This week, Jeremi and Zachary are joined by Professor Vida Johnson to discuss policing in America and the types of checks and balances required by a justice system.
Zachary sets the scene with his poem: “Prayer of the Unjustly Imprisoned”
Vida Johnson is an associate professor of law at Georgetown University. Prior to joining Georgetown, she was a supervising attorney in the Trial Division at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), where she worked for eight years. At PDS Ms. Johnson was assigned to the most serious cases at the “Felony One” level, and her experience included numerous trials in D.C. Superior Court representing indigent clients facing charges including homicide, sexual assault, and armed offenses. Ms. Johnson’s responsibilities at PDS also included supervising other trial attorneys and serving as one of the agency’s two representatives to the D.C. Superior Court Sentencing Guidelines Commission. She recently published “Policing and the Siege of the United States Capitol” in Lawfare (16 June 2022):
This episode was mixed and mastered by Karoline Pfeil.
- Vida JohnsonAssociate Professor of Law, Georgetown University
This is democracy, a podcast about the people of the United States, a podcast about citizenship, about engaging with politics and the world around you. A podcast about educating yourself on today’s important issues and how to have a voice in what happens next. Welcome to our new episode of this is democracy.
After a short summer break, we are back to our weekly routine. Is it good to be back Zachary? Definitely. And today we are taking on, I think what is, uh, one of the biggest and most complicated issues in our society? One that I think underpin. All of our political conflicts, all of our social conflicts today, one way or another.
And it’s the issue of inequality in our criminal justice system, the United States, as most of our listeners [00:01:00] know, and as we’ve talked about in prior podcasts is a country that imprisons more people than any of our other, uh, Democratic industrial peers. We’re also a country that has a long, long history of, uh, inequality, racism, uh, and other injustices and inequities in the ways that we handle criminal justice.
And by some accounts, those inequities have become worse in recent years. Uh, we’re joined. Today by, uh, a scholar and practitioner who has, has spent, uh, much of her career, both dealing with these issues as, as a, uh, lawyer and studying them, uh, as a scholar, this is Vita Johnson. She’s an associate professor of law at Georgetown university.
And, uh, prior to joining Georgetown, she was a supervising attorney in the trial division at the, uh, public defender service, uh, for the district of Columbia. Uh, [00:02:00] and, uh, there, she was assigned some of the most serious cases in what are known as the felony one level. Uh, her experiences included numerous trials in DC, superior court, representing indigent clients, facing charges, including homicides, sexual assault, and many other, uh, armed defenses, uh, Vita.
Responsibilities have included supervising various other trial attorneys and serving as one of the agency’s representatives to the DC superior court on sentencing guidelines. So she spent a lot of time thinking about and debating these issues at Georgetown. She’s been writing about these issues as well, and we will include, uh, with today’s podcast, a link to a recent, very powerful piece.
Uh, That Vita wrote for, uh, law fair, uh, called policing and the siege of the United States. Capital Vita. Thank you for joining us today. Thank you so much for having me, uh, before we get into our discussion, uh, with professor Vita Johnson, we have of course, uh, Mr. [00:03:00] Zachary’s scene setting poem. Uh, what’s the title of your poem today?
Prayer of the unjustly imprisoned. Let’s hear it. Behind Swedish draperies, we waltz and waltz. We hold each other in a cold and empty room. We can feel each other’s hearts, his pulse, his pulse. We weave our days carefully threads upon a loom. In the window, the sun shines today. Each day we look up from the iron depths and watch the light.
We ask the same thing. Come, what may that it may still be shining when we leave warm and bright. Ask me who is innocent or right. Or right. That they have told us, this is freedom when it’s hate that it doesn’t matter who is right, or right. Just keep the truth hidden here, rotting in the crate behind Swedish draperies, we waltz and waltz.
They don’t look at [00:04:00] us at all. We will bloom. They think that we’re missing, that they win false and false. They’ll disappear into the earth. We will bloom. Wow, that’s powerful. Zachary. Uh, what is your poem about? My poem is about, really about, uh, two things. First of all, the experience of the unjustly imprisoned, the, the terror of, of, of being imprisoned either for a crime that you didn’t commit or being imprisoned for an unjust length of time in unjust conditions for a crime, one did commit and twofold that, uh, the society, uh, uh, of, of the United States today uses.
Prison, uh, in order to hide the poverty and, uh, our own failings, um, and, uh, instead of using prison as a way to, uh, improve our society, we use it as a way to ignore the bigger problems that we face and we leave the true culprits, the true injustice unanswered. Hmm. Hmm. Uh, [00:05:00] Vita, before we talk about, um, your recent writings on many of these issues, your, your impressions of Zachary’s, uh, assertions.
Oh, I could, could not agree more. Absolutely. And I think, um, part of the conversation we’ll have about policing, um, also highlight some of the issues, um, that we’re discussed in the. Great. So, so I, I, I thought we’d start actually with this really powerful, recent article you wrote about January 6th, many of us, um, are thinking a lot about that day following not only the horror of what happened, but then of course, the, the hearings that, that have been, uh, major part of political discussion, uh, through the early part of the summer.
And, and you argue that. The heroic narrative about the capital police is, is really only part of the story that there’s much more there, especially related to deeper issues of injustice in the criminal justice system. Can, can you [00:06:00] summarize some of your S for us in that sense? Sure. Um, but before we get started, I just wanna.
Say a couple of things. Um, I’m absolutely gonna say some things that are critical of police, but I wanna say that I think the vast majority of people who get into policing do so for all the right reasons. Um, and before we jump right into January 6th, I wanna just lay the backdrop that I think probably all of your listeners, you know, but maybe, um, haven’t really thought about in the context of January 6th and that’s that police are entrusted with a lot of power.
We give them weapons, we give them access to sensitive informa information and they get specialized training to use against. they’re neighbors, right? They’re the only Americans authorized to use force legally against other Americans. So it’s a lot of power and it’s a lot of responsibility and we shouldn’t give [00:07:00] this kind of power and responsibility to people who lack the critical thinking skills or ability to address threats adequately.
And unfortunately, I think what we saw on January 6th, um, Shows that, that there are police officers who aren’t really thinking clearly about, um, a lot of things going on in modern American life. Um, and so I, I think it’s against that backdrop that, that we should think about January 6th. So in the, both in the law fair article, um, that you’ve mentioned, and also a, a longer law.
Piece that I wrote and published in the Brooklyn law review. I make the argument that American policing was complicit on what happened on January 6th and four different ways. The first is that the capital police didn’t adequately prepare for what was going to happen on January 6th, [00:08:00] because they underestimated the threat that.
White Trump supporting crowd was to them. Um, and that’s unfortunately due to their own implicit racial biases and keep in mind it, you know, it’s January 6th feels like yesterday, but it also feels like a long time ago. But keep in mind that in 2020 and sort of mid to late 2020, there was a lot of. Going on in American life that, um, should have been clues to what was going to happen on January 6th.
So if you remember the, um, protests that were happening around police violence and racism and policing, there were, um, a lot of militia group, far, right? Militia groups that were making themselves known at these protests across the country. And then after the November elections, there were a number of, um, militia groups and just regular, [00:09:00] ordinary armed people showing up at voting locations and at boat county locations.
So we know that there was a lot of, um, Possibility for violence in this far right crowd. But unfortunately the capital police weren’t ready for it. They didn’t have, um, the kinds of crowd control measures that they normally do for, um, big groups and other protests that had happened. Um, you know, recently, uh, back then, um, you know, there weren’t, um, Aerosols, they could use to disperse the crowd, the police officers weren’t in riot gear, so they didn’t have head protection.
Um, and so there was just a lot of ways that they could have been able to disperse the crowd. And, um, as a result of being unprepared, they ended up in hours of hand to hand, compact with Americans who were trying to overthrow the election. [00:10:00] Results. Um, this, so that’s the first way, is that the capital estimated the threat?
Yeah. So, so Vita, just on that point, uh, because I think it’s such a powerful point and I have to say until I read your piece, I hadn’t thought about it that way. What is the evidence that, that was racial bias? Not just incompetence. Well, and so do I wanna be clear on talking about implicit racial bias, so, right, right.
Um, this is not, you know, police officers who, you know, are consciously thinking racist thoughts. These are the sort of, um, it it’s, it’s sort of the. The implicit biases that all Americans and all humans have, um, to be more, um, to trust people that look like them, um, more than people who don’t. And so we know that that generally law enforcement has underestimated the threat from far right groups.
And it’s just an actually in some [00:11:00] ways, um, just natural human nature, right. We. Trust people that we can relate to more. Um, and so we know that a lot of the, a lot of law enforcement are, um, disproportionately white and there was, um, Just a, a, a group that is more likely to see this, um, this crowd as, um, non-threatening as opposed to other big protests, like the black lives matter protests that police had been policing in the summer of 2020.
Um, right. So, so as I, under, as I understand your argument, uh, because I think this is such an important argument you’re making, uh, it it’s that this first argument is that if this had been a group of, uh, African American men and women, um, coming to the capital in a similar way that the police would’ve been far more.[00:12:00]
absolutely. They would’ve, they would’ve seen them more as a threat. And there were lots of warnings from law enforcement around the country, um, from FBI field offices, um, they had ample notice that this group was going to be, um, violent and that they were looking for certain key members of, um, of Congress.
And yet the police. We’re not adequately prepared. They didn’t even have, um, normally when there’s a, a big, um, protest, they call up people who have vacation or days off planned. They didn’t do that. Um, and there’s just a lot of ways that they were unprepared for what happened on January 6th and ultimately, um, things did not get under control until the capital police called in the metropolitan police department, which is the, the main.
District of Columbia police department, but I should tell you that the capital police is actually pretty big. Um, it’s [00:13:00] about, it’s a police force, the size of the San Diego’s, um, police department. Wow. San Diego’s a big city. Wow. Um, and these are, these are about 2000 police officers to guard a couple of buildings.
So I think your question really, um, Leads into the second way that law enforcement underestimated, um, this group and that’s that they’ve been doing it for a long time. Um, Police and law enforcement generally in this country have underestimated the threat from far right groups, despite years of evidence that far right.
Extremism is one of the biggest terrorism threats that we face as a nation. Um, we know that, um, there were a lot of, um, incidents in, um, taking place in America that should have, um, You know, made law enforcement think more about the far right? [00:14:00] As, um, as being a threat, particularly on an important day, like January 6th.
I mean, as I mentioned, the, the groups of people that were at the vote counting locations, but you don’t really have there’s, there’s more evidence, um, of far right extremism before then there were, were the, um, shootings in El Paso. Um, just a few years before the shooting, the mass shooting at synagogues, both in Pittsburgh and in San Diego.
Um, the, there had been the, um, the shooting at the pulse night club in, um, Florida. There were just a number of, um, incidents that should have made law enforcement generally see the far right as a threat, but unfortunately, That hasn’t been happening for quite some time. Right. I really think until January 6th.
And [00:15:00] if, if I may ask, um, what would you say to those who would argue that, that maybe this is a cuz I think that there’s, there are many people who would at least, um, instinctually think of these as separate issues, right. At. The, uh, unpreparedness of police to respond to far right. Terrorism, as opposed to, um, uh, violence on the left and then the racial, um, inequalities within the criminal justice system.
Uh, how are those connected? Um, oh, well I think they’re, um, Very connected. Um, you know, before we talk about modern policing, there’s a long history of explicit racial bias in police departments. I mean, some of the first police departments in the United States were groups of, um, Of white men who organize themselves to police the comings and goings of enslaved people and catch, you know, what we now refer to as [00:16:00] runaway slaves.
Um, we know that police allowed lynchings to take place for, um, many, many years sometimes on the courthouse steps, um, without a single arrest being ever made for that type of racial violence that went on in this country. Um, We know that even if you just go back about 25 years, you can see, um, that there were, um, white supremacist groups in LA police departments, um, in Cleveland, Ohio in 1999, um, there were Nazi symbols found in every single precinct there.
Um, It, I mean, there’s, the list goes on and on. There were Texas, um, police officers who were recruiting, um, more officers, um, for the KKK. So there’s just a long history of racism and policing. Um, and you know, [00:17:00] there’s also just been a rise in. But racial violence in this country, really since the election of Barack Obama in 2008.
Um, so it’s, it’s really not hard to see that this sort of extreme, um, thinking about racial subordination, wouldn’t end up on police, you know, in police ranks as well. Especially when you think about how attractive policing is to, um, someone who holds that sort of explicit racial bias, right? Like you get to control the comings and goings of, um, hold communities.
Really. You get to use violence against, uh, people. Um, so it’s a, you get specialized training. It’s a, it’s a very attractive, um, Profession to people who [00:18:00] are interested in subordinating racial groups, to me, uh, uh, Vita reading your, uh, piece. It, it, it, the what, what really startled and shook me was I think it’s your third argument, right?
Which is that in fact, there was a great deal of sympathy. And maybe even, uh, encouragement for the actions of the insurrectionist or some element of that within the police forces at the time. Um, am I getting your argument right? And yeah, I think, I think you’re, I mean, so we know that there were capital police that day that were sympathetic towards the group.
There, there are a number of police officers who were investigated, um, By the Capitol police, since then we, and we’ve all seen the selfies, right. We’ve we saw on January 6th and the days that followed those images of police officers who were pausing to take pictures with the [00:19:00] insurrection. Um, so we know that there were some capital police that were sympathetic towards the group and maybe at the same political leanings, we know there was, I think it was an FBI agent who’s being prosecuted now for, um, helping some of the insurrectionists cover their tracks, um, saying, Hey, look, they’re investigating you.
You should pull, you should take down some of these social media posts. So, you know, There’s a lot of evidence that there were police officers who were, um, who facilitated the attack within the capital police. Um, it’s worth saying though that the capital police is one of the most opaque police departments.
Um, In the country. And so we actually don’t know the details of, um, some of those investigations. We don’t know, you know, whether anyone was fired or anything along those lines. Um, because, because they’re part of, um, well, the legislation that authorizes, um, [00:20:00] that, that keeps the capital from being, um, subject to FOYA, um, the capital police are also not subject to the freedom of information.
so we just have less information about them than we might about another police. And to clarify for our listeners, uh, those of us who are scholars who study these issues, one of the things we rely on is the freedom of information act in various other versions of that, that allow us at this state and federal level to get access to documents, uh, about state and federal institutions and, uh, fetus pointing out.
I didn’t know this, that the capital police are an institution. That’s very difficult to get information out. I have the sense though, that that’s true for most police forces though, is that. Um, yes and no, and it is very difficult to get information about, um, specifically police officer discipline. That’s no notoriously difficult to get information about, but capital police are extra special in that way.
We don’t even know the demographics of the capital police department. Really? Yeah. [00:21:00] Wow. Wow. So, so just sort of zooming out a little bit and, and I’m glad we started with January 6th. Um, because I think it, it allowed us to be specific and not, not platitude this in, in what we’re talking about here, but now that we have a case study, and of course there’s much more in your article that you didn’t have a chance to get to here, but zooming out what, what are the implications for thinking.
Criminal justice and policing in our society. I, I, I feel, and I think many of our listeners might feel this way too, that our debate is often a very simplistic one. Are you pro-police or anti-police and of course, of course you’re not anti-police, I’m not anti-police right, but, but there are problems there.
So, so how should we think about this? Well, I, I think this is, um, really the question, right? Um, How do we make policing better? And what are the ties that we can see? And I think really, um, The the fourth point of my article might, might help us [00:22:00] get there. And that’s that there were police officers who actually active police officers who actually attacked the capital.
Right. So we know that there were, um, officers, at least two have already been convicted for the attack of the capital and arguably attack on democracy. Um, I really think a lot about not just the officers that were at the capital building itself, but at the office about the officers who were at the rally that proceeded that, um, the, the capital C.
So, so if you think about what was happening at that rally, what they were rallying rallying to do, the point was to undo. The results of the November 20, 20 election. And so if you think about what that means, that there were, you know, dozens and dozens of police [00:23:00] officers from across the country who attended that rally.
There’s only two reasons, right? That you would go to that rally either. You legitimately believe that the election results are incorrect, right. That the, that the, the, that the election was actually stolen. So either there are officers who believe that, or there are officers who don’t think it was stolen, but they wanna overturn the valid election results.
So you have officers who are either. Delusional or they want to reverse the results of a popular elected presidential election. Right. Um, and so both options are pretty unacceptable for anyone, but particularly for public servants. And so if you think about that, I think it’s a really interesting. [00:24:00] Way to think about what’s happening in policing.
So police should be public servants, right? They get paid to keep people safe. Right. And ideally they’re supposed to be protecting everyone in our country. But unfortunately not just the, the research I I’ve done around the January 6th incident, but some of my other, um, research about explicit racial bias and policing has led me to believe that there’s an us against them mentality in policing.
Um, and so the police don’t always see themselves as the public servants that we’d like to think they are. Um, I think. Police often, um, really see themselves at war with the communities that they’re supposed to be protecting. And I think you see that a lot of different ways, not just on January 6th and not just with, um, police violence against [00:25:00] people of color.
If you think about COVID 19, anti-vaxxers on. Departments, you know, the, the police officers who just refused to get vaccinated or refused to wear mass. If you think about police officers who were Quan on followers. And then of course these January 6th election deniers, you’re, we’re talking about police that have a hard time separating fact from fiction, um, and who don’t see themselves as part of the community that they’re supposed to be.
Policing and keeping safe. Um, and, and that I think is a, is a, is a big problem for us as Americans, because like I said earlier, police are the only ones that get to use force against other Americans. Um, and we give them a lot of information. And so it’s pretty scary that we have so many officers who really don’t see themselves as, [00:26:00] um, as existing to keep us safe.
So, if I understand what you’re describing is you’re describing a group of, of public servants, uh, entrusted with far more responsibility and far more privileges than most, uh, other public servants who are for some reason, held to a lesser standard when it comes to employee culture. Health, uh, and, and, and political actions outside of the workplace.
How do we get to that point? How is it that police departments are allowed to operate in many circumstances with impunity? That’s a great question. Um, you know, there’s a, a lot of. Ways that that’s come to be. Um, I think it has become very politically UN palatable until maybe the last couple of years to question police or policing or police budgets.
And that’s allowed, um, police departments to grow [00:27:00] in size number and power. We also know that police unions are really some of the only, um, Worker unions with any power in this country. And that’s also allowed police to have a tremendous amount of job security. I mean, think about it. If you told your employer that you wanted to, you know, take a co take off a couple of days to go try to overthrow an election.
They’d probably say no. Right. And you might, your job might be at risk. Um, but you know, scores of police officers did that in January 6th. What do you see as some of the things we can do? I mean, I, I, I think the historical trajectory in some sense is obvious, as you said before, you know, police forces, uh, in many ways have an origin moment around.
The use of violence against particular communities, and they develop a certain, uh, paramilitary [00:28:00] identity in some cases, uh, and they’ve been privileged in the union structure of, of the workforce. Um, I, I, I guess many people including yourself have written about that. Um, I, the hardest question for me Vita is what do we do about it?
Uh, what’s, what’s feasible as a response. I, I, I think that’s a very difficult. Um, subject, I think it, it there’s so many problems with actually reigning this issue in because of the way our police departments are organized in this country. You know, we don’t have like one federal agency that is governing policing this country.
Instead we have, you know, a lot. Local state even county by county police department. So it’s really difficult to, um, reign in what’s happened. So I’m not, I’m not sure I have a, a great answer. Um, [00:29:00] most of my research has been focused on, um, explicit racial bias, um, on police departments and more recently.
Far right. Extremism on police departments. And I think there are ways to, um, try to get those types of officers. Off police forces. I think we need to do a far better job. It’s screening police officers, um, prospective police officers before they make it onto the force. Um, I often tell a story about an officer in little rock Arkansas, who was completely honest when he was asked if he’d ever, um, been, been a member of any, um, white supremacist organizations and he admitted.
A KKK rally when he was a teenager and the little rock Arkansas, um, police department said, oh, thanks so much for sharing with us. And they pat him on the back for, um, being [00:30:00] so forthcoming and they hired him anyway. Or he went on to kill a, a young black. Teenager in, in that city. And the only way we’ve learned about this guy’s past was because of the civil lawsuit that followed, but obviously they needed to, and we all, you know, every police firm in this country needs to do a better job of, um, keeping people like that from being police officers in the first place.
Um, but we also need to periodically check in and do background checks on officers once they’re hired, um, you know, People sometimes become more, um, um, more prone to extremism as they age. So, you know, the person you are politically in your late teens or twenties, when most police officers get hired is pretty different than who they’re gonna be, um, in their forties or in their fifties at, towards the end of their career.
And so [00:31:00] monitoring their social media, um, you know, monitoring their work emails and text messages for sort of keyword that might indicate that there’s a problem. I think that’s just common sense. And I also think this sort of monitoring of police needs to be done, not just by. Police departments. I think they need to contract with outside organizations, um, to do that kind of thing, because there is a, you know, I’m sure you’ve heard the expression that thin blue line, but there’s a, a real blue wall of silence regarding anys, um, misbehavior.
And so it’s just, it’s, it’s very common for police officers to protect one another. And so making sure that there. People who are don’t work with these individual officers who are the ones monitoring. I think those are, are both really good, um, steps in the right direction to have fewer extremists on [00:32:00] police.
Right? Well, that sounds like basic checks and balances, but I, I guess. What’s your response to the, the, the response I’ve heard from many police officers and others, um, which is that what you’re describing with being infringement on their freedom of speech? Oh, I think that’s, um, really common response and you it’s true that any American can have, um, the ability to say and do whatever they, you know, really say anything they’d like, but.
That doesn’t mean that they can be a police officer at the same time. So it’s pretty common in lots of, um, fields for certain employees to have fewer first amendment rights. We see that for federal government, um, employees, for example, and it’s definitely true for police officers as well. They don’t have the same, um, ability to share, [00:33:00] um, Political views, for example, as, as other members of our community do, but that’s, that’s a choice they made by becoming police officers.
And I think the same is true for police officers who hold extremist views. We just, they can’t be the people that we entrust with, you know, violence, weapons, and training and hold far. Right. Anti-government and, um, racist views. So, I guess the, the final question this has been, so I insightful Vita the final question I, I wanted to ask you and, and it’s a question or a form of a question we always use on the podcast.
We like to close on an optimistic note. Our goal is to use the historical and scholarly analysis of our discussion to point to opportunities, especially for our young listeners, ways that they can get involved in making change and. Scholarship and history to improve the world. Um, what are some of the positive developments you see out there?
The [00:34:00] organizations, the activities, the scholarly groups that I’m sure you’re a part of, uh, what are the things that people who are motivated and inspired by what you’ve said? And I’m sure there are many listening, uh, what are the things they can get involved in to make a difference? Well, I think the good news is January 6th laid a lot of this bear.
And I think a lot more people are interested in what’s going on with far right extremism and the threat to democracy. That that is for all of us. And that’s certainly, um, true. When you think about policing, right? If, if. If people hold a dim view of policing because police officers uphold our laws, they hold a dim view of America.
So it’s something that we all need to be critical about. And I think there’s, um, I think everyone’s just paying much more attention to that than ever before between, um, you know, The sort of racial reckoning [00:35:00] summer of 2020, and now January 6th, I think, um, there’s been a lot of eyes opened, um, across the country and I think that’s a good thing.
And I think it ultimately is a good thing for. Police. Um, and I think police should welcome this sort of, um, critique and, um, in internal reflection about what ways that they could do better. Absolutely. And the other thing I think is we need, um, more women on police to. Police department. So if you’re a young woman out there trying to think about ways to make a difference, um, we know that that’s actually, um, that just having a single woman on a scene actually is, makes the chance for violence go down.
Um, and so I don’t know, I’m not necessarily encouraging any more police, but I think the ones we have could be replaced by, um, that group of young women. Women are, uh, only 13% of police birds in this country. And that’s something that we can change, huh? [00:36:00] Wow. Well, that, that gives us a lot to think about Zachary.
Uh, what’s your reaction to this discussion? I know this is an issue that animates you and many other young people. When you think about, um, the problems of our democracy today, and I know in your travels this summer, you were seeing how other societies handle these issues, perhaps better than we do. What, what, what’s your reaction to our discussion?
Well, I think it’s very enlightening, uh, to help us sort of understand how we got to this moment. And I also think one of the things that this helps us understand is that what went wrong on January 6th, uh, but not just January 6th, but in the events of the past few years is not that there were some people who.
Who who were trying to overturn our democracy or were trying to, to spread violence. That’s always been there, but that the, the, the, the law broke down, right. That the mechanisms that are, and the people that are supposed to protect us, uh, failed. And I think we have to, uh, recognize that if we’re [00:37:00] ever going to prevent something like this in the.
I think there’s a lot to that. And I think we can see this actually as truly defending law and order, right. Law and order is often used as a, as a, uh, uh, a catchphrase to justify more policing or dog whistle or dog and, and, and a racial dog whistle. And in fact, uh, truly protecting law and orders. I think what, what Vida is talking about Vita, I wanna give you the last.
Um, I thank you so much for having me. This has been, um, a, a real pleasure to get to speak with both of you. And I think really the thing that we should all be thinking about. If, if we’re gonna reimagine policing, I think reimagining policing in a way that keeps everyone safe, um, is the most important thing we can do.
And so focusing on, um, far right extremism and racial violence, um, not just within policing, but within America, I think that’s gonna be the best way to keep everyone. I think that really captures what’s at the [00:38:00] center of all this, which is, uh, the growth and continued festering of, uh, far right ideology and white supremacy and its connection to many of the other structural, uh, inequities in our society.
Uh, as a democracy, we’ve long struggled with these issues. That’s what our podcast is about. And today we’ve, I think gained a greater appreciation. Of how these issues relate to current policing and criminal justice issues and some avenues for thinking about, uh, how we can improve if not, if not eliminate, but at least improve the circumstances in our society and in our democracy.
Uh, thank you. Uh, Vita Johnson for joining us, uh, again, uh, is a professor at Georgetown and, uh, I. Scholar of, uh, criminal justice and policing in America, as well as a practitioner, uh, in the field. Uh, thank you for joining us today, Vita. Thanks again for having. Zachary, thank you for your, um, poem and for your insights as [00:39:00] always.
And thank you most of all, to our loyal listeners for joining us for this week of this is democracy. This podcast is produced by the liberal arts its development studio. And the college of liberal arts at the university of Texas at Austin. The music in this episode was written and recorded by hero Kini.
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