It's turning out to be Policing Week on The BradCast for some odd reason...even as a police helicopter circled above our studio here in L.A. for most of today's show. We don't think they were there for us, but apologies for any unexpected noise throughout. [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]
Speaking of policing, Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday announced a Dept. of Justice "pattern or practice" probe of the Minneapolis Police Department, the day after a jury found former MPD officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murder and manslaughter for his killing of George Floyd last year. Garland explained that "yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis," but that the DoJ investigation could result in mandated changes if the federal agency finds systemic abuses in the MPD's use of force policies, including that deployed against protesters.
Garland may need to expand that probe to neighboring Brooklyn Center, MN and to the Minnesota State Patrol after their outrageous behavior during the past week of protests in response to the police killing of 20-year old black motorist Duane Wright. In addition to the use of pepper spray, tear gas and paintballs against protesters, similar tactics were used on media attempting to cover the demonstrations and what our guest today describes as "police riots". In addition to being directly sprayed and gassed and beaten up, members of the media on Friday were forced to lie face down on the ground so that cops could photograph their media credentials, drivers licenses and faces. The violence deployed against the press exercising their First Amendment rights in Brooklyn Center was particularly egregious coming just hours after a court order --- in a case filed by the ACLU after press mistreatment during the George Floyd protests last year --- specifically barred police from "arresting, threatening to arrest, or threatening/using physical force" against members of the media.
But, as our guest today, longtime Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News national columnist WILL BUNCH noted in a recent column referencing the violence against press and protesters in Brooklyn Center that is making us all "less safe," none of this should be a surprise. "Officers in the Minneapolis suburb --- just 10 miles or so from the corner where Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of a dying George Floyd...-- raised a version of the 'thin blue line' flag over their embattled station house, which was their bold and outrageously arrogant signal that Brooklyn Center was about to become some kind of Alamo for racist, oppressive policing in America."
We discuss all of the above and much more with Bunch today, who explains that he has been "very focused on the institution of policing in this country" of late, "because there's a school of thought in this country that if we just weed out the bad apple cops --- and Derek Chauvin being Exhibit A --- if we just weed out the handfuls of Derek Chauvins, that policing will be great in America, and that's just not the case."
Given the seemingly endless stream of appalling videos, revealing more killings by police each day, and broad calls for nationwide policing reform, we've got much to talk about on today's program. After "some accountability" in Minneapolis on Tuesday, the long "arc of the moral universe" continues to "bend toward justice," even if, as Bunch notes, it continues to take an intolerably long time for too many Americans.
"One reason why I focus on these police abuses of the media," Bunch tells me, is "if this is how they treat people who have cameras, who have the megaphone of working for a large news organization and can tell the world about what happened to them, if this is how they treat people who are clearly marked as journalists, and if they have half a brain and know that they will write or publish pictures of what happened to them, how do you think they're treating citizens when there are no cameras? Or citizens who don't have the power of the New York Times or the AP or other news organizations to tell their story? If they're doing this to reporters, what they're doing to regular citizens is almost certainly going to be worse."
Finally, we close with some slightly brighter news today from the White House. First, Joe Biden appears to have met his doubled-down goal of 200 million COVID vaccine shots during his first 100 days in office. That landmark was reached today, he said, on his 92nd day.
But, as that promise was met, Biden is preparing to unleash an even more ambitious goal on Earth Day tomorrow, according to AP. During a two-day virtual climate summit hosted by the White House, the President will pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 %below 2005 levels by 2030, with the ultimate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The news was met with huge plaudits from many (if not all) climate scientists and environmental groups, as appropriate to mitigate the growing dangers our climate emergency and for meeting the Paris Climate Agreement goal of limiting warming to what would be a catastrophic 1.5 degrees Celsius global rise. Of course, that also means that fossil fueled wingnut heads are already exploding in the Republican Party and at Fox "News". So, let the explosions begin! We could use a good laugh these days...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)