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To read more about Episode 194, visit the main episode page.
Michael Moore [00:00:16] Hello, everyone, this is Rumble, and I’m Michael Moore. Thank you very much for joining me today. Today’s episode is about the police and mass incarceration and what we call safety and security. And it’s a personally very important episode to me. Felt strongly about this for a very long time. And I want to share with you some ideas of actual things that we can do to rethink all of this and act on it.
Michael Moore [00:03:44] Have you ever dialed 9-1-1? Hmm. It rarely prevents crime. It’s really more like crime scene cleanup. After all, you’re probably calling them because you’re witnessing a crime taking place or the crime has already been committed and now you’re calling 9-1-1. What is the purpose of the police? You know, if something bad has happened to you or your home, calling the cops isn’t going to bring your life back. Calling the cops can’t undo the crime that was just committed. Their purpose, I guess, is to catch the person who committed the crime. And the criminal justice system to punish them. But that doesn’t bring back a life.
Michael Moore [00:05:04] It doesn’t bring back a stolen computer. What does it do? What good is it? Every day, three or four Americans are shot and killed by the police. That’s about a thousand or so people a year that are shot and killed by the police. Occasionally it will be in self-defense. Did you know that the majority of cops will never pull their gun out and shoot it, while on the job during their entire career. 73 percent of all police officers never fire their gun on the job. Did you know the crime since 1991 has steadily been going down, way down? It’s had an uptick during the pandemic, I guess one might expect that during a catastrophe.
Michael Moore [00:06:26] When I first came to New York City in 1990-1991, there were over 2,300 gun murders a year in the city. But by 2019, that number had dropped to a little over 300 gun murders a year. That is a huge drop. Maybe it’s because 78 percent of Americans don’t own a gun. Why does every Black man have a story about being pulled over by the police. White people, do you have a story? I think I’ve probably been pulled over by the police, maybe three or four times in my entire life. Every time for speeding. That’s five miles over the limit, Mr. Moore, you’re going 10 miles over the limit. Did you know you were going 20 miles over the limit? I was not ever pulled over, because some cops said, Oh, there comes a white guy, hit the siren, hit the gas. Get ready to take the gun out of your holster.
Michael Moore [00:08:04] White people are afraid. But they’re not afraid of the police. They’re afraid of losing power. White people do not want to defund the police. They want more police. They want more police in tanks. They want police to be able to fire all those new guns from those new tanks. They like the idea of a police state. They’ll never really use those words. They’ll say things like, They want someone strong in power, someone of authority. The only order they believe in is to have those who carry a badge and a gun to keep the riff raff away from them. It’s not really about safety, is it? They know what’s coming in the 2040s. White people will be the minority in this country. So they need to figure out a way and they will hold on to power, to hold on to the money, to hold on to the best homes and the best schools. So until that day comes, I guess we’ll just let the police keep doing what they do. We’ll just keep letting the police fire away. But my friends and I’m talking to my white friends, that’s not a solution. This is not a solution.
Michael Moore [00:10:01] We white people need to calm the fuck down and reinvent how to do what is called policing. In fact, we need to redefine what that word means. We need to redefine what we mean by law enforcement, public safety. We have to stop thinking about what we think of when we think of crime. It’s not just about what we know as the typical crimes. Public safety needs to be about all crime. Public safety, ensuring the safety of the public, of the people. Public safety needs to be about corporate crime. Public safety needs to be about environmental crime. What would be more relevant when we talk about our safety, when it comes to what we’ve done to the environment? Financial crime, Wall Street crime, banking crime.
Michael Moore [00:11:22] That’s about public safety, and we need to think of crime about things that aren’t designated as crimes, but should be. If a woman is doing the same job as a man and is being paid less for that job, I ask you, is that not a crime? Is this not about a crime where women are being ripped off? Money stolen from their pockets simply because they’re the wrong gender. This is how we need to reorganize our thinking about crime, and we need to start calling those things that we don’t call crimes, crimes. And we need to start thinking about our public safety. Yes, we want to be safe from our homes being broken into. Yes, we want to be safe walking down the street. Yes, we want to be safe when it comes to our actual lives, of course. But it can’t be just about that, especially when we don’t connect all these other crimes to the concept of public safety.
Michael Moore [00:12:50] We can see why we don’t even feel safe with the basic things we always are worried about when it comes to crime. So let’s be clear, public safety should also be about making sure no one goes hungry. Because if people are hungry, if they don’t have food, they’re not safe. We have to make sure that everyone has a home. If you don’t have a roof over your head, you are not safe. We have to make sure everyone has clean drinking water. There are few things more important regarding public safety than making sure you can drink a glass of water. Tell me why it’s a greater crime to go in and steal a pair of shoes from Foot Locker than it is to poison the water of Flint, Michigan, or Newark, New Jersey. Of every Indian reservation. If nearly 30 percent of the people in this country do not have access to a doctor, do not have health care, do not have health insurance, they are not safe. Public safety is medical care.
Michael Moore [00:14:21] Public safety is having an income. And if people don’t have enough money, we have to make sure that they have. Just as we did during this pandemic year. The stimulus checks, the unemployment, the money that the government was able to give people, so society would not completely collapse. That should be on our minds. Pandemic or no pandemic, the public is not safe if they don’t have the money to live on. Excellent schools is about public safety. Having a job is about public safety. Daycare is public safety. Elder care is public safety. Climate is public safety. If we continue to wreck the planet, we’ve made ourselves unsafe. The planet is becoming unsafe to live on. When we say public safety, why are we just thinking about the police catching the bad guy. The police is a militarized police force.
Michael Moore [00:15:32] A police state, that is not safety. That makes us less safe. We have to stop doing it this way. So the first thing that we need to start doing is to act on all of these things I’ve brought up regarding what should be the real crimes that we address. And what we need to provide for the public safety, each of these categories from housing to food to schools, water. All of this. We need to get going on this right now. We need legislation passed, and we need to have a whole new concept of public safety. And that’s why the other thing that we need to do as soon as possible is to set up in every town, in every city in America, a Department of Public Safety and Compassion and call it that. It’s not about the police, we are not safer because we have the police. Yes, they play a role on some level. But if we want true public safety, we need to redo this in an entirely different way.
Michael Moore [00:17:06] So just go with me on this. Imagine where you live, you had what was called a Department of Public Safety and Compassion. Yes, compassion. We have to start behaving that way. And if we put it right in the title of the department, that we the people expect our leaders and our people that we pay to help keep the community safe, that it is done with kindness and compassion. So imagine in each city, in this Department of Public Safety and Compassion, there may be three precincts in your town. There may be eighty five precincts in your city. Each precinct should have a team of people, we can call them public safety officers, but they’re not cops. Yes, we will still need in each of these teams, in each of these precincts a cop, somebody who’s there to deal, sadly, with the violence that exists in our society. A lot of it is violence committed by men against women and children. And coworkers and classmates.
Michael Moore [00:18:33] We need to see this through a different lens. So, yes, we will still need people who can stop the violence. Sometimes, and this is already happening in other cities, where they have what are called disruptors that come in to break up and stop the violence without committing more acts of violence to stop the violence. And yes, we will need a person or two highly trained and with a keen eye and a keen sense and a moral compass who will have the ability to use force, if necessary, to stop the violent offenders from hurting the innocent, from hurting women, from hurting children. But each of these teams in each of these precincts also need to have other public safety officers. What if each precinct had a public safety officer in charge of hunger, of dealing with people who are hungry?
Michael Moore [00:19:46] A homeless officer, a medical officer to deal with the medical issues that people have. A dental officer. How many people are suffering because they don’t have the money to get their teeth fixed? A jobs officer. Hello, I’m the public safety officer for jobs here in this precinct. What do we need to do to get more jobs in this area? What do we need to do to support that? What if somebody’s whole job at the precinct was focused on creating jobs or helping to connect people who live in the precinct to get a job? What if we had somebody whose job it was to be the person making sure that everybody had enough money to live on. Think about that.
Michael Moore [00:20:44] Yes, I’m the public safety officer for the homeless. I’m the public safety officer for food and hunger. I’m the mental health public safety officer. Oh my God, we need so much of that, don’t we? We don’t need thousands of men with badges and guns. That’s not what is making me safe. What makes my life safe is for my fellow human beings, my neighbors, to have food on the table, a roof over their head, clean water to drink, excellent schools for their kids to go to, a job, a guaranteed income. If we did every one of those things, and if we have public safety officers responsible for each of those things in each precinct, everyone’s life would be better. Usually when we think of public safety, it’s very much about us. I need to feel safe. I have to be safe. What are the police doing to make me safe? What if we thought about our fellow men and women and children? And looked at it this way. What are we doing to keep them safe? What are we doing to make their lives safe? And not just safe, but better, happier, enriched.
Michael Moore [00:22:26] The pursuit of happiness…isn’t that in our founding document? Are we not and didn’t we in signing that document, our forefathers, no mothers there, their forefathers, didn’t they make a commitment to that? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I would like to see every town, village, city, neighborhood in this country. Not only committed to that, but having not a police station, but a public safety center with public safety officers to make life better for the people who live in those neighborhoods. I am convinced that if we don’t think about it this way, we will never be safe. And we will then continue to end up turning to the man with a gun to solve a mental health problem, to solve hunger or homelessness, to solve a shit school situation. I don’t want to live that way anymore.
Michael Moore [00:23:54] And I don’t think you do, either. And when we have to call 9-1-1, the people who work at 9-1-1 need to be trained so that as they listen to the emergency need from the caller they’re able to direct the call to the appropriate response people, to the appropriate response public safety officers. A call comes in, the neighbors are arguing next door, it’s getting more heated. It sounds like somebody is getting smacked around. You call 9-1-1. You tell 9-1-1 this. And they send somebody there who can deal with the domestic violence that’s taken place.
Michael Moore [00:24:54] They may need to send what we know of as a police officer with them, but only a highly educated, highly trained, non-racist empathic officer, who may have to break up and prevent further violence. The person calling in, it may be because there’s a drug or alcohol addiction problem. Send the public safety officers that deal with that issue. The 9-1-1 operator will know what to do. It could be a mental health problem. Send the mental health public safety officers. You may have to do with child protection, send the child protection officer. If we organize this, train it well and have smart people working these jobs, people with hearts and souls, it isn’t going to be perfect, but it’s going to be a lot better than the way we’re doing it now.
Michael Moore [00:26:04] I’d also like to have a separate corporate crime telephone line set up, because people who work in these corporations, who work on Wall Street, they see stuff going on and every once in a while, you get somebody with a conscience who will report the corporate and financial crimes being committed against us. Wouldn’t that be a better world? Charter schools, which I am not a fan of these things, but do you realize that when they set up a charter school, they essentially have to ask for the resignations of all the teachers and administrators in that school? And then they have to go through an interview process, a vetting process, to see if they are the right teachers for that charter school.
Michael Moore [00:26:58] We’ve accepted this now for at least two or three decades. I’ve never liked it, but I can see how it would work with the police. I could see how it would work with our new Department of Public Safety and Compassion. What if I, as the mayor of the town, said, OK, folks, we have to hit the reset button here on what we used to call policing. So I need all the police officers to turn in their resignation. And then what we do is we hire back after they go through a vetting process, you know where we can weed out the racists, where we can weed out the bullies, where we can weed out the trigger happy ones, the ones with the most complaints from the community against them. We hire them back and we pay them more. I don’t think they’re paid enough. They do risk their lives for us. They should be paid more, but weed out, they say it’s bad apples, quite a few bad apples, by the way. They need to be weeded out.
Michael Moore [00:28:09] Hire back the good ones and then make it a policy that all public safety officers must have a college education, must go through a different kind of training. All of them need to be vetted and there needs to be a community committee that oversees them. What’s so wrong with that? The good ones stay, the bad ones go. The criminal justice system, there is no justice, it is criminal. Because there is no justice. There is a system and that system is pretty rotten. It’s racist, it’s inhuman, it’s immoral, and it doesn’t work. None of us are truly happy with it. If we were honest and if we were not white, we wouldn’t have to worry about being honest, because we’d be living with it every single day. It’s wrong and we can fix it.
[00:29:31] I will be following up this episode in the next week or two with part two of my thoughts about the Department of Public Safety and Compassion in that episode. We’ll talk about mass incarceration. We’ll talk about our prison industrial complex. Because we can’t fix these other things and leave that the way it is. We are the shame of this world in the way that we lock up people. It doesn’t work either. So we will talk about that in the next week or two. Thank you for listening to my thoughts about this. Please give me your feedback. I’m sure you’ve thought about this and you’ve got other ideas too. Write to me at Mike@MichaelMoore.com. That’s easy. Mike@MichaelMoore.com. Some of your thoughts about this. If you want to leave a voicemail, there’s a link right here on the podcast page, where you’re listening to this from.
Michael Moore [00:30:49] Just leave me a one minute voicemail. I will listen to every voicemail and I will read every email. I cannot respond to all of them obviously, there are not enough hours in the day, but I will listen and I will share. Let’s do this together. Let’s create. Let’s end the way we’ve been doing this. Let’s weed out the racism as best we can. Let’s create a Department of Public Safety and Compassion. Thank you to our executive producer, Basel Hamdan, our editor and sound engineer, Nick Kwas. We’ll talk soon.