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Boris Johnson Announces Investigation into Interracial Inequality; Valerie Amos, Oxford University, is Interviewed About Systemic Racism; Reforming Policing; Interview With David Simon. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 15, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
The global revolt for systemic change. Is education the first step out of history's white narrative? Former British minister and the first ever black
head of an Oxford College, Valerie Amos, joins me.
And how popular culture has put the police on a pedestal. David Simon joins me. He created "The Wire" for HBO.
Then, professor and psychologist, Philip Goff, tells our Michel Martin that police and protesters should want the same thing.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
For the third straight week, the worldwide uprising for justice continues. As if to prove the protesters' point, yet another killing in America of an
unarmed black man by white police. On Friday night, 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was shot in the back while fleeing after a breathalyzer test
suddenly turned into an arrest and a tussle on the ground. His death has now officially been declared a homicide. And listen to what his niece and
his lawyer are saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
L. CHRIS STEWART, BROOKS FAMILY ATTORNEY: It wasn't like he was caught there because Mr. Brooks had been swerving and was a danger to society. The
first call was because a man was asleep. Where is the empathy in just letting him walk home? That's what policing is supposed to be no matter
what color you are.
CHASSIDY EVANS, RAYSHARD BROOK'S NIECE: Me and my uncle are both 27 years of age. 27 years of age. No one walking this green earth expects to be shot
and killed like trash in the street for falling asleep in a drive-through. Rayshard has a family who loves him who would have gladly came and got him
so he could be with us here today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the fury mounts. And on Saturday here in London, a black lives matter protest was canceled because of threats by far-right groups
bent on violence, anyway, they clashed with police and there are reports that some flashed Nazi salutes.
Having denied institutional racism in the U.K., the prime minister, Boris Johnson, now announces an investigation into interracial inequality. My
first guest this evening is perfectly placed to discuss all of this. Baroness Valerie Amos held cabinet positions in the government of Tony
Blair as well as top U.N. and diplomatic roles. She is now Oxford bound where she'll be the first black master of one of the colleges there.
Baroness Amos, welcome to the program.
Can I start by asking you, because you've obviously been writing a lot about this, can I start by asking about this commission that the prime
minister has announced? Are you satisfied by what the government is saying about institutional racism and do you think there is an honest appraisal of
what's happening, even here in the U.K.?
VALERIE AMOS, INCOMING MASTER, UNIVERSITY OF COLLEGE, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, Christiane, you won't be surprised to hear me say that I don't think
we need another commission. Just in the last three years, we have had, from the previous prime minister, a race disparity audit which showed very clear
inequalities across health, across our criminal justice system, across our employment system.
We had a further report from David Lammy looking at the criminal justice system itself and the huge inequalities in that system. We had the
McGregor-Smith report looking at the workplace, again, very clear evidence of inequality. We had the Windrush report. And just this year, the lessons
learned from that, 30 recommendations in that, and this week or next, we'll have the publication of the report on COVID, and very clearly inequalities
identified in that report too.
So, what are we having another commission for? If all it will do is delay, there are recommendations on the table already that governments can
implement now. We need change, we need change urgently, and we need action.
AMANPOUR: So, again, my question to you is clearly here and in the United States, there have been many reviews, many training programs, many reforms
and none have either been implemented or they haven't worked. Do you believe this government is honest about the level of racism, I mean, the
notion of systemic racism still here in the U.K.?
AMOS: I think what the protests have shown, not just here but in the United States as well, and the fact that there has been, as it were, a
global response with lots of protests in many countries across the world drawing attention to the pernicious and pervasive impact of racism, the
government has got to have understood by now that this is structural, it's deep, it's part and parcel of the way that our society functions. And we
have to address it at that level.
And I have to say that the response of the prime minister today offering just yet another commission does not give me confidence of that
recognition. We have recommendations on the table. Those recommendations have been there for years. Let's implement them. None of us is saying that
this is not a complex issue. If you look at the interrelationship, for example, between race and class. But you have got to start somewhere. There
are deep, deep inequalities in our society. There are exacerbated by racism in our society. We have got to tackle it.
And the role I think in government is to recognize that and to help people, help everyone, to understand it. There is a debate going on where there are
lots of people who -- I mean, I got a letter recently just last week from a man who told me that I had a chip on my shoulder, and the sooner I got the
chip off the better. I don't have a chip on my shoulder. I have spent years and years and years working on these issues.
Of course, I have seen some change. But that change is not fast enough, it's not deep enough. And that's what our young people are telling us. My
AMANPOUR: So, Baroness, If I --
AMOS: Can I just finish this point, Christiane?
AMANPOUR: I just want to ask you --
AMOS: My --
AMANPOUR: Sorry. Yes, go ahead.
AMOS: Can I just finish this point because it's quite important about this commission point. My generation, if government announce the commission, we
would wait for the recommendations and see if they were implemented. The young people we are seeing now are tired of that because they have seen us
wait and they have seen very little change. They see an insufficient change. So, they are saying, let's have some action now. So, I don't think
an announcement of a commission helps.
AMANPOUR: So, I'm glad you finished your point, and I didn't mean to interrupt, but I think what you just said leads me into the next issue.
These protests, clearly protests in the United States, in Britain and around the world are leading the cause for change. It's not going to be top
down, it's going to be bottom up.
So, I want to ask you what you make, for instance, of the attempt by members of the establishment, here, there and everywhere, to conflate
protest with violence, protest with riot, and whether you think what happened over the weekend, which was clearly one group bent on violence,
even after the black lives matter was canceled, does that finally put a full stop to this equating of who the protesters are?
AMOS: I hope so. I mean, we have seen millions of people come out in peaceful protest and yet so much of the focus has been on, you know, the
sporadic violence you might have seen here and there. So, I hope, I very much hope, that that has put that to bed.
What we saw over the weekend was absolutely appalling, those far-right protesters who came out intent, absolutely intent, on violence. So, the
black people weren't there, because black lives matter very sensibly said, let's change the date of our protest. They came out. They weren't the black
people there for them to fight so they fought the police instead.
And the irony, Christiane, of seeing some of those thugs with swastikas, Nazi salutes, saying that they were protecting British heritage, they were
protecting memorials, war memorials of people who fought the fascists, the very people that they are not revealing, that irony was completely lost for
AMANPOUR: And I have to say, even more revolting, we saw some of them, in fact, urinating against some of those memorials. So, the disconnect was
massive there. But, of course, it does bring me something that you're going to face at Oxford and something that the prime minister has focused a lot
on, and we can see it happening in the U.S. as well, the issue of memorials, the issue of statues.
Let me read what you the prime minister has said. If we start purging the record and removing the images of all but those whose attitudes conform to
our own, we are engaged in a great lie, a distortion of our history like some public figure furtively trying to make themselves look better by
editing their own Wikipedia entry. What do you make of that view and how will it affect or what is your view about the Cecil Rhodes statue debate at
Oxford University where you're shortly to take up position as master of one of the colleges?
AMOS: So, Christiane, I think the fury that people have felt about certain of the statues here in the U.K., particularly about Edward Colston in
Bristol where people have tried for years, for years, to get that statue removed, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, which was very much about Cecil
Rhodes, a white supremacist and imperialist, forced labor in his mines that he established in South Africa and elsewhere, this is very, very different
to saying that the complexity of our history, that the people that you have memorials to who have a checkered legacy, that is very, very different.
I would not call for removal of all statues. We know that there is a historical context, we all know and understand that, but we also know that
our history informs our present. It frames our future. There are some statues that should not be up. We should not be revering people who have
been called by others, monsters. We should not be revering them. Their statue should be in a museum somewhere with a very clear setting out of the
history and what they have actually done.
It's very different to have those leaders, those people who have said appalling things in their time but who have also done amazing things in
terms of showing leadership. That is very, very different. That is also a complicated and complex history, but that is something that we need to
teach in our souls. We need people when they go to see those statues, they need to understand.
But I also think that because you put up a statue 100, 150, 200 years ago, to say it must be there 200 years from now when we have learned more, we
understand more, I don't agree with that either. But the crucial thing, I think, here is to make sure we that teach this history in our schools, that
we teach the bad as well as the good.
The way in which countries present themselves, if we're going to present ourselves as a diverse nation who is proud of who we are today, who we are
today is partly a product of that history. We have to understand that. My being in Britain today is partly a function of that slave trade, of the
fact that slaves were carried from Africa to the Caribbean, to South America, to the United States, but in understanding that history, we have
to understand the brutality of it and what that has meant in terms of how it's framed our relationships with each other as black people, as white
people, as people who have come from Asia, from Africa to the United Kingdom.
That's what I want. I want that understanding. I want our schools to teach that history. I want our curriculum to reflect that. So, I think the prime
minister on those statues, that just becomes a distraction.
AMANPOUR: Is there a way -- I mean, you said you were absolutely staggered to find out that you were the first black female head of a university when
you were head of SOAS, the School of Oriental and Arab Studies here. Now, you're going to be the first black head of an Oxford College. I believe, if
I'm not mistaken, you're the first black female to have been appointed to - - elected to the House of Lords. You've reached the top. How tough was it for you?
AMOS: So, first of all, Christiane, you're not elected to the House of Lords, so let's get that right. You should remember that.
AMOS: And yes, I was --
AMANPOUR: I said appointed first and then I got all confused.
AMOS: And yes, I was the first black woman in the British cabinet and then I became leader of the House of Lords, and I'm very proud of that. And
people are very proud of me for the fact that that happened, and that that happened in Britain and that that showed what we can achieve in Britain.
But I don't want that to be a one-off. I don't want that to be something that we keep pointing to in terms of firsts. We're still seeing far too
many firsts here in the U.K. We have young people who are talented, who have worked hard, who have played the game in the way that they have been
told to, and then the door slammed in their face or the ceiling, the concrete ceiling, they can't get through it. Why is that? That's stubborn
racism that has continues and they have lost patience.
And I completely understand why they've lost patience, because I've lost patience too. I've been doing this for so long, I expected it to be
different. I expected it to be very, very different for the people coming after me, and it's not. And I'm not proud of that, and I don't think as a
country we should be proud of that either.
AMANPOUR: So, clearly, there is a huge amount to do, a huge amount to do in terms of the state violence as perceived and enacted by those police who
actually visit that violence and deadly violence on unarmed black people. And then there is the whole other institutional change that we've been
talking about. Many are talking about it, and you've just talked about education. Would you call for, I don't know, a complete change or an
addition or some kind of established curriculum that teaches people in this country that it's not all about white supremacy, that there is actually
another narrative in the world?
AMOS: Absolutely. It's a shared history, Christiane, and it's a shared history that has affected all of us, even if we don't think that it has.
So, those people who, for example, write to me and say, take your hands off our history, it's my history too. So, I think it's very, very important
that we recognize and admonish that.
There is a black curriculum project that has been started, for example. It's garnered thousands of signatures. Because education and understanding
who we are, where we've come from, how we connect up with each other is so, so important. So, that's key.
What we're trying to do in some of our universities, by looking at the curriculum, by trying to make sure that we are decolonizing that
curriculum, and I have to tell you that when we started to do this, and this was very much the students who were pressing the university on this,
and that's exactly what happened at SOAS, the students led the way.
When this was reported first in the media, a lot of fun was made of this. Now, it is taken much more seriously because there is a recognition that
this is about an additionality. It's about looking at things differently through a different lens. Universities are about knowledge. They're about
creativity. They're about innovation. Let us open them up to that rather than closing them down. That's what I want to see.
AMANPOUR: Well, thank you so much for sharing all of this and your incredible perspective. Baroness Valerie Amos, thank you for joining us
Now, as a backlash against policing takes place as we see, people are crying out to defund, demilitarize and deglorify the police. Since the dawn
of the television age, cops have gained unprecedented cultural traction. But now, shows like "Cops" are being taken off the air after more than
Joining me next is David Simon, perhaps the most successful police TV writer of all time with the "The Wire" for HBO. He started as a journalist
for the Baltimore Sun, and he has written several bestselling non-fiction books on crime and policing.
David Simon, welcome to the program.
Can I ask you, David Simon, what you make of this, for instance, this situation right now given the fact that there's -- we've seen, even at this
time, another killing in Atlanta and all of the stuff that we're seeing going on in front of our eyes? Tell me where you stand on the issue of
policing or the knowledge you gained in all of your journalism and your TV writing.
DAVID SIMON, CREATOR, "THE WIRE": I guess I stand at about the same place I stood 20 years ago. Largely, you know, unrelated to the TV writing as a
result of journalism, which is that a drug war and mass arrest and the militarization of police that accompanied the drug war, that has destroyed,
effectively, quality policing and rendered irrelevant in some respects the police department when it -- our modern police departments in America when
it comes to what job one should be, which is preventing violent crime or even crime with victims.
Instead, we've become an army of occupation. This is something that I've been arguing since, I guess, "The Coroner," which would have been published
in '98. Is that we have to end the drug war and we have to end the notion that we can continue to use the handcuffs on our own citizens in these
numbers and continue to police poor people and people of color to this degree over that which doesn't matter.
We have to police people over what truly matters, which is victimization and crimes against people. But the rest of this stuff has just become a war
on the poor or a war on the outsiders in our society. And it's been that way now for 34 years. We've been building this one brick at a time.
AMANPOUR: So, that's really interesting for me to sort of clock, that you with all your work and research are tracing this back to the war on drugs
when it first began 30 or 40-odd years ago. But I want to ask you to just to expand on what you said, army of occupation. You talked about -- in
2015, about Freddie Gray who was killed in Baltimore, you said, you know, he's no way unique or remarkable. And then you told the "New York Times,"
police weren't protecting anything, they weren't serving anyone. They were collecting bodies, treating corner folk and citizens alike as an Israeli
patrol would treat the West Bank or as the Africanus would have treated Soweto back in the day. They're an army of occupation.
You know, that is a pretty stark and highly charged comparison to make there. And I just want to, again, ask you to pinpoint exactly what you mean
and exactly what turned? What were the police like before 30 or 40 years ago?
SIMON: Well, it's interesting, you know, if you go back to the 1960s and earlier, certainly Baltimore was a predominantly white police department,
in fact, almost a virtually segregated police department until the early '60s. And it would have been incredibly racist and it was incredibly racist
and it was a raid against communities of color structurally.
What's incredibly ironic about the war on drugs is that that police department, in my majority African-American city, has been transformed so
that more than half of the officers, and certainly most of the street police, are now African-American. And it's an African-American-led
department, for the most part, for the last 20 or 30 years with some exception.
And yet, the brutality has, if anything, been sustained, and has gotten worse. Meanwhile, the clearance rates, the arrest rates for things like
murder and robbery and rape, things that plague all citizens and that you would want to have a meaningful police response to, those have collapsed in
Take note, when the drug war ratchets up the arrests, when more people go into handcuffs, when we arrest more people for drug crimes, we actually
arrest less criminals and we solve less crime. That's not an accident. So, this thing has become -- it actually goes past the simplicities of American
racism which are, you know, profound problems in their own, but it goes past the idea that this is just a binary problem of white police and black
communities. This is classism.
And the drug war basically allowed American policing to put off reform and integration allowed them reform to be put off for another two or three
generations. These police departments have continued to over police poor communities for that which really doesn't matter, it doesn't improve the
quality of life for people living there, and under police those communities when it comes to solving the right crimes and removing the people who are
violent offenders. There's been a lot of great reporting on this.
You know, that's the trick, is that it's not binary. You know, people want to say, we can do it without the police. That's problematic too. That's
problematic too. We could do -- we can certainly do without this policing, but there are other things that have to happen in order for the city to
become livable and fundamentally equal for everybody who resides there.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I want to dig down a little built more, because our previous guest, Baroness Amos, from a different perspective also linked
racism and classism obviously, And you've done it as well and you brought up the fact that Baltimore is now -- I think you said -- I think I heard
you right, majority black police force, and we've also heard from the mayor of Atlanta in response to the latest, obviously, violence there about the
reforms that they instituted there. Can I just play what she said, and then we'll dig more into this aspect of it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-ATLANTA, GA): We have implicit bias training in this city. We require people to go to the National Center for Civil and
Human Rights. We have housing for our police officers in many of our communities in which they are serving in, but yet and still, it's not
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, what is the answer, then? I mean, you've really touched on something that's fundamentally important, that it's not just racism, which
plays a huge part, but it's also the other. What is the answer? Where do you see reform, having done so much on the ground reporting of this issue?
SIMON: I know I sound like a broken record, but we have to end the drug war. We have to end the prohibition against drugs. It has become the
overlay for the worst kind of police successes. It has taught generations of police officers and it's happened geometrically in some respects,
because we continue to militarize. and now, the sergeants and lieutenants who learned how to do bad police work one generation ago, they're training
the new guys coming in how to do bad police work. We have to stop that.
We have to get back to policing. Policing is not soldiering. When you declare something a war, you have to have an enemy. And if you have an
enemy, you're going to police in a different way than if you're functionally looking at communities being the real estate you're supposed
The drug war has destroyed American policing. Now, that is not to say that American policing was clean or pure, or as we've noted already, the racism
was inherent prior to the civil rights moment. But what's incredible is how little bump we've gotten out of integrating our police departments. You
know, if it was only about racism, that's been a constant in our American life, and if anything, our police agencies had become integrated.
And yet, we, the public, the politicians and the public that elects them, we've asked them to do the wrong job. And we've asked them to do the wrong
job, the job that basically creates not a policing agency and not something that protects people and responds to real crime, but we've created agencies
that are basically targeting communities. And are teaching the cops that the metrics for advancement as a police officer, which is, you know, money,
over time, court pay or rank, that these things are tied to mass arrests and to brutal posse occupation, rather than quality policing, rather than
going out and locking up the right guy for doing the right crime, which is what -- it's not the only job we need the police for, but it is an
AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you, then, what sort of the person goes into the police force? What sort of qualifications, what sort of pay does a
rookie police have? You've just explained how the advancement works on those metrics. But what kind of education and basic training do they get
from the get-go?
SIMON: Well, I'm going to say the education varies. You actually get a bump if you have a college degree in Baltimore. I can always speak to
Baltimore. I think Baltimore, the entry right now is about 53,000 a year. It's a civil service job. You know, if you get past your probationary
period, you've got all the security of a civil service job in a prioritized agency.
The -- you know, there is a lot of critique of the performance of police unions not merely as collective bargaining agents to secure pay and
benefits and bargain collectively on behalf of the membership, but as political entities, lobbying entities that have been arguing for a
ratcheting up of police powers and of the policies of mass arrest and mass incarceration.
You know, I'm on the board of my writers union, you know, the -- of the film writers union, and we're in the AFL-CIO. We just took a vote, my
union, to ask the AFL-CIO membership to remove police unions, which is an extraordinary act for anybody in collective bargaining. But the idea that -
- you know, I believe in collective bargaining for every employee against labor, I believe in that. But I can no longer abide by the notion that
they're going to argue for these policies that are so damaging to so many other working people in their fellow unions.
AMANPOUR: That is -- well, that is fascinating.
SIMON: The whole structure of what it takes to be -- listen, there are good people who join police departments to do the right thing.
SIMON: And then they're put in the maw of a structural system that is basically saying, we're putting you out on the street to police a drug
prohibition in areas where American industry has completely abandoned the central city, where jobs are scarce, where the drug corner is always
hiring, where in every third house in certain blocks somebody might be drug-involved.
We're basically asking you to police them as if everybody is the enemy and if everybody is subject to handcuffs.
SIMON: And once do you that, it doesn't matter where you came from. It's where you're going. You're going to become part of pharaoh's army. And
that's what we have created. We must end the drug...
SIMON: We must end it.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, exactly. All right. All right.
But, as you know, and we started with this introduction, that police have been glorified in American culture, whether it's on film or in television,
in books, whatever it is.
Some of them have now been removed from the air in response to what happened to George Floyd. Just where do you fit into this? I'm going to get
into the why in a second, but what do you think about the glorification of police on television? And has that played into a sort of invincibility,
top-of-the-pyramid kind of characteristic?
SIMON: Well, it depends on the television show, doesn't it?
I think in the beginning with "Dragnet," going back to the very beginnings of the police serial, the idea of the police as the thin blue line has been
the paradigm. And the idea that they were enforcing laws that we all collectively wanted enforced was the assumption.
I don't feel any need to defend "The Wire" or "The Corner," which were the two pieces I did that I'm responsible for. They are, in fact -- they, in
fact, exist as an actual critique of the drug war. They are arguing that the policy itself is not only structurally unsound, but it's contributing
to the disaster, that we have to walk away from this stuff.
So, what we did was an actual argument against the structure as it exists.
That said, there is something in the American psyche that's fascinating, which is, we probably have two cultural art forms that are our own when it
comes to film and television, maybe three if you count the musical, but that's sort of theater.
But we had the Western. And the Western -- the iconic American Western was always, one man stands between chaos and civilization. He may not be a part
of that civilization. He may be a gun fighter. He may be the loner, but he's larger than the law, and he's bigger than life, and he will effect
And that is the power of the American Western going back to John Ford. Now the Western is passe. Our frontier is closed. We no longer ride horses into
the sunset, but what we have then as our frontier is the urban frontiers, are the cities and the portions of American cities where some people think
they dare not tread.
It is the Wild West in our minds, in our minds. It's not. These are communities that need to be addressed as if they're part of America, but
this is -- the culture of the American Western has now been grafted on over generations to a lot of programming about police.
So, the idea that the officer who is bigger than the system, who is bigger than the law, who is all that stands between you and chaos, that has its
origins in the American Western and in our own sense of ourselves on the frontier.
Maybe I'm talking in film theory, but a lot of what used to be in "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza" and all that stuff was delivered to the police
procedural, and not for the better. And, to be honest with you, when it came time to work on "The Wire," we had a lot of fun taking a flamethrower
to that, because it's done an immense amount of damage to my city and others.
AMANPOUR: Well, yes. And it was described as a form of protest television. I assume you agree with that.
And one of your actors...
SIMON: I'm sorry. It was dissent...
SIMON: I don't know about protest.
AMANPOUR: Dissent. OK. That's good, too.
One of your actors said: "I think 'The Wire' really tore the cover off the American city and showed, for so many people, the American people -- the
American dream was dead."
In our last 30 seconds, your comment?
SIMON: Oh, I don't know.
Listen, a lot of people watched the show and got involved in, was Stringer cooler than Omar. And a lot of people watched the show, and they're not
thinking about what the intent is.
You can't write for them. You just got to write what you're trying to say. But, listen, nobody got -- nobody ever got poor underestimating the
American television audience. I got to admit that.
AMANPOUR: Well, David Simon, thank you. And, of course, yours all came from the beginning of journalism, so it had an extra gritty reality to it
that -- unlike many of the others that have been written.
Thank you so much indeed.
And we dig further into policing with our next guest, who is a leading scholar on law enforcement and race. Phillip Atiba Goff is a psychologist
and CEO of the Center for Policing Equity think tank that collects and analyzes data to shed light on police behavior and fight implicit bias.
And he's telling our Michel Martin now that making the police force match the times boils down to our one key relationship.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Professor Goff, thank you so much for joining us.
PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, CEO, CENTER FOR POLICING EQUITY: Well, thanks for having me.
MARTIN: You are one of the foremost authorities on the issue of policing and race.
How did you get interested in this subject? It seems, in a way, like a subject that has been hiding in plain sight, but you have brought kind of a
rigor to it that just wasn't there before. How did you get interested in this?
GOFF: I mean, honestly, I fell down the rabbit hole just a little bit before other people did.
When the nation was starting to talk about mass incarceration, I was in graduate school, and I thought that was the direction it was going to go.
But, in 1999, when I graduated college and moved to start my Ph.D, there was a very famous shooting of Amadou Diallo.
And what happened in that shooting shook not just the nation, but also the field of psychology, because what happened, there were 41 shots put into
his body, 41 shots fired. And they said that they saw a gun, but, in reality, he had his wallet in his hand.
And that's the kind of sort of cognitive illusion that psychologists love to be doing in laboratories. And all of a sudden, we realized the stuff
that we do in the lab could matter in the world.
We fast-forward nine years later, in 2008, I was writing a little something about policing. I thought policing was going to be part of my work. And at
the end of it, I wanted to add a statistic about police brutality, or just police use the force of any kind.
I started middle of the day. I ended 13-and-a-half-hours later, and I got up and walked home, because I realized the reason I couldn't find that stat
is because it didn't exist.
So, in a world where someone can get shot 41 times for a trick of the eye, that we didn't measure anything about the way that the state treats its
most vulnerable, most depressed folks, black folks, Native folks, that seemed impossible to me.
And I realized as I was walking home, this is just going to be what I do for the rest of my life.
MARTIN: Your early research subjects that have gotten a lot of attention focused on misapprehension of the age of black children?
I mean, you started with black boys. And one of your finding was that people in this sort of a target research group, which was mainly white
male, white male police officers, routinely misrepresented the age of black boys.
Just talk a little bit more about that and why that matters.
GOFF: So, ours was the third of the sort of published studies to find something like that effect, but it was the most, no pun intended,
arresting, because it had on-duty officers and it also had pictures of the boys. So you were literally looking at a 13-year-old boy, and not just
officers, but lay folks, college students, and regular everyday citizens, were seeing them as two and three and four and five and six years older
than they were.
And when we got the data back, and we saw that black boys were given an extra four-and-a-half years, meaning someone who's 13 gets treated
basically like an adult, we thought, wow, that's really difficult to swallow. I'm not sure that that effect isn't just an accident of the
subjects or an accident of the pictures we showed.
But I believe, later that year, it was in Cleveland that Tamir Rice was shot and killed. And you hear clearly the officer saying, black male years
old. Tamir Rice was 12.
That was part of how I knew the things we were getting the lab were likely underestimations of what we're seeing, what people are experiencing in
MARTIN: One of the things that has intrigued me about the current moment is that you're seeing two different sort of philosophies around policing
and why these issues persist.
On the one hand, you have got the bad apples argument. It's just some bad apples, and that they have got to do better at weeding out their bad
And yet you have got other people saying, no, this is a system problem and the systems need to change. So, talk to me about that. Which is it? Is it
bad apples or is it a system problem?
GOFF: Yes, it's a question I'm getting a lot and have been since the Floyd murder was first captured and broadcast.
I have to say, all of these conversations, the way that we frame them, I think, frankly, it's because it's easier to frame a conflict, which is what
we're seeing in the streets, as if it's an ideological conflict or a group- based conflict.
I got to say that's not the way that we have done our research and that's not the way that we see the deal. When I go and talk to cops for the last
12 years -- and I'm a black man from Philly -- I did not imagine that my life would be police chiefs being like, oh, thank goodness, Dr. Racism is
But that's what it looks like. They invite me in and they're like, all right, don't say this out loud, but there's some racist cops in here. Help
me get them out. Also, we shouldn't go into communities and acting like social workers. I don't want my cops trying to de-escalate a domestic
dispute unless we think it's going to get violent.
Why am I sending a badge and a gun to go deal with someone who is trying to kill themselves, right? They need mental health services. They need
substance abuse services.
Cops, chiefs, all the time say, what can I do in a community that has no grocery stores, no educational facilities, none of that stuff? How much of
that sounds exactly like the protesters? And the chiefs have been saying this for decades.
So this idea of, oh, not -- don't do incremental, we have got to defund, vs., no, we have to be responsible, defund is lunacy, that is a distraction
by people who profit from distraction.
There is a straightforward, adult path towards aligning our public safety systems with the values of communities. We should walk to that path. And
everybody trying to distract from it should go to bed, so that the adults can do work with the adults have to do.
MARTIN: So, I want to talk to you about what that path is.
But, first, I do want to ask you, why do we keep having 1,000 people killed by police every year?
GOFF: So, one piece of it is because the full humanity of black people has been invisible since the founding of the country as it stands right now.
So, if you can't see someone's humanity, you can't see the things that cause them pain. It's just illegible to you.
But I think the deeper piece of this is, we have never had a full accounting of the ways in which we have targeted black communities for
abuse and erasure. I have been saying it now for weeks. What we have been seeing on the streets is not just a policing problem. It is a past due
notice on the unpaid debts owed to black people for 400-plus years.
And since we haven't bothered to account for it, when you have a debt that keeps coming due, you're likely just to pay off pieces of the interest,
none of the principal.
The reason it doesn't change is because we're not scaling our problems, right, to the full measure of the issues. We're arguing about tactics, when
we first have to reckon with scales, right?
If you want to say to me, oh, I think we can kill this beast with a knife, and I say, no, we can beat it with a stick, right, a third person comes in
and says, you remember the thing you're trying to kill, it is 200 feet tall?
Those tactics are not the problem. The problem is, we haven't reckoned with the scale. And until we do, we're going to see it over and over and over
again. That involves recognizing the full humanity of the people who have been speaking, centering our voices.
But it also involves an honest accounting of history, something this country has been notoriously terrible at since we started.
MARTIN: So, let's talk more about -- you say your path, the adult path here.
And so I hope you won't find me too terribly difficult, but the protesters are asking for policing/and, right? So, there's a range of things that
people mean when they say defund the police. Right? Some mean literal abolition, communities can just take care of it themselves.
But most of the protesters I talk to, most folks in black communities that I know want just less of a footprint. They want literally the same things
the chiefs have been asking for, for years.
Scott Thomson used to be the chief in Camden, New Jersey, is wont to say, give me a Boys and Girls Club, I'll give you back 10 officers any day.
And it's that kind of thinking that is part of the adult path, right? We used to have mental health hospitals in this country, right? Now, they had
a terrible history, right, and awful abuses, but there was public funding for mental health services. Right?
If you could get that right, you would have less of a need for law enforcement to be the only place you could call when something like that
has happened, right?
We used to have significant investment in public schools. As that gets lifted up and thrown away, and we privatize more of that, you end up
saying, well, these folks are rowdy because they haven't eaten, right? These folks are unruly because they have to go work jobs after school
starting middle school.
And so we put police in there, instead of nurses and counselors and doctors. Right? So, the ACLU, I think a couple years ago, came out and said
14 million kids go to school in a school that has police, but no social workers, nurses, counselors.
How on earth is that the right thing to do? Police have been calling for this. Now, because it comes with a slogan that feels scary to some people,
people are intentionally not hearing what it could mean.
MARTIN: Perhaps it's a ridiculous question. You say that the chiefs support this. What are they doing?
GOFF: So, a lot of chiefs have actually been trying.
I think part of the reason why we see it is because it fits our narrative that cops are racist thugs. And for sure, I have met cops who are racist
But across the country, a lot of chiefs have been embracing a number of these reforms. Part of the reason why we haven't seen it is because culture
change is hard. You have folks who have union-guaranteed contracts. It's very difficult to fire them.
So, between 2006 and 2017, about 1,800 officers who got fired in major cities, about a quarter of them got -- had to be rehired because of the
ways in which contracts were set up.
So, it's hard to fix the culture if the bigots can't get fired for being bigoted. That's a portion of it. Right? The other part is that, in major
cities at least, the average tenure of a police chief is about two-and-a- half years.
So, let's just imagine I'm a bigot, and I see someone coming in trying to change the culture. You're like, I will just wait them out.
So, that is not an excuse, but it's part of the reason why it's so hard. Right?
That said, I think, frankly, there hasn't been the kind of urgency where you say, if I'm only going to do this for two-and-a-half years, I'm going
to make sure that I really move the needle on culture and nothing else.
So, there hasn't been the outside pressure to say, if you don't get this done, we're going to hold you accountable to this value. And that, I think,
is the thing that I want everybody to understand.
We hire and fire police chiefs to manage the crime rate. If the crime rate ticks up, it doesn't matter how wonderful they've been. They're out.
We need to be thinking about hiring and firing chiefs and superintendents, commissioners, voting for sheriffs if they do justice. And it's that value
that means we the people are going to give or withdraw our consent to be policed this way to the degree that we're having law enforcement within our
We haven't held them accountable to that value. And so it's really hard for them to focus on that value.
MARTIN: You have also talked about a national database, the need for a national database. Talk more about that.
GOFF: So, there is lots of talk of different kinds of national databases.
The Center for Police Equity owns the National Justice Database. This is the largest collection of police behavioral data in the world, which is a
super humble brag. Right? There's not a lot of good data. It is not collected very widely well. And lots of places who talk about having it
have pieces and bits and small things.
Remember, there's 18,000, roughly, law enforcement agencies across the United States; 75 percent of them are 25 officers or fewer. And 1,000 are
one dude. It's always a dude, right?
So they don't have good data, right? But still having it in one place allows you to start learning about how police are engaging in communities.
But the long and short is this.
We have measured in this country everything that matters to us, right? Amazon and Target know when the family gets pregnant by what you're
searching for online, right? Your newspaper, if they're a big newspaper, knows when you're thinking about canceling your subscription.
That's how we get the ads we get. It is a trillion-dollar industry to gather data and know what people are doing. And we have measured next to
nothing about what the state does to the sons and daughters of former slaves in this country. That should be an outrage.
MARTIN: And why don't we?
GOFF: Because we haven't cared. If we cared, we would have measured it.
Think about a single thing that you care about in your life. And if really you care, you measure it, even if it's only implicitly.
MARTIN: What about national standards for the use of force or national policing standards in general?
GOFF: Think about what police are tasked with, right.
A lawyer is tasked with deciding -- making strong decisions about liberty, lawyers and judges. Liberty, who gets to be free. Doctors are entrusted
with the ability to make good decisions about life.
Law enforcement has both responsibilities, life and liberty. You can't lose your license as a doctor in one state and then be like, I'm just going to
try doctoring again in this next state over. You can't lose your certification as a lawyer in one state and say, I'm going to try lawyering
But you can do that in law enforcement, because we don't have a national registry, and we don't have a set of standards to say, if you fall below
these standards, we will not entrust you with that badge and that gun, with the license to take away life and liberty.
That is ludicrous. And law enforcement, by the way, has mostly been calling for the same thing for years. Here, we do see a difference between leaders
and unions, because, for unions, it ends up being a burden. And for chiefs, it ends up being liberty -- liberating.
MARTIN: You testified before the House.
There is a piece of legislation put forth by House Democrats. So, far it is only Democrats. What would it do and what is your evaluation of it?
GOFF: So, I encourage people to go to the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights Web site. It's civilrights.org.
You can read eight of the pillars there. And in the time we've got right now, I think I probably can't get into great depth into all eight of them.
But I think what is really important is that this is -- each one would be almost unimaginable three weeks ago, right, each one of those eight
pillars. It does things like put a federal ban on all neck restraints, something that many major cities have done, but this would allow federal
litigators to come in and say, enough, we have jurisdiction here as well.
It calls for a national registry of fired officers, so that officers like Timothy Loehmann, who killed Tamir Rice and had been referred for
termination in the last department, he quit before he could be fired, and then was fired from Cleveland P.D., and now still works in law enforcement
That couldn't happen. OK? It calls for an end to qualified immunity. There is a list of, again, eight things, all of which have either a strong moral
values-based reason for being there or a strong scientific component or both.
What would it do? Functionally, it would begin the first step process of allowing our federal and local governments to hold police accountable in
ways that right now we fail to every single time there's a shooting.
MARTIN: You have been doing this work for a long time. Does this feel like a different moment, where there might be a large shift in the direction
that you hope to see us go in?
GOFF: That's a double barreled question. Does it feel like a different moment? It does.
After Ferguson, about a quarter of the country said that racism in policing was systematic. Now we're up to 74 percent. I don't know where those 26
percent are looking. But the country has moved.
We're talking about structural change and investment in black communities, where, before, we were talking about pattern and practice investigations in
law enforcement. So, this is a different moment.
The people who I'm talking to in D.C. are talking about a need to act or losing the consent of the governed. Right? And we're seeing ideas floated
from the White House on racial justice. So that's a different moment.
Are we going to see lasting change? Don't know yet. Right? I have been saying over and over again, the most important thing that people who are
newly awakened and engaged in these issues can do is strap in, because, for sure, there's going to be more dead bodies. For sure, there is going to be
more hashtags asking for justice for the families and accountability for the person who can't get justice anymore because they're lying on the
For sure, we're not solving this so that George Floyd is the last one. We've already seen that that's not going to be true.
So, it will depend on how many of us decide to be adults and strap in for the marathon that is accounting for 400-plus years of targeted oppression.
We have had a couple weeks of people kind of getting it.
I don't think that's equal. So we are going to need to put significantly more on the side of the scale that is justice to bend that long arc of the
MARTIN: Professor Phillip Atiba Goff, thank you so much for speaking with us.
GOFF: Thank you, Michelle.
AMANPOUR: And, yes, the process has only just begun.
And finally tonight, this image tells an incredible story, Patrick Hutchinson carrying a white protester out of harm's way in those London
riots this weekend. Patrick tells CNN he was there with his community protective team when they saw one of the so-called far right hooligans fall
and get separated from his crowd.
Hutchinson and his team swooped in, picked him up and left him with the police. Hutchinson said that it was his natural instinct to protect, even
though the man was up to no good against his community.
And we also want to reflect tonight not just on an image, but on the language we use. The current dictionary definition of racism cites three
parts, in short, the belief that race produces superiority, a political or social system founded on racism, and, lastly, racial prejudice or
But nowhere does it mention the centuries of institutional racism that we have been so focused on these last few weeks, until Kennedy Mitchum from
Missouri wrote to Merriam-Webster about this crucial missing link, she explained, having had too many unsatisfying debates with friends and others
about what racism actually looks like.
So she began an uphill climb with Webster's. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNEDY MITCHUM, WROTE MERRIAM-WEBSTER: It was a lot of back and forth. I did have to fight.
But they did say they would change it to include more systemic aspects, because that is very important, and that they would look into different
research -- different literature that includes what people of color have to say about the term before, you know, publishing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, her persistence paid off, and, after all, this does depend on education.
That's it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.