In This Episode
DeRay, Myles, Kaya and De’Ara cover the underreported news of the week — hundreds of vacated convictions tied to rogue police officers, reparations versus resources in Minnesota, America’s only Black boarding school in Mississippi, and the devolution of reality television.
DeRay Bragg vacates convictions tied to rogue NYPD officers convicted of criminal conduct
Kaya Slave Descendants in Minnesota and Dakotas to Receive $50M in Grants
Myles Joseline Hernandez Accuses Amber Rose Of ‘Wanting To Be White A Girl’
De’Ara Piney Woods School strives for Black excellence
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, this is DeRay and welcome to Pod Save the People. On this episode it’s me De’Ara, Myles, and Kaya talking about all the under-reported news that you didn’t hear last week with regard to race, justice and equity. We talk about some vacated convictions tied to rogue police officers in New York City, reparations in Minnesota or not reparations, reparations like. And then we talk about America’s only Black boarding school, which is in Mississippi, and then some reality TV, like what’s going on? I think you’ll enjoy it. Here we go.
De’Ara Balenger: Family. Welcome to another episode of Pod Save the People. I am De’Ara Balenger. You can find me on Instagram at @dearabalenger
Myles E. Johnson: I’m Myles E. Johnson. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @pharaohrapture.
Kaya Henderson: I’m Kaya Henderson on Twitter at @HendersonKaya.
DeRay Mckesson: And this is DeRay at @deray on Twitter.
De’Ara Balenger: Rejoice this day. [laughter]
DeRay Mckesson: De’Ara and these dramatic entrances.
De’Ara Balenger: [gasping] The United States of America versus. Donald Trump is going down 37 counts. Okay. First, the most egregious thing to me about all of this is the photos of these tacky ass bathrooms at Mar-a-Lago. [laughter] First of all, why do you have all these crazy bathrooms with crazy marble and chandeliers that are so old? And why are you putting documents, boxes and boxes of documents in a bathroom or on a stage like, I don’t know what’s happening at Mar-a– probably there who knows who’s performing there. [laugh] But it’s just wild. Just wild of all the photos. And I think I forgot, like how many boxes on boxes on boxes it is of stolen documents that are that are mainly top secret. Um. But yeah, but that is you know, that’s the highlight of the news this week is that Donald Trump has been indicted. He broke the news himself. Of course, his supporters are very upset. I also read and this was so fabulous that a law he he he fought to pass in the event that if Hillary Clinton were to get indicted or found guilty of having documents that were top secret, it increased the jail time. Guess who’s facing said law.
Myles E. Johnson: Okay.
De’Ara Balenger: You, Donald Trump. [laughter] So I don’t know. I’m just elated by this news. I’m sure it’s going to wreak, you know, even more social political havoc on this, you know, already fledgling um democracy. But what are we thinking?
Myles E. Johnson: It’s just the fact that he has top secret papers next to Chinese menus. And like, [laughter] the [laughter] he just like yeah the soy sauce. The codes to nuclear weapons is all in that, like one little cabinet. I’m like, what? [laughing]
DeRay Mckesson: My favorite is him lying to his lawyers when they’re like, hey, we’re coming to check the boxes, see if it’s really boxes. He’s like, cool, come check it. Mind you, they have video of the people moving the boxes before the lawyers get there. You’re like what? But the wildest thing of it all was to watch the Republicans, Lindsey Graham and that whole crew be like, this is a political attack. People are out to get Donald Trump. He was the president. These are his documents, blah blah blah and it reminded me that we have to figure out simpler ways on our side to tell these stories because there were some great Twitter threads by Black people. They’re crystal clear. I got it all. The 10,000 word essay in the New York Times? I wasn’t reading I wasn’t even reading that. But there were Black people who explained this in a way that it was like, okay, took the documents, tooks boxes of them, put them in a bathroom, put them on the plane so they could travel with him. Mind you, the Russian woman snuck into Mar-A-Lago. The other woman snuck into Mar-a-Lago. He was just a he lied to the lawyer, his own lawyers who now have quit. He had the aide who, mind you, is a person of color, I think he he looked like he might be Latino or something. He got that man out there taking pictures and doing all this other crazy stuff. That man’s definitely going to jail. Up here, being Donald Trump’s little guy, moving stuff. It’s like, phew it’s a bad man to go down for.
De’Ara Balenger: And DeRay let me also like, just okay, so I was a political appointee in the Obama administration at the State Department. I went through the process of getting top secret clearance so that I could read top secret documents. These, first of all, it was basically having police call my family members to basically say that I have fitness of character, but it’s like they call people upon people upon people. You give every address you’ve lived in your whole entire life. The process probably took a couple of months for me to get a top secret clearance. Then once I got to state and when I was in situations where I had to read these documents, I’d have to go over to the CIA, sit in a skiff, and a skiff is basically you can’t bring a cell phone in there. There’s no you know, even using a computer in that space is there’s a whole top secret screen that is different from a regular computer that you would use, but you can’t take the documents out. So anything that I needed to read that was top sec top secret. I sat in that room, however long it took me, read the documents and left. There was no like, you can just take things out.
DeRay Mckesson: Take them to the bathroom with you?
De’Ara Balenger: Put them in boxes. Take them to your house. Your house. Top secret documents? [laughter] Like, are you okay, sir? Like, you guys this is really like like when I was working on Benghazi and I had to read about, you know, what was happening in certain parts of the world, it was all very terrifying. But there was never a point in my mind where I was like, I’m going to take this document home and read it. And I think–
DeRay Mckesson: And De’Ara didn’t they said that–
De’Ara Balenger: –And not and not because it’s not like it’s like you were told you can’t like it is actually there are rules in place to protect our national security. And part of that–
Myles E. Johnson: Yeah.
De’Ara Balenger: –is how we deal with these documents.
Myles E. Johnson: You can’t go watch Oprah [?] sunday.
DeRay Mckesson: Weren’t there clearances even higher than top secret that were in these papers. I, people were saying there were clearances they’d never even heard of.
De’Ara Balenger: Right. Because if you’re top because he’s also the president of the United States. Right. So he’s looking at things that. I mean, I don’t I couldn’t I can’t even imagine, like, the things that I’ve seen and what he would be privy to and have access to. It’s like out of this world. It’s out of this world.
Kaya Henderson: I just think that this is really fascinating because all of the other lawsuits and stuff have been, you know, questionable at best. There are, you know, sort of big holes enough to drive a truck through. And this one, it seems like they have taken the time to create a case that is so ironclad that there is no way out of this. Bill Barr, who was Trump’s attorney general, was like, if half of this is true, he’s toast. And so I think one I just think it’s funny, um the the bathrooms, the Chinese food menus, like all of this is hilarious. And this is like the most important federal case maybe ever in the history of the United States, period, bar none. And this Jack Smith dude, is that his name? Jack Smith? Um. I’m about to give me a Jack Smith jersey, cause this dude has moved in silence. He has dotted every I and crossed every T and I I this is just going to be really interesting to watch. Um. I do wonder, like, when when are the Republicans going to flip on this dude and start calling a spade a spade. Seems like there’s a couple, Chris Christie wants to be out in front because I mean, we know where this ends, right? And I think it’s interesting that they are still playing it safe because maybe, just maybe, he might whatever, whatever. And so nobody wants to be on his bad side. But when do we think the Republicans are going to just be like, wow, this is a heaping dumpster fire and let’s just move on?
Myles E. Johnson: Listen, I do not know when devils decide to dip in hot fire. [laughter] What I do know is that’s where they belong and if [laughing] and if they’re following him, they should. Shame feels like too light of a word.
De’Ara Balenger: I think the other thing that’s wild about this whole thing is we’ve been working for years on movements to ensure that formerly incarcerated people can get back into the workforce. And yet you can have a felony conviction and be the president of the United States of America. It’s just very, very confusing to me. So even if convicted, he can still run. He can even run from behind bars because our Constitution doesn’t say otherwise.
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Don’t go anywhere. More Pod Save the People’s coming.
Myles E. Johnson: So I wanted to bring something to the podcast that is not necessarily a article, but just like an observation that I’ve made around trash because I, you know. I think you can tell what’s happening with the culture by the jewels that they carry, but also by the trash that we eat. [laugh] And I was so fascinated, and I don’t expect any of you all to say that you’ve seen this, but maybe you have seen the fight between Joseline Hernandez and Amber Rose. And a.) monumental fight. It needs to be like in history books, because those are like two like reality television icons fighting. But then also there’s this, like, weird thing that’s happening, in my opinion, and in Black pop culture where we need more, we need more violence, we need more um outrageousness, for lack of better words, in order to engage. And I wanted to bring it to the podcast because I’m just like wondering, like, what do you think that is? Why do you think that we need more violence? Why do you think that we need more um more conflict? Why? Why do we feel like it needs to be bloodier? It needs to be um more extravagant than any other than any other things. And that what you’re asking, what do you think, Myles? Let me tell you. [laughter] I really I think [laugh] I really think that we belong to a generation that is almost, I don’t wanna say totally desensitized, but extremely numb to violence and I also think that we belong to a generation that desires to see like conflicts happen in front of, in front of our face. And we like to like and and–
Kaya Henderson: Yeah it’s the world star hip hop phenomenon. Right?
Myles E. Johnson: Right. And we like to, like, pick sides and pick who we’re like most, “like” quote unquote, and kind of like, say, like, this is our fighter. This is our fighter. But, you know, I think a bad thing is to pretend like these things that are like just trash TV are happening in these vacuums and they’re not affecting other things culturally. How we’re seen as a society, as we’re seen as a culture. I do think they inform how people, how we a.) How we see each other and then how other people see us. And I was really curious to see how what what you alls like um perspective of that was like do you think I’m just being old and this is just what young kids are doing. They like to fight in the alleys. On television, or do you think there’s something like especially, you know, law and order, especially heinous about what we’re witnessing when it comes to reality television and the fights and the conflicts.
Kaya Henderson: I mean, clearly violence sells, right? This is the World Star hip hop generation. This is you know, every school fight is now because we have cameras in our hands all the time. Everything that’s happening is very public and very available. And I think to some extent, we have become desensitized. I also think about, you know, the fact that there are people who make decisions about what is on reality, reality TV is not reality, right? It is scripted–
Myles E. Johnson: Right.
Kaya Henderson: And and it is scripted in ways to create these combustible situations where people might just [?] out and knock each other out. And it’s happening more and more and that stuff sells. And these producers know exactly what they are doing when they create these kinds of environments. Further, the actors know what it is too and they are down for it. And so everybody is a little responsible in this um without having a clear sense of the I think people don’t have a clear sense of what is happening, how it impacts, especially young people. Right. You look at youth violence, you look at the availability of guns like all of this stuff has, is that all of this stuff interplays with each other. But yeah, I mean, I think this is what sells in the reality market.
DeRay Mckesson: I do want somebody I’m not the person, but I want somebody to write about it. It’s one of those things where, like I look at Chrisean and Blueface who like went from Blueface went from having one song that I sort of knew to all of a sudden he’s inescapable. Like I know more about his life than I had ever cared to know. And then I just see these fights and I’m like. It used to be, I think about Real Housewives when it first started, and admittedly, I have not watched any episodes, but I’ve seen every clip where, like, it was the quick comebacks it was who gonna check me boo da da. But it wasn’t like physical. It wasn’t physical like that, you know, that wasn’t like the thrust of it. But I look now and it does feel like I look at the Zeus Network and as as excited I am about new Black shows. I’m like, wild, every headline is so and so fought so and so, and it’s like that just, you know, people won’t realize how damaging it is until it’s too far gone. And there’s so many young people who are consuming this as like they’re this is how conflict gets resolved all the time. This is how relationships, like it does it legitimately made me nervous when I thought about it.
Myles E. Johnson: Heard you De’Ara. I agree.
De’Ara Balenger: Well, I also just listen, you know, I grew up with family members who are fighters. And I don’t know when I think of these two women in particular. Right. Who have had so much hurt and so much trauma. Like, I do think I think I think sometimes there’s a wanting a need to fight as a you know, a as a kind of like a self-preservation um mechanism. And I think for some of us and our families as well, it’s like the love language is I love you so much, I will fight for you. I love you so much. I would kill somebody for you. I can only speak for my family. But that is definitely a thread of not a thread it is it is kind of their consistency in terms of like that’s how strong the love is without a real reflection on what do we actually need from one another to feel supported and to feel seen and to feel loved. Right? So I think there is, you know, obviously like what’s happening in pop culture and in reality TV, obviously is like really is like compounds that by 100 and it’s made to be entertainment. But I do think at the root of it, there is something to be explored DeRay to your point around like where is that fight coming from? What is that rooted in and what kind of cultural norms are we connecting that fighting to that actually makes it okay? So that’s that’s my two cents Myles.
Myles E. Johnson: Felt like a dime to me.
De’Ara Balenger: All right, so my news I’m so excited to share. So a few weeks ago, um I was asked to go down to Mississippi to visit one of the oldest Black boarding schools. It’s called Piney Woods Schools. It’s um about 40 minutes outside of Jackson. One of my dear friends, Walt Brown, is working on a documentary there. It’s called Sacred Sacred Soil. And it it gives us both the history of this incredible place, but also the stories of its current students, its current staffs, and how this school has survived over all of these many, many years. Um. But also like what this what the school needs and how we all need to know that this place exists. So the school the school was founded in 1909 by Lawrence Clifton Jones. Um. He was in Mississippi um standing in this particular place on the land, on a piece of the land where now the school exists. And he was sitting by his stump reading the Bible, and a young kid comes up to him and says, you better stop reading because you can get killed for that. Okay. He says, I’m going to teach you to read and I want you to bring more kids here tomorrow. And this continued, continued, continued. Now, what is absolutely mind blowing is the stump that he sat at is still there on the property. And the original school, which was a cabin built by enslaved people, is still on the property. It is literally hallowed ground. It is such an incredible place to be energetically. You can feel our ancestors there. You can feel how special the land is. Now, the school has expanded over these, you know, hundred plus years. I think it’s about 2000 acres they’re you know, it’s a boarding school they’re they’re buildings, they’re dorms. There’s um a huge auditorium. There’s a farm, a working farm. Um. So it just just to be there was absolutely incredible. Um. And to also see these young Black folks it’s mostly that are making this documentary come together in such in the most beautifully creative and soulful way to, one, support these students at this school, but also to highlight um that this place exists, that we need to know about it. Um. When I put this, the article I have linked to this y’all is is pretty old. There hasn’t really been recent coverage on Piney Woods. Which is going to change, I’m sure, with this documentary coming out. Um. But Kaya recognized Will Crossley, who is now running the school. He actually is an alumni of the school Kaya, which I did not know, um so but he ended up. So he was a lawyer in D.C. at a law firm. And then he went to the Department of Education, where he worked in the Civil Rights Division as a lawyer. Um. He also was a lawyer at the DNC, too, I think, and then ended up going to Mississippi to take on the um the mantle of of, you know, keeping the school alive, continuing to grow the school. So I got to spend time with him, which was amazing. Um. But all in all, I just wanted to share it because I feel like when it was told to me that Piney Woods existed, I was like, what? A Black boarding school, where? Um. But then to get there, to see there’s something y’all to me about like Black owned land and a lot of it. And just to see these young folks thriving in such a protected sacred space, it just I don’t know, it felt like a little piece of Black heaven to me. Um. So I’ll continue to, like, let y’all know what’s going on with it. Of course, you know, I want to do all the things for the school. I want to make sure the students have what they need. I want to make sure the school looks as beautiful as it can. Um. A place where those students can be proud of a place where our ancestors can be proud of. But just wanted to bring it to the pod because I just wow, what a place.
Kaya Henderson: So first of all, thanks De’Ara for bringing this to the pod. You know, this is right up my alley. Um. Education, Black education, self-sufficiency, history, all of that kind of stuff. Um. I got to meet Will Crossley. We are part of a group called Education Leaders of Color. And I got to meet him in that space. And he is an amazing leader, doing amazing things. Um. And Piney Woods is a thing to behold like, people need to go. People need to support it. Um. It is a tremendous example of what happens when we are in charge of our own destiny, when we educate ourselves, when we are not reliant on other folks. Um. And, you know, this is part of the reason why my company is named Reconstruction, because during the the 12 years post emancipation, when we started our own schools, we built our own farms and not sharecropping. We own 24% of the land in the United States. We started 5000 community schools and 37 historically Black colleges and universities in 12 years. And so for people to say that Black people are lazy or education is not our birthright, we don’t value education. Things like Piney Woods stand in stark contrast to that. In fact, before desegregation, there were about 100 boarding schools for African-American um students all across the country. And um this was in direct response to a lot of the schools that were created, the segregation academies and that kind of a thing. Um. But we were like, we not going to worry about other people educating our children. We going to educate our own children. And one of the things that I love about Piney Woods is, you know, I think as Black people, we are very worried about sending our kids away. I remember when I was about 12 and Facts of Life was all the rage. I was like, Mom, I want to go to boarding school. And I thought she would be excited about that. And she was like, nobody else is raising my kids except for me. And the way Piney Woods um sort of embraces this idea of with doing this with families and not excluding families, just because kids are away, I think has tremendous implications for how we need to think about reconstructing, rebuilding, re-weaving Black society together. And so thanks for the reminder, De’Ara. People need to check out Piney Woods. It’s pretty amazing.
DeRay Mckesson: I spent a career in education, had never heard of this until it was brought to the pod. So I think about what it means for options for kids when the adults who support kids don’t even know this is an option, right? Like, how do we even help kids imagine and families imagine what might be the best fit for them when we just, like, don’t know. So I’m excited for this documentary to come through. And also, I read uh that in 2020, Piney Woods was added to the National Register of Historic Places, which is dope. So that is an important recognition. And I’m hoping that, you know, I think about it is, you know, we’re in the moment where documentaries are like a thing. And I’m hoping that with added attention to this, people will be like, oh, and, you know, Kaya, I didn’t learn anything about reconstruction as a kid. So it like, it wasn’t till I became an activist that I was like, Oh, we that was a good moment, you know, like, Oh, we did do, so even hearing you talk about how many schools and da da da it’s like such a you know, I know people are like talking about it more, but it’s like I would go to the course, I would go to the five week course on reconstruction for 2 hours a week. Like I would do it just because I’m like, why did I not learn that.
Kaya Henderson: It’s the least it is the least taught era in American history, and you can’t tell me that that’s not by design. But if you think about what we accomplished in 12 years, they tell us that our vote doesn’t count. But 500,000 Black men voted in the election post emancipation and Ulysses S. Grant only won by 300,000 votes. Our vote has always counted, right? They tell us schools don’t matter, who starts 37 colleges or universities in 12 years? Only us. And so it’s really important for us to understand that our history here is not just a history of suffering and oppression and enslavement. Our history is a history here of multiple Black Wall Street’s. Our history is a history of incorporating our own towns and insurance companies and banks and running our own businesses. And we were so good at it that at the end of 12 years, white folks were like, we got to burn it down. We got to tear it up. Klu Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, all kinds of stuff. And so if you do not know the history of reconstruction, you better check it out, because it’s important to understand what happens when Black empowerment is real and when left to our own devices and doing our own things with one hand tied behind our back, we’re still amazing. And society has a swift, rapid response to that.
De’Ara Balenger: And I think that’s why places like Piney Woods are so important, because Kaya it is a memorialization to that. The bricks of the buildings, those bricks were bricks that were made by the hands of students.
Kaya Henderson: Students. Yeah.
De’Ara Balenger: It’s wild. So we’re all going there. So it’s you’ll see firsthand DeRay. Can’t wait. There you go.
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Hey, you’re listening to Pod Save the People. Stay tuned. There’s more to come. [music break]
Kaya Henderson: Um. My news this week is coming out of De’Ara’s favorite state, Minnesota, um where the Bush Foundation and Nexus community partners of Saint Paul have created the first program ever that they say will reverse the long term economical effects of systemic racism. There’s a new grants program that will provide $50 million dollars worth of grants to the descendants of slaves in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. And um I was drawn to this article because I was like, hmm what is this thing that the Bush family is doing? And then came to realize that it is not the Bushes like the political dynasty, um but the Bush Foundation of Minnesota was founded by the founder of 3M you know, 3M because they make Post-it notes and tape and all kinds of other things that adhere to things. [laugh] And um and the founder of the Bush Foundation, Archibald Bush, believed deeply in providing opportunities for people. And so they go out of their way to say that this is not intended to be reparations. Um. This is the work of building Black wealth. In fact, they say it’s not reparations because reparations would cost a whole lot more. Um. But in this program, um it’s it’s actually half of a $100 million dollar commitment towards Black, Indigenous, and Native communities in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Um. Grant applications will actually open on Juneteenth and applicants will have the opportunity to get up to $50,000 for 800 slave descendants over the next eight years. And with that money they can purchase properties, they can pay for education, they can start their own business. The goal is to break down the socioeconomic barriers that inhibit the Black community’s ability to attain and retain wealth. Um. And I thought this was interesting, in part because um, one, the geographic focus says we made a lot of money in these three states, and so we have a responsibility to contribute. I thought it was also interesting that um the Bush Foundation did this with a community based organization called Nexus Community Partners of Saint Paul and Nexus Community Partners deeply engaged the community. They co-created a definition of Black wealth. They developed a grant program that is relevant and really meets the needs and aspirations of the Black community. And starting on Juneteenth, people can apply for grants up to $50,000. Families can apply. A bunch of people can apply, put their money together and do stuff. And so the ability to uh pull the levers that we know make an economic difference for Black people, education, entrepreneurship, home ownership. These are now available to 800 people in the states of Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota. So call your cousins De’Ara. Hip them to tell them to call their friends and let’s go get this money.
DeRay Mckesson: This is one of those things where I’m frustrated that they’re like running away from the idea of reparations and happy that this is a redistribution. You’re like, yes, right. Because we all know this is that with people are color, it’s like people want to give you advice and all this other stuff. But it’s like some people just need the capital to go do stuff. Right. Like they they need the money to pay off the loan or buy the house or start the business. It’s not because they don’t have the ideas, it’s not that they don’t have the passion. They literally are like it’s the idea or rent. And it’s like, well, that is a what a wild what a wild conundrum to be in. Right. And it doesn’t have to be that way. So this is exciting. I hope that this serves as a model. My only sort of thing I’m interested in from an implementation standpoint is who hears this? Because if you’re only talking about this on the local news, it’s a whole lot of people who are never, ever going to know that this happened. And that is what I worry about when these amazing programs come out, it’s like who helps people navigate? Because the people who would often be most served by this are are often just too busy to like it just it takes a lot of energy to investigate this, call somebody go to the welcome set you know, like you got you got to have the flexible time to do that. And so few people actually do. I have a full time job. And I’m in charge and still don’t have the free time to go to those sort of things. I can only imagine what would have been like ten years ago for me.
De’Ara Balenger: Thank you for bringing this to the pod and I will circulate to my family members because then maybe I won’t have to give grants myself. [laughter] So, so this is helpful to me, um but I think that it that it takes–
Myles E. Johnson: Nothing like a De’Ara grant.
De’Ara Balenger: Yes. [laughing] So I think what it takes me to is just what we were talking about around reconstruction, just knowing our history. So part of why this like appreciate that this is happening. But also Rondo, which was a neighborhood in an affluent, thriving economic center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Black folk was doing well for years, years, years. And then they put a interstate through it. Right? Completely dividing the community, completely impacting um the economics of that community. So, you know, that’s where that’s where my grandparents lived, you know, that’s where that was. You know, it just I think it Minnesota is such a fascinating place because it’s so much different from D.C., obviously. It’s so much different from it’s so much different from from cities where there is although not perfect, there’s so much more opportunity for people of color and Minnesota is just not that place. Um and y’all can tweet at me or DM me, but I this I won’t change my mind. Um. But so I think I think initiatives like this are really, really important. I yeah, I wonder how it’s getting out. But I also would like the narrative to be, you know, this, we’re not doing this because, you know, people are in need and people, you know, it’s the charitable thing to do. And we, you know, we’ve made all this money in this place and we think we need to put it back in. It’s these communities had all this going on and then it was taken. And so I guess that’s just like y’all advocating that it is more like reparations because it is more like we would have been everyone would have been just fine if they were left alone. So, you know, yeah, want to get the word out about this and promise won’t use any grant money to just get people out of Minnesota, which is what my first thought always is.
Kaya Henderson: I thought the one other thing that I thought is interesting about this is as we think about reparations, whether we call it that or not, or when we think about opportunities to restore people’s ability to participate economically, we only look to the government. And I think that the government has a real responsibility to play, but corporations have a role to play, community based organizations have a role to play. And so I think I hope as we see more and more of this kind of um recompense movement growing, that we don’t just hold government accountable, that we hold everybody accountable. And because for real, for real, the only way to really repair is for all of these folks who have made money to all do their part in making Black folks whole. That’s just my personal two cents.
DeRay Mckesson: Um. So my news is about Alvin Bragg, the district attorney in Manhattan, who vacated a couple hundred convictions, 316 convictions tied to corrupt officers in the NYPD. I bring this here because so often we don’t hear about accountability. We don’t hear about the fixes trying to do right by people when the system makes a mistake, you know, all systems will you know, all systems will make mistakes. Everybody in this call, we have led in a system at some point. And even when we did our best work, we made some mistakes. But the police make a lot of not even mistakes. The police do wild things uh and there’s never ever some recompense. And there was with Alvin Bragg, also the DA’s in the Bronx, Brooklyn. They did. And they’ve done something similar. But this is the most recent. I’m actually going to read off more interestingly, what the police did uh that got us here. So Jason Arbery, he was convicted of official misconduct, offering a false instrument for filing and falsifying business records and planting drugs on two individuals. 24 cases where he got people convicted as an officer were vacated. Johnny Diaz convicted of bribe receiving in the second degree, petty larceny and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree for accepting bribes and gifts from an undercover officer posing as a drug dealer who he also helped to transport cocaine. 129 cases were vacated that he got people convicted of. Michael Arnello was convicted of petty larceny, official misconduct and falsifying business records for taking money from an undercover officer who posed as a drug dealer. 21 cases. Michael Carsi, 26 cases. Nicholas Mina 12 cases. Richard Hall, 27 cases. William Iseman 56 cases. Michael Fodder, two cases. Oscar Sandino, 19 cases. Now, the reason I’m reading this off is that I’m always reminded that it doesn’t take a squad or a unit of officers to fundamentally change people’s lives. These individual officers got multiple people convicted of crimes that have real consequences. The highest, Johnny Diaz, who was posing, who was selling drugs and transporting cocaine, he individually led to a 129 convictions that just got overturned. That is wild. Every single prosecutor’s office, for as long as this is the model of doing criminal justice, has to have a conviction integrity unit. Because when I read this, I was like, this is unreal.
Kaya Henderson: I think you’re right DeRay, we very rarely see accountability. And this seems really easy to do. Um. You know, when cops are found to be bad cops lets throw out their convictions because if they were bad for you, they’re bad for me. They, you know, sent people to jail illegally. Um. But I think this is the first time that I’m hearing about the vacating of of convictions. And that means people actually get out of jail. Right. That means that people’s records are wiped. That means not from everything they’ve ever done, but for these particular crimes. And and as DeRay said, you know, it is life changing for people. So shout out to Alvin Bragg, shout out to all of the courageous prosecutors who are taking on the establishment. It’s hard because prosecutors have to work closely with the police. And so, you know, when prosecutors and the police are at odds, there are long term consequences. And so lots of times prosecutors aren’t willing to but shout out to Alvin Bragg for, you know, taking this on and um restoring that this is what justice looks like as far as I’m concerned.
Myles E. Johnson: Yeah, I think that’s all I have to say, for real is just um really like filled up with the idea that there are people collaborating with each other to do something positive and you know, it will be forever. It will be forever um imperfect. But I think that the more that I listen to DeRay and stories like this, it just like reminds me that there are people who are like actively trying to collaborate um to make a safer world. A more just world. You blah, blah, blah. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. And usually DeRay’s news makes me um [laughter] want to light a house on fire. So this is refreshing.
DeRay Mckesson: I am interested with with this news for all of y’all. What um [bell dings in background] do you hear about the like, did you hear about this before it came here? Like, did you had you heard these stories? I worry that people, like, don’t hear enough of the like, this is what we should be demanding. You know what I mean?
Myles E. Johnson: I do not want to be the litmus test of that, because I was watching Joseline Hernandez and Amber Rose fight. So obviously, I’m not watching the the the best media. So I do not want to be the– [laughing]
De’Ara Balenger: I haven’t and the only thing I will say DeRay, what just another reason why this is important is we’ve you’ve brought stories before around police officers who have been found of wrongdoing, but they just go to another state and become a police officer there. So the fact that, you know, their names are published with what they have done, I think is also radical that that is happening for police officers. So I think that’s also something that um is super, super critical here, because hopefully now it’ll be hard for these folks to find jobs as law enforcement.
DeRay Mckesson, narrating: Well, that’s it. Thanks so much for tuning in to Pod Save the People this week. Tell your friends to check it out and make sure you 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 AJ Moultrié and mixed by Evan Sutton. Executive produced by me and special thanks to our weekly contributors Kaya Henderson, De’Ara Balenger, and Myles E. Johnson. [music break]