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2020 in review: Stories on criminal justice, LGBTQ rights and race

NewsHour Weekend’s Ivette Feliciano joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss some of her biggest stories in 2020: criminal justice and COVID-19 concerns in prisons and jails, how technology was helping artists connect with each other, and activists who were organizing over a range of issues including LGBTQ rights, immigration, voting rights and racial injustice.

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  • Michael Hill:

    As 2020 draws to a close, we wanted to give our producers and reporters here at NewsHour Weekend a chance to reflect on some of the segments they've worked on this season.

    Hari Sreenivasan spoke with NewsHour Weekend's Ivette Feliciano on how she's been navigating the news in this unconventional year.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Ivette, you would often be traveling around the country, might be around the world doing stories, how was this shift in covering the news?

  •  Ivette Feliciano:

    Well, I've been in the field a couple times since the start of the pandemic, but mainly I've been producing pieces from my living room. And that has been one of the biggest adjustments. So it's been a process in rethinking how to tell these stories, how to acquire the footage and the visual elements that I need to tell a story.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Has it been smooth sailing doing all this from the living room?

  •  Ivette Feliciano:

    It definitely hasn't been smooth sailing. Here in New York City, there will be times where I'm doing an interview or trying to record my voice for a piece and my heating pipes will start clanking, or the sirens will go off, or my dog will start barking, or my interviewee will have their toddler run through the shot.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    What are some stories that come to mind?

  •  Ivette Feliciano:

    Well, especially from the beginning of the pandemic, I do a lot of criminal justice reporting. And, you know, when quarantine first started, a lot of my contacts, who are public defenders in New York, were messaging me and telling me how they were very worried about their clients.

  • Nora Carroll:

    This is a public health concern. The point is to get people who are going to get sick and die out of Rikers as soon as possible.

  • Ivette Feliciano:

    Staff attorneys working at New York's Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn say they're concerned for the health and safety of their clients after hearing stories about what is happening inside the city's detention centers.

  • Alexandra Smith:

    You can't get away from anyone. People are hosed down with their beds. A hundred people in a dorm. People are coughing. You can't get away. There's no soap. It's like a horror movie. It's terrifying.

  • Ivette Feliciano:

    As of today, more than 200 people have already tested positive for the coronavirus at New York City's detention facilities…

  •  Ivette Feliciano:

    Another piece from that time, was a piece about a dance troupe. It's called "The Dance Cartel". They were using Zoom to create online "Social Disdance" parties.

  • Ivette Feliciano:

    The process for partygoers is simple. Log-into the zoom meeting where the party is held. Set up your camera shot using your computer or phone. Finally, log onto another website called mixlr. A DJ set there, created especially for the event, is broadcast live. And then…get to dancing!

  • Ivette Feliciano:

    You know, it's just really interesting to see how people were using the technology, not just for conversation with loved ones, but also to share art, to share music. And that, I think, has been a big theme of twenty twenty.

  •  Hari Sreenivasan:

    Another way that we saw you on our program was through the number of interviews that you were producing and part of, any of those stand out?

  •  Ivette Feliciano:

    I think the conversations that really stick out for me are the ones that I had with activists who were organizing all over the country and all over the world around a range of issues; climate justice, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, during quarantine, when it's not as easy to be out there in the streets getting their message out. And when a lot of the media's focus was on the pandemic. And obviously, this summer, the killing of George Floyd was a really huge tipping point that led to widespread protests and conversations around anti-Black state violence in this country.

    And one conversation that sticks out for me is one that I had with Imara Jones. She is a Soros Equality Fellow and the creator of Translash Media. And she was talking about the importance of centering Black trans women in these conversations around violence against black people in America.

  • Imara Jones:

    For instance, last summer we had a spate of violence against Black trans women, where in many ways the rage that's being felt and shown on the streets is what I felt for my community. And yet there was not this response and there's never this response.

    And this lack of equanimity means that there is not sustained pressure on the systems that oppress us, that we value certain lives more in the community than others. And as long as that's the case, it's very hard to make progress.

  • Ivette Feliciano:

    Violence against trans women intersects with racial justice in a really interesting way. But she was highlighting how that issue often gets overlooked even within conversations around the movement for Black Lives.

  •  Hari Sreenivasan:

    Ivette Feliciano, thanks so much and happy holidays.

  • Ivette Feliciano:

    Happy holidays to you, Hari.

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