Who Is A Priority For Getting The COVID-19 Vaccine?
Speaker 1: 00:00 From farmers to judges, people are lobbying for the COVID vaccine. Speaker 2: 00:04 Everybody wants to be deemed an essential worker and therefore get bumped up a little bit in priority. Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Hyman. This is KPBS mid-day edition. San Diego faces a steep economic recovery from the COVID pandemic, Speaker 2: 00:28 But when it comes to the impact that it had on people that is going to be a much longer lasting impact and it will affect the economy in the long run. Speaker 1: 00:38 COVID stay at home orders have taken a toll on vets with mental health issues and the challenge of school discipline in distance learning that's ahead on midday edition, Speaker 1: 01:01 The CDC says more than 4 million people in the U S have already received a COVID-19 vaccination. That's far below the projected 20 million by the end of 2020, but it's a significant start. Healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities are the first to receive vaccinations in California. But the question now is who comes next. The state's community vaccine advisory committee is scheduled to meet this week to come up with recommendations for phase one B of the vaccine rollout. And as the San Diego union Tribune reports today, that committee has been inundated with suggestions and pleas from people hoping to make it to the front of the line. Joining me as union Tribune, reporter Greg Moran and Greg welcome. Speaker 2: 01:47 I already know already. I'm Speaker 1: 01:49 Good. Thank you. Now you've listed a number of organizations who've asked to be given priority for the COVID vaccinations. Can you give us an idea of the range of those groups? Speaker 2: 02:01 You know, it's very interesting. It is, uh, it says broad and diverse really as, as California, it's everything from individual teachers, teachers unions up and down the state industries, agricultural industries, service industries, municipal agencies, everybody, uh, you know, health care workers, health care organizations that do work outside of hospitals. So, you know, surgical centers, uh, dentists, things like that. It is a, a kind of a snapshot of the largest state economy in the country. And one of the largest economies in the world, everyone, it seems is trying to make their case for a, a priority spot in the line. Speaker 1: 02:42 Uh, what kinds of cases are they making? What are they saying about why their groups should get priority? Speaker 2: 02:48 Everyone is really making a case on some level that their work in there and the people who they represent or the work that they do is essential work. And as you know, this has been, you know, a term really since March, since the beginning of the pandemic where the state and the federal government have identified some workers in some jobs as essential and others, not that distinction has fed into a lot of the resentment that we see playing out in courts and other areas from people that were, whose businesses closed or people who can't work saying, why am, why am I not essential? So here, uh, many, many of the arguments people are making are, uh, you know, what we do, whether it is we are work in a poultry processing plant or farms, that's part of the food supply chain, uh, where our work is essential. Our workers should be vaccinated at first to things like security, guards, security guards say, look, we, we work in areas with, you know, in, in hospitals and in places where people who are coming to get tested or being treated work, our workers, uh, provide security for these places where a central it's, essentially everybody wants to be deemed an essential worker and therefore kind of get bumped up a little bit in the priority. Speaker 1: 04:04 Now, as the vaccination recommendations stand. Now, I understand isn't the next group supposed to be people with underlying conditions and seniors. Speaker 2: 04:12 Yeah. Uh, the, the proposal and it kind of moves around a lot, but is a phase. This would be phase one B. So it would be people 75 and older, uh, emergency service workers, uh, education childcare workers, you know, there's another phase, second phase of that, which would be trans transportation workers, people 65 to 74 who have high-risk medical conditions and things like that. It's this kind of sifting and parsing of the state's population into, I guess, groups of need, or is one way of thinking about it. So that's phase one, B it's, it's a pretty wide swath, uh, not as wide as I'm sure some people would like, but it would be a lot of people Speaker 1: 05:01 Now in Florida, people 65 and up can make an appointment to get their vaccine. Right now we've seen long lines of people waiting to get their shots. Is it likely we'll see that here? Speaker 2: 05:12 Probably. Uh, and I only said that because it seems very little of our, uh, uh, collective, you know, execution of our response to COVID has been seamless or without, uh, lines or things like that. So I would expect that certainly at first, um, uh, I think that the state would like to avoid that, uh, yet at the same time, I think they're feeling pressure with the surge, with the emergence of this new variant to really pick up the pace of, uh, you know, getting noodles in arms. But my guess would be you would see long lines of people, uh, in some ways that reflects a lot of the anxiety and the urgency people feel, uh, to get this vaccine, which is probably driven by a desire not only for a good health and safety and protection, but to try to get, you know, to do some sense of normalcy. Speaker 1: 06:04 You spoke with an epidemiologist about the overarching criteria that state officials are expected to use to set priorities for vaccinations and within that are concerns about equity for communities, hardest hit by the virus. Tell us about that. Speaker 2: 06:21 Yes. Uh, it's it's uh, a metric or, or, uh, uh, criteria that the state is, is using a lot in its response to COVID in this case. I think it means a couple of things. One is it, it means that they wanted to assure that there's sort of no lime line jumping by, uh, people who are, uh, advantaged rich, uh, powerful, uh, connected or, or whatever that there is, uh, an equal opportunity for everyone based on their need. I think in the larger sense too, it's a, it's an attempt to acknowledge, you know, historical and long longstanding inequality in, in healthcare access, healthcare delivery, healthcare availability, uh, that, uh, communities, uh, that are not, uh, powerful, that are not connected, that are not advantaged and are largely not white, you know, historically have not, uh, had, uh, uh, as, as ready access to healthcare services. This, I think is a way to assure that in this very important public health, uh, measure that, um, those, uh, communities, um, in the course of the pandemic are the ones who are really on the front lines. A lot of essential workers, a lot of people who have to go to work, a lot of people who don't have the flexibility to work from home, you know, those people have, uh, equal access, ready access to the vaccine as well. Speaker 1: 07:43 And for people who are interested, where can they read these public appeals about the vaccine, Speaker 2: 07:49 If you go to the state, uh, public health website, but if you just Google California department of public health, they have the big COVID page. You kind of drill down into that and you'll see a link to the, uh, vaccine advisory committee. If you go to their, they have grouped and publish all of the comments that they get. So there's a letter in there from the chief justice of the Supreme court saying the court people should be given a priority placement all the way to individuals, you know, be even people writing in one or two sentence things saying, you know, my, my grandson has a disability. I really need to get them a vaccine. Where do I go? Uh, and individual workers, uh, there's a very powerful one from a commercial fishermen saying, look, I work on a boat, uh, you know, is close quarters, uh, work part of the food supply and you know, how can I get vaccinated? It's a real window into sort of where we are collectively. And in some cases individually in the state, uh, during this pandemic right now, Speaker 1: 08:46 Right? And I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune reporter Greg Moran, Greg, thank you. Speaker 2: 08:51 You're welcome protests. Over Speaker 1: 08:56 The government's new stimulus package got personal over the holiday weekend, the homes of house speaker, Nancy Pelosi and Senate leader, Mitch McConnell were both the targets of vandalism with graffiti demanding more money in the package last week, a bill, which would have raised stimulus checks from 600 to $2,000 from millions of Americans passed in the house, but was blocked in the Senate by McConnell. The truth is the COVID 19 economic hit has already been personal for thousands of San Diego for months now, as we begin a new year with new vaccines, we'll check in on the damage done and the possibilities for recovery in 2021, joining me is Ray major chief economist for the San Diego association of governments or SANDAG Ray. Welcome. Thank you very much, Maureen. Now, first of all, what do you think about the new stimulus package passed by Congress? Will it be enough to help people and businesses here in San Diego? Speaker 3: 09:51 Well, right now every little bit is going to help because there really is no end in sight, uh, for this, uh, the COVID lockdowns. And so, uh, we, we need to get money to businesses and we need to get money to individuals. So, um, you know, people are not, uh, earning as much as they were last year. And I think these types of stimulus packages right now are absolutely in order Speaker 1: 10:16 Back in October SANDAG, put out a paper on the economic impact of COVID-19 so far in San Diego. Can you remind us some of the top findings of that report? Speaker 3: 10:27 Sure. What we found in that report is that there were specific industries that were hit extremely hard here in San Diego. The tourism industry, the retail industry and education were the three hardest hit sectors with almost 180,000 jobs being lost in those three sectors. But we also found is that the, uh, the recession that, that came after this, the COVID pandemic didn't hit everybody evenly. Uh, people of color Hispanic and black populations were hit much harder than the white and Asian populations in our area. Young people were hit harder than, uh, middle aged people. And women were also hit harder than men in this particular, uh, economic crisis. Speaker 1: 11:16 It really has impacted the overall regional economic product for San Diego County. Hasn't it? Speaker 3: 11:23 Well, it has the, the, the GDP here in the area has suffered, uh, about 10 to 12% of our economy is reliant on tourism. And so that would be all of the people coming here to the region, uh, you know, for, for vacation purposes and also for business travel, uh, they would, they would spend somewhere on the order of $10 billion per year, that would be added to our economy on things like hotel rooms and local restaurants and going to activities like the zoo and SeaWorld. And that has almost all, but dried up. There is some activity in terms of, uh, people coming to stay here for vacations, maybe coming down from the Los Angeles area. But for instance, business travel is, has almost completely dried up. Yeah, Speaker 1: 12:09 How's the economic picture improved at all. Since that report was made in October, Speaker 3: 12:14 You know, we've, we've gone deeper into the lockdowns. We had a pretty good fourth quarter in terms of retail sales. It seems that people are changing their spending habits and they're spending more money online and, uh, purchasing goods and not purchasing as much in terms of services. So things like, uh, getting massages or haircuts or having nails done those types of businesses are suffering very badly. And so what you start to see is this kind of bifurcation, where there are some businesses that are doing okay during this pandemic. And then there are lots of other businesses that are suffering and are going to continue to suffer. Speaker 1: 12:54 And what are some of the economic sectors that haven't really been touched much at all? Speaker 3: 12:58 We don't see very much impact happening in sectors like, uh, biotech and high-tech, they're actually they're growing the innovation sector in San Diego is a very strong sector and we see that sector doing well. We see the construction industry doing well. We see government, uh, holding on relatively well and we see manufacturing, uh, recovering pretty well. Also. Uh, the, the sectors that I haven't mentioned that are also hit in terms of, um, employment, um, is the education sector and also healthcare. Those are the, the, the two other sectors that have lost some employment. Speaker 1: 13:35 Now you mentioned that there's this disparity between upper income people who can work from home, lower income people who can't is Santa's keeping track of those disparities. Speaker 3: 13:47 That's a good question. We've been trying to keep track of that statistic. And we're looking at some national data that has been put out and about 65% of all economic activity is now being produced at home versus a place of work. And we have twice as many people who work from home than in a place of employment, but the people who are working from home are also people who have jobs that can be done remotely. And these people tend to be the higher educated people with higher incomes. And they also tend to be the most financially secure. This group of people is also the people most likely to own a home. And the housing market has been very strong recently. And they're also the ones who typically have stocks in their portfolio of 401k, for instance, and stocks have been doing very well this year. Speaker 3: 14:41 And so the financially secure people seem to be weathering the storm pretty well. And there's the whole COVID crisis is really just kind of an inconvenience for them. But the people who are financially insecure, the ones that are living paycheck to paycheck. And what we find is that those are the people of color. It's the Hispanic and black communities here in San Diego. It's the people who are in the lowest wage earners. So those people who are earning $15 an hour or less, it's the young people who would have been relying on jobs, for instance, as a, as a waiter or waitress to have been impacted hard. And this pandemic specifically hit women much harder than it did, uh, men. And so women are suffering more than men in terms of financial insecurity. Speaker 1: 15:33 So how do we come back from this in what kinds of ways could our economic recovery take place? Speaker 3: 15:40 One of the things that we need to do is we need to find a way to allow businesses to safely open. Um, we have not seen the peak of the COVID, uh, uh, infections yet. I mean, we're going to see another peak sometime in mid January, just based upon the fact that people traveled around, around new year's. And so, um, that the health crisis is not over, but we have to find a way to allow businesses to do business. Otherwise they're going to go out of business right now. We have about 43% of the businesses. Last year were shut down. At some point, we have to make sure that that doesn't continue to occur because those people require their businesses to be open in order to be able to, to generate incomes for their families. But I think we need to find a safe way to reopen businesses. We need to find a way to support local businesses. And I think getting the vaccine out there as soon as possible is, is something that, that we should all be very, uh, concerned and cognizant of Speaker 1: 16:45 What other aspects of the COVID pandemic is Santa's going to be looking into. Speaker 3: 16:49 So this year we're going to take a look at the impacts of mental health and how that is really going to start to impact the economy. When we take a look at just what's happened in the last nine or 10 months, I mean, you have people who, old people who haven't been able to see their families or their grandchildren. You have families who have a tremendous amount of stress due to the fact that they're trying to raise their children at home while they're trying to work. And you have kids and teenagers and preteens, for instance, whose lives have been completely turned upside down, and they're not attending school. Uh, the, the online learning, although making an attempt at, uh, educating kids is not as effective as in-person learning. And so what we're going to see is economic impacts of this in the future. And these economic impacts are going to last far longer than the recession. That was by the COVID 19 pandemic. We will recover from this as a economy, probably sometime in 20, late 20, 21, maybe early 20, 22, but when it comes to the impact that it had on people that is going to be a much longer lasting impact, and it will affect the economy in the long run. Speaker 1: 18:08 Are you hoping for new federal programs to assist recovery coming out of the new Biden administration? Speaker 3: 18:14 Sure. Well, I would hope that there's new programs as long as the government is imposing lockdowns. I think that the government has an obligation to offset that with some type of financial programs. And so I understand why we need to shut down the economy, uh, for the sake of the health crisis. So I think that yes, the government should be doing more to keep those people afloat. There was a tremendous amount of fraud that occurred in the first set of stimulus packages. So I'm hoping that they can, they can stop the fraud, get the money to the people who really needed those people who are impacted negatively in terms of either losing their jobs or having had their businesses closed. And if we could do that and then just stick together, we could, we could make it through this crisis. Speaker 1: 19:01 I've been speaking with Ray major. He's chief economist for SANDAG. Ray. Thank you very much. Speaker 3: 19:07 You're very welcome. Thank you, Maureen. [inaudible]. Speaker 1: 19:21 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann month after month of social distancing and pandemic anxiety has taken a toll on many Americans, mental health, but it's been especially tough on veterans who are already dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat related injuries from Tampa, Stephanie Colon beanie reports for the American Homefront project, Speaker 4: 19:46 38 year old army veteran, Sergio Alfaro of Chicago used to walk down the street, terrified anyone he passed might try to hurt him. The former combat medic has battled PTSD for years since coming home from Iraq, he was in a much better place at the start of this year, but Alfaro says the pandemic has caused some of that progress to unravel. Speaker 3: 20:08 Well, I had that sense of danger creeping back into my life. Again, I have to worry if you know the person standing next to me as COVID, is that something I'm going to catch? Am I honestly going to be putting my family's lives at risk as well? Speaker 4: 20:20 Staying away from people may be the best way to avoid the virus, but it's also, what's fueled Alfaro's depression. He says things, many people take for granted, like making small talk with coworkers in the office or shaking hands with his therapist before an appointment were important to his recovery Speaker 3: 20:37 Helps me not to feel so alone. And Speaker 4: 20:39 He's not alone. Alfaro's a member of the wounded warrior project, a service organization for post nine 11 veterans, a recent found half the groups members said their mental and physical health had worsened because of COVID-19 vice president of program operations. Melanie musos is a deeper analysis of the results. Found warriors with PTSD were three times more likely to struggle. She says it makes sense with the pandemic causing disruptions in care, financial instability, and disconnect from loved ones. Speaker 5: 21:11 It's a perfect storm. As far as really creating that environment that can increase the display of the symptoms of severity of the symptom Speaker 4: 21:20 Or some veterans. The pandemic has been a wake up call Tampa resident. Roberto Cruz is golfing for the first time in months, since recovering from temporary paralysis after getting shot in Iraq, he typically hit the links with other vets. These days. He usually plays alone. Speaker 6: 21:37 I'm the grade, but it's just being up there. Being able to do something by myself. Still. It's an amazing feeling. It makes me feel like I'm, I'm fine. Speaker 4: 21:44 Cruz says for more than a decade, he brushed off suggestions from his veteran friends and family members that he addressed the invisible wounds of war pointing to the scars on his arm, where the bullet hit as proof of his only injury. But then crews got sick with COVID 19 in July and spent weeks in isolation, fearing for his life. Once again, Speaker 6: 22:04 The worst was worst time of my life. And when you're there by yourself and you, your minds are going to different places that hasn't been in forever to make me realize and understand that I was mentally ill too. And, and now, um, I took that huge step that I've never wanted to take an ACEP, but I S after that I needed help Speaker 4: 22:23 Recovered from the virus and entered a PTSD treatment program. He admits it's a tough time to start therapy. All of his appointments so far have been virtual, both he and Sergio Alfaro say, it's just not the same to get care on video chat or over the phone. Still they say having any sort of connection is what's helping them get through this pandemic. Cruz says he's already made great strides in just a few months. Speaker 6: 22:47 I guess, as our new reborn, new me, I feel better positive now about my life and the future. I'm more calm. I'm more peaceful. I'm finding the bees that I've been searching for Speaker 4: 22:57 As the pandemic surges, Sergio Alfaro and Roberto Cruz say they're focused on spending time with family and keeping up with treatment. Alfaro's also volunteering to help other struggling vets and Cruz is working on his golf swing, both to maintain his game and his mental health. I'm Stephanie Calambini in Tampa. Speaker 5: 23:17 This story was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. Last month, Congress approved over a billion dollars in new funding for border wall construction. The incoming Biden administration has pledged not to build any new border wall, but hasn't whether it will instead Speaker 1: 23:46 Use this money on replacement walls or other security measures. The Trump administration was able to build miles of replacement and new border wall in San Diego County, angering local indigenous groups who say their sacred cultural sites were destroyed in a story. We first brought you last summer KPBS reporter max Rivlin Nadler gives us a look at the young native American women leading protests against the border wall in San Diego County. As they continue to argue their case in federal court, Speaker 7: 24:17 It stretches for 14 miles along rugged terrain. The quickly rising wall now cuts through areas that the Cooma nation, a collection of native tribes, based on both sides of the U S Mexico border consider a major thoroughfare for their people. It was used for generations before white settlers arrived, burial sites, former villages, and other culturally sensitive sites dot the landscape. But members of the Kuma IAC that customs and border protection, which is helping manage construction on the site has ignored evidence of the cultural heritage sites. They're now building a top of Speaker 5: 24:50 Using ten-year-old surveys to try to say that there aren't sites in certain areas. And when we've gone out there to protests, we've seen mid and soil, which is signs of cremation. We've seen flakes, tools, grinding stones. We've seen everything out there. And then that's an areas that they say that aren't artifacts Speaker 7: 25:07 28 year old. Cynthia Parata is a tribal council member of the LA Posta band of mission Indians. She and other young Kuma gay women have been leading the protest movement and the searing heat of summer and the Laguna mountains. They've been standing in front of construction equipment and blocking access roads. Parata says the government is breaking the law by disregarding the native American graves protection and repatriation act known as NAGPRA Congress enacted it in 1990 to protect and safely relocate native burial sites. Speaker 5: 25:37 We just want them to do it right right now they're waving the laws that protect our remains, which is through NAGPRA. And they're waving a lot of other laws as well, which is we're just not okay with because we fought so hard to get those laws to begin with. And now they're waving them and just blowing through the work. Speaker 7: 25:53 Last week. Members of the [inaudible] nation were accompanied by a forensic anthropologist who says she identified what was most likely a cremated human bone in the past customs and border protection has reached out to native groups to determine what to do with the remains and engage in a government to government consultation about the best way to move forward with construction while preserving cultural heritage sites. It usually does this months before the beginning of construction, but this time Parata says the government began construction without doing any of that. Speaker 5: 26:24 We actually just heard about it. And we went out there to see if it was true. And we see in the construction work getting done. And that's when we decided to take action, because we didn't know about it. We never received any information about it. Speaker 7: 26:36 The QA say a representative from the army Corps of engineers told them the DOD is allowed to waive laws regarding burial sites because the wall construction is a matter of national defense. The money used for the wall construction is being redirected from the Pentagon's counter, narcotic budget, a transfer of money. That's currently being challenged in court. Now with further proof that CBP and the DOD are moving forward with the project without following the law, the Kuma yang are preparing a loss to it to try to stop the wall construction. Speaker 5: 27:06 And they're creating new access roads. They're creating new storage areas for their equipment. And none of those areas were monitored. Speaker 7: 27:13 CBP says it had several discussions with [inaudible] leadership and members of various tribes since June to address their specific concerns, Kuma protestors, and especially younger tribe members say those meetings have gone nowhere. Speaker 5: 27:27 I feel that we're protesting. I feel like we're just out there simply protecting the land, protecting the history. Speaker 7: 27:33 19 year old, Brooke Bains, who grew up on the Manzanita reservation has been juggling her first cashier job with helping organize the protests, Speaker 5: 27:42 Kumi or women or strong group of women. So I would say it's really important that the young women are leading it because a lot of things in this world are ran by men and older men at that Speaker 7: 27:54 Bain says, that's why they have to continue direct action to keep going to the wall, to try to stop construction. Speaker 5: 28:00 I stay in prayer while I'm out there. I'm praying the whole time that I'm out there for safety of my people for protection, for the desecration to stop. So I'm not really thinking about me and myself and my body. I'm I'm praying Speaker 7: 28:15 Max Glenn Adler, KPBS news. Speaker 1: 28:17 A decision in the lawsuit against the wall is still pending in front of a panel of ninth circuit judges In the COVID era classrooms might be virtual, but disruptive student behaviors are very real. And so are there consequences in a story we first brought you at the beginning of the school year KPBS education reporter, Joe Hong spoke to administrators about how distance learning impacts school discipline. Speaker 7: 28:49 Earlier this month on the first day of the new school year in the Sweetwater union high school district, a student brandished, a firearm during a virtual class session, the police were called and officers arrived at the students residents to find that the weapon was a BB gun. And no one was harmed later in the week, the district, which was the first in the County to start the fall semester received reports of students sharing pornographic images during online classes, these disruptive behaviors add yet another layer to the challenges facing teachers and administrators as they restart school in the COVID era, many Rubio's the spokesman for the Sweetwater union high school district. He said, the expectations for student behavior are the same as they were before the pandemic. Speaker 1: 29:27 You were in a classroom. It's, you know, respecting your classmates, your fellow classmates, respecting the teacher that's in, that's in front of you giving the lesson, um, asking questions that are thoughtful and very, you know, that are appropriate for the class. Um, it's making sure that prepared. It's making Speaker 8: 29:42 Sure that, um, you know, when you're offline, you're also conducting yourself in a way that's respectful and proper Speaker 7: 29:47 Educators across the County know that this is a new reality for students and while rules for behavior stayed the same, their learning environments are completely different. Jamie de Hoff is the director of attendance and discipline at Powell unified. He said the new setting can lead to changes in student behavior. Speaker 8: 30:03 This is a new environment for students. Um, the rules are not established. Um, this is, you know, we, we make some assumptions that kids know that, you know, when you're in your bedroom doing the stuff that you're held to the same, uh, levels of conduct that you would be if you're sitting in a classroom. And I don't think we can make those assumptions, Speaker 7: 30:26 The state education code require suspensions and even expulsions for certain offenses and day Hoff and other school officials made it clear that students will still be punished for disrupting online classes, but they also knowledged they'll have to take extra steps to make sure the punishments don't further exacerbate. The problem schools have connecting with their students. Rubio said Sweetwater's having counselors reach out to students and parents to better understand negative behaviors. Speaker 8: 30:50 And so what we want to understand is is this just a case of, you know, a kid trying to make a disruption just for the sake of it, just for the, you know, for the sake of doing it, or is there something behind that? And so we really want to know, get to that the root cause of what's going on. Speaker 7: 31:05 Officials are also quick to say that they are still working to emphasize restorative justice and other alternatives to punitive discipline in part to eliminate the disproportionate impact on students of color students with disabilities and low-income students. But advocates worry that when physical campuses reopened districts will revert to overly punitive practices in the potentially dangerous learning environment created by the pandemic. Daniel Lawson is the director of the center for civil rights remedies at UCLA. He's concerned for example, that a shoving match between students or a confrontation with a teacher where student violate social distancing could lead to harsher penalties due to the public health risks involved with physical contact. Speaker 8: 31:42 And I worry that when we reopened schools, that teachers, again may maybe with increasingly increasing frequency view situations that normally they might handle as dangerous situations. And so one response might be that schools, teachers and administrators will call police more often than before because now every small incident could have a danger component to it that didn't exist before. Speaker 7: 32:14 How said planning and communication will be key to avoiding such scenarios. Speaker 8: 32:18 It's like you're in school and we want you to be relaxed and be able to learn. But you know, you can't be disrupting you. Can't, there are certain things you just cannot do and you're held. And I, and I think the more specific we can get with students on scenarios and things that occur, you know, that's the better Speaker 9: 32:40 Joe Hong K PBS news. Speaker 1: 32:53 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Hyman author David Walker we'll have the black Panther party, a graphic novel released on January 19th. He reminds us that today's black lives matter movement is a manifestation of anger and frustration that has been brewing for centuries KPBS arts reporter, Beth Armando asked him to suggest a film to watch that might provide insights into the current black lives matter movement. The film is the spook who sat by the door and it also ties into the legacy of the black Panthers. Speaker 10: 33:28 David, I wanted to talk to you now because I feel like with the protests that have been coming up, films can give people a really good context for what's going on and a better understanding of what these protests mean in a larger picture. It's interesting to me that there haven't been really that many films that address the black Panthers as kind of the actual center piece of the film. Why do you think that? Speaker 9: 34:02 Well, I think the reason there hasn't been that many films dealing with the black Panthers, it's, it's pretty complex. I think part of it is that a lot of people still see them as being very controversial. And I think that that it's more, that they're misunderstood than controversial. And I think that it comes down to the fact that if you were to write a story, if you're writing a, I guess for lack of a better term, a traditional narrative of the, uh, the black Panther party that cast them in the role of the good guys, well then the bad guys or the United States government and, and it's, and we're talking about a level of corruption on a governmental level, both federal state, and municipal that is kind of mind boggling when you really think about it. It's not as mind boggling now because we're seeing some of these things play out on the, on the news on a daily basis, the, the acts of police brutality, the coverups that are going on, the lack of transparency, all this was going on in, you know, in the sixties. Speaker 9: 35:02 And, and before that. And since then, but I think that in terms of popular entertainment, it's difficult for a lot of people to get down with. How do we show that? I don't think there's a problem with it. I would love to do it, but I, I honestly think that that's part of it. I think that part of the problem, dealing with things like systemic racism is that it forces people to take a look at their own culpability. That's not just systemic racism. It's also, uh, sexism and homophobia and all the other forms of oppression. Once you acknowledge it, have to look at your own culpability. And sometimes that culpability is, is merely inaction or apathy. And nobody wants to, nobody wants to face that Speaker 10: 35:48 One film that kind of addresses the idea of the black Panthers and a film that has been just unfairly overlooked is the spook who sat by the door. And this is a film. Most people may know the director, but not as a director. I've in Dixon was very well-known for being on Hogan's heroes. And he directed this movie based on the Sam Greenlee book. Tell me a little bit about the film in terms of what you think makes it important. Speaker 9: 36:18 You know, the plot in a nutshell is about the first black agent in the CIA he's hired as a sort of token gesture. And after several years working for the CIA, he leaves to take a job as a social worker in Chicago. But what he's really doing is he's forming his own like black militant army with the goal of overthrowing the U S government and starting to sort of rebel army. It's one of my favorite books of all time. It's one of my favorite movies of all time. Some people are terrified by it. Some people are offended by this, this notion of this need to overthrow the government. And I think that part of what's so fascinating to me about this, the movie, the story in general is that it addresses the level of frustration and anger and, um, and all these pent-up feelings that a lot of black folks have in that, no matter how hard you try, nothing really gets done. Speaker 9: 37:22 You know, it's, it's you see a lot of people posting stuff online now it's like, okay, well, you know, Martin Luther King preach nonviolence and, and he got killed for it. And Malcolm X preached preach self-defense even if it meant violence and he got killed for it. And what do you want from us as black folks that we have to do in order for you to realize that we want freedom? You know, we want equality and, and this movie is all about that. There's a quote, Martin Luther King has a quote that says something to the effect of, you know, a riot is the cry of the unheard or something like that. And that's a lot of what that at its core, that's what the movie's about. The movie is about that. Okay, well, you haven't given us what we've politely asked for. What's guaranteed to us supposedly in the constitution, and now we're going to make you give it to us one way or the other. You're either going to have to kill us, or you're going to have to give it to us. Speaker 11: 38:16 Hang on brothers and sisters, liberation is near and just a few minutes at precisely three o'clock. We will demolish the lavish offices of the mayor of white Chicago, because we don't have them back. Even if they do kind of vote several times to elect him every four years, remember brothers in spite of the lies about an assassination attempt on the mayor, which will appear in the white press, that this time we blew the mayor's office at night, when he was at home to announce the beginning of our war of liberation, I dedicate this program to the national guard, but we're fresh out of hillbilly music. And according to the press and television, God spends all his time playing basketball with the kids and helping old ladies cross the street. But we know better don't we, we know about that 14 year old girl, the trigger happy Gasman shot last night. And the people that beat up in a black businesses, they did start don't. We Speaker 10: 39:15 Put the film in a context in terms of when it was coming out. Speaker 9: 39:17 It's interesting because like I said, the movie came out in 73 and you know, this is 73 is, is sort of the peak year of the blaxploitation movement. There is a lot of films coming out that were being marketed directly to a black audience. And a lot of these were films that in a lot of ways, almost pacified the audience, they were, they were sort of these revenge fantasies more than they were a call to action. And, and especially by 73, had it, it had become that way. And the spook who sat by the door isn't really like those other movies. It's, it's not, it does feel more like a call to arms than any, Speaker 10: 39:53 Anything else. This is not about hate white folks. It's about love and freedom enough to die or kill for it if necessary that you're going to need more than hate to sustain you when this thing begins. And Speaker 9: 40:08 The reason the FBI worked to suppress it was, you know, there was always this fear of the quote unquote race war. And it was always this fear that something would instigate black people to finally rise up and take arms and declare war against the white man. And that's been this fear, this, this white fear in America, since before America was America, when it was still, you know, part of the British colonies. And I think that that, that terrifies people so much, and especially when it's placed in a context of, Oh yeah, they're justified if people, it's interesting because people forget that if you look at say star Wars, star Wars is a movie about rebellion. You know, it's a, it's a movie about a group of rebels rising up against an oppressive state and an oppressive system. And we, in some regards, we glorify the rebels, but then another times we, we vilified and it all depends on how the narrative serves our ideological needs. And, and I think that the fear of, of a movie like spooky sat by the doors, it doesn't feed the needs of the power structure. It, it calls the power structure to task and it says, uh, yeah, we need to burn it down. Speaker 10: 41:26 Well, it's interesting too, because a lot of the early scenes in the CIA, it really attacks the CIA for this tokenism. Speaker 12: 41:34 Yeah. That concludes our oral examination. And let me congratulate you on being the first Negro officer in the central intelligence agency, we've programmed your, uh, aptitudes into our computer personnel system. You have to be our new top secret reproduction center section chief, Speaker 9: 41:52 And the third sub-basement running the Xerox machine and, and, and Dan Freeman, that's the character's name is he plays that part so well, he plays that docile. Um, and you know, spook is a term for CIA agents. It's, it's an old slang term. And so the title, you know, basically is he, at some point, Dan was moved from the, the copy room up to the front room of the CIA so that when people would come in senators and Congress, people would come in, the first thing they would see is a black person, right? And so he became the spook who sat by the door and it's, and it's just fascinating because there's things that, you know, as, as he's building the army and as he's, they're planning their attacks, there's things that he, he says Speaker 13: 42:40 A black man with a mop tray or broom in his hand can go anywhere in this country. And a smiling black man is invisible because Speaker 9: 42:51 Nobody questions you, if you, you know, if you're a janitor and it's just fascinating because there's so many things that are said that are kind of be sort of painful truths. And one of the things that happens in the movie, and I think this is really interesting is as there, as the government is trying to figure out who's behind these, these acts of terrorism, they assume that it's, it must be communist infiltrators, right? That, that it has to be the commies doing it because there's because black people aren't organized enough. They're not smart enough to do this. Speaker 13: 43:24 I says, it's the most sophisticated underground movement in the Western hemisphere. The work of an expert and expertise is white. Man's monopoly, Ryan Dawes, but I am an expert. I spent five years to become an expert. Speaker 9: 43:39 And it recalls in 68, the Connor commission, which was put together by president Johnson, issued the Kerner commission report on, on racial unrest in the U S and it essentially spelled out everything that we see happening right now today in contemporary 20, 20 America. And initially Johnson, president Johnson discounted all of it. And he, and he thought that somehow the communists were involved in this realization that America was a racially unjust nation. And what the spook, who sat by the door gets at is that America will look for any sort of excuse to not have to look directly at racism, racial oppression, down to the cause of it. And down to the reaction of it, you know, it's like, we, we really couldn't have this. So someone else must have done this. And your responses is unwarranted because so therefore you must be being agitated by it, by whether it's communists or, or someone else. And that film really touches upon things that are being said. Now, you know, the movie came out in 73, so it's, it's, you know, over 40 years old and it's still relevant. It's, there's, there's nothing in that movie that you can't look on the news and see happening right now. Speaker 1: 45:03 All right. Well, I wanna thank you very much. Speaker 9: 45:06 Thank you. It was good talking to you. Stay safe and healthy and be well. Speaker 1: 45:11 That was author David Walker. Speaking with Beth OCHA Mondo. You can listen to her full interview with additional film recommendations on her cinema junkie podcast available at kpbs.org/cinema junkie.