On April 22, 2015, the student-organized National Association Against Police Brutality (NAAPB) (www.naapb.org) organized a forum entitled “Confronting Institutional Racism: Steps to End Police Brutality and Fix Our Justice System.” The program included presentations by UDC Law Professor Phil Lee, retired DC Superior Court and federal magistrate judge Arthur Burnett, Sr. now of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition; American University Criminal Law Professor and author Angela “Amani” Davis; Retired DC Police Officer Ron Hampton, also recently of the National Police Accountability Project; Jasmine Mickens, Policy Assistant for Civil, Criminal and Racial Justice Reform of the Open Society Foundations; and Jonathan Smith, Associate Dean for Clinical and Experiential Programs and former head of the US Department of Justice Special Litigation Section.
The program opened with welcoming remarks by first year law student Makeda Crane who introduced her classmate, Jonathan Newton, himself a former police officer and whistleblower, who has led the creation of the NAAPB. Mr. Newton led those in attendance through a demonstration of the NAAPB web-based incident report website and database which will be used to help victims of police violence to report and seek assistance.
Mr. Newton then introduced Jasmine Mickens who told a horrendous, riveting and Kafkaesque story of how she was standing with her own brother when he was attacked by police on the porch of their family home in New Jersey, resulting in serious injury, ultimately a false conviction, and the arrest of both their parents, her twin brother, and her younger brother who tried to prevent the beating.
Mr. Newton next introduced his UDC Law professor Dr. Phil Lee, who, as an historian, gave a brief but spirited and engaging overview of the sordid history of legal racial discrimination which can be viewed above.
Our alumna, Keri Nash, ’09, then served as moderator of the panel highlights of which included a story by Judge Burnett about when, as a teen, he was wrongfully arrested; words of wisdom gleaned from decades of policing by Ron Hampton; recognition by Prof. Davis on the law of the use of deadly force as well as the need to broaden the focus to include prosecutors who can and do abuse their discretion and Jonathan Smith whose recent work at the USDOJ included supervising the blockbuster report on the Ferguson Police Department. After the presentations, many questions from members of the audience were entertained and a brief reception ensued.