to: the family of michael brown, the people of ferguson, mo, and other marginalized groups from: the criminal justice graduate student association of eku
On behalf of the Criminal Justice Graduate Student Association of Eastern Kentucky University, we express our deepest support for the family of Michael Brown and solidarity with the community of Ferguson, Missouri. As budding scholars and practitioners in the Criminal Justice field we would be remiss to not recognize the deeply ingrained institutionalized racism that pervades policing and law enforcement throughout this country making, sadly, the events that have unfolded in Ferguson unsurprising, though no less unacceptable.
Policing in this country over the past several decades has shifted further and further away from the idea of police as “peace officers” and closer to a more militarized outlook, viewing the people of our communities as combatants. Young Black men specifically, minorities and the poor in general, are often seen as the most dangerous of these perceived combatants. This is certainly the case with Michael Brown’s shooting and the aftermath of militarized police crackdown on protestors who have had no official avenues to express their mounting outrage as nationally, the body count from excessive police-perpetrated violence rises. We share this outrage.
Reform is needed from the national, to the local, and the individual level if we are going to create a police force of the future that is cognizant of, and responsive to, the realities and needs of all populations within a community without resorting so rapidly to violence and deadly force. In pursuit of this we fully support the list of actions developed by Sociologists for Justice, who currently have the signed support of nearly 1,200 (and counting, please see references for a link to their website) sociologists and criminologists across the United States. In particular we support the following national legislative action recommended:
“Legislation requiring the use of dash and body-worn cameras to record all police interactions. Data from these devices should be immediately stored in tamper-proof databases, and there should be clear procedures for public access to any such recordings….
Federal legislation, currently being developed by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), to halt the transfer of military equipment to local police departments, and additional legislation to curtail the use of such equipment against domestic civilian populations.”
Additionally we fully support the list of recommendations developed in a recent blog post by Dr. Kishonna Gray of the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. Dr. Gray’s recommendations are directed at local police departments and, if headed, would go a long way toward mending an ever-growing divide between the police and the communities they are trusted to protect and serve. In particular we want to highlight the following recommendations:
“Take Community Oriented Policing Seriously
Let’s try community policing again. Cops get out of your cars. Citizens are not enemy combatants. They are people who want to talk to you. We stare at you driving by for a reason. Yes we’re probably pissed, but get out and talk to us….
Diversity Training for Police
Existing diversity training for police officers is awful. For those policing marginalized communities, they know nothing of the communities they serve. Don’t just put this important task into the hands of the person who took a sociology course in race relations. Hire an actual professional and make sure the training is on-going. One time in the academy? The lesson won’t stick.”
As a people we must demand accountability from our officers and our policymakers. Our aim is a society where all people can expect respect and true safety when interacting with the police. We have a long way to go. The slaying of Michael Brown and the militarized response to protestors in Ferguson is just a small window into much larger problems. The loss of life at the hands of the state, the slaying of young black men, is not acceptable. We will not sit idly by and accept it any longer.
-The Criminal Justice Graduate Student Association of Eastern Kentucky University
Gray, K.L. I'm Scared of the Boogeyman, ahem, I mean, I have to protect myself from any threat no matter how Big and Black. August 25, 2014, http://uprootingcriminology.org/blogs/im-scared-boogeyman-ahem-mean-protect-threat-matter-big-black/
Sociologists for Justice. 400+ Sociologists Demand Justice and Change in Policing of Communities of Color. August 25, 2014, https://sociologistsforjustice.wordpress.com/public-statement/
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