FRESH AIR: In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police, protesters across the country are demanding systemic changes in the way American police forces operate and are funded. Journalist Jamiles Lartey says the discussion about policing feels different now than it has in the past. “You’re hearing so much less of the ‘few bad apples’ argument and so much more of the, ‘What is wrong with this system?’ [argument],” he says. Lartey is a staff writer for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal justice system. He previously reported on criminal justice, race and policing for The Guardian, where he was part of a team that created an online database tracking police violence in 2015 and 2016.
Lartey notes that America’s model of policing is a relatively recent phenomenon: “Policing wasn’t always this way. It wasn’t always this big. It wasn’t always this bureaucratic,” he says. “Modern policing — the policing that you and I and listeners recognize today — is really a product of the 20th century.” He says that Floyd’s death — and the deaths of other black people in police custody — highlight the need to change a broken system. “There’s so many things that we currently ask our police to respond to — whether it’s a noise complaint or a car accident — that don’t necessarily fit into a reason why someone would need to show up with a deadly weapon,” Lartey says. “Sometimes as a society, you need to rethink institutions, especially when they’re relatively new, especially when they’ve changed a lot over the last 20, 30 or 40 years.” MORE
FRESH AIR: Last week, in Washington, D.C., in response to peaceful protests and to looting and arson, the Trump administration called in the National Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Bureau of Prisons. Active duty military were put on standby. On Monday, June 1, smoke, tear gas, pepper balls and, according to protesters, rubber bullets were used to clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square across from the White House just before President Trump’s Bible photo-op.
Many protesters have called for defunding the police. On Sunday of this week, the Minneapolis City Council passed a veto-proof resolution to dismantle the city’s police department. The council president, Lisa Bender, said, it’s our commitment to end policing as we know it and recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe. My guest, Matt Zapotosky, covers the Justice Department for The Washington Post.
In an article he co-wrote, the White House was described as being so fortified, it resembled a monarchical palace or authoritarian compound. We’re going to talk about the role of Attorney General William Barr and how the Trump administration has handled the protests and how the Justice Department has been dealing with previous complaints about police brutality, police killings and systemic racism. MORE