EMMANUEL: Hey guys, just a warning before we get started: there’s a moment in today’s show where we reference a traumatic event related to suicidal ideation. If you’re feeling depressed or want to talk to someone, just know one resource you can call is the National Suicide Prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Once again, that’s 1-800-273-8255.
Also, if these subjects are hard for you to listen to, you might want to skip this one. Ok, here’s the show.
EMMANUEL: From Gimlet, this is Reply All. I’m Emmanuel Dzotsi.
And I’m joined in the studio today, uh, by the one and only Saidu Tejan-Thomas. Uh, hey, Saidu, how you doing?
SAIDU: Good, man, good, good. I'm, I’m, I’m getting by. Chillin’. You know.
EMMANUEL: [laughs] Getting by.
Um, so Saidu, uh, is one of my best friends, but he’s also a fantastic producer here at Gimlet. Um, he’s produced a lot of interesting shows, like Conviction or Uncivil. But the reason that we’re talking here today, right, Saidu, is because you’re the host of a new show at Gimlet about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. And it’s called Resistance.
SAIDU: Yeah. It’s a show about people refusing to accept things as they are, right? Like, that’s the tagline for it.
SAIDU: But more specifically, it's a show about black and brown people fighting for some kind of change, right?
SAIDU: Before I started working on it, I never knew I would be working on something like this. Uh, I never saw myself working on something like this. Um, [laughs]
EMMANUEL: I just want to say that—and I say this with love because I'm your friend, and I will totally explain what I mean by this, but like, I did not see you working on this show.
I, I have to say—and, and the reason, the reason I say that-
SAIDU: [laughs] Oh man.
EMMANUEL: … is because this of course, is a show about the protest movement.
EMMANUEL: And I don't know, dude, I was just thinking back to like, like when the George Floyd protests like, first began, right? Do you remember that weekend?
EMMANUEL: Cause i remember I tried to talk to you about what was going on...and you wanted absolutely no part of it...like you did not want to talk about the protest movement at all.
SAIDU: Yeah… I was like, "Actually, I'm kind of depressed right now."
With everything that was happening in the world, like with Black people getting killed, I just felt like I needed to make like, a conscious decision to disengage and take some time for myself and, like, just not touch any of this shit. ‘Cause it's like, it's too much.
EMMANUEL: Yeah, you basically just stopped like looking at anything.
SAIDU: Yeah, I had deleted Twitter off my phone, um, and I wasn't watching anything. I wasn't really reading anything.
EMMANUEL: Which, you know, like that made sense to me...because you know, you were protecting yourself...but I also just remember thinking it was gonna be like futile….
EMMANUEL: Because like we were talking about what work was gonna be like that week...and I just remember realizing..."Oh, my God, there's about to be a meeting tomorrow morning at our majority white workplace, in which we're gonna have to like, have ideas for stories, and also at the same time, probably have to like, attend meetings and talk about everything that’s been going on like, with all of our colleagues. And I just remember I was just like, “Uh, that is not something I want to do.”
SAIDU: Yeah. I was also dreading that. [laughing] I wasn't even dreading that, I mean, I was just like, that meeting is going to be stupid. [laughing]
EMMANUEL: Yeah. Which is why I feel like the next time we talked after that, I was like, kind of surprised because you called me and were like, "Hey. So, I'm gonna start a show that is essentially gonna be about the protest movement every week." [laughter] And I was like, “Why? How did you how did you go from, from, from, uh, "Emmanuel, I'm not gonna talk about this at all, really," to that?
SAIDU: Yeah. I mean, after a while, I re-downloaded Twitter. And I remember just seeing like, these headlines about, uh, some of the largest protests in the country were being led by like, teenage girls—
SAIDU: … or like, people in their early 20s and that was interesting to me. That was super interesting to me, because that was around the age when I protested—
EMMANUEL: Oh yeah.
SAIDU: … for, for the first time ever in my life. Like I, I feel like I see myself a little bit in this. Like, let's—I kind of want to see what's going on over here.
EMMANUEL: Yea. Lemme just say…I feel like that’s what’s so special about Resistance… is like we get to kind of see you make this transition...like from not wanting to talk about any of this...to being so inside of this movement in an incredibly intimate way.
EMMANUEL: Like, yeah, you’re with people when they’re protesting, but you’re also with them long after the cameras have left. You’re in their homes, you’re in their favourite bars, you’re chronicling people making all of these life-changing decisions, feeling all these conflicting emotions of joy, of triumph, and frustration; you know, you’re chronicling people basically as they try to meet the magnitude of this moment with every fiber of their being.
EMMANUEL: And it’s, I don’t know, It’s really special...and so, today on Reply All we’re gonna feature one of these stories…it’s one that’s really stuck with me since I first heard it.
Uh, Saidu you wanna take it from here?
SAIDU: I got you.
Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr.: So this year I’ve been following this activist collective, Warriors in the Garden. They’re mostly Black and brown folks in their 20s who got together during the George Floyd protests this summer. And since then, they've been grinding in New York City. For the past five months, you couldn’t really go to a protest without seeing a Warrior. And that’s 'cause at one point they were marching every single day. And I had to be real with myself, There was no way I was gonna keep up.
Saidu: After their events I’m always so physically and emotionally drained that I usually just fall asleep on the ride home, and it always takes me a couple days to get myself back together again. But before I can even fully recover, I see a post for another protest against police brutality, another vigil honoring Black women, another plan to keep the streets full and the people fighting.
Saidu: The Warriors like to say “We’ve been out here.” And that’s a fact. But I always wonder how are they doing this? How have they been able to keep going so hard all summer? So I was talking to one of the Warriors about this. His name’s Derrick Ingram, sometimes he goes by Dwreck. And his answer was simple: When shit gets to be a little too much, they drink.
Derrick Ingram: In Lower East Side, there's this spot that has, like, $5 margaritas, but they overpour.
Saidu: Derrick says on their nights off, they like to get together, find a nice little bar and just kick it with a few drinks. And he’s telling me about this one night in August when they had endless cheap tequila.
Derrick Ingram: I had, like, a couple of shots, and I had, like, two or three of those, and I was slammed. Slammed! Having fun. Like, we were just like hanging out outside. Like, we were having a blast.
Saidu: They danced, they tried not to talk politics. They failed, but the point is they got to finally chill for once. Derrick told me that he drank so much that night that when he got home, he tried to cook a whole steak at three in the morning. Which, who can’t relate? And he didn’t end up going to bed 'til around four, but he couldn’t really enjoy his sleep 'cause around seven in the morning he wakes up.
Saidu: What do you hear at 7:15?
Derrick Ingram: A knock at the door. Boom, boom, boom.
Saidu: Derrick drags himself out of bed to go see who it is.
Derrick Ingram: I have, like, the chain, the deadbolt chain on. I looked through my peephole. Short white guy. He asked, like, the address, and I told him my address. And then he asked my name and I tell him my name. And he was like, "I have a warrant for your arrest."
Saidu: The whole summer, Derrick’s been protesting alongside the rest of the Warriors. They’ve marched together, they’ve partied together, and they’ve poured milk onto each other’s pepper-sprayed eyes. And through all that, Derrick’s seen friends get arrested, and he’s seen them beaten by cops. But on today’s episode, Derrick finds out what it’s like when the full force of the NYPD comes right to your front door. When there’s no one to link arms with, no one to hide behind when things get violent, what is it like when it’s just you against the largest police department in the country?
Saidu: From Gimlet, I’m Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr, and this is Resistance: A show about refusing to accept things as they are. Even with a hangover.
Saidu: So it’s 7:00 am. and there’s a cop at Derrick’s door.
Derrick Ingram: And he was like, "I have a warrant for your arrest." And I was like, "Okay. Slide it under the door."
Saidu: Derrick looks down at the floor for the warrant. But he doesn’t see anything. The cop just keeps saying he’s there to arrest him.
Derrick Ingram: I was hung over. I was fed up. And I'm like, I am not—I'm not dealing with this right now. Maybe they'll just go away. So I went back in bed, called Kiara.
Kiara Williams: I was the first person he actually called.
Saidu: That’s Kiara Williams, another member of Warriors in the Garden. She was out with Derrick the night before.
Kiara Williams: To have a hangover and deal with what the situation was like, are you dead-ass right now? I told Derrick in that moment, "Tell everyone in the group right now," because this is serious."
Chi Osse: I woke up because my phone was going off. Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.
Marvin Williams: I hear bing, bing, bing, bing.
Jai: I was like, wait what’s happening?
John Acosta: They were at his crib?
Chi Osse: You know, when you hear about the police showing up at a Black person’s door, you know, you think they’re there to kill.
Saidu: Some of the Warriors start checking their own windows, and they start looking through peepholes to see if cops are at their houses too.
Marvin Williams: I was scared for him, I was scared for myself.
Kiara Williams: Are they coming to my house next?
Chi Osse: Are they going to knock on my door?
Marvin Williams: Like, how is this going to end?
Saidu: When the rest of the Warriors don’t see cops at their doors, they start strategizing about how to help Derrick. Some of them want to head to his apartment ASAP. But others say nah, what if the cops are expecting us to do that and once we show up they just arrest everybody? Then Chi, from the last episode, comes up with another idea.
Kiara Williams: Chi instantly was like, "Go Live, go Live, go Live, go Live."
Derrick Ingram: Everybody said go Live.
Chi Osse: Document that shit. I mean, if they’re banging on your door, lying about a warrant, people need to see it.
Saidu: Derrick agrees. So he logs into the Warriors' Instagram account, which has a following of over 40,000 people. And he goes live. He’s sitting down in his living room right next to his front door. And he’s wearing the same clothes he wore the night before: a leather baseball cap, a navy blue button-down and a silver ring that shines whenever he touches his face, trying to figure out what to do.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: I don’t know what the fuck is going on. Like, honestly, I have no idea what I did. So, like, this is crazy.]
Chi Osse: He gets on Live and, you know, you could just see the stress and panic on his face.
Saidu: What did it look like?
Chi Osse: Uh, fear?
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: I live by myself. This is scary, like ...]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Alexa: Time to start your day.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: That's Alexa. Sorry.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Alexa: Good morning. August is National Peach Month.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: That's Alexa.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Alexa: The saying "You're a real peach" comes from the tradition of giving a peach to someone you like. Try it out with a friend. It sure ...]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: Shut up, Alexa!]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Alexa: ... warm and fuzzies.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: Alexa! Thank you. Fuck.]
Saidu: Derrick’s Alexa still thinks it’s a normal Friday. And besides the cop at his door, it could’ve been a normal Friday. His plan was to sleep in, then spend the rest of the day cleaning his apartment.
Derrick Ingram: I was so mad that, like, I was on fucking Live, felt like my apartment was dirty. Like, I had a sink full of dishes. I smelled like fucking tequila.
Saidu: It’s taking Derrick a minute to realize that the things that would normally matter on a Friday morning after a night of drinking, don’t really mean shit right now. But the people watching him on Live already get that. They're not worried about his dirty dishes, they’re worried about the cop at his door. In the comments, his friends tell him to go back to the door and ask for the warrant.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: Officer?]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: Yes, sir?]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: What’s going on? Did you have the warrant?]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: There’s probable cause to arrest you right now.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: What’s the probable cause, sir?]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: That was developed by a detective from Midtown North. That’s part of his investigation.]
Derrick Ingram: He said, "Oh, I don't have a warrant, but I have probable cause." And I was like, "Damn it. Here we go."
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: Is there a reason they haven’t called me about this investigation? Is it active?]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: It’s active, yes. For assault.]
Saidu: The cop says, yes, it’s active. It’s for an assault. But Derrick has no idea what he is talking about.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: Okay.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: That’s why I’m here.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: To detain me?]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: You will be arrested, yes.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: How am I arrested if it’s an ongoing investigation and I haven’t been charged?]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: To get charged you have to be arrested.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: Okay. Oh, Jesus. So there’s that.]
Saidu: Sitting back down in front of the camera, Derrick takes the cap off a gallon of water and starts chugging it.
Jai: Derrick was sitting at his table looking stressed.
Saidu: This is Jai, another Warrior. He's 46 years old, and he's been protesting since before some of the other members were born. And he usually just stays out of the way so the younger folks can lead. But the second he sees Derrick in trouble, he knows he has to step in.
Jai: It sounded like people were banging on his door. That was all I had to see. And at that point I shut off my phone and I think I washed up quickly, just put on whatever I had on and got on a Citi Bike and went up there.
Saidu: And when Jai shows up, he sees that there are way more cops outside than just the one that Derrick was talking to.
Jai: I got there, and I was watching the gentlemen in the suits coming in and out, in and out of the building. The uniformed officers had not gotten out of their police vehicle yet. It was just plainclothes detectives and maybe people from the warrant squad who were in those unmarked minivans.
Saidu: Jai pulls out his phone, and in the most obvious way he can he starts filming.
Jai: And then before you knew it, more police officers were showing up, and more cars and more suits were showing up, and people in military gear.
Saidu: Jai wants the cops to know that someone is there to watch what they’re doing, and he’s sending his videos to the group chat. Inside, Derrick’s looking through his peephole.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: What the fuck? They came back and they're, like, hiding down my hallway. And then I looked out my window and, like, there was, like, officers right up there. Ooh, Jesus Christ.]
Saidu: Right across from his apartment, there was an officer in a window who was staring back at him. They were surrounding him.
Derrick Ingram: Literally, they had a Black officer at my fire escape. Like, "Bro, I'm Black. You Black. Come on. Like, I'll make sure nothing happens to you." And I'm like ...
Derrick Ingram: Yeah, type shit. And then at another point, he came back and was like, "Come on, D. Come on. I got to pee. Let me in!"
Derrick Ingram: He was like, "Come on, man!"
Saidu: He was calling you D?
Derrick Ingram: Yeah. Like we had some kind of, like, rapport. Like, he was trying to build rapport.
Saidu: And how were you reacting to that?
Derrick Ingram: Not at all. I wasn't. I had too much going on. I couldn't even process their, like, intimidation tactics. And I thought the Black thing was kind of funny. I was like, are you—you really think I'm that dumb that I'm gonna—come on! Come piss, yeah.
Saidu: We're homies.
Derrick Ingram: Yeah. Like, I got you.
Saidu: At this point, Derrick realizes that his parents don’t even know what’s going on, so he calls his dad.
Derrick Ingram: I FaceTimed my dad because he doesn't know how to use IG. His first reaction was, "Call the cops." I was like, "Are you serious right now?" I was like, "You want me to call the police on the police? What are they gonna do?" Like, he was dead-ass. He was like, "No, like, bring a Captain out." I was like, "Naw, that's not gonna work, man."
Saidu: Oh man, that's—that's really interesting because, like ...
Derrick Ingram: My parents are …
Saidu: But, like, that's what—that's what parents tell you to do. You know what I'm saying? Like, "Wait. Something bad's happening? Call the cops!"
Derrick Ingram: Yeah. I'm like, "Yeah, there's—" and, like, and I'm showing my dad, like, "Yep. There's three out of my window right now. One in my balcony. Couple in the building across the street." And he's like, "Oh my God!"
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: So, y’all, officers in the hallway, officers with guns, officer in empty apartments in the building across from me. They're banging on my door, they're literally peeking in my curtains. I had to put up a sheet. Like, there’s over 30 officers here.]
Derrick Ingram: I didn't know what to do at that point. So I felt like I can get riddled with bullets if I open this fucking door. But I was thinking about fuck it, I'ma put my body on the line, it's gonna make a difference. Like, I'ma just open this door. If they fuck me up, like, that was a thought too. Like ...
Saidu: The thought—the thought of dying for the cause.
Derrick Ingram: Yeah, the thought of dying or getting hurt was definitely a thought briefly.
Saidu: Wow. Where do you think that came from?
Derrick Ingram: Thaddeus.
Saidu: Thaddeus McCarroll was Derrick’s childhood friend. They grew up together in St Louis, and they would run around church camp playing pranks together. Especially on girls. Derrick tells me that Thaddeus was such a goofy kid, he would blow snot bubbles with his nose which made everyone laugh and disgusted at the same time.
Derrick Ingram: He would do that, like, all the time, like, in front of girls we thought were attractive.
Saidu: He was doing booger bubbles to girls in middle school? [laughs]
Saidu: Derrick and Thaddeus lost touch for a while but linked up years later after high school. It was 2014, the same year Michael Brown was killed by police, in a suburb not too far from where they grew up. And Derrick says Thaddeus wasn’t really goofy anymore. Now when he and Derrick got together it wasn’t to pull pranks, it was to protest.
Derrick Ingram: We went to protests together. I remember seeing those huge, like, military trucks driving down streets. And it was really bizarre because this was my home. I knew Ferguson. It's Black and middle class. And to see tear gas and smoke and trucks and alarms going off was insane. And Thaddeus was with me there the whole time. Unfortunately, he was struggling with, like, mental illness.
Saidu: A year after the Ferguson protests, in 2015, Thaddeus was at home when he started having an episode. He locked himself in his house with a knife. And so Thaddeus’s mom did what Derrick’s dad had suggested: She called the cops. After a long standoff, Thaddeus opened the door.
Derrick Ingram: And he came storming outside, and he was shot several times. Riddled with bullets. And that's how I felt like—I felt like I was barricaded in here, and if I surrendered that I could have met that same fate. So yeah, that’s why I thought of him.
Saidu: Coming up after the break, a plan to save Derrick.
Saidu: What’s good y’all. Welcome back. It’s been roughly four hours since a police officer showed up at Derrick’s door claiming he had a warrant for his arrest. And since then, they still haven’t shown him a warrant. They’ve just been knocking and trying to make him come out so they can arrest him. And a pretty scary scene has started to form outside his apartment building: Patrol cars and vans have pulled up, a chopper is hovering overhead, and there’s around 30 officers surrounding Derrick's building in Hell's Kitchen.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: The lawyer's calling me? Speaking.]
Saidu: Inside, Derrick’s on the phone with a lawyer. She tells him that since the police don’t have a warrant, he can ask them to leave. So he goes back to the door.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: Officers? Can you return once you have a warrant? Or are you just gonna stay here? Because I don't think that's an option, all right?]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: We're gonna stay here.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: But for why? You don't have a warrant.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: We have other people working on it.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: You have people working on a warrant? Okay, but until you have a warrant, you don't have a right to be here. You have no right to be here. This isn't a public space.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: This is a common area of the building.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: Yeah. It's not a public space. And you're trying to intimidate me and stand outside of my door. Excuse me? Okay, so why don't you just return until you have a warrant?]
Saidu: At this point, Derrick doesn’t even know why they want a warrant. Or why so many of them have shown up in the first place. All they’ve told them, is that it’s for an assault. He tells his lawyer he thinks he’s just being targeted for filing complaints against police officers after a protest a few weeks earlier.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: And this is all a result of me filing CCRB complaints. This is all that is. Because I’ve never threatened anybody, never put my hands on anybody. And they want me to surrender. Do you think I’m really gonna surrender with 50 cops here? Are you crazy? I’m not about to get shot.]
Saidu: There might have been hella cops closing in on Derrick, but there were tons of people watching him on Instagram too. And at this point, a lot of them had seen enough, and they’d decided it was time to make a move. Chi was one of those people. He caught the very first train he could from Brooklyn to Manhattan.
Chi Osse: I was right in between High Street and Fulton Street. And that's like a—under the—from Brooklyn to the city on the A Train.
Saidu: From where Chi is, it takes about 40 minutes to get to Derrick’s apartment. And for 40 minutes, Chi is glued to his phone, trying to make sure he doesn’t miss a moment of Derrick's Live. But he can only watch it when he’s docked at a station and there's cell signal.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: Update: They're blocking off my street.]
Saidu: Every time the train pulls off into the tunnel again, Chi loses signal and the feed cuts out.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: They’re blocking off my stre ...]
Chi Osse: I thought, like, each time I was in the tunnel that that was, like, the moment that they were gonna break through his door and, like, do something to him.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: They're acting like I'm a fucking ...]
Chi Osse: The knocking was getting, like, crazier. Like, they were increasing the frequency of it, and the noise and the strength and everything.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: Why do you think hostage negotiation is here? Hostage negotiation! Like I’m holding ...]
Chi Osse: It's crazy. It's getting crazy.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: They're peeking into my apartment, this is fucking crazy!]
Chi Osse: I got off the train and was running.
Saidu: On the way there, Chi gets a call from another Warrior who tells him that Derrick’s still inside, but they’re not letting anyone near the building. In fact, the street’s been blocked off on both sides. But Chi still wants to get close. So he comes up with a plan. Chi stops at a bodega and buys a jug of milk. When he gets to Derrick’s block, he walks up to one of the cops at the barricade.
Chi Osse: I said, "What's going on here?" They're like, "There's an incident over here. We're closing the street off." I was like, "I'm subletting at, like, 146. Like, right over there. I have my milk. I don't want it to get spoiled." And they were like, "Sorry, sir, blah, blah, blah, blah." And then I, like, dropped my milk.
Saidu: The plan fails. But across the street from Derrick’s apartment, a small group of protesters have gathered in a park. It’s not exactly as close as Chi would like to be, but it’s within shouting distance of Derrick. Chi runs over there, and he starts getting updates on what they’ve seen so far. Here’s one of the people in the park, John Acosta.
John Acosta: What I saw that kind of baffled me that let me know that oh, shit, they're treating them like a terrorist, was when I seen the canines. When I seen the dogs, I say, "Yo, they got him like he's a fucking terrorist."
Marvin Williams: I remember seeing police officers on the roof, I remember seeing the helicopters in the sky.
Saidu: This is Marvin Williams, another Warrior.
Marvin Williams: I just remember seeing more officers keep coming, more officers keep coming, more officers keep coming. No one knows why they're there.
Saidu: As Derrick’s friends try to figure out how they can help, they keep their eyes on the cops outside. Back inside, Derrick tries to distract himself from what’s going on with the perfect song for this moment.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: Let's play some Pop Smoke. How 'bout that? Pop Smoke sound good? Do I feel safe? No, ma'am. But I'll be okay. Alexa, connect to the Bluetooth. Oh, Pop Smoke it is.]
Saidu: Derrick hits a little shimmy in his chair. And he still looks very stressed, but there’s a slight smile on his face now. Like he’s really trying his best to keep it all together. But things just keep falling apart.
Derrick Ingram: Every time I try to make a outgoing call, it's going to the police department. Some sketch stuff going on.
Saidu: Wait, what?
Derrick Ingram: Every time I made an outgoing call, it went to the police department. And then my phone completely just froze on the home screen. It wouldn't work.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: My phone is not working. They're literally fucking a—is this serious right now? Like, my phone, my WiFi is no longer, like, working well.]
Derrick Ingram: So I don't know what the fuck that was about. It was scary.
Saidu: Other Warriors have told me before that they’re worried about police hacking into their phones. But to be honest, I thought they were just being kind of intense about the whole thing. Then we talked to an expert, and he told us it’s entirely possible that while the cops were at Derrick's house, they could have tapped into his phone using something called a Stingray.
Saidu: The Stingray is a device that sends out a cell tower signal throughout a certain area. And phones connect to the signal and from there, cops can access private information you have stored on your phone. And it’s highly likely they can pull your messages, your photos and your contacts.
Saidu: When we contacted them, the NYPD didn’t confirm or deny using anything like a Stingray at Derrick's, but they wouldn’t even be able to tell us if they did. Because in order to get this ex-military tech from the federal government, the NYPD has to sign hella NDAs.
Saidu: Derrick was still getting some calls, and he was broadcasting live on his iPad. But it was really starting to feel like the cops were closing in on him.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: There’s dogs. I hear dogs barking.]
Derrick Ingram: They literally covered my peephole. They had a battering ram, so all of this stuff on my wall is falling. I hear the pop pop pop.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: Derrick, you’re the one making this difficult. We’re just trying to get you to come outside. Derrick, do you understand what I'm saying? There’s no hostility. You’re the one being hostile.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: I'm not being hostile. I'm calm, I'm calm. I'm very calm, y'all. I am not being hostile. He called me hostile. I am calm. I am chill.]
Derrick Ingram: Like, they were reading shit off my social media. And it was, like, trying to make me emotional.
Saidu: Derrick says the cops started bringing up his Grandma, the woman who would cook him plantains and collard greens for his birthday. Who would show up to surprise him at school to make him feel special. The woman who always told him she'd see him in the morning if it’s God’s will. She passed away a few years ago. Her name was Dolores.
Derrick Ingram: And they were like, “What would Dolores think?” And then at another point—and this was caught on camera, they were like ...
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: Why don’t you be the warrior you state you are and come out and let's face the situation.]
Derrick Ingram: "Why don't you be the warrior you say you are?"
Saidu: It seemed like the cops were willing to do just about anything to get Derrick to come out. And they’re allowed to do just about anything: bang on his door for hours, lie to him, mock him, even bring up his dead grandmother. But no matter how much shit they pull, Derrick only has two options: Stay inside, or open the door. And as they ramp up the pressure, it’s getting harder and harder to know which one to choose. Derrick gets back on the phone with one of his lawyers.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, lawyer: I'm trying to buy you time here, okay? And I'm working on getting you out, on getting you out there, ultimately you're gonna do what you feel comfortable doing, okay?]
Saidu: He says ultimately, Derrick has to make the decision.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, cop: Did you hear what I said, Derrick? Derrick, could you acknowledge me please? I’m treating you like a gentleman. I’m treating you like a gentleman.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Derrick Ingram: I’m so overwhelmed. I just want to get this over with. I mean, like, it’s too much. it’s too much.]
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, lawyer: I hear you, I hear you.]
Kiara Williams: One wrong move, they will probably shoot him down.
Saidu: This is Kiara again. She’s watching on Live and she can see Derrick pacing back and forth. She knows that’s what he does when he’s anxious and she’s worried he’s ready to give in.
Kiara Williams: He was on the phone with, like, four different lawyers at the time, and two of them are like, "Surrender, surrender."
Saidu: So she calls him up.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Kiara Williams: I feel like they are trying to scare you to come out.]
Saidu: She tells him, "I feel like the cops are trying to scare you to come out."
Kiara Williams: I said, "Derek, this is what we are fighting against. surrendering is giving them that power."
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Kiara Williams: I’m scared for you, but we are literally fighting this. And if we surrender—if you surrender, we're letting them win.]
Kiara Williams: And I was like, "What are we fighting for if you surrender?"
Saidu: To Kiara, opening the door is not really an option. The way she sees it, the NYPD is trying to send a message. The fact that the cops showed up at one of their doors at seven in the morning in full force without a warrant, it’s not just about scaring Derrick, it’s to intimidate all protesters. She says to him “This is what we are fighting against, and if you surrender we are letting them win.” Outside, the Warriors and their supporters are ramping up the fight. Here’s Chi.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Chi Osse: If there was a reason for his arrest they would have arrested him by now. It’s been five hours. Where’s the warrant? Where’s the warrant?]
Chi Osse: Like, what the hell? It's what, noon? You've been here since seven, saying you have a warrant and you're not in his apartment yet? There's something deeply wrong with that.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Chi Osse: They're struggling to get the warrant. This is a waste of taxpayer dollars. It’s insane how far they go. They are such shitty people. This is so fucked up, this is so fucked. [chanting] Where's your warrant? Where's your warrant?]
Derrick Ingram: And then at one point, like, I could hear my friends, I could hear some of the protesters chanting from my windows. "Where's the warrant?"
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Chi Osse: [chanting] Where's your warrant? Where's your warrant?]
Derrick Ingram: And it was Chi. And that just, like, encouraged me.
[INSTAGRAM CLIP, Chi Osse: This is a waste of money. This is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Absolutely insane.]
Saidu: Knowing that his friends were outside supporting him, and seeing all the people on Live, Derrick kinda started to feel safe.
Derrick Ingram: I felt protected because there were so many eyes on me. I felt like they're not gonna kill me on Live. They might hurt me, they might do some fucked up shit, but I feel protected. Like, that's how I felt.
Saidu: I know. Cops kill people in front of an audience all the time. And maybe thinking that you’re safe just because your friends are outside and there’s people watching on Instagram Live, maybe that’s an irrational thought for someone who has been protesting police brutality all summer. But what was Derrick supposed to do? There was nothing rational about dogs at his door, or the chopper overhead, or his street being blocked off. The first thing that made sense to Derrick all day, was hearing his friends' voices through his window. He had to trust that that would keep him safe. So Derrick starts getting ready.
Derrick Ingram: Your mom tells you can't go to the hospital or jail with, like, dirty underwear. I brushed my teeth, took a bath, changed clothes. Like, I was like, "I'm going to jail."
Saidu: He heads for the door.
Derrick Ingram: I literally had my hands on the door, and I see a message, says "Don't open it, Dwreck. Don't. It's a trick." And I'm thinking they're just telling me that so I don't open the door. So I'm still probably going to open the door. And then like, no, I hear cheering outside. And I was like, "Oh shit! Like, they are leaving." So I didn't open the door. And you see all these hearts going up on the Live. And then I hear, boom, boom, boom! I'm like, "Oh my God! Hello?" "It's John, Derrick! Let me the fuck in, bro!" Da da da da da. And I'm like, oh! I don't know if they're, like, fucking holding John hostage trying to manipulate me or they recorded his voice.
John Acosta: I ran—I ran right up. I ran up to see Derrick. I was making sure he was good. I was happy as fuck.
Derrick Ingram: John came, sweating, screaming. He asked if I needed anything. And at the time, I was in shock.
John Acosta: He was still a little worried, because it was—there was still a motherfucker in the window just watching. And I'm like, "All right." I was rubbing my balls in his face once I saw him. He saw me rubbing my balls and shit, doing stupid shit. That's what I do, baby, I antagonize these motherfuckers.
Derrick Ingram: I was like, "Please check my roof and just look around my building. Like, I don't know if they're still here."
John Acosta: Went to the roof, checked the roof, roof was cleared.
Saidu: With no warning, no obvious reason, and almost as suddenly as they had shown up, the cops packed up their shit and bounced. Just like that. After more than five hours.
Chi Osse: You know, like, seeing that moment that they left with no explanation, you could see the shame in their faces.
Jai: There's a part in The Matrix where everyone thinks, like, oh man, this impending doom is coming. So they're just, like, gathered around. And before you know it, they realize, oh, we're saved. You know, everything is gonna be okay. And they start, like, dancing and it's, like, raining on them and they're dancing. And people were just feeling themselves. And they—and you can see the souls and the passion. And that's what it felt like.
Saidu: I have not seen that Matrix movie Jai is talking about. It’s gotta be one of the sequels, but I understand what he’s getting at. The people on the Live and the people on the streets, they needed this win. It had been over two months of protesting in New York, and the last time they had a major victory was all the way back in June at the height of the protests, when Governor Andrew Cuomo repealed 50-a, making police disciplinary records open to the public for the first time in nearly 40 years. But since then, protesters haven’t really gotten much else. They were hoping for a billion-dollar cut to the NYPD’s budget, but it didn’t really happen in the way they wanted it to. They were calling for an end to qualified immunity, to make it easier for people to sue cops. But they weren’t heard.
Saidu: Some of the Warriors told me that they were starting to have doubts about what protesting can actually change. But then on a random Friday morning in August, outside an apartment building in Hell's Kitchen, a small group of them got together to stage a protest for one of their own, not knowing if this too would turn out to be another loss. Five hours later, the cops drive off empty-handed and their friend walks out into their arms. It gave them hope again.
Saidu: I don't think anybody expects chanting to solve anything immediately. But in this moment, it actually did, right? Like, it actually had a direct, immediate result that you saw right there. And that must have felt, like, really satisfying.
Chi Osse: Yeah, it was really satisfying. In a summer of Ls and pain and violence, it was a win. You know what I mean? And you don't get a lot of wins.
Saidu: We still don’t know why they had to fight this fight in the first place, and why the NYPD went all out for this one guy. They won’t tell us why. But Derrick and his lawyer decided that the best thing he could do was just turn himself in. They figured it would be safer. That way, they wouldn’t have to worry about if or when the cops might turn up again, and what would happen if they did. So the next day, he went with his lawyer to the precinct.
Saidu: Derrick was charged with assault of a police officer, for allegedly shouting into a cop's ear with a megaphone at a protest. They also charged him with obstructing governmental administration, which basically means getting in the way of a cop doing their job. At first, he was facing up to seven years in prison, but at a recent hearing one of the charges was downgraded. The prosecutor did leave the door open though to bumping the charges back up again. Derrick’s lawyer thinks it’s just more intimidation tactics to keep him from protesting. But because of everything that happened, Derrick has even more support than before, from Black Lives Matter and Amnesty International and a whole bunch of celebrities who saw him on Live.
Saidu: It seems like what happened was, like, they tried to intimidate you and—and it didn't work. What it actually did was make you even more entrenched in the movement. And made you a bigger ...
Derrick Ingram: They gave us leverage to literally bring attention to what they did, which was abusing power, misappropriating funds, and intimidating unarmed Black people. That's—literally, that's what this whole movement is about. And that's what they did to me publicly in Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan. It made them look savage.
EMMANUEL: Saidu Tejan-Thomas, Jr. He’s the host of a new show, Resistance, that I am very much a fan of.
You can find this story and others like it right now on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Tune in on October 28th to hear their next episode. Trust me; I’ve heard it. You do not want to miss it. Find out more about the show on their Instagram page, @resistanceshow.
Reply All is hosted by PJ Vogt, Alex Goldman, and me, Emmanuel Dzotsi. Our show is produced by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Phia Bennin, Damiano Marchetti, Anna Foley, Jessica Yung, and Lisa Wang. Our intern is Mohini Madgavkar. Our Executive Producer is Tim Howard. We’re mixed by Rick Kwan. Theme song and original music by the mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder.
The story you heard today was produced by Bethel Habte, Wallace Mack, Aaron Randle, Kimmie Regler, Sandra Rianio, and Sarah McVeigh. It was edited by Lynn Levy, Lydia Polgreen, and Brendan Klinkenberg, with mixing, scoring, theme, and magic by Bobby Lord and Catherine Anderson.
Original compositions by ‘Drea the Vibe Dealer.
Fact checking is by Michelle Harris.
Special thanks today to Adam Bates, Paul Spring, Livia Rose Johnson, and Joseph Cochran.
Resistance’s show art is by Darien Birks of The Stuyvesants.
Matt Lieber is the happiness you feel when someone you know makes the big-time.
Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.