Transcript for Why a police chief joined forces with Black Lives Matter at George Floyd protest
At New York State of Health, we always have you covered. For days scenes of American cities engulfed in flames and tension. But in striking contrast moments of police and protesters uniting around the country. In Houston. These young people have every right to be out here protesting peacefully. Reporter: Flint. Oklahoma City. And in Camden, New Jersey, a city plagued by high crime rates and social inequality, another powerful moment of solidarity as Camden police chief Joseph wisocki marched with protesters. For some Camden residents symbolic steps closer to justice. Earlier I spoke with protest organizer Yolanda Deaver and Camden police chief Joseph wisocki. Chief, I want to start with you. Set the scene for us. This weekend amid all the forceful crackdowns across the nation you set a different tone. Why? We had to connect with the community. And our core of the police department's community policing and working together. We met with Yolanda, who's the organizer of the protest, on Friday. And she said it was okay for the police to attend. My goal was if I could as a police chief to be part of the protest if Yolanda permitted me. But also help deescalate some tensions in the city. People are very upset. Yolanda, tell me about that moment when the chief asked to join with you. Were you surprised? Police officers have a bad name. Unfortunately because there's a long systemic trend of injustice and things of that nature, police brutality. You know, what happened to George Floyd. So you know, unfortunately they do have a bad name. When chief Wysocki reached out to me and he let me know he wanted to walk with me, I felt moved and I felt like it was the right thing to do. After watching the video of George Floyd and the police officer, I had a horrible feeling in my heart and in my body because you know, I'm a woman of color, I have three sons. That could have very well been one of my sons on the ground. I felt as though I needed to do something. I didn't know what I needed to do but I needed to do something. I wanted to go to Minneapolis and, you know, do something. But it didn't look too safe. I decided to have a March here in my city. Yolanda, you're also a small business owner. What do you say to those becoming violent and looting across the country? And are you concerned it could happen? In Camden? This is happening because of what happened to George Floyd and the long systemic, you know, police brutality. This is why, you know, people are behaving the way that they are. Chief, a question for you. What does community policing look like in Camden and how do you think that allowed you to divert a violent outcome like we've seen play out across the country? After the protest March on Saturday we had different locations in the city. We were doing pop-up barbecues. So we brought out like portable basketball nets. We brought out Mr. Softee, which is a soft serve ice cream truck. We want people to get to see us other than calling 911 in an emergency situation. We want people to see us and to get to know who the officer is and get to know the officers and us to get to know the residents. Community policing, it's not a check box for us. This is something that we do every day. So it sounds like you did a lot of the hard work before that viral moment a couple days ago. Yolanda, what conversation would you want to have with other police chiefs around the To try to eliminate racism from their precincts. On Saturday when we started the March Yolanda started to chant "Black lives matter." And then she looked at me and said, "Sorry." And then she started to chant "All lives matter." And what happened next, Yolanda? I looked at the chief -- because I didn't want him to think that I was a racist person. And he looked at me and he was like, "No." And he threw up his fist and he started chanting "Black lives matter." And it's fine. And he looked at me and he said, "It's fine." You know. Then in that moment I gained his trust. I trusted him. And I knew for a fact that he was walking with us in solidarity. And we shared the same views. So he gained my trust right then and there at that very moment. Trust is a powerful word. Thank you both so much. Wishing you all continued grace. And thank you for the example you gave our nation. Thank you.
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