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  • Chris Anderson: Hello, TED community,

  • welcome back for another live conversation.

  • It's a big one today, as big as they get.

  • You know, when we created this "Build Back Better" series

  • our thought was how could we address issues arising out of the pandemic,

  • how could we imagine building back from that.

  • But the events of this past week,

  • the horrific death of George Floyd and the daily protests that have followed,

  • I mean, they provided a new urgency

  • which we, of course, simply have to address.

  • I mean, can we build back better from this?

  • I think before we can even start to answer that question,

  • we just have to seek to understand the immensity of this moment.

  • Whitney Pennington Rodgers: That's right, Chris.

  • Right now, so many people in the United States and beyond

  • are grappling with feelings of anger and frustration, deep, deep sadness

  • and really helplessness.

  • No matter who you are,

  • you have questions about what to do now,

  • how to make things better.

  • And as we've seen,

  • violence like this unfolds for many, many years.

  • What is the path forward?

  • CA: So --

  • We're joined today by a group of activists,

  • organizers and leaders

  • known for their crucial work in social justice and civil rights.

  • We're so grateful to have them here to engage in a discussion

  • about racial injustice in America,

  • the unbearable acts of violence that we've --

  • Acts of violence against the black community

  • that we've witnessed,

  • the dangers to a nation riven by anger and fear.

  • And how on earth we can move forward from this

  • to something better.

  • So first, each of our four guests will share their thoughts

  • on how we move forward from this moment.

  • And then we'll engage as a group,

  • including you, the TED community.

  • WPR: And we'd like to thank our partner, the Project Management Institute.

  • Their generous support has helped make today's interviews possible,

  • and of course, as Chris mentioned,

  • we want you to take part in the conversation,

  • so please share your questions using our Ask a question feature

  • and continue to share your thoughts in the discussion thread.

  • CA: Thanks, Whitney.

  • OK, let's get this moving.

  • Our first guest.

  • Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff is the founder and CEO

  • of the Center for Policing Equity.

  • They work with police departments across America, including in Minneapolis,

  • to seek measurable responses to racial bias.

  • Phil, I can scarcely imagine

  • how the stress in the last week must have been for you.

  • Welcome, and over to you for your opening comments.

  • Phillip Atiba Goff: Thanks, Chris.

  • Yeah, this week has been a gut punch

  • to anybody who felt like we could be making progress

  • in the way that we put forward public safety that empowers

  • particularly vulnerable communities.

  • We started working in Minneapolis about five years ago.

  • At the time, it was, like most major cities in the United States,

  • a department that had a long history

  • of unaccounted for violence from law enforcement,

  • targeting the most vulnerable black communities.

  • And we tried to put into place a number of things that we know work.

  • Change the culture,

  • so that the culture can be accountable to the values of the community.

  • And what we saw was small but measurable progress.

  • We always knew,

  • with small and measurable progress,

  • that you're one tragic incident from going back to ground zero.

  • But the events of the last week and a half

  • haven't brought us back to ground zero,

  • they've torched ground zero, and we've dug a hole

  • that we have to dig ourselves out of.

  • What I hear from police chiefs who call me,

  • from activists I talk to,

  • from folks in the communities that are literally on fire right now,

  • I hear folks saying, I had one activist say to me

  • that the pain that he was feeling

  • was too large to fit into his body.

  • And without thinking about it, I said right back,

  • "That's because it's too large to fit into a lifetime."

  • What we're seeing isn't just the response to one gruesome,

  • cruel, public execution.

  • A lynching.

  • It's not just the reaction to three of them:

  • Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor

  • and then George Floyd.

  • What we're seeing is the bill come due

  • for the unpaid debts that this country owes

  • to its black residents.

  • And it comes due usually every 20 to 30 years.

  • It was Ferguson just six years ago,

  • but about 30 years before that,

  • it was in the streets of Los Angeles,

  • after the verdict that exonerated the police

  • that beat Rodney King on video.

  • It was Newark, it was Watts,

  • it was Chicago, it was Tulsa,

  • it was Chicago again.

  • If we don't take a full accounting of these debts that are owed,

  • then we're going to keep paying it.

  • Part of what I've been experiencing in the last week and a half,

  • and what I've been sharing with the people who do this work,

  • who are serious about it,

  • is the acknowledgment,

  • the soul-crushing reality

  • that at some point, when things stop being on fire,

  • the cameras are going to turn to something else.

  • And the history that we have in this country

  • is not just a history of vicious neglect

  • and a targeted abuse of black communities,

  • it's also one where we lose our attention for it.

  • And what that means for communities like in Baton Rouge,

  • for those who still grieve Alton Sterling,

  • and in Baltimore, for those who are still grieving Freddie Gray,

  • is that there is not just a chance, there's a likelihood

  • that we are a month or two months out from this

  • with no more to show for it than what we had to show

  • after Michael Brown Jr.

  • And holding the weight of that,

  • individually and collectively,

  • is just too much.

  • It's just too heavy a load

  • for a person or a people, or a generation to hold up.

  • What we're seeing is the unrepentant sins,

  • the unpaid debts.

  • And so the solution can't just be that we fix policing.

  • It can't be only incremental reform.

  • It can't be only systems of accountability

  • to catch cops after they've killed somebody.

  • Because there's no such thing as justice for George Floyd.

  • There's maybe accountability.

  • There's maybe some relief from the people who are still around, who loved him,

  • for his daughter who spoke out yesterday

  • and said, "My Daddy changed the world."

  • There won't be justice for a man who's dead

  • when he didn't have to be.

  • But we're not going to get to where we need to go

  • just by reforming police.

  • So in addition to the work that CPE is known for with the data,

  • we have been encouraging departments and cities

  • to take the money that should be going to invest in communities,

  • and take it from police budgets,

  • bring it to the communities.

  • People ask, "Well, what could it possibly look like?

  • How could we imagine it?"

  • And I tell people,

  • there is a place where we do this in the United States right now.

  • We've all heard about it, whispered,

  • some of us have even been there, some of us live there.

  • The place is called the suburbs,

  • where we already have enough resources

  • to give to people,

  • so they don't need the police for public safety in the first place.

  • If someone has a substance abuse issue, they can go to a clinic.

  • If somebody has a medical issue,

  • they've got insurance, they can go to a hospital.

  • If there's a domestic dispute, they have friends, they have support.

  • You don't need to enter a badge and a gun into it.

  • If we hadn't disinvested from all the public resources

  • that were available in communities that most needed those,

  • we wouldn't need police in the first place,

  • and many have been arguing, even more loudly recently,

  • that we don't.

  • If we would just take the money that we use to punish,

  • and instead invest it

  • in the promise and the genius of the community that could be there.

  • So I don't know all the ways we're going to get there.

  • I know it's going to take everything and.

  • It's going to need the kind of systemic change

  • and the management tools that we traditionally offer.

  • It's also going to need a quantum change

  • in the way that we think about public safety.

  • But mostly, this isn't just a policing problem.

  • This is the unpaid debts

  • that are owed to black America.

  • The bill is coming due.

  • And we need to start getting an accounting together,

  • so we're not just paying off the interest of the damn thing.

  • WPR: Thank you, Phil.

  • Rashad Robinson is the president of Color Of Change,

  • a civil rights organization

  • that advocates for racial justice for the black community.

  • To date, more than four million people have signed their petition

  • to arrest the officers involved in the murder of George Floyd.

  • And of course, one was arrested last week.

  • Thank you so much for being with us, Rashad, welcome.

  • Rashad Robinson: Thank you. And thank you for having me.

  • It's an opportunity that I'm taking today

  • to just tell you about how you can get involved.

  • How you can take action,

  • because right now, strategic action is critical

  • for all of us to do the work to change the rules

  • that far too often keep the systems in place

  • that hold us back.

  • Make no mistake,

  • the criminal justice system is not broken.

  • It is operating exactly the way it was designed.

  • At every single level,

  • the criminal justice system is not about providing justice,

  • but about ensuring that certain people, certain communities are protected,

  • while other communities are violated.

  • And so I wan to talk a little bit today about Color Of Change,

  • about activism, about the work that's happening on the ground

  • from other organizations all around the country,

  • and the way that you can channel this energy.

  • What we talk about at Color Of Change

  • is how do you channel presence into power.

  • Far too often we mistake presence and visibility for power,

  • presence retweets the stories of the movement,

  • people feeling passion about change

  • could sometimes make us feel like change is inevitable,

  • but power is actually the ability to change the rules.

  • And right now, every day, people are taking action,

  • and what we're trying to channel that energy into

  • is a couple of things.

  • First is a whole set of demands at the federal level

  • and at the local level.

  • As Phil described,

  • policing operates on many different channels.

  • And what we need to recognize

  • is that while there are a lot of things that can happen at the federal level,

  • locally all around the country

  • there are decisions that are being made in communities

  • around how policing is executed,

  • where community needs to hold a deeper level of accountability,

  • at the state level we need new laws.

  • So at Color Of Change,

  • we've built a whole platform around a set of demands

  • and are working to build more energy

  • for everyday people to take action.

  • We're fighting for justice

  • for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd,

  • we're also fighting for justice

  • for other folks whose names you haven't heard,

  • Nina Pop and others,

  • whose stories of injustice

  • and the relationship to the criminal justice system

  • represent all the ways in which fighting right now is important.

  • Over the last couple of years,

  • we have worked to build a movement,

  • to hold district attorneys accountable

  • and to change the role of district attorneys in our country.

  • And through the Winning Justice platform at Color Of Change,

  • www.winningjustice.org,

  • what we have worked to do is channel the energy

  • of everyday people to take action.

  • So, for folks who are watching what's happening on TV,

  • seeing it on their social media feeds

  • and are outraged about what's happening in Georgia,

  • what's happening in Tennessee,