tv Democracy Now PBS December 27, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
12/27/17 12/27/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> have you ever tried a jury trial? >> i have not. >> civil? >> no. >> criminal? >> no. amy: president trump's nominee to a lifetime appointment on the u.s. district court in washington withdraws from consideration after he was unable to answer basic questions about the law. president trump is setting a record for the most appellate judges confirmed in a president first year in office. he has already appointed more people in less time than any
other president. and the people he appointed are very conservative. and it will change the courts for decades to come, longer than we will remember him as president. amy: we will speak with retired judge shira scheindlin about how "trump's new team of judges will radically change american society." then we look at what some have called one of the most progressive city council in new york city's history and the woman who helped lead the agenda, speaker melissa mark-viverito. she holds the second-most powerful post in new york city. >> 12 years ago when i was first sworn in as the first latina to represent my district of east harlem and the bronx, i try to process what that all men. i was a labor organizer, community activist. not a politician. amy: her term winds down at the end of this year due to term limits. we will look at how under
melissa mark-viverito's sickrship, expanded paid leave, and municipal identification card for undocumented immigrants, and got mayor bill de blasio to agree to close the city's notorious rikers island jail. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. a "new york times" investigation has revealed how the department of homeland security is increasingly going global, with thousands of ice ages and thousands of tsa agents to point to more than 70 countries around the world. "the new york times" reports hundreds more dhs workers are deployed at sea on coast guard ships or in the skies conducting surveillance. some countries have accused dhs of attempting to export united states restrictive restrictive immigration laws, with one german politician saying dhs's interrogations and detentions at
foreign airports constitute an extrajudicial travel ban. the united states has imposed new sanctions on two north korean officials only days after the u.n. security council imposed another round of sanctions against north korea in response to its recent ballistic missile tests. north korea called the most recent u.n. security council sanctions an act of war. the new u.s. treasury sanctions freeze all u.s. assets of two north korean officials accused of being behind the missile program. russia has offered to act as mediator between north korea and the united states amid the escalating conflict between the two countries. north korea has her beautifully -- has repeatedly tested intercontinental ballistic missiles over the last year, while president trump has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons against north korea, saying he would totally destroy the nation of 25 million people. president obama gave a rare radio interview conducted by
prince harry for the bbc. while president obama did not mention president trump by name, obama spoke forcefully about the importance of free speech and the dangers posed by increasing polarization of news and discourse, particularly online. pres. obama: is a former constitutional lawyer, pretty firm about the merits of free i thinknd the question really has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows the multiplicity of voices, allows the diversity of views, but does not lead to a balkanization of our society, but rather continues to promote ways of finding common ground. one of the dangers of the internet is people can have entirely different realities. they can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.
one of the things that i think i discovered, even back in 2007, 2008, is a good way of fighting against that is making sure that online communities don't just stay online. amy: in the radio interview, which was taped earlier this year but just released, former president barack obama also praised youth across the world. pres. obama: the generation coming up is the most sophisticated, the most tolerant in many ways, most embracing of diversity, the most tech heavens every -- tech-savvy come of the most entrepreneurial. but they don't have much faith in existing institutions. amy: that's president obama speaking in a rare radio interview conducted by prince harry for the bbc. environmentalists are warning that fossil fuel companies are investing a staggering $180 billion in the global plastics industry, threatening to propel a 40% rise in the production of plastics over the next 10 years. the guardian reports the fossil
fuel companies plunging money into plastics include exxon mobil and shell. experts warn plastic production is already disastrously polluting oceans, causing what some environmentalists call an "ocean armageddon." egypt has executed 15 people convicted of carrying out attacks on the egyptian military in the sinai peninsula in 2013. the hangings, carried out on tuesday, were the first mass execution in egypt in two years. meanwhile, in more news from egypt, labor lawyer khaled ali has announced his intention to run for president, pitting the left activist against authoritarian egyptian president abdel fatah al-sisi. khaled ali was among the labor leaders who helped support nationwide strikes in egyptian in amid the uprising that 2011 toppled former military dictator hosni mubarak. this is ali speaking in a democracy now! interview in 2011.
>> the workers have successfully launched and sustained the largest wave of labor mobilization this country has seen from 2004 until 2011. whoworkers are the ones brought down the structures of this regime in the past year. workers laid the ground for the emergence of this revolution. analysisieve that any which says otherwise is superficial. amy: that was labor lawyer and now egyptian presidential candidate khaled ali speaking in a democracy now! interview in 2011. the egyptian presidential election is slated to take place this coming spring. in chile, a court has sentenced four retired military officials to prison in connection with the kidnapping of activist and
university student maria angelica andreoli bravo in 1974 under pinochet's dictatorship. after being kidnapped, the student was transferred to multiple secret prison sites, tortured, and then forcibly disappeared. the four retired military members were sentenced to between 10 and 13 years in prison. back in the united states, officials in erie, pennsylvania, have declared a state of emergency after a staggering 63 inches of snow -- that is more than five feet -- fell on the city over the last four days. even more snow is expected today. pennsylvania is deploying national guard with humvee ambulances because the snow is so high, regular ambulances and other emergency vehicles can't traverse some streets. the massive snowfall has shattered multiple previous records. so far, erie has received 97 inches of snow this month, nearly the amount of snowfall
the city receives on average during an entire winter. scientists have linked extreme precipitation, including snowfall, to climate change. meanwhile, parts of the northeast and midwest are experiencing a bitter cold spell with the temperatures on christmas hitting record lows in minnesota, and meteorologists predicting more record shattering cold in the days to come. in washington, d.c., whistleblower groups have expressed concern after the man charged with handling whistleblower complaints at u.s. spy agencies was put on leave and marched out of his office earlier this fall. n meyer was the director of the intelligence community whistleblowing and source protection program before he was put on leaven late november. the projt on goverent oversight id -- "this looks like a blatant attempt to get rid of him simply because he is doing his job." and in washington, d.c., author, activist, and policy advocate marcus raskin has died at the age of 83. raskin was the founder of the -- raskin was the cofounder of
the institute for policy studies, one of washington's most influential liberal think tanks. he is the author or co-author of more than 20 books on civil rights, the national security state, and foreign policy, including his 1965 book "the viet-nam reader," which helped spark a wave of teach-ins at college campuses nationwide. he was also a member of the boston five, a group tried in 1968 for conspiracy to help people avoid the draft. in the early 1970's, he was placed on president richard nixon's enemies list. and in 1971, he reportedly helped connect pentagon papers whistleblower daniel ellsberg with "the new york times." he is surved by his wife and four children, including maryland democratic congress member jamie raskin. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: and i am juan and zealous. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world.
begin today's show looking at how president trump is shaping the federal judiciary with the confirmation of a 12th circuit court judge earlier this month. trump set a record for the most appellate judges confirmed in a president's first year in office. president trump began his term having to fill 150 vacancies in the federal courts, or about 10% of the federal judiciary, largely due to a backlog caused by republican obstruction of confirmations during the obama administration. early in his first year office, trump appointed conservative supreme court justice neil gorsuch. but legal experts say trump's appointments to the lower courts will have the most impact on american life because they decide nearly all cases, ranging from voting rights and contraception to gay rights and immigration. many of trump's appointees have drawn scrutiny, including leonard grasz, who the senate confirmed earlier this month to the 8th circuit court of
appeals, despite a "not qualified" rating from the american bar association. grasz is one of at least four trump nominees the aba deemed "not qualified." meanwhile, trump's nominee to a lifetime appointment on the u.s. district court in washington withdrew from consideration after widely circulated video shed he was unable to answer basic questions about the law and had never tried a case in court. this is louisiana republican john kennedy questioning matthew petersen at a senate judiciary committee confirmation hearing earlier this month. >> have you ever tried a jury trial? >> i have not. >> civil? >> no. >> criminal? >> no. >> state or federal court? >> i have not. >> have you ever taken a deposition? >> i was involved in taking depositions. amy: matthew petersen's withdrawal came after the judiciary committee rejected two of president trump's other nominees this month -- texas lawyer jeff mateer, who has called transgender children
evidence of "satan's plan, and blogger brett talley, who was rated "unanimously unqualified" for a judicial post by the american bar association. well, for more, we're joined by judge shira scheindlin. she served 22 years as united states district judge for the southern district of new york. she was appointed by bill clinton. she left the bench in april of last year. she's a member of the executive committee of the board of the lawyers committee for civil rights under law. her recent piece published in thguardian is helined "trump's new am of dges wil radically change american society." she also has a recent op-ed piece in "the new york times." judge scheindlin, thank you for joining us. talk about what is happening now with the federal judiciary. right now. happening as you already said, at record speed. you mentioned 12 circuit judges have been confirmed.
the previous high was three,and obama got three circuit judges confirmed in his first year. so we're seeing a rapid effort to pack the courts with what can only be termed a very conservative judges and justices. we have one supreme court justice and everybody pays a lot of attention to that, but the reality is, the lower courts is where the action is. circuit courts, they write 60,000 opinions. 62.eme court right the final word in most cases is that the appellate level. the trial court write several hundred thousand opinions per year. 170e are a total of about nine circuit judges throughout the country. 677 district court judges. as you know, supreme court vacancies are very rare. so if those lower courts become filled with very conservative judges them all of whom have life tenure and will serve 30 to
40 years, then the impact of these appointments will last for decades. and the judges he has big are not going to be friendly to abortion rights, gay rights, affirmative action, voting rights. so many issues that affect so many people on a daily basis. anti-regulation -- just so many subject matters that will change when these folks become the majority on the various appellate and district courts. juan: you have written that thesenot only rushed apartments, but has seated the selection of the judges to the federal society and heritage foundation. >> that seems true. those are the go to sources that he uses to find qualified, in his view qualified, candidates for the federal courts. so when he wants to find people who think as he thinks or who will become judges in the mold he would like to see, he goes to those sources to find the
candidates. obviously, does not vet them too well. a couple of them have no business on any trial court or any appellate court because they have no judicial experience whatsoever, no courtroom experience. amy: in today's "new york times," reverend bishop william barber, co-chairman of the poor people's campaign, wrote about trump's nomination of thomas alvin farr, a protege of jesse helms, to serve on the united states district court for the eastern district of north carolina. barber writes about farr's connections to white supremacist causes and writes -- "mr. farr's former law partner, thomas ellis, was mr. helms's top deputy for decades. he also served as a director of the nazi-inspired, pro-eugenics pioneer fund and used funding from that organization to create and bankroll a network of interlocking organizations to support mr. helms and other political candidates who espoused the notion of a superior white race and opposed civil rights." barber went on to write --
"african-americans seeking to have their rights protected under federal law have much to fear if mr. farr takes the bench. this is particularly the case in the eastern district of north carolina, which covers an area where about half of the state's african-american residents live and is often referred to as its black belt." now those are the words of william barber, the well-known civil rights activist. judge scheindlin, can you talk about mr. farr and the significance of trump's choice? >> i can little bit. i wrote about him also in my "new york times" of that but in a much room used -- much induced aspect. the same out many of things. one fact i also pointed out is president bush had nominated mr. farr in 2006, but he did not go through. even then, congress said, "no way this person should not be on the federal bench.
12 years laterck and suddenly he is going to be acceptable you go what has changed? what has changed? we don't have the filibuster rule. this is very important to explain. it used to take 60 votes, but now takes only a bare majority. that changed under the democrats in 2013, but they had to do it. they had to use that nuclear option because their picks for being blocked in the senate. while they knew they did that at their own peril and it would come back to hot them, there are many who believe human if they had not done it, it would be done now. republicans would do the same thing. so six of the trump judges have already been confirmed with far less than 60 votes. they never would have been confirmed before. and that is going to happen with farr. another thing i would say, it is a district court nominee, the lowest court, the trial court. thankfully, right now, he is not being nominated for an appellate court. it would not surprised me if he's confirmed in the next two
or three years, that will put him up for the circuit court. i've no doubt about that. this is a person who does not belong on the federal bench. to views are unacceptable the vast majority of americans. that is a problem with the trump picks, they're simply not mainstream people. they are extremists. this man is an extremist who doesn't belong on the federal bench. he does not understand fairness, justice, and he will turn the clock back. he was a great supporter of north carolina's voters suppression law, which the circuit reversed and set it targeted with him was surgical decision against black voters. this is a dangerous person to put on the bench. juan: one of the things you have raised is in the past, even though there is always been partisan voting in the senate on these judges, there was always a that anderstanding person has to be qualified. now we're seeing a record number of people who are deemed unqualified by the american bar
association. your sense of that? >> there are two things to say. while presidents always be people who reflect their own values, there is a lot of consensus. there was a lot of bipartisan support. most district court nominees were approved in the 90's. 90 votes, 95, 93, 90-something. the vast majority were approved bipartisan for the district courts. i'm sure my own boat was in the 90's when i was approved by congress. we did not see votes of 51. we did not even see 16. people were approved because there was consensus in the home state senators had a role. their tried and do that. so things have changed remarkably now. there is no bipartisanship. it is strictly partisan lines voting on a number of these people. amy: for people who are not judges or lawyers, can you explain the difference between the district court, the appeals court, what it means to be a federal judge like yourself, a state judge, and what are the
cases each one hears? that is a lot of questions at once. i will try to straighten that out. the federal court hears but civil and criminal cases, but that involve federal laws or the constitution. the state courts to local things like local crime, domestic relationships, wills, real estate, housing, landlord-tenant work. so let's turn back to the federal courts. first of all, the federal courts are lifetime appointments. they're not elected. their appointed by each president. people do tend to stay 30 years on average. cases on therorism criminal side. they hear political corruption cases. they hear narcotics, drug cases, but so do the state court so that can be a little bit of both. but they have a broader focus on the criminal side. on the civil side of course,
they hear civil rights cases that arise under the constitution. as you know, i have handled some of those myself over the years. it is a very different court. you ask me to extend the trial and appellate courts. the trial courts, which we call the lowest court, the district court, he doesn't mean we are lowly, just means we are first. the district court's try the cases. the case is filed and tried there. the district court really sets the stage. i think it is the best job of all. amy: that is for you served. theou get to write first opinion. the circuit or reviews what you did, but they can only deal with the record you created. they sit on top of you and they review what you do. before, they write maybe 60,000 decisions in the 355r courts write maybe thousand. from there, you could to the supreme court, but only extremely rarely since they average between 65 and 80 cases
a year now. imagine the odds of ever being heard in the supreme court. really the courts of appeals are the last stop. there are 13 of them. when president obama took office, 10 of those 13 had a majority of republican appointed judges. but when he left, only four were appointed.publican he shifted the balance of the court. what we're going to see now is a shift back. so this rapid effort to get circuit judges confirmed, that is what president trump has done more than any 12 have been confirmed to the circuit court, is to shift the balance as fast as possible. amy: when we come back from break, we're going to ask about some of your cases like the very well known stop and frisk case in new york and the other judges that or the nominees that you are concerned about. judge shira scheindlin is former u.s. district judge for the southern district of new york or she served 22 years. this is democracy now! back with her, then
amy: the groups longtime dj hip-hop high near -- high near died last friday the age of 51. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. our guest is the former district shira scheindlin is a former is district judge. i wanted ask about something else. in january 2014, bill de blasio announced the city would drop its appeal of a ruling by a u.s. district court that found the controversial police policy of stop-and-frisk unconstitutional
and settle an ongoing lawsuit. mayor de blasio delivered the news at a community center in brownsville, brooklyn, a predominantly african-american community that's had more stop-and-frisks than any other part of the city. >> we begin -- believe in ending the stop and frisk that has a fairly targeted african-american and latino men. we believe in our obligation, the most fundamental one that there is in government, to keep people safe. and strategies that keep people safe. and that really give us laughi g safety. they're not compatible with the stop and frisk policy. blasio.t is bill de was appointedin
by president bill clinton. she is a member of the executive committee of the board of the lawyers committee for civil rights under law. this was a huge decision. the number of black and brown, usually men, 700,000 more year, a kind of initiation as they became 10, 11, 12, 13 years old. talk about your decision. was the mostll, it important decision i wrote in all of those years. it was a very, very major case because it affected the lives of so many hundreds of thousands of new yorkers. i put many years into that case and study the problem deeply. what was very satisfying about that cases that i found the stop and frisk effort, as practiced, was unconstitutional. you can makes, stops and frisks, but only in accordance with the constitution. not say you can't do it, but you have to do a constitutionally. it was not being done
constitutionally, in my view, it was down with racial profiling. so hundreds of thousands of said,black and, as you were stopped. it is a big thing to be stopped and frisk. we don't realize it because i'm not likely, and probably neither of you, are likely to be stopped and frisk. it is an intrusion and often goes bad. when you think of the young black men who have been shot because a stop went bad. it is a dangerous thing to be stopped and you can often end up with an arrest. by 97% as aopped result of my ruling. it went down from 700,000 to less than 50,000 with no rise crime. and that is the satisfying part because had crime gone shooting up as been mayor and police commissioner predicted, people would have said, it is your fault. but it didn't happen that way. juan: one of the amazing things i remember, i was still working as a columnist at "the daily news," i was surprised by the of mayor bloomberg's
administration and commissioner ray kelly at the time to attempt to discredit you, the judge. they actually tried to get stories planted in the local press attacking you. >> absolutely. i saw that coming. when the plaintiff's lawyer said, we no longer want to have a jury, we want to have a nonjury trial, so we're dropping our claims for damages, said "oh, no, they're going to attack the judge, whatever the judge rules. you're better off with the jury because that is the voice of the people." they said "we just want us what is called equitable release. we want you to try the case." i knew i was going to be in the crosshairs of the mayor and the police commissioner, and i was. there were stories planted it were basically untrue and the since they were so slanted, so unrealistic. you can jigger any statistics, and they did. they went after me before the decision, during the trial, and after the decision. and it was not a pleasant
experience. amy: i want to go to what candidate donald trump said when he was running, calling for a nationwide stop and frisk program at a town hall meeting hosted by fox news. this is town hall participant ricardo simms questioning trump. >> there's been a lot of violence in the black community. i wanted to know, what would you do to help stop that violence camino, black on black crime? mr. trump: one of the things i would do is i would do stop and frisk. i think you have to. we did it in new york. it worked incredibly well. you have to be proactive. you really help people sort of change their mind. you understand. you have to have -- in my opinion, i see what is going on here and in chicago. i think stop and frisk -- in new york city, it was so incredible the way it worked. we had a very good mayor. new york city was incredible the way that worked. i think that would be once of you could do. amy: it was so incredible,
candidate from said, who is now become president trump. this was after your ruling. also, the news today is that the murder rate in new york as the lowest it has ever been since record-keeping began. judge scheindlin, are you single president trump is attempting to do? >> in my saying -- amy: have you seen -- welcome he is talking about a federal stop and frisk. >> it showed his ignorance. he raise this in the presidential debate, the first debate. he attacked me personally. he said, oh, she was a terrible judge. she ended this wonderful policy. a did that nationally in presidential debate. he showed his ignorance. he has no control over local police policies. federal law or federal authority don't control local police. so he can't institute a national
stop and frisk policy. and he did not know that. i thought an effort to begin was frankly being coached by rudy giuliani, the former mayor. he is repeating lines that giuliani had fed him. former mayor giuliani came into that appeal with michael mukasey when it was the power of giuliani and mccain see that really caused the state to be thated -- michael mukasey really caused the state to be granted. it was a bad policy, not effective law enforcement, as we now know. with a drop of 97% and no rising crime and the lowest murder rate, it obviously wasn't deterring crime. it was alienating the community from the police. and that is the last thing you want. the community said, i would not talk to the police of i saw crime in progress. i would not help them. now we're trying to work together, the police and the community. that is effective law enforcement. so it is ineffective. he is just wrong. left the bench, as you
mentioned, it is a lifetime appointment, but you left the bench at a relatively early age for a judge. could you talk about what you're doing now? >> that is a pleasure. thank you for that question. i left because i had done it for a long time and i felt i made an impact in many areas of the law, and it was time to have a different life. one thing i wanted was to be up to speak out. i wanted to write and speak. this is the kind of opportunity i now have. you pointed out a couple of the op-ed's. i think i had six in the first 18 months. i've had the pleasure of speaking on programs like this, which is important because you reach hundreds of thousands of viewers. i want them to understand the federal courts. i want them to understand the affect of this president's appointment. if the majority changes in the wrote, we may not see confirmations in the second two years of the first -- amy: let's go back to some of the judges you're concerned
about that your written about. damien shift from the lawyer for the libertarian pacific legal foundation, nominated to the court of federal claims which primarily hears is seeking damages from the government. right up withou the supreme court justice anthony kennedy a judicial prostitute." >> right, he has. this is not the kind of person that one would want to give life tenure to on a federal bench. he also said that the courts ruling on affirmative action, which only permitted race to be considered -- consideration in college admissions, was as bad as the decision in dred scott, which upheld the slave laws were class or plessy burke's through, or one that the interment of japanese americans. he equated ballinger which merely said a college can consider a with these terrible decisions.
this man does not seem to me to be qualified or has the right to permit to be on the federal bench. and if another, mark north, suggesting that being muslim is synonymous with being a terrorist. >> i can only turn back to you and say, can you imagine to take a whole group of people, a nationality, and accuse all of them in one sentence of being terrorists? are he is saying, if you muslim, which is a religion that affects millions, maybe billions of people around the world, they can't all be terrorists. but he equates them. is that the kind of person we distinctions and decisions that a judge has to make? does not sound at which a me. amy: i want to ask about john bush. john bush overwhelmingly confirmed on party lines while blogging under pseudonym in 2008 you wrote -- "you compare the dred scott decision to roe v. wade saying both rely on similar reasoning and activist justices in that
slavery and abortion are the two greatest tragedies in our country." >>'s confirmation was 51 to 47. you have seen that split before. you saw it on the tax ill a week ago. we are seeing straight partyline voting. again, a person who would equate abortion and slavery is simply mixed up and not qualified. i don't know how else to phrase it. i find it personally offensive that someone of that view would the united states court of appeals, probably for the next 20 or 30 years. amy: finally, so-called judges. president judge -- >> president trump. amy: president trump referring to the so-called judges. >> i have never been speechless, and it almost reads me speechless to think a president of the united states would treat a branch of government in that way and call federal judges who sok so hard, by a large are
decent and committed to their work, so-called when honestly, these are fine people who take their job seriously. i think the vast majority really want to do justice and do in a very fair and equal manner. so that was an outrageous,. amy: judge shira shanley, thanks for joining us -- judge scheindlin, thanks for joining us. when we come back, the first latina city council speaker of new york city. we will be joined by melissa mark-viverito. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
agenda -- speaker melissa mark-viverito. the second most powerful post in city government. her term winds down at the end of this year due to term limits. she gave her farewell address last week. >> 12 years ago when i was first sworn in as the first latina, the first puerto rican to represent my district of east harlem and the bronx, i try to process what that all meant. i was a labor organizer, , not aty activist politician. but i knew as a councilmember i had a real chance to be a voice for all of those in our city. for too long who have been cast beside. everything will new yorkers who felt there was more to be done to make a great city more responsive, fair, and just for our people. amy: melissa mark-viverito was first elected to new york city council in 2005 and was named
speaker in 2014. during her time as speaker, the council expanded living-wage requirements, established a city bail fund and a municipal identification card for undocumented immigrants, limited cooperation between immigration authorities and the city's police and jails, also funded free legal advice for immigrants in detention who face deportation. during her tenure, she also got mayor bill de blasio to agree to close new york's notorious rikers island jail. talk more about this and where she plans to go next, we are joined in studio now by speaker melissa mark-viverito. her term ends at the end of the year. welcome back to democracy now! >> it is a pleasure. amy: what are you most proud of in this last slew of bills -- was this the largest number of laws that have been passed in any city council in the country in one. ? i served asur years
speaker, we passed about 700 pieces of legislation. i think some people have been critical of that number, but i think what it demonstrates is the kind of leadership style that i have. i was in when i came into the council, i wanted to be a member focused body. that before have been very speaker-driven, speaker-focused. my interest was to be more collaborative with my colleagues and let them define what their priorities work, and work with them to facilitate that. i am proud. in terms of the scope of work, we've done so much. it has been humbling to leave this body and venus position. the work of done on immigration and the work i've done with regressed a criminal justice reform would be the two areas i would a i am most proud in terms of the legacy and the amount of ofk we have done in each those areas. juan: i want to ask about criminal justice reform. clearly, there were a slew of different bills passed during your time as speaker. i would think the most important was the commission that you established to review the situation with rikers island and
its stunning report. i've always said to people, read , which ission report really an analysis of that mass incarceration system in this country also but specifically, new york city. i was stunned by the power of the report and then you're able to get the report -- the mayor who was not willing to go along with us at first, to move. if you could talk about that? >> we cannot govern in a vacuum. part of my leadership style is that we have to really have voices, diverse voices at the table on any given issue, and really figure out what is the best path. the commission was led by judge lipman, but convened of a wide range of voices on the issue of incarceration and the issue of reforming our jail system or criminal justice system. the commission worked for about a year and really deliberated on we can close rikers island down. and do a more community-based
approach of jail system. that is what the commission basically said. the commission said there is a path in a way to close rikers therefore, i supported that. i convene a commission and supported that. i was able to been facilitate a point where everybody basically is around the position. i want to thank the advocates. they really wanted to raise the voice about this. we have a path in the commission really does lay out the path of how we can arrive at that point. juan: can you share some of the conversation with the mayor to get him to go along with this? >> it is hard when have people who have such experience and understanding of this issue there is a way to do it. now is the timeline. how quickly can we get a shutdown? 10 years or shortening the timeline? definitely -- .my: explain what rikers is what is this island and what is -- it is not one jail. is a jail system.
the vast majority who are there are people who are waiting for trial dates. 80% oft majority, about the people to 85% of the people are people who cannot pay bail because they're too poor, therefore, they stay in rikers longer than they need to. the example we unfortunately use as what is wrong with the system rowd, a young man accused ofer stowing a backpack and not being able to pay bail, was in rikers for three years. the horror of living that -- it is a violent and inhumane place. it is very removed and isolated from the family and your networks. that young man once he left rikers island, because of the experience, broke them down and he committed suicide. amy: he was beaten by guards and other prisoners. he kept saying "i can't say that i stole this backpack in a plea agreement because i didn't." >> that is an example of what is
wrong with the system, which is made up of multiple jails. the approach of the independent commission is, first, we have to change laws and change our approach to policing and incarceration in general. we can get the population to a point where we can go to the community-based models were people should be able to await their trial dates or if you are in jail for a year or less if you have some sort of time they have to spin in jail, you can do it closer to your family or they can visit you, talk about other ways of having people complete their time. we have to look and reinvention the way we do incarceration in the city and how we approach criminal justice in general. the commission is something i'm very proud of. amy: how did you get bill de blasio to do it? >> my style is engage in conversation. judge lipman and i had several conversations with the mayor and we arrived at a point where i was happy -- he also came on the governor never
but he also. we can focus on implementing whatever policies we have to to make sure we can fast track that and get to a point where we can go to this community have a-based approach and not have rikers island, which is so symbolic of everything that is wrong with our criminal justice system. mention judge lipman participated in some of the conversations. people outside new york do not realize he is not an ordinary judge. he is the former chief judge of the court of appeals, new york state's highest court. i think we have a selection of quote from the report we might be able to get on that in the closing of rikers island, judge littman wrote -- "closing rikers island is far more than a symbolic gesture. it is an essential step toward a more effective and more humane criminal justice system. we must replace our current model of mass incarceration with something that is more effective and more humane -- state-of-the-art facilities located closer to where the courts are operated in civic centers in each borough." one of the complaints you heard
from many communities is rikers island, because it was isolated with only one road coming in, it was very difficult for family members even in the city to visit their relatives who were incarcerated. >> i have gone to rikers. he can take you a full day. getting there is difficult. it then having to wait to be able to see the person. it is -- it ends up people sometimes do not get visited because it is so difficult and onorous. people have to take off work. we have done video visitation programs. we have done things as the city council and invested in initiatives to try to bring more humanity into and inhumane system. at the end of the day, we will be closing rikers island down. now to try to fast-track this, to have it happen before 10 years, to really look at how -- who gets arrested, who is held.
the issue of bail. image and the veil fined. people too poor to pay bail, and access to a fund so they can leave and wait for the court date. we have to dwindle the population down to a point where we can go to a community-based approach. the community facilities, like, we already have the support of the council members were these would be. some of the facilities already exist, they just have to be renovated. talk about a new state-of-the-art jail system. there is support we have been able to garner in order to get to a point where we could maybe move this on a quicker path. amy: let's go to war legislation. the city council voting for a slew of bills in these waning days of your cities are shipped come almost 40 pieces of legislation. this is our guest speaker melissa mark-viverito speaking about one of those hills last week. >> and finally, what is commonly known the right to know act. introduction 182d would require all sworn police officers in
play by the nypd offer a business card to an individual during certain police interaction. i give reason for the law enforcement activity. amy: that was melissa mark-viverito speaking ahead of the vote on the right to know act last week. i also went to play, from jumaane williams noted concerns raised by criminal justice reform advocates about its limitations. >> as a police officer asked me for my id and asked where i am going, that is not -- that is not a criminal stop. they will not give me a card under this bill. amy: the right to know act also drawing opposition from the police largest union. talk about exactly what is said. has been an issue we have been discussing for many years. there were two bills. basically, as indicated, in the clip, it is about giving
identification, giving a card to people that have an interaction with police officers. we believe this is a major step forward. councilmember torres was a sponsor of the bill has held the bill for four years, extensive negotiations that included the advocates, included the police department, it included the administration and us, obviously and a lot of back-and-forth on it. he arrived at a point where he felt he was comfortable with, felt it was a step forward. he felt it was a way of moving the police department in a direction originally had not wanted to go in. it is a big step forward. i give praise to richie for how he worked on this bill. some of the advocates are not pleased with it. to bes their right unhappy if they choose to be. but i believe as the leader that we worked with richie and that he was able to move something forward and advance a reform that we have been discussing for many, many years. that interactions with police,
they will have to give an id card that has their name, their number, has the precinct they are affiliated with. is notng that is -- being done. juan: another issue, in march, attorney general jeff sessions announced that cities applying for grants will have to certify they are not providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. >> today, i am urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws, sectiong eight usc 1373. moreover, the department of justice will require that jurisdiction seeking are applying for department of justice grants to certify compliance for 1373 as they -- as a condition of receiving those awards. juan: that was attorney general jeff sessions. this issue of sanctuary cities, when i've said repeatedly, is in
the local governments new york city and others around the country are on a collision course with the federal government over how you deal with undocumented immigrants. i am wondering your response to how you -- what you have crafted in the city council and with the mayor in terms of responding to the trump administration on this issue? very disturbing. you were talking to the judge earlier, my respect greatly. when we talk about whole cloth, how certain communities are being described by this administration, the immigrants are all takers or immigrants are all criminals, reporting that we have the lowest crime rates historically in the city of new york. that says something in terms of the way that we, right from interact with our community's. participateyone to to make our city safe. we know the vast majority of to readingare akin positively to our society in the city of new york. we of been a welcoming city.
we are not breaking any laws. just because you choose a.g. sessions and trump to whole cloth say immigrants opal on here and your racist and you want to imitate -- and limit those policies doesn't mean we as a city are going to implement them. we believe that we are a welcoming city and we support those who want to help us build this city. we're the lowest crime rates and we are proving them wrong in terms of the facts. take a choose to course that is putative, then they choose to go that route. they may not be allowed to do what they are threatening to do. again, everything we have in place is making us a safe city. people can step out of the shadows and help us, inform us of crimes or anything may have any knowledge of. i am very proud of the work that this council has done. i'm very proud of my stance in
defending the city of new york to do what it needs to do. juan: created avail fund for undocumented immigrants facing deportation. can you talk about that? "the daily news" has criticized it saying it would even provide bill support for terrorists. but the reality is committed someone is accused of terrorism at the -- they don't have money to pay for an attorney anyway. >> this is people have representation. we had an evaluation of that program and demonstrated there is someone -- people can have the right to ask -- to be a you know, represented and the results -- and some cases people even have status and don't even know it. can they go to court, they really find out whether or not they have status. they're able to make the case. it is up to the courts to decide whether or not it is granted. at least people have representation and have the ability to make a case. find has been modeled
-- bill fund has been modeled and other cities have look to replicate it. it was a pilot program the year before i became speaker and a fully funded it in the first year i was speaker to really allow everybody in opportunity to have representation. amy: you were also arrested under, well, this year, for protesting around daca outside from's residents? >> yes, along with commerzbank congressd others -- member to iteris and others. we are against the policies being presented. daca continues to be a conversation. we have young people losing their status in terms of what daca provides. teachers and service workers in some ways. this is atrocious what is happening to our country. we're going to protest it. i will continue to protest it as i leave office. it is an issue i felt passionate about and i will advocate. amy: let's talk about puerto
rico. more than three month after hurricane maria battered puerto rico, about one third of the island remains without power in what is by far the longest blackout in modern u.s. history. officials saying it will be restored, power, in some cases until the end of may. many supporting christmas in the dark. >> we still don't have power even three months after the hurricane. we are living without light. we are living off of a generator. when we don't have money for gasoline, we're making do with batteries with little battery-powered decorations for the tree because us puerto ricans are very family oriented and we like to celebrate everything. amy: you have also -- you went home since the storm. what do you think needs to be done? have you considered running for governor of puerto rico or new york? >> my mother just got power yesterday. juan: my sister still doesn't have power. amy: really?
>> what is happening to puerto rico is terrible. this tax bill is going to make it worse. an economy that was already fragile because of the emergency and fiscal crisis now is going to be made worse when you have 12.5% tax on products that are coming in, products that are manufactured on the island that are being brought mainland are going to be taxed. potentially, we could lose 200,000 jobs. the issue puerto rico is definitely not a priority on anyone's agenda -- it is not on anyone's agenda. this congress is demonstrating it is turning its back. there's work to be done. i want to help. i want to give my time and leadership on this issue. i think i can best do that on the mainland here, so i don't see myself running for office on the island. i would -- there is a lot of support coming from philanthropy and other entities. i want to figure out a way i can best serve and be able to help build an agenda down puerto rico
get back on track. it has to be an agenda that is defined by the people of puerto rico. we have to have people on the ground helping to find what that future looks like. i want to figure out what that is. i don't know right now. it is such an overwhelming task. they're so much work to do. we have to advocate to congress. we're great leadership in some of our representatives, but obviously, republicans are not listening. i have to figure out the best way to do. amy: have you considered running for the governor of new york? >> no. amy: mayor? to figurefour years out. there are going to be positions to be available. amy: congress, senate? >> i am not closing any doors. i think of done a great job. i have a great track record. i would like to continue to serve the city in whatever capacity i can best do that. amy: melissa mark-viverito mistake of the new york city council. that does it for our broadcast. democracy now! accepting
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