Civil Rights

In guest lecture, professor claims America should have heeded Anita Hill; talk also chastises Bill Cosby, suggests many black targets of police shootings result of racism

Rutgers University assistant professor Brittney Cooper on Tuesday gave a guest lecture at the University of Wisconsin titled “The End of Respectability: Black Feminism and Ratchet Politics” during which she said Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has actively hurt civil rights in America.

Saying more than 90 percent of black people supported Justice Thomas when Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment in the 1980s, Cooper opined that was a big mistake.

“There’s a cautionary tale there, that if you don’t listen to the women, none of us do well,” Cooper told the audience. “Real talk. He has been the deciding vote to roll back every piece of civil rights legislation that we have had. There are material costs to our investment in patriarch.”

It was one of many points the Africana and women and gender studies professor at Rutgers told the audience during her one-hour talk to a room full of 75 students and scholars in Madison.

The talk came as the Madison community is still reeling from the police officer shooting-death of Tony Robinson, an unarmed black teenager, over the weekend. The incident has since prompted protests and chants of “no justice, no peace” on campus and City Hall as residents voice frustration.

With that, the room had a sense of sadness in the air while Cooper talked of race relations. Cooper said to the audience that “racism is completely unreasonable in its magnitude, in its severity, in its intensity, in its persistence. It’s unreasonable to kill Tony Robinson.”

Applaud broke out from the crowd as Professor Cooper seemed to make the claim that Robinson was killed due to racism, and not because he allegedly violently assaulted a police officer.

She also said it was unreasonable for the Atlanta police to kill a black man on Tuesday afternoon, and once again drew the conclusion the shooting was race-related, even though the investigation was literally hours old at the time.

“The other thing that’s problematic about the politics of respectability is that it absolves the state of any overt responsibility [to eliminate] racism,” Cooper said.

The structure of the black family was also something Professor Cooper touched on. She talked about shows like “The Cosby Show,” saying they were an example of how – if people did the right things in life, such as got married, had kids, and worked hard – they could be successful.

However, Professor Cooper suggest this wasn’t how society actually works. She cited Beyoncé as an example, arguing the music icon “got married, had a kid, grew up in a two parent home, and people are still telling her she’s wrong.”

The scholar also took this opportunity to discuss the sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby saying, “Cosby disrespects the legacy of all the black males lynched because of false accusations from white women.”

She was also critical of Cosby’s infamous comments about the shortfalls within some black communities, and claimed: “Bill Cosby has gone around the country lecturing to poor black people about our failure to uphold our end of the bargain. The idea that being respectable citizens with good families would pave the path to freedom has proved to be simply untrue. Since ‘The Cosby Show’ came on the air in 1984 and 2007 we have watched the wealth gap grow, so black people have lost wealth in that time period.”

The stereotyping of clothing worn by black males was also briefly discussed. She claimed that graduation gowns worn don’t stop bullets like they didn’t for Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Professor Cooper is scheduled to give another speech on the campus of UW-Madison soon to discuss “Making Black Lives Matter in the 21st Century.” The talks are sponsored by the Havens Center and the UW Gender and Women’s Studies Program.

College Fix reporter David Hookstead is a student at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

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They plan to put ‘our bodies and/or privilege on the line in visible, public solidarity’

Eric Garner’s dying words are comparable to Jesus Christ’s greetings to his disciples, according to a group of Catholic theologians calling for “a serious examination of both policing and racial injustice in the US.”

More than 430 theologians from Catholic universities as diverse as Marquette, DePaul, Santa Clara and Boston College; secular schools including Duke and Yale; and priests, high school teachers and other workers for religious organizations have signed the statement as of Sunday night.

It was written by Tobias Winright, a professor at Saint Louis University and former law enforcement officer, and published three weeks ago at Catholic Moral Theology, a hub for North American theologians who “want to avoid the standard ‘liberal /conservative’ divide that often characterizes contemporary conversation.”

“[T]his Advent, hope for a just peace must face the flagrant failures of a nation still bound by sin, our bondage to and complicity in racial injustice,” the statement opens.

The document criticizes “the failures of the grand jury process to indict some of the police officers involved” in the shootings of not only Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Garner in Staten Island, but also 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit four years ago and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland last month.

“As Eric Garner’s dying words ‘I can’t breathe’ are chanted in the streets, and as people of faith, we hear the echo of Jesus’ breathing on his disciples, telling them, ‘Peace be with you,’” the statement reads.

Citing Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the statement says the “cup of endurance runs over” again for African Americans: “Our streets are filled with those exhausted by the need to explain yet again ‘why we can’t wait.’”

Just as King challenged “white moderate” Christians on civil rights , the statement reads, the “challenge to the White Christian community is as relevant today as it was over 50 years ago.”

“The time demands that we leave some mark that US Catholic theologians did not ignore what is happening in our midst – as the vast majority sadly did during the 1960s Civil Rights movement.”

The signatories pledged to take several actions, including fasting from meat on Fridays through “the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany” next month; “placing our bodies and/or privilege on the line in visible, public solidarity” with those protesting “deep-seated racism”; and pressuring their bishops to bring anti-racist teaching “to the forefront” of Catholic action.

Beyond calling for common police reforms, the signatories call for the establishment of “publicly accountable review boards” to act as a check on grand juries and local prosecutors when it comes to police misconduct. They also want a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine race in America,” based on a similar 2004 effort in North Carolina. (Other activists are making the same demand.)

“As part of this commitment, we pledge to continue listening to, praying for, and even joining in our streets with those struggling for justice through nonviolent protests and peaceful acts of civil disobedience,” the statement said.

College Fix reporter Nathan Rubbelke is a student at Saint Louis University.

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Two University of New Mexico football players and another student plan to sue the school for how it investigated sexual-assault allegations against them.

At a press conference last week, the students said the sex with their accuser was consensual, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Their lawyer, George Bleus, said the suit would focus on the university police’s “alarming level of investigation – or lack thereof.”

It’s a double whammy for the university: The Justice Department said Dec. 5 it was investigating how the University of New Mexico handles reported sexual assaults and harassment, in response to “multiple complaints.”

In April, SaQwan Edwards, Crusoe Gongbay and Central New Mexico Community College student Ryan Ruff were accused of kidnapping a female student, identified in legal papers as “CS,” from an off-campus party and sexually assaulting her.

The affidavit for Ruff’s arrest gives the accuser’s account of what occurred that night – that Edwards, Gongbay and Ruff abducted CS and coerced her into performing multiple sexual acts with them.

The district attorney’s office dismissed criminal charges in June without entirely dropping the case, KQRE News 13 reported. The players were allowed to rejoin the team in August, the Journal reported.

The lawsuit against the school concerns the initial stages of the investigation, conducted by the University of New Mexico Police Department, which led to criminal charges.

Lawyer Bleus told The College Fix in a phone interview the university police investigation was “shoddy and deficient.”

In a case that revolves around kidnapping and “criminal sexual penetration” in a vehicle, Bleus said university police made no effort to secure the vehicle and search it for physical evidence. “A total lack of forensic evidence in the vehicle,” said Bleus, “would have cleared my clients.”

The alleged victim also claims Ruff threatened her with a gun while she was in the vehicle. According to Bleus, university police made no effort to find this gun.

On these and other issues where factual disputes would have arisen, Bleus said, university police “just took the victim’s word for it.”

“Civil rights violations” will be among the claims the accused students bring against the university and its police, Bleus said, but couldn’t state exactly what claims they will file.

The university released a statement last week saying it has “received no notice” of the forthcoming lawsuit, but that it “stands by the investigation” by its police. Its police department declined to comment on its handling of the investigation.

Bleus and the accuser’s lawyer, Brad Hall, began publicly squabbling in June after Bleus showed videos to the media that he said exonerated Ruff, whom he represented at the time. Edwards and Gongbay had separate legal representation during the criminal proceedings.

“Publicly branding the victim a ‘liar’ and releasing videos of unconsented sexual activity while the investigation is still ongoing sends a strong message to other rape victims, and deter them from coming forward,” Hall wrote in a statement that called Bleus’ action “unprofessional and morally reprehensible.”

“The video clips apparently shown to the media by a criminal defense attorney are proof of drugged behavior, not consent,” Hall wrote.

Bleus shot back that Hall alleged the use of a “date rape drug” months after the accuser made her initial allegations, as listed in Ruff’s arrest warrant. The defense lawyer suggested that the accuser was only belatedly claiming memory loss when her version of events “was put to the test.”

Bleus told The Fix that he intentionally “tried his case in the media” in June. He decided to “put all his cards on the table” by releasing videos of the incident and allowing the public to come to their own conclusions.

College Fix reporter Stephen Edwards is a student at Furman University.

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Faculty and students from Hood College, as well as local residents, took part in a “March on Frederick (Maryland)” early yesterday.

Supposedly evoking “the same spirit” as the famous 1963 March on Washington, more than 1,200 trekked roughly two miles through the Maryland town.

There was just one … “minor” issue: Attendance at the march for some students was mandatory. The Frederick News-Post reports (emphasis added):

Helena Hammond-DoDoo, a senior at Hood, called the march a great concept that needed better execution. Participation was mandatory for some student groups whether people were truly interested or not, she said.

“If we have absent-minded people sitting here not really listening, what have we really done?” she said.

Many students, like freshman Katie Hippert, said they view civil rights as “freedom for everyone.”

Emilie had a more clear-cut definition: “the right for anyone to go and do whatever they please, as long as it’s lawful.”

Hammond-DoDoo said she believes equality is so broad now that it is difficult to achieve. People should drop preconceived notions and adhere to the basic principle of “treat others the way you want to be treated,” she said.

Walter Olson at Free State Notes offers:

Expecting people to join a cause march whether they are inclined to or not. Expecting them to join a flag salute and pledge of allegiance whether they are inclined to or not. Similarities/differences?

Read the full Frederick News-Post article here.

h/t to Instapundit.

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(Note: This post has been UPDATED. See below.)

CNN.com reports that Sunil Dutta, a professor of homeland security and criminal justice at Colorado Technical University, has faced a great deal of criticism for his recent Washington Post column titled “I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.”

“Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you,” he wrote.

Dutta cautions against arguing, insulting, or screaming at officers, “and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?”

If you believe an officer is violating your rights or bullying you, Dutta says, don’t challenge him then — save that for lodging a complaint later. “Do what the officer tells you to and it will end safely for both of you.”

Dutta notes that he doesn’t defend all police, and sides with the ACLU regarding police misconduct. He also makes some popular recommendations, such as cops wearing body cameras.

But some critics are still shaking their heads:

While Dutta comes off as “reasonable,” he is demanding “unresisting submission to police without argument or even legal protest,” J.D. Tuccille writes at Reason.com. “Just how do you ‘refuse consent to search your car or home’ without running afoul of the no-nos Dutta warns may get you ‘shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground?'”

UPDATE: After publication of this article, Colorado Technical University contacted The College Fix to point out that the Washington Post had added an update to the byline of Dutta’s original article:

Sunil Dutta, a professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University, has been an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years. The views presented here are his own and do not represent the LAPD or CTU.

Read the full article here.

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Update on this story from two weeks ago: The Arizona State University professor whose videotaped arrest drew national attention and claims of racial profiling has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of resisting arrest.

Reuters reports that English professor Ersula Ore accepted a plea deal in Maricopa County Superior Court in which her aggravated-assault charge was dropped. The county attorney’s spokesman said she’ll probably get probation when she’s sentenced Aug. 1.

Some Ore supporters claimed she was targeted for jaywalking on a street where everyone had to cross to avoid construction, and that she defended herself from the arresting officer’s “grabbing” while her dress was up.

The FBI will continue its civil-rights investigation into the incident, requested by the school, despite Ore’s plea deal, Reuters said.

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