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Confronting Violence; Afghanistan Peace Negotiations; Interview With Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA). Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 15, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
TONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are embarking on a new chapter in our work here and in our partnership with the Afghan people.
AMANPOUR: When the U.S. and its allies leave Afghanistan, what awaits the women? I speak to one who's faced the Taliban across the negotiating table.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: This is what democracy looks like!
AMANPOUR: The return of Jim Crow? As restrictive new voting laws provoked boycotts in America, I talk to Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff.
AMANPOUR: How do you get a song to the Oscars? I asked 12-time nominee Diane Warren and singer Laura Pausini.
PATRICK SHARKEY, SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: There is a window to take a different approach to deal with the challenge of violence.
AMANPOUR: Sociologist Patrick Sharkey tells Michel Martin how the U.S. can confront surging violence.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has touched down in Afghanistan this morning, a day after President Biden announced the U.S.
will start withdrawing its troops May 1 and that all will be gone by September 11, thus bringing America's 20-year war there to a close.
Alongside Afghan political leaders, Secretary Blinken sent this message to the Taliban:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLINKEN: It's very important that the Taliban recognize that it will never be legitimate and it will never be durable if it rejects a political
process and tries to take the country by force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But, recalcitrant as ever, the Taliban doubled down with threats of violence unless all foreign forces get out in the next two weeks.
As the Afghan president puts on a brave and diplomatic face, there are real fears among Afghan women, for instance, that all their rights will be
crushed again, if the Taliban get back into power.
Joining me now is Fawzia Koofi, who is a member of Parliament, and she's now taking part in peace talks.
Fawzia Koofi, welcome to the program from Kabul, Afghanistan.
Can I ask you first, what is your reaction to the news of the troops withdrawing finally after 20 years, all foreign forces?
FAWZIA KOOFI, AFGHAN PEACE NEGOTIATOR: Well, Christiane, we started the negotiation with Taliban six months ago with a good faith and with the hope
that this more than four decades of war will come to a dignified end, and a cease-fire leading to a political settlement that will set an inclusive
government, including Taliban, will be set up that will avoid a collapse of institutions when the foreign troops withdraw.
We are now in the midst of talks, and, as you know, further initiatives have been planned in Turkey to boost the talks and hopefully agree on a
The -- President Biden's announcement of withdrawal, to be honest, puts the negotiation in a -- jeopardized, because, already, after the U.S.-Taliban
agreement that was signed last year in February, Taliban, from my personal experience, feel victorious, after the agreement that they will win
anyways, politically or militarily.
Our hope was that the announcement of withdrawal of U.S. troops will be when a political settlement is agreed upon, because, before that, not only
women -- I mean, women of Afghanistan have been part of the transformation in the past 20 years, part of the progress of the nation.
And if women are excluded, and if women are not safe, in general, the country will not be stable, and it can be threat to the security of the
world, but let alone women. I mean, the whole country, our hope was to avoid the collapse of everything and move forward in a peaceful transition.
So, let me ask you, do you think that your government and the Afghan National Forces, who have been financed and trained by the United States
and other NATO forces, can they hold the line? Do you think that, as you just said, everything is going to collapse once the foreign forces leave?
KOOFI: The expectation was and our faith in this process was that we need to do everything to avoid the war, the continuation of the war, to avoid
more bloodshed, because of -- only in the past year, since the signing of the Doha agreement between United States and Taliban, 400 -- based on a
U.N. report, 400 woman activists, journalists and prominent women politicians have been targeted and assassinated.
So our hope was that we need to put an end to this bloodshed. It has been already too much of people losing their lives, and also our international
friends. So, our hope was that, put an end to this and come to a political settlement.
Now, with a new trend, with the international community withdrawing, we have four months ahead of us to do everything to make this process succeed
politically. If it does not succeed politically, and my experience is that, at least from the talks that I have been negotiating, that it will be very
difficult to agree on a political settlement if Taliban know that, already, in four months, the international troops will withdraw.
And they have all the chances to win militarily. So, the fear is that the war will continue and there will be no winner in this world, even if the
government of Afghanistan continue to fight and our forces protect, but, at the end of the day, it's the war. And there is no way that either Taliban
or the government will win.
And if one side win, that will be, again, a violent win. So, therefore, I think still United States has the leverage to pressure Taliban to stay to
their commitment of the Doha agreement, because the Doha agreement is interlinked. The international community will withdraw when Taliban put
genuine efforts on the intra-Afghan negotiation for a political settlement.
AMANPOUR: Well, then, I mean, look, you have just said the U.S. policy has changed from a conditions-based withdrawal to withdrawal any event.
And, as you say, this peace negotiation, this peace process has not been completed. And more to the point, the Taliban, apparently, so far say they
are not going to a conference being called for Istanbul. And, and you just heard them say that if the foreign forces don't leave in two weeks --
forget four or five months -- in two weeks, there will be violence.
I want to know what you think when Secretary Blinken says they will never be legitimate if they resort just to force. They probably won't be
legitimate. But do they care? Do they -- are they listening to that kind of threat?
KOOFI: Honestly, Christiane, I remember when, in 2001, the U.S. president said that, no matter what, we will stand with the people of Afghanistan for
them to fulfill their dreams of a democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.
Look, after 20 years, the withdrawal is unconditional-based. There is no condition. The democratic forces, the transformed forces of Afghanistan
will have used all of their abilities in the past 20 years to invest in a democratic Afghanistan, to invest in an Afghanistan where not only women
but everybody else will have a space.
Look, after 20 years, I think -- I must say that it's a moral defeat for the United States. So, if Secretary Blinken says that the Taliban have no
other options to come to the negotiation table, I think they should have used -- the United States should have used their leverage against Taliban.
When they started negotiation with Taliban three years back, I think it was a mistake when they did not include the government of Afghanistan, because,
by not including the government of Afghanistan in those talks, they gave -- I mean, the Taliban now have an upper hand in these negotiations.
We released 5,000 prisoners, as you know, while we were not a signatory to that agreement. So, already, Taliban are in an upper hand. And there, I
think we need to put extraordinary pressure by both sides -- to both sides, to the government and to the Taliban mainly here, to agree to a political
AMANPOUR: Yes. You guys released 5,000 prisoners. I have heard your vice president say the vast majority of those Taliban prisoners went back to the
battlefield and are fighting against your government forces even as we speak.
Of course, the United States believes that no number of foreign troops can be a game-changer anymore, that it's just -- it's just the law of
diminishing returns has set in.
But I want to ask you about your story and about the women, because women are afraid. I mean, you mentioned violence against civilians. You yourself
were shot, were attacked in the summer. You narrowly escaped mortal injury.
Tell me about what you have -- what you have seen. We're seeing a picture of you in the hospital with the former president. And then you met up with
the Taliban again across the negotiating table. What do you say to them about this kind of violence?
KOOFI: I did attend the talk with my hand in cast just to show, first of all, the resilience and the passion that women of Afghanistan have
demonstrated and their demand for peace, and, secondly, that the victims of war, the victims of this unnecessary war should be heard.
And I think, as I said before, every day, women who actually have been part of the new Afghanistan, the new transformed Afghanistan, who have gone
under extremely difficult life, but stayed in Afghanistan, choose to stay in Afghanistan to change this country, they are targeted, and no one's
We know that the United States was not in Afghanistan to protect the women of Afghanistan. We know that they were in Afghanistan because the 11
September attack happened and their own security was at risk.
Since the announcement of the withdrawal of the troops yesterday, hundreds of women and young people and men contacted me or my office to know what is
going to happen, to know about their future, a lot of questions that no one knows the answer.
I think we have now the ability to take the responsibility of our future. But let's remember, the people of Afghanistan, in general, and women of
Afghanistan were in the front line of war on military extremism. We actually paid the highest price, not in terms of the lives that were taken
away from us, but in terms of the opportunities that were taken away from us, in terms of the education opportunity, the work opportunity that were
taken away from us as a result of this war.
So, I think it was unfair for the United States, when they see the withdrawal will be unconditional. We know that they will not be in
Afghanistan forever. But our hope was that they could withdraw when there was a political settlement to ensure that the institutions will not
AMANPOUR: OK. OK.
KOOFI: That will not affect not only man, woman, but the whole country.
AMANPOUR: OK, so let me play you this little bit of an interview I did with President Ashraf Ghani and his wife, the first lady, Rula Ghani. At
the time -- and this was in January -- she was pleased that women such as yourself were at the negotiating table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RULA GHANI, AFGHAN FIRST LADY: I would like to mention that when the peace talks started in Doha, we always heard that it would be at the cost of the
rights of the women.
And what was really very interesting and very warming for me is that the women did not lie down and accept it. They did stand up and made their
voices heard. Not only do they speak for themselves now, but they speak for the whole country and for the whole people of Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And, Fawzia, very last question.
Obviously, before 9/11, the only thing the world knew about Afghanistan was the way the Taliban was abusing the women, people like you and all the
others who were there.
But you are at the negotiating table, you say that you have to in the next few weeks and months get a political resolution. Can you do it, do you
KOOFI: We need to give every chance to the peace.
From my experience of the past six months being in the negotiation, I think, if we are given enough space, we will find our way. But in the
meantime, we know that it's a very complex world.
Women, the full women who are in the negotiation table, they do not only talk about woman rights. That is an imperative for a sustainability of the
peace. But we also talk about the future of our country, for the first time that we have this opportunity to be on the negotiation table and to talk
with a group that only 20 years back, they did not recognize women as equal citizens.
So, it is an opportunity that we need to use. In the meantime, we know that it's a very complex process with multidimensions.
AMANPOUR: Fawzia Koofi, thank you so much for joining us.
Now, while this is a big foreign policy week for President Biden, the ultimate success or failure of his presidency could rest with a slew of new
election laws at home, like in Georgia, where activist Stacey Abrams calls broad new voting restrictions -- quote -- "Jim Crow in a suit and tie."
The Georgia bill restricts both absentee and in person voting, giving the Republican-controlled state government there new powers over conducting
elections. Prominent corporate executives are speaking up now, saying, we stand for democracy.
And actor Will Smith is pulling production of his latest movie out of the state of Georgia.
The state's freshman Senator Democrat Jon Ossoff is joining me now from Washington.
Senator Ossoff, welcome back to the program.
SEN. JON OSSOFF (D-GA): Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Just, let me ask you, we have posited that the future and the success or failure of the Biden administration, and Democrat control of
Congress right now could rest on these laws.
Tell me how -- tell me what kind of reaction, what kind of effect they're having in your state, for instance.
OSSOFF: Nice to see you again, Christiane. And thank you for the chance to speak to these issues.
Well, first of all, we have to remember that all of the initial successes that President Biden has achieved are possible because Georgia voters
elected me and Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock in those January 5 run- offs. Our victories secured a narrow majority for Democrats in the U.S. Senate.
That's why we were able to pass the American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 stimulus bill, which is delivering, for example, just for Georgia more than
$4 billion for public education, which is delivering to families across the country the stimulus checks that are helping bridge the cash flow gap
through this economic crisis, and which is making huge investments in vaccine production and supply and the public health response.
Now, looking forward, of course, this restrictive voting law is intended to undo the gains that we made in Georgia by making it more difficult for
Democratic-leaning voters to vote. The remedies at our disposal are legislative. We need to pass voting rights legislation in the U.S. Senate.
Judicial. We need to -- and are -- challenge these laws in the courts, on grounds that they violate federal voting laws and are unconstitutional, and
are organizational. We have to adapt. We have to prepare to mount get-out- the-vote efforts and voter registration efforts that overcome these new restrictions and obstacles that have been put in the way of voters in my
home state of Georgia.
AMANPOUR: So, what do you make of -- it seems to be sort of a growing mass, a growing momentum of CEOs and businesses standing up and speaking
out, not wanting their brands to be linked in any way with any kind of rollback of democratic rights and voting rights, and even some pulling
their business, if you like, from your state?
We see Major League Baseball has moved its All-Star Game out of the state. We just said that actor Will Smith and his director are moving their next
production out of your state. What do you make of what -- the moral stand they say they're taking?
OSSOFF: Well, I don't support boycotts. Georgians rely upon and hope for and welcome jobs, investment and opportunity.
And, in fact, Christiane, it's the rapid economic growth in Georgia over the last couple of decades that has helped power much of the political
progress that we have seen.
But I certainly do support business leaders speaking up strongly in defense of Democratic values and in opposition to partisan administration of
elections. This law in Georgia is intended to make it harder for working- class voters and black voters to vote. It's an abuse of power by our Republican state legislature to try to gain a narrow edge in vital
elections that are just a year away.
The business community should speak up, clearly, against anti-Democratic laws that politicize the administration of elections. But we want them to
keep doing business in Georgia and investing in Georgia because, especially at a moment like this, in the midst of this pandemic, folks are counting on
those economic opportunities, for example, the recently saved investment in the Commerce, Georgia, electric vehicle battery plant, which is going to
create thousands of jobs over the next decade in clean energy technology.
We want Georgia keep growing moving forward and making progress.
AMANPOUR: Obviously, from a different perspective, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican leader in the Senate, has the same view as you. He
does not believe in boycotts. And this is what he said about it:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): So, what I'm saying here is, I think this is quite stupid to jump in the middle of a highly controversial issue,
particularly when they got their facts wrong.
I'm not talking about political contributions. Most of them contribute to both sides. They have political action committees. That's fine. It's legal.
It's appropriate. I support that. I'm talking about taking a position a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or a state
because you don't like a particular law they passed?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, he seems to be saying what you're saying, but, of course, it's also tied up in political contribution.
OSSOFF: No, he's not. He's not, Christiane. He's not saying at all what I'm saying.
I oppose boycotts, but I encourage business leaders to denounce the politicization of election administration, partisan election laws intended
to disenfranchise black voters. I encourage business leaders to speak up in defense of democracy. And they're going to be most effective at making the
case against this restrictive voting law when they're continuing to invest and operate in our state.
AMANPOUR: Well, beyond your state, it's happening -- let me just read these stats.
As of last month, March 24, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states. That's according to the Brennan Center
We know that the Democratic coalition is a rainbow coalition. It's made up of lots of different demographics in the United States. What do you think
is the chance that all these other states keep these laws? And what will the U.S. look like if this all goes through and is not challenged, as you
would like to see it, in either Congress or the Supreme Court?
OSSOFF: Well, this is why we must in the past voting rights protections in the U.S. Congress.
The United States Constitution makes it very clear that Congress determines the time, place and manner of federal elections. This is squarely within
our jurisdiction. Think back to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a signature achievement of the civil rights movement, made possible in the aftermath of
the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, led by my mentor and former boss Congressman John Lewis and hundreds of other civil
Their sacrifice, their example is what paved the way for landmark civil rights and voting rights bills in the mid-1960s. And it's now the task of
this generation of leaders to walk in their footsteps, to resolutely defend the sacred right to vote that so many bled for and so many died for.
It is 2021 in the United States of America. And in the American South in particular, we are still seeing systematic efforts to deny black voters
equal access to the franchise. It's disgraceful. And it's why I will not yield in my insistence to my colleagues here in Congress that we pass
strong voting rights guarantees.
AMANPOUR: I must say, it is shocking. And it has shocked many, many other democracies around the world who look to the United States to uphold the
rights of all citizens to vote. So I hear your outrage.
But, of course, it boils down, doesn't it, to the numbers of votes. And if you were to try to get Congress, you have got the whole filibuster
situation. Your -- you mentioned your co-senator Reverend Raphael Warnock, who said: "No Senate rule should override the integrity of our democracy
I mean, we have had these conversations, and I know the filibuster, about abolishing it or reforming it has been endlessly talked about. Is there any
road forward, any lane that you can see that could at least preserve in a sensible way democracy-enhancing laws and things that go to the very heart
of voting rights?
OSSOFF: Yes, there is.
And Senator Reverend Warnock and I, both from Georgia, are taking the lead in urging our colleagues to continue moving forward with landmark voting
rights legislation. Of course it's going to be difficult. Those fights in the civil rights movement were extraordinarily difficult.
The activists and legislators who together advanced legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 faced enormous
obstructionism, especially within the United States Senate. But they still got it done.
We can still get it done. We need the vision and determination to pass major voting rights legislation.
And, look, let me say this to the international audience, because you mentioned that it's shocking for some to see that these fights persist in
United States. Access to the ballot is always going to be contested. This victory is never assured. We have to continue to vigilantly defend ballot
access in every generation.
And that is one of my core tasks as a member of the United States Senate right now.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, you mentioned the American Rescue Plan.
But there's also the big infrastructure bill. You are the youngest elected senator. I think you have just turned 34. You're a millennial. What does it
mean to your generation, who's gone through the recession, the threat of climate? What does all of this mean to the future generation of Americans?
OSSOFF: Look, the United States and all of humanity are at an inflection point right now.
The decisions that we make about the transition to clean energy, dramatic reductions to greenhouse gas emissions, investments in sustainability and
infrastructure will not determine just the continued strength and greatness of the United States, but also our capacity as a species to flourish
without destroying our environment.
My generation, more than any other, is committed to making that transition. It is one of our generational obligations to see to it that we make these
investments and that we enact policies that will allow our species to thrive, without undermining the basis for life on this Earth.
And those are indeed the stakes as we contemplate this infrastructure bill here in the United States. But the opportunities, Christiane, are enormous.
As I just mentioned, a $2.6 billion electric vehicle battery plant was threatened by a trade dispute recently in my home state of Georgia. My team
stepped in. President Biden's team stepped in.
We mediated a settlement to that dispute. And now thousands of Georgians will be working in skilled jobs producing electric vehicle battery
technology for decades to come.
We can employ our people and save our planet by making smart investments in green technology, in clean energy production. We have to do it now. And it
is truly a test of our capacity as a country to assert our vision, our strength and our greatness by investing in our infrastructure and saving
AMANPOUR: Senator Ossoff, thank you so much.
And, certainly, when the infrastructure bill passed, we saw headlines all over the United States, where local newspapers were welcoming all the
projects that they thought might come their way for their people.
So, thank you so much, indeed.
Now, 2020 saw an unprecedented rise in urban crime across the United States. Was this due to the pandemic? Was it in response to the heated
discussion surrounding police reform or something else entirely?
Fast-forward to today, and protests in Minnesota are into their fifth day over the killing of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man shot by police
during a traffic stop on Sunday.
Author and sociology professor Patrick Sharkey from Princeton is the founder of AmericanViolence.org.
And here he is speaking to Michel Martin about strategies to confront violence.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Professor Patrick Sharkey, thank you so much for speaking with us.
SHARKEY: It's great to be here.
MARTIN: A lot of people are writing about gun violence right now. And a lot of people are writing about police violence right now.
I want to dig into each of these crises separately, but are they intrinsically connected, in your view?
SHARKEY: I think they are connected.
And this goes all the way back to the late 1960s, when the United States tried a model of dealing with all the challenges that come bundled up when
you have extreme urban inequality. We went through a decade where we tried what Johnson called the war on poverty. And we started to make investments
in communities. And then we abandoned that approach.
And we, as a nation, took a different approach. And our approach consisted of two driving goals. And I lay this out in my book, but one is to leave
cities on their own, disinvest, extract resources from communities, ignore the challenges that have become more and more visible in central cities
over the last century, over the last 60 or 70 years, and, secondly, invest in a model driven by the goal of punishment.
So, invest heavily in the prison system, invest heavily in law enforcement, and really start to rely on law enforcement to respond to all the
challenges that come bundled when you have extreme urban inequality.
So, that model of abandonment and punishment has been largely intact in the decades since.
And I think what we're seeing, the police violence that has become so visible, has been happening for a very long time we just didn't have cell
phone cameras recording it. So, when -- as the whole nation has seen what's been going on in low-income communities of color for past decades there is
less and less tolerance, there's less and less acceptance that this is how our fellow citizens should be treated.
MARTIN: We can also undeniable that we are experiencing a spasm of gun violence. I mean, there's been -- as I last checked before our
conversation, minutes ago, there have been 143 mass shootings since the beginning of the year. Do you think that we are seeing more brutality by
police or is it just that the rest of the country outside of the people directly experiencing it are seeing it now?
SHARKEY: Yes. I think the latter. So, police violence has been extremely consistent over time. And this goes back even to a couple decades ago when
the number of people killed by police has remained at a very similar level over time, even as the overall level of violence fell from the 1990s all
the way through 2014, the level of police violence from the data sources we have looks like it was remarkably stable.
And so, what is interesting is that even after all the attention, even after the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, even after
widespread protests across the country, that level of police violent hasn't budged. So, the police kill about 1,000 people each year. And even in the
past six or seven years, has just -- has just gotten extraordinary attention and scrutiny, the number of people killed by law enforcement each
year hasn't changed that much. So, that tells you something about this institution and the stability of the way that police departments operate
across the country.
MARTIN: So, you know, I am guessing you take turns being unpopular because the fact is that the right and police unions, which are heavily rightest,
even if their members are not, have been pushing the narrative that the social justice protests are leading to this increase in violence. And you
suggest that there is actually some evidence to support that. On the other hand, you argue that police conduct does play a role in social instability.
So, I want to talk about both of those things.
You know, why might protests, the social justice protests we have been seeing, play a role in increased violence? Why might that be?
SHARKEY: There is a pattern when there are high-profile protests against police brutality, against injustice in the criminal legal system or
reactions to specific incidence of police violence. It can begin a process where violence rises inside that city, that happened after Freddie Gray
incident in Baltimore, it happened after the Michael Brown murder in Ferguson. And the important thing is to not deny that that happens. But
it's to interpret it, and what is actually going on. And there --
MARTIN: Why -- of course it is. I mean, come on, conservative politicians and conservative media are saying, you know, of course it is because the
police aren't doing their job as they see their job. So, what do you say?
SHARKEY: Yes. Well, there is one dimension of change, which is police officers changed the way that they do their job. And they may step back and
they may do that to make a statement, they may do that because of policy change, they may do that because they are genuinely concerned about what
might happen if they get involved in an incident and it goes bad. You know, so, all of those are very real.
But then there is a second dimension, which is that after these kinds of incidents, residents in a community are also likely to step back, to
disengage, to stop providing information, to stop working with police, to stop calling the police for help. And so, it's these dual processes that
often take place, not always, but often take place in the aftermath of high-profile protests where police may stop doing their job to the same
degree and residents may also check out. Then you create the potential for violence to emerge.
MARTIN: And what role does police conduct in your view play in this instability?
SHARKEY: Well, it plays a central role but I don't place blame entirely on police departments in the sense that this is the role that we as a society
have asked police to play. So, when we as a nation decided, no we are not going to invest to respond to the challenges that come with concentrated
poverty, we are not going to invest to the respond of the challenge of homelessness and addiction and substance abuse. Instead, we are going to
invest in law enforcement. Instead, we are going to ask police to respond the all of these challenges.
This is what we've asked law enforcement to do and we have relied on the police and the actors within the prison system to play this role for such a
long time that I do think it's unfair to ask police to do all of that. And then when we see how this actually looks and practice to call it all off
without making the sufficient investments that you need to make in other actors and other institutions who can step up and play a bigger role. So,
we've created the conditions for this kind of police brutality.
MARTIN: You also pointed out in your case, as you said, that research shows that when violence increase, Americans of all races become more
punitive, support harsher policing, criminal justice policies. I think what you're saying is, you know, some of the same folks who are out protesting
on the streets now are going to be people supporting more -- (INAUDIBLE) return to the kinds of tactics that people now say they no longer want. Is
there an example of that you can point to?
SHARKEY: So, as we've seen this surge of violence over the past year, the argument I'm making is that this makes everything more difficult because
there is a natural tendency when there is an increase in violence in the U.S., our default response is to turn back to police and say, OK, we need
to reinvest in law enforcement.
So, Atlanta, for instance, there's just a new proposal from the mayor to add 250 police officers. This is our automatic response and it's been our
automatic response for the past 50 years and it reflects something deeper about the United States. We have never taken seriously the idea that
community residents and community organizations can play a central role in keeping their community safe and also building stronger neighborhoods.
We've never taken that idea seriously despite lots of evidence suggesting that residents and local organizations have tremendous capacity to control
violence. We've just never made a commitment to those groups and given them the resources to play that role in a sustainable way.
MARTIN: I mean, what role does race play then? Like I can't help but notice that, you know, Dylann Roof kills night people in Charleston, South
Carolina and walks away and the police officers buy him a hamburger on the way to taking him to jail. I can't help but notice that the same guy who
kills eight people in Atlanta, you know, right guys, somehow is apprehended sort of peacefully. And yet, a guy who's been stopped for traffic
violations, for having air fresheners on his rearview mirror ends up dead.
And so, you know, people notice those kinds of things. And so, you do have to ask, is there just something fundamentally racist about the way policing
is done in this county?
SHARKEY: Well, I think there is a fundamental connection and the best book on this is Khalil Gibran Muhammad's book, "The Condemnation of Blackness,"
where he kind of points out throughout history how blackness has been defined as criminal or linked with criminality through policy but also
through our statistics, through the way we that we measure crime and violence. And this continues throughout U.S. history. So, there is that
deep connection. And race certainly is at the heart of any discussions about how we respond to urban inequality more generally.
So, I think it's fundamental. I think that that connection is intrinsic in a lot of ways. We've never solved or responded to the problem of racial
injustice. We've never responded to the problem of racial inequality in the U.S. So, when we choose, as a society, to respond to all of these
challenges with the police in the present, there becomes this strong connection between the challenge of racial inequality and the problem of
police brutality that's very clear.
MARTIN: And what role does the large presence of guns play in the society? Although, I do have to point out again, you know, white men are more likely
to own a gun than any other demographic group. And yet, they are not, by and large, the people who are being killed by police. I mean, while it is
true that more white people than I think many people realize are killed by police, overwhelmingly, the white people killed by police are armed.
Overwhelmingly, the black people killed by police are not.
And so, I just have -- but I do think it is fair to ask, what role does the prevalence of guns in the society play and that kind of calculation?
SHARKEY: I think it plays a central role. So, what we know is just from a descriptive sense places that have more guns in circulation have more
police killings. And also, all officers are more likely to be killed by gunfire in places that have more guns. So, just at that basic level, there
is this relationship that where there are more guns in circulation there is a greater risk that comes with every interaction between a resident and a
There was an incident last week where an officer was shot and killed in New Mexico during a traffic stop and. And, you know, I make the point that that
incident is salient to the conversations were having, just as salient as the murder of Dante Wright in the sense that these two incidents are
interconnected and it's not an excuse, it's not justifying police violence by any stretch of the imagination.
But when there is a threat of violence or at least a perceived threat of violence that comes with interactions between law enforcement and
residents, then everything becomes more dangerous. Then the potential for a shooting to happen increases substantially. So, you have to consider how
the prevalence of guns in the U.S. plays into that and how it makes everything about these discussions of police reform more complex and more
MARTIN: How did you get interested in this particular area of study? I mean, again, I go back to that because you're tying things together that I
think many people intrinsically feel might be connected but they don't know why, and I'm just wondering what got you started thinking this way.
SHARKEY: Yes. For me, it was one study. So, I did a study out of curiosity about -- it was published in 2010. And I was just trying to understand what
happens in neighborhoods with high levels of advantage or high levels of disadvantage that seems to have such an impact on the trajectory of kids.
And I carried out this one study just to explore, I looked at how kids perform on tests of cognitive skills if they happen to be given that
assessment just before there is a major incident, a violence near their home or just after.
And that first study that I did show that the kids who by pure chance who took these assessments just after a major incident, a homicide occurred
down the street, performed at a level where it looked like they had missed the last two years of schooling. So, the drop in performance was so
substantial that I thought it was wrong, it must have been wrong. So, I replicated it and then I did a few other studies with colleagues, and this
finally kept repeating itself that when there is violence in a community it changes the functioning of everyone within that community. It makes
children less able to function, to focus in school and it ultimately has impacts, not just on children, but on the entire community.
And, you know, I look at that our policy discussions and I don't know that that's adequately reflected in how we talk about American and equality.
MARTIN: So, why is this country so accepting of this level of violence, especially when it affects certain people?
SHARKEY: There's a longstanding pattern of this. If this is seen as a problem that's unique to central cities, if this is seen as a problem that
affects black communities, then it does not generate the same mobilization, the same commitment, the same investment. So, it's -- there's a fundamental
connection between American racism and the way that we respond to the challenge of violence and I think that's very visible in social policy over
If this is seen as a black problem, then it will not receive the same investment that other social problems might generate.
MARTIN: But is there a way forward here as a person who's been working in this field for a long time, is there anything that gives you a sense of
optimism that perhaps the country is willing to address this in a serious way?
SHARKEY: Yes. Well, I think we have a moment of opportunity here. And I wrote a report with Elizabeth Glazer, who is former director of the mayor's
office of Criminal Justice in New York. And what we're arguing in that report is that this -- there is a window to take a different approach to
deal with the challenge of violence, to really begin to invest in a new model that begins with community organizations and residents as a central
actor who are asked to respond to violence but also given the resources that they need to do that in a sustainable way.
And the reason there maybe room for hope is because activists who have been working on the ground for a long time are making this call in a very
effective way at this moment. So, a group called Fund Peace, which is a coalition of violence prevention organizations from around the country,
played a central role in advocating for an expanded federal investment in new approaches to dealing with violence said, don't center law enforcement.
And at least in the proposal for the American Jobs Plan from the Biden administration, there's a $5 billion investment in community-based programs
designed to confront violence.
I have no idea whether this will end up in the final legislation as it appears in the proposal, but it gives me hope because it's a fundamental
departure from the way that we have responded to violence for the past 50 years, which is to double down and invest exclusively in law enforcement
and the prison system. This is a different approach. This is investing in the organization and the residents who have always have the greatest
capacity to confront violence but who have never been given that same commitment.
MARTIN: Professor Patrick Sharkey, thank you so much for talking with us today.
SHARKEY: It was great talking with you. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: And finally, legendary songwriter, Diane Warren, has moved us to laugh, to cry, dance and fall in love over three decades filled with hits
like Cher's "If I could Turn Back Time" and Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." Italian pop music star, Laura Pausini, is another veteran
hitmaker. And now, they've come together to collaborate on the theme song for a much-loved new feature film, "The Life Ahead" from Netflix, which
marks the return of the legendary screen actress, Sophia Loren.
Take a look and listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Humanity is but a comma in the big book of life. But whenever Madame Rosa looked at me with big eyes, she wasn't just a comma.
She was the whole book.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the theme song you just heard is called "Io si" or "Seen" in English. It earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, one
of a dozen nominations for Diane Warren so far. And she and Laura Pausini join me right now.
Welcome both of you to the program.
Diane, as well as being a great songwriter, you've also got a great sense of humor because I just mentioned 11 nominations or 12 nominations so far
and you've made a mock Match.com dating profile seeking single Oscar.
DIANE WARREN, SONGWRITER AND LYRICIST: Say a small bald guy. Yes.
AMANPOUR: What do you think? Do you think this is the one?
WARREN: I would love it to be the one. You know, it's -- yes. I mean, it's on my dad's birthday, and my dad would have been 105 years old. So, I'm
hoping he pull some strings up there. Dad?
AMANPOUR: OK. Well, let's hope and let's hope the 12 is your lucky number. Laura Pausini, if this song wins and, of course, you translated it and you
sing it into Italian, because the film is in Italian, it will be only the 4th time a foreign song has won for Best Original Song at the Oscars. What
does it mean to you?
LAURA PAUSINI, SINGER AND SONGWRITER: It's a big responsibility and it's an honor for me as an Italian artist and an Italian woman to share this
moment with my country, especially because the song is in Italian and I think this is the very first time with a whole lyric in Italian. So, it
makes me feel so proud and it's an honor to be part of this movie, which is that beautiful one. It's so important, the message that want to spread all
And with Diane, we are feeling goosebumps every time we are talking about our song and our beautiful moment we are sharing together.
AMANPOUR: It's a great film and the song is really moving. But how did you get to do it, Diane? Because I think you had to approach -- was it Edoardo
Ponti, Sophia Loren and the director of the movie. How did you get to do it?
WARREN: A friend of mine told me about the movie and I said, is it OK if I call Edoardo, the director, which I'm not shy about that. If I hear -- I
mean if I hear about something that excites me like the story that my friend was talking about the movie. So, I reached out to Edoardo, he sent
me the script and I just -- I loved it and it just touched my heart and made me cry. And I kept saying the word seen because these characters, you
have Madame Rosa and Momo who the world doesn't see at all, they're like cast off from society.
And they are thrown together and they don't even see each other, but through love and understanding and really seeing with your heart, not your
eyes, they do understand each other and they become a family. And, Laura, you were saying that too, like that's the beauty of this movie and the
message of the song, because -- you know, and it goes beyond the movie because this message, so many people don't feel seen right now in the
world, you know, and feel invisible, and this is a song for them, this is a song to, you know, the simple phrase, I want you know that your seen, is so
powerful because we all want to be seen and we all need and long to be seen and be loved.
AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to play a clip from the film which includes the song. But just to recap for our viewers, Madame Rosa, Sophia Loren, was a
sex worker. Now, in her older years, she looks after children and grandchildren of sex workers. Momo she takes in. She does it reluctantly
but then they develop their own real love story of grandmother to grandson, sort of. He is a Senegalese refugee in Italy. And in fact, he wasn't even
an actor. Let us just play this little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madame Rosa looked after the other hooker's kids.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rosa, I need a favor. I took in Momo right after the tragedy. And I can't keep up, I'm too old.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two months, not a day more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Laura, you were talking about how important it is, you know, for Italy, how proud you are also to work on a film that Sophia Loren is
starring in. Tell me a little bit about what this film means to you.
PAUSINI: Well, first of all, I think that we are react -- in a time, we really need positive messages. And this song, like the movie itself,
carries a very powerful message of tolerance, integration and the beauty of diversity. And I think it's starting that people embrace all of these all
over the world, listening to a song in Italian.
The movie is a light. Is a message for everybody, especially right now in this particular moment of our life. And so, I want to thank Netflix and
Palomar that produce the movie, to choose the Italian version as the unique soundtrack of the movie in all languages. This song like a hug, it wants to
protect, to reassure and it's a shelter. And I think it is amazing the acceptance of the world even if it's not sang in English, it means that
music is a universal symbol and I feel that I have to say thanks to Sophia and Edoardo, they really wanted to be a family with all of us during this
latest like -- I don't know, maybe seven, eight months. We want to be like the movie is. So, we create a family even without having the same lot.
AMANPOUR: And finally, to you, Laura -- sorry, Diane. You have collaborated with so many famous people. You've written songs for, you
know, Lady Gaga, for Cher, Celine Dion, Aerosmith, I mean, it just goes on and on. And now, you're doing your debut first album of your own how does
WARREN: Well, I'm not singing on it on this one. So, it's -- I'm more of a D.J. on that, like I'm more curating, you know, other singers doing new
songs of mine. So, I haven't done my album yet. You know, maybe at some point just to -- if people want to hear how badly my songs sound, they
could listen to me sing them at some point.
But, you know, I'm lucky I get to work with singers and work with Laura Pausini, she is the greatest singer -- you know, one of the greatest
singers on the planet and the greatest singer in Italy. And we had to -- it had to be Laura because it was Sophia Loren, the greatest actress in Italy
now. You know, so, yes, it's amazing.
AMANPOUR: It is an amazing film with such a powerhouse cast and such obvious beautiful music. So, we wish you very good luck.
Thank you so much for being with us.
PAUSINI: Thank you.
WARREN: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for now. We're going to end tonight on that Oscar nominated song by Diane and Laura, who we've just been talking to. Thanks
for watching and goodbye from London.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)