S6 E08: Talking Traffic Stops: The Urgent Need for Police Accountability and Transparency

Pod Squad

Krissy Roth senior policy associate NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Josh Adams DeCarcerate Memphis
Chelsea Glass DeCarcerate Memphis

Our Host

Kanya Bennett headshot Kanya Bennett managing director of Government Affairs The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund

Contact the Team

For all inquiries related to Pod For The Cause, please contact Evan Hartung ([email protected]).

Episode Transcript

Kanya Bennett: [00:00:04] Could. Welcome to Pod for the Cause, the official podcast of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund, where we take on the critical civil and human rights issues of our day as we work to save our democracy. I’m your host, Kanya Bennett, coming to you from Washington, D.C. today. I’m pod for the cause. We have three fierce and tireless advocates. I would like to welcome Chelsea Glass and Josh Adams of Decarcerate Memphis. Local advocates who have long been fighting to shrink the footprint of law enforcement. I’d also like to welcome Chrissie Roth, senior policy associate at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Chelsea, Josh, Chrissie, welcome. Thanks for joining us today. It’s great to be here.


Speaker2: [00:01:01] Thank you all for having me on.


Speaker3: [00:01:02] Thank you, Tanya. It’s great to be here.


Kanya Bennett: [00:01:04] Today’s conversation about police violence and police reform, especially in the context of traffic stops, will be a tough one. But I am fortunate to be joined by these activists and advocates who will ensure our discussion is meaningful. Before I turn to Chelsea, Josh and Chrissie, I want to offer some background on how we got here. The brutal killing of Tyree Nichols by Memphis police officers in January is the impetus for today’s conversation. Tyree’s death is the latest high profile police killing, driving national discourse around police violence and reform. But we’ve been here before many times. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray. Philando Castile. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. What we have learned over the last decade is that police in the United States shoot and kill more than 1000 people every year. Black people who account for 13% of the US population are 27% of those fatally shot and killed by police. About 1 in 1000 black men and boys can expect to die at the hands of police, making police violence a leading cause of death for this demographic. Traffic stops, as was the case with Tyree, instigate many of the police community encounters that go wrong and become deadly for black drivers. I want to ask Chelsea, Josh, and Chrissy to help illuminate some of these statistics that will certainly paint a bigger picture of the problem and hopefully get us to solutions. I want my guests to first talk about their organizations and how they came to prioritize police reform. So let me start with Chelsea And Josh, Can you talk a little bit about Decarcerate Memphis and the work you’re doing?


Speaker3: [00:02:57] We actually started the Memphis in this work during Trump’s Tough on crime reelection campaign when he created and dispatched Operation Relentless Pursuit and Operation Legend to nine cities across the country. Most of those cities are predominantly black and brown cities and also shared that they had a Democratic mayor. So this is also like in the wake of like, you know, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and like the uprising. And not one city had a particular task force on a particular issue. It seemed like they were focusing on protesters a lot. And we were watching people literally get like black bags, like bag over the face and like take it into cars. You know, we didn’t know where they were going or what was happening. And we knew that it was going to come to Memphis. The protests in Memphis do not amass the numbers that we see in other cities. Memphis is always at the top of the list to be targeted when it comes to militarizing our police surveillance. Any of those things, mostly because people unfortunately view Memphis as a city with a crime problem. And it is Now to be a predominantly black and brown city that usually almost always puts us at the object of ire in any of these confrontations.


Speaker3: [00:04:16] And sure enough, they did. So we just tried to track the operations while they were here and figure out like what it was that they were doing. And by no surprise, there was a lot of secrecy. It’s not very transparent and it’s incredibly difficult to hold these federal task forces that come into local police departments accountable. One of the things that we did learn, though, is that most of the cases that they were touting, you know, oh, we arrested over 500 people like look at us cleaning up the streets and getting the criminals. It was not that it was we’re going to harass people through traffic stops. And anybody who has anything conceivable, whether it’s like a small amount of marijuana or like some people have guns, you know, but like this is Tennessee. It’s an open carry state. It’s not illegal to carry a gun in a lot of cases. So by the time that the. People who were arrested made it to court. Their cases fell apart, so people’s lives were disrupted and turned upside down. Because of these task forces and operations, the prosecution just didn’t even have a case. And it was heartbreaking to see that.


Kanya Bennett: [00:05:25] Do you have anything you want to add, Josh?


Speaker2: [00:05:27] I joined the organization in 2021. The main part that I was involved in early on was the brake light clinics. So that was an opportunity to give the community a service, but also inform them about our efforts to end pretext stops. So one of the things that I thought was just a major contradiction is that the belief that police are there to produce safety. However, if the main driver is safety, why is it that when we get pulled over for so many things that there is no service rendered, we just get pulled over, you get a ticket, so you’ve been stopped and now you have to go to court to prove that you got your brake light changed. That’s an injustice. The situation is also opening people up to different forms of violence or different forms of surveillance and are often used on folks who are already under state control in one form or another. So that’s whether it’s people who are on probation or parole officers oftentimes target those folks for stops. So to give them a like a probation or parole violation, it’s best that we end the police’s ability to have that type of relationship.


Kanya Bennett: [00:06:29] Thanks, Josh, Really appreciate that. That connection between the work that you’re doing with our local community, sort of what this trend is Chelsea talked about to over police, majority minority cities, neighborhoods, and you really helped provide some insight in terms of what that looks like for your day to day in terms of engaging residents of color. So, Chrissy, I want to turn to you and ask you to talk a little bit about the work that LDF is doing nationally. Certainly you are working on behalf of people of color, all people really. But again, we know that LDF was was formed some 80 years ago and serves as the country’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. And in 2015, you all created the policing reform campaign to formalize your policing work. So, Chrissy, talk to us about what that work looks like.


Speaker4: [00:07:30] Thanks, Tanya, for that background on Ldf’s history. I’ll add that actually in 1951 LDF argued a case, Sheppard versus Florida, that was on reversing a wrongful conviction of interracial rape conviction of young black men that were brutally beaten by sheriff’s deputies in an attempt to force a confession. And so our work on police violence started long before the creation of our Justice and Public Safety project that lives today as an essential part of righting injustices we see in America. But as far as the work today, it takes place at the federal, state and local level, and we engage in this work through litigation, organizing and policy work as well. The project upon Creation addressed a lot of police reforms that have been part of the national conversation for a long time and with time, I think has shifted really into looking at what alternatives are necessary for people to live with dignity and safety in their communities that don’t involve law enforcement.


Kanya Bennett: [00:08:29] Let me stick with you and go a little deeper on the traffic stops piece. I mean, we heard Josh really introduce that to the conversation. What this is looking like in folks day to day lives. We know that traffic stops represent the most common interaction between police and residents. And we know that police pull over 50,000 drivers every day here in the United States. And we know that drivers of color are subjected to racial profiling and pretextual stops, which is where an officer will pull over a driver for a minor traffic or equipment violation is. Josh offered early on as a guise to investigate criminal activity. So, Kristy, talk to us about all that is wrong with police enforcement of traffic stops.


Speaker4: [00:09:21] I think it’s important for folks to know that police enforcement of traffic laws don’t increase public safety, but they do increase racial disparities among drivers in the criminal legal system and do also lead to police violence and in many cases, killings by police. According to the national Use of force data collection. Traffic stops are the second most common reason for initial contact for use of force incidents for about 11% of all instances of police using force against civilians. Traffic stops are the reason for the initial contact. In New York City, NYPD officers who have stopped a driver are ten times more likely to use force against black drivers compared with white drivers in 2021, 115 people were killed after police stopped them. For traffic violations comprising 10% of all police killings in 2021. And I’ll add that there is growing evidence and scientific evidence documenting negative consequences of police stops for a community’s health and well-being. Certainly many of us understand the very real impacts of that in our everyday life. But a recent study adds that this literature, by assessing the effect of police stops on voter turnout. In Hillsborough County, Florida, for example, research found that traffic stops decreased political participation for voters of all races. You know, on that, I want to add the federal government as far as sort of recommendations of where we are here, given this incident and what responses we’re looking for out of the federal government, We’re really encouraging that they stop funding or encouraging any participation in programs that promote destructive policing practices. For example, the data driven approaches of crime and traffic safety, or DAX, which was launched by the Department of Transportation and Department of Justice, which encourages pretextual stops by, and I quote, teaching police that they can use traffic stops to drive down crime and continuing the, quote, encouraging police to focus their enforcement efforts on high crime locations. These kinds of practices shouldn’t be tolerated or encouraged.


Kanya Bennett: [00:11:27] Josh, let me go back to you. I want you to build a bit upon some of the ways in which Decarcerate Memphis is being responsive to Memphis residents who are subjected to traffic stops, traffic stops in the way in which Christie described them. You talked about them in terms of being pulled over for a brake light that is out. We know that Tyree Nichols was pulled over for reckless driving, allegedly. What does this look like for residents of Memphis in their day to day? What are you pushing back against?


Speaker2: [00:12:07] Some of the ways I’ve seen the problem being addressed by Decarcerate that we’ve been addressing the problem, our brake light clinics. So that’s one method that we use of making sure that the police don’t come into contact with people. There are other folks who do rapid response, whether that’s Hunter or other people kind of go out and record traffic stops and also just kind of look at the, I guess, like the atmosphere of policing on certain days at certain times. So there are days when they’re doing high frequency stops that folks kind of go out of monitor those those events. We wrote some ordinances and kind of got some help from folks from around the country. So whether that was Beer Institute, we had help from folks in New York, folks, Philly, the Movement for Black Lives also helped out. And the official Black Lives Matter Memphis chapter, which I’m a member of that organization as well, have like sort of helped craft those ordinances, make sure that people know when to show up to city council meetings, that we’re training people on public comment and also just passing out information about the shape and the form of the problem being part of this large coalition. This large collection of organizations has given us the ability to make people both aware of the problem and also help them kind of see solutions. And those solutions come in the form of like laws being changed and us understanding that, like our city budget needs to be reconfigured to add service to our communities and add care to our communities rather than just police.


Kanya Bennett: [00:13:34] Chelsea, let me build upon that. Let me ask you about some of the specific demands that came out of Decarcerate Memphis in the aftermath of the police killing of Tyree Nichols. And I know that there’s been some recent success with respect to ordinances coming out of the city council there in Memphis. Let me just let you respond. I see you may be having a mixed reaction to what the city council has done.


Speaker3: [00:13:56] We are coming off of 12 hour day with city council. Yesterday, we actually had some ordinances passed. So we’re cautiously celebrating in this moment. It’s a hard situation to talk about considering the backdrop of this entire conversation is that somebody was murdered at the hands of police. I want to like keep us grounded in that because we’re an abolitionist organization. We just had a set of demands that were also centered around the community. We really spend a lot of time and energy and effort thinking about what are the things that keep us safe in a proactive kind of way and not a reactionary way. So you know that tracking the data around traffic stops is going to help keep us safe because then we’re going to be able to measure what the police are doing. And national data shows that policemen about 42% of their day to day operations performing traffic stops. That’s a huge amount of time, especially in the backdrop of like Memphis having a conversation around recruiting and bringing on more officers. And it’s like, you know, yeah, we could do that. We could continue to bloat our budget policing or we could evaluate. How they spend their time, what they’re doing and the outcomes of that time, which is really what we’ve done for the last two and a half years leading up to this moment. So that was one of the demands and one of our ordinances. And then we also had demands around ending pretextual traffic stops because we know that the pretext itself is not legitimate, like this is not policing. This is a fishing expedition and it’s incredibly dangerous.


Speaker3: [00:15:35] The FBI released a report telling on themselves that any interaction that a person has with police, that person is 20.8 times more likely to be killed by that officer than the officer is while serving on duty. This idea that the police are in great danger and that their job is just incredibly risky. Traffic stops are a mortal enemy and proponent of their work. It’s like, well, you know, just stop doing them. Like it doesn’t reduce crime. It’s really very simple. And we’re asking them to stop tactics that have nothing to do with safety. Most pretextual traffic stops actually have to do with fines and fees and administrative issues, which again, in Memphis, we have an enormous backlog of registration tags for your car and people are getting stopped and pulled over because our own government is failing at their job to get people their own registration that they are paying for. Above and beyond those two things. We also asked that they end specialized units and task forces no more using unmarked cars than plainclothes officers. And like we have talked in these people where they have said like, yeah, at the gas station and it had like six cars fly up on me and thought I was getting robbed. I didn’t know what was going on. I mean, the truth is, this is Memphis. Like violence is real, like these things We contend with that in the community as well. Like, we’re not denying it. But when you put people in situations where the threat of violence is totally unknown and it comes from literally nowhere, people are bound to react.


Speaker3: [00:17:19] So like a lot of people put their car in reverse or drive forward and a clip, a car, and the next thing you know, officers are jumping out, shooting into this moving vehicle in a very public place. They actually shot a 17 year old young man two years ago and took him to jail because he hit one of the officer’s cars and he has been in jail for two years, still has the bullet in his arm. In case of mistaken identity, Like these things are happening. This is not an anomaly. This is not unique. I just want to say that it is painful and regretful that Tyree Nichols lost his life in these conditions. But I also want to name that there are tons of Tyree Nichols walking around or homebound in their homes today. And we don’t know their names. We don’t know their stories because they were unfortunately brutalized within an inch of their life. But they’re still here today and their lives are totally changed. And those are the stories that often are overlooked or don’t get the time and attention that they deserve because there’s this kind of like lackadaisical response to like, well, I mean, at least you’re alive And like, that is the absolute bare minimum. We just have to do better. We know that police and traffic enforcement does not reduce crime. It does not reduce violence. We know that the data will continue to show even after ending pretextual traffic stops. The data will continue to show that traffic stops are racist, classist, and they’re dangerous for the general public.


Kanya Bennett: [00:19:00] I want to be responsive to your point about there are so many Tyree Nichols out there. First of all, there are so many who have been named who we have identities for, who we are honestly repeating a lot of the same asks locally, nationally, based on violence we have seen just within the past decade. And certainly we know the problems of police and community violence predate the last ten years. But it is not a hard lift to identify dozens and dozens of people, black people in particular, who have been harmed, who have been killed at the hands of law enforcement. And so you’re right. We do need to think about not only those folks who were the subject of national discourse, for whatever reason, because there was video footage, because it was a slow media day. Whatever the reason is, we need to sort of think about this. We are in a moment. We’ve been in a moment of crisis and we really need to think about how we nationally get solutions here. And so, Christie, I want to ask you about that. Ldf, you said is doing local, state and federal work. It is also in terms of federal news, national news as it pertains to Memphis. It is a day where we know that the Department of Justice, the US Department of Justice has said we’re going to go into Memphis and we are going to at the invitation of the Memphis officials there and look at some of the policing that Chelsea and Josh have described as regular policing practices there in the city. So, Christie, a lot of the demands that Chelsea elevated are ones that LDF has made. Ldf is also making more. Given that you’re thinking about this in a national context. So please talk about some of the federal work you’re doing related to Memphis. And more generally.


Speaker4: [00:20:57] The moment that we’re in is a really critical one and we are so grateful. And Chelsea, I was so excited to see I was following on Twitter last night when I saw the city council approved the vote and, you know, the excitement about that. So I’m pleased and excited to be on with you all today to cheer you on. And certainly we have supported some of the asks that you all have made and to elevate them to federal agencies as well. I think that as we’re looking at legislative proposals that are really needed in this moment, we believe that it’s critical to advance public safety. And currently it’s clear that our system of law enforcement has largely been unsuccessful at reducing violence and increasing public safety on a sustained bias. It’s also historically rooted in racial subjugation and of people it disproportionately targets and harms. And we must consider alternatives to the current system and advance a plan for effective, equitable and humane public safety structures. And so a little while ago, LDF put out a framework for public safety that includes three pillars. And so I’ll talk just briefly about those. The first being unarmed civilian responders, and that includes in things like routine traffic stops, which is a huge topic that we’re discussing today, wellness checks and school safety. And there are proposals that have been introduced in the last Congress that address some of these things, like the Mental Health Safety Justice Act, which seeks to invest in non-police responders for mental or behavioral health crisis and counselors, not criminalization, which would look to invest in school counselors and prohibiting funding for school resource officers or school police. You know, the second of those pillars is about expanding and institutionalizing restorative justice programs like school based restorative justice programs or pre-charge restorative justice diversion programs, which are both looking to promote more durable solutions that address needs and root causes while acknowledging a wrong has occurred without immediately resorting to criminalization, which has been the answer for as long as as we’ve had police.


Speaker4: [00:23:01] And finally increasing investments in community resources and economic security. And this is one that I’m seeing Chelsea cheer and I love to see it. I think folks at the local level have been in line with for a lot longer. And that would include investments in community violence intervention programs that don’t include law enforcement. A federal proposal along those lines is the Break the Cycle of Violence Act that would expand programs that improve social determinants of health within housing, health care, economic security, infrastructure for long term stability. Another bill we anticipate to be reintroduced this year is the People’s Response Act, which touches on a few of these pieces through the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill would fund unarmed first responders, mental health counseling, services for violence survivors and other public health approaches for community safety. And finally, you know, as we have to continue to pursue providing for accountability for law enforcement misconduct, the piece that’s a. Common refrain in this category. I hear at all of the levels of government that I have the privilege to engage with on behalf of LDF is limiting officers immunity, defense or ending qualified immunity. And states like New Mexico and Colorado have already done so without ruin. It doesn’t appear that their governments have fallen apart. Right now, in states like Maryland where I’m active, Vermont, Washington and New York are also in pursuit of similar proposals.


Kanya Bennett: [00:24:25] Josh, you talked about working in partnership with VRA and some of the other national organizations. When you were contemplating some of the demands to come out of Memphis in the aftermath of Tyree’s killing. Let me ask you about how we connect these dots between the local, state and federal work and sort of what role you think national organizations should be playing with the local organizations, the folks there on the ground to ideally realize success in this space. So, Josh, talk to us a little bit about that, about the role that you think national organizations should have in some of these fights that are certainly coming out of local incidents.


Speaker2: [00:25:09] It’s definitely helpful to have downloads or to have like conversations about what is working for other organizations. So whether that’s organizations in Philly or organizations in LA, what’s happening in Atlanta, like kind of knowing the steps in the city council battles in those cities look like helped us out. There’s also the strategy help that comes from organizations like the Center for Third World Organizing, or they came down and kind of helped us do some organizer training. The information piece, the strategy piece and then the funding piece, right? So there is a lot of capacity that needs to be built for people that are that are directly affected by the problems locally, sort of struggle to get funds depending on like from which organization and how much. But organizations from like national organizations have been able to help us out when it comes to funding. And that helps us run fellowships, that helps us pay for food. When we have events, it helps pay for events. And so those things really do build structure and they build like power to the local movements because they’re able to sustain, you know, year to year fight to fight moment to moment. We get victories. That’s how national organizations help out.


Kanya Bennett: [00:26:23] Chelsea, let me ask you about some of the support that the national organizations can provide around some of the federal asks. I know that Decarcerate, Memphis, Black Lives, Memphis, other local organizations sent some demands to the US Attorney General again in the days that followed Tyree’s death. So talk a bit about that. Certainly we’ve explored some of the success that is coming out of the City Council. How are you feeling about the Federal Government’s response to date? As I shared, we know that there are going in to investigate some of the policing practices there in Memphis. Are there other things that they should be doing and have they been responsive to the asks that you have made? Have you had interaction with the federal government?


Speaker3: [00:27:16] We actually sent a letter to the Department of Transportation as well. We have heard back from the Department of Transportation, but at this time, that’s the only person we’ve heard back from. And we haven’t set an actual meeting date, but still optimistic. The federal component is important because it really is a top down issue. The COPS office has a lot of funding and grants that trickle down into like our local law enforcement and remembered well over a decade ago where, you know, there was this national conversation around like quotas are bad. We don’t do quotas like it’s racist, it’s not a good practice, so we’re just going to stop it. But really, what it turned into was, okay, we’re not going to do quotas, but we’re going to incentivize these high saturation traffic stops or high visibility traffic enforcement, which are all just code words from the federal government down to local law enforcement. That means pretextual traffic stops. I’ll be honest in saying that my expectations of addressing these issues are kind of low. I don’t know how else to say it other than the fact that I think that people are going to have to fight for it in their cities, in their towns and their counties and their municipalities. And that’s where they’re going to see the change. That’s where they’re going to get justice. Unfortunately, President Biden has funneled more money into policing than I think any past president, including Trump himself. We’re kind of in a challenging position here. He’s the author of The Violent Crime Bill. He is the father of the cops office itself. So this is a person who believes. Wrongly and the practice of policing.


Speaker3: [00:29:03] But we just don’t have eyes on what is happening in policing on a day to day basis. When Obama was president, he actually tried to have the government provide some sort of reporting on specialized units and task forces. And there is so little transparency and there’s so little accountability around these specialized units and task forces that he literally just stopped the research program and he’s like, forget it. And a lot of that has to do with the lack of responsiveness from the police department, like they rely on these tactics that, you know, really endanger people and they don’t want to give that up. That’s their like bread and butter. And that’s why a lot of people sign up to be a police officer. Like you get to go kick in doors and like get the bad guys. And like, we’ve all seen so much of like this police normalization through the media. Your favorite CSI show or whatever. But like these are not sophisticated operations. It’s literally they’re just sitting around in a room like throwing out a net, pinning people in quarters and like creating situations where people have to divulge information to save themselves. Like Josh mentioned earlier, they just keep going after people who are, quote unquote, re-offenders. But like people in Memphis are poor. We’re one of the most impoverished cities in the nation. We’re woefully under-resourced. Like, how about let’s take some of this funding that goes to the COPS program to militarize our police and put it into the communities? Let’s build parks and libraries. I don’t know. Fund education. That seems really important, but that’s not what we’re doing.


Kanya Bennett: [00:30:44] All of that is fair. Chelsea. Very fair. There are a couple of points that I wanted to get some reaction on. The low expectations that you have for the federal government. I think that that’s a fair criticism. Your point about the eyes on policing sort of nationally, what’s happening and the federal government failing to provide that transparency. And so, Christie, I’m sure you know, I’m thinking about the Death in Custody Reporting Act. Our organization, the Leadership Conference, just put out a report on the implementation of the Deaths in Custody Reporting Act, a near ten year old law that has not been fully and properly implemented. All that is being asked is that the police, the states report the number of deaths that are happening in police custody and in our jails and in our prisons, and that has proven to be difficult. Christie, let me ask you about your expectations of the federal government. Is this status quo? Are things going to be any different as we react to the death of Tyree Nickels?


Speaker4: [00:31:59] In some respects, yes, and in some respects no. I should say what gives me hope is actually not necessarily indicators from the federal government, but indicators from what we are seeing from mobilizing and organizing out of community. And that’s success. But, you know, just thinking about on the one hand, Chelsea raised a completely fair point about the amount of funding for law enforcement and might feel incredibly small distinction. But in this year’s State of the Union, the president didn’t actually mention hiring more law enforcement, which was something he brought up in the last one. And it’s just a line in a speech. But things like that don’t happen by accident. And certainly that’s a result of folks putting in work and advocating against not wanting to hear things like that. And instead, Tyree Nichols, mother and stepfather were guests of the president. You know, I would say thinking of another event that certainly drew a lot of people to mobilize after the murder of George Floyd. It was just weeks before Congress introduced legislation which included some things that had been introduced for years that addressed militarization and address ending racial profiling. But it also included things that would more directly address the incident itself. The speed of the response may have sent an important message to those millions of people that were activated to take to the streets and organize in their communities and that their pleas were being heard. That said, you know, I wonder if with more time that was taken if the bill would really build more off of successful community models and it would have looked differently.


Speaker4: [00:33:31] We’re just not even quite three years later on this sort of proposals that many organizations are advocating for at the national level look pretty different. And that’s really only been possible because of the kind of work the local groups have done to put in time to pass city ordinances and state level laws that have created operational models for non-police responders for experiencing mental health crisis in places like Denver, Colorado. Eugene, Oregon. San Francisco, California. Prohibiting police from conducting. Stops for low level violations in places like Virginia and as Josh noted, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the many cities that have community violence, intervention programs that have proven to decrease and prevent gun violence without replicating harms caused by law enforcement. I would say that in response to this moment, I think we’re seeing Congress trying to play catch up, which as folks probably have observed, Congress is not a body that moves particularly quickly and it’s trying to catch up to where states and localities are in many instances. And like I said, you know, I’m I’m hopeful in that the conversation has shifted from just reforming police and accountability to now a much more robust conversation about other means that provide for thriving, safe communities that aren’t grounded in policing. Now I’m not sure how long it will take us to get there, and I won’t be providing any estimations to that. But I think the shift in narrative is something noteworthy and that we should hold on to as we remain dedicated to advancing these really important things.


Kanya Bennett: [00:35:02] Thank you, Chrissy. Appreciate the optimism that you are approaching some of the federal work with and we will definitely be looking to that budget that we will soon have from the administration on sort of where those investments are being made. We certainly don’t want to see continued calls for 100,000 new law enforcement eyes will be on that. Let me ask you, Chelsea, I’m going to close this out sort of in this moment. What is next? I want to ask you that and then I want to ask Josh that sort of what is next as we go forward from here?


Speaker3: [00:35:40] That is a great question. What is next? So for Decarcerate Memphis, it looks like continuing the push to have these ordinances passed and to guard them, actually the potential for our city council to usurp what we have provided and what they actually voted on in favor of last night in passed. They’re trying to like recreate the George Floyd Act on a local level, which unfortunately would repeal some of the things that if we just want it. So that’s already happening. And also, we live in Tennessee, which is a special brand of hellacious. We know that there are actors here locally that are already at the state level trying to figure out how to preempt what it is that we’re fighting for. And what seems especially sad about that is that not only what we’re fighting for would have kept Kyrie alive, but it will save other lives. It will save other people and people who do not even like acknowledge or understand that they’re at risk as well will be saved by these laws. And to preempt them on the state level will change that for everyone across the state of Tennessee. So it’s really terrifying. Beyond the ordinances, we have a lot of work to do around removing law enforcement permanently. And also budget season is coming up, and we know that that Scorpion unit cost them $28 million. So where’s that money going to go? We’re looking at that next.


Kanya Bennett: [00:37:19] Josh, so.


Speaker2: [00:37:21] Next for us, I think is some like base building, some educating and capacity building on the community level, trying to figure out how to sustain the involvement of like activists and organizers, especially people who who’ve experienced the problem. And that’s kind of where, you know, some canvasing comes in different pieces of like education sessions. The local library actually used to work with the library. We were talking about doing some equity education around policing, kind of educating folks about like, what is the new Jim Crow? How are police officer component of that and how do we make sure that we guard these victories and also continue to move more? I’m a political organizer. I work for an independent political organization. And so some folks got to get off the city council, some folks got to get off the state legislature and new people got to come in. And that’s going to be the work of this year and next year and for other years after that.


Kanya Bennett: [00:38:19] Chrissy, Chelsea and Josh, thank you so much for joining today’s conversation on POD for the Cause. It was wonderful to have benefited from your expertise, from your time, from your thoughtfulness in terms of how we are responsive to, again, this crisis of police violence. Thank you for your work and sending you out into the world with lots of love and positive energy so that we can actually see some success with respect to all that we’re fighting for.


Speaker3: [00:38:52] Thanks for having us.


Speaker5: [00:38:53] Thank you.


Speaker4: [00:38:53] Thanks so much.


Kanya Bennett: [00:38:59] Thank you for joining us today on POD for the Cause, the official podcast of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund. For more information, please visit Civil Rights org and to connect with us. Hit us up on Instagram and Twitter at Civil Rights. Org You can text us Text Civil rights. That’s two words. Civil rights to 52199. To keep up with our latest updates, be sure to subscribe to our show on your favorite podcast app and leave a five star review. Thanks to our executive producer Evan Hartung and our production team, Ben Norman, SHALONDA Hunter and Dina Craig. And that’s it from me. Your host, Connie Bennett. Until next time, let’s keep fighting for an America as good as its ideals.