Ian Taylor Jr. ’19 on ‘Breathless,’ His Legal Podcast on the George Floyd Murder Case
After the tragic killing of George Floyd and resulting civil unrest, Ian Taylor Jr. ’19 felt a need to contribute to the moment in a constructive way. Observing the public confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the legal proceedings against the four police officers, he launched his podcast, “Breathless,” which provides thoughtful and easy-to-follow legal analysis of the case “layered with a jazzy, hip hop sound.” Taylor’s producer is former classmate Haaris Pasha ’19, whose technical savvy and rhythmic stylings give the program a polished feel. So far, “Breathless” has five episodes (ranging from 12 to 21 minutes in length) that explicate the case, profile the personalities involved, and delve into the larger societal context. Taylor recently answered a few questions about his informative and engaging legal podcast.
Why did you name the podcast “Breathless”?
The name “Breathless” is inspired by the phrase among the final words of George Floyd, “I can’t breathe.” It is also inspired by the rapid pace that the case has been moving with, which can be exhausting to keep up with.
What do you hope to accomplish?
My goal is that by sharing a brief but holistic legal perspective of major events and actions, I can support other people who are following the case with thoughtful insight.
Why podcast as your medium for legal analysis?
A podcast is a dynamic way to engage in legal advocacy and community organization. In the first few days of people demanding charges and arrests, I noticed that many of my peers and family members had questions about the legal process and wanted to know what was happening on a deeper level. I felt that using a podcast I could communicate the ideas in an engaging and succinct way and even explore other topics that interested me personally.
Any idea how many episodes you will create?
I plan to make as many episodes as it takes to get a strong sense of the legal personalities, events, and actions shaping this case. I create as though this will be a record for people to analyze in the future. The series will be anchored by the life of the trial mostly, breaking down the procedure but also elaborating on the context of the moment. For example, we have an episode that discusses systemic racism and notes how people like George Floyd, who represent economic disadvantage that affects so many in the African American community, find justice when dealing with the police or even when reforms are proposed by the legislature.
How much time does your podcasting activity take?
I spend a lot of my weekend researching, writing, and recording. I enjoy the work and consider myself blessed to contribute something positive in this moment.
Your producer is fellow Minnesota Law grad Haaris Pasha ’19. Can you describe a bit about how your partnership works and how you wound up working together on this?
Haaris and I developed a friendship in law school through our mutual passion for social justice and politics. We have always discussed ways we can use our legal education to edify the communities around us. Knowledge liberates people. However, we recognize that a lecture or presentation doesn’t always connect with the average person. But what if we seized on a moment of passion, and delivered a lecture mixed with dope hip hop beats? Then you can connect with more people.
What does the production portion involve?
Production involves weaving in the audio clips of a subject’s statements and events that are discussed in the podcast. Haaris also prepares original beats that fit the mood we try to establish. The podcast delivers legal concepts and events layered with a jazzy, hip hop sound. Haaris is a pro at this.
Have you gotten any feedback on the podcast so far?
We are meeting the need we set out to serve! People find the podcast above all informative and applicable to this moment. Some of my activist friends as well as casual news consumers wanted to know what the differences are in the types of charges brought by prosecutors so they had a better understanding of what they should advocate for when protesting. They felt like the podcast helped them in this area. We continue to find ways to make the show more engaging and convey the drama of the trial in our episodes.
How do you spend your time when not podcasting?
I’m clerking for a Judge in the Hennepin County District Court. I enjoy reading books and watching movies.
Anything else you’d like to share about your podcast?
Great leaders in history always have a handle on the new media of their time. Whether that was oration, the printing press, radio, or television. Anyone who wants to participate or lead a social movement should understand that. Today, I think after social media, podcasts are the most democratic new media. As someone who aspires to be a dynamic legal advocate, I think it’s important to be familiar with the power of dynamic media. I also think it’s fun!