What a pleasure it was for me to serve as a panellist for the American Bar Association (ABA) “Constructive Community Conversations: Racism, Police Reform and the Role of Attorneys,” on December 15, 2020. The ABA Dispute Resolution Section, Diversity Committee, and Public Disputes and Consensus Building Committee hosted the virtual event. According to the organizers, the webinar was designed to help participants develop plans to facilitate constructive conversations around the roles of all community members in matters concerning racism, policing and the law.
The diverse panel of subject matter experts and thought leaders addressed important issues challenging our communities. We discussed the role of dispute resolvers as well as attorneys, lawmakers, law enforcement, labor unions, and the community in being accountable to affect real change. We explored tools and developed strategies to inspire participants to have their own community conversations so that we can all contribute to the solutions.
Everyone has a role in making social impact, even when it comes to policing. With systemic racism and police misconduct being in the forefront in 2020, with the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, all aspects of the community must be engaged in creating change. That is why this was such a timely and noteworthy discussion. The ABA brought various aspects of the community together to converse and develop solutions.
Charged with giving the history of racism in policing and laying out the challenges for panellists to explore in our conversation, I had only ten minutes to give a 150+ year history and to frame the issues! The pressure was on! In my presentation, I explored the historical evolution of policing and explained why police culture is rooted in racism, classism and white supremacy. I also touched on seven important issues that leaders and the community must explore in order to improve the way our justice system operates when it comes to policing.
I commend the ABA for organizing such an outstanding panel! Distinguished panellists included Dr. Homer LaRue, Arbitrator, Mediator, Professor of Law, Howard Univeristy School of Law, who served as our moderator; Attorney Ben Crump, Civil Rights Attorney; Andrew Thomas, City of Sanford, Florida, Public Engagement; Atty. Amanda Green-Hawkins, Assistant General Counsel and Director, Civil Rights Department, United Steelworkers; and Dr. Gregory A. Salters, Law Enforcement Executive, Transformational Success and Leadership Coach. What a panel!
Considering the positive response, the ABA plans to host more community conversations. Be on the lookout for these virtual events in 2021.
Once received, I will provide a link in this blog to the video of this panel discussion, so that you may watch and learn from this informative conversation.