The members of Arizona Critical Ethnic Studies are deeply concerned by a recent incident involving an Arizona State University (ASU) police officer and an ASU faculty member. We call for a swift and thorough investigation into this matter.
On the evening of May 21, 2014, Dr. Ersula Ore, a professor in the English department at ASU, was walking home from campus after teaching a summer course. Dr. Ore, who is African American, was stopped and questioned by a male ASU police officer patrolling the area in his vehicle. After a short exchange with the officer, a brief physical altercation ensued in which Dr. Ore, who was wearing a dress, was forced up against the officer’s car and then onto the ground, fully exposing portions of her lower body to the public. Eyewitness accounts of the incident, including video evidence, support Dr. Ore’s assertion that the officer did not clearly inform her regarding why she was being stopped or inform her of her rights, and engaged in excessive force during her detention. Despite these questionable circumstances, however, Dr. Ore has subsequently been charged with felony aggravated assault on the officer, among other charges.
We are troubled by the responses of the media, University, and ASU Police Department about this incident. Media versions have presented a sensationalized, one-sided story that differs substantially from Dr. Ore’s and eyewitness accounts. Officials at ASU, in response to questions about the incident and possible racial profiling, have sought to distance the University, stating that 1) because the incident occurred on a public street between parts of campus, it was technically “off campus,” so Dr. Ore was a private citizen; and 2) although they will comply with any investigation, there is no evidence of racial profiling. We find these responses insufficient. First, the officer involved was an ASU police officer and the University is responsible for the conduct of its employees, including its police force. Second, whether as a private citizen or as a member of the ASU community, Dr. Ore has the right to expect dignified and humane treatment by ASU’s police officers. ASU, as a public institution, has a responsibility to ensure this occurs. Third, ASU has not undertaken a thorough investigation into the matter, so how can officials claim that there is an absence of racial profiling? In a state and metropolitan region in which racial profiling has been proven to be widespread, the ASU administration’s lack of concern for the well-being of an ASU community member of color is unacceptable.
Given that the mission of the ASU Police Department is, “To enhance the quality of life by providing a safe and secure environment through professional and proactive law enforcement services in partnership with the University community,” this incident clearly warrants further inquiry from ASU. We ask the ASU administration to conduct a comprehensive investigation into this matter as well as an audit on the conduct of its police force vis-à-vis racial profiling. How can ASU ensure a safe, secure, and just environment for its faculty, students, and staff if it disclaims any responsibility for the actions of ASU police officers? The following questions should be starting points for its audit: In the ASU Police Department, what training is in place to ensure that its police officers are knowledgeable and well-trained to be in compliance with laws prohibiting racial profiling and excessive force? What monitoring systems exist to ensure accountability? How does the department respond to racial profiling complaints?
Dr. Ore, the ASU community, and the broader public deserve a full and just investigation into this incident.
Arizona Critical Ethnic Studies is a network of college and university educators and independent scholars throughout Arizona.
No black person is ever safe.
Salute to Sister Soldier Yuri Kochiyama!
Born May 19, 1921 (93 years young and strong)
An extraordinary Japanese American woman who spoke out and fought shoulder-to-shoulder with African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Whites for social justice, civil rights, and prisoners and women’s rights in the U.S. and internationally for over half a century. A prolific writer and speaker on human rights, Kochiyama has spoken at over 100 colleges and universities and high schools in the U.S. and Canada.
Rest in power: Yuri Kochiyama passed on June 1, 2014. She leaves behind a wonderful legacy and much to emulate and learn from.
After serving nearly 44 years for a crime he did not commit, Marshall Eddie Conway finally walked out of the Maryland House of Corrections, March 4, a free man.
The former Black Panther Party leader called immediately for a struggle to free all political prisoners across the nation. Many, like himself, Conway charged, were victims of frame-ups orchestrated under the infamous FBI Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO).
Speaking on the Democracy NOW news program, Conway thanked the millions of people who worked tirelessly to win his freedom. There are, he added, “political prisoners all across the country now, from the Black Panther Party" who were "victims of the COINTELPRO operation."
He added, “It undermined a lot of people. It painted a picture that caused people not to get fair trials …. It caused a lot of our members to get assassinated.”
Senate hearings in 1975 by Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, exposed COINTELPRO’s infiltration and dirty tricks as an FBI scheme to “perpetrate violence among Black groups and among other groups,” Conway added.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was among the targets of COINTELPRO secretly established by the FBI in the early 1950s with the Communist Party USA being its primary target.
Conway who has always pleaded innocent, was convicted during his 1970 trial almost solely on the basis of testimony by a jailhouse snitch. The weapon used to kill the police officer, Donald Sager, was never found.
Later it was revealed that a National Security Agency undercover agent set up the Baltimore branch of the Black Panther Party, Conway said. “I think some of the most active people in the organization were targeted, followed around by the COINTELPRO and opportunities were created with agent provocateurs or police agents …. incidents were created that ultimately led to them destroying like 25 of our 37 chapters in a period of 18 months.”
The president has pardoned some victims of this FBI wrecking operation, he said. But political prisoners, like Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier ”need to have the same kind of support … to help them get free,” he said.
The way that the Stand Your Ground statute is used in jury instructions boils down to this: ALL THAT ANY NON-BLACK SHOOTER NEEDS TO DO IS TO SAY THAT THEY WERE AFRAID FOR THEIR LIFE…because scary Black person. It matters very little if the so-called “reasonable fear” existed in reality, or only in someone’s mind, or not at all
Newsflash: ANY given reason =/= “reasonable fear”
I’ve sat on a jury as a foreman before, and please believe me when I say…during deliberations in the jury room, “reasonable” can easily become, “well, he did give a reason for his fear" if someone strong (or Black) isn’t there to immediately shoot that thought process down
Here is the complete text of the Florida #SYG statute (written by ALEC, btw) which ultimately finds it’s way into Florida’s self defense (aka #SYG) jury instructions
Make no mistake: Dunn didn’t use the words ‘gangster’ and ‘thug’ in his testimony by mistake. You don’t have to look any further than the glaring difference between how Richard Sherman was derided and pilloried as a “thug” vs. when White people like Mayor Rob Ford and Michael Grimm (R-NY) aren’t even arrested after being caught on film using drugs or making credible death threats, let alone not called a thug. Those two words—thug and gangster—and many more have become heavily weaponized and racialized, and they are ‘polite’ stand ins for the n-word. And that coded language didn’t just happen all on it’s own
And let’s be real here, for far too many armed White people, unfamiliar Black bodies are plenty of reason to be fearful…all the way to the point of immediately applying lethal force (please see also: implicit shooter bias, Renisha McBride, Jonathan Ferrell, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc)
A great example of why you don’t have any idea what is happening in the world around you. I don’t generally blog this stuff but, you Should know Time Magazine is not the only media to do this.
And people say the U.S. doesn’t have media censorship.