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People United in Solidary for George Floyd Around the World; National Guard Activated in America; Representative James Clyburn (D-SC), is Interviewed About America and Racism; Trump Facing Increasing Criticisms from His Supporters; Marc Lotter, Director of Strategic Communications, Trump 2020, is Interviewed About Trump; Minnesota Department of Human Rights Launches Investigation; Interview With Charlamagne tha God; Interview With Former National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives President Cedric Alexander. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 03, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Global solidarity for George Floyd with marches from London to Sydney joining those in America. I ask house majority whip, Jim Clyburn, whether
this will be the tipping point for America's promise of equality and his lifelong fight for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I do not support invoking the insurrection act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: His defense secretary begs to differ. So, what is the president's end game? Marc Lotter, director of strategic communications for
his 2020 campaign joins me.
Also, ahead, the indispensable need for accountability. We look at the debate on whether to reform or reorganize America's police departments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: So, if Biden wants this election, he needs to get his soul right and do right by black people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Charlamagne tha God tells our Michel Martin about the stark warning to the Democrats.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
People have united in solidarity across the world as protests continue to grip the United States, more than a week after George Floyd, an unarmed
black man, died with the knee of a white policeman in his neck. In cities like London and Paris, tens of thousands took to the streets to condemn
what Pope Francis calls the sin of racism. Just as former U.S. presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, break their silence calling Floyd's death
tragic, shocking and appealing for unity and the end of systemic racism in the country.
Indeed, despite curfews across major cities in the United States, from coast to coast, on the eighth night, peaceful demonstrators took place with
only isolated looting. But tensions run high as over half of the states now have activated the national guard, which actually means that as many troops
are in the streets of America as there are in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan combined. And it is causing unease at the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Mark
Esper launched a warning shot across the bow to his commander in chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I say this not only as secretary of defense, but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National
Guard. The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent
and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Word is the White House is not pleased with Esper's stance. Now, members of the South Carolina National Guard have been sent to Washington,
D.C. at the request of President Trump. That is the state represented by my first guest tonight and he is Jim Clyburn who grew up during segregation
and he is the House Majority Whip, the most senior African-American in Congress. His support pushed Joe Biden's candidacy over the top and he's
joining us now from Columbia, South Carolina.
Congressman, thank you for joining us. So, let me just ask you one up on of the very important issues here, you heard what the defense secretary said,
obviously under fire from members of the military, that he did not support and did not think there was any need at this point for active duty American
military on the streets. Contradicting the president. What do you make of that and how important is it that he got up publicly and said that?
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, first of all, thank you very much for having me. And I think it's very, very important for the secretary of
defense to make that statement. I think it's very important for people of good sense to begin to speak up when this president continues to fly in the
face of a constitutional principle that are the underpinnings of this great country.
This country does not have to be made great again. I don't care what Trump says. This country is already great. What we have got to work on and what
our great challenge is, is making this nation's greatness accessible and affordable for all of its citizens, and that's what we are trying to do.
That's what is going on with these demonstrations. People are trying to make our judicial system accessible and affordable for all. That's what we
are trying to do in the response of this pandemic.
Making our health care accessible and affordable. Restructuring these things in such a way that they will serve everybody. And so, I think it's
very clear that the secretary of defense is saying to the president that he understands what his role is, that this is not a police state. This is a
state that's -- this country is run by constitutional principles, that this president seemed to have very low regards for.
AMANPOUR: Congressman, I wanted to ask you, because of who you are and what you have seen and what you have done over your life in civil rights
and the fact that you yourself spent time in prison and that age 12 heading your own chapter of the NAACP, what reaction did you have on a gut level or
just on a -- on any level when you saw that original video, the eight minutes that led to George Floyd's death?
CLYBURN: The first thing that came to my mind was Emmett Till. I was a young man when Emmett Till was murdered. I remember so many instances
during the '60s that people lost their lives over silliness, over disregard to life. And I thought really that we had gotten beyond that. But then, I
remembered watching the video of Walter Scott in my congressional district being shot in the back by a police officer while he was running away. Of
course, we didn't riot. We came together as a community, black and white, and that police officer got 20 years in jail for having done that.
I also remember Emanuel Nine in the basement of the church. We've been celebrating or commemorating the fifth anniversary of that in 15 days. We
all came together as a people, black and white, and that young man got life in prison for that. And I thought that those incidents were such that other
communities will be getting guidance from them. And so, I was absolutely distraught when I saw that.
And so, I am very hopeful that my former colleague, Keith Ellison, who's now taken over that case, he is now the attorney general there in
Minnesota, he's making an announcement over this issue today and I hope that they will begin to see justice for this young man, George Floyd.
AMANPOUR: And isn't it true, historically, and whether it's in the United States or around the world, that unless there isn't justice, it is very
hard to see this kind of uprising, this protest against institutional injustice will end? I wonder what you think, you know, Vice President
Biden, your candidate, the person you supported and essentially made the nominee, he said, undoing systemic racism is the work of a generation,
systemic racism. And you have worked that problem for two generations.
Do you believe that this is a tipping point? Because, you know, there have been so many George Floyds in the United States. Is there something about
this, is there some nerve that it's touched all the way through society, do you think, that finally will start a process of reversing this racism?
CLYBURN: Yes, I do think so. I think that that video, whatever it was, of that knee in that man's neck, of those other two police officers, one with
a knee in his back, another with his knee across his legs, I think that what people saw there was what we saw back in the '60s. I'll always
maintain, it was not so much of the marches in the street that made the '60s what made the '60s, I think it was the snarling dogs.
When people saw the -- on the evening news those dogs attacking little children, that was the inflection point in that movement. And I think when
people saw these knees on that one man handcuffed on the ground, that to me was the inflection point. And I do believe that that incident is going to
do in this nation what those snarling dogs did back in the '60s.
AMANPOUR: It's a very powerful image that you invoke. And, of course, just this week we saw horses rising on their hind legs ridden by law enforcement
dispersing peaceful protesters outside the White House. That is also a very powerful image and reminiscent of those days of the dogs and the horses.
What do you ask the president to do who has calls protesters thugs? We know that some of your colleagues in Congress, very few, but some like Senator
Sass, like Senator Tim Scott, even today, the evangelical leader, the Christian leader, Pat Robertson, and, and, and more and more people
criticizing this kind of use of force against constitutional protected peaceful assembly. What do you -- how do you characterize this moment and
what are you looking for President Trump to do?
CLYBURN: Since the late '60s, I have been using a definition that I saw once about what is violence, the definition for violence. Most people apply
it to the unjust use of force. I saw a definition once that I hold on to, it is also violent to have the unjust use of power. The president of the
United States used unjust power against people peacefully demonstrating. That is violence. He inflicted violence on people who were carrying out
their constitutional rights.
And then he tweeted the next morning about the dogs that will be unleashed on people. He was invoking that snarling dogs' image. He was harkening back
to (INAUDIBLE) days of the '60s. And I have been saying all across this country in the last few hours that if we are not careful this constitution
that we -- that's held this country together for all these years will be shredded, shredded to the point that the First Amendment will have
absolutely no meaning and the equal protection under the law will no longer be in existence.
And so, I will say to this president, it is time for you to be quiet. It's time for you to let the sanity that exists in your administration, if it's
there, let it come forward. And time for you to resign yourself to the sidelines for the rest of your administration and not run the risk of
destroying this great country. It's happened to countries before. It can happen to this one if we do not sound the alarm. And it's time for the
people of this country to sound the alarm, to wake up and to make sure that this country is bigger than any one person.
AMANPOUR: So, that's incredible, powerful invocation, Congressman. And I want to bring it down to earth again because in the words of President
George W. Bush, the rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. What does it say that your colleagues
cannot even get past a chokehold bill? You know, your colleague, Hakeem Jeffries, has been trying for years and it hasn't happened, much less all
the other major things that need to happen.
If that's not possible in today's legislative reality in the United States, what hope is there for that powerful invocation you just made protecting
the constitution of the United States and the republic? What hope is there for it to be saved?
CLYBURN: Well, I remain hopeful. You know? You excuse me for this, but I was born and raised in the parsonage and I take the heart so much of that
which read in the good book. And I've been invoking the 11th chapter of Hebrew, the very first verse, faith, the substance of things hoped for, the
evidence of things unseen.
No, I don't see it yet. But I have faith, I will keep my hope alive and I just believe that the evidence will soon reveal itself to all of us. I want
Hakeem Jeffries to keep working, keep his bill out there. Let's see what we can do to improve that legislation. Not to just chokeholds or defining it
in such a way that a chokehold will mean a knee to the neck as well and all the other neck restraints that have been used to shut off blood flow to the
brain. These kinds of things have got to stop. You got to pass laws that demilitarize police departments.
We for some reason have allowed these police departments to be militarized, and the first thing and you see now are tanks in the streets and other
kinds of things to be used against fellow citizens. Those are weapons of war. That's what we have done, having paramilitary people storming state
houses. Carrying guns with these open carry laws. We need to repeal these open carry laws. These stand your ground laws that have given open season
to vigilantes who allow themselves to kill people like Trayvon Martin, kill people like Arbery, being run down in Georgia just a few days ago.
This is being done by legislatures who have passed these laws in recent years to satisfy a certain element within President Trump's base. It's not
his entire base. There's an element within that base headed up by the David Dukes of the world. We've got to stop this. We've got to rescind these
laws. We have to restore sanity to the electoral process. And we've got put in the White House someone who has respect for manhood and womanhood. You
got to respect people. Not go out and make fun of people.
How can you have someone sitting in the White House making fun of a person with disability? How do you have someone sitting in the White House looking
into a camera calling a black woman a dog and we sit here and still be proud to call him a president? Something is wrong with that mentality that
we've got to bring to an end.
AMANPOUR: Congressman Jim Clyburn, thank you so much for being with us tonight. And we're going to pursue those questions as we continue.
President Trump is facing increasing criticisms from his traditional supporters. So, what is his strategy now and how will this play out come
November when Americans are called to choose their leader? Marc Lotter is the strategic communications director for the president's 2020 re-election
campaign and he is joining me now to answer some of these questions from campaign headquarters in Washington.
Marc Lotter, thank you very much for joining me.
This is a very difficult time for your candidate and for your side, and that moral voice that we just heard is one that is being heard around the
world. I want to ask you since you are the head of strategic communications, was it a good idea for the president to legitimize,
condone, ask for, whatever the correct term is, the dispersal of peaceful protesters outside the White House? And then, for him to proceed to a
photo-op at a church? It has been roundly condemned from members of his own support base, from members of the church base that is his. Can you just
tell me what you think of that to begin with?
MARC LOTTER, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, TRUMP 2020: Well, I think first and foremost we have to trust in the actions of the United
States Secret Service, that of the U.S. Park Police and the many other law enforcement agencies that were expanding the perimeter around the White
House as we saw from the previous night. You had protesters, you had rioters setting fires to buildings in Lafayette Square and also to historic
St. John's church. Those were actions that could not be allowed to repeat themselves the next night and while the curfew in D.C. had been moved hours
What you saw from the Park Police and what they have said was that they were extending the perimeter so that way if things did turn into a violent
mess later that evening that you had a broader perimeter around, A, some of those historic structures but also around the White House itself.
AMANPOUR: So, I understand what you're saying about potential violence but there was none when this happened. And I want to ask you then to please
comment on what Pat Robertson has said. I ask you this because this is the base that is President Trump's base. And let's just hear what he said. He
criticized, he said, it's not cool, Mr. President, to disperse protesters and to go to the church like you did. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT ROBERTSON, FOUNDER, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: It seems like now is the time to say, I understand your pain, I want to comfort you, I think
it's time we love each other. But the president took a different course. He said, I am the president of law and order. And he issued a heads up. He
said, I'm ready to send in military troops if the nation's governors don't act to quell the violence that has disrupted American cities. Matter of
fact, he spoke of them as being jerks. You just don't do that, Mr. President. It isn't cool.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So again, you are the head of strategic communications. That's a pretty big slap down and it comes amid poll slippage for the president
amongst the evangelical community and as you know, because you're reading the polls even closer than I am, that the president's handling of the
crisis is not being viewed by the majority as good and America's direction is not being viewed as on the right direction. So, what do you answer to
somebody like Pat Robertson?
LOTTER: Well, I think we need to make sure that we're looking at this in two contexts because they are different things. You have the peaceful
protests and the people exercising their constitutional rights who are expressing their outrage and anger about what happened to George Floyd and
to the others that had been mentioned previously, and that is entirely appropriate. But when these protests cross over and then become rioting and
looting, arson, attacks, physical violence, those have to be stopped, they have to quelled.
And so, what I think we are seeing right now is these are two different paths. And the president is taking the steps to honor and respect the
rights of the peaceful protesters but we have to take the necessary steps to prepare for the others. And you even heard it from the Park Police on
that evening when they were clearing that park that they found bats, they found bottles, they found other things that were going to be used as
weapons later in the evening. You did have things that were being thrown at the Park Police that night.
And so, they were taking the steps to not only protect them but to take the steps to protect the White House and the historical structures that are
AMANPOUR: I see you standing your ground, Mr. Lotter. As you know, the protests became peaceful and there are isolated incidents of looting. And
as you know, a lot of them outside organized agitators, that has been proven by the police department in New York and many other states.
So, let me ask you this. There is word and Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota is tweeting that the attorney general will increase the charge against the
officer, Chauvin, who had his neck on George Floyd's -- his knee on George Floyd's neck to second-degree murder and will charge the other three
officers who stood by and did not stop this act taking place. What would your reaction be and what do you think the president's reaction would be to
charging all these officers?
LOTTER: Well, we have heard from the president who believes that the justice system should work. And so, as these officers are being dealt with
through the justice system, I will let that play itself out. But I am the son of a police officer and I can tell you that most police officers would
say anyone who acts outside of their authority should be held accountable for what those actions are. And so, I'm speaking now as the son of a police
officer, I am glad that they're charged and I hope that the justice system will work. And if they are found guilty, that they are held accountable for
AMANPOUR: And of course, it would be unusual because the history of this issue is that they are usually not. So, let's see if this is a tipping
point. Let me ask you this also. One of the things that Pat Robertson said was talking about the police being called out, rather the active duty
troops being called out, et cetera. We have seen secretary of defense, Esper, contradict the president, saying that he does not believe the
situation warrants it now and he does not support the invocation of the Insurrection Act. We understand that's not gone down terribly well at the
White House. What can you tell us about that?
LOTTER: Well, I'm not sure about the comments on the White House since I work for the president's campaign. But what I can tell you is I view what
Secretary Esper said as someone who has served in the National Guard and meaning, Secretary Esper, that is what the National Guard is there for,
that is what they are trained for, the Insurrection Act deals specifically with active duty military personnel, not the National Guard. So, what --
AMANPOUR: Yes. And he was talking about active duty, sir. Mr. Lotter, he is talking about active duty, he made a distinction.
LOTTER: Correct. And so, I think what he is saying is we should continue to use the National Guard as appropriate and as needed in our various city
that we have not reached the level where you could possibly need active duty military personnel. The president has not invoked the Insurrection
Act, it remains an option to him and I think the secretary left that option open. But right now, let's see if we can use the National Guard troops who
are trained to handle these things and let them do it.
But let's also make sure that we understand that this is not the first time the Insurrection Act has been used. President George H.W. Bush used the
Insurrection Act after the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, it was used extensively in the '60s during the times of racial unrest and during those
periods. So, this is not unprecedented, it's just something that we have not reached the need to do and hopefully, we will not reach the need to
AMANPOUR: Mark Lotter, thank you very much for joining us.
Now, meanwhile, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has launched an investigation into the practices of the Minneapolis Police Department for
the last 10 years. But will that be enough?
Cedric Alexander is a law enforcement analysis and he's a former president of National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and he's
joining me from Pensacola in Florida.
Cedric Alexander, welcome to the program.
I just want to ask you. You have heard what both, you know, Representative Clyburn has been saying to us and Mark Lotter, for the president's side and
for his re-election campaign. What do you hear in the atmosphere? I mean, what are you hearing or sensing from both sides of the aisle now on where
we are and where this might lead to in terms of policing, obviously, but an effort to try to break down the Berlin Wall of injustice and racism?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Well, I think this recent incident with Mr. Floyd
is clearly is going to be the tipping point that is hopefully -- is going to -- to be perfectly honest with you, really break this whole system of
the way we have been doing business in policing.
I've been in policing over years before I retired. And let me tell you something, from the time I began up until the time I ended, the challenges
have always been there in this country and has been there historically. Particularly when it becomes to race and people of color. So, here we are
now in the 21st century, year 2020, May 25th. A man dies on national television in front of us who begs for air and a police officer with a knee
in his throat and three others standing by and do absolutely nothing.
I think the American people, I think people of color, more specifically, are really tired of it and you always -- and you also have to remember, all
this was precipitated by the number of events over history but more recently the Ahmaud Arbery case in Southern Georgia, the case involving
Breonna Taylor, the Louisville Kentucky, where she was killed in her home in the middle of the night on a no-knock warrant that should have never
occurred. And then you have the case of the woman in the park who calls the police on a black man. She's white. Stating that she feels threatened. And
then if that is not enough, here again on May 25th, you have this incident to occur.
So, what you see in the streets of this country and the people that you see out there are not just people of color but also people who are
representative of this entire diverse nation we live in because people are tired of it. I'm tired of it and I did the very best that I can do and I
know there's a lot of chiefs and sheriffs out there who are doing a remarkable job right now trying to maintain and rebuild those relationships
that have been brutally scarred behind this most recent incident. But for people of color, this cannot go on. People are fed up with it.
AMANPOUR: So, you wrote a very powerful op-ed in which partly you said, black Americans, mostly young men but women as well are being killed by
American law officers not for anything they did but for who they are. The killings are not accidents, statistical freaks or mistakes in judgment,
they are products of American history. And you've also called George Floyd's death a lynching. You have explained very eloquently the numbers
and the unacceptable deaths of so many people.
So, I want to ask you, you say it's a tipping point. But how? Because you are an expert on this. Do you get policing to reform and to be reorganized?
You know that there has been reforms in the Minneapolis Police Department and it didn't work and there hasn't been a significant drop in the deaths
of black Americans by police since 2013.
You were in the Obama administration on this issue.
Can you describe what you -- what sort of game plan, playbook you sort of, you know, created to try to change what's going on in some police
ALEXANDER: Myself and 10 other people were impaneled, put together by President Obama back in late 2014.
In May -- in March -- excuse me -- of 2015, we delivered to President Obama at that time a document entitled 21st Century Task Force Report that had
six pillars and over 60 or 70 recommendations that we had collected, not for ourselves, but from people across the country.
And inside there were ideals, recommendations that could help build and bridge relationships that would ensure trust and legitimacy, that would
ensure transparency. And, by the way, body-worn cameras was born out of that document, which is so prevalent today in many departments across this
When a new administration came in, the new administration had another ideal. That's their prerogative. But that document was pretty much set
aside and it's collecting dust. But in that document right now, if we take it off the shelf, it would be a beginning to remind us, to help us to begin
to build these bridges again.
But it is going to be an uphill task, because, as I stated in that op-ed, there are young people who are coming up to me, people of color.
And they say to me, Dr. Alexander, I put my hands on the steering wheel. I complied. I did everything everybody -- I was told to do, but yet still I'm
choked out in the middle of the street. I'm shot down in South Georgia. I am shot and killed in the middle of the night while I sleep. And I'm
accused of doing something I did not do. So, I just don't know what to do at this point.
And here again, what we are witnessing on the streets are people who are fed up. But we got to find a way to rebuild these relationships. And one of
the most important things I think that we could step back and do now, when you start talking about reform -- and I think there has to be reform coming
from the federal level, as indicated by Congressman Clyburn.
It has to come from the state level, and it has to come from a local level as well. But we got to get inside these departments. We got to better
assess the people that we are hiring, how we're training, how they're being supervised, accountability, from the top of that organization down to the
last person hired, because here's something that (INAUDIBLE) did not have.
They didn't have compassion. They didn't have a moral compass. And they didn't have respect for humanity. And if you don't come into a department
with those things, I can't train you that. You have to come with that.
I can train you how to (INAUDIBLE) thing else. But we got to make some major reform changes in this country around public safety and our criminal
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, because you raise some really important issues.
First of all, this Derek Chauvin, who's been charged, had 17 criticisms -- or, rather, complaints against him for misconduct. Now, some people say,
maybe that's not even too much, because it was over a period of years and it averaged out of maybe one per year. But he had those. And there was no
And many -- and this has happened in many, many police departments. And there's criticism that police departments just won't, you know, hold
themselves accountable, and that police union chiefs are -- don't, you know, allow or block or attempt to block any kind of accountability.
These are all criticisms. How do you change that from within? I know it's a big question, but there are so many points that lead to the failure of
accountability. It's just built in.
ALEXANDER: No, it is not that big of a question. The answer's very simple.
It starts with the beginning of that organization. It starts from that elected official and that mayor, that county executive. And let me tell you
something. Whoever they hired to put in those positions as chief executive officers of those organizations, whether they be police chiefs that are
appointed or sheriffs that are elected, here's what's essentially important, my attitude as a chief, my behavior and every policy that I
write, and understanding sharing with my men and women who work with me and for me understand that this is about building relationships in the
This is about truly serving and protecting. This is about an ethos and a code in which we will do our jobs that serve the people first. It means
they have to be well-trained. It means that they have to be, certainly without question, recruiting -- we've got to be recruiting the best folks
that's out there.
But my role modeling behavior -- when I'm sitting there with my executive staff at a morning meeting, my attitude, my demeanor, my body language
towards people, places and things is going to be dictated to my people.
Their responsibility from assistant chiefs on down is to carry out the very, very best that we can do, but we also have to have an environment
within our departments, which Minneapolis may struggle with, because when you have four men that can kill a man in the middle of a street in
daylight, you know, that suggests to me -- the question that comes up for me, how do they sustain themselves inside a larger organization?
So is there something else going on there? Because no one with the type of act that we saw, which is probably suggestive of some past behavior, no one
should be able to sustain themselves inside that organization.
But it's going to take support of the federal government and federal legislation. It is going to take a change in state legislation. And we're
going to have to find ways, more than anything else, to make sure we recruit the very best people.
AMANPOUR: It's big job. It's a necessary job.
Cedric Alexander, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
Now, our next guest is Charlamagne tha God, co-host of "The Breakfast Show" radio show. And it has millions of listeners. It's a must-see stop for
Democratic presidential contenders. And it was there last month where shockwaves was sent through the campaign of the former Vice President, Joe
Biden, under tough questioning from Charlamagne.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Listen, you got to come see us when you come to New York, V.P. Biden.
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Because it's a long way until November. We got more questions.
BIDEN: You got more questions, but I tell you, if you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: It don't have nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with the fact I want something for my community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And now here he is Charlamagne tha God with our Michel Martin.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Charlamagne, thanks so much for joining me.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, AMERICAN RADIO PRESENTER: Thank you for having me. How are you?
MARTIN: As you and I are speaking now, it's been a very rough couple of days, although some people would say -- I'm sure others would say a rough
couple of hundred years, but just let's -- talking about the last couple of days, if we can, what's your take on what's happening now?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Man.
I think that I understand it all. You know, I can't sit here and act like I don't know why people are in the streets rioting. I can't sit here and act
like I don't understand why it's anarchy.
Number one, ain't no good going to come in this country until you do right by black people. You are not going to continue to brutalize us and kill us
and think that, you know, our God is going to allow that.
I just think that enough is enough. I'm actually surprised black people didn't snap a long time ago. And then you also look at the condition of the
country. Man, you have got over 40-plus million people out of work, 40-plus million people unemployed, the largest unemployment rate since the
Like, what do you think is on people's mind? They're trying to figure out how they are going to eat tonight. They're trying to figure out how they're
going to pay their rent now, right, the 1st of the month.
So, if somebody is angry, and they go out there and they break a window, and that window happens to be a store, and you see that you got the
opportunity to get some free stuff, of course you're going to do that.
I was reading this article. It was actually an article from 10 years ago. It's called "The Moral Ambiguity of Looting." And it's -- and I think it
was in "The New York Times" and they talk about the three levels of looting, how the first time -- the first level is stealing food for
The second level is stealing merchandise to sell to get money for survival. And the third level is just straight-up mayhem, because you're just angry
and just frustrated. People are looking at this society that we live in.
They're looking at that fascist regime in the White House and they're seeing this guy say he's going to deploy some military onto the streets of
the country, so now we're in a military state. So, now you're thinking martial law.
If you thought that that quarantine last -- you thought that quarantine last month was martial law. No, having the military state, have a military
state and having in the streets policing people, that's really martial law.
So, yes, people are rebelling. You know what I'm saying? People are angry. We cannot go back to normal. And I think that everybody was trying to do
that. Right? That's what the coronavirus thing was all about. Oh, we got to get back to normal. We got to get back to normal.
We get back to what was. No, we don't. That is a wrap. We have got to dismantle this whole system of white supremacy. And God is making sure of
that. We are never going back to the way things were ever again.
Like, things will change after this moment. I think about Martin Luther King Jr. after he got assassinated. I think it was like six days of riots
in like 114 cities, 40-plus million dollars of damage throughout the country, and Lyndon B. Johnson signed that God (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Civil
Rights Act of 1964. Something like that is going to come from this.
MARTIN: Donald Trump is not Lyndon Johnson.
And he has shown no proclivity to do this. In fact, the majority leader of the Senate has already balked at having another coronavirus care package --
or coronavirus relief package for the states and localities that have been suffering because of the coronavirus, which happen to be in predominantly,
you know, dense urban areas, which happen to be places that a lot of black and brown people live.
So, I mean, what do you think should happen? And what do you think is going to happen?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Well, I'm not looking for Donald Trump to be Lyndon B. Johnson. I'm looking for Joe Biden to be Lyndon B. Johnson.
Now, don't get me wrong. I do think Donald Trump is going to make a play for the black vote African-American males in particular. I do think Donald
Trump is going to put something on the table. I do think that we will see in the next few weeks something Donald Trump out here as saying that he has
some type of economic justice plan for black America.
Like, they're getting -- they're getting desperate. So it's going to be a lot of last-ditch efforts, Hail Marys thrown, right? But what I'm trying to
say when I talk about Joe Biden is like, yo, that's why I need him to step up for the black community in a real, real way.
Like, he needs to step up in a real way, and put some things on the table. And I'm happy. I heard him this morning. He was pushing Hakeem Jeffries'
bill about banning choke holds. And he was talking about Reverend Barber.
So, I'm like, yes, listen to black people, fool. It doesn't matter who we vote in, if that person is not willing to dismantle this system of white
supremacy. Lyndon B. Johnson was willing to go in there and, through legislation and policy, chip away at that brick called white supremacy that
exists in this country.
So we need Joe Biden to do the same thing.
MARTIN: You previously -- after Ahmaud Arbery was killed -- I mean, he was killed months ago, but the video surfaced of the circumstances in which he
And after that, you said that black people should consider arming themselves. Is that really good advice right now, given the fact that
people -- there are a lot of arms in the street right now? Is that really good advice?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: It's not good advice. It's great advice.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Right? Like, I'm not telling -- I'm not telling them something that they should consider. I'm telling them something that they
should absolutely, positively do.
Every black person in America needs to own a legal firearm. They need to be at the gun range learning how to use it. They need to be trained on how to
use that firearm, not just against white supremacists, against just the world.
Like, yo, we in a society where 40 million people are unemployed. I read a story the other day. I think it was Joe Jackson's granddaughter or
something got stabbed by some racist. And I'm like, yo, you should -- she have had a pistol on her.
Absolutely, in this crazy (EXPLETIVE DELETED) anarchic -- time of anarchy, yes.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: That's what the Second...
MARTIN: Do you? Are you -- do you have a gun?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: A hundred percent.
MARTIN: A hundred percent? More than one?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yes.
MARTIN: Everybody in your house know how to use it?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: No, not the kids.
MARTIN: I'm just saying, you got three little kids.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yes.
MARTIN: Presumably, you -- And you are aware of the statistics right, that the more guns you have around, the more likely somebody is to use it,
right, and especially -- so you're fine with that? You feel comfortable that...
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yes.
That's why you put your guns away. That's why you -- that's why you put your guns in a safe. That's why you -- you can keep -- the same way you can
keep things from children, you can keep things from your kid. It's not like my...
MARTIN: I understand what you're saying.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yes.
MARTIN: But the reason that Martin Luther King said that he was against arming is that it creates an arms race, and his -- frankly, he said that
black people are always going to be outgunned.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: So?
Listen, the Constitution says -- the Second Amendment said we have the right to bear arms. Either we're going to act like Americans, or we're not,
simple as that.
So, if you're telling me that a black person shouldn't have a gun because they're going to be outnumbered, then you're just basically reinforcing to
me something that I'm sure a lot of us already know and feel. The Constitution isn't for us.
MARTIN: You have made a lot of noise with some recent guests.
But, in fact, actually, just speaking about it throughout -- for people who are not as familiar with your show, throughout this election year, you have
had some very attention-getting guests.
A lot of people have called it like a must-stop on the campaign trail, particularly, it has to be said, for Democrats. You made news just recently
whether you had the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, on your show.
From your vantage point, how do you describe the conversation and what do you think it means?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Well, I think it was a missed moment for Joe Biden.
I think if Joe Biden doesn't take the black community for granted, all facets of the black community, then he needs to act like it. You know what
I'm saying? Like, when you come to platforms like "The Breakfast Club," treat us with the same respect that you treat Anderson Cooper, or you treat
the women on "The View."
I just sometimes see him in interviews with certain people, especially certain black people, and it just seems like his demeanor is a little bit
more aggressive. It's a little bit more I don't like being questioned by kind of the vibe. You know what I mean?
But maybe he's like that with -- I don't know. That's just the feeling I get. When I watch him with me and watch him with somebody like Stephen
Colbert, it is like night and day.
MARTIN: He has apologized subsequently for his comments, saying that he was being too flippant and he shouldn't have done that.
So, now that it's -- you have had a chance to think about it a little bit, what do you think now?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: He said he was being a little too cavalier. And that's the problem. That's the problem with Democrats when it comes to
They're always a little too cavalier with us. You know what I mean? They're always a little too jokey-jokey with us, because they take our votes for
granted. I really feel like that.
And I think that he knows he has to talk to a certain demographic of black people a certain way. You know what I mean? But don't kiss O.G. Jim
Clyburn's (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and cozy up with Jim Clyburn, even though I love Jim Clyburn, but then come on...
MARTIN: You're from South Carolina. You're from South Carolina, South Carolina, born and raised.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: From South Carolina, that's right. Nothing but respect for Jim Clyburn.
But you can't kiss up to the O.G. because you know that you need him to endorse you, and he can rally people behind you, and then come on my show
and yell and scream, and be the get off my lawn guy, display that white arrogance that we all hate, because, whether Joe Biden realizes it or not,
he's going to need various black demos to win this election in November, not just the older ones.
So the same way that O.G. Jim Clyburn can rally people behind him, I can rally people behind him too. But my approach to it is different, because I
truly believe that vote is a quid pro quo.
MARTIN: What about the substance of what he said is offensive, as it was, which is that there really is no choice?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: That's not the attitude that Democrats should have, because that's the same attitude that caused Hillary Clinton to lose. You
know what I mean?
If you look at the black vote from 2012 to 2016, it dropped off significantly, you know what I'm saying, in key swing states. And I think
the reason for that is, Democrats haven't really offered black people anything, other than the lesser of two evils.
That's what they always like to say. Oh, you got to choose between the lesser of two evils. And it's just like, I think black people are just
tired of voting out of fear, because they have been catching hell. You know what I'm saying? We have been catching hell in this country. Nothing has
Like, police brutality was police brutality under every single president since I have been alive. I have been alive long enough to see -- I have
seen the Rodney King tape. You know what I mean? And I have been alive long enough to see Michael Brown and Eric Garner and Walter Scott and Tamir Rice
and Sandra Bland.
Like, these things have happened over and over and over and over again in the black community. So, if you don't have somebody that's trying to
dismantle the mechanism of white supremacy through policy and legislation and reparations, then good luck trying to try to get the black vote,
because I really don't think that people are going to vote out of fear, like they used to, no matter how scary it looks on the other side.
And people always say it's not a choice. It is a choice. That other choice should scare them the most. That's not voting at all.
MARTIN: So, in part, is it your goal to tell people like Biden and others similarly situated what they need to do...
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yes.
MARTIN: ... in order to be credible? Is that in part what you feel you're here for?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yes.
MARTIN: And also to let -- and also to express that which you understand to be the view of the people who listen to you?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Absolutely. You know what I'm saying?
Well, when I hear Joe Biden say the soul of the country is at stake, well, who got all the souls in this country? Black people. You know what I'm
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Who are the souls of this country? Black people. We built this country for free.
So, if Biden wants this election, he needs to get his soul right and do right by black people.
I was reading an article in I think it was NBC News about how Trump is gambling on splitting Biden's base with his rhetoric about the riots,
because he knows that the two groups Joe Biden most needs to win the presidency is black and moderate white voters.
So Trump is trying to divide them. So, like I said, there was a clear drop- off of black voter turnout between 2012 and 2016 in these key swing states. So if you're not -- if Joe Biden is not offering something to the black
community, a community that's historically suffered in this country, if he's not offering some tangibles in regards to legislation and reparations,
I don't know what he's going to do.
I really don't. Like, we are not telling him these things for no reason. We're not telling him that he needs a black woman running mate, we not
saying that because of identity politics. We're saying that because of the numbers. The math says that.
You already committed to having a black woman on the Supreme Court. That's great. But now we really need you to do right by black people. And even now
-- once again, if you look at Joe Biden, he needs to really lean into blackness to win.
He has the opportunity to literally be as progressive as Lyndon B. Johnson. And some say Lyndon B. Johnson was a notorious racist, right? But his
record doesn't reflect that. You know? Joe's record in the Senate actually reflects very racist legislation.
So, he has a chance to correct that by doing right by black folks. So I hope he's listening and he does it.
MARTIN: So, you have had -- you have shared your advice for Joe Biden.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Mm-hmm.
MARTIN: Do you have any advice for President Trump?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: No, I don't. You know what I'm saying?
I really honestly don't have any advice for President Trump, because I think President Trump's been -- President Trump -- there's only one other
person on this planet who has exceeded expectations in my lifetime like President Trump has, and that's LeBron James.
LeBron James exceeded expectations, because, coming out of high school, he was like -- like, he was on the cover of "Sports Illustrated" in high
school. He was -- his games came on ESPN. Like, he was the heir apparent to Jordan.
And for all intents and purposes, he has exceeded expectations. That's hard to do. Right? It's always hard to do.
Donald Trump is as bad as everybody said he was going to be. Worse. Everything. Like, literally everything they said Donald Trump was going to
be, he is absolutely -- it's kind of -- you got to laugh to keep from crying, but it is just like think about it. They were comparing him to
Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini.
And they said that he was going to bring martial law back, and he was just -- he's literally exceeded expectations when it comes to being a terrible
president and human being.
It's actually -- it's actually kind of impressive to see somebody be as bad as everybody said that they said he would be, actually worse.
So, no, I don't -- I can't even -- I wouldn't waste my time telling Donald Trump to pray. I wouldn't even waste my time doing that, because I wouldn't
want God to throw his prayers in the spam folder.
MARTIN: You are not shy about telling people what is their work.
What is their work in the next couple of days, weeks, months? What do you think?
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I think our work is to tell people what's next.
You know, black people needed to know what's insured to them under the Constitution. I would say that black people have to really start focusing
on our economic power as much as possible, so we can really start impacting these political campaigns, so the government and the police can't deny us
our rights as citizens.
We need to start our own political party, I think, and run our own candidates. That's not going to happen this year. We could start our own
political party this year, and really figure out where these votes are going to go.
But we can really put people in positions of power who actually there for our benefit, put people in positions -- put people in these positions who
want to dismantle white supremacy, not enforce it.
So, I think, honestly, our biggest job over the next week or a couple of weeks is to really, really, really, really, really get in Joe Biden's ear
and really, really lean on Joe Biden and tell Joe Biden, man, you need to really lean into blackness, because you do not have this locked up in
November at all.
And I think we need to really keep screaming at people, there's no -- ain't no good going to come to you until you do right by black people. And that
goes for all of America, because, if you -- I'm telling you, it is not a coincidence that coronavirus impacted the black community the way that it
It is not a coincidence that people are out in the streets right now protesting against the killing of another black man. It is not a
coincidence that Joe Biden needs black people to win this election. It is not a coincidence that black people helped Joe Biden win the primary.
All signs are pointing back to blackness. And until America atones for its original sin, which is slavery, ain't no good going to come to America. It
is not a secret that all of these conversations are happening.
America needs to do right by black people through policy, legislation and reparations. That's it.
MARTIN: Charlamagne tha God, thank you so much for talking with us today.
CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I appreciate you. Thank you. Have a blessed day, a blessed day.
AMANPOUR: Pulling no punches, straight talk.
And, finally, from America's original sin, as he said, to another dark chapter of history, and that was apartheid rule by South Africa's white
minority over the overwhelmingly black majority.
A decades-old clip of Joe Biden has gone viral, showing then senator blasting the Reagan administration for not taking a strong stance against
that racist regime.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1986)
BIDEN: Dammit, we have favorites in South Africa. The favorites in South Africa are the people who are being repressed by that ugly white regime.
We have favorites. Our loyalty is not to South Africa. It's to South Africans. And the South Africans are majority black. And they are being
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, one has to wonder what lessons the Rainbow Nation can offer the land of the free. And we will explore that tomorrow.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.