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Sunday, September 23, 2018

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Lecture analyzes racial profiling, police brutality


Students filled the Law Center’s Krost Hall for the Yale L. Rosenberg Memorial lecture featuring guest speaker Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who spoke about racial profiling.

Communications lecturer and Judge Steven Kirkland said he attended the lecture because racial profiling is an issue he cares deeply about. He said it is something that is happening in our society, whether people realize it or not.

Brooks is not only a civil rights advocate, but also a lawyer and an ordained minister. He graduated from Jackson State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology and later became a civil rights attorney after earning a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School.

The event was part of the second annual Cultural Connect Week by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, which worked alongside the UH Law Center in organizing the event.

“Our biggest strength is our commitment to helping advance diversity, which is our mission,” Niya Blair, director of the CDI, said about the goal of the event.

Brooks explained NAACP’s similar commitment to diversity and attributed every award and achievement he has earned to the determined people working alongside and as a part of NAACP.

He described its members as “the greatest band of people in the most widely respected civil rights organization.”

The lecture also recognized the recent nationwide attention on racial profiling by the police.

“(It is) the art of police racial profiling and misconduct,” Brooks said. Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner and those involved with the Black Lives Matter movement were upheld as examples.

Brooks acknowledged the similar profiling and equally disappointing misconduct of law enforcement with Muslim Americans post 9/11, the LGBT community and the even the struggles women still face in today’s society.

His words called on every member of the community to embrace this opportunity to “make this the America we were called to,” by realizing the role we all play in the interaction between police officers and the community they are employed to serve and protect.

Brooks said a change from the warrior mentality police officers are trained to have and reforming that into a guardian mentality would be an effective strategy, as well as new policies replacing outdated ones that plague police departments, encourage profiling and enable brute force or misconduct nationwide.

Brooks also suggested the integration of technology and community members in police training and reform, hoping to create a trust between officers and citizens. This would allow the police to do their jobs more effectively while simultaneously creating a better relationship with the neighborhoods they protect.

The event concluded with an acknowledgement to the late Yale L. Rosenberg, for the work and legacy he leaves behind at UH.

Brooks reminded all law students that they are the driving force of advocacy and that without the lawyers behind the scenes and on the front lines, all the accomplishments met would be unattainable.

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