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Former President Obama's Message to Organize and Unify America; Jim Mattis Calls Trump Most Divisive President in His Lifetime; Protests from Military to President Trump; What Is Antifa?; Interview With Former U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Commander General John Allen. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired June 4, 2020 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Just remember, this country was founded on protests. It is called the American Revolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Former President Barack Obama's message to organize and unify. This as President Trump's former defense chief, Jim Mattis, calls him the
most divisive president in my lifetime. I asked top military leaders, now retired, who does the Pentagon salute, a president or the constitution? And
at what cost?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NELSON MANDELA, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: We take this opportunity to salute the brave and heroic people of Southern Africa for their valiant
stand and consistent stand against apartheid tyranny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Lessons from South Africa. What truth and reconciliation can tell us about reckoning with institutional racism? The commissioner's
former executive secretary joins us.
And activist and professor, Mark Bray, tells Michel Martin about the antifa movement and why the president's obsession is a distraction.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour, working from home in London.
George Floyd's death, unarmed and begging for his life, has inspired a national movement for justice in the United States, with support around the
world. And as protests and marches continue across the country, today is a day to mourn his killing and also to celebrate his life with a memorial in
Minneapolis, which is the first of many to come.
But while the street calls for accountability, President Trump continues to call for a tough response to the protests, prompting retired admiral and
former NATO commander, James Stavridis, to warn that we cannot afford to have a future Lafayette Square end up looking like Tiananmen Square, which
is a reference to China's deadly crackdown on democracy protesters exactly 31 years ago.
And piling on with former top brass condemning the commander-in-chief, Trump's own defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who resigned in 2018 over the
president's Syria policy, said in a statement last night, Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American
people, does not even pretend to try.
To discuss this unprecedented situation, my first guest tonight is the retired admiral, John Kirby, who also was an assistant secretary of state
for Public Affairs under President Obama and he is joining us from Alexandria, Virginia.
Rear Admiral Kirby, welcome to the program.
And I state your military rank because I need to ask you about what is going on in the retired military right now. First, your reaction to the
growing mountain of protests from the military to the president and his policy against the protesters in the streets.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I think it's underscoring, Christiane, that there are two conversations going
on in this country right now. One is clearly on race relations and the criminal justice system and how it treats African-Americans, and that is by
far the most important one we're having. But there's also another conversation happening over civil military relations and the use of the
military in support of domestic law enforcement purposes and the degree to which this president has continued to politicize military missions and
operations, and that is what you're seeing all these retired admirals and generals come out in response to.
I think we finally have reached, as Admiral Mullen described, an inflection point in this country and these former leaders simply need to -- they feel
compelled to have their voices heard in respect -- with respect to the dangers that we're now encroaching upon in civil military relations.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you about Admiral Mullen, because he was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs you did, in fact, work for him at that time.
So, you worked very closely with him. Let me just read, because he was the one who came out first. He said, I cannot remain silent, and he said this a
few days ago. He said, it sickened him to see security forces clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square. And as you say, he called it an
To what? An inflection point to what? What is the expectation, the intent, do you think, of people like Admiral Mullen and the other top brass who are
making and coming out and saying these things right now?
KIRBY: I think it was specifically the way that the military, in this case the National Guard, was used to support what was essentially a photo
opportunity by the president to push peaceful protesters out of the way in a forcible way. And the dangers that that could have in setting up real and
perhaps irrevocable tensions between the American people and their military.
The militaries and institution has the highest trust and confidence, the American people continues to pull very highly and the American people
should -- and are -- do trust their military that they're going to obey the law, that they're going to act in their defense. And to have a president
who is clearly willing, by threatening to invoke the Insurrection Act when there's really no justification for it, by threatening to put active duty
troops on the city streets of places where mayors and governors don't want them, he is potentially driving a wedge between the American military and
the American people.
And I think seeing that happen in real time, as he walked out to St. John's Church is what alarmed so many of these retired generals and admirals. I
know it alarmed Admiral Mullen.
AMANPOUR: Let me just quote the statement from Mattis, because that also - - it came after several others had made their statements. And at one point he had told me and others that he would not talk now, when we interviewed
him when his book came out, but he would know when the time came. So, clearly last night was the time for him after several others.
And he said, militarizing our response as we witnessed in Washington D.C. sets up a conflict, a false conflict between the military and civilian
society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of
which they themselves are part.
So, you've mentioned that. You've sort of framed that in this struggle that it sets up potentially, pitting the military against the people. So, where
then is in a democracy a military commander's responsibility, loyalty, duty? Is it to the commander-in-chief who is elected or is it to the people
and the constitution? Where does that line get drawn?
KIRBY: The oath that we take when we join the military is to the constitution of the United States, and to protect that constitution against
all enemies, foreign and domestic, which means essentially that our loyalty is to the American people. Because it is the American people who invest
power in the federal government. It is also the American people who elect the president and the constitution claims he's the commander-in-chief or it
doesn't claim it, he states it as the commander-in-chief.
So, it's -- obviously, we have an obligation to obey lawful orders from the chain of command and the president sits at the top of that chain of
command. So, clearly, we have an obligation to be loyal to those orders. But essentially, when it gets right down to it, the real loyalty of anybody
who has served in uniform is to the American people to make sure that everything we do, every dollar we spend, every operation we conduct is to
better defend and secure them and their freedoms in this country.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you a slightly bigger question. A, do you find this unprecedented? You can answer that in a second, around this question.
There was always some unease that somebody who has called himself a disrupter, who had no experience in politics, had never commanded anything,
had never been in the military, had never served, was potentially in a position to issue any orders in the style that President Trump has become
accustomed to. Some of them disruptive orders.
And there was a debate before his election and after his election as to what would the military do, the top, top, top level of the military, if an
illegal order was given. What would they do? Would they risk insubordination? Would they carry out that order? Where does this fit in
with that debate?
KIRBY: There's no question that military officers are obliged not to obey, to disobey illegal orders. Now, there's a whole provision in there, how do
you know it's illegal or not, and the manual for court-martials kind of lay that out for us but there's an obligation to disobey illegal orders. And
there were some debates, particularly around the use of nuclear weapons, for instance, with North Korea where there was a public debate about this.
The top military commanders know that they cannot obey illegal orders. But there's also a system of checks and balances in place that advises the
decision-making process for a president. So, hopefully, we never get to that point. Donald Trump has tested those limits. He has, you know, pushed
back against some of those checks and balances, not in a way that has caused a crisis yet, but I think the fact that he was so willing and so
aggressively eager to even discuss the Insurrection Act at this particular point, tells you how concerned top military commanders and retired military
commanders had been to the degree to which he chafes at the constraints placed on him.
So, again, I don't think we're at that kind of a crisis right now. And military commanders know they can't disobey -- they can't obey illegal
orders, but I think what you're seeing in the retired community is a chance to re-insert that conversation into the public debate and to make sure it's
clear that the American people know that they know what their obligations are with respect to lawfulness.
AMANPOUR: It's so interesting, these unprecedented moments. Thank you so much, Rear Admiral John Kirby, for joining us.
KIRBY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And later in the program we will talk with a retired general, John Allen, a former NATO commander who has joined the chorus of top brass
criticizing the use of soldiers, as we've been discussing, against the civilian protesters.
But first, the most famous conflict resolution to emerge out of institutional racism came from South Africa. Since 1948, white supremacy
was legally sanctioned there under apartheid. In 1990, the regime finally released Nelson Mandela from nearly 28 years in prison and he then led the
majority black nation in a peaceful transition to democracy. But it took a difficult and painful process to face the weight of history.
Paul van Zyl was executive secretary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was tasked to do just that, and he's joining us from
London. And also joining us is Vincent Warren. He is the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and he's joining us from New York.
Gentlemen, welcome to the program.
You know, every time that we talk about conflict resolution, South Africa is brought up as a shining example of what is possible out of the most
impossible and violent situation. So, I guess, Paul, I just want to ask you first, your reaction to what happened in Minneapolis, and were there any
memories were triggered from growing up under apartheid and what you saw and what you were part of protesting in your own country?
PAUL VAN ZYL, FORMER EXEC. SECY., SOUTH AFRICAN TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION: Well, Christiane, looking at the images of peaceful protests
being baton charged, cars driving into them, tear gas, was very reminiscent of South Africa in the 1980s. And the images of police officers, or a
particular police officer kneeling with his knee on the neck of a person who had been subdued and casually smiling into the camera was very
reminiscent of the ways in which white police officers dehumanized black South Africans and subjected to them to the kind of casual racism and
violence that you saw in those photographs and in those images.
And then looking at the pronouncements of Donald Trump, again, the early reminiscent of the P.W. Botha, the strong man of apartheids, a man who was
a deeply enthusiast for torture, as Donald Trump has been, and a man who was excited about the use of the military in order to deal with citizens.
And so, it is tragic that in 2020 America, a country that is supposedly (INAUDIBLE) in both of democracy and human rights looks eerily like South
Africa of the 1990s.
AMANPOUR: And we're going to get to how South Africa emerged from it, but I want to ask you, Vincent Warren, and we've seen, obviously, the protests
against it and the picture that Paul was talking about, it's a very difficult picture to look at, but I think we should put it up there because
it is reminiscent of what Paul was talking about and it is reminiscent of some of the worst atrocities committed during segregation and civil rights.
That picture of Chauvin, the officer, with his sunglasses on his head and his hand in his pocket, as was pointed out by Graydon Carter or Vanity Fair
who published why this was so awful, this casual disregard and execution of a person on the ground.
Vincent Warren, just sum up the tipping point moment, if there is, because of what happened.
VINCENT WARREN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: The tipping point moment is in pictures like that and what it means to ordinary
everyday Americans, and it causes them to ask this question, is that picture -- what is represented in that picture, is that the way we treat
human beings in this society?
And America has been founded on white supremacy, and as you were pointing out, so was the apartheid government in 1948. And that is the fundamental
question that everybody is wrestling with. And the difference is, white supremacy, structural racism can very much feel like gravity, like people
don't -- people know that it exists, but people don't always see it and they don't always feel it.
When things like this happen, when constant extermination, and that's really the only way you can describe it, of black people at the hands of
police departments are happening, people begin to feel the gravity of racial -- not just racial discrimination, of anti-blackness and white
So, the tipping point is, now that we know, now that we in this country, all of us, know that this is a problem that is not stopping and it doesn't
stop no matter how many commissions that we have, no matter what the president says about it, no matter what the governors say about it. What is
our demand of this society to undo, to unpack structural racism that would allow, allow police officers who have the ability to use force against us,
to use force in this particular way, where no black person in America feels safe from the police department.
AMANPOUR: So, there is, obviously, institutional racism in the United States. We know that. But in South Africa, it was actually legislated. And
I just want to read, because we've got a graphic with some of the worst kinds of laws. There was the Group Areas Act of 1950, which eliminated
racially mixed neighborhoods and assigned racial groups to different people -- areas. The prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act. The 1950 Immorality Act,
all against racially mixed marriages and relationships. The past laws requiring black people to carry IDs. And on and on and on.
So, the reason I bring that up is not just to talk about how institutionalized it was, but I want to ask both of you about the use of
violence. And I'm asking you very specifically, because Nelson Mandela did say in his famous Rivonia Trial of 1964, I do not, however, deny that I
plan sabotage, I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness, nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober
assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people by the whites.
So, Paul, you had to get to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and process after all of this. But today, the issue of targeted looting and
some violence is by no means the whole story on the streets in the United States, has become the story. So, I want to ask you whether there is such a
thing as rational acts of violence when you are struggling against an oppressive system.
ZYL: Well, I think the context in the United States in one in which there has not yet been a formal state level acknowledgment of race, racism and
structural inequality. And until there is that formal acknowledgment -- and I want to stress the word acknowledgment, Christiane, because
acknowledgment is different from knowledge.
Knowledge is to say I know there was slavery, I know black people are incarcerated in differential numbers, I know their different life
expectancies, I know black people die disproportionately in higher numbers at the hands of police officers. This is knowledge. What the United States
has not had is acknowledgment.
Acknowledgment is to say all of these things we hold to be true but they are wrong, and we formally commit ourselves to a deep process of remedying
the past wrongs and ensuring that they don't happen again. And that is what we did in South Africa. And when you do that and when you go through that
process, then the logical violence falls way and the logic of constitutional democracy returns.
And I think the problem you have right now is after decades, and dare I say centuries of the stain, the stain of formal racial discrimination not being
formally recognized and addressed, it then presents itself in a whole range of ways which are highly destructive. And I happen to think that looting
and acts of violence are counterproductive, they hurt the communities that they are designed to protect and they destroy the moral capital that peace-
loving citizens and the gains that they are seeking to win. I perfectly understand the frustration.
But absent acknowledgment, effective leadership who are willing to embark on real change and in the presence of leadership which uses this for its
own political advantage and seeks to exacerbate divisions rather than heal it, then the logic of violence becomes compelling and you reap what you
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, Vincent. You know, the attorney general in Minnesota came out relatively quickly, you know, as we've seen in the past,
with these charges, with arresting. Obviously, they were immediately fired, these implicated officers. Do you think that would have happened if there
hadn't been these protests on the street and if the nation had not, you know, risen up?
And the other thing I want to ask you is this, when we talk about violence, the United States, you just heard President Obama, was born on protests.
But it was also born on violence. The violence against native Americans, the violence of slavery. This was violence by the state. Do you believe
that a truth and reconciliation process like what happened in South Africa, there's not even been a hint of that in America, could happen, could
actually be something to try once and for all?
WARREN: To answer that question, Christiane, I would talk about the question about violence. And I'm glad that you mentioned it, because
America has been built on violence in just the way that you said. But violence by the state is not considered violence to most people, it's
considered national security. It's considered police actions. It's considered a whole range of activities that are framed to keep white people
safe at the hands or to the detriment of black people, native people and brown people.
So, when we think about -- even if you think about how we're talking about the situation now, all of the media is talking about when -- at what point
these protests turn violent. None of the media, at the time that violence is committed against black people, say the police have been violent. State
violence is -- has been and is at an epidemic proportion.
People are realizing that you can't use state violence to solve political problems, you can't use state violence to solve social problems and you
can't use state violence to solve racial problems. But that is our number one tool. In America, we have always had a punitive reflex. I agree that a
high state level acknowledgment of this fact, and there are many examples through history, is really key.
Additionally, though, we have a problem in the United States with respect to truth and reconciliation hearings. As Paul will tell you, that is
largely a political process that you need the political will to be able to move forward. The truth and reconciliation process, I monitored a little
bit of it in 1997, happened after the country had made a political transition. This country is still in the process of making a political
Which then brings us to the attorney general. The attorney general, Keith Ellison, had the people of Minnesota not live through the past five, six,
seven, 10, 15 years of police violence against black people. It is a symbol that the times have changed and they've hired -- I'm sorry, they've elected
someone who is willing to move that change forward.
Last point, the police are the problem, but they're not the only problem. Paul will tell you that apartheid ran deep and the policing was a
mechanism, a symptom of social control. It is the same here, that situations go much deeper in the United States than policing, including
what was made by bare COVID and the inequality and the way that black people don't have access to what they need.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. So, Paul, now take us back to the commission that you were executive secretary of. How did that happen? What was the political
will -- I mean, how did the political will come together to enable that and give us the sort of tick tock of what you went through then?
ZYL: Well, I mean, it was clear to everybody when the transition occurred in South Africa that it would be impossible to produce a stable and
peaceful democracy if the crimes of the past were simply swept under the carpet. And so, both Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, the two people who
negotiated the (INAUDIBLE) apartheid, realized that there would have to be an impartial process to properly record and acknowledge the crimes of the
past and then to make a series of recommendations to ensure that they wouldn't happen again.
And this was not only an act of political wisdom and morality, it was also strategically useful, because as they then took up the mantle of seeking to
govern the country, they could divert all the divisive questions about the problems of past to a commission which would be a fair and impartial and
sober-minded way document what happened.
And through the commission's hearings, and here I want to come back to the particular role of the police, we, in excruciating detail, documented what
happened at the hands of the South African police. The shootings, the acts of torture, the excessive use of force during times of protests. And as
those were documented, day after day, night after night, on the radio and national television, a quick national consensus emerged that something had
to be done to fundamentally reform the police force.
And then we were able to, on the basis of establishing the facts, and acknowledging, I come back to that word, that there was a fundamental
problem that needed to be addressed, we could then make a series of very simple and practical recommendations, use different methods to police
protests, to make sure that they're dealt with in a dignified way, treat suspects differently when you apprehend them and when you question and
interrogate them. Make sure that the police force look like the citizens that they were policing, both at the frontline level and at a leadership
level. Make sure that when police violence occurs, there are independent investigations, swift accountability and the removal of people who are
And if you do that, this isn't rocket science, Christiane, with the right political will, with properly documenting and then making sober-minded
recommendations, you can transform poisoned relationships into ones that are mutually beneficial. And the relationship between citizens and the
police are one of the most important relationships in a democracy.
AMANPOUR: Indeed they are. And it's all hanging out there now. And I hope that this is what happens, you know, in the United States as well. Vincent
Warren, Paul can Zyl, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
But of course, truth and reconciliation also need dialogue and understanding, and above all leadership. We return to that essential
quality now being questioned by some former U.S. generals with my next guest, who is one of them, Retired General John Allen. He is former
commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He was also in charge of the anti-ISIS campaign, and he's joining us now from Washington.
General Allen, welcome to the program.
I just want to, you know, ask you, you've listened to all, you know, the stories, you've heard what your former colleagues and retired military are
doing. You came out pretty early against all of this. I just wonder what motivated you? What was the moment that caused you to write your statement
in the press?
GEN. JOHN ALLEN, FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN: Well, Christiane, it's always good to see you and to be with you.
This is a really important moment in our history, in the entire history of the United States, from my perspective. And I think the juxtaposition of
the president depicting himself as a law and order president, depicting himself as an ally of the protesters, while literally just a couple hundred
meters away on the other side of Lafayette Park, riot police are beating and driving American citizens who have peacefully gathered to protest
massive social injustice that has been endemic in this country now for centuries, exercising their First Amendment rights, being driven with
tremendous violence, actually, as the president is talking about being a law and order president and ultimately, the ally of peaceful protests and
That image, that juxtaposition to me was absolutely horrific and that's what caused me to begin the process of writing.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me just quote a little bit of what you wrote. It was called "A Moment of National Shame and Peril and Hope." You said shame. The
slide of the United States into illiberalism may well have begun on June 1, 2020. Remember that date. It may well signal the beginning of the end of
the American experiment. That is pretty dire. What exactly do you mean by the beginning of the end of the American experiment?
ALLEN: Well, we as a nation have always valued -- and at the very soul of who we are, we've always valued the rights of the individual citizen. At
the very top of that value chain for us is the capacity of Americans to speak their mind, to speak freely, to have freedom of speech, our First
Amendment rights. And enshrined in our constitution is that amendment, is that capacity.
And look, Christiane, we're at a terrible moment in this country right now. 107,000 dead, going on 2 million infected. Over 40 million unemployed. Our
economy in very dire straits. The killing of George Floyd, which is really just emblematic of centuries of racism in this country.
The intersection of those have created an enormous moment of internal introspection, or it ought to, for Americans. So, all around the country,
young Americans of all races, of all persuasions have come together, and they have marched peacefully to try to create a moment and to try to create
attention to these long-term difficulties that we have had, these long-term injustices that we have suffered, to try to change in this country in the
way that this country has guaranteed to the rights of citizens, which is free speech and the right of free assembly.
And so,as I watched this speech in the Rose Garden, and as I -- you could actually hear the flashbangs going off in the background -- then watched
with horror, frankly, as those young Americans who were gathering simply to exercise their First Amendment rights, protesting massive social injustice
in this country, sought to make a positive change, were being driven down the street by riot police with riot truncheons, tear gas, flashbangs, being
driven down the street just to clear a path, so that we could have a photo- op in front of St. John's Episcopal Church.
That is what happens in authoritarian regimes. That is what happens in illiberal regimes. It doesn't happen in the United States. And we shouldn't
AMANPOUR: Only it does, because it is happening.
And, as you know, the police in the United States are highly militarized. I mean, this is an unusual situation. The police force -- I'm not talking
about the military -- look like they are, you know, wannabe soldiers, with their vehicles and their riot gear and rules of engagement and all the rest
And I wonder whether you heard some of the previous conversation, where an American and a South African were talking about the violence of state,
state violence against people.
And I wonder what you think about that, whether the people who are on the streets are legitimately protesting violence that has been enacted upon
them by the state for just too long.
ALLEN: Well, that was implied in my comments before.
But it isn't just about police brutality or police violence. And I have got to be very, very clear on this. We have a huge number of police on any
given day who are giving everything that they have in their souls and often giving their lives to serve and protect the American people.
But there are some who are quite violent. And there are some who exceed their authorities. And there are some who don't follow the rules and
regulations and break the law, and the outcome that we saw in Minneapolis was the horrific full extension of that.
Now, we have had this conversation in the United States before about the militarization of police. And in some jurisdictions, the whole idea of
showing up in battle dress uniform and armored vehicles for a peaceful demonstration, that's way too much police presence.
Those kinds of -- that kind of a reaction might be necessary in the event that that demonstration turns from being peaceful -- the vast majority of
them are -- to something other than that, and more law enforcement presence or more law enforcement capability is necessary.
But for that kind of a presence to be the rule of thumb, that is not, again, who we are. And many of the municipalities, many of the
jurisdictions across the country know that. And, in fact, when they do show up -- and the film and the reporting on this has been very clear.
You see police showing up in their normal day-to-day patrol uniforms. You see them showing up informally dressed. You see them taking off their
helmets, some of them taking off their sidearms, and joining the protesters, taking a knee, holding hands, hugging each other, singing songs
This is about the police being of the people, not against the people. And one of the problems that I had the other day as I listened to this speech
was, not only did it appear that there was a sense that we needed to have the police in the environment we were hearing be lined up against the
people to dominate the streets.
We were also, in some respects, going to set up the United States military against the people. We cannot have that in this republic.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, let me -- you know, you say...
ALLEN: The United States military is civilian-controlled.
Go ahead, please.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I'm sorry. I'm sorry to interrupt you. But you said, we cannot have that in this republic.
A senator, who is part of the legislative body of this republic, Senator Tom Cotton, in "The New York Times," even today, is calling for the
president to send in the troops.
He writes: "This week, rioters have plunged many American cities into anarchy, recalling the widespread violence of the 1960s. One thing above
all else will restore order to our streets, an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers."
So, I want you're -- I know what you're -- I probably know what you're going to -- how you're going to react, because you almost just have, but I
want to know what you think, having been a commander. And I have been with you in the field in real commands overseas.
What does this do to the morale of the rank and file? So, a reaction to Tom Cotton and about the rank-and-file morale?
ALLEN: Well, a couple things.
First, your governors and in many respects the mayors around the country have enormous capacity at their hands, law enforcement capacity, with their
uniformed police forces, their state uniformed police forces, and the National Guard.
It would be difficult for me to imagine that a particular riot or civil disturbance could get so large that a governor could not marshal the kinds
of law enforcement requirements, law enforcement support, and National Guard assets ultimately to handle this.
The idea of sending in federal troops because there's a riot in a particular area far exceeds the need here. And I know Tom Cotton. He's a
fine gentleman. But he's just wrong.
The first tool of resort in a crisis like this is to support the governors by asking them what they need in order to help the protesters and the
demonstrators to achieve their objectives.
But the vast majority of the governors and the mayors have the law enforcement capacity at hand, when backed up necessarily with the National
Guard, to keep it at a state level and to keep it within the hands of the jurisdiction of the governor and the municipalities and the mayors.
We don't need to have threats leveled against the governors that, if they have difficulty on their streets, we now need to send in federal forces, if
you will, American troops to be used against American civilians. We don't do that.
And this is why the 1st of June, I think, was a really important moment that should generate a larger conversation about what the Constitution
means to us, because the Constitution was created ultimately to support the individual in this country, to provide a whole series of rights to our
citizens in the United States.
And those rights are really inviolable. That's why that moment on H Street, adjacent to Lafayette Park, was horrific, as those peaceful American
citizens gathering within the rights of the Constitution and the envisaged rights of our founders and our framers of the Constitution, gathering to
protest massive social injustice, were themselves set upon and ultimately driven down the street in a way, I think, that massively violated their
civil rights and their First Amendment rights under the Constitution.
So, yes, it's going to happen, Christiane. We're going to see that kind of thing happen from time to time. That's why, if this is an inflection point
in the United States, it should be one where we hold up the Constitution, because the Constitution, even though, when it was written, didn't apply to
all Americans -- there were huge numbers of people who were enslaved at that time.
But the Constitution applies to all Americans today. And it was a brilliant document in its moment. We should be holding that Constitution up, looking
at it for every dimension of what the founders and the framers intended for it to be, and try to embrace those principles, the principles, by the way,
which I and others swore to give our lives to defend.
ALLEN: And this is why this is such an important moment.
AMANPOUR: Indeed, for you and the military especially, as well as everybody else in your country.
Thank you very much, indeed, General Allen.
And now we're going to take a closer look at who is marching on America's streets and why. After some protests turned violent, President Trump is
blaming the far left. He says he wants to designate Antifa, short for anti- fascist, a terrorist organization.
But activist and organizer of Occupy Wall Street Mark Bray is hitting back against this in "The Washington Post."
Here he is talking to our Michel Martin about how Trump's bluster is a distraction.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Professor Bray, Mark Bray, thanks so much for talking to us.
MARK BRAY, AUTHOR, "ANTIFA: THE ANTI-FASCIST HANDBOOK": It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you.
MARTIN: I was talking to a friend of mine, and she asked me what I was working on. I told her I was preparing for a conversation with you.
And I said that you have written this book called "The Antifa" -- or "Antifa Handbook." And she said, what is that Antifa thing? I know I hear
the president talking about it a lot, but what is that?
So, I just wanted to start there, because the fact that this group or whatever it is has been so much in the news doesn't change the fact that a
lot of people have no idea what it is.
So, what is it, and how do you pronounce it?
And, of course, for starters, Trump is playing off with the fact that there's a lot of misinformation and confusion.
So, it's a politics of European origin. And, in that way, it's pronounced Antifa. But I don't really correct pronunciations.
It's short for anti-fascist in lots of nations. Certainly, the history of anti fascism goes back a century to resistance to Hitler and Mussolini. But
the kind of history of this specific politics develops in post-war Europe when there are groups of leftists who are resisting efforts to bring back
the ideas of Hitler and Mussolini.
In the U.S., we can see in recent decades the development of anti-racist action and more recently in groups that call themselves Antifa. It's kind
of a revolutionary politics of organizing against the far right that doesn't rely on the courts or the police to stop neo-Nazis, but argues that
community self-defense is necessary.
Most Americans had no idea what this was prior to 2017, when we had some obviously very newsworthy confrontations in Berkeley, most famously in
Charlottesville against the Unite the Right rally.
And what people don't really understand is, it's not one uniform organization. It's the kind of politics or activity. So, Trump calling it
an organization is really misrepresenting the fluidity of what it's all about.
MARTIN: Well, to your point, the president the other day blamed this group, or whatever it is, for much of the violence that we're seeing
connected to the protests that were set off by the killing of George Floyd. And he said he's going to designate it a domestic terrorist organization.
I think we need to sort of set aside the fact that he doesn't have the authority to do that. There is no legal mechanism to do that. But, having
said that, is it an organization? In the United States, is it an organization?
BRAY: I compare it to socialism, right? Socialism itself is not an organization, but there are socialist groups.
Antifa itself is not an organization, but there are Antifa groups. Some of the oldest are Rose City Antifa in Portland, Oregon, which started around
2007. There's NYC Antifa, started around 2010.
And these are organizations with members that carry out political activities. But they are autonomous. They don't have a hierarchical
leadership. There's no office. There's no CEO. And so calling it an organization is attempting to put it in a box that it doesn't fit in.
MARTIN: Well, what do they want, though? I mean, what -- let's talk about sort of in Europe first, and then let's maybe sort of translate that to the
I mean, in Europe, do they aspire to be a political party? I mean, do they have meetings?
BRAY: It's a good question.
So it's important to remember that the activists who participate in Antifa don't only wear the Antifa hat. They're also trade unionists. They're also
environmentalists. They're also sometimes part of other political parties.
And so, when I did interviews for my book with the European anti-fascists, they sometimes said, look, Antifa is a firefighting operation. When we see
white supremacists organizing, and we consider it to be an immediate threat to our communities, we mobilize around a banner of Antifa and we organize
to shut it down.
Otherwise, when that's not a threat, we work in our political parties. We work in our unions. We work to build a better world through other
So, Antifa is not a vehicle for all issues. It's one sort of gadget in the toolbox for political purposes.
MARTIN: So, in the United States, what are they all about?
So, a lot of them are revolutionaries and anarchists who aspire to build a post-capitalist society and to abolish the police and prison system, right?
So, this is not something that aims to integrate itself within the Democratic Party.
And so, in that way, their politics make a convenient boogeyman for Trump, for obvious reasons, even though the kind of popular support for some of
what they're about is more than it might seem, because, like, for example, on Sunday, the hashtag #IAmAntifa was the fourth highest trending hashtag
on Twitter in the U.S.
So there is a kind of sympathy for aspects of what they're about, even if they're far from mainstream.
MARTIN: A lot of people do have a hard time distinguishing them from the - - kind of the white supremacist Proud Boys that they say that they are fighting.
A lot of people see it as indistinguishable, well, the spray-painting, the violence, the tagging -- the tagging. And people don't know who's who. I
mean, so, how does that work?
BRAY: Yes, I mean, there's a lot of confusion out there.
And I think part of it is the prevalence of the horseshoe theory, right, the theory that the extremes meet on the ends. And what far right and far
left groups often have in common is that neither of them have a liberal political sensibility, right?
Both sides are willing to sometimes engage in confrontation with their political opponents or sometimes destroy property. But beyond those kinds
of similarities, the far right and the far left are different in their politics.
But you're referring to sort of the visual, right, the optics of it.
MARTIN: Right. Mm-hmm.
BRAY: Sometimes, it can be confusing, especially in a context when everyone is wearing masks now, right?
So, that kind of association that existed for a long time between anti- fascist marching in black (INAUDIBLE) covering their face, making it a bit more discernible, is a little more confusing now. And that's I think,
muddying some of the journalistic coverage.
But, in Charlottesville, for example, I think that the dividing lines were fairly clear, most of the imagery. In the Pacific Northwest, where some of
the main confrontations have occurred, it's clearer.
Part of the confusion now is that you have the president, you have far right media saying, the destruction is Antifa, the destruction is
everywhere, it's Antifa, they're out there, despite the fact there was a leaked FBI report reported on in "The Nation" the other day where the FBI
found no evidence of Antifa destruction in the May 31 property destruction that we witnessed, and the fact that these groups are really small.
So they just don't have the numbers to do what Trump has ascribed to them. But, really, Antifa is one little part of broader movements to oppose white
supremacy and fascism.
And so, really, they're -- they should be at most a footnote to this story, but Trump has made them into the conversation.
MARTIN: But where does the property destruction fit into it? Like, I'm saying, in a city like Washington, D.C., or a city like Atlanta, where does
the smashing the cars, the spray-painting, where does that fit into it, if it, indeed, does have Antifa elements involved in it?
So, how is that an attack on white supremacy?
BRAY: Sure. So...
MARTIN: You see what I'm saying?
MARTIN: I mean, you're calling it a method. For some people, it's the goal. So, how does that fit into it?
BRAY: But first, just to clarify that most of the people doing this are not members of Antifa groups, because there just aren't enough members of
Antifa groups to do this.
But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that there are some members of Antifa groups who are breaking things, and what would be their motivation
if they were doing that, right?
To me, the understanding is, it's an attack on the police as an institution. It is not a demand for reform. And since anti-authoritarians
and anarchists who don't believe in working through the electoral system or the criminal justice system wants to achieve that goal, they want to foment
popular opposition to these institutions physically, right, through destroying police cars, through burning down police stations.
That's the politics. It's not a politics of electing leaders to enact their ideas through the electoral system.
MARTIN: And the fact is, somebody is burning these cars and tagging these buildings...
MARTIN: ... and depriving working people of their jobs and property. That's just a fact.
A lot of these small businesses that are getting destroyed, these nail salons, guess who owns those? Working-class black and brown people, OK?
The question is, who is that and what's the motivation?
BRAY: Well, I think that it's pretty clear that it's a lot of different people are doing it, right?
Are some of them anarchists or anti-fascists? Quite possibly, right? I'm just saying that, numerically, there aren't nearly enough of them to do it
all. Have they done a portion of it? Quite possibly, right?
There are anarchists and anti-fascists who approve of those political activities. There are others who don't. But the bigger picture here is that
this specific conversation is a sideshow to the bigger conversation of, why is it that there are plenty of other kinds of people who are doing this,
and what are the social and historical factors that have led up to that?
And that's really the big question that Trump doesn't want us to have.
MARTIN: I can tell you, there's been a lot of interesting conversations dating back to sort of Occupy, dating back to those protests at the World
And I always seen sort of distinct points of view about it. Some people would be like, I can kind of see it. And other people are like, they're
just a bunch of punk kids who want to break something.
Is there any truth to some people are just -- kind of have built up steam that they want to -- they need to release in some way? Or is there really
ideology, I guess, behind it for some of the people involved?
BRAY: For me, the start of the conversation is, if we define illegal acts as non-political, then we will see those who commit them as non-political,
right? That's a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is not to say that everyone who breaks something has an explicit political agenda.
But it is possible to have a political agenda that values property destruction as a tactic, right? Property destruction, back to the Boston
Tea Party, if you want to use the most famous example, has existed as a tactic -- as a tactic.
It was also very -- the suffragette movement in the U.K. in the 1920s, women smashing windows to get the attention of society, or the anti-nuclear
movement in the '80s just trying to destroy nuclear facilities.
It is a tactic. And -- but we have sort of written it out of the history of how we see our political menu, our repertoire.
Now, that is sort of the reality. But the other side of it is to see that, if we have a society where people don't feel like their grievances can
always be held, there are going to be other forms of expressing it, even if people don't have the language to say what that means, that rage means to
MARTIN: So, you have alluded to the fact that Antifa is not the -- is a footnote in some ways to the current movement, but that President Trump is
making them a headline.
What is your sense of -- what's the motivation in doing that?
BRAY: I think that, if you put Antifa for -- aside a moment, it's pretty clear, regardless of one's politics, that there is -- there's a causal
chain of events between the murder of George Floyd and America on fire, right?
Whether you agree or disagree with that, there's a causal relationship there. People are enraged and angry. And even if they're taking it out in
ways that one may not like, that seems to be pretty connected, right? It doesn't take a Ph.D. in political science to put that together.
But if Trump can say, instead of the fact of people being angry and taking out their rage on property and police, in fact, no, it's actually this
small, shadowy group of Antifa, perceived by society to be predominantly white, dressed in black, breaking things for no political agenda, as he
describes it, then that means that we can disentangle the destruction and the kind of this biggest political rebellion we have seen in this country
for half-a-century from the grievances that it is connected to, and therefore de-escalate the urgency of coming up with an answer for why it is
that this is happening.
It's his way of deflecting and talking about something that is in his wheelhouse, which is opposing this nefarious far left.
MARTIN: Do you think that the focus on Antifa is just made up? Or do you think -- is it possible that he just doesn't know? I mean, you think that
he just -- he really thinks that?
BRAY: I don't think he cares if it's true.
I think that he is a very cynical politician who doesn't deal in truths and falsehoods in his mind. He deals in what language is convenient to achieve
And, sure, maybe he believes that it's true, because, in a certain sense, he believes that anyone who's burning or looting or destroying is more or
less Antifa in his mind, perhaps, anyway. That's how some people (AUDIO GAP) anyway, right? They start to sort of inflate Black Lives Matter,
Antifa, the left, you name it, into this sort of group of destructive others.
And that's sort of the kind of framework he's encouraging and trying to sort of encourage the good protester/bad protester dichotomy, which is a
conversation to be had in its own way, but is not really the central issue, which is, how do we stop this from happening?
MARTIN: Is it interesting thing that -- in contrast to Charlottesville, where he talked about the good people on both sides, because the triggering
event in this case was not white people allegedly defending a Confederate statue, but because people opposing the death of this African-American man.
Because the triggering event was people opposing -- grieving the death of this African-American man by the police, you feel that -- he feels that
there couldn't possibly be good people on both sides.
BRAY: Right. So, his slogan, right is make America great again, right?
He wants to bring America -- and, by this, he really is largely talking to white America -- back to this imagined past, an imagined past where there
weren't attacks on Confederate statues, where police were universally respected.
And so the kind of dichotomy between Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter, which is only growing wider, it seems, seems to be forefront in his
political calculations. And he's very clearly allying himself with Blue Lives Matter, respect for authority. police are innocent until proven
guilty in a court of law, even it's obvious that George Floyd was killed by this officer.
And his political calculus is simple.
More difficult, it seems to me, will be Joe Biden's effort to try and sort of balance both of these considerations.
MARTIN: It may seem like just a ridiculous question to you, but the people whose property is being destroyed are not the people who killed George
BRAY: Right. Of course not.
MARTIN: So, I mean, is it justified in any way?
BRAY: I think that my understanding of people who have made arguments sympathizing with it in the media is that, when you have a political
boiling point where there isn't perceived to be an acceptable outlet for how to express these grievances, right, there is the -- we have seen the
empty rhetoric from politicians time and time again that we need to reform, we need to reform, with nothing following through, that this is just,
whether we like it or not, inevitably what's going to happen.
People are going to take it out on the kinds of targets that are around them, sometimes, in part, because of economic imperatives, sometimes not,
and understand that capitalism as a system is integrally linked, right?
George Floyd was killed because someone called the police because he allegedly committed an act of fraud with a counterfeit bill, right? So, the
economic context of that shouldn't be lost in why the person called the police and why people who think of the police as the protectors of their
economic interests would make such an action.
These are integrally linked. And revolutionary developments are messy.
MARTIN: So, what's your goal next?
Like, what do you see as your work now and going forward?
I have really -- in speaking to people such as yourself, I try to clear up the record on what Antifa is and is not. And in this case, I'm really just
trying to redirect people back towards the core racial, economic, social, and historical issues at heart here and say, hey, I -- this is not the
story. This is a diversion.
And although there may be, of course, handfuls of members of Antifa groups out there doing all the different things that are being done, that's not
really the point. And the more that we spend time on it, the more we're missing what's really going on, and delaying the process of having a
conversation to make it so that black people aren't regularly murdered by the police.
MARTIN: Mark Bray, thank you so much for talking to us.
BRAY: Been a pleasure. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, imagine you were protesting peacefully, as scenes like these unfolded in Washington, D.C., on that Monday night, June 1.
You end up in a cramped street surrounded by police. It's past curfew and panic breaks out. Where do you turn?
The answer for around 70 people was to the house of this man, Rahul Dubey, who opened his doors to shelter the protesters and spare them from arrest.
Dubey says he did what anyone would have done. Just take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAHUL DUBEY, SHELTERED PROTESTERS IN HIS HOME: Opening up my house to strangers, I truly feel that there's a moment in this country where I know
that 95 percent of the people in that situation would absolutely have done exactly what I did and wouldn't have questioned it and would be beaming all
day from the love that's been pouring in, coming out of a very awful situation of just police attacking innocent protesters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And that's it for now. Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.