The police officer-involved deaths of Michael Brown (Ferguson, MO), Eric Garner (Staten Island, NY) and Tamir Rice (Cleveland, OH) in 2014 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 and Michael Brown and the grand juries’ decisions not to indict the police officers involved in both cases, there were ongoing protests across the country and world. Along with the protests came 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 were 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 cases, undertake research and present viable solutions. Students will learn more about some of strategies and reforms that were proposed and will then work in small groups to investigate and present one of these ideas in more depth.