The recent officer-involved deaths of Michael Brown (Ferguson, MO), Eric Garner (Staten Island, NY) and Tamir Rice (Cleveland, OH) have brought questions, anger, protests and an important public conversation about police-community relations for people of color. According to the Associated Press’ annual poll of editors and news directors, the high profile incidents between African Americans and police and the investigations and protests they inspired were the top news stories of 2014.
Following the deaths of Eric Garner in July, Michael Brown in August and the grand juries’ decisions not to indict the police officers involved in both cases, there have been ongoing protests across the country and world. Along with the protests have come demands for reform in law enforcement, in the Grand Jury process and of the criminal justice system overall and demands to address the racism embedded in our society. In addition, some local as well as federal actions have been proposed and in some cases enacted, including the use of body cameras for police, special prosecutors in cases that involve police officers and increased training for police officers and more.
This lesson will help students reflect on some of the underlying problems and issues that have emerged from these recent cases, undertake research and present viable solutions. Students will learn more about some of strategies and reforms that have been circulating and will then work in small groups to investigate and present one of these ideas in more depth.