Wes Moore On Freddie Gray & George Floyd: It's Time To 'Change The Systems'


from whyy in Philadelphia. I'm Terry. Gross with fresh air. The ongoing protests aren't just about the death of George Floyd in police hands. They're also about black men and women who have died at the hands of police or while in police custody. One of those men is Freddie Gray five years ago in Baltimore. He was arrested for having a pocket knife in his pocket and put in a police van shackled, but with no seat belt at the end of the ride was unconscious with a broken neck. He died a week later. Today we talk with West more author of the new book. Five days about Freddie Gray's death, the protests and the impact of those protests. We'll also talk about the parallels to the protest today. Moore has written extensively about racial social economic and education disparities including in his bestselling book, the other West more. When protesters against the death of George Floyd in the hands of police chant say their names. One of the names is Freddie Gray five years ago, his neck was broken after being taken into custody by Baltimore Police dragged into a transport van and take into the police station. He died a week later. There were six officers involved no convictions. My guest West more is the author of the new book five days about the uprising that followed Freddie. Gray's death, protesting his death and demanding that the police be held accountable. The book will be published later this month, Wes Moore grew up in Baltimore and the Bronx. He wasn't handcuffed by the time he was eleven, but he became a Rhode Scholar, joined the military netted team of paratroopers and special OPS in. Afghanistan became an investment banker, a bestselling author and TV host. Host and commentator, he's now CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation of poverty-fighting Station Funding Schools Food Pantries and shelter and New York City and other places around the country his first book, the other Wes Moore compared his life with another man named Wes Moore, who grew up just a few blocks away in similar circumstances, the book reflects on Family Social Educational and economic circumstances that enabled the author to succeed while the other. Wes Moore is serving a life sentence for murder. We recorded our interview yesterday. West. More welcome to fresh, air. You served in the military, and you very cognizant of all the reasons behind the protests that we're seeing now before we talk about Freddie Gray I wanna ask you about President. Trump's statement Monday night when he said. If city or state refuses to take actions to defend the life and prosperity of the residents than I will deploy the US military and quickly solve the problem for them. I would be very cautious on the on the idea that there's any leaders of individualized jurisdictions that are refusing to take action. I think you have mayors, you have governors who are taking action that they deem to be appropriate within their own individualized jurisdictions, but none of them are are standing there saying we're just refusing to take action. All of them are taking this incredibly seriously for the baggage. You have a a level of pain that is being expressed on the streets and at the same time. You have to know that you have. Have to protect the health and welfare of everyone within your jurisdiction and one thing that data also continued to show us. Is that hyper militarization actually promotes a similar type of response, and so by simply saying we're going to add more force. You use need to be very careful. That also is is history has shown us that often times just acceleration force also means adding fuel to an already burning fire. We saw. We've seen peaceful protests that have taken place where it didn't where this actually happened, and actually part of the reason that the protests were peaceful was because we didn't lead to hyper militarization in earlier this week. one of the most peaceful protests that we saw was in Michigan this share. Bayer didn't come out with batons and riot shields. They told protesters that they were there to support them and that they wanted to have a parade. Not a protest and that's what happened. Flint Michigan is a place where you have not seen levels of violent protests. We see in San Antonio Texas. Where where police forces are actually being retrained to where you have not only individualized individuals officers. But. They're actually going on patrols with with health percussions, because they understand that the majority of the time that they're dealing with individual fractions these actually there's a mental health component to this as well so so refusing to take action, and and and saying that that the only action that becomes a required or useful is hyper. Militarization is not accurate and I think we need to be incredibly careful at this moment about which forces we utilize, because the forces we utilize is also sending a message and setting a statement that is being read loud and clear by the protesters well. If you were younger. You're in your forty s now if you're in your teens or twenties, do you think you would be in the streets protesting? Absolutely, and I think that because the people that are protesting right now are protesting something that is completely justified and rational. Right I mean they're protesting the fact that that we can talk, we can talk about, and we can have conversations about what happened to George Floyd, but the reality is. It's not just George Floyd. The reality is we still find ourselves in situations that whether it is George Floyd, or whether it was Brianna, Taylor, or whether it was whether it was Freddie Gray or whether it was to me Rice or whether it was Walter Scott or whether it was eric. Garner is continues to happen. Without any form accountability without any form of transparency about a process about how people are going to be held to account for what happened in these deaths. I also think that when you're coming on the heels of what we're seeing Kobe nineteen. When you're coming on the heels, will we're seeing in terms of this massive, and frankly this exacerbated level of disparity that these that the spurs part of this year has really shown us you see, and you understand how this frustration on so many levels continues to boil over, and so while I share the calls for peace. I do think it's important for people to wonder and ask the question, but where is our? Where's our collective pain supposed to go when they're still is no justice. That's the tension that we're seeing right now in the streets. When protesters chant no justice, no peace or say their name. One of the people they're thinking of is Freddie Gray who you just wrote a book about. Let's talk a little bit about the case of Freddie. Gray and the lessons that it has for the protests now for the situation we're in now. Let's start with like a brief recap of how Freddie Gray died. What we know about how Freddie Gray died. Yes Oh so what we know about how Freddie Gray died is is on on April. Twelfth of two Thousand Fifteen Freddie made eye contact heat. Another man made contact with police and then a few minutes later, he was caught and arrested at the seventeen hundred block of Prestbury street over in West Baltimore. And a few minutes later he abandons requested. He was put into leg irons in place into the back of the van an hour after he was placed in the back of that Van after hearing calls for patient care He was then sent to shot trauma at the University of Maryland, medical, center and was actually. They found that that he was in a coma. A day later he went he under underwent a double surgery at shock trauma, and determined that he had three broken vertebrae and an injured voice box. All from that arrest days later he remained in a coma and on April nineteenth, two, thousand, fifteen at seven o'clock in the morning, he was declared dead. Why was he taken into custody? He was taken into custody because after making eye contact with police, he ran and and when the police chased him, and and usually some people might say will what's. Making eye contact the crime well, actually at that time, making contact with the police was enough of a justification for the police to chase you the police chase him on now on an on him. They found what they were they were. They found be a according to the legal legal pocket knife of because it was larger than even the this sort of allowable size when they actually caught him patent and searched him, but that's why he was arrested because he made eye contact with the police in read. After his death. What were the protests like in Baltimore? You know the protests were actually were peaceful in Baltimore. Initially I think once word began to spread. That that Freddie Gray I was in a coma but then specifically once word spread that he had died. There were protests where you saw thousands of people marching the streets, in Baltimore, but again really all peaceful protests. And never really took a different type of time. The only the first time that you saw a different type of turned, the protests was actually. On a Saturday evening, and that was a few days before his actual. And on bad one you saw where some of the protests turned into there were violent directions between some of the protesters, and then also some of the people who were who were outside of Oriole. Stadium, or Parker Baseball. Game was being played at that time was the Baltimore, Orioles replacing the the Boston the Boston. Red Sox and actually during that game, the game was finishing up the protests for taking place outside the stadium, and and the people inside the stadium were asked to stay in the stadium just because they wanted to be able to clear the streets before everyone flooded out the stadium to go back to their cars back to their. the only other the second time that we really saw violence erupts in very serious violence that was really documented all over all over the world was the Monday, and that was the evening of Freddie Gray's funeral. where, even on that day you know the family asked for peace in astronaut protesting that day, because that was a day that they were gonNA late Freddie. Not late Freddie to rest But that was really the night that everything's sparked off and what happened then. What happened then was was a few hours after the funeral ended their start up to be a confrontation between it really start off between police and students, where where one of the larger high schools in West Baltimore School called off Frederick Douglass in Douglas High School right across the street from the mall. Once. The the students were let out of school. There was a there were confrontations between the students and the police that was brewing for ruin for a while, and then what ended up happening was as at protests in as as that interaction, and that's what we started becoming larger at some point, somebody made the decision to shut down the transportation assets, leaving so Mangam Mall is also is one the largest transportation hubs in Baltimore. Sore buses, trains, etc, and then. Then at that point, the kids couldn't leave. They couldn't get home because all the buses and everything else were canceled and nothing's moving, and so really what you had now was much larger powder keg, where this very much became a bit of a ground zero where everything jumped off, and then from the room for the remainder of eating, you saw you saw no protests and violence that were taking place in different parts of the city until the point at around five PM. The state was declared a state of emergency and guard actually started coming in. The National Guard. How long did that kind of protest last? The main part of that protest was was really that day. That was the most. Violent. and. I think the the most destructive level of the day. was that was that Monday night and it really lasts all night long. And it was a really hard night because you saw how the pain was just being displayed and push all over during that time, and and it was just heartache that came from a a level and a history of not just over policing, but inequitable policing. It was a history of levels of a lack of economic opportunity history of complicity. There's a larger level that a society ultima. Society was was allowing, and so all that night was really may night where we saw everything just a everything explode in the city of Baltimore, and what was the damage? The damage was it was a ten million dollars of damage initially, even on even on that night. Where where you saw a places in buildings and historic landmarks. Up In flames, churches, a that were that were up in flames. you also saw a level of psychological damage? A level where frankly psychological damage that I think many ways, the city of Baltimore has still yet to from wherever you look at even the past five years that that that have taken place in city of Baltimore in inches past five years. There's just been level of of violence. Where the homicide rate has been over three hundred in the city of Baltimore, When you look at a sizable towards making deliverables, bounce city in America right now. Where we have had a level of mistrust. That isn't taking place amongst elected officials. And, so you seen how you seen how this has shown itself. Not just in the initial damage of the in terms of the quantifiable measurable financial damage, but really how this is damaged, the psyche of Baltimore. For really a generation that it now impacted us. There's a sentence in your book five days that I wanna read. This is after the protests, and after the unrest, and after the looting in Baltimore following Freddie Gray's death. In right, it was hard to tell which of the wreck stores and row houses have been looted or burned that week, and which had been falling apart for decades. What does that tell you about the sense of hopelessness in that community? What is showing me? Is that the frustration that people are facing? It's multi-layered. The frustration that people are feeling is about much more than just a singular incident. It's about the conditions of people being asked to endure. And I think our best way, our most are most deliberate are most focused way of being able to deal with. That is being as intentional as intentional about the restructuring of our society. As we have seen this level of. This as the system, wide injustice that happened to encounter has been in terms of creating these levels of disparity. Know when we're talking about. We can't tell the difference between a building that was burned. The young Freddie Gray, or burn to the unrest of the rights. It took place after after Dr King's murder. Versus a building that was just been just been vacant because it's been been. It's dilapidated in completely ignored. What does that say about our largest society? And what does that say about our ability to be able to address your pain versus pacify it? And, so I think it really does go back and highlight is bigger points. Bear conversation about how we have to think bigger analytically about what is being demanded in what is being asked. And then what exactly we have to do individually collectively to be able to address that. So the psychological damage still exists the anger still exist Homicide rate is is higher. In terms of the uprising or writing, whatever were people choose to use the followed Freddie Gray's death that really exploded on that night that you were describing. How did it stop? What quieted things down? So it was interesting because I think there were there were a few things that I think had significant impact one though. Was the the morning on the Friday morning after the after the unrest that took place on Monday was when our state's attorney. At that time she was a brand new state attorney. She was airport in three months. Maryland Moesby came down and announced that there were charges that we're going to be filed against all six officers and I remember being in Baltimore and feeling just this this there was a youth. In the streets because I think part of the frustration that people were feeling all that time. It wasn't just what happened to Freddie. It just wasn't the fact that you had a a twenty five year. Old Young men who makes eye contact with police and gets arrested in an hour later in a coma. But it was this feeling amongst many Baltimoreans that. There was going to be no accountability. That! There was going to be that no one was going to be. Held no down to be responsible for this, because that was oftentimes the history of what up happening, where even if you look at a look at just the twenty four months before, Freddie Gray there was tyrone west and there was Chris. Brown and there was Anthony Anderson. So you had names of people where you saw this long line of people who had similar situations as Freddie on arms, or or people who you know where where the what happened to them was nowhere near equal the threat. That was posed. That gone themselves dying in police custody. and. Nobody was convicted for those prime. Dole's indicted for those crimes. There were some financial payout, but that was it and so I. Think for many people in Baltimore. They just assumed that was going to be the case with Freddie Gray. And so when the attorney actually announced charges against the officers. It didn't just it didn't just no I think take a lot of air out of the protests and back made approaches that were plan for the next day. We're exit canceled after those charges were filed. I think for many Baltimoreans. There was this sense of hope that that you're could be as level of accountability. Board improper. Police action. Now we know fast forward is as you mentioned earlier. There were no convictions for for any of the officers on that, but I do think that that moment that time when she announced those charges, something changed in Baltimore, and and hope for measure of accountability for improper police action. I think really feel the air and a sense that people hear us being heard. That's exactly right. Is that what we're screaming out? Is Not just simply going to be dismissed as hyperbole or exaggeration, where where oftentimes the is when people hear about levels of misconduct or or or improper engine rations with with law enforcement, the first immediate reaction is is to the person is say well. What did you do? Or what are how did you provoke it? or where there's there's a there's a a a a blaming of the individual that oftentimes take place, or in in in other cases that we've seen as well, there is the well let's now. We want to learn about their back story, or no, did they have? Do they have something in their system or whatever the case is, and we see this repeatedly especially when it comes to cases of of a of a of a policing and policing challenges in our society, and so when those charges were announced. It was, it was very much a case where I think for many of the protesters, maybe the People Baltimore. It was very much a feeling of. We're seeing and we're heard and we're not being dismissed, and these aren't just being played all exaggerations. Let, me reintroduce you here if you're just joining us. My guest is West more his new book. Five days is about Freddie Gray whose neck was broken in police custody and died a week later. The book is about the five days of protests following his funeral. We'll talk more after a break. This is fresh air. This message comes from NPR sponsor state farm state farm fit. Fit seamlessly into your life, allowing you to easily manage your coverage, pay your bill and even file a claim with the state farm mobile APP and they really get to know you. Thanks to a network of nineteen thousand agents. You'll have someone local to talk you through options that fit your personal needs. When you want the real deal like a good neighbor, state farm is there. Let's get back to my interview with West more. He's written extensively about police abuse of black men and women, and the lack of accountability. His new book five days is about the death of Freddie, gray whose neck was broken while in the custody of Baltimore Police. He died a week later. More is now president of the Robin. Hood Foundation a Poverty Fighting Organization Funding Schools Food Pantries and shelter in New York City and other cities. He's also the author of the bestseller. The other wes Moore about a man who grew up a few blocks away from west, more with the same name in similar circumstances, but the other wes. Moore is serving a life sentence for murder. My guest West Moore says that fate could have been his. We recorded the interview yesterday today. The Minnesota Attorney General's office announced there would be additional charges for officers in the George Floyd case, but as I record this, the specific charges have not been announced. So as you've said. The unrest quieted down. Protests were canceled after the state prosecutor said that. She would take action and that these these officers would be held accountable. There were six officers involved with the arrest and a Freddie Gray. three retried. There were no convictions. The charges were dropped against the other three. How did we get from? They will be held accountable to. There were no convictions. I think this is. This is always been one of the You know one of the big debate that's taking place and frankly I. think slumping that bad attorney general ellison is is probably thinking through when it comes to how to determine. The fate of of noxious offer potentially the these other officers as well is. How do you come up with charges that that are not going to be deemed? Is Quote Unquote overcharging? Because that that has always been part of a conversation part of a debate around what happened with Freddie Gray, where where where when Cerny Moesby put together the charging list of of the of the items to include debris, depraved heart murder the question for some people was. Could you actually get a conviction with the evidence that you had on that charge, or should you have gone for? For a lower charge, and it's a very delicate balance. Right because I think one thing. We're even seeing in Minnesota right now. Part of the argument part of the protest is that the initial charges that were made against the officer of third degree murder and second degree manslaughter part of the argument and part of the of the The the anger is fueling is they're saying that's that's undercharging. But. How do you so but what then becomes the right charge that you can put in a case like the second both show the community that the the seriousness of the issues being taken, but at the same time is moving towards this level of being able to secure conviction that the community demands as well. So in the case of George Floyd. Do think the reason why the charges are manslaughter in third degree murder to have lesser charges so that there's more likely to be a conviction, or do you think that the lesser chargers are the because the? Prosecutor doesn't think there's a greater crime that. Won't. Be Honest Answer. Is I think all of us is? We don't know yet. I think I think it was important for one thing they want to make a point of doing is quickly by being able to charges because you can always add charges. You can't take away charges, but you can always charges to a case as you're then going in and feeling a case so I think that they felt it was probably important to be able to get charged out there, because because back also the thing that Bolt secured the via the earthy arrests and holding, but the honest answer is I think the answer for any of us right now is we just don't know? And and especially how they were thinking about whether or not, there is a plan to add additional charges, or whether they thought that the highest charge that they could actually get a conviction on whereas third degree, murder and second degree manslaughter. Did any reforms. Come out of the Freddie Gray story and the protests surrounding his death. Certain reforms did come out and I think insert reforms have been have been helpful a for example things like body cameras that officers have to wear body cameras now back. That came out of everything that has happened. Everything happened with Freddie Gray in addition to that. What Freddie Gray did it prompted an investigation an investigation by the Department of Justice where Baltimore's actually put under a consent decree. And really what the opposite of what the investigation in the consent decree unfolded was that Baltimore has history a pattern of systemically racist? Police practices, and and so it was something that was well documented. It was something that we now had. The of the federal government was now saying that there is very similar what what happened. What pulled together within Ferguson that that there is something that has to be addressed, and there were both recommendations in pieces that were put in place in response to the consent decree that we then had to you know had to follow the complication, though became twofold. One the complication was as the new administration came on board. The consent decree was pulled back and so you've seen an uneven. Application to how people and the seriousness, people are taking the consent decree I, came a second piece of complication was the fact that you know the that we have now seen a spike up within violence, and and in violence charges within up with with in Baltimore and part of the reason in part of the the the idea of many people believe is the case is because you now have officers who are just not engaging with the same level of intensity where you have. Officers were basically saying that you know I I'm not going to go and. Go after things that know could be more complicated or or by Sia vic- somebody taking place street. I'm not going to be as aggressive going in because if I now feel that I'm going to get charged by content charge than I will just sit tight and so one thing that's come out and you'd even even. Know even seeing officers in police commissioner. Talk about this is this balance of of being able to do your job with accountability, but not necessarily thinking that you're sitting on your hands is the way you're going to be able to address the level of of policing needs that our society feels needs as well. What's been done to address that and to talk to police officers? About that. I think you know we actually have a a commissioner now. Also who I think has been very aggressive in terms of how to. Retrain. Police officers how to go about individual accountability for for for officers. But one thing that I think becomes incredibly important in in notches the case in Baltimore, but even what we're seeing. In Minnesota and other areas is the conversation oftentimes into bad apples versus good apples. The the thing I think we saw in Baltimore and I think it's a complete correlation between what we're seeing in Minnesota is. Possible to have a conversation about good apples and bad apples. We're not talking about systems. It systems that continue to be put in place that how measures inequitable policing. It systems that are in place that don't allow for measures of accountability, and where we can put things like so the review boards in place where we can have where we can think about why do officers have a longer time to be able to turn themselves in also prepare statements when these incidents happen than traditional citizen might have, and so this is not just about good apples versus bad apples. All of us completely acknowledge that there are some absolutely remarkable officers that we have on the force people who are committing their lives and dedicating their lives and risking their lives for the idea of public safety. We also know that we want good people to be able to perform in good systems and naturally the adjustment needs to happen. Let me reintroduce you if you're just joining us, my guests is West more his new book five days is about the death of Freddie Gray, while in police custody, his neck was broken. He died. A weekly to the book. is about the five days of unrest following? His funeral will be right back after a break. This is fresh air. Support for NPR and the following message come from duck duck go. Are you tired of being tracked online duck duck? Go can help. They helped millions of people like you take control of their personal information online with one download you can search and browse privately. Avoiding trackers duck duck go, privacy simplified. It feels like nothing in the news. These days makes any sense so Hassan Montage Hajj turned to his father and his faith for answers he said. Don't worry about the number of questions. Just worry about which questions. Questions become more clear and solidified comedian Hasan Bin. Hajj on how spirituality is getting him through. Listen subscribe to. It's been a minute from NPR. Let's get back to my interview with West more. He's written extensively about police. Abuse of black men and women, and the lack of accountability is new book. Five days is about the death of Freddie, Gray in Baltimore. Five years ago, his neck was broken while in police custody. He died a week later. The book is about the five days of unrest that followed. What are some of the systemic changes? You think we need to see. That also apply to the protests. that. We're seeing now around George Floyd's death. So I, think we, we have to look at a lot of basic elements of things that people are responsible for in society, but that we don't have the same level of responsibility or accountability for when it comes to law enforcement, so for example you know. What is the timing requirement that people have? When it comes to being able to pull together statements, and to be able to end to be able to actually turn turn those statements in the reason is. Is that the the long period of time that you have more time? You have cooperation and and being able to pull stories together versus being able to put down what she knows to be the true that exact moment. A second thing is you know there's a law for example called felony murder. And The way felony murder works, and in fact a west from the other west more. He actually was convicted of felony murder, and the way film murder works. Is that when a when a murder happens that the people who were? In it, regardless of what your role was, even if we're not the person that actually took the life of somebody else, you can be held accountable, but actually end up receiving a similar type of sentence. We have to really think hard about about this idea of toleration. That then takes place. For nine minutes. That officer had his knee. On a grown man's neck. While he was screaming for his life. While he was saying that he couldn't breathe. To the point that some of the last moments that he had on his IRT was a forty six year old man calling for his mother. Who died two years ago? And at no point, did any of the officers go and say to that one officer? That's enough or ease up or hey. I got it from here. Go. Take a walk I got it. And so there needs to be a level of accountability. People have for each other. There needs to be a level of accountability that individuals have for the people working with particularly win. Be Type of actions are taking place. Because there's a level of accountability to people have and they know that I will be held responsible for the actions of the people around me. Then my actions are going to be different. And so when we're thinking about the type of reforms that are going to need to ensure take place. You know we know that when it comes to pursue specifically on the policing Zaid these are some of the actions. Some things that we have to really think hard. Really think critically about. I want to ask you about this. One of the things that really strikes me when I see the video. Of Derek show of the officer who had his knee on George Floyd's neck. One show wins. Hands was in his pocket. It's hard to say. I really need to restrain him. The, on if your if your hand is in your pocket. So. I don't know if that's GONNA figure into. The charges against him or not, but I just think that's that has to be a telling detail. It's almost it almost feels and looks just nonchalant. They're just just know there. There's no struggle. There there's not a there's not like it was a it was A. it was a brutal battle. Your hand is in your pocket. I've never. I've never had a struggle in my life where my hand where I have one hand in my pocket. So I I think I think you're absolutely right that I think that that is something that that detail that one detail alone is something. That I think struck everybody who watched that video and everybody who saw pictures of it. was there a man and and in some point at some points with multiple grown men on him? And with the one who with his knee on his neck. Had, his hand in his pocket. Getting back to systemic issues within police accountability, what are a couple of the reasons why it's so difficult to get convictions against police officers when somebody's death is involved? Letting part of it is because the the rules have been written and constructed to be able to support. Law, enforcement and I completely understand it because when you're talking about law, enforcement or first responders or other types. You're talking about people who every day are risking their life. Of for for the public safety, you're talking about people who constitutionally are there and sworn to protect and to serve, and I think there is, there is a level of of courtesy when it comes to the legal structure that historically. Has Been in place and historically has been there to be able to allow that level of flexibility. We saw the same thing in the military. Where where you know, we fall under what is called. You know the Ucla the uniform code of military, justice. And what was is there was a set of laws in set of rules that we had to respond to that. We understood, but we knew that the UCLA Jay was going to be in place for accountability. Yes, but it's a different type of accountability. Because there was an understanding of the job, we were performing and has a different level accountability. Because the jobs were performed the jobs we were asked to do, and so I think that's why you have historical piece that goes into it I. Think one of the other complicating things that we see within this case and we've seen in in in many of the past cases is that we're also asking the officers to? The, and why you have got different level. Up Transparency is you're asking the officers to perform difficult task when it comes to, you're asking officers, oftentimes, police, situations and police, systems and police communities that even they're not responsible for. They then know that part of their job is to maintain a level of of of order when other policies that we have in place that are dealing with issues of everything from economic inequality to health disparities, etc are naturally improper orders as well and so I think that's the history of it, and that's why many of those laws and those fixtures still still exist to this day. How do you think the outcome? Of the Freddie Gray story with none of the six officers. convicted. And three officers weren't even the charges were dropped. How do you think the outcome affected? Subsequent protests including. The protest against George Floyd's death. I think. It impacted it in one way where I think for the protesters who pay attention. They realize that that that the indictment wasn't enough. The arrest was into. Not You know it's interesting because you saw how Freddie Gray's case when state's attorney Moesby made that announcement it did take the temperature down you know significantly in Baltimore where I think there was a sense of hope bad justice will be served. The indictments, and the charges against the you know the initial offer our oxygen shelving in in Minnesota. Knows came relatively quickly. Particularly when you're looking at cases of of improper police conduct usually that takes a much much much longer time. Those were actually some historic Lee fast charges that were placed against him. But I. think that just the indictment isn't enough. Just, the charges aren't enough and I think. One of the lessons learned from Freddie Gray was actually that was put. The protests were happening would continue to happen because that just just the chargers on that one officer. That wasn't going to be enough. Because backed in equate to justice in that way. Let's take a short break here and then we'll talk some more if you're just joining us. My guest is West more his new book five days is about the death of Freddie. Gray Gray's neck was broken in police custody. He died a week later. The book is about the five days of unrest following his funeral. We'll talk more after a break. This is fresh air. With civil unrest, the pandemic and the economic crisis. You want to know what's happening right when you wake up and that's why there is up I. The news you need in about ten minutes from NPR news. Listen every day. Support for NPR comes from whyy. Presenting the pulse a podcast that takes you on adventures into unexpected corners of health and science plastic in the guts of deep sea creatures, crying after anesthesia building your own Internet. Each episode is full of fascinating stories and big ideas, the pulse available where you get your podcasts or at whyy dot org. Let's get back to my interview with West more. He's written extensively about police abusive black men and women and the lack of accountability. His new book five days is about the death of Freddie Gray whose neck was broken while in police custody in Baltimore five years ago. He died a week later. I think when we see large protests against the death of black men and women at the hands of police that the protests have several goals one is to. Protest the death. One is to demand accountability. One is to express answer, but I think what is also to try to raise consciousness and say look at this this matters. This happened pay attention. These things should not happen. In the case of Freddie Gray. Do you think any minds were changed? By the protests and you profile several people and what they're row wasn't how they responded during the course. Of those five days. Did you find people whose minds were really changed by the protests? Yeah I've been one of the fascinating to me about the experience of writing five days was I. I was having so many conversations. With people all over Baltimore and I and I was doing that while I was trying to process my own mind what had just happened, and I also understood when looking at this issue that it wasn't just about Freddie's death. It was also about Freddie's life. And the issue of poverty, the issue of systemic racism, the issue of inequitable economic opportunities within communities was so stark. And also created an environment that was so ripe. For this type of explosion that took place. If you look at the case of Fernie Gray along. Freddie, gray was born. Month premature. Born underweight. Born addicted to heroin. His mother never made it to high school and had battled addiction much of her life. When Freddie Gray finally gained enough weight to be able to leave the hospital, he and his twin sister they moved into a housing project in north. Kerry street over in West Baltimore. In two, thousand, nine, that house along with four hundred others were involved in a in a civil suit because of the endemic levels of lead. That was inside that house. The CDC indicates that a person has a has six milliliters a two liter of of lead in their blood. Then that person will have commented damage lasting cognitive damage. Pretty great had thirty six. And so this is a person who was born underweight. Premature. Addicted to heroin. Lead poisoned. And at this time in Freddie's life. He's two years old. And, so we have to be able to address this level of inequitable policing that takes place in our societies in the lack of accountability that takes place when improper actions happen. We also have to deal with the underlying conditions that our citizens and often times our citizens of color are repeatedly being allowed and being forced to endure. And if we don't address both those two things together, we will continue just having to deal with the pain of the consequence of the one. Are you saying that you think Freddie Gray's? Life. was kind of preordained by the time he was to. Either I. think Freddie Gray before Freddie. Gray actually died before Freddie radioman went into police custody and ended up in a coma Freddie. Freddie Gray could have died one hundred times before. We Are we are. We know we have to we? If we permit these tragedies to recede from our memory, we will risk the opportunity to change the systems. That are ultimately responsible for all of these injustices, and so when you're looking at a life like gray, and and it's one of these things when people tell me they're like well people in poverty. She just work harder. How Hardwood Freddie had to abort. This idea that that that that poverty is somehow it somehow a mechanism of hard work. Non User no data to reinforces that it's incredibly offensive to fat. It's incredibly offensive. When you consider the fact that when we think about you know that torture. Twenty two percent of people have lost their jobs during this Kobe nineteen crisis. They were already living in poverty. So what that means? That's the working poor people who have jobs and are still living in poverty. And so when we're talking about this idea of. How do we move forward from this? We have to understand that this this collective pursuit of justice it has to be as aggressive and intentional as the system-wide injustice that we now encounter, and so just cannot just mean. How are we thinking about accountability or or four officers? or how are we thinking about a reformation of a police system? That's part of it. That's part of the justice that is being sought. But the justice that's also being sought must be an economic justice. In must be helped justice. It must be housing justice. It's looking at justice at every single frame. Because what we're seeing in these cases, it's were watching. We're watching all these various systems in the business of the systems. Ben have a confluence that then has destructive consequences on everything that takes place. West more. Thank you so much for talking with us. And stay safe stay will. Be will thank you so much for having. West Moors the author of the new book five days about Freddie Gray and the five days of protest falling funeral. We recorded our interview yesterday. Many critics of president trump see his threat to send in the military as a dramatic move toward authoritarianism tomorrow on fresh air. We'll talk with an applebaum who's been writing about the move toward authoritarianism in Europe and the US, and is the author of the forthcoming book twilight of Democracy, who new article in the Atlantic is titled. History will judge the complicit. Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous President I? Hope you'll join us. Fresh Air's executive producer is Danny Miller, our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham with additional engineering from Mike? Villers our interviews and reviews produced and edited by Amy. Salad Phyllis. Myers, San Brigger, Lauren crandall. How do you Simone Theresa Madden Challenor Seth Kelly? Joe will from our associate producer of digital media is Molly seavy Nesper Roberta shorrock directs the show I'm Terry Gross.

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