On todays episode I have the pleasure of speaking with authors Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham about their new book titled, The Riders Come Out at Night: Brutality, Corruption and Cover-up in Oakland.
Their book is a meticulously researched and engaging account of a police force rotten to its core and serves as a poignant reminder that the problem with policing in America isn’t just about crooked cops. The problem is a broken system that lacks the will to reform.
During our conversation we’ll be introduced to a group of sadistic cops known as “The Riders” whose disregard for the oath they took to protect and serve is on full, tragic, and infuriating display.
We’ll also meet the wide-eyed rookie, turned whistleblower who was unwittingly partnered with the leader of the Riders.
The Riders Come Out at Night is the story of one city and the explosive scandals, and systematic corruption and brutality in its police department, but it’s also the story of American policing - and where it is headed in 2023.
The Show Notes
The Riders Come Out at Night
Ali Winston is an independent reporter covering criminal justice, privacy, and surveillance. His work has been rewarded with several awards, including the George Polk Award for local reporting in 2017. Ali is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in New York.
Darwin BondGraham has reported on gun violence for The Guardian and was an enterprise reporter for the East Bay Express. BondGraham’s work has also appeared with ProPublica and other leading national and local outlets. He holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was the co-recipient of the George Polk Award for local reporting in 2017. He lives in Oakland, California.
Hi andJoe Cadwell:
Welcome to Grit Nation. I'm Joe Cadwell, the host of the show, and on today's episode I have the pleasure of speaking with authors Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham about their new book titled The Riders Come Out at Night; Brutality, Corruption and Cover Up in Oakland. Their book is a meticulously researched and engaging account of a police force rotten to its core, and serves as a poignant reminder that the problem with policing in America isn't just about crooked cops. The problem lies in a broken system that lacks the will to reform. During our conversation, we'll be introduced to a group of sadistic cops known as the writers whose disregard for the oath they took to protect and serve as on full tragic and infuriating display will also meet the wide eyed rookie turned whistleblower who was unwittingly partnered with a leader of the riders. The riders come out at night as a story of one city and the explosive scandals and systematic corruption and brutality and its police department. But it's also a story of American policing, and where it's heading in 2023. After the episode be sure to check out the show notes to learn more about this subject. And now on to the show. Gentlemen, welcome to Grit Nation.Darwin BondGraham:
Thanks for having us .Ali Winston:
Thanks so much.Joe Cadwell:
Yeah, thank you so much for taking your time to be on the show. I today. I have Ollie Winston and Darwin bond Graham, the authors of the writers come out at night brutality, corruption and a cover up in Oakland. Gentlemen, I understand you're on two separate dens of the coast. Darwin, you're there in Oakland Ali, you're in? You're in New York City. And what brought you to together to write this book?Ali Winston:
Well, I actually I was in Oakland for a decade, living out there for quite some time. And I was reporting on the police department. After I came out of graduate school at UC Berkeley, and Darwin and I both came at the story from different angles. I had been working it for radio stations and all weeklies around the Bay Area. Mostly covering law enforcement. And we actually met because Darwin, when he moved up to the Bay Area from Southern California was writing a lot about policing and city politics. And he ended up using a photo of mine, without citation, and I noticed it, I was like, Hey, man, I like that photo, I love your blog, can you just put my name on it? I don't care about credit. And then we got to talking about issues and realize we had similar interests and complementary skills and started covering the local city and police department together. And that was in 2012Joe Cadwell:
and 2012. And then over the that period of time, you began to notice, there was sort of a trend happening and what was the inspiration for the book? When did you finally say, hey, after 50 years of reported, you know, misdeeds and the Oakland Police Department, what what finally was the catalyst for the book?Darwin BondGraham:
Yeah, we, you know, every time we would read a story about the Oakland Police Department, we knew, and we would constantly be uncovering new bits of history and facts that all, you know, tied together to tell this really compelling story that spanned decades. But, you know, journalism, daily, and like weekly news reporting, you rarely get the chance to tell that kind of story that has that sort of, you know, historic narrative arc to it. And, you know, to pitch a story that goes really deep into like, systems and not just like, the symptoms of what's what's happening, it takes a ton of time to produce those kinds of stories, and you don't always have that, you know, as a as a, you know, City Hall or, you know, criminal justice reporter. So, over the years, just writing these these stories, and following these different scandals and reform efforts, you know, we were constantly thinking like, well, one day, we've got to get down just like, you know, put this in a in a book so that it all really makes sense.Ali Winston:
Absolutely. I mean, there's, there's a way in which day to day journalism, like actual news coverage, it does kind of address symptoms and not causes. It's not, I guess it's by design by demand of the field and it's not a bad thing, but there is a limit to what the form can do even with all weeklies and magazines, you know, when you have a lot 3000 5000 words to write about a story. I mean, even that many of our longer pieces, we would leave a ton of stuff on the cutting room floor,Joe Cadwell:
and this book is over 400 pages and again, an arc of over 50 years. Let's see, we talked about systems and symptoms, why don't we start with some of the symptoms? What what, over that course period of time what was going on? What were the tangibles?Darwin BondGraham:
Well, in the year 2000, this is the incident that we start the book off with. There was a something called the writer scandal, which the writers case which involved a group of officers in West Oakland who were accused of beating people up planting drugs on them writing false police reports and just using brutal force, killing, killing people's dogs with like gunshots to the head and abducting people to gas stations and bridges and beating them. You know, in the night. When that was exposed by a rookie officer named Keith, that the simple thing would have been to say that this was a group of rogue officers, right, who, you know, didn't represent what the department was about. But a lot of people in Oakland knew that this was not some one off aberration, that this was a symptom of a, you know, a larger and more pernicious culture within the police department that had been facilitated by some of the politicians who were running the city at the time who were on this campaign to like clean up Oakland and, quote unquote, make it safer than you know, Walnut Creek, which is this nice suburb to the east of Oakland. So that's one symptom. In the book, we you know, in different chapters, we jump into a number of different cases where we try to make the point about how failings within policing as an institution in the police department created the conditions for these kinds of really egregious abuses of power. We have another case where we talked about a young man named Jerry amaro Latino man who was beat up during a drug sting also in the year 2000. He died a couple of weeks later of injuries he sustained and then there was a cover up in the department that spanned over a decade until the secrets of that came out. We also show how this these problems that are in embedded in policing harmed police officers, we have a whole chapter about a very ill fated shootout involving a criminal suspect name live without mixin, who ended up ended up killing two police officers in the street and then killing two more police officers as they attempted to take them into custody in an apartment building. The those deaths and the whole incident perhaps could have been avoided had the police department instituted more rigorous policies and kinds of reforms and repaired its relationship to the community better. So we show in a way how it's not just the community who gets beat up and suffers. Police officers themselves suffer because the institution of policing remains highly unprofessional and Ill reform. And there'sAli Winston:
another officer just to tell one more story and not to give too much away. Others another officer named Willie Wilkins, Latino officer who is working undercover in East Oakland in round, early 2000s, as well, he actually was shot and killed by two uniformed officers as he held a criminal suspect at gunpoint. His wife sued the city won a settlement the two officers, both white, both young, both inexperienced were you know, that incident really did rip up the department at that point in time. And again, this is the sort of failing that happened because they weren't aware that Wilkins was a cop, even though other officers scream No, no, he's a cop. He's a cop. He's on the force. But they weren't made aware that he was out there that night, without a uniform with a badge on with a firearm in a decoy car dressed a certain way with his own appearance. So again, these failures do have lethal consequences on both sides of the fence.Joe Cadwell:
So pretty dark, pretty egregious symptoms, you know, manifesting themselves on the streets of Oakland and you said there's systems in place, it seemed like political reform. This was the Jerry Brown era. And Jerry Brown, the former governor of California became the mayor of Oakland fine.Ali Winston:
That was his political comeback. He actually had a pretty interesting route back to back into politics. So he was governor of California, late 70s. Governor moonbeam. You know, he had a lot of esoteric policies, really kind of out there a little bit on ahead of his time on environmental issues, certainly on social issues as well. And then he had a couple of failed pet presidential runs, I believe. And then after that, he went into the wilderness a little bit, you know, became a little bit he got into New Age sort of archaeology. He's had this radio show on a local radio station called KPFA, where he would expound his guests on and kind of set up his political project that kind of laid the ground for his mayoral campaign in Oakland. And he was elected in 1996. I believe he promised to make Oakland into this accomplice which is a Eagle policies is like a 1970s. I ad was that 1998 Right? That's when he went yeah. But they're not he basically promised a you know, environmentalist utopia in Oakland, like a real kind of left wing type city, but once he got in power he was he ran the city is Rudy Giuliani West. You know, this kind of zero tolerance, pro gentrification, clean up the streets style politician who basically would go into police lineups and cheer them on and back the pump back in your play, you know, take the streets back from the criminals taken back from the drug dealers. It's worth also saying that Oakland did in the 80s and 1990s, Oakland experienced a tremendous surge in violence and crime and disorder and narcotics usage. And that was a result of deindustrialization, broader national trends. But Oakland was one of the cities that was really hammered by first heroin and then the crack cocaine boom. And by the, you know, the per capita violence in Oakland by the early 1990s was really, really grim. So there was there was a significant problem that law enforcement was out there to try and address but the methods as in New York City where I grew up during you know, Giuliani time in the 1990s, the methods undertaken were just wildly inappropriate is I think, late term.Joe Cadwell:
Sure. And in again, we talked about a few bad apples but it you know, the problems obviously a lot deeper than a few bad apples, but one of the worst of the bad apples was a fella named Clarence, Chuck, my bong, MacDonagh. They pronounce that last name. That's more or less right,Darwin BondGraham:
man. Yeah. And,Joe Cadwell:
and what what was his story? Where did he come from? Where did he end up at?Darwin BondGraham:
He Yeah, checking the van Dijk is a really interesting figure in the Oakland Police Department. He was a very well respected, very hard working officer who became just kind of famous within the department as a really good training officer for a lot of the rookies who were coming through. So in the 1990s, late late 90s, he's training a lot of the a lot of the young officers coming out of the police academy. Miranda is known as one of the productive officers in the department. So he's he's not there's, at the time, they had a term in the OPD for officers who were unproductive, they call them slugs. These are the guys who just kind of sit in their car and you know, maybe take calls from dispatch and we'll go somewhere and then write up a police report. The productive quote unquote, productive officers are the ones who would go out looking for trouble. So my banig and a few of the other officers who ended up becoming the writers, they take it upon themselves to do this drug drug dealing suppression, narcotics suppression work in West Oakland, they're driving around and unmarked vans, hopping out and getting into foot chases, and pursuing pursuing suspects into backyards and other areas and tackling them and, you know, making all these red, they're making a ton of narcotics arrests, serving warrants, on houses and other places. And so my Banik is kind of at the center of all of that. And he's he's the training officer for the, for Keith fat, who's a rookie, who is the rookie who ends up blowing the whistle on what the riders are doing in 2000. My banig ends up becoming a deeply divisive figure within policing because many people within the Oakland Police Department and the Bay Area Northern California police community at large, they view him as someone who was unfairly prosecuted who was unfairly painted as having engaged in these activities. And you know, it the fact that there were two criminal trials where my banig and other members of the writers to to the other writers were put on trial, they were acquitted of some of the charges. And then most of the charges, ended up with a hung jury. So they were never actually convicted in the criminal courts. And so for a lot of people, a lot of police officers and people in law enforcement, they view that they can't they came to view the riders as a fake scandal. And you view the banig and others as being kind of scapegoated for the decisions of these politicians like Jerry Brown who wanted to clean up the city, but didn't want to own that. They didn't want to own the hard, aggressive policing when it became a political scandal.Ali Winston:
And they never paid any political price for it either. I mean, Brown then when they'd be out, went on to win elections to become the Attorney General of California and then again, governor of California for two more terms.Joe Cadwell:
Right. And what happened with with Chuck about it,Ali Winston:
he actually stayed in law enforcement. He was fired from his job at OPD, along with two other the other writers, Matt Hornung and Jude SIAC. No, the third the fourth writer, Frank Vasquez actually fled the country in 2000. Right before the initial charges were announced and is still a fugitive from justice. He's presumed to be in Mexico, there's never been any anything to firm that up beyond the initial reports. And Babadag actually got a job at first at a in a city in the Inland Empire in Southern California named Indio. And then later on, he actually transferred up to the Sacramento area where he worked as a cop at a local community college. He's still in extensive contact with many current and former members of the Oakland Police Department. Their social media profiles indicate as much and he's not these guys are not him in the ride at him. Hornak, who was also married to she might have be retired now, but his wife has it was an Oakland cop for years. And Jude snap note, they were very much still in the circles, the social circles of the Oakland Police Department.Darwin BondGraham:
Yeah, and it's worth pointing out that the writers officers are still friends with and associated with a lot of current and former officers, the rookie, Keith bat, who in 2000, blew the whistle on their behavior and brought about this reform effort within the department that's now going on 20 years. He was he became a pariah. In many ways, a lot of a lot of people in law enforcement, shun him harass him, gave him the cold shoulder for many years. Still do.Joe Cadwell:
Yeah, and, and then there was another name in there and I believe Keith Bhatt worked with Delphine Allen, and Delphine was one of those people that stepped up to to represent some of the atrocities that were being laid upon the people on the streets of OaklandAli Winston:
back as well. Their items, Delphine was one of the victims. Yeah, he was beaten very severely, and testified in, I believe, both criminal trials against the riders. That's really grim what happened and we have a picture in the physical copy of the book of Delphi Allen with his just a burst blood vessel and one of his eyes, it's all blood red. After he was taken in,Joe Cadwell:
and Keith, that was part of that situation. And Keith was kind of given some, some advice to be a little more heavy handed, you know, in in roughing up the suspects, and that kind of I think he wanted to put in a resignation after that didn't.Darwin BondGraham:
It's interesting that, you know, his training officer chuchmah banig, according to key Yes, said like, you know, hey, why didn't you get in there, you know, and like, put your hands a little more on this suspect as we were taking him into custody. My banig in the so we got a lot of old police reports and other materials through a lawsuit. And other means to really kind of understand what was going on at the time in this case. And libanais, in his own words, was was saying, you know, to keep bad that, you know, Oakland is so dangerous, that if you're not an aggressive cop, they're going to the people on the streets are going to take advantage of you and they're going to kill you. And Keith didn't quite see it that way. He understood that it was very dangerous out there. But with Delphine Allen, what he saw and what the reports reflect and what subsequent testimony and other evidence that was in the criminal trial and the civil rights lawsuit lawsuits showed is that Delphine was just a guy walking down the street, you know, late at night with maybe a can of beer in his hand who happened to be in the wrong place, and he got spotted by the writers who were cruising around in their undercover van and they decided to jump out on him. chase him down. Frank Vasquez probably tried to plant crack on him that night. Yeah, and then they kid and then see Jude Seop No. And Frank Vasquez allegedly kidnapped him, drove him under a bridge and just brutally beat him. And that was after he had already been physically restrained and struck a few times by chuchmah, banig. And Keith, that and other officers who were on scene,Joe Cadwell:
not quite true to the oath of servant protect, tell the exact opposite. Yeah. And reminiscent obviously, of the Rodney King scandal down in LA.Darwin BondGraham:
Yeah, the backdrop to the rider scandal was a lot of what was happening in Los Angeles at the time, the of course, you know, the, the Rodney King beating had, you know, really the entire nation was aware of that for a decade almost. And then you know, then what's going on later is the Rampart scandal in Los Angeles, which, in many ways As a corollary, but in somewhat in quite a few ways was quite worse than what the riders did in Oakland.Ali Winston:
Yeah, it was far it the investigation went wider than the investigation in Oakland for a number of reasons. One, it broke earlier, when the Clinton administration was not about to be out of office. That's a big reason why the Department of Justice at the time was not really interested in the writers case. It was kind of when they were just about getting ready to segue into the first administration of George W. Bush. And for those who do not remember the to administer to terms that he served were a very dark era for. For police accountability work, just nothing happened in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. The LA ramparts division scandal happened a little bit earlier, the Justice Department got enough evidence in their investigation to file and win a pattern plaque practice lawsuit against the LAPD and establish a formal consent decree that they were involved in consent decrees for your listeners, because this is also one of the big things in my book. It's about police reform consent decrees are the mechanism that we have in this country is a legalistic method mechanism done through the courts. That sets out a reform program by which an institution be at a hospital, a mental institution, a jail system, a prison system, a police department, sheriff's department has to go through a reform program that's overseen by a judge. And there's a time limit on it. There's a monitoring team that's brought in from the outside to determine whether or not reforms have been accomplished and help the institution find a path towards a better towards complying with the law and respecting people's civil rights. And with police departments. They've been able the Justice Department and then state agencies have been able to do this since the mid 1990s. LAPD is one of the biggest consent decrees that the that have had that has happened in this country because of the size of the department, the visibility, the egregiousness of the problems there in Oakland is also under consent decree that started in 2003. As a direct result of the riders case, however, the case was not brought by the Justice Department. It was brought by two civil rights attorneys, Jim Burris, John Burroughs and Jim Shannon, who we know very well and are featured all throughout this book. And it was brought on behalf of 119 victims alleged victims of the riders, because the Justice Department and the State of California would not bring an action against the Oakland Police Department. The fact that the feds also passed on prosecuting the riders as well, Robert Mueller of you know who they ran the FBI and was very involved in some of the investigations of, of Donald Trump as when he was president was the US Attorney in San Francisco at the time, and he did not he refused to take on a case against the riders because their victims had thick rap sheets. Because their word standing their word up against people who were very well respected in the police department, Chuck Mabbott, I was considered the officer of the year at one point. It just wouldn't fly.Joe Cadwell:
Right? So they had 100. And would you say 119 plaintiffs in this class action lawsuit and these two lawyers brought it and where did that end up? How did that all?Darwin BondGraham:
Yeah, so that lawsuit, the city when when chin and numbers filed that lawsuit, the city quickly realized that they were facing a potentially 100 million dollar plus, you know, jury verdict if it went to trial. That's because they were looking again, the backdrop here is Los Angeles and the Rampart scandal. And I don't have the number in front of me, but the Rampart scandal costs the city of Los Angeles some enormous sum of money. And so the leadership in Oakland was saying, how do we make this go away in a form that doesn't bankrupt the city, and Chan and embarrass on the other hand, we're coming at it from an angle of they had already sued the Oakland Police Department, like, you know, probably 100 times for different people. And so they had already gotten huge monetary settlements over and over and over. And they were kind of tired of it. It was like an assembly line thing for them. And they were just kind of like, you know, we want we want to try to reform the police department. So they weren't coming at it from like, a, you know, an incentive of making a ton of money. So they thought, well, let's propose the negotiated settlement agreement or the consent decree. So that's why Oakland that's why the city of Oakland leadership agreed to this really rigorous reform effort, which is like this massive document with 5052 or whatever individual tasks, each task has like multiple sub task, the task being like these very technical ways of reforming your internal affairs division or these very technical means of ensuring that investigations are fairly conducted or like assembling an early warning system to flag potential problem behavior by some officers. So the city agreed to this thing in the year 2003. Because so the lawsuit is filed in 2000. They're sort of negotiating whether it's going to go to trial or not. And they decide it won't go to trial. So like in January 2003, they sign off on the negotiated settlement agreement.Joe Cadwell:
So 20. So that was the result of thatDarwin BondGraham:
clause 20 years ago to Yeah, 20 years ago this month, essentially, they signed off on this humongous reform agreement. I'll just throw in one little weird thing. Literally the moment Oakland Sinai this two months later, there was an anti war demonstration at the Port of Oakland. A bunch of protesters This is when the Iraq War, the second Iraq war is about to happen. The United States is about to invade Iraq for the second time, the Bay Area is filled with protests, a bunch of protesters go to the Port of Oakland because there are some chips there that are supplying the US military and they're going to do a direct action to like stop the Longshore workers from entering the port. Long story short, the Oakland police show up and shoot everyone with rubber bullets and beat everyone up and run them over with motorcycles including the Longshore workers. So the ink the ink wasn't even dry yet on the negotiated settlement agreement and the police went and do this crazy, violent, you know, suppression of a protest?Joe Cadwell:
Crazy, two decades later, where's Oakland at now? Darwin, you're living there with the what's the status? Yeah,Darwin BondGraham:
you know, the so the negotiated settlement agreement is possibly going to wrap up this year. The department has made enormous strides reforming itself. There's a lot of progress, all the convention. Some of the Progress I'll just the one thing I'll mention here is officer involved shootings are way down in Oakland, and they have been since about 2014 2015. It used to be that the Oakland Police Department shot and killed, you know, seven to 15 people a year and like a handful of those cases, the people would be unarmed and it would be very controversial. Now it's actually quite rare for the Oakland Police Department shoot people because of the pot, the reform policies, they've put in place that disincentivize creating those kinds of dangerous situations. For a number of years, the Oakland Police Department in the city of Oakland also saw a significant reduction in the rate of firearms assaults and homicides. And so violent crime was dropping between about 2015 and 2019. Then the pandemic happened, and for whatever reasons, shoot homicides, shootings and other violent crimes have spiked in Oakland, just like they have in a lot of other parts of the country, a lot of other cities and rural areas. So Oakland is currently going through this very difficult time in terms of like violent crime shootings and homicides, which are primarily harming and impacting the city's African American community. The reform effort may be close to wrapping up. But there are some questions about that, that have been raised recently regarding some investigations internally in the department that may be going a little bit off the rails again. So Oakland's in this very precarious state rightAli Winston:
now. Yeah, I'll add that. The drop actually that violent crime drop is longer it started the from about 2013 is when you started to see a minor decrease in violent and homicides and shootings. And really, that's a result of the department not only putting in place serious efforts to try and change the way that they were doing. They were engaging in day to day interactions with people on the street and gained some trust back because they really like the years of 2000 I want to say the late 2000s. Early 2010s were very difficult time in Oakland because of a there were huge protest movements around police brutality and violence. They centered on the killing of Oscar Grant, young African American man shot unarmed on New Year's Day 2001 2009 by transit cop.Joe Cadwell:
Is that the Fruitvale Station? Yes, correct,Ali Winston:
even though he was killed by a very rapid transit officer, that shooting and the protest movement around them that was met by again, unsurprisingly by very, very stiff opposition from the police department. continued on for a couple of years really, it was very fractious and very chaotic, and brought the issue of poorly over policing police brutality. bad practices the Oakland Police Department at the time, which included a basically industrial scale falsification of search warrants for narcotics cases. Public strip searching strip searches of stuff spects people, especially people on parole or probation, just I won't spoil, I won't give it all away, but he's got a great time. That being said, After that period of time in 2013, through about 2019, the department actually put effort into not only reestablishing relationships with the community, but also engaging, trying to use those relationships, to get information out who the very small number of people who are committing the overwhelming number of violent crimes in Oakland, and it did work for a good period of time. But political changes in police departments certain scandals that again, I won't spoil, but threw everything off the rails, put that on its ear. Politicians also like to put their name and their stamp on certain things and like fire to things that work even though they may benefit the actual citizenry. So that's part of it as well. But overall, I think that you know, the thing that Darwin's hinting at the problems with their engineering Terrill investigations and how they handle them, it really oftentimes, even though tremendous progress has been made, there's such a desire in the police department to just kind of get rid of this Albatross and see it as a list of technical fixes that need to be done. And oh, well, this the problem is not us the problem? Is the court the problem is these lawyers the problem are these people out there who are complaining about police brutality and whatnot. Well, there's a reason why 2020 saw some of the biggest protests this country's ever seen, specifically around police brutality. It's not that this is a one off issue. It's a deeply rooted issue in American society. So I think that in many ways, Oakland and the story that we tell is a microcosm of that applies to dozens of American cities around the country, depending on regardless of the region racial composition, what what have you.Joe Cadwell:
For sure, my guest today are ally Winston and Darwin bond Graham, authors of the writers come out at night brutality, corruption in the cover up in Oakland, gentlemen, powerful book, after someone reads your book, what do you hope they take away from it?Darwin BondGraham:
Yeah, one take away. So we, we don't come down on either side of the issue of you know, should law enforcement or policing be abolished? Or, you know, in terms of like, what specific reforms should happen? We're, it's hard to take a stand on those kinds of issues. What we were trying to do is read a history of the department as an institution of the city, and to take a close look at the reform effort that has actually happened. And to try to figure out, did it work or has it not worked? And one takeaway that we were able that we, that we feel confident stating, is that reforming the police, if by that we mean, making policing, respect to the Constitution and people's constitutional rights and reducing the harms that policing can do this is possible. But the way it happened in Oakland, it wasn't like the police department one day woke up and said, Hey, we've got to do better. It also wasn't like the city's political leaders, the mayor, the city council, and others, you know, said, want, you know, one day, hey, we really gotta transform policing here to make sure it serves everyone. And that, you know, people aren't, you know, especially African Americans in the city are not harmed and their rights aren't violated. The way that it worked in Oakland, was that there was a huge social movement. There was a lot of intense pressure over many decades brought by protesters by just local residents, by civil rights attorneys, by, you know, NGOs. They pressured the city constantly to seek greater transparency into the police department and always try to hold the police accountable, and always push for some new reforms. And that has always been been able to achieve a little bit of progress. The one other observation we've made is that anytime that that external pressure on the police is withdrawn, you see the culture of the police department become more insular, become more resistant to change. And then these problems the especially the secrecy and the violence within the department and against the community. Those problems reemerge again,Ali Winston:
yeah, you gotta there's always an AR book does actually trace back to the founding of Oakland in the 1850s. And from the 19 century onwards, you really there is always in the heart of the institution, a very reactionary element. It's not to say that every officer is reactionaries at heart, right, you know, Oathkeeper proud boy Klansmen, John Bircher. However, they're present throughout the institution's history and in certain eras because of political dine It makes it because of the way that, you know, the broader social currents are running, they rise, and they fall in terms of their influence over the agency. And when that kind of leveling influence from the outside is taken away when the police are allowed to police themselves, it takes a very nasty turn. And that is one of the things that you can, I believe, just having reported in Oakland, New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Fresno, a lot of other departments around the country, I've seen that it's a that is a very, very constant dynamic. And again, that external pressure that involved in that engagement over the years over decades, it's not just about a summer protest, showing up at a council meeting, taking a photograph putting on your social media account, what have you. It really has to do with deep, sustained engagement in a community and trying to better that community. And because of the sort of place that Oakland is, there are some people who have been engaged in this work that we know of who've been around who've been at it since the 1980s 1970s 1960s. Some, if they're still alive, might have been involved in that 1950 investigation of op ed by the by the California State Assembly, which is one of the first of its kind in the country. So it really is about kind of making certain that you have skin in the game for the long term, because this is it's a constant of our society. And I don't think there's any person out there who believes that the American criminal justice system in our policing manner of policing works in the current shape and form.Joe Cadwell:
And your book is a definitely a powerful reminder of that. Gentleman, this has been a fantastic conversation, where can people go to find out more about you and your upcoming work?Darwin BondGraham:
We're both on Twitter. So if people want to keep up this, check us out on Twitter. I'm the news editor of the Oakland side. It's a hyperlocal news publication based in Oakland so people can keep up with some of my work there. And then of course, people can you know, order a copy of our book, it should be available in bookstores, most bookstores, it's available online.Joe Cadwell:
All right, thank you, Darren,Ali Winston:
my. My other line of reporting that I engage in, aside from law enforcement is the far right, unfortunately, fortunately, so I've done a lot of work on them for places like Rolling Stone, the British Broadcasting Corporation, some other outlets out there, I believe that you know, my I'm an independent reporter, so I kind of cast my net far and wide, but I my most recent stuff has been in Rolling Stone and the BBC.Joe Cadwell:
All right. Well, thank you very much Ollie Winston and Darwin bond Graham has been a real pleasure to have you on the show today.Ali Winston:
Thank you. Thank you so much. This has been great.Joe Cadwell:
Man, before we go, I just can't help but draw the parallels. You guys are probably too young to remember Dirty Harry Clint EastwoodAli Winston:
o n TV all the time.Joe Cadwell:
Love Magnum Force like Magnum Force, youDarwin BondGraham:
know Magnum, Magnum Force, the scene where they're in the basement and the shooting range? Yeah, that's OPD. Holy shit. They filmed they filmed a good portion of that movie around the Oakland Police Department. Yep.