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Interview With Bob Costas; Rebuilding Gaza; Outrage at Belarus Grows; Interview With Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA). Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 25, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I just want everything to be better in life, because I don't want to see people dying the same way my
brother has passed.
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): One year on since George Floyd's murder, we speak to Congresswoman Karen Bass as she leads efforts to change policing in
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: This is an attack on freedom of expression and this is an attack on European sovereignty.
GOLODRYGA: The latest on Belarus after it diverted a plane to detain a journalist.
And now that the smoke has cleared, I ask the U.N. Relief Agency how Gaza can be rebuilt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it's easy, especially what's happening right now in Japan.
GOLODRYGA: Should the Tokyo Olympics go ahead? The pros and cons with the legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas.
ELIZABETH HINTON, AUTHOR, "AMERICA ON FIRE": The term riot itself is not going to allow us to get out of the cycle of police violence and community
violence that we have been trapped in, in many respects.
GOLODRYGA: Author Elizabeth Hinton explains how America can break an endless loop of violence between police and black communities.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
Today marks one year since George Floyd was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.
His death and the horrifying video that captured it ignited a movement for racial equality in the midst of a pandemic, black Lives Matter protesters
taking to the streets across the world to call for an end to police violence, as well as wider change.
Today, President Joe Biden is meeting with the Floyd family, but he's missing his own deadline for reform. He had asked Congress to pass the
George Floyd Justice in Policing Act by now, but negotiations have hit roadblocks.
I have just spoken about this with Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass. She's the chief author of the George Floyd in -- Justice Policing Act.
GOLODRYGA: Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us on this very somber and momentous day, one year after the murder of George Floyd.
And I'm reminded of what President Biden said when he quoted George Floyd's daughter Gianna when they met last year and what she told him. She said,
"My daddy changed the world."
How do you feel that the world has changed since his murder?
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Well, first of all, it is absolutely the case that the world has changed in terms of looking at the issue of discrimination
and systemic racism.
I worked on these issues for decades. And I will tell you that I have never encountered a period like this, where people are taking the murder of an
individual and connecting it up to larger systemic issues in our country.
And so it's a racial reckoning in the United States. But I also know that it's been that case in terms of Europe. Last year, I chaired the
Congressional Black Caucus. And the European Union, all 27 ambassadors met with us. We met with the European Parliament, the E.U. Parliament, looking
at issues of race on -- in Europe within the E.U.
GOLODRYGA: And in terms of consequences and the reckoning, obviously, there's a lot of attention this new legislation that is still being worked
out, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
This is a time when it is very difficult to find any bipartisanship in Congress. There does seem to be some optimism that you are closer to a
deal. Is that the case?
BASS: Yes, I think that that is accurate.
We have been having conversations, senators, members of the House. And I do believe that we will have a bill on President Biden's desk. Now, the
president asked for it to be done by today. We obviously are not meeting that deadline.
But I think what's more important than a deadline, a specific date, is that we have a substantive piece of legislation that really takes a first step
toward transforming policing in the United States. That is what needs to happen.
Police are one of the few professions that have very little, if any transparency, very little accountability. Those are the things that need to
change. We are tired of seeing videotape after videotape of brutality and sometimes even murder.
And so what is going to bring about a change? We have to begin to professionalize policing in the United States, we have 18,000 police
departments and 18,000 ways of policing America.
GOLODRYGA: So, let's talk about what's in this current bill that you think both sides can agree on, because there is a lot. There's a restriction of
the use of force, national database of police officer misconduct.
The bill does apply, though, to federal police officers, not state and local necessarily. What is your message and what is your hope that a passed
federal bill will send to states throughout the country?
BASS: Well, first of all, let's start with last year, because when we had hundreds of thousands of people protesting in every state in our country
and many countries around the world, that gave the political will, that gave the momentum behind us in Congress to have a bill.
But, at the same time, where we were feeling that pressure and momentum, states and local governments were as well. And so, since last year, many
states around the country have begun to reform policing. Many counties, many cities have begun to look at the profound inequities in the U.S.
criminal justice system.
And so it has a rippling effect. You are right. The bill will apply only to federal police. But, on the other hand, there's measures that we can put in
this bill that essentially tie local governments, because we have the purse. We have the purse strings. So there's federal funding that we can
restrict based on pushing certain reforms in state and local governments.
GOLODRYGA: Once you do reach a preliminary bill here, do you think you could get even to limited quantified (sic) immunity, or do you think that
would be off the table in terms of reaching a deal within the next few days or weeks?
BASS: Well, it is definitely not off the table. And qualified immunity is a key part of the bill. And so we will see.
GOLODRYGA: And I guess the question is, once you do have a bill, is it going to be able to get 60 votes, again, in a very hyperpartisan Congress
I know you're an optimist. Are you optimistic on that?
BASS: Oh, absolutely.
I mean, it's all about that. And the fact that Tim Scott has been given permission to negotiate on behalf of his caucus, implied in that is that,
if he reaches a deal, the Republicans will support it. And that's what Mitch McConnell has said.
GOLODRYGA: I was listening to an interview from one of the attorneys for the George Floyd family that was worried about some of these revisions to
the bill and suggesting that it may be toothless, it may not be strong enough in its final iteration.
And I want to play for you some sound from Mr. Crump, who is a -- Benjamin Crump, who is another attorney, who had something similar to say along the
lines this morning on "NEW DAY." Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF GEORGE FLOYD: I like what Senator Chuck Schumer and Karen Bass and Cory Booker are all saying, that, if
you're going to have this legislation bear George Floyd's name, it has to be meaningful, because their blood is on this legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: I want to get your reaction, because I know you have got a lot of pressure on you. And you have got a lot of constituents and you have a
lot of Americans who are relying on you and this bill to have some teeth to it, to see real change.
What is your message to them, not only to the George Floyd family, but to millions of Americans who are feeling the same concerns?
BASS: Well, I can assure them that we are not going to pass a symbolic piece of legislation. We could have done that long ago. This is not the
time to make statements. This is the time to make change.
And the bill that we pass will be a substantive bill.
GOLODRYGA: There was a poll recently conducted by the AP that said, despite everything that's taken place this past year, all this renewed
attention, a reckoning in the United States, the protests, that black Americans said that the conviction of Derek Chauvin, though rare for a
police officer, of the murder of George Floyd did not improve their trust in the criminal justice system.
Is that concerning to you?
GOLODRYGA: And what, if anything, can be done to change that view?
BASS: No. No, that is not concerning to me at all. I mean, it was one case. Why on earth would one case, one decision that was a good decision --
and, believe me, I was very happy about it -- why on earth would that lead then to people saying, everywhere in the country, now I feel fine about the
criminal justice system, when, within hours of the verdict, there was a girl, a teenager that was killed?
A couple of days later, there was a man that was killed. The day before, there was someone else that was killed.
So, I think it makes no sense at all that, because of one verdict, that people would think that that meant that we have now achieved the change
that we need.
We were very fortunate in Minnesota, that, one, Minnesota has an attorney general, Keith Ellison, who's my former colleague here. And it was his
leadership that led to those three guilty verdicts.
So, if we had 50 Keith Ellisons, absolutely, I would say, we have a new day. But we don't.
And we should also note that Derek Chauvin is asking for a new trial following that conviction as well. So that is something that we are going
to be continuing to hear and follow in the weeks and months ahead.
My last question to you is something more of a -- on a personal note. As you mentioned at the top, this is something that garnered not only national
attention, but international attention. And, as an American and as a congresswoman, what are you feeling? What keeps you up at night, in terms
of this issue, and this issue not only resonating within the United States, but around the world?
BASS: Well, I think that this is a horrible example to the world.
So, it's clearly a flaw in our democracy. Our democracy has not extended 100 percent to everybody in this country. And the whole world can see that.
I don't think it's a surprise.
But what keeps me up at night is the fact that, while I'm resting peacefully in my bed, how many people are experiencing abuse at the hands
of police? I mean, understand that communities want to be safe. And you can imagine how it is in certain communities that they feel that they might be
in danger, but they're also equally afraid of the danger that might be a result of crime, and calling the police, who might come in and brutalize
So you have communities that are left feeling defenseless. That's what keeps me up at night. I want -- I do not want to see folks continue to die
at the hands of law enforcement.
GOLODRYGA: And that's really something that's going to continue to hurt America, both internally and its image around the world.
We appreciate your time so much, Congresswoman.
GOLODRYGA: Thank you so much for joining us.
BASS: You're welcome.
GOLODRYGA: And we should note that Congresswoman Bass also met with the Floyd family today as well.
And now an update on Belarus. The E.U. will impose sanctions on the country after it grounded a plane carrying dissident journalists Roman Protasevich
and arrested him. Brussels also told airlines to avoid Belarus airspace.
Protasevich appears in a new video released by the country's authorities showing him in a Minsk detention center, where he claimed to be treated
lawfully and confessed to organizing opposition protests. Most view that to be a coerced video, a tactic that the regime has used in the past.
Correspondent Matthew Chance is in Moscow. And he joins me now with more on this.
Matthew, we also know that Roman's girlfriend is now being detained for at least two months in Belarus. She is a Russian national. I understand that
you spoke with Roman's father about all of this. Can you tell us what he said?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, we spoke to him just before the video of Roman Protasevich had appeared, that
video that looked like it was done under duress that appeared on state media platforms across Belarus.
But even before he appeared, his father, Dmitry, spoke to me about how concerned he was about the welfare of his son, given what he knows about
how prisoners like Roman in Belarus are treated by the security services when they're seen as an enemy of the state, as Roman himself is by the
regime in Belarus.
Take a listen.
CHANCE (voice-over): This is why the Belarusian authorities see this dissident journalist as such a threat.
A social media channel founded by Roman Protasevich, who is just 26, was instrumental in organizing these mass protests against flawed presidential
elections last year and, of course, in exposing the brutal tactics used by Belarusian police to crack down, tactics his father, who spoke to CNN from
exile in Poland, says he fears will now be used on his son.
DMITRY PROTASEVICH, FATHER OF ROMAN PROTASEVICH (through translator): We are very worried, as we expect torture and physical abuse, although we hope
that that won't happen.
But knowing the KGB methods, we hope that he will be strong enough and have enough willpower to endure all that awaiting.
CHANCE: All right, well, his father went on to say that he thought his son was so brave. He considered him to be his hero.
But he was clearly very upset about what ordeal his son was confronting, an ordeal, remember, that thousands of people in Belarus have been subjected
to over recent months, since the rigged presidential elections, or the elections that were seen by observers to be rigged, and the crackdown on
mass protests in the country from people who oppose the election result.
GOLODRYGA: And you can just feel the anguish in his father's voice and demeanor. And, of course, we all noticed what appeared to be some sort of
bruises on Roman's forehead as well.
You will continue to follow this story for us. Thank you so much, Matthew. We appreciate it.
And now to Gaza, which lies in ruins after 11 days of destruction. The conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants left 12 dead in Israel
and hundreds of Palestinians dead. At a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the U.S. secretary of state, Antony
Blinken, said both sides must build on the cease-fire by recognizing their respective losses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Losses on both sides were profound. Casualties are often reduced to numbers, but behind every number is an
individual human being, a daughter, a son, a father, a mother, a grandparent, a best friend.
And as the Talmud teaches, to lose a life is to lose the whole world, whether that life is Palestinian or Israeli.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: For Palestinians, rebuilding from the rubble is going to be a Herculean task.
I'm joined now by one of the people on the front lines, Tamara Alrifai. She's the director of strategic communications for the United Nations
Relief and Works Agency.
Tamara, thank you so much for joining us.
Let's just talk about the work that lies ahead, because it is staggering. More than 60,000 Gazans have been displaced. More than 1,000 housing
commercial units and 258 buildings were destroyed in Gaza; 769 units were severely damaged. We're talking about hospitals as well. This is extremely
And my question is, how is it on the ground there for you? I know you were just there yesterday. Tell us what you saw and tell us the situation there.
TAMARA ALRIFAI, UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY: I saw an immense amount of distress and an immense amount of pain and an immense amount of
Buildings were destroyed, but people's lives have been destroyed. So, those who were not killed in the distractions have lives that are scattered. They
lost love ones. They lost family members. My -- one of my colleagues, Molina (ph), spoke to her sister about cooking plans, dinner plans on the
last night of Ramadan, the holy month, and an hour later, the sister had been killed and her building had been destroyed.
My other colleague Jamil (ph) went home to find his sister's building destroyed. The sister, the husband and their two children died, and he is
now taking care of the other kids.
So, the destruction is immense, but what's more shocking is that this is not the first time. This is the fourth conflict in 15 years, 15 years of
choking blockade on Gaza, so that even reconstruction and rebuilding Gaza infrastructure becomes a difficult task because of the difficulty of
bringing construction material in, because of the -- the economy is completely choked. Everyone is unemployed.
So, even before this conflict, the amount of despair and the amount of hardship was extremely high. Now, with this latest conflict, after a year
of COVID, the amount of anger and the amount of despair and the stress is very, very high. And we can hear it with every person we can talk to.
Everyone has a story. Everyone who has survived these four wars has lost someone and has a lot of stories to tell.
GOLODRYGA: And those that have survived, just the mental, emotional trauma is going to last with them for the rest of their lives.
And it's such an important point that you make. It's not as if this -- ruins just happened over the last two weeks. This is something that has
been built upon following previous conflicts as well.
You touched on some family members and friends and contacts there. And we were struck by something you tweeted recently about a heartbreaking comment
that your colleague in Gaza made to you.
And I'm going to read it to you and our viewers: "During the height of the bombing, I wondered whether I should have my kids sleep in different rooms
in case something happens to one side of the house or whether we should all be together and die together."
It is an unimaginable thought to have a mother and family map out and ponder what to do in a situation like this, where they may or may not
survive a bombing, and they have to contemplate whether they want to all died together or save some family members.
Tell us about your friend and tell us about the heartache that so many are feeling right now.
ALRIFAI: You just spoke in the earlier segment about the Floyd family.
We visited the Abuhatod (ph) family. We visited the Abu al-Ouf (ph) survivor. Dr. Abu al-Ouf was a prominent doctor in Gaza. He died. He was
killed, his wife and all his children, except for one 17-year-old, who lies now in intensive care at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza.
Shifa Hospital is a hospital where most who are wounded are -- receive treatment. It's an emergency -- it's a hospital that can cater to emergency
situations. But the day we were there, there was a conversation amongst the doctors about how to break the news to the 17-year-old that his entire
family had been wiped out.
We met the we met the Abuhatod family. This is also a family that my colleagues and friends and journalists wrote about and tweeted about; 10
members of the same family also were killed in an airstrike on their building.
These include women and children, all of them civilians. We met the father, the one -- the father, who survived. He survived with one child. He looked
totally haggard. He was in a daze. He was on auto-repeat, saying: "I want to live. I want to live," (SPEAKING ARABIC) in Arabic. "I want to live. I
want to live."
This was a father repeating "I want to live" in the middle of the rubble, having lost his wife, his kids, his sister, her kids. They were visiting
him. He went out to buy something from the grocery store, came back, the building was gone. These are the stories we hear in Gaza. And these are the
stories that are making Gaza conflict after conflict an entire city of severe mental health crisis.
And mental health is a really hidden pandemic. Us humanitarians rush with food, water, sometimes reconstruction, sometimes longer-term development,
But this -- but mental health is key to people in Gaza, especially people who have not left Gaza for 15 years, people who have been unemployed, young
people who see no prospects anymore.
And in terms of the conversation going on about you know what to do now about Gaza, reconstruction, rebuilding, a huge question to ask about Gaza
is, what next? What happens after it's reconstructed this time? Will there be another conflict?
Or will there seriously and genuinely be an effort now to tackle the political root causes of what makes Gaza a huge, constant crisis that we
have to rush to save every few years, but without really going deep into that conflict that is unresolved, and that keeps bringing Gaza back into
the limelight in a very dramatic way, conflict and destruction and death and loss of -- loss of lives?
GOLODRYGA: I'm so glad you brought up mental health, because it just seemed like a luxury at this point, when basic necessities like food, water
construction for hospitals is barely getting through right now. And, obviously, that is first and foremost needed just for survival.
Let's talk about that effort, because Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged $5.5. million specifically today for Gaza, some $38 million for the
Palestinian organization and assistance for the Authority, for the Palestinian Authority, with President Mahmoud Abbas.
But the $5.5. million was directed for Gaza. The U.N. is calling for $38 million in relief for Gaza and the West Bank. So what is your reaction to
that $5.5 million figure? Is it a start?
ALRIFAI: Well, UNRWA, the organization that I represent, the U.N. Palestinian refugee organization agency, is calling for $38 million, but
that's only for now. That's really -- that's yesterday. That's emergency. That's for people who are displaced in schools.
That's for people whose homes were partially destroyed and who can still fix them. That's not the larger picture. The larger picture is much more
dramatic and complicated and long term. There's going to be a lot of fact - - every one of us will have to put a lot of effort into doing a real genuine assessment of the losses.
We need to rebuild UNRWA schools, UNRWA health centers. We're still in the middle of a global pandemic. COVID-19 is really high and rampant in Gaza.
We're talking about the situation where nearly 70,000 people were crammed in UNRWA schools that were turned into shelters.
I don't even want to think of how much the virus has spread during these 11 days where everybody was crammed. So, this initial amount is just for now.
But we're going to have to really invest in the longer-term rebuilding, reconstruction, making livelihood opportunities available.
And that can only happen if there is a genuine willingness to look at Gaza beyond the recurrent conflicts, to look at it as an unresolved political
problem that is choking under a blockade whose youth is extremely talented.
Palestinian refugees who go to UNRWA schools go to mars. The engineer Loay Elbasyouni, who's part of the U.S. team that sent a helicopter to Mars,
went to an UNRWA school. So, young Palestinian refugees in UNRWA schools want a normal life and opportunities. And that is the longer-term prospect
that we all need to work on.
GOLODRYGA: And we need to invest in this new generation, in these younger bright students as well. The challenge, of course, will be whether that
money can be given to Hamas in good faith and not towards rockets.
I know the U.S. is saying that they were going to bifurcate that and find a different way to allocate that money. But the end of the story here really
is that that money needs to be implemented right away and the rebuilding needs to begin.
Thank you so much for sharing your stories of your friends. It is heartbreaking, but it is so important to hear. And, of course, we'd love to
have you back on. Thank you so much.
ALRIFAI: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Well, now to Japan, where the Tokyo Olympics are set to start in less than two months. So far, things are off to a rocky start.
The U.S. is urging citizens to avoid the country as it enters a fourth wave of the pandemic. And a recent poll shows 83 percent of Japanese people
either want the Summer Games postponed or canceled altogether.
Here are the concerns of one Japanese nurse:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYOKA IOKA, CHIEF NURSE, SAITAMA MEDICAL UNIVERSITY (through translator): I'm sorry for the athletes, but I'm terrified that the Olympics are going
to happen. Is it really worth it? We are in the middle of the fourth wave. And what is the point of having the Olympic Games now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Despite all of this, it appears the Olympics aren't going anywhere. So, what will they look like?
Joining me now with answers is veteran sports broadcaster Bob Costas. He's covered 11 Olympic Games during his tenure at NBC and has 28 Emmys for his
Bob, it's an honor to have you on. Thank you so much for joining the program.
BOB COSTAS, VETERAN SPORTSCASTER: Thank you, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: So, you heard about all of this headwind, right, all of these concerns. We have a year delay now in the Olympics. Given all of that, why
is the IOC so determined to go forward with the Games?
COSTAS: Here's what you have to understand, Bianna. All Olympic contracts are written in a very favorable fashion for the IOC.
If there are cost overruns, as they're almost always are for every host city, none of that falls on the IOC. Even pre-COVID, the cost overrun is
close to double for Tokyo. It may be triple now. None of that falls on the IOC.
So, if they go ahead, even if most of the international community, most of Japanese citizens, most of the health community, including the CDC, as you
mentioned just today, thinks it's a very bad idea, and even if, on the face of it, the average person says, we don't want to cancel, but just postpone
it until next year, when circumstances would be better, we hope and expect, we have some reason to expect, circumstances would be better, and not only
in terms of the health circumstances, but people attending the Games, the organizing committee able to make up some of their investment.
It would go back to the old situation which we used to have prior to the '90s where both the Winter and summer Olympics were in the same year. They
could do that once as a one-off. Postponing it seems to make great sense.
But here's the key. The IOC collects every penny from NBC, which is its primary source of revenue, international broadcasting, the bulk of which
comes to the United States. If they put on the Olympics, even if those Olympics are not as valuable to NBC as the network had reason to anticipate
-- they couldn't have anticipated these circumstances, and no one in the stands, and the weirdness of it, and a lot of the glory and all the good
feeling that surrounds it being reduced.
If they take place, and if the Games are televised, as they will be, every penny goes into the IOC's coffers. All the risk is on somebody else, both
financially and from a health standpoint. It's all on someone else, not the IOC.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, I'm so glad you made that point, because, legally, if Japan just decided today we're going to cancel the Games, then it does
appear that the IOC would likely win a court suit as well, not to mention the P.R. nightmare that it would be for Japan.
So let's talk about the IOC's plan going forward and how they plan on ensuring the safety of its players and those that are going to be
attending, the athletes.
They're going to build an Olympic bubble that is similar, I guess, to the NBA bubble that we saw last year that was very successful.
GOLODRYGA: There's going to be testing daily. There's going to be tracking and testing. And everyone is going to be contained in one facility.
But we're talking about tens of thousands of people. While most will be vaccinated. Given that number, given that just a few people leaving that
bubble could spark an outbreak there, is this a feasible plan?
COSTAS: I don't think it is a foolproof plan, almost certainly it's not. And I understand comparison to the NBA bubble and the NHL had one in
Canada, but that's such a discrete situation, relatively small number of people involved in one place.
The Olympics are a far-flung thing. And it venues all over the place, outdoors, indoors, 10,000 athletes, not to mention even if they reduced the
number, all the ancillary personnel that accompanies them, and coming from 200 some nations for summer Olympics with varying degrees of health care
and varying degrees of vaccination levels. If you wanted to create a sports petri dish for possible surge in the pandemic, it would seem to me that the
Olympics would be it.
GOLODRYGA: Well, and that is why this is health officials and expert's worst nightmare, because you have these new variants, you have a very small
population of japan vaccinated. And then after the games, you're going to have all of these players, all these people returning back to their home
countries and those home countries are in varying shape right now as to how they're handling COVID and their vaccination rates as well.
But we're talking a lot about the health factors and the experts' views. What about the athletes themselves? I want to play for you sound from
tennis star, Naomi Osaka, who has views about this as well. And here's what she said to the BBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOMI OSAKA, ATHLETE: I think for me as an athlete, and of course my immediate thought is that I'd want to play the Olympics, but as a human, I
would say, we're in a pandemic and if people aren't healthy and if they're not feeling safe, then it's definitely it is a cause for concern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: It's interesting hearing that from her, given that, you know, Japan holds a special place in her heart, it's her home country.
GOLODRYGA: And yet, she is not convinced and certain that this is the right thing to do moving forward. Does she speak for most athletes?
COSTAS: Well, we might also mention that Hideki Matsuyama, the reigning master's champion, also from Japan, has expressed similar sentiments, and
neither one of them is wrong. But here's what I wanted to keep in mind. Over the years, the IOC has expanded the number of Olympic sports. It's not
the traditional core any more.
And so, even though for a tennis player, a golfer, recently added to Olympic menu, a basketball player, a baseball player certainly enjoys and
considers it an honor to participate in the Olympics, it is not as it is for most Olympians the be all and end all. The world series is be all and
end all. The NBA championship, the masters, Wimbledon, that's the be all and end all.
So, if you're Simone Biles or someone like that, if you're Carrie Walsh, those athletes point toward the Olympics. They will be there. They will
want to compete. But that doesn't mean that they'll compete without some trepidation and circumstances are not going to be the same.
You're not going to have all the jubilant and exciting atmosphere that surrounds it. The athletes are not going to be able to interact in a normal
way. That's always among the charming things of the Olympics, people who perhaps don't even speak the same language but share their competitiveness
and there's a cultural exchange that takes place. Everyone is going to be restricted, as you said, in some kind of bubble.
And the rule is, as soon as your competition is over, you've got 48 hours to get the heck out of there and go back to your home country. So, closing
ceremony isn't going to be the kind of jubilant sort of punctuation to every Olympics that has traditionally has been. No matter what they do and
no matter how well they do it, this is going to be a greatly reduced experience with health some risks attached to it.
GOLODRYGA: And, Bob, I, for one, love the Olympics. I love most of the sports. I try to watch as much as I can. But for those that don't, I would
say that opening night ceremony where you're seeing the presentation, the package pageantry of all of these players coming out representing their
country, regardless of whether or not you're a sports fan, you can't help but just melt and feel this emotional pride just as a citizen of the world
when you see that. Are we going to have anything similar to what we have seen in the past?
COSTAS: I think the opening ceremony has a chance. The closing ceremony will not. But the opening ceremony should bring everyone together. You
won't have the atmosphere with spectators that we've had before. And how they will march in and how they'll be socially distanced, I'm not exactly
sure, but I'm sure there is a plan in place.
And to your point, Bianna, I always reminded myself that while the Olympics is certainly at its heart a sports event, multiple sports events, it's also
a cultural panorama, it's also a travel log. And many people, many people who watch the Olympics avidly are, as you say, not necessarily sports fans.
You know, through the years, I had people come up to me, men and women both, and sometimes say, what do you do between Olympics? Oh, I don't know,
World Series, the NBA finals, the Super Bowl. Yes. I don't have anything to do.
GOLODRYGA: Part of those.
COSTAS: But it just showed me. And, you know, it was actually gratifying in a way that the Olympics meant so much to them and it reminds you that
this is not the normal sports event, it's something much bigger than that.
GOLODRYGA: It is very special. And we should note, it's not just the Olympics but the Paralympics as well.
GOLODRYGA: And some of these names, these athletes are not well known to people around the world but they should be and they've gone through
incredible trials and tribulations and showed incredible strength to get here as well. What can we expect to see there?
COSTAS: Well, I think you'll still see the passion for the competition. They've had to put off peaking, they all peaked thinking that they would
going to compete in 2020, but they're resourceful enough to adapt to that.
Something to keep in mind also about Olympic athletes, the vast majority of them train and prepare in almost total obscurity for this one moment of
handful of moments. If you lose the World Series, you're back in spring training in a few months.
You lose the Super Bowl, same deal, training camp comes up. And none of those players are obscure. There's only degrees of interest. The Super Bowl
gets a bigger audience than anything else, but it's not like Tom Brady is anonymous leading up to the Super Bowl. But that's what makes the Olympics
Four years, only once every four years and for some of them, maybe once in a lifetime. Often for events that last only moments, that heightens drama,
that heightens everything that's at stake for these athletes, it means the world to them. It's not just this year, it's this time, one time perhaps.
GOLODRYGA: And for that sake, for their sake, given that we know these games are going to go forward regardless of what health experts say, let's
pray and wish for a healthy and successful Olympics for these athletes that work so hard and trained for so long.
GOLODRYGA: Bob, it is an honor having you on.
GOLODRYGA: Really appreciate it. Good to see you.
COSTAS: Thanks very much, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: And we return now to the issue of systemic racism in America and widespread protests we saw in the wake of George Floyd's death. Our
next guest aims to put the current racial justice movement in context. Elizabeth Hinton is an associate professor of history in African-American
studies at Yale University. Her new book, "America on Fire," looks at black rebellion in the1960s and '70s. Here she is talking to Michel Martin about
how we got to where we are today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Bianna. Professor Elizabeth Hinton, thank you so much for talking with us.
ELIZABETH HINTON, AUTHOR, "AMERICA OF FIRE": Thank you for having me, Michel.
MARTIN: You know, this is a deeply researched, dense at times work of scholarship, but there is a central argument, which I think many people
will find provocative. Your argument is that this country has a history of mob violence, mainly directed against black people, the Tulsa massacre,
which many people are acknowledging in the coming weeks being a prime example of that. You say that it was only viewed as criminal violence, as
riots when black people started fighting back.
And you further argue that the roots of the kinds of incidents of collective violence that we see today, like the enormous demonstrations
we've seen at recent years are actually a response to abuses by police and other governmental authorities who refuse to respond appropriately to
legitimate grievances. And you say these are, in many ways, the aftershocks of the '60s. What led you to this insight?
HINTON: Well, you know, part of -- I had, in my research, been really interested in urban violence, and the relationship between the violence
that emerged in every single -- during every summer of Lyndon Johnson's presidency, and the response to that violence, right, the urban unrest,
beginning with Harlem in 1964 and kind of crescendoing with the 130 some uprisings that emerged after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
And beginnings of the federal law enforcement program during in this period was very in response to threat of this violence.
And at the same time, there were all these questions about how to address racial discrimination and what kinds of social programs would actually
effectively get at the root causes of this violence. And ultimately, the federal policymakers led local and state governments and taking the wrong
policy turn, that is embracing policing and surveillance and incarceration as a short-term solution that ended up becoming long-term reality when the
social programs of the war on poverty became disinvested from.
MARTIN: So, you said the urban riots of the 1960s can only be properly understood as rebellions as sustained insurgency. You said they could only
be understood that way. Why do you say that?
HINTON: So, when Harlem erupted in 1964 in response to killing by a New York police officer of a 15-year-old high school student, Johnson responded
to the violence saying, well, this has nothing to do with civil rights at all. This is nothing other than criminal senseless violence that's related
to other juvenile delinquency problems and it's a riot, pure and simple.
But what happened in Harlem and what happened in hundreds of other cities throughout Johnson's presidency and then thousands after is that the lack
of jobs, the lack of access to socioeconomic resources, substandard housing with roaches and rats running through people's apartments, this is what
brought people out into the streets in both examples of political violence, but nonviolent direct action protests that guided the civil rights
So, Johnson and others refused to see the political violence that we see emerging from the mid-1960s onwards is very much part of the same shared
set of socioeconomic grievances of the mainstream civil rights movements. These were the root demands. And so, the socioeconomic inequalities behind
them were the root causes of the rebellions.
Most were tipped off, however, by the most tangible expression of systemic racism, and that is police violence. So, you know, all of -- nearly all of
the rebellions that we see, beginning in the '60s but lasting through today, are in response to a moment of police violence.
MARTIN: One of these that I found really fascinating about the book is you say that, you know, people focus on lots, they focus on Detroit, they focus
on D.C., they focus on Newark. But you say that smaller cities are more important in understanding this than major urban centers.
So, first of all, why is that? And secondly, can you give us an example of why you say that?
HINTON: So, we have to -- you know, one of the things we all -- I think many historians and scholars in the public missed due to focus on large
scale disorders in big cities during the Johnson administration is that the real peak of urban rebellion occurred actually after Martin Luther King's
assassination, after the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets was enacted in June19'68, which launched the war on crime.
The kind of early war on crime during the first -- from '65 to '68, you know, brought new military grade weapons to police departments in Chicago,
in D.C., New York, the big cities that we think about, the big cities that experienced unrest and Detroit, right, they funded expansion of those
police forces in major metropolitan centers.
But when the federal government passes the first piece of major national crime control legislation in 1968, allowing state governments and local
governments to also, you know, increase their weapons arsenal with surplus guns and armored tanks and helicopters from Vietnam and expand their police
forces as well, residents in smaller rural and mid-size cities reacted to these new policing strategies in much the same way as their big city
And so, understanding that, you know, the urban rebellions were not just a phenomenon of big cities or archetypal ghettos that we may think of, but
actually, this is a thoroughly American phenomenon that occurred in nearly every city where black Americans lived and segregated unequal conditions in
the late 1960s and 1970s. it helps us understand that, you know, this wasn't just a northern phenomenon.
MARTIN: Could you just pick one of these smaller cities and talk about what happened there and why you say this is so much a part of this pattern
that we don't talk about?
HINTON: What we saw in cities like Cairo and York were particularly devastating incidents of rebellion. In part -- you know, and York was --
for a city of its size, arguably the most destructive rebellion of the late '60s and '70s. And the rebellion in Cairo essentially lasted from 1969 to
1972, and that is in part because white vigilante groups in both cities were deeply, deeply entwined with the police force.
And so, black residents in both cities were essentially being terrorized by white mobs and had no recourse and no protection from the police
department. So, had no choice but to fight back. And when they began to fight back from violence they were experiencing, the police fought back
with even more and legitimate force leading to days of property destruction, deaths in some cases and violent rebellion on both sides.
MARTIN: And just to clarify, OK, we're not talking about the '20s or '30s or the reconstruction era, 1890s, you know, we're talking about the '60s.
HINTON: That's what's so shocking to me, especially, you know, when I uncovered the stories in York and Cairo. It's shocking that this kind of
white supremacist violence was being inflicted in such blatant and devastating ways in the late 60s and early 1970s. I mean, that, you know,
to me was somewhat surprising.
MARTIN: Why is it so important to call these events rebellions and not riots? I mean, why does -- why do you think the nomenclature mattered then
and why do you think it matters now?
HINTON: Terminology here really matters because if we continue to use the term riot to describe these incidents of political violence, we're never
going to get out of the cycle. That is if these incidents of political violence are seen as meaningless and criminal, even though they're rooted
in these larger socioeconomic demands, then the only response to the political violence is more police, which is, you know, the precipitating
cause of the rebellions in the first place.
And so, the term riot itself is not going to allow us to get out of the cycle of police and community violence that we have been trapped in in many
respects ever since the civil rights movement.
MARTIN: You said that black rebellion was a self-fulfilling prophesy, a menace that would persist as long as state violence was used to preserve
racial hierarchy. But I want to ask you if there has ever been a point where this cycle could have been interrupted?
I mean, you documented a number of instances where high-level commissions, like Kerner Commission, I mean, people might remember that after the 1968
uprisings. You point to many white political leaders who have said, we don't condone the destruction, we don't condone, you know, the violence,
but this is a response to real grievances.
And so, you point out that there have been a number of instances where that's occurred. So, was there a point where you think this cycle could
have been interrupted? And why do you think it hasn't been?
HINTON: So, that's one of the real missed -- that's kind of the tragedy of the book, right? I mean, all of these missed opportunities when
alternatives to responding to the problems of poverty and inequality with police were presented to policy makers and yet, they refused to get out of
that policing paradigm, that solution that police are, you know, the only institution that can be implemented to manage the fundamental socioeconomic
inequalities in our society.
So, you know, the Kerner Commission in 1968 is one major missed opportunity which Johnson calls in the middle of the rebellion of Detroit in '67 and
instructs them to evaluate the causes and solutions to urban unrest that had rocked the nation during his presidency.
And the Kerner Commission said, if we really want to address the root causes of the riots, as they called them, then we need a massive infusion
of resources into black communities. We need a job creation program, we need better schools, we need better housing programs. The war on poverty
hasn't gone far enough.
And as rebellion continued at the state and local level, commissions also, you know, came in after incidents and violence and had recommended many of
the same things from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Cairo, the city I was just talking about, came in and said, OK, these are all of the structural root
causes of this violence. And so, we need to put in the resources and we need to have the political will to address it. And yet, these calls for
structural transformation, one that went outside of the police as a solution were never embraced.
MARTIN: Well, what you are describing sounds a lot like what is happening -- a debate that is happening now, you know, in response to the massive,
you know, demonstrations, protests, overwhelmingly peaceful. I mean, some of them did devolved into sort of violence and property destruction, but in
response to the killing of George Floyd last year, there have been these kinds of discussions. But you're also seeing and -- which is sort of
commonly summarized as movement to defund the police, but you also see varying visceral kind of counter action to that, and some are arguing that,
no, this is just lawlessness and this has to be addressed.
Do you see the current moment as an opportunity to revisit the way we respond to these incidents of communal violence?
HINTON: I think the current moment reflects the consequences, and the fact that we have never invested in that -- in those systemic solutions that
have been on the table now more than a half century. You know, had we addressed those root causes, people wouldn't be in the streets now.
And at this point, you know, some 50 years later, when the U.S. has become a mass incarceration society and policing in prison and surveillance have
been embraced as the foremost policy responses to inequality have been embraced as the only public safety paradigm when community-based safety
measures we know are cost effective and work far better.
And now, we need a different set of investments and now, we need a different set of policy approaches. For me, that's what things like defund
the police are about. That's what much of the racial justice protests are calling into question, those misguided priorities that see only punitive
policies and punitive programs as a solution.
MARTIN: But I feel like I have an obligation to the part of our audience that doesn't think that. I mean, you speak to that in the book. You point
out it could be difficult to imagine children and teenagers who threw rocks at police or who looted local businesses as political actors. You can see
why many people would say, how is stealing bras and sneakers from Target or stealing jewelry from some small business guy, you know, from Pakistan in
Queens, how is that a political statement?
HINTON: Well, those actions from, you know, responding to police violence by returning with rocks and bottles to taking essential goods from stores,
to me is, again, and to many of the people who participated from the 1960s and today themselves, you know, about a statement rooted in fundamental
inequalities when justice seems like it is impossible, when one's only option after decades and years of nonviolent protest is to take violent
I mean, they think one thing that's really key is that in every single city where rebellion occurred, residents had for years embraced steps of
nonviolent direct-action protests, they had taken to the streets in peaceful marches, they had written to their local elected officials and
petitioned them to change certain laws and to make it more inclusive and expansive set of policies for a city. They had filed lawsuits, and none of
this had worked.
And this is part of the reason why people felt like the only -- at that point, the only tool they had was to fight back. And I think it's also
really important to note that most of the protests that we witnessed over the summer of 2020 were peaceful, but one of the really key distinctions
between the uprisings that we began to see resurge in 2014 and 2015 is that all of these started out peacefully, you know, from Ferguson in 2014 to
Minneapolis in 2020, they started out peacefully, they started as nonviolent demonstrations and then police came in and responded to that
peaceful protest with tear gas and with beating people with their Billy clubs and with mace and violence.
And the protesters, the peaceful protesters in turn responded to that police violence with violence. And this is the cycle of police and
community violence that I write about in the book that we have seen playing out since the 1960s.
MARTIN: It seems to me that some of the polling indicates that even, you know, African-Americans in response to ongoing instability sometimes begin
to favor even more police response. Do you think that that's true?
HINTON: Well, this is actually something that I have thought about a lot and written about with my colleagues, Vesla Weaver and Julilly Kohler-
Hausmann. And we call this concept selective hearing. So, of course, people who are living in communities that are suffering from high rates of crime
and social harm or violence want to have safe communities. That's basic.
But when black people call for better policing, instead, elected officials, policymakers hear more policing. They're not actually listening to the
range of things that black people are demanding. They're not just calling for policing, they're also calling for the same things, many of the same
things that people who are in the streets both violently and nonviolently are. They're calling for better schools. They're calling for more job
opportunities. They're calling for different sets of investments in the community beyond the police.
And one of the questions is, you know, of all of the demands that black Americans have made on the state from the '60s onwards, most of them, you
know, rooted in socioeconomic issues. Why is it that the only thing they have gotten are calls for police, are the calls for harsher sentences, are
the punitive things they asked for? And that's what this selective -- that's the concept of selective hearing is really about.
MARTIN: Professor Elizabeth Hinton, thank you so much for joining us.
HINTON: Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And finally, we leave you with these images from across America, marking the anniversary of George Floyd's death. Marches, rallies
and concerts have been organized to honor his life and his legacy.
Well, that is it for now. Thank you so much for watching and good-bye from New York.