Ep. 93 - DeRay Mckesson

Update: 2016-11-03


DeRay Mckesson, one of the most prominent leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement, talks to David about his decision to endorse Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, his organization’s work to end police violence, the importance of public education, and his turbulent childhood in inner-city Baltimore.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

the board for the acts files comes from rockin' mortgage my Quicken loans lift the burden of getting a home loan with rockin' mortgage and get a secure transparent home loan approval in minutes skip the bank of the waiting then go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files This podcast is brought you by sixty DB listen to conversations that go beyond the headlines business sports politics today's news plus all of your favorite podcasts download the free sixty DB at today the the the the and now from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN The X Files with your host David Axelrod the the the net that many folks knew of Do Re mi Cason other than perhaps the students whose lives he touched as a teacher and administrator in the New York and Minneapolis Public Schools until August of two thousand and fourteen when he felt moved to go down and join the protests in Ferguson Missouri after the killing of Michael Brown in that post Ferguson period he became one of the nation's best known organizers protesters spokespeople of around the issue of police community relations and one of the most visible figures in what has become the Black Lives matter movement including helping to lead the campaign zero one platform to help reduce police shootings in minority communities he ran a somewhat quixotic race for mayor of Baltimore earlier this year and is currently a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago sat down with the array the other day to talk about the state police community relations the state of the black community writ large and politics and the politics of two thousand and sixteen the uh the uh the the deer a welcome I first want to thank you for being a fellow teens to politics the recent Chicago euro euro a great presence here and we appreciate that and thanks for for being here you know everybody who comes here has a story some stories are better than others yours is a truly unique and inspiring story to tell me Tell me about it tell me about how you got to this point and what your childhood was like an attic Spears and how it informed where you are today and as an honor to be here typing I remember that first idea much what I got from you is how we choose how we met Santa and this immersive and agree to be seventy people in the county a push in the work it's also interesting to be here in the middle the movie you know the movie is very much a still living present thing and we just met with the cleanup Friday now be the first time I'll be talking about it really will be here tonight and eyes that exciting I'm a boy raised in Baltimore like from Baltimore both invented Organics my father is ask my mother left when I was three she just came back about a year ago and it will of that do you have them in so many ways I think about what it means to grow up in a community of recovery that like I saw my father in a mentoring people in being a sponsor for so many people going to meetings my entire childhood so I saw so many people put their lives back together in ways that they didn't believe that they could stay with me because I know the power of recovery they know the power of seeing people put things together again what would become of your mother he said when she spent a lot of time is it you know it's super close relationship may have a sister so my sister is a year and a half older than she remembers my mother leaving in a way that I don't I just know it's like to grow up without a mother around me my father my sister really close as some others back a mrt ride which I forgot the cuisine of relationship now that I'm thirty one in you know she's missed a whole lot and also trying to remember that diction is disease trait that this is I care she needed help this you have access to you when I was three she ever overcome it she is now I am thirty one to we missed a lot time together I'm trying to figure out she actually is close to my grandparents my father's side's her grandmother on this CS if she's around in traffic I would meet several relationship with her my sister never the coastal misses two key and five and three and has been and I just was with them yesterday over the weekend and they're great we both grew up and became a school math teachers completely crazily sigh from Baltimore went to Bowden which is a great school in Maine Yeah Mason I want to get there but I'm just um I mean you're dealing with your whole life is committed to to basically two issues one the quality of public education and the other is this issue of violence in the relationship between police and community and so before we leave your childhood I want to get a sense of home what what those two things were like in the community obviously drugs were were in issue you know Americans think of the inner city Baltimore as the wire and awe how prevalent was violence help and how growing up of the kind of vary sometimes difficult relationship between police and the community that time as he probably says it best about Baltimore is at which you were so real oso felt was the fear I remember was I to walk from school we lived with my grandmother in one part of the city and I can not walk certain places not not walk home certain ways because it is because you felt like it was dangerous to drive certain ways like those they feel are so present with the police that actually I wrote I got to talk like everybody got the taco mayb like to get the talker am making a PC the police be you know don't do anything that might make them think you are dangerous but I remember getting pulled over in two thousand and nine tie and away we have gotten the After School Center Baltimore after college and after I taught and I left something on the or somebody on my staffers have left something on the lunch table set like I need to go get it is seen in school opened some like trying to score early six o'clock morning I get pulled over by Gnostic he approaches my window with his gun drawn and he's like the sin and He is like really intense and I'm really afraid of the prince what this was only just trying to get to school so the prince has been really crazy and I'm seeing him like it's okay it's okay calm down ok so he we get him calm down if he gets up together I don't even get a warning I go to school pick up thingy to pick up and get back when that happens you remember telling people I thought that I was like that never happened had heard people talk about that happening as much like the only person now like you know since the move and I realize that the police abusing their powers in large ways for a long time was that these are sort of like outliers been said that I'd heard about before but I just never heard about them and scale you will you talk about walking home and taking the routes that you thought would be safe that fear was not a police that fear was of random violence on the street yet of so that that's also a pervasive reality and a lot of community was sitting here in the Southside of Chicago and both things are a concern both violence and the relationship abuse of police power and so on hey you hey reconcile the two have you and I know you guys your organization the organization that you form has put out a really lengthy set of proposals about how to deal with this but we've had young people come to we've had sessions on this very issue Europeans to politics young people come so we urge is to span the police we don't need the police um and I wonder how what do you do about how you reconcile the issue of violence and the need for security and the abuse of police power yes only talk about community said she's police on the community balance both important issues important differently but important nonetheless I think you need a bouncer mindful that many counties are designed to be a certain way race what does it look like when you impoverished people and a certain way like put them in economically disadvantaged parts of cities when you stack them atop each other and housing projects when you make sure that they have to travel an hour one way to wreck that actually changes were that changes the way people function in space rate that has an impact and that breeds a certain type of conflict in places and we see the manifestation of aesthetic institutional that was intentional in cities across the country including Chicago into Baltimore and also mindful that with me balance in the legal economy there's a way to deal with conflict that in the legal economy if I disagree with your call your manager of how lost you complain like in the illegal economy which so many people that forced him to you by factors beyond their control there's only one way to deal with conflict and that's fine and so if we don't help transition people out of the legal economy to the legal economy at scale and in ways that make sense like you always have this problem in eating else will just be a band tee we think about police found no teacher is that people using the police are using their power in ways that disproportionately disadvantage certain segment of the country so this is about safety with safety look like an advise you where you fell the most safe if not ruffle the police it's in a room where people care about you people love you with this food shelter with his love like that safety is a question press becomes how do you say that but you and I might have a much different experience I mean you know I wouldn't say what I feel the safest room full of police but I'm sure I'd feel differently in a room full of police than you might feel in a room full of challenges in question wasn't like it wasn't about weighing the options are weighty for the most right but the two of but there is a disparity obviously in the way different populations relate to the police in with the police really here to different populations and I should say parents Eric Lee I started in life is a police reporter at The Chicago Tribune I covered a lot of violence and I've seen a lot I've seen both sides of this equation I've seen the abuse of citizens and I've seen heroic acts to save system so I don't come at this from the notion that this is as simple as you know I don't see black and white but it's much more complex than that but um but I on your point that the economics of of these communities are such that you have this sort of underground economy out some of it related to drug trade and that propagate finalists that foment violence that was intentional though people like a system designed to be that way isn't important it's not like the other an economy just like emerged on it own people using this or ninety you think about all these things like forced to send people to live a certain way has consequences and people chose that to be the case when I sing about the conception of safety is at giving away for the most of the question of highly skilled after people with chronic the police for some people raving about Black Tide easy thing about the police being like that is how you make people say that you keep people say like guys with CTE means to some people think about how to make black mini safe only know to be true that that just isn't real happy with the light would allow them to be safe and functional be there if you're talking about you be like having a job and having house and having options like that is that contributes to people since the CD at best a police response to trauma at best to help solve crime that they shouldn't be a part of the crime prevention strategy really we should think about crime prevention a completely different way of options and access and not about policing about the response the crime you think about that one in three one for dipping most of you read people who either the police kill have been taught this usually does it look like when we built a society where when you call me if i kanna Mori saying somebody in this room is reading commit suicide in office is going to come take a wild thing is that not prepared to deal with somebody in crisis like that usually have to think about with safety looks like a complete different way and it's chio and I'll push and say that the amount of energy that it was to create the systems are disappointing to see many people read mining rate like that thinking about public education in the history of how underfunded public school systems where for so long that we have to put that same energy into doing some of that massacre ninety four crime bill to cleave to God and us up at the same vigor that people did in the first place the um the issue of I don't disagree with anything you're saying I know I think that we have to go to root causes and matches and result of those and I also think that we asked police and teachers to do so much more than in certain ways they are prepared to do to fill to try and deal with the symptoms of something that's much of its much larger but the transition you're talking about is a long term project it's not a short term project and so there must be also strategy you still have a police force are still going to try and improve those and I assume you know looking at you propose that a lot of it goes to training and the kind of sensitivity said police are raised within the culture of their own organization says such training one of the Campaign Zero that which is a platform that we put out it's important to say he's an all or nothing it is either you with all of these things fundamentally changes in structures or this won't be an impact in the trainee alone isn't good enough to think about possible we saw a scratch or killed by the police recently we saw everybody saw like the helicopter footage of the killing isn't also the use of force policy doesn't actually require that the OS de escalate to care for the train trait is that the policy doesn't actually require them to implement any de escalation select out to be a situation like it would have required policy rules to be sent to the actually added Yes goalie in a training program to be real but I'm liking it so we can train people not to be racist right that that that probably is like hiring component gets it we can train you some strategies of packing and trying out Reese's im just not as easy as you'd be able recognize some of the the were sophisticated enough as a society to be able when you're testing in recruiting to root out those which is the main issue and trying to think about this notion that we can actually change to snow structures and ways fundamentally change culture this summer this is about the structural piece of the police or what does it mean that the police contract said automatically delete police officers disciplined files for a cause more in Chicago to the busy twenty four hour delay be before police officer can be questioned again by Marilyn it was ten days Frederick and now it's five in Chicago this because this is a police officer discipline father deleted every five years straight in Cleveland is two years I still like the structure issues that we have to do it but it is a cultural piece that allows officers to say that they are free every time a customer regardless of the circumstances or that that doesn't require them to intervene if they see another officer doing something that is a strong like that some of his culture he think about what happened to teaching no matter where you fall in the ed reform side of the equation is that before there were as testing before there were these alternative teacher programs are for charter schools became is because they were like what I meant to teach was just very different weight the ed reform comedian whether you agree with that or not is change the systems and structures like Santa steps within me when you break the school's when you give schools letter grades and change the face of public education I believe that we can do something similar way that there's more consensus on what the police can actually change the suction systems in a way that changes who becomes a police officer what accountability looks like with policing that we can do that you know I want to take up the public education pick up your story but before we do just the last thing on this point Mom you haven't been as I said a police report and covered this it struck me that oh we're all human beings at the end of the day we have fears we have families we have concerns mom What what's your sense of I mean police officers obviously have their pal powered aren't day of the weapons they have the ability to take lies so but they're also living breathing human beings who have their own families and so you talked about your own fears walking around a neighborhood that was were violence was prevalent do you have some empathy for the job the police officers have to do in going into communities that are violent in or where there's a high degree of violence his is not about identity for a lot of people and it's not about whether their good offices in that office is this is about to call Genesis and this is broken so what does it mean when some of the police actually contribute to their way to balance the community that has a different equation you think about what most people don't know isn't only the police killed three people a day in twenty sixteen but the homicide rate in most cities include the people killed by police in Albuquerque one of three people covered by a police officer you know that we dislike the homicide rate tray so that say they are that they are actually contributing to the ballots in the city so it's not about him but the four individual offices in the same way that the option to have empathy for every person that they just ripped an upset with the committee says about how we deal with some of the systemic things are what I will continue to offer is that I have not seen the police show up at the local level and see that there's a real need for change said like most cities the police are one of the most well funded most heavily funded departments lot of resources in some of that is taking away from some SF that actually would be prevention work you think about black people specifically is that that historically disadvantaged trait that can potentially be our fault or bottom of the city for forty percent of Catholics to read that means that people have a very different set of options in very different set of access points of how they interact in the city we don't deal with that in all of that will always be dealing with these random things the last point is Jamie Calvin who you may have met is a journalist who was the one who sued the police department and get the look why McDonnell tape and he also for years fought a battle which you want to get police records made public so that the number of complaints civilian complaints against police are now a matter of public record something that probably should be the case all over the country but what he found in a he we did have a conversation like this a podcast was that you know eighty percent of the police officers in Chicago had few or no complaints against them and then there were there was a ten percent five to ten percent who had many many complaints against them and you could see the officer I think in the McDonald shooting at fourteen or something of that order so there was a certain predictability to two who had a propensity for these kinds of interactions due by that is that you think that's typical of communities across the country is worse in some than others I think that's probably true representative and think about that data that that is only the people who actually knew how to navigate the system if Allah complain right probably far more people actually buy these negative experiences of people it's a way that we think that the police violence it a six room death are actually under reported because in America have you killed in America in the rain now little number you've ever read about police violence ease from local media reports of UConn American and he doesn't write about it's literally not the tea set which is wild to this in cities across the country there are no local newspaper a somebody gets killed like that and he was in towns in Texas it looks like white people being to support the Kilgore the people of color but we think the Latino to dismiss coat is white because it's name was the top you have to go ah so leading to the numbers are probably far worse in reality they are they from what we have right now so I would agree with that assessment is probably a small number of people who are disproportionately disadvantage in but it's important to know that because you are to be able to isolate and remove those people who are given to that kind of behavior and you could save lives that way and in the cuisine me to work in a park on a team be a part of a system where the keyboard on the worst work on actually held accountable that taint the entire department and the perception in the police should stand up and talk about them going to take a quick break and we'll be back with during the casting rocket mortgage by Quicken loans proudly supports the X Files when it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender it's important to work with someone you can trust leisure best interests in mind with rockin' mortgage you'll get a transparent online process that gives you the confidence you need to make an informed decision skip the bank skip the waiting and go completely online at Quicken loans com slash X Files equal Housing lender license in all fifty states and MLS consumer access dot org Number thirty thirty three Utah compelling Lee about public education is being part of the solution because many of the communities that were talking about have been so dramatically underserved in that regard of what was your experience and in school and in Baltimore area you're obviously a brilliant guy it's somewhere along the line you got a good education so into I'm going to public school for all the one year of my that key twelve a year in fourth grade our house burned down so like we lost everything and we went to go live with my grandmother and that year we went so I can think of fifth grade I probably went out like a black Catholic School in Baltimore my father you know both my parents as they were young when they and their early twenties madness and it didn't go to college because he had mice they just somehow my sister sees a stock boy in a local comedian store and he didn't about how to help us keep it well but he was second to move outside the city can eat innings he has to go to city schools four middle school high school and even though we went to city schools for elementary school so we literally just moved to the county likely we moved right across the city lime juice that we be zoned differently in that way and the schools I went to were they were very good and that was a big part of a thing please allow me to have to come out and got a place like Bowden things like that My melody school was actually very good to my father took a bet by moving us and that's really it says two things to me one is how sad is that you can move other few miles one way or the other can change the trajectory of your life and the second is that your father made that decision for you and change the trajectory of your life by doing it which is um important I mean that this is my question will get into this because I want touch will be about charter schools and so on but one question though is have about charter schools is it seems like it's a self selecting universe of kids who go to charter schools because their parents made a decision to send them there which invite which which which suggests a level of involvement that is meaningful but in any case so you you you you did well and you are not a boat in college the middle which is much different than Baltimore how is that experience I left the canteen any better it was incredible but it was the first place in my mind never forget reading at The Republic Plato make for a semester in fact he's leaving I just all of it I remember eating is beautiful in the state he gets called back into the city in that four shadows like that in too much power and wisdom in SF so beautiful boating and then I had to teach for America site Titans East year proclaimed elbow just on Bowden was the composition student body different than the compositions to bow to your high school mascot probably fourteen or people boating with seventeen hundred so is sometimes in Boeing's commitment to diversity was just beginning to be robust against they're probably like twenty s by people in my class which is big then you go back now and it's like so much more diverse in the queue it so much deeper them which is really important and powerful so the boat has its work to do you like you know like every place who's a good place in to get different type of peaceful you know like we're in Brunswick which is the largest Tennessee to Maine twenty thousand people which is the smallest place that ever lived it's great part of that is why I went to New York after I got a hero more people would say Oh the tiny here but so you are a distinct minority as an African American in at Bowden them what was that was that like any one of the hard things are going to a small school in the small school in their four hundred ish for the few people my class three class and small means that your group might not be there anyway like regardless of race gender like the people that you are like most to fill you with just me that exists because small small people cause they're probably fifteen or twenty in my class so we all got along like we all knew each other and were really tough loving SHINee so we were signed as a class I think that the some of the older student Adam the other black seen to much when negative experience at the college and we did it we got there right when survey new president has started and he was relieved his command he is a personal action in this new commitment to diversity so we benefited from being there I think the people before us had a much more tenuous relationship with the college you what made you decide to teach for America so why did so in Baltimore I was a community organizer when I was younger so I worked it safe and sound which is which is a can of pie you are in high school was in high school and I help lead Baltimore's only use the grant making organizations those twenty one people turned off he gave out money every year to you like me products said and I read for all the major funders in Baltimore for afterschool programs as a point about the governor to the AP's Advisory Board so I did all of this workaround advocacy the sum of as an organizer like in communities but a lot of it as a young person today fighting for equity indices with funding in allocating resources and I wanted to tell abt check I had wanted to do some night and I just didn't know a pathway to I didn't major in education what did you major in political theory so played on the childlike might you like my guys home on his project was on trying to get them on the pot well you get to the philosopher king remembered their great set to do that to try one if I wanted to teach show placed in East New York Brooklyn which is like far east Brooklyn guess which is Khairy six grade math and you know my sister actually we both
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Ep. 93 - DeRay Mckesson

The Axe Files with David Axelrod