Department Statement

June 2020

The recent death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have left African American/Black communities, and their allies, profoundly shaken. Their deaths are not isolated incidents, but rather represent a longstanding legacy of violence and brutalization by police organizations against communities of color.

Throughout the history of this country, police agencies have enforced slave codes and black codes, ignored or condoned lynchings and other forms of racial terror, enforced the segregationist Jim Crow regime, and helped to build the contemporary era of mass incarceration.

The nationwide protests of our time urge us not only to reflect on the centuries of injustice against Black individuals and communities, but to act immediately to end it.

We stand in solidarity with all those who have expressed outrage against police violence, with our sisters and brothers of all colors and creeds who stand together to create social change, as well as those law enforcement officers who have joined protestors to denounce state-sanctioned violence.

We recognize how systemic racism is deeply embedded into social institutions, including Universities. In the Department of Justice Studies, we are committed to examining our curriculum, resources, and practices to become more aligned with social justice values and anti-racist practices. 

Below are some initiatives that will be undertaken by our faculty:

  1. Removal of scholarships with a legacy of white supremacy.
    We pledge to divest from student scholarships that are tied to white supremacy such as our J. Edgar Hoover and Willard “Huck” Schmidt scholarships.

  2. Funding initiatives for college students.
    We are committed to identifying and making socially just funding opportunities available to students who encounter challenges paying for their education.

  3. Reforming, demilitarizing, or defunding police departments.
    We embrace our wide spectrum of scholars and practitioners, all with different methods but similar goals, who aim to end state-sanctioned violence. 

  4. Curricular innovations.
    We will work to identify gaps in our curriculum to help students fully understand the relationship between structural racism, the criminal legal system, and state-sanctioned violence. 

  5. Community panels/discussions.
    We commit to developing lectures on state-sanctioned violence, police brutality, and mass incarceration that will be open to students and the community.

  6. Systemic racism.
    We recognize that systemic racism and state-sanctioned violence have historically impacted the lives of many groups. Our approach is to be inclusive in our initiatives and programming. 

  7. Faculty hiring.
    We remain committed to hiring critical scholars whose work prioritizes police and prison abolition, demilitarization, racism, anti-blackness, and community restorative justice.

In solidarity,

The Department of Justice Studies Faculty