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MC: Matthew Cooke
VJ: Van Jones

MC: My name is Matthew Cooke, and this is how to fire a cop and change everything.

There’s always been a tension in law enforcement or any field in that matter, between working for the public good and letting power run amuck.

For a page-turning history, there’s one book that stands above the rest and that’s Radley Balko’s RISE OF THE WARRIOR COP.

If you download the audiobook, you’ll be helping support this series. So back in 1995, there’s a guy named Van Jones and he starts the Bay Area Police Watch, a lawyer-referral service for victims of police abuse.

As soon as it was set up, their hotline started receiving 15 calls a day. Van said, “Just because somebody calls and says officer so-and-so did something to me, it doesn’t mean something actually happened.

But once you get 6 phone calls about the same officer, you see a pattern, and you can try to take affirmative steps.”

VJ: You think it’s hard to get a teacher fired, or your boss disciplined? Try to get a cop fired, that takes an awful lot.

MC: For two years, Van and Police Watch led a campaign against a dangerous killer named Officer Marc Andaya.

VJ: He’d actually killed two unarmed African American men, Jerry Stantal, who he shot–

MC: Jerry Stantal suffered from a mental illness. He was walking across the street–

VJ: And the police officer goes over to him, starts a fight, starts loosing the fight, shoots the guy, reloads, shoots him again including once in the head.

MC: A few years later, Officer Andaya kills another unarmed man.

VJ: Erin Williams was beat and stomped and pepper sprayed to death. This guy had 5 lawsuits against him, 27 formal complaints against him, but he was still on the police force.

MC: Oftentimes when we put the truth in front of any part of our criminal justice system, it’s not enough. We have to bring the facts to the people. And that’s what Van Jones and his partners did.

VJ: We discovered that the police commission met every Wednesday night. So what we did was we went and got hundreds of people from the community to stand in long lines and use their right to talk about what was going on. Everybody had I think two minutes or three minutes — we had people going out the back of the building sometimes. We had young people doing poetry and expressing themselves for the first time. And ultimately 4 out of 5 of the police commissioners just quit. The mayor had to appoint a whole new commission.


VJ: That was an important moment for us to realize that these are just human beings and they can be reasoned with or they can be pressured to do the right thing.

1. Unearth lawsuits against cop
2. Share findings with press
3. Call the Mayor
4. Bring hundreds to public hearings
5. NEVER give up!

MC: Since that time, Van Jones won a Human Rights Award. He stopped a super jail for juveniles, he wrote a best-selling book on revitalizing our economy on new energy and served as a White House advisor. Most recently, he’s created cut50, a national bipartisan effort to safely reduce our prison population by 50% over the next 10 years — which is an appropriate response, the MINIMUM response we should take.

VJ: We have a massive human rights catastrophe. Some of these people are doing 30 years for nonviolent drug offenses. You get 25 years for shooting a cop! That’s a human rights disaster.

MC: And what Van Jones and the community did in San Fransisco, we can do on a national level.

VJ: There is a bill right now in Congress called the Safe Justice Act.

MC: The Safe Justice Act bill, if it became a law, would roll back mandatory minimums, increase incentives for rehabilitation, and expand release programs for elderly prisoners, so harmless men and women won’t spend their dying days behind bars.

VJ: And so if you believe in liberty and justice for all, if you’re a democrat or a republican, you gotta stand together on this.

MC: If we get a million people to sign this thing, we’ll have one of the biggest citizen coalitions for reforming criminal justice in history.

VJ: To lead means to go first, but often, the leaders are afraid to go first. They need to see the people go first.

MC: Let’s change lives. Bring families back together. Reunite children, fathers, mothers and grandparents, with just a few keystrokes. Visit and download RISE OF THE WARRIOR COP to hear an unbelievable piece of the puzzle revealing where we are today and help support this series. You can use the link in the description.

Help support this series and download your free copy of RISE OF THE WARRIOR COP (with a trial membership for awesome audiobooks) by clicking here.

To buy a hard copy click here.