Protest Organizers Speak on Race and Justice in America

Activists who organized Ferguson and Eric Garner protests say conversation on race in America is just starting.
17:57 | 12/10/14

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Transcript for Protest Organizers Speak on Race and Justice in America
The deaths of Michael Brown air Carter and some air rights generated a movement across the country and made the interaction between minorities and law enforcement. The focal point of race relations. In America. When I'm Dan Butler in new York and all week ABC news is covering race and justice in America. Protests in Ferguson Missouri and in New York City that thousands participated in and millions watched around the world. Brought to light the racial tensions here in the United States. Well joining us today were talked with what activists who helped set up some of those protests about race and justice here in America joining in on the conversation toward Russell. Leader of hands up united actually gates leader of the grassroots group millennial activist united and Mervyn McConnell Ferguson action. Dot com thank you guys office not until we really appreciate this. It's an important conversation that I think that we've been having here at ABC and elsewhere across this country and we've been asking some viewers. To answer to weigh in on this question and when it poses to all of you we ask this how does race affect your interactions with the police and justice system. Torrents that with you. Please me a little freight. And just tailor my community a how many people know lot. Long probation parole. Just leaving believed in races the number one act and data interactions and the I mean I'm port au over. For no reason. Ticketed you just tale about how many people in person hands warm it's that's enormous things everybody has a Warner license suspended. Off a minor infraction so. Actually what's been your experience. Very similar. Particularly in Saint Louis company which is where they let my growing up. You can tell that when she gets out there actively looking for something to Rachel for the looking to write your citation they're looking to reach a ticket. So I've had instances in which had been portal very. Asked why I was stopped wasn't given a reason they ran everything I came back clean and then they still proceeded to harass me to try to incite me to do something or. Find out if I had something on me so that they could just write a ticket so it's definitely. Suddenly it's tense interaction even when it shouldn't be that was just a routine traffic stop things that we always heightened tension would you response something that's happened. Usually ammunition artists inching Lachey nervous because you're not sure. If they're going to say you receding even though you were. And I sure they're going to just find a reason to reaches citation. On the expectations are very expensive. The speeding tickets concussion up as a 500 dollars you know especially for me when I was a college kid just coming out of school. It was it was really nerve racking to get pulled over and think that you're going to have you know go to quake hit haven't about it he or potentially have a warrant issued. Simply because someone decided to meet their quota that they employ you over. Murder and you're in seem to me nodding in agreement or understanding that some situation. You know I grew up in these cells I grew up in Brooklyn and I understand. The difference between growing up in a community where cops were almost nonexistent and then they become omnipresent here this hard. In your own community so I understand how. The broken windows policing that we experience across the country but that was pioneered a New York. Has actually broken our own communities and black communities suffer. The burden of carrying. Unconstitutional police practices. So that's in the broader for a broader notion of public safety and that's I think what people in the streets about. Our lives matters just as much as anyone else isn't the lesson we have to suffer. Through experimentation. Around policing we know it doesn't work. Do you feel base in those kinds of experiences and we hear these kinds of stories. Natalie FaceBook and other than we've spoken to as well do you think then that is also created almost a reverse prejudice within the community itself. Among army non. I mean we need a lot and community in the black and brown communities Muni education. We need you know just decent housing and all those things but. They only send the police to help to have it right so they have to be away that we get everything that we need in nap the first respondents. You know just wound grieving community is the police. And tonight clear. That tension is in Fred. From nowhere right. People are having since an axis with the police say after their two day today in yes we do understand that there may be good officers in it but the system. And the way in which interacts with the community as a whole. Is entirely like it's broken. The interactions are always tense. They have to meet certain quotas so you know they coming to an impressive fashion so regardless of whether or not there's one could apple. The entire tree is rotten so we have to start over so it's not it's not an a reverse. Prejudice of sorts it's a very real feeling in a very real reaction to a very real oppression by this police and community. You bring back that you bring equipment she statements and that it's not brain and Mervyn is a generational thing that I think that I think certainly that the we've seen. A different kind of policing and in his admiration for us it's gotten sophisticated smarter. Surveillance is as. This notion of approves them. Pedestrian stops it's called stopping Chris in New York it's called it is elsewhere I think we deal with a different. Kind of policing system and I think the policing system itself knows that it's broken and it's experimenting. But I think the I think the bottom line is that. We hear a lot of police chiefs and a lot of police union leaders say. We don't make the laws we just enforce them. So are questions of those offices would be who would you be in 1964. Enforcing laws that weren't straight and so we know that there's a drug war that's been universally and and is still in force. In Washington you can go and buy marijuana at the store with your debit card while in other states black people going to prison for that same activity so. We're asking people to reach into their moral center and find and ask themselves the question around whether it's right regardless of this the large is it right. And I think that's the conversation that America's there's a lot of conversations lot of discussions taking place for this lost a lot of frustrations and actually has to be something done has to be some kind of tangible list. Of accomplishments that need to be you know approved and implemented body cameras for one thing is a very tactical equipment change that could. You know be implemented what would you response -- police officer can't you and you saw body camera. On our own. I know I would be shield on camera on probably played back would gain influence like Mike. Let me just somewhere in home. Somebody Cameron catches a bad person Anthony do something and doing. The plan but it doesn't change the minds and hearts and police officers I miss a small step up. But didn't need to just remove racial bias in the system to me and threw. Have any and we spent talking about this so extensively really diving into the deacons have anyone of you heard anything that's it yeah that's a great idea that's it's. Great first step we need to now expand out because what you're seeing is. Is is elected officials grasping on to the thing has the most moments of his body cameras. If Mike Brown's case was argument for body cameras every gardener's cases its -- right so we know that at the heart of it is the notion of implicit bias the fear that officers carry regardless of whether officers black or white they're trained to. Fear black people. And so that's what actually is to be dealt with that's a big work it's hard work and this certainly incremental steps but everybody has to commit to it because I think the young people in the streets no. That the system is not moving up the pace at which they're demanding that their lives matter. And so that's the conversation we need to be happening regardless of what's happening in DC the voices have been growing louder and the size of the protests and demonstrations have been right moderates will be seen. As if there organic as if they just kind of spring out of nowhere but in fact it takes a great deal of organization a lot of which you law have been involved with then. How do you rally how you organize how do you sort of unify and message that you can be out there to be such a strong presence. Will. I mean and out. In the start up is very organic August 9 pride if Aardsma. I don't within a month you saw young people who. Probably wasn't train organizes become extremely organized. I always say that most people who live in a black and brown communities already organist we belong to churches. We just belong to tightening communities and groups. Within itself so that around him in you know had built up to first in October and most of the things and organizations and protests in dying is that you're seeing. Or calls coming out of farms in October affirms an action that come so we're in touch with those people in Maine local mechanic. Because it's new was young and his freshness it was gonna look. Again. At the ways in which it organizer different and that what people are accustomed to. So we don't have to do let me add in the sixties and have a big march on Washington right. We can reach out to social media we can have conference calls with people being Guinness let the people together that can amplify their call. I'm be the social media tools that they have. If there was definitely utilize those package which are also seeing as a reaction to people. I'm becoming more aware of these cases in their own cities right. And making sure that their town doesn't become the next Ferguson as far as the police response so people are actively standing up for their rights but they're actively under the police accountable. Before it gets the level of Ferguson that's really what we want. As we don't wanna see another person to push to get their rights they don't wanna see another Michael Brown want people to take initiative in their own cities and it's interesting to see people really do that on a really. Big level. That that the country has caused the country has the attention of this what's the next step what do you see as the success goal. You're seeing what you're seeing right now is a popular uprising people fanned out in the streets I think that also what you're seeing is people plugging him organizations and their communities. Paying attention to what's happening in their own cities so I think you're seeing a renewed I mean you know we talk a lot in about the the that Arab Spring. Or the Orange Revolution in other places I think we're having an American spring here where we you folks are re connecting with their political. With their political. You know moral center and I think that that's what we're seeing in that's worth celebrating in and of itself but I think next steps will be. Actual actual policy packages and was a moment much like this in 1964 the gods the voting rights act and so I think that you will see that eventually but I think for right now. Folks have to engage take action takes in the streets and no matter what it was the Civil Disobedience that the young people in Ferguson. That accident they took that got us to this point no backroom negotiations and no congressional hearings got Estes. Asher when I ask you about this when you had to find out about the grand jury's decision not to indict him Michael Brown case. And we servicing the demonstrations and protests and some of them sir to turn violent. Fires some stores being looted cars being overturned what was your initial reaction when you servicing those images. My initial reaction to the destruction of property was you know tuned to first understand where that comes from. Great and I think when you have an understanding of where that comes from the key people have anti war outraged. At the trauma that has been imposed on my community in a deep more outrageous thing Mike brownlee in the street for four and a half hours. In the deep more outrage of going to mourn with his parents. In being met with police and right here have a deep moral outrage at being tear gas for only trying to stamp their first amendment rights and hold the police were supposed to protect and serve accountable. Those are the thoughts that ran to my my when I saw that so I actually think that for people to express. In manners that it are not will be violence destruction of property. Compared to what we faced sexy pretty mild and I find it. Finally knowing that looks and to focus on that meanwhile we have it's in Mary's in Cleveland is twelve years old. Great and the police just kind of settle we don't even know who killed him it's that kind of scuttlebutt scuttle them away. And want to focus on building fires that some analysts. Do you think using the media's been fair. In the coverage about putting the balance between those kinds of that aspect of demonstrations and protests now I mean we have. Four people have been killed my ground and Jeanne when their admire them and can we ran McCain. Who. They say hunger self and pays did jail. A home in the cameras was magically off. So I mean if you see light almost week about week every other week someone is dying in the singles area. And they're outraged. Was justifiable and you knew what they went there was on president grand jury here. So you're gonna you know I'm president ring actions can be motion asking me well but is also the only people like us in the community to put out those fires. You know assist people in walking through those nonviolent direct X distract. Not only that I'm saying it's. The other thing that rent a man violence that is at one point in time we start to hold the government responsible for the climate that they created. Ford telling people to board up their windows in anticipation of rain that hadn't heard Harry for telling people. Before the announcement for doing that unprecedented initiative like releasing all of the information on the facts of the case and release laying out a case for acquittal. When all we were supposed to be doing was examining the evidence very. For releasing it at a late hour in which news. That is going to be harder to maintain a crowd in a peaceful manner and that's what rent I have is that what when it's important for the going to start to hold our officials. Accountable for this climate that they created and that committee responded. I want to ask you what is the disconnect and you see if you're not on the ground Ferguson Missouri or in New York City or earnings of the major metropolitan areas across the country where there and demonstrations and protests. But you're watching it either on TV or online or whatever what is the disconnect because you're actually on the front lines in this movement. I'm I'm personally not but I think there's lots of folks were on the front line but I think that for for a lot of folks it's hard to understand. The daily. The daily sort of insult the daily little movement that think it's like a million little cuts that that the state imposed black folks thinking. You know midsize and small cities. Where schools have been completely defined it and decimated public housing is nonexistent. Or its decrepit and Saint Louis is where the per idle housing projects where we're still dealing with that and so I think that. What you're seeing is. For four and a half hours Mike Brown's body lay in the street and that spoke to. Whether or not his life had balance of when people say black like matters it's not just about the policing system it's about whether or not. Our lives are able to be lived fully. Under the promise of citizenship that we are offered in this country and I think that that's the conversation that folks are having and so they might be a little bit of a disconnect for people. Who don't experience that in their daily lives but I think it's good that we're talking about it. And and I will also adamant on the notion of of violence and I think that. Or four months at this point we've seen. Actions across the country millions of people at this point have taken to the streets. Mostly completely nonviolent direct action. And I think that when we focus on. The emotional response that people have the justifiably so. Then we'd we don't do that justice we don't do justice by the by the by the young people who took to the streets to start this off. And the folks who are working every day in their communities to make them better. Are you encouraged Torre about how these kinds of discussions there can sometimes be that. Paralysis fight too much analysis by there can be just too much topic and not enough action or is this a very critical conversation that were happening. And. I think it is a we know these conversations. Saying young black and brown people. Just having a great synopsis of what's going on in America maybe can get some people off of the fence. You know off their accounts of out of social media and actually say you know I don't want to contribute to that. You know maybe I want to stand outside MW of protest Maalox does go out there and meet some those people. Those deals being missing like go people may we can start turning entire in this country about race. And how we govern each other in just how we love each other having come together and education and many forms but. These dialogues of key and to keep people wounding and I think the young people hear it today in this probably hundreds more across the nation should be involved. This is like this like a cultural stuff we're talking about is such a big. Value to this movement I think if we rest on the laurels of the civil rights movement. That you know we have a black president needs and all this work in the sixties I think the sixties was about access to political power was about access of the political machine and I think if you talk to young people in the streets. This is not a movement for access to to perceived power structures this is not an access for proximity to that. This is a movement about transforming those systems and so that's going to be a long conversation but I think it's a good one less they asked him when asked his. Are we asking the right questions right now about how to solve this problem. I adds I think Greta Greta it's Greg of starting the race but had to -- think he needs to be a shift. And the questions that are being asked as far as it relates to police right. From. A reactionary stance to what can we do to prevent this. What can we do to prevent another Michael Brown what can we do to prevent an ethics reiterates what we do to prevent another air garnered. All the steps and all the questions that we've seen being posed. Are all you know when we do when this happens. How we hold you know how to be. Hold this system up to the standard that it's listened force. I wanna see the conversations are shifting to what is a police accountability look like and how we change the way in which police interact with our communities. I think when we start shifting there we'll see some real changes are to come from that conversation. And that's and in the last word Torre's Ashley Mervyn thank you guys so much for being and we really appreciate that. All of our thanks to you and of course the conversation is continuing right here you can participate in this discussion all week on FaceBook. For non damn tough learn New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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