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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, “Amanpour and Company” is next, and here’s what’s coming up.
The French government blinks and suspends its fuel tax.
Paris’s burning after weeks of demonstrations and Macron fight to save his policy.
Plus, the angry backlash that that 300 million migrants around the world. The U.N. migration chief calls on world leaders to manage this crisis
because demographics mean they will need the workforce.
Also, in July 2015, Sandra Bland was arrested in Texas for a traffic violation. Three days later, she was dead in police custody. Now, a new
film, “Say Her Name,” looks at the Bland’s death and its angry aftermath.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has been a beacon of hope to Democratic leaders across the world seeking to answer the tide of populist
nationalism that’s emerged since 2016. His election as a moderate outsider with a promise to reform and reinvigorate France were met with nearly
universal applause as was his unique blend of working with President Trump while calling him out when he fell short of America’s commitments, to its
values and its allies.
Well, the party seems to be over, at least, for now. In a major concession, Macron’s government is suspending controversial fuel tax hikes
after weeks of angry and sometimes violent protests all across the country. The rising cost of gas and diesel fuel were at the heart of the gilet
jaunes on demonstrations, named for the high visibility yellow vest that French drivers must keep in their cars in case of emergencies.
Since they first flared up last month, the demonstrations have shrunk in size but increased in violence, as extremists on the right and left use
them to further stabilize French politics. But it is not just radicals, the French working and middle classes feel frustrated and increasingly
hopeless about the future, and they call Marcon the president of the rich.
Dominique Moisi is a French professor and political scientist and a longtime observer of the French state and I asked him about the, now,
iconic yellow vests and about whether Emanuel Macron’s efforts to reform and make democracy and capital — capitalism work for all stands any chance
Dominique Moisi, welcome to the program. So, let me ask you this, Mr. Moisi, can you first start with defining for me the yellow vests? What is
the symbol? I know French people have to carry these things, but is there a political symbol to the yellow vest?
DOMINIQUE MOISI, SPECIAL ADVISER, INSTITUT MONTAIGNE: There was none before they created it. And in fact, it was a genius invention because
everybody needs to have a yellow vest in one’s car.
And so, it became the symbol of those emergency and unity. And now, it’s a symbol of revolt, you’ve ignored us, you elite, you can see that we don’t
exist, we are nothing. Well, you see us now. We have those yellow vests on us.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you to react then to the prime minister. After several weeks of these protests, he has called them a pivotal moment
for the presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDOUARD PHILIPPE, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): For more than three weeks, tens of thousands of French people have been expressing
their anger on roundabouts, tolls, new shopping areas or in the streets of many French towns.
This anger has deep roots. It’s been brooding for a while, it often stayed quiet out of reticence of pride. Today, it is being expressed with force
in a collective way. One must be deaf or blind not to see or hear it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But it took them a long time to see and hear it. What position do you analyze the government to be in now?
MOISI: Well, it came really too late and therefore, was too little. I think the government was completely caught by surprise by what has
happened. In fact, everybody was. We still are asking ourselves, is it May ’68 or is it July 1789, the French Revolution, as some yellow vests
leaders seem to believe.
AMANPOUR: Dominique Moisi, you talk about May ’68, and for those who may not know, it was obviously 50 years ago, it was that amazing spring and
summer of protests, they spilled out of the universities and it was reflected in a way, in the United States as well, with anti-Vietnam war
protests, student protests around the western world. So, you’re saying though that this is as significant as that?
MOISI: I believe so. But it’s a very different May ’68. In May ’68, it was mostly initially about young people bored to death with society as it
existed and went into eutopia, dreaming of (INAUDIBLE), dreaming even of Mao’s China in France. In the United States, it was about the Vietnam War.
But it was initially young people rebelling and in France joining hands with working classes.
Today, November, December 2018, it is the May ’68 of middle classes, middle classes that feel deeply frustrated by their economic social condition.
But it’s about, today, the crisis of democracy meeting the crisis of capitalists. In fact, you are — you have Berlin some people starting to
wear yellow vests. It started essentially as a French movement but it’s the French version of what happened in Great Britain with Brexit, in
America with Donald Trump.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then about President Macron, his policies, his promises and his style. First and foremost, do you believe that the
French people, when they elected Macron back in — more than a year ago, that they voted for his reforms, do you believe they voted for reform?
And I’m going to ask you that because when I asked him in — literally, just over a year ago, what would you do when protests come out onto the
streets? Will you back down? This is what he said to me. Just listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: I will deliver. Why? Because I was very clear during my campaign about the reforms. I explained these
reforms, I presented this reform during weeks and weeks and I was elected and those reforms. I do believe in democracy and democracy is not in the
street. It’s a vote.
So, I’m very quiet in that. And I think that, at the very beginning of human date, you have a political capital, you have to use it. I don’t mind
to have — to be very high in terms of popularity and so on. My country has to be reformed. I have 10 percent unemployment rate. I have almost 25
percent of my young people being unemployed. Do you — I mean, it’s useless to have political capital and to stay in such a situation.
So, I am passing the reforms on labor markets and vocational training, on education, on investment, on training and education, a series of reforms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, Mr. Moisi, what do you say to that? Because he laid out a very bold and determined plan. And now, of course, three weeks into these
protests, he has, in fact, backed down. He seems to have given in the six- month moratorium on the fuel tax and national debate on taxation and other measures.
So, what should he do? On the one hand he said he must have reform and on the other hand he has pretty much given into the anger on the streets.
MOISI: When I hear him speaking the way he did, I know why I voted twice for him in 2017. He was my candidate. I was convinced France needed a
bold, courageous, intelligent, charismatic person.
And now, we are wondering to ourselves — I mean, is he paying the price for all the previous president that didn’t do their job and that’s simply
created an increase in the cap that existed between the people and its elite.
What shall I say? I think, maybe we collectively have underestimated the despair, the suffering, the anger of the French and therefore, the
difficulties to reform the country. And maybe we have overestimated the ability of Macron to triumph of all these challenges. He is gifted, he’s
intelligent, he’s courageous, he’s charismatic, but was he mature enough to feel what was happening in his own country? Wasn’t he too far, too aloof
in his palace surrounded by young technocrats who had no real touch with the reality of the country down below?
AMANPOUR: But, you said, “Is he also paying for the mistakes and the failures of previous presidents not to address the vital necessity of a
structural reform at home?” And so, my question to you then is, is it fair to hold him to account like this? If he doesn’t do it, who will do it and
how will it be done? How should it be done?
MOISI: No, it’s unfair. He is largely paying for the failures of other president to confront the problem or their escapades, their willingness not
to face the issues. But we have to realize what’s happening in France right now, it is happening in the streets of Paris, in the streets of
villages and cities around France, but it has a major impact on the future of Europe.
In a few months from now there will be European elections, and France was supposed to be the carrier of hope and European progress. What happens if
it’s no longer, if the president is incapacitated to carry that message? And it’s about the future of democracy, as well illiberal democracies
arising all over the world.
And if Macron fails the future of France risk being the president of Italy today. And it’s much more serious because we have a centralized state
which plays a major role in the balance of power within Europe. But make no mistake, it is a French of a much more global phenomenon.
AMANPOUR: So, then, what is the answer, Dominique Moisi? You almost are saying this is on the brink of incapacitating this young president, that he
may be, you know, enfeebled, that the project may fail. And I remember very clearly, after his election, his own newly appointed ministers said,
“Do not mistake, if he does not deliver, Marine Le Pen is waiting in the wings, and she has been very provocative, the far-right leader.
She has even said, intimated, that he may fire on his own people. I mean, she said the most outrageous things and provocative things in public. But
how do you analyze then the power of the of the yellow vests and is this a moment where the system or his presidency may fail?
MOISI: Yes. In fact, there are people in France who believe seriously that the presidency of Macron has already failed, i.e. he may remain
president but he will be incapacitated to pursue further reforms because to perceive the seriousness of the suffering and the anger. And by failing to
perceive that, he acted too late, he did too little and it’s over. We blew this last chance to carry reforms in a democratic manner.
I hope this scenario, which is clearly the dark scenario, is the wrong one. I hope at the last moment the French will say, “No, what’s happening is too
dangerous. I want to save democracy. We will make capitalism more human. We create a kind of healthy respectful dialogue between the elite and the
people between Paris and the provinces.” But it’s very late and it’s going to prove to be very, very difficult.
AMANPOUR: It is vital this. I mean, your cars use diesel, it’s really polluting where, you know, your own city hosted the only global climate
accord called the Paris Climate Accord of 2015. And part of the responsibilities are to cut back on diesel cars. Plus, he also needs to do
So, what are you saying he should have done better to actually enact these vital reforms?
MOISI: Well, he did the right things but probably did them wrong manner, with the wrong style. He didn’t realize people could perceive as arrogant,
as aloof, as this fool of this day for ordinary people, and that he is where is weakness is.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, you talk about illiberal democracy and we see it flourishing in Hungary and partly in Poland. You know, you talk about the
necessity to enact these reforms but to have a better political ear and that maybe Marcon was too young but I remember Sarkozy and Chirac and
Hollande and others who may have been older who also caved and also face the same street riots against their reforms.
And I wonder what you make of international partners who want to see Macron survive, because they think only he can do what’s needed to be done for
France. So, here is Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE DIMON, CEO, JPMORGAN CHANGE: So, you’ve seen around the world bad governments and the outcome, you saw in Argentina, you saw in Venezuela.
You know, after Brexit we’re all afraid what’s going to happen to Europe, is it going to pull apart, it could go up (ph) together.
And then you have a man like President Macron elected. He tells the truth, he says the same thing to everybody and he’s focusing on reform that will
help the citizens of France. And he’s dead right about he’s strong, he’s smart. And, you know, if you want to develop a country, you know, you
could be — you could do a lot of things that simply don’t work. But labor reform, having entrepreneurs, having a healthy financial system, creating
jobs, President Macron goes around and speaks to business leaders. He doesn’t — he wants us to come here but he says, “Help me lift up my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What would you say to that today?
MOISI: Well, that the compliments of Jamie Diamond are fine except they are part of the problem of Macron. It seems to be too much, the voice, of
the financial world. And to a large extent, I would say that it’s capitalism itself that is behind the crisis that Macron is facing.
In, 2007, 2008, the financial industry launch product that led to the ruins of many of the customers of the banks without hurting the leaders of the
bank themselves. And eight years later, nine years later, Donald Trump was elected in the United States of America. It takes time for a cycle to
And to a large extent, Macron himself is paying the price for the explosion of inequalities that have erupted in the wordl in the last 10, 20 years.
AMANPOUR: So, I guess it’s kind of a pipe dream to expect that anybody in your country, at this moment, would accept what Macron has recently said
and that was, “That inevitably, the results, the good results of my reforms would not have been seen for another 18 to 24 months”?
MOISI: Yes. But the problem is that Macron — and this is probably his major mistake, it’s the time factor, he miscalculated the time factor. He
didn’t realize or desperate (ph) the French wear or urgent it was to give them something. And he gave something to the rich before giving something
to the poor and the poor resented it even more so.
The balance of this famous (INAUDIBLE) at the same time, I give something to my right, I give something to my left, it didn’t work in my Macron’s
case because it looked to unbalance in time.
AMANPOUR: Dominique Moisi, thank you so much for joining us.
MOISI: Thank you for inviting me.
AMANPOUR: And like so many European countries, France’s political climate was tense even before the yellow vest demonstrations as far-right
extremists use the world’s mass migration crisis to rally support for their nationalist causes.
Now, in an unprecedented move, the United Nations is trying to create a Global Compact to better manage the problem, knowing that migration is not
only here to stay but many nations need the workers. But a growing number of countries are refusing to cooperate. And from the outset, the U.S.
wouldn’t even sit at the table.
As a UN veteran and the current migration chief, Louise Arbour has been at the helm of these negotiations. When she joined me from New York this
week, we explored the rational and real way this issue could be managed if short-term politics didn’t keep getting in the way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Louise Arbour, welcome to the program.
LOUISE ARBOUR, U.N. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to start by asking you about migration into the United States because that is where we’re speaking to you from. Of course,
this caravan situation, the invasion that President Trump has described these Central American migrants as, has taken a weird kind of turn. First
and foremost, we’ve had tear gas directed at them.
But there’s a process they call metering which slows down the entry into the United States and I think forces them to wait their turn inside Mexico.
Is it the kind of migration of policies that you would like to see under your current brief?
ARBOUR: Well, I think the first thing that I think is important to keep in mind is the whole world now is preoccupied with global issues, you know,
climate change, technology, human mobility, you know, to have whatever it is, 5, 10, 15,000 people trying to enter a country of 330 million, not
exactly a crisis.
We’re looking at human mobility all over the world in all kinds of different circumstances. A lot of confusion between refugees and migrants.
As you know, refugees are covered by the 1951 refugee convention, they are entitled to have their status determined when they make an asylum claim.
And if they are successfully assessed as being refugees, they’re entitled to international protection.
And in contrast, there’s about 250 million migrants, that is people who live, who have moved and lived and settled in a country other than their
country of birth. This is now what we need to manage better, this whole factor of human mobility.
AMANPOUR: So, do you class the Central Americans fleeing from their countries as migrants or refugees?
ARBOUR: Well, actually, most of them will make an asylum claim because by the time they arrive at the border, there’s no other legal channel for them
to enter. Some of them probably actually qualify for refugee protection, others may see their claim dismissed, in which case, they either will be
given an opportunity to stay in the country through some other status or they will be asked to return home. So, you cannot determine their status
until the process for determination has been put in place.
AMANPOUR: So, let’s now talk about how you manage this era of human mobility and migration. Let’s put aside for a moment the refugees who are
fleeing war, pestilence, poverty and all those kinds of things and who may or may not have their asylum granted.
You the U.N. have this global migration pact, that compact that you’re trying to implement. But it seems that so many relevant countries are
dropping out, pulling out, the U.S. doesn’t want anything do with it, European countries, quite a few of them, don’t want anything to do with it.
So, what is the hope of getting some kind of Global Compact? As you said, migration depends not on just the country but on its neighbors as well.
ARBOUR: Well, that’s right. It’s a collective effort that has taken place actually very much under the impetus of European countries, who after 2015
were starting to feel that they were losing control of their borders. It’s a very comprehensive document that looks at everything from reducing the
drivers of migration, providing better employment conditions for migrants who are often the subject of discrimination and exclusion, it deals with
remittances, the money that migrants send back to their home country, which is an enormous influx of money that supports development in the developing
So, this Global Compact is an agreement essentially by member of states to cooperate, to words, managing better this human mobility. It’s — I have
to say, it’s very disappointing that the U.S. decided not to participate even at the outset, even before seeing the first draft of their proposed
document for negotiation.
And it’s very disappointing that some European countries who were very engaged in the negotiations, who actually agreed on the text, after
extracting concessions from others in July, are now, in some cases, backing off or not certain anymore that they want to be part of it.
AMANPOUR: But these are the countries, the United States and the European countries, many of them are frontline countries who’ve had to deal with the
brunt of migration over the last several years. And if they’re pulling out, you know, the question really is, how does this actually move the ball
And to that end, I want to ask you to react to what Hillary Clinton has said, because if she — even somebody of her more progressive, more liberal
policies can say the following, I wonder what hope there is. She had said, “Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the
flame. I think it’s fair to say Europe has done its part and must send a very clear message that we are not going to be able to continue to provide
refuge and support. Because if we don’t deal with the migration issue, it will continue to roil the body politic.”
What do you say to that?
ARBOUR: Well, the first thing I say is that reflects, once again, the confusion between refugees and migrants, to talk about the brunt of giving
refuge deals with the agreement made in 1951 that people who were persecuted at home will be entitled to international protection. That can
be seen as responsibility sharing or burden sharing. This has nothing to do with the fact that the Western world, Europe, the U.S., Canada, Japan
All the demographic projections are crystal clear, very serious labor shortages in the decades to come. And therefore, it’s in their interest.
This is not a question of burden, this is a question of self-interest. A lot of Western countries, a lot of others, will have to import a workforce
and labor force.
The sooner we get in place, cooperative arrangements for matching the labor market supply and demand, train the appropriate people in developing
countries, whether it’s in the agriculture sector, in the care industry, in manufacturing, to meat what are going to — what are, today, and will be,
the demands for skilled and unskilled workers in the Western world, that’s what migration is about.
So, to talk about how much we can share and of the burden, frankly, misses the mark altogether. There — a lot of migration is a self-interested
economic motor for development and prosperity.
AMANPOUR: As you said yourself, 2017 was the year where political rhetoric concerning this issue became particularly nasty and you said leaders have
consciously use deliberately invidious language, poisoning the atmosphere.
And of course, we know many of the European leaders have talked in the most terrible terms about foreigners basically coming in and so as President
Trump. So, how are you actually going to get a rational managed migration policy for the future past this language of populism and nationalism and
ARBOUR: Well, you know, this was obvious right from the outset of this exercise. For — until recently, the U.N., as international body, was
unwilling to talk about human mobility. We could talk about the movement of capital and goods and so on but the movement of people was off limit, it
was seen as a bastion of state sovereignty. And we’ve come a long way, I think. these negotiations, which have led to the agreement on the text show
that if we can inject a rational discourse into this issue, it becomes very clear the compact itself makes clear that this in no way infringes on state
sovereignty, every state perfectly entitled to adopt whatever migration policy they wish.
And, I think, for all the noise that some are making, the reality is that everybody agreed, except the U.S. who did not participate. But on July
13th of this year, after six months of negotiation, everybody understood the value of this exercise to harvest the benefits of human mobility and to
manage its obvious challenges and downsides.
Chaotic, disorderly migration is bad for everybody, it’s bad for migrants who die often, it’s bad for host communities, it’s bad for governments who
have people working in their informal economy and don’t know who is in the country, but safe well-managed migration is good for everyone. Doesn’t
force any country to take in people they don’t want to take in but it makes sure that what is done is done in a cooperative orderly fashion.
AMANPOUR: So again, a really noble intention and a very practical one, and clearly a very necessary one. But you say that every country except the
U.S. acknowledge the reality, adopted certain points of language in the summer but I spoke to the Hungarian foreign minister in the fall in
September and this is what he said to me about his country’s basic, complete, and total lack of desire to invite or allow migrants in. Just
listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER SZIJJARTO, HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We have been a Christian country for a millennium and I don’t really understand why is it bad news
that we don’t want to change that. And I don’t understand why is it bad or why is it unacceptable that we would like to stick to our history, to our
culture, to our heritage, to our religion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Yikes. So he’s basically I don’t think the kind of partner that you’re describing.
ARBOUR: Well, actually Hungary made that position very clear throughout the process. And I have to say the day after the text was agreed upon, it
withdrew. It said that although it had been present throughout, it was not interested in continuing. You know the Hungarian Foreign Minister attended
the negotiations. He said many times in very explicit terms, migration is a bad thing, it is stoppable, and it should be stopped.
Well, that might be the Hungarian position. If you go to the Gulf countries where 80 percent of the population is foreign workers, they would
find that kind of position very puzzling or if you say that to countries like Canada. So what this global contact does, and in my opinion, this is
the right position, it doesn’t say migration is a good thing or is a bad thing, it’s just a thing.
They are currently in the world today, 3.4 percent of the world’s population who are migrants, who live and settle in a country other than
their country of birth. That’s up from 2.7 percent in 2000. It’s unlikely to decrease considering the growth of the world’s population, the ease of
communications and transport, and the need to distribute the workforce more appropriately.
So migration is not a good thing, it’s not a bad thing. It’s just a thing. The global contact does not promote migration, it does not discourage
migration, but it takes a very firm line that poorly managed chaotic, dangerous migration is a bad thing but well-managed migration, fully
respectful of state sovereignty has to be a good thing. It seems to me that that’s where we have to stand against that’s kind of rhetoric that
seems to characterize this effort as an attempt to force a kind of change of identity in any particular country.
AMANPOUR: And what about the — I mean the rhetoric around the identity of a particular country but the rhetoric also around the motives of the
migrants. I mean you have said, for instance, that humans are overwhelmingly sedentary. Most will happily stay in their home countries
until factors like economic inequality, violence, climate change intervene.
But the Hungarian Foreign Minister said to me that he thinks migrants just wake up one day, pick countries like Sweden and Germany, and then just
decide they want to live there. Is that an issue that you have to also iron out, the rhetoric around the motives of migrants?
ARBOUR: This is the very classic politics of fear. You know, this kind of suggestion that given a chance, the whole of Africa would move to the
Scandinavian countries. There’s absolutely no basis whatsoever to believe that. And in any event, the world is ordered in such a way that states
can, again in a cooperative spirit, manage migration flows.
The reality — I think the best example is take places in which there are no barriers. Take a country like the United States, for instance, anybody
in any state can move to any other state. Well, the people of Wisconsin don’t all move to California and the people of North Dakota don’t all move
to New Mexico or Florida or New York State. They can.
Most people quite obviously have ties to their place of birth. They have ties to their communities. They have family ties. They have cultural
ties. And given a choice, most of them, we know it from what is actually happening, will stay in their environment. If they’re forced displacement
to war persecution, increasingly possibly climate change, the slow onset of desertification, this may trigger force displacement. That’s
why we need to be prepared for that.
And some people move by choice. They fall in love. They have educational opportunities. And then they desire to settle elsewhere. As long as this
is all consensual and well-managed, honestly I think the history of the success of many countries including the U.S. is the best example of how
well-managed migration is to everyone a benefit.
AMANPOUR: So Louise Arbour, you are about to retire from a long and illustrious U.N.-Korea. Before you were head of the U.N. migration effort,
you were many years ago one of the first chief prosecutors at the U.N. Tribunal, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
And as such, you put down the first major indictment against one of the leaders there, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia.
What was it like being a woman, being a fairly diminutive woman I might say coming across all these, you know, mad felt like warlords who were
committing genocide and ethnic cleansing? Do you feel sometimes underestimated? Give me a sense of how you felt doing that particular
ARBOUR: Quite honestly, I don’t have a lot of insight into what my personal circumstances were. But in the end, I think we were successful in
discharging the mandate or bringing to account those most responsible for the most horrendous crimes. So I don’t know what my personal circumstance
is. I don’t think we’re all that relevant.
AMANPOUR: Well, I just read an anecdote where you came across — you were in discussion with some of them and somebody was saying something in their
own language and you said, you know, “What is he saying?” And then he said, “Well, she’s so small and yet she’s so scary.”
ARBOUR: Good. That’s exactly the way you want people to think about you like you are — how could you be so scary, you’re so small? Well, that’s
how scary you want to be.
AMANPOUR: Louise Arbour, thank you so much for joining me.
ARBOUR: My pleasure. Good to talk to you.
AMANPOUR: Indeed scary in the search for justice on a global scale.
And now we focus on a more intimate struggle for closure by one American family. Sandra Bland’s death became a flashpoint for protests back in
2015. She was arrested during a traffic stop in Texas and 72 hours later after being taken into custody, she was found dead in her cell of an
apparent suicide. She was only 28.
Three years later, her family is still trying to figure out what happened to her. A mission that’s been documented by the film “Say Her Name”, the
life and death of Sandra Bland which premiered on HBO this week. Michel Martin sat down with the director of the film Kate Davis and Sandra’s
sister, Sharon Cooper who’s determined to keep her sister’s story and her name alive.
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Kate Davis, Sharon Cooper, thank you so much for talking with us.
KATE DAVIS, CO-DIRECTOR, SAY HER NAME: Thank you.
SHARON COOPER, SANDRA BLAND’S SISTER: Thank you.
MARTIN: Tell me about your sister. Tell me about Sandra.
COOPER: Sandra was one of five girls. She’s number four in the pack. So someone who always wanted to make sure that her voice was heard. As you
can imagine, there’s a lot of voices around female voices at that. You want to make sure that your opinion is heard. She was an aunt. She has 10
nieces and nephews. Really just a brilliant person, very smart, intellectually vocal, very talented.
MARTIN: Why was she driving to Texas?
COOPER: Sandy moved back from Texas about three years prior to 2015. She’d gone to school there or stayed there for a little bit and was driving
back because there was an opportunity for her to work as a student ambassador in one of their offices down there. She was also making plans
to go back and get her master’s in political science. She actually only been in Texas for just one day before she was stopped by Brian Encinia.
MARTIN: How did you find out that something terrible had happened?
COOPER: I found out on that Monday afternoon. I will never forget it. And I had all of these missed calls, call after call after call. And I’m
like something is wrong, not even thinking that it was that. But found out from my younger sister Shavon who’s right underneath me.
I just ended up calling her back first because she was the person who had recently called me. And she just told me that Sandy was dead and I just
like hit the floor in my office at work. I remember wailing and having a colleague come in and ask me if everything was OK. And I just really could
not even keep it together.
MARTIN: Kate, how did you get connected to the story?
DAVIS: Well, the dash cam that showed Sandy’s arrest had gone viral almost instantly after she passed. And so I knew about the story. And at that
time, HBO called my partner and me and asked if we might want to do a full-length film on this. And we approached the family and they met
with us. And they had to, you know, take the leap of faith that we would tell the story even-handedly with compassion, listen to them, let them, you
know, lead the way in terms of their voice being really heard fairly.
MARTIN: What the public originally saw was the video, the dash cam video of the police stop, where Sandra was pulled over for failure to signal a
lane change and then it escalated to this confrontation that was very ugly. That’s what the public saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDRA BLAND: Why am I being apprehended? You’re trying to give me a ticket –
BRIAN ENCINIA: I said get out of the car.
BLAND: Why am I being apprehended?
ENCINIA: I’m giving you a lawful order. I’m going to drag you out of here.
BLAND: So you’re going to drag me out of my own car?
ENCINIA: Get out of the car. I will lock you up. Get out.
BLAND: And you will stop me? Wow.
ENCINIA: Get out of the car.
BLAND: For failure to signal? You’re doing all of this for failure to signal?
ENCINIA: Get over there.
BLAND: Right, yes. Yes, let’s take this to court.
ENCINIA: Go ahead.
BLAND: For failure to signal. Yes, for failure to signal. I can’t wait if we go to court. I can’t wait. I cannot wait until we go to court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: From your standpoint as a journalist, what was it that — the questions that you came in with?
DAVIS: Well, I mean I think the dash cam speaks for itself largely. You see this, you know, escalating situation which leads to Sandra being put
into a small town jail for what ended up being three days. The lingering questions come I think around or centered around some of the protocol in
the jail. She wasn’t checked on when she should have been every 24 hours. She wasn’t — you know she had said that there were — she had a history of
suicide and they didn’t have any, you know, mental special —
MARTIN: There’s no mental checks?
DAVIS: She had a trash can liner made of plastic in a jail cell where she was isolated, you know, in solitary confinement for three days. This is a
jail cell where they will take your shoelaces away so that you can’t hurt yourself. So those are just a few of the questions. They, you know, were
supposed to check on her every 45 minutes, 50 minutes. And the jail records, as people will see when they see the film, you know, were actually
sloppily kept, inaccurately kept. So we don’t really know what happened.
MARTIN: I want to play a clip in the film that speaks to that. And this is, I guess, why you feel that you don’t. Let me just play that clip and
let you talk some more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Texas Rangers, they walked us through footage so they claimed anyway of the video. We were looking, trying to see where
Sandy was. I don’t see her ever.
COOPER: The video that we viewed only went down. It was only for the morning of Monday, July 13. There’s no timestamps. There’s no dates. Her
cell was all the way in the back corner. She was in the cell number 95. The way I choose to phrase it is, where she was did not have cameras, that
I would think that that would be strange. Then how are you monitoring your inmates? Why was she in a cell by herself? That’s a big cell for one
And when they were wheeling the gurney out, I went woah, she’s going to be on the gurney, right? Oh no. she wasn’t on the gurney. She wasn’t on the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: Sharon, do you have a theory about what happened?
COOPER: I have to be honest with you. I wish I did. The position that I’m — that I sit within and quite frankly that my family sits within is
that unfortunately, we’ll never know what happened. Because I do believe that the person who can tell us what happened is no longer here to share
that information with us.
I think there was an immense amount of negligence involved there. I think there was an immense amount of misinformation that was shared with us. And
that created this level of distrust, right, and this discourse that put us in a position where we had to consistently question everything that they
MARTIN: Why was she in solitary confinement?
COOPER: That is an excellent question.
MARTIN: Do you — you don’t know?
COOPER: She — absolutely no why she was. Remember she was charged with an assault and so that put her in a felony category which apparently
changes the course of how you are cared for and how you’re situated in the jail. So they put her in solitary confinement because it was communicated
that in the feel she was combative and had made physical contact with a peace officer as they called it. Which was completely unfounded based off
of what he wrote in his report versus what was on the dash cam footage, coupled with the fact that when you bring someone in who is combatant,
you’re supposed to reassess them after a 24-hour period. She wasn’t even combatant when she was brought in.
So she wasn’t combatant when she was brought in. And so what’s supposed to happen is you’re supposed to put someone in with gen pop
essentially after a 24-hour period which they never did. And I do have a theory about that.
MARTIN: Which is what?
COOPER: Which is this, I do believe that the intent was to punish her and to teach her a lesson, right. You have this interaction, this alleged
interaction that happened in the field, and we have law enforcement officials and jailers who work closely together. And so the thought is if
you have gotten out of line in the field then we’re going to put you back in your place here. And that’s all a part of locking someone up on a
Friday evening, know that there are —
MARTIN: I was going to ask why was she never —
COOPER: — limited resources —
COOPER: — to get them out, whether it’s resources from the state level in terms of getting a judge or magistrate come in which I know was the case.
But also two, what people need to understand is that she was in Texas and all of her family was in Chicago. Every single last member of her family.
So yes, there was an initial call which we responded to within a 24-hour period but I think it’s important for people to understand families can’t
pick up the phone and call a jail. You know this notion that, you know, people would say, “Well, why didn’t you guys call her back?”
Who do you know could pick up the phone and call a jail and say, “Can I speak to so and so?” right. So there is this whole miscarriage of justice
if you will, and this whole frustration around just the lack with which they handled things, the sloppy nature within which that they took care of
the whole situation.
MARTIN: I don’t want to glide past the issue though of she had had a previous suicide attempt. Isn’t that —
COOPER: That’s correct based off of what she disclosed to the jail.
MARTIN: So does that make it plausible that she may have in fact taken her own life here, that she was so — just for whatever reason, she was so
distraught by the behavior, by the treatment that — does that change anything?
COOPER: I don’t — I mean I think that we’ve always shared that we’ve been open to all possibilities. And I think what we have asked in return is
that we’re finally shown that and we weren’t. Literally, every single thing that they shared with us on the phone from the time — you know,
prior to us getting there was unfounded in that like they couldn’t provide that information to us to support the claim that they made. And so to that
end, I think that if in the event that it were a possibility, it still goes to the heart of when you are under someone’s custodial care, they are
responsible for you.
MARTIN: So the two issues as I see it is first of all that Sandra was in their custody and she had disclosed that she had had a prior suicide
attempt. They should have taken steps to care for her.
MARTIN: And they didn’t so that’s one issue. But Kate, you’re raising another issue and you spoke about that in the clip which is why was she
treated that way, to begin with. And so what’s your theory about it?
DAVIS: I guess my theory really is that I wouldn’t point the fingers personally at any one person in the jail. I don’t necessarily think
there’s a bad guy who came in and took her life. There’s no proof of that.
On the other hand, I think that everybody involved, they’re all part of a larger system which allows for this kind of callousness and dehumanization
to take place. And I think it’s — you know, I hope the film as a conversation started around that, that law enforcement needs to look at
themselves why, you know, something like this can happen.
MARTIN: What does the hashtag mean, #sayhername? And you borrowed from the hashtag for the title of the film. What does that mean #sayhername?
MARTIN: And why do you think that took off?
COOPER: In the earlier half of 2015, the African American Policy Forum, they actually established #sayhername as this effort to amplify the voices
of women who were being impacted by state-sanctioned violence but who weren’t getting the amount of attention and exposure as black men were,
right. So I think let’s say what — why we took on the moniker of #sayhername is really to continue to amplify the notion that this is
happening to women, black women, and girls at an alarming rate and for a litany of reasons.
I do think that women in this country are seen as second-class citizens. And even in the lower tier, if you are a woman of color, right. So to be
able to again have someone who was so outspoken, to have somebody who left this digital footprint if you will for us to learn from her and to be able
to not just amplify her story and #sayhername but again, to highlight the names of so many others who haven’t gotten that recognition. And I think
it was women who were saying you know what, #sayhername and don’t forget what her name is. And I think that it was so important to pay homage to
that movement in that way.
MARTIN: I’m asking you as a journalist. You followed all of this. What investigation actually occurred and what did the authorities tell you about
DAVIS: You know there were levels of the investigation that we were not privy to. And there were many things that went down with the
Texas authorities that we really still don’t quite understand. And it’s just — it’s not an easy thing to answer.
What the district attorney and Sheriff Smith told us is that, you know, they were trying to do their best and Sandra was sad and she was abandoned
and she was a, you know, marijuana smoker and things that were kind of blown up a little bit in the news that turned out to be somewhat false and
But in terms of what happened on a forensic level, why her core body temperature was not taken at the time of her death, why there was no DNA
that was found on the noose, you know, there are some flagrant and sort of pieces of evidence that still are murky.
MARTIN: As I understand it, there was a settlement with the family. Is that accurate?
COOPER: That was accurate. Also, perjury charge that he was —
MARTIN: And there was a charge but those charges were later —
COOPER: Ultimately dropped.
MARTIN: A perjury charge related to how the officer —
COOPER: Which was a (INAUDIBLE), the way that he wrote his report.
MARTIN: Described the circumstances of the report. And I wonder how does all of that sit with you?
COOPER: Oh, it’s infuriating. It’s infuriating largely because that is the exact opposite of what we wanted was this consistent accountability,
right. Like there is a difference between an indictment and a conviction. And what families who are impacted by police brutality want is they want a
conviction. People need to be held accountable for their inability to do their jobs effectively to the degree that it takes away a loved one.
So quite frankly not thrilled about it at all. And the fact that he, you know, he won’t work in the State of Texas again as a law enforcement
official but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t hop over to a different state and work as a law enforcement official. And he just
doesn’t need to be engaged with the public in that way as far as I’m concerned.
I do not have a problem saying this you. He is responsible for Sandra’s death. He is, him, along with the jailers who failed to do their job
appropriately. So I have no problem saying that. I know I feel that way. My family feels that way.
MARTIN: People, there’s — not everybody but there are a lot of people in law enforcement, you know, who feel that they are unduly criticized, that
they feel there’s a lack of respect for what they do. And so I’m just interested in what you would say to them.
COOPER: And I have to tell you, we don’t have a police problem, right. Like I’m not anti-police. We are not anti-police. We’re anti-police
brutality. That’s what we are. And we’re anti-lack of police accountability.
And so what I would say to them is this. This is a dual conversation as equally, as equally as you are trying to make a home to your families and
your loved ones, I very much want that for you, I very much want that for the young man, for the young woman, for the young boy, for the young girl
that you encounter on your journey.
MARTIN: Why do you think that this encounter, as you put it, went viral? Why do you think people had such a strong reaction to it?
COOPER: I think without a shadow of a doubt, she’s a woman. She’s a woman I think that there is a level of desensitization that we’ve seen
unfortunately when it comes to the take down of black men who are seen as inherently scary and evil and not good. And I think that black women are
seen through that same thing, it’s just for the angry black woman lens, right.
So you have this man who is quite frankly towering over this woman with the misuse of his power, right. That’s not towering over her in stature
because that’s something that she didn’t have a problem with.
So I think it was that and I think he also had someone who actually knew what they were talking about. And you can hear it throughout the dash cam
video where she’s talking about she knows what her rights are and she’s asserting herself and telling him what she has and what she does not have
to do. And so I think that a lot of people saw themselves in her, either saw themselves as Sandra or saw their sister or their best friend.
MARTIN: Kate Davis, Sharon Cooper, thank you both so much for talking with us today.
COOPER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: That is really powerful and important testimony from Sandra’s family. And we’d like to point out that local law enforcements were also
part of Kate Davis’ documentary about Sandra Bland’s death. The sheriff in charge of the jail continues to deny any legal wrongdoing but he’s
acknowledged the jail failed plans family as a matter of moral responsibility. Does that sound like an apology? Not yet.
That’s it for our program tonight.
Thanks for watching Amanpour and Company on PBS and join us again tomorrow.