Police Brutality

Image of young black kids in Chicago with a police officer.
Patricia Evans

In the mid ‘90s, writer Jamie Kalven became immersed in Stateway Gardens, an impoverished and embattled public housing community on the South Side of Chicago.

Rohan Ayinde

North Carolina is one of only two states in the US where 16 and 17 years old kids are routinely charged as adults for even the most minor offenses. This policy has serious consequences for the youth involved. In this bonus podcast episode, poet Kane Smego shares a gripping poem called, “Oh Carolina”  about justice and conflict in North Carolina. 

Download the Bonus Episode Now

Photo from Playmakers production of 'Detroit 67'
Jon Gardiner

Tensions between police and civilians are on the minds of many after last week’s shootings and protests in Charlotte. But a play on stage at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Playmakers Repertory Company makes it clear that these tensions are not new. “Detroit ‘67” tells the fictional story of a brother and sister working to stay afloat as their city faces increased economic and racial turmoil. The story is punctuated with music from the booming Motown music scene.

Colette Heiser

CJ Suitt is a young black poet living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. And he has a simple and frightening question, "Would I be shot if I called the police?"

CJ uses his poetry to combat stereotypes and to build bridges of understanding. But he admits, in the wake of yet another series of high profile killings of black men by the police, something has changed. CJ no longer feels safe walking at night.

Photo of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James speaking at the ESPY Awards.
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

In the past two weeks, violence by and against police has dominated headlines and rattled the country. Protests from movements like #BlackLivesMatter continue while celebrities use speeches and social media as a platform to make their voices heard.

Meanwhile, the ESPN documentary series "O.J.: Made In America" looks at race relations since the 1960s through the life of former athlete O.J. Simpson.

photo of Keith Knight
Keith Knight

Knight was recently on The State of Things in advance of his appearance at the Durham Comics Fest.

Keith Knight has considered himself a cartoonist since he was in diapers, doodling on the walls of his family home near Boston.

While that spirit of creativity has not changed, the content of Keith's work has taken on more profound issues. Keith is known for drawing a weekly political cartoon called "(Th)ink" that often provides commentary on police brutality, racial profiling, and the black experience in America.

Photo of a police officer following the Dallas shooting
AP Photo/LM Otero

Five law enforcement officers were killed last night in Dallas. The murders happened at a protest in response to the killing of two black men this week by law enforcement officers.

On Tuesday, police shot and killed Alton Sterling while they held him down at a convenience store in Baton Rouge, La.

Gabrielle Union stars in 'Being Mary Jane,' a BET show that challenges the portrayal of the black female.
Gina Hughes / Wikimedia Commons

News outlets across the country played a cell phone video this week of a white sheriff’s deputy in South Carolina violently arresting a black female student. The officer was fired, but public dialogue continues about the video and the alarming questions it raises about how school authorities discipline students.

In pop culture, television programs like Being Mary Jane are challenging media's portrayal of black women.

An image of a man protesting in Durham
Ivan Almonte

Mexico is thousands of miles away from North Carolina, but Victoria Bouloubasis said she felt like she was there when a friend showed her a video from his phone.

“I am in a Mexican restaurant in Durham and looking at this tiny screen of a video of police brutality in rural Mexico,” Bouloubasis said.

“It was crazy because somebody took the video on their smartphone, put it on Facebook and to see something completely barbaric by the police you had to wonder about the parallels happening in the States.”

Image of shadowed figure with hood
Pixabay

 

Across the country, more than a million black men are “missing” from everyday life, according to a recent New York Times article. There are more than 70,000 missing black men in North Carolina.

 

Alicia Garza is the co-creator of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
Alicia Garza

Alicia Garza first wrote the phrase “black lives matter” on Facebook as a note to her friends and followers the day George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin. 

Photo: A camera pinned on a police uniform
cops.usdoj.gov

A bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers is proposing that some of the state’s largest police departments and sheriffs’ offices be required to have their officers wear body cameras while they’re on patrol.

The bill—which would impact law enforcement agencies serving roughly 60 percent of the state’s population, including in Raleigh, Charlotte, Wilmington and Asheville—would set aside $10 million over two years to help agencies pay for the cost of equipment and storing thousands of hours of video.

Breathing Back

Feb 24, 2015
Breathing Back: A Meditation Chorus is now on display at The Carrack.
Alexis Pauline Gumbs / http://thecarrack.org/exhibit/breathingback/

  The final words uttered by Eric Garner, "I can't breathe," have become a mantra for protesters across the nation speaking out against police brutality.

Two Durham-based artists have repurposed the phrase for a new cause: to help outraged and exhausted communities connect to a legacy of activism and build resources for their long-term spiritual, emotional and physical resilience. They call it “Black Feminist Breathing.”

Malcolm X waiting for a press conference to begin on March 26, 1964.
U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

The messages of civil rights leader Malcolm X still resonate 50 years after his assassination.

Conversations about Islam in America, police shootings and freedom of the press are as relevant in 2015 as they were on the day of his death: February 21, 1965.

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill start a two-day conference to examine the legacy of Malcolm X today.

City of Fayetteville Police Department
bethebadge.com

There’s an organization in Holly Springs that trains law enforcement officers across the country to better serve their communities.

The International Academy of Public Safety or IAPS, began training police and sheriff’s departments five years ago.  Today, more than 12,000 law enforcement officers in ten states have participated in their program. More than 3,000 of them are in North Carolina.

Chris Hoina is an expert trainer at IAPS.  He says one of their biggest success stories is in Jefferson Parrish, Louisiana.

City of Fayetteville Police Department
bethebadge.com

The U.S. Department of Justice will spend the next several months reviewing the policies and practices of the Fayetteville Police Department. The review comes at the request of Fayetteville Police Department as part of the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services program. They'll be looking at the use of force and deadly force by the police, as well as community interaction.

Image of Roger Guenveur Smith in his solo show, "Rodney King"
Patti McGuire

Rodney King gained overnight notoriety when videos surfaced of him being violently beaten by Los Angeles police officers.