Kojo talks with author Colson Whitehead about his new novel "The Underground Railroad" and its resonance at this particular moment in history.
The people of Ferguson try to move forward following Michael Brown’s funeral, fast food giant Burger King relocates its headquarters north of the border, and the Horseshoe Casino opens in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s your turn to discuss these topics and more.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's Your Turn. Start calling now, 800-433-8850. You can send email to email@example.com. Whether you want to discuss recent events in the news, recent broadcasts on this show or anything else on your mind, it's Your Turn. You set the agenda by calling 800-433-8850.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIJust a few suggestions. Thousands of mourners gathered in Ferguson, Mo. on Monday for the funeral of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a white police officer. Speakers at the service called for justice but also asked that any more protests be peaceful. In the meantime, President Obama ordered a review of the nationwide policy of arming police with military-grade weapons and armor, as the nation struggles with this new wound in race relations. What happens next? is there a way to channel the anger from the protests into positive action or results? Do you think American police forces should have military-grade weapons?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIGive us a call, 800-433-8850 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can make a comment or offer a suggestion at our website kojoshow.org. Syria in the news for the fates of three Americans, one journalist executed by an Islamic state militant. Another freed from captivity by al-Qaida in Syria. And an American apparently killed in battle as he fought alongside Islamic state.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAt the same time President Obama is reportedly still undecided on whether to expand American airstrikes from Iraq into Syria to try to stop the Islamic state there. But his administration says it's sure about one thing. It will not coordinate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who President Obama has called on to step down. How do you think the U.S. should respond to Islamic state's brutality against journalists, 800-433-8850? You can send email to email@example.com. Do you think airstrikes on Islamic state in Syria are a good idea?
MR. KOJO NNAMDICloser to home, Baltimore's new Horseshoe Casino opened Tuesday with acrobats, VIPs and pop star Iggy Azalea plus long lines of people waiting to get in. The casino is in downtown Baltimore near the Baltimore Ravens' football stadium, Boasts more than 1,000 new jobs for city residents. It's Maryland's fifth casino authorized by voters in 2008 after a long-fought battle to allow slots and table games in the state. Already there's some intrigue.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe Maryland Live Casino, 12 miles away in Hanover and a chief competitor, sued a former employee for allegedly pilfering a list of its high rollers and taking that list with her to a new job at the Horseshoe. I'm shocked. Dishonesty at casinos? Have you been to one of Maryland's casinos? What was your experience? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. It is Your Turn. Do you think casinos are a good way to raise money to support both public schools and Maryland's horse racing industry as the current system requires?
MR. KOJO NNAMDISend email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can shoot us a tweet @kojoshow. It's all Your Turn and we will start with Michael in Lake Ridge, Va. Michael, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MICHAELHey, thank you, Kojo. Yeah, regarding, you know, the airstrikes against ISIS, it seems the focus from Obama is to help the moderate rebels, whoever they are, fight ISIS. And it didn't work with the Iraqi army. You know, we provided them with weapons and training and everything else and they didn't do anything against ISIS except surrender. I don't see how forming, recruiting, supporting some group to fight them is going to be any different. And it wouldn't have worked back in 2012 either.
MICHAELYou know, the main army fighting ISIS is the Syrian Arab army. And, you know, I know there's issues with President Assad, but he's the leader of the Syrian government. The Syrian people support their government. And, you know, we've got to come to terms with reality from Tigris-Euphrates to the Mediterranean. The strongest force fighting ISIS right now is the Syrian Arab army and...
NNAMDIWell, you made several statements that I'd like for you to expand on some more. The first that I can think of is you said we're trying to arm the moderates, whoever that is. What is your understanding of who the moderates are? Because it seems to me that there was a time when we were talking about arming quote unquote "moderates" in Syria to fight against the Assad regime. And it has been said that had we, in fact, pursued that course, those arms might have ended up in the hands of ISIS, which also opposed the regime.
MICHAELOkay. Well, okay. Back in 2012 when we started sending weapons into Syria, al-Qaida got the weapons, you know, terrorists got the weapons. The moderates weren't doing the fighting. It was the extreme Jihadists that were taking a fight to the Syrian government. And even reports that the Syrian Arab army had weapons that were intended for these moderates, you know, it seems that once they get into Syria, the weapons go to the highest bidder, whoever has money to pay for them. They don't seem to go to where they're intended.
NNAMDIWhat would you suggest is the appropriate solution to all of this? You have said that the Syrian people support their government. I'm sure that a lot of people will dispute that argument. They'll say, some of the Syrian people support their government. But a whole lot, some would say, most do not. What do you say?
MICHAELWell, based on a report from NATO, it says the majority of the Syrian population do indeed support their government and that they do not support some armed-resistant group based out of, I guess, Turkey now. You know, they don't support that or recognize that as their government. And so, you know it's easier...
NNAMDIWhat do you see as ultimately the best course for the U.S. to take?
MICHAELOkay. To attack ISIS...
NNAMDI...support the government of Assad in Syria against ISIS?
MICHAELYeah, and if you want reform in Syria, work with the Syrian government and work with the Syrian people. Don't go the route that we had been going with Qatar and Turkey and, you know, these, I guess, basically kingdoms, Arab kingdoms in Turkey as well, to install a new government in Syria. It's not what the...
NNAMDIWell, I guess...
NNAMDI...we also have to look at what happened when we essentially installed new governments in Iraq and in Egypt and in Libya, all of which now are not in such a good place.
MICHAELYeah, I mean, it's the same story. They say, okay, this government must go. Okay, so the government goes say in Ukraine or in Libya or, you know, wherever. So once the government's gone, then what happens to the country? There's no plan...
NNAMDIYou make excellent points, Michael, but we do have to move on because it is everyone else's turn also. But thank you very much for your contribution. We move on to Santiago in Glen Burnie, Md. Santiago, you're on the air. It's your turn.
SANTIAGOHey, Kojo. Big fan of your show.
SANTIAGOYesterday on the Redskins website, they had an interview with Dan Snyder and they were talking about -- he was talking about building a new Redskins stadium. I just wanted to know what your opinion was. He was talking about building it either in -- another one in Maryland moving back to the district or going back to Virginia.
NNAMDII don't think there's any controversy at all over whether or not Daniel Snyder should build a new stadium except among the officials of Prince George's County where the current stadium already exists. And they obviously don't want to move. They feel that if he's building a new stadium, he should stay there. What puzzled me a little bit is how you can have architectural firms designing the team's new home without figuring out exactly where it's going to be. It seems to me that architects need to have some idea of what's going to be surrounding this facility in order for them to design it properly.
NNAMDIBut it -- he did say the stadium will have a retro feel, according to The Washington Post, that calls to mind the district's once beloved RFK Stadium. Let me turn this around. What's your opinion?
SANTIAGOI was actually liking that retro talk he was having, the fact that he said he wanted the bottom row seats to bounce like in that really famous game against the Cowboys where everybody was screaming, we want Dallas. I would like to see the new stadium be built on the place where RFK is right now. Not only would that bring the team back to the district. It would also spur development all around the area where the stadium is currently at right now.
NNAMDISo you're for it coming back to the district. Would you prefer it to be in the old location in northeast Washington?
SANTIAGOYes. I would totally support it. It would totally rehabilitize (sp?) the area similar to how the southwest waterfront is getting rebuilt right now with that new project they're doing. I think a new stadium right where FedEx -- I'm sorry, RFK is right now would do a similar effect.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call, Santiago. But of course, the major controversy is not over where the stadium will be located. It's against the name of the team. The protests against that name continues both in public and in private. The Washington Post editorial board saying last week, it will not use the name anymore, although the paper's sports pages will continue to use it. And CBS television commentator Greg Gumbel acknowledged that he hasn't used the name on the air for three years. Who knew? Who noticed?
NNAMDIAlso in the spirit of quiet protests, a retired NFL referee says for the last eight years of his career he privately requested not to officiate at Washington games because he disapproves of the team's name. Do you think these kinds of protests are effective? Give us a call, it's Your Turn, 800-433-8850. Is there any sign that owner Dan Snyder will change his mind? Do you see within the conversation about building a new stadium some hidden signal that something might be happening with the name of the team? Weigh in, 800-433-8850. Here is Reuben in Falls Church, Va. Reuben, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
REUBENHello, Kojo. Thank you for taking my call. I'm calling in because I was born in South Africa. And I never lived through the Apartheid, either. My parents did. And seeing the imagery that we've seen on TV, read about in magazines and on the web, my parents are so angry they're shaking. They're scared. They're angry because this is what they were used to seeing. They were used to seeing white cops aiming large guns, kind of large basically military-grade guns at blacks, at colored people.
REUBENThis is what they were used to seeing and they're seeing this now here at home in the U.S. And as I say this, I'm shaking, too. We talk about this passionately at home. Have lots of friends who went through this. My extended family went through this. And seeing this here is painful. It's really painful. It's something we need to talk about.
REUBENAnd seeing, you know, the Fox News coverage of this and the way, you know, the way -- what blacks and what black people go through, what minority people go through in this country see it, you know, bat it away as non-consequential as something that's, you know, making much ado about nothing. It's very painful. It's very painful in the backdrop of what our family has been through in South Africa.
NNAMDIWe had this conversation before on this show. And one of our guests pointed out that there was one incident in which a SWAT team in Florida went into a barbershop to -- because the barbers there were being accused of illegal barbering. And needless to say, they thought carrying military equipment along on a raid like that was a little bit excessive. But we also had a caller, Bob, who could not stay on the line, Reuben, who says that, if ordinary citizens can get military-style weapons easily, police should be just as armed at least. What would you say to Bob?
REUBENWell, you know, it's very different when one has experienced that in person, when one experiences what occurs when a police force of -- thousands of police officers who are protected by the law. This is not a couple of people who are, you know, roaming the streets with guns. This is a police force that can converge upon you, that has the power to fire tear gas into crowds, that is justified by politicians, that is allowed to do things to ordinary people and isn't really questioned and is held to a different standard.
REUBENIf a person off the street did this somewhere, he'd be on the front pages of The Washington Post, he'd be on the news as a raving lunatic (unintelligible) it's different.
NNAMDIWell, Reuben, tell me what you think about this report in The Washington Post today. One of Missouri's senators is planning to lead a hearing on concerns about the militarization of local police forces once Congress reconvenes next month. Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat Missouri, chairs a senate subcommittee, plans to use her perch to examine federal programs that allow local police departments to purchase surplus property and equipment from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice.
NNAMDIShe's one of the lawmakers to call on Ferguson areas to demilitarize the police response to local outrage over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. You see that as a welcomed development, Reuben?
REUBENYes, I do. You know, we've taken this whole 9/11 thing and there's been boondoggle after boondoggle that has been justified based on, well, the world has changed since 9/11. But some things haven't changed. And history teaches us -- my family's history teaches us in South Africa when you let these things happen, it's a slippery slope. It's very hard to claw back from it, extremely difficult.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. It is Your Turn. You too can call us. Whether you want to talk about what's going on in Syria, whether you want to talk about ISIS, what's going on in Ferguson, Mo, the Baltimore casino that just opened up, the name of the Washington football team or anything else on your mind, give us a call, 800-433-8850. You can send email to email@example.com. It's Your Turn. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. This is Your Turn when you decide what we will discuss in this hour by calling 800-433-8850 or sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A local street musician who challenged Metro's ban on buskers has won a small victory. A D.C. judge issued a preliminary injunction saying musicians can perform for tips outside Metro stations as long as they follow Metro's other rules. Metro now says it will fight the musician's lawsuit in court.
NNAMDIBut guitarist Alex Young has already won at least one high-profile ally. A Washington Post editorial tells Metro to mellow out, saying if D.C. is going to live up to its new status as America's coolest city, according to Forbes Magazine, it should welcome a little musical diversion for commuters.
NNAMDIWhat's your position on musicians playing for tips on Metro property outside stations? Are there other cities you think Washington should emulate when it comes to musicians in the subway? Give us a call. Your Turn, 800-433-8850. You can send email to email@example.com or shoot us a tweet @kojoshow. We go to Abu Bakr in Glendale, Md. Abu Bakr, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ABU BAKRThanks, Kojo. I just wanted to remind you about a subject that you had last week about marriage equality. You know, I came into the topic, you know, and I spoke a little bit about the creation of human being or Adam that you -- all of a sudden, you cut me off. My information was not complete, but you cut me off. You say it wasn't religious. Yes, it is religious.
ABU BAKRThe reason why I'm bringing this back because it's really religious and it was a laid down law by the creator. We cannot jump over that, you know. Everyone that is...
NNAMDIWhat do you say to people who are not religious? What do you say to people who happen to be atheist? What do you say to people who happen to be agnostic?
BAKRA very good question. They were created, too. They're just doing that because of their little mentality that they have. But the mentality is -- the brain that they have was given to them by the one that created it the first time (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIAnd what do you say to those people who say, when you talk about creation, our understanding of sciences is that human beings evolved? What do you say to those people?
BAKROkay, very good. If you talk about that, you know, scientists say human beings are evolve. But the scientists are not thinking right because when the creator created, you know, humans were created from this -- a little -- it's not a blood clot, like a little semen, you know, from man to a woman. And that little semen there was the one that was germinated, or if you could call it germination, you know, whatever it is, that became into a little lump of blood and become a blood clot and then it became a little lump of meat. And this little lump of meat was exchange or proportionally (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIOkay. You know, Abu Bakr, I think many of the people I refer to as atheists or agnostics will defend your right to have the religious belief you have about how creation came about. Why do you feel that they should not have the right to feel that they have another view? And as a result of that view, do not see gay marriage as being related to any deity whatsoever?
BAKRWell, let's think about the law of the land. You know, we are all here governed by a law. And this law, if you go over the law or if you go above the law, then you're penalized. So the creator has laid this law down, you know, as in law that a man should get married to a woman.
NNAMDINo, no, no, no, no, no. The law of the land has nothing to do with the creator. The law of the land is a law that is made by human beings. And in several states in the nation that law has been changed to allow gay people to get married in places like the District of Columbia.
BAKRWell, that was just an example, Kojo, that I was just trying to get you -- give you a brief example. But this law here laid by the creator saying, you know, man and the woman should get married, not the man and the man or the woman and the woman.
NNAMDIYou keep -- the same -- you know, the reason I cut you off the last time, Abu Bakr, is you keep referring to a law made by the creator. And I keep trying to tell you that there are a lot of people who don't believe that there was any law made by the creator. And those people have to live in the same society in which you have to live. So you cannot impose your own beliefs about how the law that you quote came about on those people.
BAKRWell, (unintelligible) I'm afraid they should not die. They should stay here forever. They should not die because if they die, then there's a judgment there for them. And the next subject is...
NNAMDIWell, no, no. There is no next subject. Abu Bakr, I do have to move on because there are others who would like to participate in this edition of Your Turn. You can call us at 800-433-8850 in order to do that. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can go to our website kojoshow.org and join the conversation there. Here is Sterling in Columbia, Md. Sterling, your turn.
STERLING...taking my call. It occurred to me that the block grants that have been given from the Department of Justice to local police departments thereby they've used those funds to purchase the militarized equipment should be better spent on body cameras for police officers. They claim they don't have the funds, that they can't afford body cameras, which you can get a GoPro camera for, like, as little as $200. Yet, you know, (unintelligible) you're talking thousands and thousands of dollars per officer.
NNAMDII find that to be a fascinating conversation, Sterling, because one wonders the basis on which either citizens or members of police department would be -- would object to being required to carry body cameras. All of the indications are that in places like Los Angeles where police cameras are the law, that there has been a significant reduction in the number of complaints about police brutality or police operating illegally. So it seems as if it would be a no-brainer for police officers all across the country to be equipped with body cameras. What would you see as being an argument against that?
STERLINGWell, the only argument that I could see against it would be a privacy issue. But again, if you're out in the public space, then you've kind of even up your rights to be anonymous (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIAnybody can take a picture of you when you're in the public space.
STERLINGExactly. So that argument would be solved flat on states. However, I think the camera issue addresses a more deeply rooted root cause with police misconduct. And that is that it's police discretion. And it seems to me that the police discretion, you know, a little bit too much leeway as in how they decide to approach or engage the suspects. And it seems to me that there's much less leeway given to suspects of color than suspects who are non-blacks or not of color.
STERLINGIt seems that the non-black suspect is given far more latitude in their engagement with the police as we've seen, at least in videos ,where the police are showing up with a black suspect and have engaged them with deadly force within seconds of the encounter.
NNAMDIAnd you think cameras would do a great deal to alleviate that? You know, there are comedians -- I can go back to Richard Pryor, but more recently Dave Chappelle who have joked about that difference and how police officers approach different ethnic groups. But of course, when it becomes the use of deadly force, it's not funny anymore. But do you think that cameras can just alleviate that significantly?
STERLINGAbsolutely. I think that it would be a thought in the back of the police officer's mind that, hey, this action is going to be reviewed. It's going to be seen by someone else, not just within the police department, but it's going to be seen by the public at large. It's going to be seen by people who can, you know, for better or worse, second guess their behavior. And I think that it addresses the psychology that is taught to the police officers that what a threat looks like. Not every threat is the same. And I think that, you know, it's almost Litmus test that, you know, if a guy's wearing a hoodie and baggy pants, he's more of a perceived threat than a guy in a business suit.
NNAMDIWell, I frankly like the idea of the cameras, but I think that just about every police officer everywhere will tell you that he is interested in following proper procedure in all cases. It just seems to me that cameras would be able to ensure whether or not that is in fact occurring. But thank you very much for your call. I do have to move on. There are others waiting for their turn. We go to Moas in Hyattsville, Md. Moas, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MOASHi, Kojo. Thank you for taking my call.
MOASI want to go back to the Middle East and go back to the two conflicts which happened in the same time, which, I mean, there is ISIS, the occupation of northern Iraq and what's going on in Gaza in those times And, I mean, nobody really disputes the fact, like, ISIS tactics are brutal and inhumane and the other Muslims, I would not consider what they are doing, even present the same, literally and not even Islam. I mean, they hijack our religion and they did what they did in the name of that religion, but they don't represent us.
MOASBut at the same time I cannot ignore what one -- I mean, in Gaza and the brutality as Israel conducts the war there and killing the children in the schools and hospitals. Yes, they are after what they call them terrorists. I call them freedom fighters because they're fighting for their freedom. They are under occupation. A lot of the people here, they don't know that. They don't know the Palestinians and their occupation because -- and that's all 'cause here, they don't call it the occupied land like in Europe. Like, while I (unintelligible) in Europe, they call it the occupied and here they call it the disputed. And I don't know why (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIWhat do you see as the relationship between the two phenomena that you're discussing, on the one hand, the ISIS, in your view, hijacking of Islam and on the other hand, the conflict in the Gaza?
MOASWhy I put them together is like we can go and beat up on one group and call them all names, they're brutal and they should be called that way, the ISIS people and whoever doing their work. But at the same time, should say to the Israelis, they've been brutal, killing babies and women and children (unintelligible) ...
NNAMDIWell. what -- okay. I do understand the point you're making but I guess the point I'm getting at is that in both of these situations, whether we're talking about ISIS or the conflict between Israel and Hamas, what we're interested in is what do you see as the solution? There is now an open-ended ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. What would you like to see happen?
MOASYou know what I'd like to see happen? I mean, this is wishful thinking, but let me tell you what my wish and my hope. If I am an Israeli, I have the upper hand now. And Israel is so powerful they can make peace. Right now, when they feel powerful, they can get the best terms they want and they can keep Palestinians from (unintelligible) .
NNAMDIYou would like to see a two-state solution to...
MOASYeah, that's the way. There is no other way.
MOASIf they live together, the thing's going to happen again.
MOASIt is for the benefit of Israel to do the peace now when they are strong. The thing is here in that area and I invite Israel to do peace while they are strong, better than doing peace (unintelligible) and they are -- they have the upper hand.
NNAMDIMoas, thank you very much for your call. I do have to move on. 800-433-8850 is the number to call. You can send email to email@example.com. Onto Peter in Gaithersburg, Md. Peter, your turn.
PETERJust a comment regarding the body cameras. It could be a slippery slope because what then draws a line where there won't be a call for physicians, medical physicians or surgeons or nurses to wear body cameras and have that footage then come into play when there's a -- a patient says there's a problem. And that's a totally different comment.
NNAMDIWell, medical physicians -- it may be a slippery slope, but may not as slippery as you might think. I think medical physicians are not in the same situation of being able to use deadly force or being confronted with the need to use deadly force in their profession. So I think we may be comparing apples and oranges here because, you know, there can be body cameras that you can bring to my job to see if I'm doing my job every single day. I don't think anybody wants to go that far, but I think that in a situation where there's the possibility of the use of deadly force, I think people can draw the line there.
PETERGood point. But where there's a bad outcome and a patient dies, a death is still a death.
NNAMDIThis is true. And there are all kinds of committees that exist in medical situations to investigate the circumstances under which those things happen. And as you know, a lot of those things ultimately end up with lawsuits that involve...
PETERAnd then a physician will -- well, the patient will say that the physician counterparts are biased towards the physician. But then of course you do have expert witnesses that will testify on your side. But it's just a comment. And I appreciate it.
NNAMDIOkay. Appreciate you being able to make it -- or appreciate you making it. We do have to take a short break, but it is still Your Turn. 800-433-8850. Burger King is going Canadian. The fast-food giant said this week it's buying a Canadian coffee and donut empire called Tim Hortons for $11 billion, and will locate the combined company headquarters in Canada. Some critics say the company is heading north just for a better tax rate. Burger King insists it's just to placate Canadian regulators who are nervous about an American behemoth buying a Canadian treasure.
NNAMDIThe move comes just a month after President Obama spoke out against such deals, where American companies acquire foreign ones to get more favorable tax rates. What do you think about Burger King's acquisition of a Canadian chain? Does it change your opinion of the Burger King brand? Should the government respond when companies move to avoid taxes? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Or send us a tweet @kojoshow. Or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. It's Your Turn. You decide what we'll discuss by calling us at 800-433-8850. Or you can send email to email@example.com. We got a tweet from Sara who says, in response to our earlier caller, Abu Bakr, "There are also folks that believe in a creator, that don't believe in a law against gay marriage." Which brings us to Josh in Washington, D.C. Josh, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JOSHHi, Kojo. Thanks for having me on today.
JOSHI'm calling also in response to the previous caller.
JOSHAbu Bakr, yes. And just in regards to marriage equality and that issue. I think something that gets lost is it isn't -- it isn't, you know, religion versus, you know, everybody else. It's just how people, as an individual, define marriage and love and having that be something that you don't force on other people. So for myself, I'm heterosexual, but I'm also an atheist. So I don't believe there's a creator. I don't believe and generally don't agree with a lot of religious positions. And I'm a big supporter of marriage equality. And for me, whenever I end up getting married, it's going to be about love rather than religion. And I would wonder how the previous caller might respond to that, given that I'm an atheist.
NNAMDIYeah, well I can't speak for the previous caller who is no longer on the line. But you say you will get married because of love and not religion. Does that mean that, as an atheist, you would be prepared to get married to a religious person and have that ceremony in a religious institution?
JOSHThat would be a different story. I'm not sure. But I think that, you know, there's definitely room for compromise there. It's not something I would refuse to. I think it would have to incorporate both of our, you know, wishes for how we imagine that ceremony to be. But as I said, I wouldn't necessarily rule anything out. But for me, that part wouldn't necessarily have any meaning.
NNAMDIIn that case, good luck in love and marriage.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. We move on to Trudy in Manassas, Va. Trudy, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TRUDYHi, Kojo. I'm glad to talk to you. And I'm also glad that a little while ago, you said some policemen, when you were referring to the Ferguson event and after events. I have a grandson who's 19 and African-American. I worry whenever he goes out. We've gone over the, always be polite, which he always is. Keep your hands on the wheel. Do what you're told, even if you're right and they're wrong, do what your told. Enough said for him. I also have a son who is a white policeman.
TRUDYAnd I worry about him every time he goes out. I'm afraid that he will second-guess a situation and come home hurt or injured. He has been hit with a brick during a demonstration. And, yes, they employed tear gas and flashbangs and other things that might be called militaristic in facing the crowd. And I say, good for that. Because that's what kept -- or regained the peaceful community that they were protecting.
NNAMDII'd be interested in overhearing a conversation between your son and your grandson. Have they had conversation?
TRUDYYes. And pretty much, it's, you know, my son admitting that there are bad apples in the police. And you have to still follow what they say, knowing that you will get your day, you hope, before an impartial judge or jury. But that fighting back is not the way to go. It will get you nowhere except possibly, as we saw, dead.
NNAMDIYeah, well, you know, what your grandson is being told is what a lot of African-American parents have told their sons, going back to segregation.
NNAMDIAnd certainly what yours truly told his own son when I was raising my son, about the manner in which you conduct yourself when in the presence of police officers. And there are some of us who have been fortunate in that our sons have not found themselves in those situations. But one hopes that there is a day when a particular ethnic group does not have to sit down and tell their children that they particularly have to be careful when dealing with the police. A day, I guess, we all look forward to, when we can rest assured that everyone would be treated equally. But I'd be interested in how your son feels about the notion of body cameras for all police officers.
TRUDYYou know, I haven't talked to him about that. I'll tell you what I feel. I feel that it's a protection for the police officer. Because I think a lot of complaints -- and in fact, he was accused by an ethnic minority of being -- well, of using...
NNAMDIToo much force?
TRUDY...too much force. What he did was pick her up and set her down on the ground, because they were in front of a house where they believed there could be drugs. That, then she came out of that house.
TRUDYSo he moved her. And the county paid some amount of money rather than go to court.
NNAMDIAnd you think that the camera may have avoided all of that.
TRUDYYes, absolutely. Because I know he did what he was supposed to do.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much...
TRUDYSo I think, I think it's a good thing.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. It's
TRUDYOkay. Thank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIThank you, Trudy. It's Your Turn, May, in Washington, D.C. You're on the air.
MAYHey, Kojo, thank you so much for allowing me to pose these two questions. One, do you remember the Trinidad affair, when Chief Ramsay returned from a trip to Israel. And he immediately -- former chief of police -- he immediately started putting these lights on all of the D.C. cars?
MAYAnd later on, we had...
NNAMDIWell, let -- for our listeners who don't know what you're talking about, after Chief Charles Ramsay, now police chief in Philadelphia, came back from a trip to Israel, he passed a rule, made a regulation or decision...
NNAMDI...that all police cars in the District of Columbia should flash some of their lights while they were running. Not their emergency lights, but that they should all have lights flashing. Now, go ahead.
MAYThat's right. And then he -- of course, his trip, along with the -- I think he had some deputies. Anyway...
NNAMDIWell, his rationale was that so that they could be easily identified among traffic. But go ahead.
MAYWell, that's not the -- I'm sure he had good reasons. The next thing he did was to set up checkpoints. These check points were in the Trinidad community. And they were, of course...
NNAMDIThose have been controversial under Chief Cathy Lanier also.
MAYWell, the court suggested that it's not, you know, it's not constitutional. My point is the following. The militarization of our police is directly related to our own war culture as well as the culture of war that we have invested so much effort into, either cooperating, collaborating with, which is Israel. We learn a lot from Israel's occupation tactics. And we employ it here in the United States.
NNAMDIWell, let's go to the issue of checkpoints specifically. Because both how Chief Ramsay, but I remember more distinctly how Chief Lanier has defended those checkpoints. It was not in terms of any military comparison or comparison with occupied territories. But both defended them by saying, this is what the people in this neighborhood wanted. They were tired of people coming into their neighborhood, either to sell or buy drugs. And they felt that this was an appropriate police response. We were merely responding to neighborhood concerns. What would you say?
MAYWhat I'm saying is that the Patriot's Act was passed and your conversation with me right now is being listened to.
NNAMDIHopefully by thousands of people.
MAYThat's right. Because we are afraid. So fear -- yeah, you can do anything with fear. I think the idea is the following. Our -- by acting in ways that are not -- not in conformity with our, at least, aspiration of a democracy...
MAY...and aspiration as people. I think we have to check our -- where we train, what kind of ideas we bring home, are they relevant or not? Now, on the other question, you asked the gentleman -- I don't think it was Abu Bakr, it was the guy before him -- you asked him the following question. You said, what is the connection between ISIS and Hamas? And...
NNAMDINo, I didn't ask that. No, that was not my question. What is the relationship between what's going on with ISIS and the conflict between Israel and Hamas?
MAYThe relationship as follows. As long as Israel has a great deal of success being a Jewish state, every other nut head is going to claim to want to be a theology-based party. I think that's very dangerous. It really is dangerous and we need to look into it. Because Israel is a very successful model. And people want to emulate it and to gather as much -- and garner as much support. I think we are part of the problem here in the United States.
NNAMDIWell, I don't think Israel would describe itself as a religious state. It would describe itself as a secular state. But clearly it is intended as a homeland for Jewish people.
MAYThat's fine. Being a place for Jews can, you know, that's absolutely fine. But to be called, as Netanyahu has suggested, that Palestinians and the rest of the world say that it is a Jewish state for only Jews, then it changes the whole perspective and the whole position on the issue. Anyway, I have to catch a flight.
NNAMDIOkay. And I have to go myself. But thank you very much for your call. That's a discussion for another time.
NNAMDILet's move to Howard in Easton, Md. Howard, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
HOWARDOh, thank you very much, Kojo. I appreciate it. Look, I know it's toward the end of the show. I just wanted to follow up with a comment that you asked the previous caller, two callers ago, about body cameras.
HOWARDI'm retired from a fairly large police department in Maryland, 1,600 people. And I know, when we first got car cameras, you know, a lot of people were skeptical of them and stuff. But we actually found it actually helped law enforcement more than hurt us. And I'll tell you why. We used to get a lot of complaints of racial profiling. And I was part of a command staff that would review those complaints. There was always, I'm white, it was always myself, another African-American police officer and a commander. And people would try to say they were racially profiled, try to get out of the ticket or whatnot.
HOWARDAnd when we reviewed those tapes, I'm telling you, a large percentage of the times, the officer, you know, really handled himself well. You know, he took care of the problem. And once the complainant found out that they had been videotaped and recorded, the complaint usually went away pretty quickly. And it was also used, as somebody said, take care of the bad apples too. But we found it helpful.
NNAMDIAnd what were the objects -- were there objections to it within your police department at all?
HOWARDI think, initially, if you're asking the question with the cameras, I think so. You know, change comes hard for a lot of people...
HOWARD...including myself. And I just think it was some new technology.
HOWARDYou know, people really didn't know, you know, how it would affect or hurt us. But it really helped us a lot. I mean, you take DWI arrests. I mean, you know, oh my gosh, you know, being able to show what the drunk driver was doing versus...
HOWARD...you know, your word against theirs, you know, telling the judge.
HOWARDYou know, it really was helpful. And then, like I said, a lot of time these complaints -- and I did a lot of internal affairs investigations too in my role -- and they were very helpful too. And they actually described, you know, being able to see what the officer and also the person being stopped, what they were actually doing.
NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much. We have time for William in Shepherdstown, W.Va. William, you only have about a minute left. Go ahead, please.
WILLIAMHey, Kojo. I just had a quick question. Everyone seems to be really interested in body cameras, fairness equity. And that's great. I totally get that. My question was, has anybody raised any concerns about what power that it gives to the police. That is, rather than curbing police power, what powers does it give to them? That is, if they come in and search your home, for example, they'll have a record of everything that was in your home, not just what they were searching for. And if they go back and review that footage, they might find something. You know, let's suppose, for example, you were teaching a unit on Islam and had a copy of the Quran, you know, on your desk. They would see that there and, politics being what they are...
NNAMDIWell, I suspect that if police are allowed to carry body cameras, you're pretty soon going to see laws about exactly what they can use from what is picked up from those body cameras and what would be thrown out of court, if they were looking for something else and discovered those things in somebody's -- there are already rules, there are already laws on the books about that. And I guess they'll probably be strengthened. But I'm afraid that's all the time we have. Thanks to all of those of you who participated in this edition of Your Turn.
NNAMDI"The Kojo Nnamdi Show" is produced by Michael Martinez, Ingalisa Schrobsdorff, Tayla Burney, Kathy Goldgeier, Elizabeth Weinstein, and Andrew Katz-Moses. Brendan Sweeney is the managing producer. Our engineer, Doug Bell. Natalie Yuravlivker is on the phones. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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