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Racial and Social Justice in America; Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men; Imagine a World
Aired November 25, 2014 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: "The process is broken," says the family of the slain Ferguson teen, Michael Brown.
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BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY: A first year law student would have did a better job of cross-examining a killer of a unarmed person than the prosecutor's
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): That as America's first black president calls on the country to heal the legacy of racial prejudice.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson. This is an issue for America.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): Also ahead, Turkey's president ignites a firestorm of criticism after saying that women cannot be treated as equal
to men. Reaction from a member of parliament there.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.
The troubling state of this nation: protests from Missouri to New York, from Washington, D.C. to Oakland, Americans of all colors took to the
streets to show their frustration and anger as once again America's criminal justice system lays bare the racial divide that has plagued this
country since slavery and segregation.
This summer in Ferguson, Missouri, a white police officer shot and killed the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. And today the fallout
continues after it was announced late last night that a grand jury has decided not to indict the police officer, Darren Wilson, who fired 12
bullets at Brown, six of them hitting him.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): For many, the anger boiled over into violent disturbances in Ferguson, which blocked highways, cars and business were
also looted and torched. As this was happening, President Obama made an unusual late-night appeal for calm from the White House and acknowledged
that this is about more than one more fatal shooting.
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OBAMA: The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of
this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country. And this is tragic, because nobody needs good policing more than poor
communities with higher crime rates.
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AMANPOUR: Now the case has drawn worldwide attention and draconian measures were in place in Ferguson ahead of the grand jury decision: a
state of emergency, National Guard troops deployed around the city and even schools closed.
The facts are also troubling. It is exceedingly rare for grand juries not to indict and to prevent a case from even --
AMANPOUR: -- say the experts when a police officer is involved.
Now with me to discuss this here in the studio is Glenn Harris, the president of the Center for Social Inclusion. It's an organization that
tackles inequality and injustice here in the U.S.; and in Ferguson, I'm joined by rap artist and local activist Tef Poe. He's calling for justice
for Michael Brown and, quote, "every victim of police brutality."
Let me start with you, Mr. Poe.
What is the action on the streets today?
Are people dissipating their anger?
Or do you foresee continued disturbances of the type we've seen for months now?
TEF POE, RAPPER AND ACTIVIST: Well, the feeling out here in St. Louis and Ferguson , it's a very emotional day. I think we have come to terms
with the fact that in the United States of America it is perfectly legal for police officers to murder people of color. And I think that's
something that we're coping with and that's the reality that we live in.
There is no justice when you are murdered by a police officer and you are a person of color. That is a harsh fact to embrace and accept in
AMANPOUR: You're absolutely right; it's a harsh fact to accept. It's harsh, what you've just said.
And I want to turn to Glenn Harris here to put that into context because it is what Tef is saying, quite an indictment of the system. And
we have seen over and over again black people assaulted by white police officers and over and over again they might have been acquitted or not
indicted from California to New York and elsewhere.
What is the root of this problem?
GLENN HARRIS, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION: I think there are several pieces that are at play. I think first and foremost, as we
think about looking at indictments, it's not only that police officers don't get indicted, even when they move to indict, we frequently see the
folks won't prosecute, that actually won't turn into actually a real charge.
And part of that is I think about how bias works in those systems, but also part of that is fundamentally just all of police officers frequently
are not held to the same standard that you and I would be in a similar criminal situation.
AMANPOUR: And as we said, it's very rare not to indict except for when a police officer is included.
Tef and Glenn, I want to ask you also this fact, that obviously Ferguson is a majority African American society. I think the figures are
65 percent African American and the police are much more white. And this is very similar to across the country.
Tef and Glenn, is there something that can be done?
Is there any attempt to try to rebalance the representation between the people and law enforcement?
HARRIS: Yes, I --
POE: I believe -- oh, sorry. Go ahead.
AMANPOUR: Let me give to Glenn first here in the studio.
HARRIS: Yes. I think -- I think it is a fundamental question about representation on police forces across the country. But I don't think
that's enough. I don't think it's just a question of do we get to some kind of racial representation with the police force. I think it's also a
structural problem. I think inherently we have to talk about what is policy, what's practice, what are expectations of police officers, what is
their fundamental relationship to community and are we working on actually rebuilding that community?
AMANPOUR: Now you have been following it, Glenn, for a long time, obviously; you very carefully followed the announcement last night.
Do you believe that this was the right decision, given all the evidence the grand jury was given by the prosecutor, by the way, all the
evidence by the prosecutor, was this the only decision the grand jury could come back with?
HARRIS: It most certainly wasn't the only decision. I wasn't surprised by it. I think like Tef was saying and I think like many folks
in the country, we've seen this repeatedly. It's heartbreaking but not surprising. I do think there's an opportunity to think about how the ways
in which we can actually be -- change those outcomes.
I think part of that is the work that's occurring right now on the ground in Ferguson, raising awareness, engaging folks in the possibility of
a conversation that will maybe take it to the federal level, to come back for a deeper reflection and investigation.
I think right now the most important point is that this isn't the end; in many ways, this is just the beginning.
AMANPOUR: And Tef, from your perspective on the ground -- and you've written a song, when all of this started in the summer, you've written
about this in your music and you're obviously a very prominent activist on the ground.
You wrote something that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, that the reaction in Ferguson, even after the killing, was reminding
you of 1963, of the deployment of National Guard, of German shepherds.
Tell me about how you felt.
POE: The reality of the situation for me, personally, is Mike Brown was unarmed and murdered because Darren Wilson feared his black skin. We
live in a society that has created preconceived notions about people that look like me, and especially if you're a male. You're thought to believe
to be a violent person, to be an aggressive person, to be an angry person.
Whenever a police officer is taken on trial for murdering an unarmed person of color, the track record in the United States of America proves to
be consistent. They are let off. So now I ask the government of the United States of America if it's perfectly legal for police officers to
murder people of color, put it on paper. Put it on paper so that the people in the streets don't have to flood the streets, don't have to get
angry and aggressive. We don't have to wonder why Darren Wilson was let off because we know now that it's perfectly legal for him to do it. That's
-- I think that we live in a state in time where it is -- it's a complete atrocity and I -- it just breaks my heart.
AMANPOUR: Do you see any real way, beyond the extreme version that you've just outlined to pretend that it's proper and right that this should
happen or legal, in any event, do you see any way of some kind of community readdressing this?
For instance, the family of Michael Brown are calling for all police to wear body cameras.
Is that something, do you think, that will have an impact?
Will it happen? Will it work?
POE: Body cameras are great. And I do believe the police officer should wear body cameras. But you know what, the number one problem here
Missouri: no one wants to call it for what it is. It's white supremacy. You have Democrats that guise themselves as Democrats that are really
Republicans. They vote Democratic according to labor; they do not stand with the African American community. We are the last community to be
addressed in this state, even onto a federal level, where we even have a black president that kind of sort of addresses the problem, but he doesn't
full-on address it. It's -- there's not a all-out attempt to eradicate racial profiling and bigotry in America.
AMANPOUR: Glenn, there -- obviously so much raw emotion and genuine hurt and genuine racial divide and legacy of so many years of prejudice and
discrimination. This country has a black president. There have been decades of improvement but obviously not enough.
Do you see an ability to move beyond this?
In other words, every time this happens, we talk about a national debate. We're going to redress something.
Is there ever going to be a national debate that redresses something? I mean, even the outgoing attorney general, Eric Holder, has called about
the vestiges of racial prejudice and racism in this country.
HARRIS: I think two things. I think, one, we have to find space to come to this conversation and this is the moment. If we want to honor
Michael Brown and his death, I think we really need to find space to hold this nationally and not have it be yet, to your point, just another moment.
The second is I think that conversation needs to be a little different. I think we need to find a way to have a deeper conversation not
just about the pain in it, but about the policy choices that we're making, the things that Tef was naming, which is right now, as the systems are set
up, we're generating outcomes that we see repeatedly. Just something in that process that is failing. We've seen across the country in places like
Seattle that actually taking on through government actually addressing issues of racial equity in daily policy and practice that there's a
possibility of getting to different outcomes.
AMANPOUR: So there is a way to make it different?
HARRIS: I believe so.
Tef, obviously people are going to criticize the violence that has been the reaction to this.
Can you see, can you understand, do you try to call for peaceful protests so that one hurt and one wrong is not responded to by another?
POE: You know, no one wants peaceful protest more so than people like myself. I live in this community. I've spoken with Michael Brown's
parents in the past. And we've had brief conversations. And I know that they completely endorse and call for peaceful protests.
And I think no one calls for that more so than the people that actually live here, the people that breathe the air here, the people that
have to raise their children here.
But the reality of the situation on the flip side of that is also that people are traumatized. People are angry. People are emotional. And you
know, there's no answers being provided in a flat-out layman's terms for our community. You're telling me that a rogue police officer can come
here, drive down the street, murder a young man in the middle of the street, let's leave him on display for 4.5 hours in front of his friends
and family, let him bleed to death in front of this entire community, no ambulance was brought; Chief Jackson came up with excuse after excuse. And
it just appears to be a complete cover-up, in my opinion.
I live in Missouri. I'm from St. Louis. I know how the police are. I can't sugar-coat it for you. They're crooked. They've been crooked and
they will continue to be crooked. They got away with it this time. And the people decided, you know what, we choose to indict Darren Wilson
however we choose to indict him because the system will not do so. The system will not be, will not hold itself accountable.
You know, you have the DOJ on the ground investigating. But the DOJ essentially is investigating their own employees. So we have no voice. We
have no outlet.
AMANPOUR: Tef Poe, that was a very loud voice and the world has heard you and the world is watching Ferguson, Missouri.
Tef Poe and Glenn Harris, thank you so much for joining me.
And these racial tensions, as I said, have grabbed headlines around the world. And Michael Brown's parents have testified before a U.N.
committee in Geneva that was just earlier this month, because they want the world to know what's going on in their hometown, Ferguson.
And coming up next, another global issue: women's rights, under big threat in Turkey after jaw-dropping comments from the president -- that's
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been lambasted for saying that women are not and cannot be treated equal to men. He was
speaking at a conference in Istanbul, which was organized by a conservative women's group, which was promoting women's rights. Listen to part of what
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RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY (through translator): You cannot bring women and men into equal positions. That is against
nature because their nature is different.
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AMANPOUR: Well, it has caused a howl of protest, but it's not the first time the president has offended many women. He's previously told
Turkish university students that they shouldn't be, quote, "picky" when choosing a husband and he's called on all Turkish women to have three
children. Erdogan is criticized as increasingly imperious and his latest outburst comes after an avalanche of criticism for spending more than $600
million on a lavish 1,000-room presidential palace, which is now the biggest in the world.
My next guest, the Turkish MP, Binnaz Toprak, has just come from parliament, which is debating the formation of a special committee to look
into violence against women in Turkey, and she joins me now from the country's capital, Ankara.
Welcome to the program. Thanks for joining me, Ms. Toprak.
BINNAZ TOPRAK, TURKISH MP: Thank you. Hello, thank you.
AMANPOUR: Let me just ask you first and foremost, you have just come from parliament debating an issue that affects women.
How has the president's remarks been mentioned, affected this debate whatsoever?
Have you said anything about it?
TOPRAK: Yes, obviously I did. I was one of the speakers in the parliament on the topic for my party, the CHP, which is the social
democratic party here. And obviously I made references to the president's speech as well as others from my party and the other opposition parties.
In part, the government party speakers agreed with the president, that men and women are indeed not equal, that he was telling the truth.
I think it's unfortunate that this statement came a day before the parliament was going to discuss this issue --
TOPRAK: -- especially murders of women has -- yes?
AMANPOUR: Well, but carry on. You're saying violence has increased.
TOPRAK: -- incredibly in the -- yes, by 1,400 percent in the last several years; it's appalling, this figure. And obviously something has
been done; luckily the parliament agreed to form a committee, all four parties endorsed this. So there's going to be a committee that's going to
work for three months to look into the picture and to see what the causes of this violence are.
But obviously, what I did mention in my speech is that one of the causes -- obviously not the only one -- but one of the causes has to do
with discourse like this, such as the one that the president has uttered yesterday --
AMANPOUR: Well, Ms. Toprak --
TOPRAK: -- the first time he has said this, he said --
AMANPOUR: -- right.
TOPRAK: -- yes?
AMANPOUR: Let me the ask you, why do you think this is being said right now? If you look at the statistics of the World Economic Forum on
gender, Turkey does in fact appear fairly low down. It's 126th out of 130. But President Erdogan, when he first came to power as prime minister, he
did do things. He did do legislation and reforms, for instance against violence against women and the like.
Why do you think this change in tone?
TOPRAK: Yes, I think this government has done quite a bit as far as legislation is concerned. The penal code has changed so that punishment
for violence against women has increased. We accompanied the Istanbul -- International Istanbul Agreement as well as past legislation in 2012 that
deals with violence against women.
But I think the conservative position of this party and Islamist leaning does not allow it really to tackle the issue at its core. When you
look at what's being done in terms of implementations, the implementation is really lacking.
For instance, when women complain about violence and when they go to the police or the gendarme, quite often they're asked to, you know, back
down and go back to their -- to their husbands. In court, even though legislation says that there should be greater punishment for violence
against women, in court, quite often there are all kinds of excuses that are given, such as, for example, good behavior in court, such as men
claiming that the women were at fault or they did not -- they didn't know the age of the women and so on, when it involves minors.
AMANPOUR: Ms. Toprak, Ms. Toprak, let me interrupt you for a second because at this organization, where the president made these statements --
and, again, he keeps saying and sort of clarifying that women need a quality justice. They need justice. They can't be equal but they need
equality of justice.
There were a considerable number of women at this organization, which gave him a standing ovation, which applauded these comments.
How popular is this kind of attitude in Turkey today?
TOPRAK: I think as far as his supporters are concerned, it's quite popular. I think why -- what he means by this, that men and women are not
equal, is physical equality.
But that's obvious. I mean, when people talk about gender equality, nobody in his or her right mind talks about physical equality. Obviously,
the kindergarten children know when they look at Dad and Mom that men and women are not physically equal. When you say gender equality, the
principle has to do with legal equality and equal opportunities and legal rights.
So I think even if he says that it has to do with legality, I think the very statement that men and women are not equal reinforces prejudices
against women, reinforces men's ideas that women are not equal and cannot ever be equal and so on in a country where quite a number of people have
conservative views on this issue.
AMANPOUR: Just very briefly -- and this is the last one -- very briefly --
TOPRAK: -- as presidents should be much more -- yes?
AMANPOUR: Well, I know what you're going to say, should be much more careful in what he says --
TOPRAK: Somebody in his position should be much more careful, much more responsible, yes.
AMANPOUR: All right. And very lastly, will this affect women in terms of employment? Is it an attempt to sort of move women out of the
employment field or what -- or not?
TOPRAK: Well, even though the government pays lip service to employment of women, employment is very low, about 29-30 percent of women
are in the workforce. I think the idea, the value that he gives to women is that they are mothers because he talked about chronic versus saying that
paradise is at of -- the feet of the mothers.
In reality, however, in this world, women are -- including mothers --
TOPRAK: -- men being trampled upon and being murdered and so on. So obviously, it's going to affect them, because the ideal women, I think,
woman in his mind is a mother, a good wife and so on. And it's only --
TOPRAK: -- secondarily that he thinks about employment.
AMANPOUR: I fully understand. And of course nobody in their right mind thinks that motherhood and being a good wife is anything other than
but true feminist. So very interesting.
On Friday, Turkey will welcome Pope Francis. It'll be interesting to know what the president says to him about these women's issues. Coming up,
the pontiff's address to the European Parliament and his stark assessment of a troubled continent.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where Europe has become the sick and beleaguered grandmother of the world.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): Well, it's the world we have now, according to Pope Francis, who was speaking at the European Parliament today. Take a
POPE FRANCIS (through translator): Europe gives the impression of being aged and weary, less and less a protagonist in a world which
frequently looks on it with aloofness, with mistrust and even at times with suspicion.
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AMANPOUR: The pontiff called for action and unity, addressing the plague of human trafficking and calling for efforts to stop the
Mediterranean from becoming a vast and watery graveyard for African immigrants, who risk everything for a better life.
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AMANPOUR (voice-over): It's a crisis close to the pope's heart, because he made his first official visit outside Rome to the island of
Lampedusa, where hundreds have died trying to reach Europe. He denounced global indifference to the plight of immigrants at the time. And today, he
narrowed his gaze to condemn a continent that he says is slowly losing its soul.
Now it's a striking contract to Pope John Paul II's view of Europe, back in 1998, when he exalted the continent, waxing lyrical that Europe
then was, quote, "a beacon of civilization with the state of peace and cooperation definitively established among her member states."
So Europe, in a papal world view, has gone from hopeful to haggard.
And that is it for our program tonight. Goodbye and thank you for watching from New York.