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Statement on protests over police violence

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Jun 2, 2020

As we work through a global pandemic, the nation once again is struggling with the tragic, and wholly unnecessary, killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.  Americans in cities across the country now are protesting his death as well as the centuries of violence against African Americans in the United States.  All of us must play a role in helping to discuss and address this history of violence and racism.

Some members of the King Hall community are especially hurting.  My friend, Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig, of Boston University School of Law, who started her academic career at UC Davis School of Law, eloquently voiced the pain that she has suffered:

“For the past week, I have woken up each morning with an indescribable pit in my stomach and a paralysis in my head and my body. I have had to force myself to fight against this paralysis each day just to get up and face the loads of work that must be completed. This pit in my stomach has been festering for decades, finding itself repeatedly punctuated and re-ignited by a cycle of direct state violence as well as state-condoned, through inaction, violence against black people. The beating of Rodney King, followed by the acquittal of the officers who beat him and King’s slow public death. The killing of Trayvon Martin, followed by the acquittal of his killer. The hunting down and shooting of jogger Ahmaud Arbery in broad daylight, with near escape of any kind of indictment for his killers. The slaying of Breonna Taylor in her own apartment in a drug raid of the wrong home. The shooting of Tony McDade, a black trans man, by a police officer in Tallahassee, Florida. The implicit threat of racialized police violence by Amy Cooper against Christian Cooper, an African American bird-watcher, who simply asked her to follow park rules and leash her dogThe murder of George Floyd, whose life was crushed out of him by a police officer with his hands in his pocket and a smug smirk on his face. As so many African Americans have said, I have not been okay.”

As I made clear on May 29, “I support the UC Davis Black Law Students Association and Chancellor Gary S. May, who have issued statements regarding the recent tragic deaths of George Floyd and others.”  I shared the powerful statements of BLSA and Chancellor Gary May on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter. The King Hall Alumni Board also released a statement of solidarity with the Black Law Students Association.

Our communities understandably are struggling to make sense of the complex set of emotions that we feel.  I encourage us all to attempt to channel our grief, anger, and frustration into thinking about what we, the King Hall community, can do to move the cause of justice forward.  

To begin that discussion, the law school will hold a public forum on Zoom on Wednesday, June 3 at 12 p.m.  Here are the Zoom details to Register for "Police Violence, Race and Protest." My hope is that we can voice our thoughts on how, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to move the “moral arc of the universe . . . toward justice.”