Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 8 Episode 3
Aired on February 28, 2021
Main segment: Police raids and No-knock warrants in the United States
Other segments: Andrew Cuomo and the New York COVID-19 nursing home scandal
* * *
John: Hi there! Welcome to the show, still taking place in this blank void. And if you’re starting to enjoy this void at all, you’ll love its spinoff series, “Young Void,” coming exclusively to HBO Max. Yes, HBO Max: there’s a new movie every month! This month, it’s — oh, fuck me. Look, it’s been a busy week, from the horror show of CPAC to Joe Biden giving M.B.S. a pass over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, to the post office unveiling its new delivery truck, which looks like the star of a children’s book who thinks it can, but can’t. But we’re actually going to start right here at home, with New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo. A man whose face, build, and general demeanor always seems to scream “business frankenstein.” Cuomo has been in some hot water lately.
This morning, New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration is under federal scrutiny for its handling of covid-related fatality data at nursing homes. The fallout comes after a 76-page report from New York’s attorney general last month revealed the state had been underreporting deaths in nursing homes and long-term care facilities by as much as 50%.
John: Underreporting nursing home deaths — you’d expect that less from a transparent democracy, and more from an authoritarian regime like north North Korea, which to this day has yet to report a single case of coronavirus. I assume their state media is claiming that the virus was repelled from the country after Kim Jong-un breathed fire on it. This scandal stems from a directive Cuomo made last march, telling nursing homes to accept covid-positive patients to free up hospital beds. That would be bad enough, but since then, his administration has tried to downplay any consequences of that action — releasing a report last July that laid the blame on nursing home staffers for infecting residents, and, as a Cuomo aide recently told lawmakers, actively concealing data on covid deaths out of fear it’d be used against them by federal prosecutors. That revelation, understandably, set off a firestorm. And after a democratic legislator, Ron Kim, made a statement about it to the press, he says he got a call from Cuomo that went about as well as you might expect.
[Ron Kim] The governor asked me to issue a statement that countered what I heard in the meeting and essentially cover up the cover-up. He spent 10 minutes berating me, threatening me to end my career in front of my family, in front of my kids.
John: Yeah, not great. Now, I have to say, Cuomo has denied Kim’s account of that call. But you should know, many, many people who’ve dealt with Cuomo in the past have said it sounds exactly like him. And that reputation alone goes a long way. Be honest, if you saw a headline tomorrow that said, “leaked memo shows John Oliver asked staff if bird he saw in central park had an OnlyFans page,” you’d believe it. Even if I denied the account of that conversation, deep down, you’d know it happened, because it just sounds like something I’d do. And Cuomo is famously unpleasant. He reportedly has a “do-not-yell-at” list, which a former aide apparently admitted is very small. And just this week, a different former aide accused him of sexual harassment, a claim he denies. Although, on the same day that story broke, Cuomo was at a vaccination site, and couldn’t help himself from joking about vaccinating this state senator.
[Andrew Cuomo] I’m going to be doing the vaccination. I get to select the part of the anatomy where I do the vaccine. And you’ll be surprised, or maybe not, when you see the part of the anatomy that I pick.
John: Is it his penis, Andrew? Are you going to vaccinate him in the penis? Because I’ll be honest, I would actually be surprised if you wanted to vaccinate him in the penis. The vein is hard to find. Practitioners generally recommend the non-dominant arm and also, what the fuck is wrong with you? Even before the current scandals, there was something gross about Cuomo’s glee in his public adulation last year, from his constant appearances with his brother on CNN, to him co-signing on the term “cuomosexuals” — the only sexual orientation, by the way, it’s completely acceptable to discriminate against. To the book he published last October about the lessons he’d learned from handling the still-ongoing pandemic, which were presumably: “1: do press conferences.” “2: The end.” And those press conferences where Cuomo loved to insist on the importance of facts now play a little differently, after everything we’ve learned. Especially moments like this.
“Follow the facts, they will show you the way,” A.J. Parkinson. That’s what we’ve been doing in New York, following the facts.
John: Okay, the thing is, it’s hard to follow the facts if the people in charge of those facts are actively withholding them from you. As far as advice goes, that’s basically as useful as a bully saying “stop hitting yourself,” in that in both cases, yeah, I’d actually really like to. The thing is, some asshole won’t let me. And you may’ve noticed that he was quoting someone named A.J. Parkinson there. That is something he does a lot.
Remember, “textbooks say politicians lead and the people follow. No, it is often the people who lead and the politicians who follow,” A.J. Parkinson.
A.J. Parkinson, great quote, “I respect elected officials who aren’t typical politicians.”
“Don’t pass the buck without passing the bucks,” A.J. Parkinson.
A.J. Parkinson said that.
John: Now, if you’re currently thinking, “oh, no, am I supposed to know who A.J. Parkinson is?” Don’t worry, he’s not a famous historical figure that you learned about in school, like Plato, or Jane Austen, or James Joyce. Although, in fairness, you didn’t learn much about them either, considering you didn’t realize that that’s actually Socrates, that’s Emily Dickinson, and that’s T.S. Eliot. But the point is, it’s actually completely fine not to be familiar with A.J. Parkinson, because he doesn’t exist. He’s a completely made up person. Apparently, by Cuomo’s dad, former governor and Kevin Spacey cosplayer Mario Cuomo. He used to invoke the name of A.J. Parkinson as an inside joke with the press. And while that may have been charming at the time, the current Cuomo doing it during a pandemic when virtually no one gets that it’s a joke is a pretty weird move. If you’re trying to lighten the mood, there are so many other real quotes you could have gone with. For example, Nicki Minaj’s tweet, “okay, boys, what’s your ball size?” Sure, not appropriate for the occasion, but at least she’s a real person. Oh, and for the record, Nikki, the answer is: surprisingly decent-sized. I call them the Hemsworth brothers, because they look great and everyone’s surprised there’s a third one. And look, circulating fake quotes is obviously not the worst thing Cuomo’s done. That is becoming increasingly clear. But it does feel like a pretty apt metaphor for an administration that has aggressively managed facts to fit its chosen reality. And it actually brings to mind another insightful saying: “Andrew Cuomo is a colossal asshole.” It’s from an excellent writer named T.J. Pimpernickle. And I’ll tell you exactly two things about T.J. Pimpernickle: one, he is a person I totally made up, and two, he’s also completely right about Andrew Cuomo.
And now, this.
Announcer: and now… Did fox business’ Liz Claman mentioned that she likes Peleton?
If you just look at Peleton, for example, I have one, I love it.
I have a Peleton. I love it and I use it a lot. I want to give you an anecdote here. I do have a peleton.
I have a Peleton.
Lucky enough to have a Peleton.
Of course she has a Peleton.
Let’s look at Peleton stock. It is popping right now.
I am part of that community. I got it for my birthday couple of years ago.
That was my birthday present. A speaker my husband gave me a Peleton for my birthday two years ago.
Didn’t you get a Peleton bike?
Two years ago for my birthday.
The stock is up. I personally attributed to my favorite instructor, Cody.
Taking my favorite class. Maybe one day I can sit next to Cody and do a little class once this whole thing is over. You got to understand, I love me some Jenna Sherman and Cody and Hannah.
And five to ten years, those peloton machines are going to be sitting in the garage and won’t sell very well at the garage sale.
Yeah, I don’t know. I am a big Peleton fan.
John: Moving on. Our main story tonight concerns policing. It’s one of tv’s favorite subjects, from Hill Street Blues through Law & Order through this:
Do you think the cops have too much power? Do you think they used excessive force?
Tell us, was your life in danger? Does this make you feel any remorse?
Are you part of organized outcry? Are you acting on your own?
Would you agree this case has racial overtones?
John: Now, you’re probably just currently shouting, “what?” Increasingly loudly. So let me explain: that’s a scene from “cop rock,” a very real musical cop show that premiered on abc in 1990 and lasted exactly 11 episodes. Think of it like if “pitch perfect” crashed into “the wire” and there were absolutely no survivors. I’d say that was the best worst thing I’ve ever seen on tv, but the thing is, I have seen more “cop rock.” There’s a subplot about child-selling! And if you are wondering, does the child seller sing? Yep!
I’m the baby merchant! Tots ‘r’ us. I’ll give you all the service and no damn fuss. Give the baby merchant just a week or two. I’ll have a baby for you.
John: That song is three minutes long and they never do anything else. That couple just stands there while a man informs them that he’s the baby merchant for three human minutes. That show was on television in America. But as long as we’ve been questioning on tv whether policing has — and I apologize for even attempting this — “racial overtones,” we’ve made very little progress towards actually addressing that issue. As we’ve discussed before, the past and present of policing in America is very much tied up with racism. And we want to focus on one area of policing in particular tonight: police raids. It’s a practice that attracted a lot of attention last year in the wake of the Breonna Taylor case. She was killed after officers broke down her door in the middle of the night and fired 32 shots into her home. A year later, none of these officers have been indicted for charges relating to her death. And if it is somehow nobody’s fault that an innocent woman was killed in the middle of the night in her own home, there might be an issue with police raids. Data on them is scarce, so it’s hard to say how many take place in America, but estimates put it in the tens of thousands per year. And they can be carried out by almost anyone in law enforcement — from federal agents, to s.w.a.t. Teams within police departments, to detectives, and patrol officers. And while these tactics were initially intended for life-or-death scenarios, like active shooters or hostage situations, one analysis found that only 7% of swat deployments met that criteria, while more than 60% of the cases involved searches for drugs. And that shift was the result of intentional policy choices. Police raids were supercharged by the war on drugs, and the tactic became so popular that Geraldo Rivera even produced a special where he showed you raids happen in real time.
This is real life, the first in a series of raids we’ll be showing you this evening. In this one, members of the San Diego police department are raiding a so-called crack house, where pushers sell cocaine to people in this neighborhood. For the past six months, we have covered the street cops whose job is to rip and tear and pound their way into the nation’s crack-houses and shooting galleries. And we have gone undercover to expose the pushers who profit from this dirty business.
John: Wow. They all seem to be having fun there, from the officers’ mad dash like it’s Black Friday and Walmart has a sale on marijuana, to Geraldo’s ridiculous disguise, which looks like the Pringles guy auditioning for Miami Vice. Although I will say, that’s still better than his current look, which answers the question, what if every single “batman” joker were rolled into one? And raids can obviously have dire consequences. A “times” investigation found that, from 2010 to 2016, at least 81 civilians were killed in them. And these tactics are rarely proportional to the alleged crimes being targeted. In Louisville, Breonna Taylor’s home, a year and a half before the raid that killed her, this happened.
This police body camera video shows LMPD swat officers breaking into Daugherty and Burr’s house on west chestnut street.
Hurry up, come on, put your hands up!
The couple and their three children, who were under the age of 16 at the time, claim they were held at gunpoint the morning of October 26th, 2018.
17 Swat officers burst in because a detective smelled marijuana coming from the family’s home.
John: He “smelled marijuana.” Come on! If you just “smell marijuana,” you don’t show up with loaded assault rifles like you’re in “call of duty.” You show up with “settlers of catan” and $50 worth of cookies from subway. Don’t be such fucking squares. And the thing is, absurdly disproportionate and dangerous responses are basically par for the course when it comes to police raids. So tonight, let’s talk about them — why they’re such a favored tool of police, why they really shouldn’t be, and what we should do about that. And let’s start with what you probably know already, which is that not all of us are at equal danger of being raided. When CBS 2 in Chicago did an investigation of several years’ worth of search warrants, they found that certain neighborhoods tended to be hit a lot more often than others.
Englewood had 872 search warrants. Also in the top five neighborhoods are Austin with 668, North Lawndale, 455, Garfield park, 442, and Humboldt Park with 376. Census data shows these neighborhoods are all nearly 90% or more black and Latino. We found only a small percentage happen in white neighborhoods and none listed for Edison Park, Printers Row, Wrigleyville, museum campus, and magnificent mile.
John: Yeah, that’s about as fucked as you’d expect. Although I will say, you didn’t have to tell me those neighborhoods are predominantly white. Because Edison Park, museum campus, and magnificent mile are some of the whitest sounding place names I’ve ever heard. Right up there with alabaster prim, spf-50-ville, and Vermont. And that racial disparity has been found again and again. In Louisville, an examination found search warrants disproportionately targeted black residents, and a study of one year of warrants in Washington, D.C. Found they were almost exclusively executed in black communities. And police have been given tools to carry out those warrants with increasing force. Police departments have become heavily militarized after either purchasing or just being handed military equipment. And some don’t even try to hide how much they enjoy using it. Just listen to this officer introduce one of his toys in a career day livestream for kids.
We call this the big bad wolf. Because with enough force, I can take this ram on the front of this vehicle and I can put it against a brick house and I can go right through that brick. And I can come right in your house if I need to. Not your house, because all of you are good kids. We only do it for the bad kids.
John: Oh, you do, do you? Well, that’s reassuring. We’ve certainly got no reason not to trust you to determine who’s a good kid and a bad kid. You’re just a nice, talkative guy who, apparently, roots for the wolf in the story of the three little pigs. “If only the wolf had possessed military grade equipment,” you say as you tuck your children in at night. “Fortunately, your god-like father has no such limitations on his powers. Sleep tight, good kids!” Now, there are important questions over whether or not police officers really need access to that kind of equipment, just as there are questions over what messages they take away from some of the training they receive. Take a look at one particularly extreme exercise for s.w.a.t. Team members.
The cult leader realizes that they got an armored vehicle going to start. He goes, okay, let’s pull the trigger, sends out the RPG, and then they start executing people.
Oh, my god.
It’s really a mass suicide. But in fact, it’s really a murder suicide.
None of the scenarios we saw left much room for nonviolent solutions.
And then back in here, the cult leaders basically systematically executing babies.
Show me your hands, show me your hands!
When the amount of hours you spend at the shooting range outnumber the number of hours you spend learning conflict resolution by, you know, 10 or 15 to one, you’re going to be more likely to use the tool that you’ve trained more with.
John: Yeah, no shit! Because look, I’m not saying they shouldn’t be prepared for cult leader baby murder. But how many cult leader baby murders do they think they’re going to be called to every year? And I know what you’re thinking, “but john, if there is a baby murder cult, how are we going to replace all those babies?” Don’t worry. I’m pretty sure I know a guy who can help.
I’m the baby merchant! Tots ‘r’ us.
John: Seriously. It’s three minutes long. It’s so weird. I’m not saying you should seek it out, I’m just saying, you do need to know it exists. The obvious danger of fostering a militarized police culture that trains and equips officers like they’re the lead in an action movie is that it can encourage them to then act that way. Take a look at a raid that took place in little rock. Here, the police blow open the door of the apartment belonging to a man named Roderick Talley, because they falsely believed he was selling cocaine. But despite not finding any, when they realized he had a home security camera, they asked him — while he was still cuffed to a chair — if they could rewatch the footage of their raid, so they could see how it looked.
That’s awesome, I’m gonna record that real quick.
Can you play it back again?
That was worth coming to work for. One more time. We ain’t laughing at you, though.
John: Yeah, don’t worry, we’re not laughing at you, we’re just high-fiving ourselves for how cool it looked when we blew your door in. But you get it! You were there! By the way, thanks for being such a good sport about this, even though we do all have guns so you kind of have to be! This job is fun! And police might tell you that, they don’t just use guns, they also have supposedly nonlethal tools out there to exposure. But even then, there can be issues. Take flashbang grenades. In theory, they just stun and disorient people. But they can generate heat in excess of 2,000 degrees. So you’d hope officers would be really careful with them, certainly a lot more careful than this.
We heard a loud — a loud noise, which was busting through the door.
Then came a flash grenade right into the two-year-old’s bed. You can see by this picture how badly it was damaged.
And I kept begging the officer, you know, “give me my son. Just let me hold him. He’s scared. He needs me.” The officer told me to shut up and go sit down.
Police were looking for drugs, but found nothing.
John: Yeah, the police threw a flashbang grenade into a crib. And look, I’m no policeman. I haven’t studied all the bylaws, I don’t have a phd in flash grenade-ology. But purely as a layperson, the police should not have thrown that fucking grenade into a fucking crib. And if the police are truly incapable of knowing whether they’re throwing a grenade into a crib, maybe they shouldn’t have fucking grenades. Here’s another quick rule that applies to both horseshoes and hand grenades: if you throw either of them into a crib even one time, guess what? You don’t get to play with them anymore. Now, thankfully, that baby survived. But it’s hard to believe that police didn’t realize there were children in the house, given the family had lived at that address for two months, and there was a minivan with four car seats in the driveway. And when they did find the man they were actually looking for at a different house, he surrendered peacefully when officers knocked on his door. So in hindsight, grenading a baby might not have been necessary. And, again, they were looking for drugs. And, again, they didn’t find what they were looking for. This happens all the time. And troublingly, police don’t have to work very hard to get a warrant to blow someone’s door open. Judges have to sign off on warrants, and ideally, they would function as a check here. But in practice, they often don’t spend much time scrutinizing police justification. An investigation in Utah of more than 10,000 electronically-submitted warrants found that half the time, judges approved warrants in less than three minutes, with hundreds signed off in less than 30 seconds. That’s absurd! Even the cases on “chrissy’s court” were longer than 30 seconds, and it was a show on quibi, a platform that we all collectively fever dreamed. And the bar for getting a judge to sign off on a search warrant is pretty low. All you need is probable cause, or a reasonable belief that evidence of a crime will be found in the place you want to search. And that belief can come from anywhere. Whether it’s the smell of marijuana or, very often, the word of a confidential informant, who might be trading tips for money or leniency. And a lot of those tips turn out to be complete bullshit. To get the search warrant that led to the raid on Roderick Talley’s home, police told a judge that a confidential informant had bought cocaine from him, and that they’d observed the interaction. But luckily, talley had a doorbell cam that showed the informant walking up to the door, alone, standing there, and then walking away. And look, normally, I’m not a big fan of doorbell cams. All they do is record me giving myself a five minute pep-talk before I enter any party. But in this instance, I’m really glad he had one. And police have sometimes been caught making informants up, giving misleading information in their warrant application, or failing to do even the most basic checking to see if their suspect is actually in the home they’re raiding, or somewhere else that they probably should have known about.
Jolanda blassingame says it was utterly terrifying, Chicago police allegedly breaking her door down in North Lawndale, pointing rifles at her children in what’s being called a colossal police blunder.
They did not bother to perform the simplest, most routine verification. The target of the warrant, Mr. Bell, was at that time serving a 20-year prison sentence for a murder conviction 200 miles away in hill correctional center in Galesburg, Illinois.
John: Well, that’s pretty embarrassing. But I guess it’s like when you turn your home upside-down looking for your keys, only to discover they were in your pocket the whole time. Only in this case, the keys are a man, the home isn’t yours, and your pocket is a medium-security prison in another zip code. So when you have bad police work on the front end, and minimal judicial oversight on the back end, it becomes far too easy to get a search warrant. And once police have one, there really aren’t a lot of limits on what they can do. Just about every search warrant gives officers permission to break down a door to conduct the search. And I know there’s a lot of talk right now specifically about “no-knock” raids, but it’s worth noting, the line between “knock” and “no-knock” is very very thin, thanks to a series of court rulings like this:
The U.S. Supreme court ruled today police do not have to wait more than 20 seconds before breaking into a drug suspects’ home, the unanimous ruling said waiting any longer would let suspects flush evidence down the toilet.
John: Yeah, the ruling was, giving you 20 seconds to answer your door is reasonable, because you might flush evidence down the toilet. Which raises the obvious question here, why the fuck are we raiding people’s homes for an amount of evidence that can be flushed away in 20 seconds? Unless someone is accused of trafficking Smurfs or stealing the world’s most valuable goldfish, maybe we should be finding a different way to do this. And police really aren’t incentivized to give you any seconds to answer your door. Because in 2006, the supreme court ruled that, even when they violate the rules requiring them to knock, announce, and wait, the prosecution can still use the evidence obtained during that search. So there’s often no meaningful consequences to busting right through your door. And decisions like that mean the distinction between a no-knock raid and a “knock and announce” raid is barely there. As a judge in Georgia put it, “either the door comes in and people are yelling, “sheriff’s office” or people yell, “sheriff’s office” and the door comes in.” And that is fundamentally the same! It’s like comparing Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain. Are they different? Nominally, sure, although not in any way that means anything. If you do need to tell them apart, Bryce Dallas Howard is the one who looks slightly more like Jessica Chastain. And on top of all of this, there is just case after case of the police messing up the execution of a raid, that range from the horrific to the almost cartoonishly idiotic — like this video of them looking for a suspected drug dealer, but instead raiding the home of his neighbor, Onree Norris, a 78-year-old with heart problems who thankfully survived, despite the police making one mistake after another.
How did deputies end up hitting a house with a different color, a separate driveway, its own mailbox, and another address?
First, the tactical team got lost following instructions from a GPS app on a phone.
Turn right on —
Then, as soon as they got to the correct address, deputies were immediately confused.
Where’s the house? Where’s the house?
They walked right past the target house without clearing it and headed through the tree line to the next house on the street. Even then, deputies were unsure.
This house? This house?
Looking back and forth at the two houses, it was too late. The entry team was already forcing its way into onree’s home.
John: Oh, for fuck’s sake. It is humiliating to watch a trained tactical unit outfitted with military hardware get so completely stumped by “the mystery of the more than one house.” And you might think, “oh, that’s just a one-off” — mistakes like that happen all the time.
It was a total nightmare for this family when cops burst into their home, which turned out to be the wrong address.
That is the wrong apartment. And that is the one that the s.w.a.t. Team went inside.
Shawn and his wife, who both work full time, live here. The people the police were looking for live here.
The DEA is apologizing for bursting into the Renck family home with the Bradley county S.W.A.T. Team, only later finding out that it was the wrong home.
That’s not a mistake to make. Hell, you could have looked at the mailbox.
John: Yeah, exactly. And the police hitting the wrong address is just completely unacceptable when the stakes are so high. Even edible arrangements manages to deliver to the correct address, and that business is just pure chaotic evil. “Happy anniversary! Please enjoy this flavorless crucified melon.” Amazingly, there often aren’t consequences for cases like those. Officers are rarely criminally charged, and even more rarely convicted. Botched raids usually aren’t even investigated, unless someone is killed, the media gets involved, or there’s a lawsuit. And even when they happen, police officers are protected from civil liability by the doctrine of qualified immunity. As for their departments, they aren’t even responsible for paying to repair a broken front door, or compensating residents for any other losses or damages, even when they raid the wrong residence. Which is just absurd. Look, this is obviously incredibly dangerous, and not just for the people whose homes are raided. For the police, too. That same investigation that found 81 civilians had been killed in raids found that 13 police officers had died, as well. Which shouldn’t be that surprising. These raids are, by design, highly disorienting, and for the people woken up in the middle of the night to the sounds of an armed invasion, they have to make a split-second decision whether or not to defend themselves. That is something everyone can understand. In Georgia, a republican state senator got in trouble for saying, if police raided his home in a no-knock raid, he would shoot them dead, and when he was pushed on that, he did not back down.
If somebody kicks down my door unannounced, they will meet with resistance, I guarantee you.
But if it’s law enforcement? They would be there —
How am I supposed to know at 3:00 in the morning? Somebody shows up in black outfits, they can say they’re law enforcement. Maybe they’re not. They’ve got a gun pointed at me. What are you gonna do, dale?
John: Yeah, dale! What’re you gonna do? I know that guy looks like a bit of a belligerent asshole, but the thing is, the country is full of belligerent assholes, and lots of them have guns. And while it is easy for a white state senator to fantasize about himself, or indeed, dale, mounting a hypothetical armed resistance to a police raid, for those who actually do get raided, there are real consequences to those actions — if not death, then serious criminal charges. Just a few hours after Breonna Taylor was killed, her boyriend, Kenneth Walker, who believed the police were intruders, was charged with attempted murder for firing his gun during the raid and allegedly injuring an officer in the leg. Those charges were dropped, but only because he had national attention and a good lawyer. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Tyler Harrell was sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison after he injured a police officer during a surprise drug raid at his home, even though a jury found “no proof that he knew he was shooting at police.” Lives are getting destroyed through police raids. And even if nobody gets physically hurt, that doesn’t mean no damage is done. Having your home violated is a traumatizing experience, often exacerbated by how targets of raids are treated. Take Anjanette Young, a social worker in Chicago whose home was raided, and who fought hard to get the body camera footage released to the public, even though it is incredibly difficult to watch.
You see them running up to the apartment complex with the battering ram in their hand. It was so traumatic to hear the way the thing was hitting the door.
Go, go, go, go! Search warrant! Search warrant! Police search warrant!
And it happened so fast, I didn’t have time to put on clothes.
You’ve got the wrong house!
And she was right. They were in the wrong house. We found they simply took the word of an informant who gave them Anjanette Young’s address. The informant claimed a 23-year-old man who was a known felon had a gun and ammo inside.
I don’t know who that person is. I’ve been living here for four years and nobody lives here but me!
Okay. Okay. You don’t have to shout.
I don’t have to shout! This is ridiculous!
John: Yeah, it is. They broke into her home, having done next to no due diligence, and handcuffed her completely naked, before eventually throwing a blanket over her, while she was still handcuffed. And then they said, “you don’t have to shout.” Shouting is not the drastic measure being taken here. People shout for many reasons. Because they want peanuts. Because they don’t want to get up or just because the song told them to. When you are handcuffed naked in your own home because the police screwed up a search warrant, shouting should be in your fucking Miranda rights. And when you treat people like that, it’s clear you have no interest in forging a healthy relationship with the community you’re supposed to be serving. Instead, the community has to live with the knowledge that no space is truly secure from the threat of police violence. That is a message that is received loud and clear from a very young age.
So what do we do about it? Well, I would argue small changes just aren’t going to cut it here. Because, yeah, it would be better if search warrants were harder to get and officers were required to verify information from confidential informants and we didn’t give military grade equipment to people who can’t be trusted not to throw it into a fucking crib. But that is just not nearly enough. And even reforms that appear sweeping can be pretty limited. After Breonna Taylor’s death, no-knock warrants were banned in, among other places, Louisville and Virginia, which initially sounds good. The thing is, as you’ve seen tonight, the difference between “no knock” and “knock” is basically no difference at all. And I’d argue that there is a big solution here that is staring us right in the face. And that is, stop doing drug raids. Just stop it. And if that sounds extreme, you might want to know, the former chairman of the national tactical officers association recommends that raids never be used to serve narcotics warrants, saying, “why would you run into a gunfight? You definitely don’t go in and risk your life for drugs.” And he’s right. Drug raids just have to stop. And raids in general should only be used a last resort to save lives that are in immediate danger. Because bursting into someone’s home is never going to be safe for anyone involved. And right now, raids are being used far too widely, and are destroying lives, both for the individuals who are killed, injured, or traumatized, and all the black and brown people who have no choice but to internalize the lessons of that trauma. They deserve the respect and consideration of a police force that’s supposed to protect them, not one that merely sees their lives as an opportunity for action movie cosplay, a thrilling tv special, or the reenactment of a misremembered nursery rhyme with a souped-up fucking battering ram. And maybe, just maybe, if we can do the right thing here, and climb down from our current wild overuse of raids, then, and only then, we’d have a police story legitimately worth singing about.
That’s our show. Thank you so much for watching. We’ll see you next week. Good night.
♪ I’m the baby merchant ♪
♪ tots ‘r’ us ♪
♪ I give you all the service ♪
♪ and no damn fosse ♪
♪ just a week or two ♪