Transcript

American Voices: A Nation in Turmoil

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MALE VOICE 1:

How can I love America? I can't. I don’t think I can love America. I can’t put that into words.

MALE VOICE 2:

We don’t know when it’s going to pass.

MALE VOICE 3:

I feel a revolution coming. It’s getting closer every day.

FEMALE VOICE:

I have learnt to love being alone.

NARRATOR:

These are the voices of Americans—

MALE VOICE 4:

People are getting angrier and angrier.

MALE VOICE 5:

I want to be in charge of my own life!

NARRATOR:

—gathered from across a divided nation.

MALE VOICE 3:

We’re just going too far in opposite directions.

MALE FILM CREW MEMBER:

Just set the scene for me. How are you feeling? Give us a clap, please.

NARRATOR:

In this film, Americans reflect on a year of turmoil.

MALE VOICE 6:

It’s never going to be the same after this.

FEMALE VOICE 2:

I wish there wasn’t as much hate in this world as what we have.

MALE VOICE 1:

They're scared to death of this thing, and nobody wants to die.

MALE VOICE 7:

We have no reason to trust the state.

MALE VOICE 8:

I'm not going to tolerate somebody telling me how I need to live my life.

NARRATOR:

A pastor, a barber, an activist, a mother, a retiree, the owners of a nail salon and of a construction company and a flower shop. A doctor and patient. Their stories begin in March 2020, as COVID was spreading and the country was shutting down.

MALE NEWSREADER:

The CDC says there are now more than 4,200 cases of coronavirus.

CHAPTER ONE

LOCKDOWN

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds has recommended schools—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Mass gatherings are restricted to less than 10 people—

SIOUX CITY, IOWA

CARY GORDON:

"Whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. All the people, the nations, and the languages fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up."

My name is Cary Gordon. I am the senior pastor of Cornerstone World Outreach in Sioux City, Iowa.

How do I water baptize someone in a virtual service? How do I bury the dead? How do I have a wedding? How are people supposed to have me lay my hands upon them and anoint them with oil and pray over them to be healed in the midst of a pandemic when I'm told that I can't have physical contact?

Last Sunday morning I drove past Menards. Menards is a lumberyard. Hundreds of cars. And only a quarter-mile away, my church, in contrast, I know is empty because they've said, "The church is not essential." The church is not essential. In a time of crisis with imminent death and a pandemic, the church is not essential, but Menards can stay open, someone might need to buy a screwdriver. It's offensive.

PORTLAND, OR

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

New numbers show the damage the coronavirus has inflicted upon Oregon's economy: 266,000 Oregonians are without a job.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Unemployment is at a record high in Oregon.

BRYANT MOORE:

People are spooked because of COVID. They're scared to death of this thing, and nobody wants to die going out the house getting a haircut.

My name is Bryant Moore. I’m a barber from Portland, Oregon.

Bills keep stacking up, with no money coming in. Scared to look at the bills from our business because I can't pay.

So I'll survive by just doing what I have to do to make it. If I would go to a senior's house or go to a bus stop, I couldn't do anything else. I had to make do.

FEMALE CUSTOMER:

So I’m having a get-together at my house. So I escaped, came here. I got to get my hair done, he got to get his money. Going to go back looking fly.

BRYANT MOORE:

My business is one of those things where it makes you feel good, which we really all need to be feeling good right now. It's just a common human thing to do; it's human to make people feel good.

FEMALE CUSTOMER:

Oh, yeah. Go for a queen, that part.

MALE CUSTOMER:

I'm hopeful. This may be the right thing to stop all this fighting among each other. Democrat, Republican, independent, Black, white, yellow, whatever. So this might be the right thing. Because what I've been seeing is folks been sticking together. It doesn't matter what color they are. I mean, seeing it in person.

BRYANT MOORE:

[sings] Back and forth, and in and out, and back and forth again. For we are strong people and we will come out of this and be on top again, I do believe.

COOL, CA

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The coronavirus pandemic is putting an end to the longest economic expansion in U.S. history.

MALE NEWSREADER:

We are going into a global recession.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Entire parts of the U.S. economy are at a complete standstill.

ROD AND ROSIE BORBA

ROSIE BORBA:

People are afraid to go out. People are afraid even to call and have something delivered. It's just a total different—

ROD BORBA:

Half the businesses are broke or they're out of business.

ROSIE BORBA:

When I started my flower shop, I started with two used cooler boxes and a piece of plyboard across the top of the boxes in our yard. That's how I started.

Do you need a receipt?

FEMALE CUSTOMER:

Um, sure.

ROSIE BORBA:

Thank you so much! Keep me posted on that wedding.

FEMALE CUSTOMER:

I will for sure.

ROSIE BORBA:

All right. Bye-bye!

FEMALE CUSTOMER:

Bye!

ROSIE BORBA:

I've been here in this one probably 24 years in this one spot, so I'm kind of a staple here.

But it's kind of sad to only see this many orders on my board, because normally should be about 50 to 60 orders on my board for Easter. And I have one, two, three, four, five, six. So I better do a pray dance tonight. [laughs] Oh, I don’t know. It is what it is. It is what it is.

OK, it’s done.

ROD BORBA:

Which one’s this?

ROSIE BORBA:

This is your last one to Auburn.

ROD BORBA:

Where’s Sharon’s?

ROSIE BORBA:

I haven't done it yet, but it's too early to take hers.

ROD BORBA:

Oh, I thought you said I was going to take it now.

ROSIE BORBA:

No.

ROD BORBA:

I didn't see you had this one done.

ROSIE BORBA:

My husband does my deliveries, as much as he can do. We're just a two-man team just trying to survive.

ROD BORBA:

We got married when we were 18. We dated in high school. From the first time we met we were each other's best friends, because everybody knows Rosie. She's a pretty special woman.

I personally have a problem with the mask at times. Because of my congestive heart failure there's times I'm fighting for air.

Hello! Delivery for Pat.

But you don't want to wear a mask because it's not going to save you. Well, no, it's not going to save you, but you might save somebody else's life.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Gov. Ralph Northam and his COVID-19 response—

RICHMOND, VA

MALE NEWSREADER:

—see another spike in cases.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—appeal the state's stay-at-home order.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Social distancing guidelines are going to be with us for months to come.

CARRAN LEWIS:

My immune system is weakened, so I have learnt to love being alone. I have learnt to be pretty darn comfortable.

Oh, Lord, technology. Just not my thing.

My name is Carran Lewis. I live in North Chesterfield, Virginia.

Yeah, good morning, Second Baptist. Praise the Lord, everybody.

I drive close to an hour from my home to church. I got a heavy foot, but if I followed the law, it would be clearly an hour drive.

MALE VOICE ON COMPUTER:

Welcome to the Second Baptist Church of South Richmond, a caring and sharing church bringing you the word of God.

CARRAN LEWIS:

I have enjoyed the comfort of waking up and listening to it online.

MALE VOICE ON COMPUTER:

We're now going to have a virtual universal message—

CARRAN LEWIS:

I miss the environment of the building, but that is what it is, a building. Because the people, we are the church. The physical human beings are the church.

MALE VOICE ON COMPUTER:

I pray for this country, God. There are so many challenges going on. We're in election time. And God, I ask you—

CARRAN LEWIS:

I've still helped people, even in this virus. I've picked up groceries for a couple of friends, older people that could not go out, didn't have the means to go out. They know my number.

MALE VOICE ON COMPUTER:

Our seniors, amen, because of COVID-19 should not be out and about like some of us are—

CARRAN LEWIS:

That's right.

That's part of what God wants you to do. Just help people.

[sings] For all you've done for me—

This is the part that's scary. I think some people are getting too comfortable being at home watching the service. [laughs]

[sings] They all belong to you. Thank you Jesus for blessing me.

AMERICAN FORK, UT

MALE NEWSREADER:

President Trump appears to be stoking unrest in states around the U.S. where—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—long-term damage from a shuttered economy—

APRIL 2020

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—public signs urging leaders to reopen Utah.

AMY GARNER:

You can't do one-size-fits-all. You can't shut everybody in. You can't make healthy people wear masks.

Oh, that's looking nice. You look so happy about it.

I am Amy Garner and I am a mom of six kids.

OK, where did you want to go?

We say "economy," sometimes we just think of finances as a whole of society. But instead I see my brother. His business was going down. That triggered the stress, which triggered his health issues, which triggered his mental health issues, and he was gone in 60 days. Three years ago he took his life.

That’s my brother Brian. Yeah. [sighs]

I wanted to save other families from going through what we went through. Sorry. So that's why I became so passionate about not shutting things down. Letting people choose.

MALE ANTI-LOCKDOWN SPEAKER 1:

Are we sheep or are we people?

CROWD:

People!

MALE ANTI-LOCKDOWN PROTESTER:

Let's go to work!

AMY GARNER:

That doesn’t mean that we don’t believe there are people at extra risk or that we don't love them or accept their concerns.

Mine says, "My—our definition—" oh, "Your definition of essential is not the same as mine." So they really are missing out on the hard-working people who can't earn money for their families. I think the rate of suicide is going to go way higher. You take away people’s connections, their hobbies, their friends, their worship, their work, and everyone’s going to be depressed! [laughs] And I am so blessed to have a family of children and a husband. But what about the people who don’t? It’s heartbreaking.

MALE ANTI-LOCKDOWN SPEAKER 2:

Small business is the lifeblood of this country and we cannot kill it any longer. We are open for business today!

FEMALE ANTI-LOCKDOWN SPEAKER:

This is my first rally, so I’m really happy to be here with all of you guys, all of you patriots, all of you activists!

AMY GARNER:

I really hope people will let go of what we're stuck in, what we're stressed out about right now, and take into consideration the long-term impact of what's going on.

CROWD [singing]:

God bless America, my home sweet home. [cheering]

MALE NEWSREADER:

Mr. Trump is now insisting the states have to step up their testing.

CEDAR PARK, TX

MALE NEWSREADER:

Fewer than 1% of all Texans have been tested.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Testing will be a big factor in making sure Texans are healthy enough to fully reopen the economy.

CHRISTINE MANN:

Clearly we're in the middle of a pandemic, and we're suffering much worse than we would have had we had a competent, science-based head of state.

My name is Dr. Christine Eady Mann. I am a family practice doctor in Cedar Park.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, we were left without any guidance. Individual clinics like mine, doctors like me, weren't really given any information about how to manage the pandemic, and so we kind of all had to make it up on the fly. We didn't know the processes that we needed to use to be able to manage patients as they came in.

It takes between one and three days to get a result. Sorry.

I'm one of the COVID-19 testers at my workplace.

This is a deep nasal swab, it's very uncomfortable. Pull your mask down. I think you had this before, so you know what's coming.

We didn't have equipment, we didn't have test kits, and it was very stressful. It was just a mess for months and months and months.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—the number of death in the United States has now reached a stunning 50,000.

CHICAGO, IL

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—had at least one underlying health issue—

MALE NEWSREADER:

A new effort to keep Chicagoans safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MAYRA RAMIREZ:

In early April was when I started feeling lightheaded, dizzy, I was coughing, I lost my sense of taste and smell. Because I have an underlying condition, I thought my symptoms were related to that.

You're wearing your mask wrong. You have to cover your nose.

My name is Mayra Ramirez. I'm 28 years old.

One day I woke up, I was so weak I just fell over. Everything was dark. And I remember calling out for my boyfriend, I was like, "George, George," and he would run and help me and I was like, "OK, I really need to go to the emergency room."

So they immediately put me in a room. Didn't even ask me my name or anything.

I remember a doctor came in and told me, "We're pretty sure we're going to have to intubate you. Do you have someone that can make medical decisions for you?" Then—it's just kind of a blur what happened after I got intubated.

IVAN CASTANDEA, Mayra's brother:

The day they told us that Mayra—it was her last day, we were all in the trampoline, just—my mom was crying. My sisters, all my aunts were there, they were crying. They didn't know what to do. And we were just planning to go pick up a corpse. I was trying to avoid it.

MAYRA RAMIREZ:

I love you so much. Uh-oh. [laughs]

SIOUX CITY, IA

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Developing news that effects everyone living in Iowa. Gov. Kim Reynolds signing a new proclamation—

MALE NEWSREADER:

—lifts the restrictions on religious and spiritual gatherings.

PASTOR CARY K. GORDON

CARY GORDON:

Medical people are wonderful people, they're heroes, but they're not omniscient and they make mistakes and they contradict one another.

Everyone’s going to die at some point. As a Christian, we believe that we’re set free from the fear of death.

FEMALE CHURCH USHER 1:

Do you have any hand sanitizer?

MALE CHURCH USHER:

We do.

CARY GORDON:

We're spiritual beings and we require fellowship.

FEMALE CHURCH USHER 1:

Oh, it’s a beautiful day!

FEMALE CHURCH USHER 2:

I know, it’s gorgeous!

CARY GORDON:

And if it's OK to take a risk and go to stores, I think it's OK to take a risk and go to church.

FEMALE CHURCH USHER 2:

Ninety- nine six.

FEMALE PARISHIONER:

Whew!

FEMALE CHURCH USHER 1:

Try to keep families together, OK?

CARY GORDON:

Welcome back into the church building! [laughs] Woo-hoo! Praise the Lord. We’re going to teach you a new song this morning as we reenter the church. You can stand with us. [sings] Oh, Christ be magnified! Just let his prayers arise. Christ be magnified in me, yeah. Hallelujah! I said hallelujah!

CHAPTER TWO

PROTEST

MINNEAPOLIS, MN

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The attempted arrest was caught on camera, and the video of last night’s confrontation shows a white police officer with his knee pinning down the neck of the suspect.

MAY 2020

MALE NEWSREADER:

His name was George Floyd. He’s on video saying, "Please, please, I can’t breathe," as a Minneapolis police officer holds his head for a minute—

TAYO DANIEL

TAYO DANIEL:

We're just like, man, this is crazy. We're already fighting a common terror, which is COVID. And now this now? People were just pissed off—like, this is just ridiculous. How can you kill this man?

CROWD [chanting]:

No justice no peace, prosecute the police!

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The outrage began with a video showing an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Many people have gathered in front of the Third Precinct—

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER 1:

Sitting here in front of officers who are complicit in the murder of George Floyd.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Thousands packed the area.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—protesting the death of George Floyd.

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER 2:

How many times have we watched police officers murder people?

TAYO DANIEL:

You're numb to it after so many of them. It's been happening for so long.

CROWD [chanting]:

Don’t shoot! Hands up! Don’t shoot! Hands up!

TAYO DANIEL:

Then it's a little different. You’re like, wow, that just happened right here on 38th. The fact that it happened in my neighborhood was what really pulled me into it. People are getting angrier and angrier and angrier, and then, hold up. We have a whole bunch of police with helmets right in front of us.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Crowds of protesters facing off with officers in riot gear.

FEMALE PROTESTER:

Make way, make way!

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—protest turned violent last night.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Overnight protests left parts of downtown in ruins.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Multiple fires were set, windows smashed and stores looted.

TAYO DANIEL:

As far as the volunteering efforts go, so far you’re our go-to volunteer coordinator, right?

FEMALE SPEAKER:

Yes.

TAYO DANIEL:

So we really have to get her engaged with—

ROYCE WHITE:

Them.

TAYO DANIEL:

—them.

My name is Tayo Daniel. I'm from South Minneapolis, Minnesota, co-founder of 10K. We were listening to the news and the narrative that they're spreading was like, "All these looters and rioters, people from Minneapolis just burning down their own city," and all that kind of stuff. And I was like, "Man, I'm from here and I know everybody that lives here, and we're not like that." So a lot of guys from the neighborhood decided to get together and create the 10K Foundation. And we wanted to show that we could have a peaceful protest.

ROYCE WHITE:

10K is about mobilizing 10,000 people and the power in that, the sovereignty in being able to mobilize 10,000 people.

I’m Royce White. I grew up here in the Twin Cities. I was an athlete, was drafted to the NBA back in 2013 and had a huge fight with the NBA regarding mental health policy.

When all the protests broke out, my first thought was, "I’m headed down there."

I’m not going to claim to have a crystal ball as to what's going to happen. I really have no clue. I’m just going off of pure opinion. The four officers were arrested, and temporarily that’s enough justice until we wait and see what happens with the court process. I know people are still very unhappy. They’re not in the uproar that they were in, obviously, when the city was burning down or even a few days ago when we marched. Every day we get away from it, that energy is going to go down a bit. I think it’s spiking up in other places around the country. I want the goal of this march to be, "How can we re-grab some of that energy?"

JULY 4

TAYO DANIEL:

The reason why we’re here is because the history has been misconstrued. Because every 4th of July I used to go out and party, and I used to just really scream independence, not realizing that my ancestors with the same color skin as mine were not independent. They were in chains, they were being whipped, they were being tortured. People, the time is right now. Can everybody say that one time? On the count of three say, “The time is now.” 1, 2, 3—

CROWD:

The time is now!

TAYO DANIEL:

Say it again!

CROWD:

The time is now!

TAYO DANIEL:

Louder!

CROWD:

The time is now!

TAYO DANIEL:

The time is right now!

ROYCE WHITE:

Look, we did our best to think through how the protest would put people at risk for COVID-19 transmission. But at the end of the day there's no way that we could allow the state to tell us, "Hey, we're going to kill Black men out on the streets. And also, stay in your house because we also—because of COVID-19."

ROYCE WHITE:

If you think about the historical context of Black men, Black people in this country in general, we have no reason to trust the state. In general, when we wake up in the morning, there's no good reason for us to have any faith in the state. And maybe in times where there needs to be a trust, it falls through. Yeah, maybe Black people should have more trust in the state when it comes to COVID-19, but it’s a tough sell.

TAYO DANIEL:

The reason why we’re doing this silent march is because when you take a moment of silence, you're taking a moment of silence for the dead. For the Eric Garners, for the Breonna Taylors, for the George Floyds.

ROYCE WHITE:

Hey, it is what it is. This is a war. This is a war. And so the only other option is to board up in your house and wait for the next George Floyd to be murdered. I mean, that's just the reality.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Protesters have been on the streets of Richmond for several weeks now.

RICHMOND, VA

MALE NEWSREADER:

—one-time capital of the Confederacy is in the throes of change as statues commemorating Confederate leaders come down.

CARRAN LEWIS

CARRAN LEWIS:

I am grateful to this generation of Black youth and white youth that are not rioting, they're protesting, and they're smart and they're doing it right.

I’m going in from over here.

I decided one Sunday and said, "You know what? I’m stepping out on faith. I’m going down to see what it's about."

FEMALE PROTESTERS:

Black lives matter! Whoo!

CARRAN LEWIS:

I kept seeing it on the news and I just did not believe the way media was portraying it, that it was that bad.

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER 1:

—you understand, you are a spirit being that lives in a body! Your body will die, but the soul and spirit is either going to heaven or it's going to hell!

CARRAN LEWIS:

Understand, I’m 63, I’m deadly afraid of COVID, but it’s worth it to come out and show my support.

MALE PROTESTER:

Black lives matter. May all lives matter. I'mma stand for something.

CARRAN LEWIS:

I met some terrific people, had great conversations with people. The diversity is what makes me feel good about it.

The Black and the whites are coming out here, and long as they catch one dirty cop at a time, one dirty racist, dirty politician, dirty lawyer, I’m happy. One at a time. 'Cause this is 400 years of this s---.

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER 2:

We are out here because of systematic racism. We are out here to defund the police.

CARRAN LEWIS:

I grew up in rural Virginia. The closest town was Bowling Green. There were some whites that we talked with, but I didn’t play with any. It was no white kids up the street that I played with or anything, they didn’t do—we didn’t do that in my era.

That's where I grew up as a child. Yes!

I’m at the monument right now as we speak. Having big fun, man.

Each experience I had out here has been different.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history.

CARRAN LEWIS:

I come early and I leave before it gets too late.

One evening, I didn’t understand what was happening when I saw like 14 police cars coming up in front of the area. And I just begged them to allow me to go to my car and leave.

I just want to go home, please. I just want to go home. My car—how am I going to drive, I can't get over here.

MALE POLICE OFFICER:

You can go wait in your car. We’ll be out of here in just a second.

CARRAN LEWIS:

But how can I—

MALE POLICE OFFICER:

We’ll be out of here in just a second. You can go wait in your car.

CARRAN LEWIS:

OK, OK.

And they were very kind. They even helped me get out, and I was gone.

Caucasian people, white people that I've known for years are very decent people on the surface. I don’t understand why they can’t see what we’re seeing. All I can do is just shake my head.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Another intense night here in the city of Richmond as protesters took to the streets for a second time.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

A peaceful protest in Virginia also turned violent on Saturday night. People in Richmond marched during an event called—

MARK CURTIS:

I don't think our country could be any more divided than we are right now. The country is horribly divided right now. And more divided than we ever have been. And for what? For what gain?

My name is Mark Curtis. I'm a father of four young kids. I'm also a business owner. I own a construction company.

I'm a huge rights activist. I believe in our Constitution. I believe in the way our Constitution was intended to be read and not interpreted.

If anybody had told us this was going to end up happening, nobody would have believed it.

MALE SPEAKER:

No. Like I say, racism is out there. That’s what it is. I got more Black friends than I could ever imagine. I got one Black friend that I specifically tell people that that’s my brother. [laughs] We talk about it all the time. It’s ridiculous, man.

MARK CURTIS:

The people that are doing all of this are just out just to wreck stuff.

MALE SPEAKER 1:

My same buddy that I call my brother, he said, “Man, it's crazy because they say it’s a 'Black Lives Matter' thing, but yet they’re going in and destroying old Black people’s businesses that live in Richmond." Do you know what I mean?

MARK CURTIS:

I don't know how everything got so race-oriented all of a sudden here within the past year, honestly. That kind of blows my mind.

So as far as the platform or the cause that the Black Lives Matter rallies are for, I think raising awareness for police brutality, sure. If you want to focus on any aspect of it that could have a positive effect on the American people, you could bring up that one aspect of it. But it doesn't just happen to Black folks. It happens to white folks. It happens to Asian folks. It happens across all walks of life, no matter what color you are, no matter what race you are.

MALE SPEAKER 2:

Are we jumping?

MARK CURTIS:

We all need to work together in a common cause to defend our freedoms, not to fight against each other and empower more regulation against us.

CEDAR PARK, TX

MALE NEWSREADER:

Two crises have converged: protests over the death of George Floyd and the pandemic. U.S. death toll now topping 104,000, the most in any country—

CHRISTINE MANN, M.D.

CHRISTINE MANN:

Right now we have a situation where Black Americans die out of proportion to any kind of parameter that you can think of.

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER:

All lives do matter, but they won’t until Black lives matter first. Sometimes when you have a specific type of community that's hurting, it is OK to focus on them for a little while until things get better, and then when they do get better, then all lives will matter.

CHRISTINE MANN:

When the George Floyd murder occurred, it was in the middle of this pandemic. And so for me, as a health care provider, I really felt that it was my responsibility to not expose myself to the potential for getting the disease and spreading on to my patients. But I was happy that so many people were coming out of their homes and out of their workplaces to be involved in those protests.

CROWD [chanting]:

Black lives matter! Black lives matter!

CHRISTINE MANN:

We were there in solidarity.

We have a very long history of systemic racism in this country that persists today. You have to look at the lives that are most at risk in our country, the ones that are being lost out of proportion to every other category of American.

FEMALE PROTESTER:

Black lives matter!

CROWD:

Black lives matter!

OAKLAND, CA

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—protest turned violent after demonstrators clashed with Oakland police officers—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Police say that there was significant property damage to businesses in the downtown area of Oakland after these protests last night.

JASON TOLENTINO:

My understanding is it's actually a good movement, in my opinion, but there's just a bunch of other protesters, a small percentage of it, that are giving it a bad name.

My name is Jason Tolentino, and I own a nail salon.

JAMIE TOLENTINO:

Well, actually, I'm the one who wanted to open a shop.

My name is Jamie. I'm from Vietnam.

JASON TOLENTINO:

No way! Really? It's pretty much all closed.

JAMIE TOLENTINO:

I told myself, before I'm 30 I will own something. So when I'm 28, just took all the money for our wedding just to go buy a shop and start a business.

JASON TOLENTINO:

We’ve been open for about three years, and so far, everything's great. Besides this, of course. The pandemic has taken a huge toll. We're just trying to get by doing whatever we can to survive. Then now when we have this going on, which made it even worse.

It's mainly just for insurance purposes, if it did get vandalized or looted.

It's not fair for someone like me who's trying to make this community better and next thing you know, someone just takes it away and ruins the whole business itself.

There is the racism in America. And at the moment, I think it's just getting worse. African Americans, they just want to not be harassed by the law. There's nothing wrong with protest. You can protest all you want, we live in America. But when you start vandalizing small businesses, that part is wrong.

CHICAGO, IL

MALE NEWSREADER:

Now amidst all this chaos and turmoil in the country right now it could be easy to forget that we are still in a pandemic. But the threat of this virus—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

One of the first known American COVID-19 survivors to receive a double lung transplant is now recovering. Twenty-eight-year-old Mayra Ramirez received the lung transplant at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.

MAYRA RAMIREZ:

When I first woke up from my lung transplant, I was a vegetable. I couldn't move a finger, I couldn't—I could barely wiggle my toes, I couldn't talk. I was in a lot of pain, I was uncomfortable. I was really disoriented at the time. I felt like I had only been there for like three days or so; I didn't realize that I was intubated, sedated for six weeks.

MAYRA RAMIREZ:

The TV would be on and they would talk about all these riots that were happening and George Floyd and protest. And I was like, "Can I just go back to being sedated? Can I wake up when this is over?" The world was so ugly. Literally cities are burning. I just couldn't take it.

COOL, CA

MALE COMMENTATOR:

The radical Dems are pushing as many left-wing activists and anarchists as they can into the streets of America. I understand the president is on the phone now.

DONALD TRUMP [on phone]:

Well maybe the point of great success. You know, we were at that point—

ROSIE BORBA:

My feelings with the Black Lives Matter is "all lives matter." Not just Black, not pink, white or purple. It's not just one race.

ROD AND ROSIE BORBA

ROSIE BORBA:

I think it's wrong, basically, what the officer did. I think he should pay a price for what he did. But I look back in history. I had a great-great-grandfather that helped with the slaves. He helped run the underground railroad. He was ambushed by white people who felt the slaves should stay slaves. So when they sit there and say every white person is racist or bad, I'm not racist, I'm not bad. I'm a human being. I respect them, I expect to be respected back.

PORTLAND, OR

MALE NEWSREADER:

George Floyd's name is on a list now. A very long list. A centuries-old history—

MALE NEWSREADER:

People told me that these protests had become about more than George Floyd. That they're about this long history of police brutality.

BRYANT MOORE:

All you have to do is look at history. If you flip the pages back from history, it speaks for itself.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

There is another vigil for George Floyd that is getting underway right now at Peninsula Park.

BRYANT MOORE:

I just keep seeing African American people get killed by cops all across the nation and nothing's happening. You look at American history and it's ugly. People are hurt. People are tired of—we're tired of being tired.

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER 1:

And where were the men that swore to protect this country against enemies—

BRYANT MOORE:

When I look at history, we protest. Nothing changed. We protest now. Nothing's really changing. And that's hurtful.

FEMALE PROTEST SPEAKER:

From Day One, America has been based off of the subjugation of Black and indigenous people!

BRYANT MOORE:

Yes! Yes! Speak it, sister girl!

How can I love America? I can't. I don't think I can love America. America hasn't loved me, that's for damn sure.

CROWD:

Power to the people!

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER 2:

Power to the people!

CROWD:

Power to the people!

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER 2:

Black power!

CROWD:

Black power!

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER 2:

Black power!

CROWD:

Black power!

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER 2:

All power to the people!

BRYANT MOORE:

Power to the people!

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER 2:

All power to the people!

BRYANT MOORE:

All power to the people!

The fight is real. But it's always been here. Now it's to the surface in 2020. Now where do we go from here?

MALE PROTEST SPEAKER 2:

You need to get off your damn phones and recording s--- and start getting active!

CHAPTER THREE

ELECTION

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

—how millions of people all across America are casting their votes on who they want to lead the country for the next—

MALE NEWSREADER:

It has been a campaign year unlike any other.

LATE OCTOBER

MALE NEWSREADER:

More than 90 million ballots have been cast, and that number—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Record-breaking early voting continues. Massive early vote total includes more than 7 million Californians who have already returned their mail-in ballots.

ROSIE BORBA:

I wish there wasn't as much hate in this world as what we have. I don't care if you're a Dem, I don't care if you're Republican, I don't care if you're in the middle. There's so much hate.

I hope President Trump wins. Vice President Biden, I feel, is—and I hate to say the age thing, because he's probably my age, maybe? Or my years? I don't know how old he is. I think he's too old. I think he's too feeble in his mind. I just wish it was over.

Yay! [laughs]

MALE NEWSREADER:

Illinois election officials reporting seeing early voting numbers they have not seen in prior elections.

MAYRA RAMIREZ:

Recovery is pretty slow and really hard. I have someone else's lungs and it would be like a slap in the face if I didn't try my hardest.

MALE POLL WORKER:

Are you here to vote?

MAYRA RAMIREZ:

Mmm hmm.

MALE POLL WORKER:

OK, so you're going to go through the revolving doors.

MAYRA RAMIREZ:

I avoid going anywhere, so I requested the mail-in ballot, but it never arrived.

Hi.

MALE POLL WORKER 2:

Hello.

MAYRA RAMIREZ:

I'm Mayra Ramirez.

I saw one person who didn't have their mask on properly, and that upset me a little bit. My No. 1 topic of interest during this election is health care reform.

I think this is the first time that during an election that we've actually expected riots and violence and protests. Regardless of how the results go, I think we're all still expecting it.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

So far this election is on track to set a record.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

California's top election official assuring folks there are safe ways to vote during a pandemic. All ballots will be protected.

JASON TOLENTINO:

All right, everything's—

JAMIE TOLENTINO:

Did I put my name here?

JASON TOLENTINO:

Did you sign? No! You've got sign— [sighs] Sheesh. Well, I've got no pen. Now we've got to walk back out again. Do you have a pen? You've got to put your address—it literally says on the top that it's going to invalidate if you don't sign it.

JAMIE TOLENTINO:

Oh! [laughs]

JASON TOLENTINO:

I would rather not say who I voted for. I just want everything to come back to normal, that's all I'm praying for, really. People will be surprised, but I don't want to say who I voted for.

JAMIE TOLENTINO:

I just vote for myself, or I vote for the lady. No, I vote for the lady!

JASON TOLENTINO:

You voted for that lady, huh? You don't even know her name.

JAMIE TOLENTINO:

I don't know who she is, but it seems like she's the only lady, so I vote for the lady. I vote for the woman!

JASON TOLENTINO:

[laughs] Well, you have a right to do that.

ELECTION DAY

TAYO DANIEL:

It's been a while since I voted, you know, due to my situation.

Here at the polling station. I'm here with my dad, the OG.

I made a lot of bad decisions when I was younger—getting in fights, had an assault charge, things like that.

Trying to do the right thing. It's never too late to do the right thing. That's for sure.

I made a vow to myself that I'll never do nothing illegal again. I'll never go to jail again.

I need to register.

FEMALE POLL WORKER 1:

Do you have an ID with your—

TAYO DANIEL:

So I just felt privileged to be able to get out and vote.

FEMALE POLL WORKER 2:

Here's your ballot.

TAYO DANIEL:

There's a lot of people that are not allowed to vote or who can't vote, so it's important that the people who have the privilege of voting take that step and make that initiative.

MALE NEWSREADER:

The polls in Iowa are open until 9 o'clock tonight for anyone who chooses to vote in person. Across the state there are about 1,200 locations—

CARY GORDON:

I have to put this on now.

You're supposed to find people that represent you. Donald Trump cannot represent me; he does not represent my beliefs. Of course, I can't vote for Joe Biden for the very same reason.

FEMALE POLL WORKER:

Thank you for voting. Have a good evening.

MALE POLL WORKER:

Everything was recorded, Cary.

CARY GORDON:

Thank you very much.

I will sleep good tonight because someday, as a Christian, I believe Christ will return and all wrongs will be righted and justice will prevail. And my job is to keep speaking the truth as a minister.

MALE NEWSREADER:

In the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, big race, big electoral vote fight tonight. Too early to call.

MALE NEWSREADER:

But we will be getting some results, actually, we think, this hour from Kentucky.

CHRISTINE MANN:

I'm equally excited and nervous. I've been thinking about how four years ago, I didn't think I was going to make it four years. Joe Biden was not my first choice. My first choice was Kamala Harris, who thankfully is the vice presidential candidate, soon to be the vice president.

MALE NEWSREADER:

In the commonwealth of Massachusetts—

CHRISTINE MANN:

Yay, Joe Biden wins Massachusetts!

MALE NEWSREADER:

—Joe Biden the projected winner tonight.

CHRISTINE MANN:

My gut is telling me Biden's going to win. But I'm so nervous about the possibility of a contested election. But I think that it's unlikely. I think that we're going to have a good win tonight.

MALE NEWSREADER:

We are still in the thick of a very heated contest.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Right. It is closer than Democrats wanted it to be. It is closer than any Democrat is comfortable with right now. We'll have to wait and see how that comes in.

BRYANT MOORE:

I anticipate some very uneasy people on either or both sides angry about not getting their way. Whoever wins, which I hope it is not Trump, we should come together.

CROWD [chanting]:

Ain't no power like the power of the people, 'cause the power of the people don't stop!

BRYANT MOORE:

This week I felt kind of like a sigh of relief. I was feeling like things are changing, things are—they're shifting in a different direction.

CROWD [chanting]:

Ain't no power like the power of the people, 'cause the power of the people don't stop!

FEMALE PROTEST LEADER:

Ain't no power like the power of the people, 'cause the power of the people don't stop!

BRYANT MOORE:

It was an invigorating space to see. A lot of people that not necessarily look like me but wanted the same types of things that I want in America.

NOVEMBER 7, 2020

MALE NEWSREADER:

Vice President Joe Biden will win Pennsylvania and Nevada, putting him over the 270 electoral votes—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Across the country, pro-Trump protesters gathering at state capitals, echoing the president that the election was stolen.

AMY GARNER:

Because I really was just so sick of politics I wanted to write in "Jesus." [laughs] But that doesn't do anything. So I was surprised—I felt prompted to vote for Trump.

PROUD BOY PROTEST SPEAKER:

We are very much in a spiritual battle right now. We are invoking Christ because Christ is the way, and Christ is the only way that we are going to triumph over evil. We have tried time and time again—

AMY GARNER:

I really hope representatives will get the voice of the people and that there will be a middle ground. Biden probably can't accomplish everything he wants, but a part of me feels devastated because I feel like it's taking society in a completely different direction.

PROUD BOY PROTEST SPEAKER:

Stand by, stand down. No, we're not standing down. We're here, we're going to stand—we're going to stand fast. We're going to wait for orders.

MALE NEWSREADER:

—cheers and saw celebrations in the streets of Minneapolis.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Celebrations by Joe Biden supporters have been going on all day, including here in the Metro.

TAYO DANIEL:

Hey!

I’m just excited that overall that more people got involved in the voting process, because that way, we're going to be able to hold these elected officials more accountable.

So I think a lot of people are going to be looking at Joe Biden like, "OK, you were talking that talk, now how are you going to walk the walk?"

What do you guys think of the election?

FEMALE PASSERSBY:

Oh, yeah! We're good, we're good!

TAYO DANIEL:

I was relieved to the point where it's like, "OK, this step has been handled. Now what's the next step?" It's not over; this is just the beginning. That's just one man. The president doesn't make the world a better place; the people make the world a better place, the people living in it.

MALE NEWSREADER:

So let's talk about what exactly happened and what this vote says about the country. Joe Biden got a record number of votes—

ROD BORBA:

We have half a nation that believes that we had an unfair election. We have another half of the nation that thinks everything's just great and wonderful. I hope it's wrong, but I see too many comments by too many people. I feel a revolution coming. It's getting closer every day. Somebody's going to be dumb enough to fire the first shot and we're going to have some serious problems. I hope I'm wrong.

ROSIE BORBA:

I hope you're wrong, too.

ROD BORBA:

And I hope I'm not here to see it.

FEMALE VOICE:

I'm ready for you, doctor.

CHRISTINE MANN:

OK, I'll be right there.

I think the immediate future holds turmoil and fear and concern about where we go next.

We are ready to do some COVID testing now.

I actually fear that people are going to say, "Whew, Joe Biden won, we're done, we can go back to doing and living our normal lives."

All right, this is a nasal swab, both sides of your nose.

Anyone who thinks that the election getting called is the end of the work that needs to be done is mistaken.

And we'll have results for you within 24 hours.

MARK CURTIS:

I have no regrets about voting for the Libertarian candidate. I'm tired of people voting for the lesser of two evils—voting Democrat because it's not Trump or voting Republican because it's not Biden.

Wouldn't really matter who got into office, I feel like they're one and the same. I think our culture's going to stay divided. The division that has been created here recently is something that we've regressed to that's going to take generations to recover. I think our culture is going to be horribly scarred by this. And I don't know what it's going to be blamed on in the end or how it's going to be spun, but I think that our culture on the whole has gone down a deep, dark hole.

CARRAN LEWIS:

Woo-hoo! President Biden! Yay! That was for you.

We have a president. [sings] Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.

He can't fix this mess overnight. He can't fix it in a week, a month. But it's over. Thank goodness, it’s over.

[sings] Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now.

But now we worry about what's going to happen next.

Let there be peace.

54m
3907_yt-tn-CLEAN
American Voices: A Nation in Turmoil
FRONTLINE presents a post-election special on the lives, fears and hopes of Americans in the chaotic months leading up to the historic presidential contest.
November 17, 2020