By Gloria J. Browne-Marshall
Gloria J. Browne-Marshall: This is “Law of the Land.” The relationship between the prosecutor and the police department is so close. That same prosecutor who is so efficient in getting indictments and charging papers for civilian upon civilian crimes becomes completely inept when a police officer is a defendant. We have too many rogue cops that other police officers know are rogue cops.
A police officer had no basis for the arrest of George Floyd. There was no probable cause. There had been no investigation. We had the word of a non-Black person that George Floyd had passed a suspicious $20 bill. This ended in a death. Think about the past terrorism suffered by people in those communities at the hands of this officer. We know that there’s been destruction, violence and protests that have come out of the pain and the anguish. This should have been a time to be in solidarity, together, in our misery. But we can’t even be miserable together. My guest Dr. Gail Garfield, a sociologist, lived in Minnesota.
Gail Garfield: Minnesota likes to present itself as being extremely liberal on social and political issues. But undergirding all of that has always been racial tension.
Browne-Marshall: Your book is “Through Our Eyes: African American Men’s Experiences of Race, Gender and Violence.” In what context would you place the murder of George Floyd?
Garfield: We were brought here in chains. Our whole history here has been the violence that has been imposed upon us. We’re talking about police violence against not only black men, but also black women.
Browne-Marshall: What should Minnesota Gov. Walz have known about any type of uprising or riot or protest, peaceful or otherwise, involving George Floyd’s murder?
Garfield: There have always been agent provocateurs that have been very opportunistic around Black protests. In the Civil Rights Movement, we have seen it in the Black Power Movement of the late 1960s. We have seen it in the Black Lives Matter Movement. Some of those provocateurs have been Black and have been agents of the state.
Browne-Marshall: Whether it’s the white supremacist groups, the agent provocateurs, the Russians, what is it they’re attempting to do in infiltrating George Floyd’s protests?
Garfield: They’re pressing their own agenda. The consequences undermine and sabotage our efforts in our struggle for racial and economic justice.
Browne-Marshall: Our next guest is Manuel Gomez, a private investigator and champion of the people, highlighted in the award-winning documentary film “Crime + Punishment.” What about reform of the Prosecutor’s powers?
Manuel Gomez: George Floyd represents a nation of harassment and physical abuse that our society is being subjected to by these corrupt law enforcement officials. Not all cops are bad. They’re not. But the problem is, they got a motto: to get along, you have to go along. Trying to vent frustration burning cars, that’s not the way to do it. We must attack with legislation. Attack them at the senate. Make judicial change. Change the law. We need a new agency. I wrote a piece of legislation called the Department of Civilian Justice, which will investigate cops.
When I was out there working as a private investigator in this pandemic, I got attacked while trying to get an affidavit. Thank God I had it on film. I was in Queens Central Booking for 30 hours (New York City). It was a house of horror. It was people screaming to see the judge, who’d been there 100 hours. We’re supposed to see the judge at 72 hours in this country. People screaming for toilet paper. Cells filled with blood. Mold growing out of the toilet. No toilet seats. No privacy, men and women jammed up in cells, like cattle, coughing on each other, and spit. And slime. Nothing is being done to stop this pandemic. Jails have become a house of injustice. A house of horror.
Browne-Marshall: And when people are released, they go back to their families, having had the virus contracted within the lockup.
Gomez: It’s dehumanizing. But the people in jail, who’s defending them?
Browne-Marshall: We can be Weekend Warriors.
Gomez: Now I understand why these are people flipping cars. Because, now, I’ve been in their shoes. Now, I understand.
Browne-Marshall: African Americans have been disproportionately policed, disproportionately criminalized throughout American history. They have had enough of a criminal injustice system. Help this country heal, by helping this country understand the history of injustice. Inform yourself, empower yourself. Take care of yourself.
Gloria J. Browne-Marshall is a writer, professor of constitutional law at John Jay College (CUNY), author of “Race, Law, and American Society: 1607 to Present,” and playwright. She hosts “Law of the Land with Gloria J. Browne-Marshall” on WBAI 99.5FM, wbai.org. Full programs on: ‘Law of the Land’ podcast and YouTube. Ian Farmer and Andres Estevez assisted in transcribing this radio interview. Gloria is working on her debut novel of historical fiction. Twitter: @gbrownemarshall.