tv Filmmaker Kelly Amis on Racial Profiling CSPAN December 28, 2015 2:23am-2:56am EST
>> are you just of us to say, ok, fine or come on in and search my house? no. why? >> he tells me, since you are getting all up in my face, i should lock you up right now. so i said, since you feel like i am up in your face, i am going to back up. so i backed up. and that is when i said, please, call your supervisor because this is getting out of hand. the station is right across the street. i would appreciate it if you would call your supervisor. i need somebody to talk to that isn't angry right now. >> i don't know what distress signal he sent out, but 30 or 40 police cars lined up. >> please back up. please back up. please.
>> shut up. let me talk. let me talk. no. [arguing] >> but now he is just now saying it. now. >> i was taking it in, like, for a bike with no lights. all this? --.s just like >> if that is what you wanted, why did you need to search him or do anything else? >> a 15-year-old. for one 15-year-old. one. why are you going to lock calvin up? the one in the black shirt, what did you do? we want to know what he'd done. you know that he said this is because of my 15-year-old nephew did not have lights on his bike.
introduce to you who we have on stage. you will recognize some of them. kelly amos. amos is the founder. the filmmaker and founder of loudspeaker films. carla harris is here. and kelvin davis. these three you have seen on screen. i imagine this is difficult to watch this over and over again. i was backstage with you and i watched your shoulders. carla, yours in particular. >> i had to stop the tears. so emotional every time you see the film. >> when you look back and you think about what could have happened, is there anything in your mind that you think, what is the one thing that might have stop this from escalating to the point that it did?
>> the only thing i can think of that could've changed it is the police actually listening to us. we just wanted to know, why is ourhat to you want to sort -- search our son? us,ou would just talk to then we might've said, ok. but then again, i do not know because i do not know what the reason was. it is so frustrating. >> and the reason we feel this is because your sister was filming. it happened, she started filming. on her cell phone. because of the way the three folks -- three policemen actually approached us, she just pulled out her cell phone and started filming. >> you are a filmmaker. you had a relationship with this family for some time. you are not drawn to this because of this incident. >> no. calvin was a last person on earth i would ever expect to be arrested. we were already filming the family and continued to sort of
following them on tape through his growing up years in high school and beyond and also filming his cousin and his parents. it just happened during the time. so since i already knew the , family and when i heard this story, thank god that the sister it, -- from that, -- filmed it, because i don't think we would be able to tell it very well if she hadn't taken a video of the actual arrest. >> not just tell it, but i am wondering if it would be hard to even get people to understand what happened that night. >> exactly. >> if you unable to not only see it but listen to the discourse that night. >> then you hear the term "assault on a police officer," that brings a very specific idea. all calvin did was questioned the police officer. he spoke.
he spoke. why are you putting your gloves on him. why did you follow him down the alley? he was riding his bike >> part of what we get to do here is understand the epilogue. what you didn't see in the film is what happened after this. you were taken into custody. >> yes. spent the night. >> as the case proceeded, you are given a choice. you were offered a deal. >> yes. the deal was that i can do 32 hours of community service and have the charges somewhat expunged. so i took the 32 hours of community service. >> why did you do this when you felt that you had done nothing wrong? >> when i went to court the next day, they appointed me a court lawyer. i'm thinking this is a small case. i will take the court-appointed
lawyer. and the court appointed lawyer said it is your word against the police officer's word. nine times out of 10, you are not going to beat this. so take the 32 hours of community service and get it over with. >> did you wrestle with that? did you talk to carla? >> i talked to carla about it. i think i had a week, a few days in between prior to going back to court. she really wanted me to just fight it. i grew up in d.c. my whole life. the interactions between minorities and police officers, from what i know as an experience is never good. to me, i just wanted to get it
over with, be done with this part of it and go on with my life. after the 32 hours of community service, just be done with it. >> where did you do your community service? >> the department of public works, a landfill. they gave me two months to complete 32 hours at my own pace. i think i finished it within the first month prior to going back to court. i did eight hours for four consecutive weekends. at the landfill. cleaning up trash. >> so you fulfilled your community service. the deal was at that would be expunged from your record. >> right. >> has it been removed? >> not any sense.
my wife and i recently witnessed some family changes and adopted two more boys. >> twins! [applause] >> seriously? >> in the process of adoption, i don't know if anyone here has been through it, it is a strenuous court part of it. they do a full fbi background check. it came up. luckily, it -- >> how were you informed that it came up? >> you do a fingerprint check. luckily, it wasn't one of the things that will stop the adoption, for my wife and i. but the social worker let me know that it came up. and i had a chance to explain it to her. assaulting a police officer, you
know, specifically to me is physical violence against a police officer. so i got a chance to explain my part of the story to the social worker. >> how will you eventually get that removed? >> i don't know. it is in the works now. there is something called expungement and you have to physically go to the courthouse, from what i have been told and what i have investigated myself. you have to physically go to the courthouse and set some type of date -- in some way, you can get a trial where they expunge all of your records. >> and you're going to do that. >> the young lady said it will never be removed from your
record. it will be sealed. but that will always pop up on his record. >> so it is not expunged. it is sealed but only certain people can see it. so if they want to do an extensive background check, an fbi check, i think it will come up. but if you just want to do a local d.c. please check, i don't think it will. >> so if you are going to apply for a job. it will come up -- >> yes, it will come up. >> and if you are asked if you are ever convicted of a crime? >> on the paperwork part, i don't think it says that because, technically, i wasn't convicted. but just for safe purposes, i would probably put yes so that, if it comes up, i can explain to the employer.
>> i want to hear from you, if you don't mind. the police officers will be on stage soon and will talk about some of these issues. i'm sure they will have to say something about what they have seen in the film. but the police officers patrolled the neighborhood. which means that some of the people that were there in the back alley are people you might see as you move around the neighborhood. what have those encounters been like for you? >> i haven't really encountered any of the police officers that was in the video recently, lately. just school, home, homework, my brother, that's all. >> we had a chance to talk backstage. you say you never ride a bike anymore. >> not necessarily never ready bike, but when it gets dark outside, when they say i didn't
have a light on my bike, i would rather just walk. >> so y'all get on a bike and all at night. >> i just walk. >> how do you as a young person process something like this? you live in a community where, as you said, many people feel like their encounters with law enforcement are prickly? they leave a bad taste in their mouth. at the same time, there are people in the community who say make our streets safer. there are some people need to go to jail and we need to make sure that they police come down hard on them so we can sit on our front porch and enjoy a summer evening, so that kids can ride their bike. what would you say to people in the community who would say that this kind of aggressive policing is sometimes needed?
>> it is needed for the situations that they are needed for. me riding a bike without a light, i don't think that is a situation that it is needed for. [applause] i don't think that is a situation. somebody getting hit by a car or getting shot or stabbed, that is where they should be. but they are not there was something like that happens. [applause] it is just crazy. the other day, we are on the way to school, me and my friends and a police officer is staring at my friends. and he asked my friend, what are you looking at? my friend, like, what? i will whip you with this badge or without it on. i said let's just go to school. that is not called for. that situation is not called for. >> that is my first time hearing this. i would have been, well, where is he?
[laughter] >> i mean, he told his mom. his mom is actually a judge in a d.c. courthouse here she said she is on it. [laughter] [applause] >> have your parents given you the talk? >> what talk? [laughter] >> pardon me. [laughter] that can go a few ways. when you leave the house, particularly now after this encounter, do they tell you, do they give you advice, son, this is how you should care yourself? these are the do's the don'ts. what do they say to you? >> every day. get your work done. come back home. family is first. keep your pants up. have a belt on. >> no loud music on the subway. every day.
and we have an eight-year-old who mimics everything he did. he won't wear long pants. he thinks that's just foolish. but all of this has happened. my eight-year-old is terrified of the police. we can drive and one will be behind us and he will say, mommy, there is a police behind us. and i say, we are ok. you have your seatbelt on. but he is terrified. >> how do you inoculate that? how do you deal with that? do you want your son to be afraid of the police? >> i don't. i don't want him to be afraid of the police. there are situations where you do want police in your neighborhoods because you do
have young kids committing so many crimes in so many things that you do want the police in your neighborhood and you do want your child to be able to go up and speak to the police and let them know that the police is here for you. but after this real-life situation, how do we tell him that? >> so how do you tell him that? >> i will protect you. it is no secret. i will protect you. that was even before the police. it doesn't matter. i'm your mom. let me know. i will handle it. >> do you know any of the police officers in your community by name? >> no. >> there is one that has since retired. >> i am not asking you to be provocative. >> no, no. >> what does that say? >> it says a lot actually. i was having a conversation with kelly the other day leading up to this event.
when you get those officers in these neighborhoods, your duty is to protect and serve. and i was telling kelly the other day, we were having a formal conversation. when these officers come to these neighborhoods, it seems like their whole duty is to seek and destroy. really. that is what it seems like. because the encounters -- there is no positive encounters with the police officers. >> when i talk to police officers, they feel that they face a wall of distrust or hatred. and they would like something different. they would like to figure out how to bridge that gap as well. there are people who are doing really innovative things.
it is interesting what they can actually say to each other if they are alone in a room and have a chance to talk. in birmingham, alabama, the police chief was sending police officers into schools at a very young age to read to students so that students could see a police officer's badge and their name and they would remember. and some of those things are looked at with derision, like soft approaches to policing. do those things make any sense to you? >> they do. >> i wanted to point out to that, prior to the incident, they were raising their children to be very respectful of the police. this negative experience he has had, he can't remember how many times he has been approached by police in d.c. walking his dog,
riding the metro, playing with his friends, and the police are waiting there for him. i want the idea that -- the police are here for you, they are the good guys. when you see the rest of the film, you will hear them talk about that. when you talk about having a community, there is no accountability right now. the only reason we know this is because somebody put it on cell phone footage. even after he was arrested, even after the sergeant in charge found out what actually was happening and what had happened, he still signed off on charging calvin with two crimes. where does it stop? that is incredible. how does everyone watch this and allow to happen? >> that night when he got arrested, they said he will be let out tonight. but then, when he had his
interview, the cop decided, oh, no, we want you to stay. and that is exactly what they told him. the arresting cop wants you to stay tonight. >> it was two charges. it was assault of a police officer and tampering with evidence. i wanted to know what the evidence is. are you calling my son the evidence? >> kelly, you looked into the charge of assaulting a police officer and it is not always physical in its nature. >> in the process of making the film and editing it, i read a report about assault on a police officer and how the law is so vague here in d.c. that nearly 4000 people have been charged with assault on a police officer
in the sea or were charged between 2012 and 2014. 90% of them were black. the majority of them were not charged with anything else. so if you can use a law that, just by talking to a police officer, you can be charged with assault and there is nothing else, what is happening? and they are all black citizens. how can you expect monte to believe and respect an institution that treats his father like that, the treats him like that? >> and this is something that is being discussed right now within the police force. it will be interesting to hear from law enforcement. we have time to take a few questions from the audience. >> thank you very much. this has been very heavy panel. i want to say, as a citizen, i
am sorry, for all that is worth. i want to tell miss doris, if you have to tell your children not to look somebody in the eye, i'm sorry. that is wrong. that is not america. i have a question. for the young man, what do you want to do when you grow up? and congratulations to both of you. >> thank you for your question and your observations. [applause] >> i am in high school right now. [applause] i am playing rugby. i would really like a scholarship for that. [laughter] i have been thinking about going into the d.c. fire department, but also taking college classes at nova.
working in the fire department isn't enough. i still want my degree. [applause] >> we have another question right down here. it is hard for me to see. and then we will go over there. [laughter] >> hi, everyone. i taught him last year. [applause] i was surprised. my question for you is how does this affect you in school? is there a parallel structure to what you see with the institutions of the police. is there a parallel issue with education? how do you see it? >> i don't really see it as a problem with school.
but it gets in the way. i understand the question. i don't feel as though being judged by the police -- that is everyday. so it don't get in the way. you just have to be stronger. you have to want to go to school. you got to know that, when you go to school, you might get into a situation and you just have to be above it and know what you're doing. >> since we are going to have law enforcement officers on stage soon and we could go on, we have to move onto the next panel. i want to end by asking you to pose a question that they might consider answering. >> as far as law enforcement?
[laughter] >> what would you want to know about how they do their job or what question would you post to them, people who work in law enforcement? >> why was my stepdad arrested that night? why was my little brother outside crying because i didn't have a light on my bike? what were the charges for? >> is there anything you would ask them about how they do their job, not just about that night? >> calvin, what about you? >> after the case, i have been doing research about issues with uf. they changed that law in 2007. assaulting a police officer. i want to know why, in 2007, was it changed to be so vague?
prior to 2007, the law was specifically assault on a police officer. after 2007, i want to know why the law became so vague where people can actually get locked up for a long time, lose your job, and not be able to get a job because of that law? what happened in 2007? [applause] >> thank you very much. >> to improve the u.s. criminal justice system. this conversation is about 20 minutes. ♪
>> hello again everybody. we are honored to have with us now valerie jarrett, senior adviser to president obama. she oversees the office of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs, chairs the council on women and girls and she is deeply, centrally involved in the president's initiative on criminal justice reform. [applause] valerie: thank you. >> as i was saying backstage, this is at the end of what has been a pretty intense day of conversation about the state of policing in america, the state of incarceration in america. i think that part of the intensity comes from the fact that everybody has a human connection to this set of issues.
for all americans, fear of crime, concern about their community, and particularly for people of color, fear often of the police. and some connection sometimes to this system. i wanted to ask you a bunch of questions about policy, but i wondered if we could start out at the human level. i was just wondering whether you have a story. valerie: i have two. the first one, when i was about 11, i was in the car with my mom and we were driving through our neighborhood. we saw a police car and the police car was talking to two teenagers from our neighborhood who lived about two blocks from where we live. and my mom saw the policeman. i said i'm going to stop and see what is going on. i remember thinking, oh, mom, don't get involved. the police are handling the problem. she said, no, i need to get out of the car. i remember thinking i was scared to death.
she went over and said to the policeman, i know these boys, they live right down the street. leave them alone. and got back in the car. and it really shook me up that my mother was so afraid for them that she needed to get out of the car. it really messed with my head for a while. then fast forward when i was taking drivers education. i was about 15. i was three miles away from home and i would take the bus back and forth. when i got out of class, i went to the bus stop. i am standing on the bus stop and the sky opens up and it is pouring down rain. i had no umbrella. i am literally drenched. a police car pulls up and i am terrified. i'm just terrified. the police officers rolled down the window and said get in the car. i thought, well, that's it. who knows who will ever see me again. i get in the car and they said, where do you live?
then they started driving in dead silence. i didn't say anything either. it was the longest 15 minutes of my life. they pull up in front of my home and they said have a good day. so those two stories have a juxtaposed experiences that i had. the first one really made me afraid. james: did the first one prompt the second expense? valerie: i have talked to my mother since then, why did you intervene? and she said she didn't know what would happen if she did not stop. i knew i had to protect them because that is what adults have to do when they see young boys being stopped by the police. james: i know you have been fact gathering around this constellation of problems. you have been to the detention -- juvenile detention facilities