapolis Police Department would be replaced with a Department of Public Safety. So it’s a little more complicated than we can get into here and we’ll link to a guide on it in our show notes, but despite what some fear mongers would have you believe, this would not actually replace the police and police are not actually being defunded. In fact, it would simply allow the city flexibility in terms of police funding and resources, ensuring that the right professionals are in the right roles. And it would eliminate the required minimum number of officers per capita, which would allow the department to also have social workers, mental health professionals, crisis managers and other experts to help ensure public safety in the city. Here’s Erica Mauter, who’s with the campaign “Yes on 2” talking about it last Sunday:
[clip of Erica Mauter] So after tens of thousands of conversations with our neighbors, our friends and family, we have the opportunity finally to have an expanded, accountable, and transparent public safety system with all the resources that we need when we need them.
Josie Duffy Rice: Although it does signify a shift in priorities, Measure 2 does not necessarily mean any shift in the staffing of police, right? So there’s been a lot of walking back since the City Council’s first vote back in June 2020, and this measure is a much more narrow attempt to shift responsibility and accountability as it pertains to public safety.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, Josie. I mean, you followed this stuff forever, right?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Gideon Resnick: Police reform, accountability, something you think about a lot. What do you actually make of this measure as it stands right now?
Josie Duffy Rice: You know, this is being framed as a really radical decision, but I think it’s actually pretty logical, right? The question is whether police are really equipped to address the issues that cause harm in communities, and I’ve written a lot about this. I have to say I strongly believe the answer is, no. Currently, police are asked to address a lot of issues, like from schoolyard fights, right, to poverty, to houselessness, to addiction—and the vast majority of these are issues they just have no business addressing, in part because they don’t have the training or the background. So this law, this amendment, is helping to address that. And in fact, the entire point of this change is that it will give the city some oversight and local government and local residents the opportunity to ensure that law enforcement is more responsive to the issues plaguing the city, including, but not limited to brutality from law enforcement.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and you say all of that, but obviously this is getting a lot of pushback, right? I mean, that’s to be expected.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, of course. And I mean, the main pushback is, unsurprisingly, that people are scared about crime, in part because they associate a jump in crime across America with the “Defund It” movement. The only thing is there’s no evidence that’s actually the case, and it seems to ignore some of the major other social forces at play in the last year or so, right? So the pandemic, for example, which came with a sudden jump in unemployment and a complete shutdown of social institutions, including schools. It came with a lack of adequate social services to ensure that people had the resources they need. And not to mention the trauma of over 700,000 people dead. So when we think about what’s led to an increase in violence over the past year, all of those seem like pretty likely candidates to me. Even more important is the fact that police have not, in fact, been defunded in the past year. In fact, in most places, they have more money and more power than ever. So if police funding is up and crime is up, maybe it’s time to really address the root causes of harm, right? Instead of relying on the back end of the criminal legal system to solve these social ills.
Gideon Resnick: Listen, it’s making a lot of sense to me as a listener. So let’s talk about the other side of this, right? I’m sure this exists, but is there pushback from those who support broader defunding as well?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I think there is criticism coming from some on the support side as well. There are some who argue that this law just simply doesn’t go far enough, and it allows the city to look like they’ve made strides while maintaining the harmful policing structure. I think there’s concern about folding policing in to a public safety department, given that the priorities of these two bodies seem vastly different and just renaming it won’t change the ideology within the department. But ultimately, I think at this point, the amendment would at least make oversight and flexibility possible in ways it has not been possible before, which is good news.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And I think we’re going to get the ultimate answer to this next week. In fact, I know we are. But at this point, what does the public think about it?
Josie Duffy Rice: Well, there was a poll done by multiple local news outlets in mid-September, and it said that 49% of likely voters supported replacing the police department with the Department of Public Safety, while 41% opposed it. So that’s the update on this local vote, and we’ll bring you more details on that and more in the coming days, up to Election Day.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I’m obviously fascinated to see how that turns out. On to some quick vaccine updates: today, an advisory committee to the FDA is expected to meet and on their agenda Pfizer-BioNTech authorization request for a lower dose of its vaccine that is designed for children aged 5 to 11.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, that’s great news. Getting closer and closer to when my children can get vaccinated. So for the parents like me out there, what could the timeline be to have these available?
Gideon Resnick: So maybe as soon as next week. Here’s Dr. Fauci talking about his expectations on ABC’s This Week, this past Sunday”
[clip of Dr. Fauci] So if all goes well, and we get the regulatory approval and the recommendation from the CDC, it’s entirely possible if not very likely that vaccines will be available for children from 5 to 11 within the first week or two of November.
Gideon Resnick: Right. So if that all holds up, there’s a possibility that kids could be fully vaccinated going into the holiday season.
Josie Duffy Rice: And what do we know about the safety of the Pfizer vaccine in children that young? Because obviously that’s going to be a big concern for parents.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, totally. An FDA analysis that was released last Friday concluded that the protection provided by the vaccine would outweigh the risk of rare adverse side effects. Children in this particular trial got two doses of the vaccine that were about one third the strength of what adults get and the results showed that something like a 91% efficacy was seen in preventing symptomatic COVID. And there weren’t really unexpected side effects in the trial, just things like pain where the injection went in, headache, fatigue, things like that.
Josie Duffy Rice: OK, so that sounds good, but you did mention the possibilities of rare side effects. So can you talk about that a little?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I mean, one that comes up pretty often is myocarditis. This inflammation of the heart muscle has been observed as a very rare side effect from it seems to be the mRNA vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer, particularly in younger boys and men. So this particular study was too small to fully detect the scope of those incidents, but the New York Times notes there are studies that indicate that the risks of the condition are actually higher from contracting COVID-19 than getting the vaccine. So while we don’t know how all of that might impact today’s FDA panel, overseas, the UK recommended that boys 12 to 15 only get a single shot of Pfizer. So today, as the conversation continues about this, we are likely going to hear more questions and hopefully answers about that.
Josie Duffy Rice: So are we expecting that other pharmaceutical companies are going to be offering something similar to this for young children?
Gideon Resnick: It definitely seems like it. Moderna announced yesterday that its vaccine was safe and produce the desired immune response in a trial of children that were aged 6 to 11. So they gave children two shots 28 days apart, and each dose was about half the strength of what adults have gotten. The results only came in a press release, so we don’t really know much more than that, but they are planning to submit soon to the FDA and other agencies in Europe and elsewhere. So this is just scratching the surface. We’re likely going to hear a lot more about this later today and in the days and weeks to come. But one other thing that is kind of related here, the Biden administration said on Monday that unvaccinated children are exempt from some of the international travel requirements that are going to be rolling out, as restrictions are lifted November 8th. More on all of that soon, but that is the latest for now. We’re going to be right back after these ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: The military staged a coup in Sudan yesterday, arresting the nation’s prime minister and many members of his cabinet. Military and civilian leaderships have shared power in Sudan since 2019, but that transitional government has now been dissolved. Thousands of Sudanese people flooded the streets of the capital Khartoum to protest the takeover by the military regime. As of yesterday afternoon, at least three individuals were killed and more than 80 people were injured when soldiers opened fire into the crowd. The Ministry of Information posted a statement on Facebook late Monday, claiming Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok had been quote, “kidnaped.” After that, the most senior military leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, declared a national state of emergency on state TV. The military has also cut the internet and cell service throughout the country. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, along with other world leaders, condemned the coup and called for the prime minister and other officials to be released.
Gideon Resnick: Students at Howard University in Washington, D.C. have had enough with the school’s poor housing conditions. Since October 12th, more than 150 students have protested at the school’s Blackburn University Center, the social hub on campus. Dozens have also been sleeping in tents. They have dubbed their movement the #BlackburnTakeover, and since the beginning of the semester, students at the historically Black university have raised concerns about mold in the dorm walls. Wow. They’ve also posted videos on Tik Tok and Twitter showing how bad their rooms really are, despite the high prices that they pay to lease them. Allegations have also been raised about rats and roaches throughout campus and mushrooms growing under sinks. Dear Lord. Howard students are demanding an in-person town hall with the university’s president and want to meet with school leaders about better housing.
Josie Duffy Rice: Jury selection began yesterday for a federal civil rights trial in Charlottesville, Virginia, against a group of racist and white supremacists who helped plan 2017’s Unite the Right rally in the city, which resulted in numerous injuries and one death. The plaintiffs are nine people who are victims of violence that overtook the rally, which they’re arguing was part of the organizers plan for the event from the very start. They have five terabytes of evidence to back up their claims, including leaked Discord transcripts from participants in the rally containing clear threats of violence. The defendants include Jason Kessler, Unite the Right’s main organizer, and Richard Spencer, the star of everyone’s favorite GIF of a Nazi getting punched in the head. Yesterday, potential jurors were quizzed on their feelings towards antifa. The judge on the case said he’s hopeful that jury selection will wrap up by tomorrow.
Gideon Resnick: The songs that were put over that GIF in that video were just incredible.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, the only good thing that Richard Spencer, the only moment of joy he’s ever brought me.
Gideon Resnick: We are all looking for that person who makes us feel loved no matter what and for anti-vax police officers, that person is Ron DeSantis. The Florida governor and little known spokesman for a Creatine pill that’s only available in Japan, revealed his plans this weekend to offer a $5,000 relocation bonus to unvaccinated out-of-state cops who would move to Florida. This offer comes at a time when police unions across the country are protesting local and federal vaccine mandates. So just yesterday, New York City’s biggest police union sued to block the one in their city. DeSantis claimed that his pitch had nothing to do with vaccines and was directed all officers experiencing low morale since their home states didn’t quote, “back the blue” like Florida does. He also said that quote, “Nobody should lose their job over injections.” So it’s clear that he wouldn’t be too mad if he ended up with the only police force in America that is 100% opposed to letting nice nurses put Band-Aids on their shoulders.
Josie Duffy Rice: You know, I think it’s great to hire police that don’t know how to follow rules. That’s what we need in America, more of those.
Gideon Resnick: Exactly right. That is synthesis for the show right there. And those are the headlines. One more thing before we go, this week marks What A Day’s two-year anniversary. Can you believe it? It has been such a privilege to get the chance to talk to you every morning for two years now. I cannot believe I just said that.
Josie Duffy Rice: To celebrate, we just dropped a brand new What A Day shirt in the Crooked store. To snag yours, head over to Crooked.com/store.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a bad review on Ron DeSantis’s Creatine pills, and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading, and not just reviews of Ron DeSantis’s Creatine pills that say “it made my muscles hurt” like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And sorry for hogging all the spiders.
Gideon Resnick: We need to make things spooky around here. OK, we have priorities so deal with it.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s very important. You guys can’t see us, but we wanted to get the feel across, you know?
Gideon Resnick: There are arachnids about. Beware. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lance. Jazzi Marine is our associate producer. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and myself. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.