Transcript, Web links and Credits below.
There’s a lot going on in the world, so today I’m going to unpack and explain three important news stories for us.
Have you seen the pictures and videos of the protests in Puerto Rico? I’m so proud of the people for standing up to their corrupt governor, but I’m also jealous that our streets don’t look like that after all that Trump has done.
Then I’ll tell the story of the two Louisiana police officers who were just fired for threatening to shoot and kill Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Lastly — Israel is now openly and publicly engaging in ethnic cleansing. At this very moment they are forcefully evicting Palestinians from their homes and tearing the homes down right there on the spot. The whole world is bothered by it, but the United States has made defending the human rights of Palestinians politically incorrect.
And we’ll end today with an exciting new update on The Action PAC — the brand new political organization that we formed to take our Action Steps to a whole nutha level!
Let’s dig in.
This is Shaun King and you are listening to (The Breakdown)!
In September of 2017, a category 5 hurricane hit Puerto Rico. It was the strongest, deadliest, costliest hurricane to ever hit Puerto Rico. A staggering $91 billion of damage was done, but that $91 billion in damage — effectively destroying the entire power grid of the island — left 95 percent of Puerto Rico without power, 95 percent of the island without cell phone service, and over half of the island without any clean water. Here’s how bad it was: four months after the hurricane hit, 450,000 people still didn’t have any electricity. We’re talking about 120 days later. Thousands of people died as a result of not just the hurricane, but of the devastating aftermath. And in the wake of it all, it wasn’t just that resentment among Puerto Ricans built because of the conditions, but resentment also built because of widespread corruption and cronyism and mismanagement from Governor Ricardo Rosselló and his entire administration. To say that the man has dropped the ball would be an understatement.
I said all of that to say that Puerto Rico has gone through hell these past few years and people’s nerves are frayed. Then, just 10 days ago, Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism released 900 pages of text messages — not just from Governor Rosselló, but from 11 of his cabinet members. The messages were not just homophobic, bigoted, anti-woman, and disgusting — they were even violent, with death threats targeted toward other American politicians, cultural figures, and more. They spoke flippantly about victims of the hurricane.
And, for 10 days, the entire island has now been gripped with protests. Multiple cabinet members have resigned and Rosselló has said he won’t run for reelection, but it’s not enough and hundreds of thousands of people have packed the capitol in the largest protests in Puerto Rican history.
I’m proud of the people, particularly the young people there, who are fueling these protests. I give my support to them — and encourage them to never let up. Now, I just wish we could have protests like that here on the mainland. We have a lot to learn – you can’t adjust to the bigotry and ugliness of leaders because before you know it, you’ll get used to it.
Our nation, and I’ve said this on social media, but I mean it, our nation is far more fragile right now than I think most people truly want to admit.
Our next story, I believe, is a sign of that.
I love New Orleans. But New Orleans is a lot like Atlanta and other big cities in the South. If you go just a few miles outside of New Orleans — or outside of Atlanta or outside of Charlotte or Memphis — you learn real quick that you aren’t in the big city anymore.
And that’s Gretna, Louisiana. It’s literally 10 minutes away from New Orleans, but the police department there has a long, ugly history with bigotry. The whole city of Gretna does, really. And of course Gretna has great people, but they stay in the news over racist foolishness.
And now, two police officers were just fired after posting on Facebook how they’d like to shoot and kill Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Charles Rispoli, the officer who wrote the Facebook post, and Angelo Varisco, who liked the post, were officers in the Gretna Police Department. Good for the police chief there, Arthur Lawson, for firing these two men. They not only violated department policy — Charles Rispoli, who made the post, where he said, Ocasio-Cortez “needs a round — and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve” as a bartender — needs to also be prosecuted by Capitol Police. It’s a federal crime to threaten the life of a Congressperson.
But this threat didn’t come from nowhere. It’s a sign of the times. The President of the United States has targeted, harassed, and demeaned Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over and over again, not just on social media, but at his rallies, and before the press. And when the President of the United States demeans and dehumanizes somebody, it makes them a target for his followers — that’s exactly what we’ve seen happen here. And it’s exactly what the congresswomen being targeted by Trump said would happen.
Now, it’s a bit off-topic, but how wild is it that the officers who threatened AOC were fired in less than a week, but the officer who murdered Eric Garner is still on the force 5 years later?
I have one final story to cover, then I have some very good news to share.
What do you know about Israel and Palestine? I know you know there’s a conflict there — I think the whole world knows that, but I think I may need to do a whole episode, just breaking down the conflict, its origins, and breaking down where it stands today.
Now I fight against bigotry of all kinds and I’ve literally put my life on the line tracking down, catching, and holding bigots and Neo-Nazis accountable. White supremacists are in prison right now because I identified them, tracked them down, caught them, and forced them to be prosecuted by authorities.
So I’m against all forms of oppression. And right now, Palestinian people are routinely being violently oppressed not just in the land we know as Israel, but in the land we know as Palestine. And just yesterday, horrible videos were released of law-abiding, non-violent Palestinian families being forcefully removed from their homes, homes they owned and built. On their land, they were ripped out of their homes, and within hours, the Israeli government brought in bulldozers to tear the homes down.
To be clear, and I have to say all of this because you may not know it, these were wonderful, nice, well-built homes with peaceful families. This had nothing to do with terrorism or anything else, it was just modern day ethnic cleansing. Human rights officials all over the world are calling it this. Israel just wants to remove Palestinian people from wherever they can, however they can, and they will force them out of their own homes, and bulldoze those homes if they have to. It violates international law. And it’s a crime against humanity.
And it’s embarrassing to even have to say this, but calling out the human rights abuses of Israel does not make me or anyone else an anti-Semite, but Trump and other conservatives, are trying to label people who speak out on human rights abuses like this as bigots. They are wrong and Dr. King was right — injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Injustice in Palestine is a threat to justice everywhere. And I stand with the Palestinian people as they continue to experience this horrible oppression.
[Editor’s Note: Unscripted Action PAC update from Shaun. We will add a transcription of the update as soon as possible.]
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Produced by Willis Polk II
Additional Instrumentation by Christian “Idrys” Shannon, Lance “Lance Fury” Powlis, Markeith Black & Smok Tagous
Additional Engineering by Amond “AJ” Jackson for Salem Psalms Library
Additional Vocals by Garnett “Natti” Bush & Jason Coffey
Scratches by Kenny “DJ FlipFlop” Vanderberg