Baton Rouge, LA – Today, the inaugural Dialogue on Race and Policing Series holds its final dialogue session at the LSU Law Center. Co-sponsored by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and LSU Law Center’s George W. and Jean H. Pugh Institute for Justice, the series, which launched in June 2018, is presented in collaboration with the Dialogue on Race – Louisiana and the Southern University Law Center, and brings together a carefully selected cross-section of law enforcement leaders, social justice activists and civil rights leaders, academic experts, and other public officials from diverse backgrounds for a three-part discussion on race and policing in Baton Rouge, LA.
“The death of Alton Sterling at the hands of two Baton Rouge police officers reignited long-standing tensions between the city’s minority community and law enforcement,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “For many Baton Rouge residents, this incident was not seen as an isolated instance of injustice. Rather, part of the systemic pattern of law enforcement misconduct in interactions with marginalized communities that had gone unacknowledged for far too long. This series seeks to mediate the tension between the community and police by providing a space for open, honest, and productive conversation. We are confident that participants will leave these dialogues fully equipped with the knowledge to execute their action plans with the full context of the racial history of policing and the criminal justice system in mind.”
“In many of our communities, the problem of crime is not merely a matter of concern, instead of being a matter of crisis if not catastrophe,” said Ray Diamond, LSU law professor and director of the Pugh Institute. “Cooperation between the police and the people they serve is necessary to produce safety. And yet the problem of police violence and misconduct causes many in the regulated public to disengage from and to entirely mistrust the police. Police, in turn, view an uncooperative public as untrustworthy and perhaps simply unworthy. This produces a cycle of mutual mistrust that is good neither for the safety of the public nor the psychological well-being of the community. And this cycle is exacerbated by the overlay of race. We hope this Dialog on Race and Policing can produce mechanisms that upon implementation will defuse this cycle and allow for more open communication about race and community safety.”
By creating an open, safe place for participants of all different backgrounds to discuss race, the series has set a positive example of how residents of Baton Rouge can unite to address long-held grievances about the administration of criminal justice and work collaboratively to improve community-police relations. During the final session, participants will produce action plans for implementing their recommendations for enhancing public safety and building trust between police and their communities. Dr. Jose Torres, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at LSU, a former police officer with the Norfolk Police Department, will facilitate the discussion.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.
Through its Criminal Justice Project, the Lawyers’ Committee seeks to end mass incarceration and make the ideal of “equal justice under law” a reality. Through impact litigation, amicus curiae practice, public education, and policy advocacy, we are working to challenge the criminalization of poverty and end institutional practices that contribute to mass incarceration.
With its Stop Hate Project, the Lawyers’ Committee seeks to strengthen the capacity of community leaders, law enforcement, and organizations around the country to combat hate by connecting these groups with established legal and social services resources.
About the George W. and Jean H. Pugh Institute for Justice
The George W. and Jean H. Pugh Institute for Justice provides support for research and educational activities that promote justice for individuals in the administration of the criminal and civil justice systems in Louisiana and elsewhere. Each year, the Pugh Institute sponsors for the LSU Law community and the general public scheduled symposia in partnership with the Louisiana Law Review, as well as lectures and forums on emerging issues. This Dialogue on Race and Policing is part of that effort.
Derrick Robinson | [email protected] | 202-662-8317
Karen Soniat | [email protected] | 225-578-8645