“It is impossible to be unarmed when my blackness is the weapon you fear.”
Another black man was killed by the police yesterday. Alfred Olango was unarmed and experiencing a breakdown related to his mental illness when he was tasered and shot dead by police in California after his sister called officers for help.
Our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Alfred Olango. We stand in solidarity with protesters currently calling for accountability from the police department and a full release of a video of the shooting.
– Black Allied Law Students Association
Delrawn Small. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Three more lost lives added to the list of over 100 Black people murdered by police officers in 2016. News of a murder followed by the protests and the vigils and the outrage have become ritualized trauma that we seem unable to wash away. The advent of 21st Century technology has added a new dimension to our oppression, as looped video footage of killing after killing emotionally triggers many within our communities and desensitizes others to Black pain.
As Black law students, we study the law with the double consciousness that the system we are studying systematically and repeatedly fails communities of color. There is no need to explain how or why. Those answers are clear and unequivocal. But still there are those who seek to put these murdered victims on trial and demonize Black communities. As Frederick Douglass once said, “Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty?…Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No, I will not.”
And neither will we.
The loss that we now mourn is not due to a lack of understanding but to a lack of moral imperative and conscience. Appeals to reason and fairness have not stopped police officers from killing us. Empathy for human suffering has not stopped police officers from killing us. Knowledge that they might be caught on camera has not stopped police officers from killing us.
As we deal with the emotional and mental impact of these murders, we implore you to take care of yourself. Prioritize your own emotional and mental well being. And care for those around you.
When you are ready, we encourage you to research the “use of deadly force” standard that governs the police department where you live. If you find it unsatisfactory, contact your elected representative and express your expectation that she or he work to change it. There is no time for empty rhetoric. Recognition of our humanity demands action.
Delrawn Small. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. You deserved a better country.
We stand in solidarity with their families and loved ones as we try to come to grips with three more police killings. We who believe in freedom cannot rest.
NYU Black Allied Law Students Association
The Executive Boards of OUTLaw, SALSA, CoLR, APALSA, Law Women, WoCC, and LaLSA stand in solidarity with BALSA and in support of this statement. BALSA thanks each of them.
Yet again. Yet. Again. Over and over and over we have seen the same theme arise. Not just today. Not just this month. And, not just this year. A Black or Brown person killed with impunity. A Black or Brown person stripped of any semblance of the protection of law. A Black or Brown person denied rights guaranteed to every citizen under our Constitution.
This result brings frustration. It brings fear. It brings anger. It brings pain. It defines what we believe is injustice.
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner, a father of six, was killed by Officer Daniel Pantaleo through the employ of an illegal chokehold maneuver during the course of an arrest. The video of his death has gone viral.
Akai Gurley. Tamir Rice. Cameron Tillman. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. The list goes off the page and into the history books, a never-ending saga of historical and present-day injustice.
Eric Garner’s final words, uttered many times over, were “I can’t breathe.”
Today, December 3, 2014, a grand jury has decided not to bring charges against Daniel Pantaleo. The Black Allied Law Students Association, once again, in the strongest terms possible, condemns today’s decision and the line of decisions made by police officers, prosecutors, judges, juries, politicians, and every-day citizens that allow this result to continue to occur.
The Black Allied Law Students Association
On Saturday, August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed, eighteen-year-old student, was shot and killed by Police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. In the days, weeks, and months that followed Michael Brown’s death, our country witnessed the pain, anger, and frustration, felt by so many, with a system of law enforcement that has replicated these tragedies time and time again. Throughout the country, thousands of people took to the streets and demanded a single outcome: justice. After more than three months of mourning and waiting in hope of an equitable result, Monday night’s announcement by the St. Louis County Prosecutor offered no relief.
The New York University School of Law’s Black Allied Law Students Association strongly condemns the non-indictment of Darren Wilson for his killing of Michael Brown. Despite being confronted with a young man who lost his life and a number of conflicting eyewitness accounts, the Grand Jury did not find probable cause to file any indictment against Darren Wilson. The Grand Jury concluded that Michael Brown’s death warranted no further consideration or deliberation.
This decision marks yet another chapter in the long and painful history of violence against Black and Brown people that enjoys no sympathy or any measure of redress in the American criminal justice system. Even in the months following Michael Brown’s death, countless others have suffered the physical and psychological wounds that come from the fist, baton, or bullet. Excessive force has become a staple in communities across the country and the officers who employ it are reflections of policies that condone its use. The work of creating a system of law enforcement and criminal justice that values and respects the lives of all citizens must start in earnest now.
BALSA supports the Michael Brown Family petition for a national requirement of all law enforcement officials to wear body cameras while on duty as a deterrent for abuses of police power. We also invite all members of our law school community to a forum tomorrow, Tuesday, November 25th at 6pm in Kushner Lounge in Vanderbilt Hall where we will discuss the Grand Jury decision. A group will then walk to join the protests in Union Square at 7:00pm. In the interim, we ask that the entire NYU Law community keep Michael Brown’s family in their thoughts and prayers.
The Black Allied Law Students Association
To the NYU Law Community:
On Saturday, August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an eighteen-year-old student, was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown was unarmed at the time of his murder, and according to witnesses, he held his hands high in the air. While various accounts related to his prior conduct have been released to the media, additional details cannot provide justification or obfuscate the fact that an unarmed teenager was shot and killed by a police officer. Period. This is the starting point from which we must engage in conversation.
Michael Brown’s murder is unquestionably a tragedy, but in a country where a Black man is killed at the hands of law enforcement or is the victim of vigilantism every 28 hours, his murder should not come as a surprise. Without fundamental changes to our system of law enforcement and a thorough examination of the implicit biases that influence many discriminatory actions across our society, we can be sure to witness a repeat of this tragedy. The Black Allied Law Students Association (“BALSA”) at New York University School of Law strongly condemns the murder of Michael Brown and extends our deepest condolences to his family. We further condemn and demand reform to a criminal justice system that nourishes and cultivates the landscape that allows for this tragedy to occur.
Throughout this academic year, BALSA will present dialogues and events that address this issue and many more. Please join us for a moment of silence for Michael Brown and the victims of police brutality in the Vanderbilt Hall courtyard at 12:30pm on August 27th, the first day of classes.
The Executive Board of the Black Allied Law Students Association