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U. Louisville leaders demand ‘racial justice,’ accuse nation of systemic racism over Breonna Taylor case

‘I Can’t Breathe!’ states diversity official in campuswide email 

As protests have broken out across the state of Kentucky following the controversial decision in the Breonna Taylor case, University of Louisville administrators sent out memos to the campus community decrying systemic racism and encouraging students to fight for racial justice.

Developments in the Taylor case resulted in the decision by a Kentucky Grand Jury Wednesday that one of the three police officers involved in the shooting death of Taylor would be charged with wanton endangerment.

No police officers involved in Taylor’s death would be formally charged with her killing, leading to nationwide outrage from Black Lives Matter supporters and human rights activists alike.

Following the decision, leadership at the University of Louisville issued statements to the student body that criticized the outcome and called for racial and criminal justice reforms.

“Today’s announcement is a reminder that we must recommit to pursuing racial justice and pushing for changes in law enforcement, our legal system, public policy and our educational curricula,” began University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi’s email to the campus community.

“Change will not come easy,” Bendapudi continued. “We acknowledge that the path of progress has seldom run smoothly and we are more determined than ever to seek racial equity and justice.”

“…I commit again to you today that I will do my part in the ongoing fight to ensure social justice, equal opportunity for all and the elimination of all forms of racism. I hope you will join me.”

A second message sent from Senior Associate Vice President for Diversity and Equity V. Faye Jones, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix, shared similar sentiments while taking aim at United States’ values like liberty and justice.

“As we experience the decision regarding the killing of Breonna Taylor,” Jones stated, “I want to take this time to pause and reflect on these three words: ‘I Can’t Breathe!’”

“These three words have come to represent a reflection of a long history of racism and social injustice in these ‘united’ states. From its inception, every member of its citizenry has witnessed and experienced some measure of privilege or oppression as this country attempted to find its identity and live up to the words ‘liberty and justice for all.’”

“Once you are ready,” Jones’ email continues, “let this be a resounding call to action for each of us no matter if you are a seasoned leader in the struggle for racial justice or new in your journey. We need tangible actions based on changing the systems that allow racist policies and practices to continue. We, as individuals and collectively as an institution, must use our power to make a difference, because we know systemic change will only occur if we focus on all parts of the system.”

Since the announcement, critics and supporters alike have taken to Twitter to voice their opinions on the matter.

“Emails from the president and multiple staff members of the University of Louisville making their political views regarding the verdict released today VERY clear are so inappropriate! Students should not know your political views,” said Twitter user @_kmlll on her reactions to the school-wide communications.

The statements by administration come as a growing number of Twitter users are now encouraging students and athletes to boycott the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, and the Kentucky Derby.

Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., a civil rights activist and political figure, weighed in on the issue, instructing his followers to “Boycott every nonessential service in Louisville including horse racing and basketball recruits at the University of Louisville.”

“Burn Louisville down,”@portapottyrules added. “Hopefully no black players ever play for the university of louisville ever again. Their teams wouldn’t survive without any black athleticism on their squads.”

“I never want to put pressure on 18-23 year old college athletes yet I think every University of Kentucky & University of Louisville athlete should transfer from the school or boycott their entire SZN in sports. hit them where it hurts,” said @TweetsByJMike.

Meanwhile, raucous demonstrations unfolded Wednesday night in Louisville, during which two officers were shot and 127 people were arrested, according to news reports. Some businesses were also vandalized and fires were set in the streets. More unrest was expected Thursday night as well.

MORE: University of Louisville dedicates $2.4 million to hiring professors of color

MORE: U. Louisville job ad for science professor: Whites, Asians need not apply

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About the Author
Jackson Walker is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin majoring in English creative writing. In addition to The College Fix, Jackson also writes for UW student newspaper the Badger Herald. Outside of classes, Jackson keeps busy with his involvement in the UW Marching band, which has taken him to two NFL stadiums and the Rose Bowl.

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