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Friday, April 1, 2016

Ep. 4 - Michael A. Wood Jr.

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On this, our fourth episode, our guest is Michael A. Wood Jr.
Michael is a Baltimore-based police reform activist who, after spending a career in the United States Marine Corps and Baltimore Police Department, has torn down the blue wall of silence. He has become a vocal advocate of a new era of civilian-led policing. While completing his doctorate studies, Michael works as much as possible with grassroots activism on the streets of Baltimore, where his most valuable lessons were learned, and makes media and speaking appearances to further the discussion on police reform and the needs of the people.
You can find him on Facebook and Twitter. You can find his website at michaelawoodjr.net. He is also a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Their website can be found at leap.cc.

The first time I became aware of Michael was June 26, 2015. That day, he took to his Twitter account, and shared the following:


So here we go. I'm going to start tweeting the things I've seen and participated in, in policing that is corrupt, intentional or not: A detective slapping a completely innocent female in the face for bumping into him, coming out of a corner chicken store. Punting a handcuffed, face down suspect in the face, after a foot chase. My handcuffs, not my boot or suspect. [Closed Circuit Television] cameras turning as soon as a suspect is close to caught. [Defecating] inside suspects' homes during raids, on their beds and clothes. Swearing in court and [probable cause documents] that suspect dropped [a Controlled Dangerous Substance] during unbroken visual pursuit when neither was true. Jacking up and illegally searching thousands of people with no legal justification. Having other people write [probable cause] statements, who were never there because they could twist it into legality. Summonsing officers who weren't there so they could collect the overtime. Targeting 16- to 24-year-old black males essentially because we arrest them more, perpetuating the circle of arresting them more. If internal investigations were transparent, you would be able to see it all. The records are there. What's really hard to convey is that some things are so commonplace, they didn't register until I was on the other side. I don't remember details of any particular person getting illegally searched, it was every day. I'm one person relying on a flawed memory system. This is an indictment on the culture of the profession, not a witch-hunt. Sorry.”

A quick programming note: The first two minutes or so of this episode were severely damaged by a technical glitch on my end, rendering them of too poor quality to be broadcast. Here is a transcript of what Michael said to kick off the episode:
I am a Marine Corps veteran. I served 11 years in the police department in Baltimore until I was forced to retire from a line of duty injury. And with the movement growing post Michael Brown, the Black Lives Matter movement, I kept hearing a lot of defense of things that were completely indefensible for police to do. And I decided I was going to … talk about these things whether we wanted to talk about them or not or whether it was going to going to get me in trouble or not or whether it was breaking the code … this has to be addressed, and that got a lot of sensationalism.”

We'll pick it up right there. And now, on to the show...


Also, you can find the Joe Rogan Experience podcast episode with Michael I mentioned in the episode here:
 

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