‘Policing and Race in Post-Ferguson America’ topic of Sept. 10 lecture

September 8, 2015 | Events, News, UToday, Law
By Rachel Phipps

Professor David Harris, the Distinguished Faculty Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, will deliver the first lecture in a two-part series titled “A Conversation on Policing and Race in Post-Ferguson America” Thursday, Sept. 10, at noon in the Law Center McQuade Law Auditorium.

The free, public lecture is a part of the Stranahan National Issues Forum and is sponsored by the College of Law and its chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies.



Since the events in Ferguson, Mo., last year, Americans have seen a steady stream of incidents replayed in video images: the death of Eric Garner in a police chokehold in New York, the killing of a fleeing Walter Scott by a North Charleston police officer, and the death in police custody of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, to name a few.

These incidents and others have raised uncomfortable questions about policing in this country. Is American policing infected with racism? Have police gone too far in their willingness to use force? How can we ensure that policing is performed effectively, but also fairly and impartially?

Harris, who has studied police and their conduct for 25 years, and who has worked with and trained police in departments all over the country, will offer his thoughts on racial profiling and various means available to curb police misconduct.

In the second lecture in the series, which will take place Monday, Nov. 2, Heather Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to New York’s City Journal, will respond to Harris and examine the claims of the Black Lives Matter Movement. She will argue that police departments are the government agencies most dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter by explaining the policing revolution of the 1990s and looking at race, crime and policing statistics.

Harris is the leading national authority on racial profiling. His law journal articles about profiling became the basis for the Traffic Stops Statistics Act of 1997, the first national legislative proposal in the country to attempt to address profiling. His 2002 book, Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work, and his research on profiling led to reform efforts by the federal government, by more than half the states, and by hundreds of police departments.

Harris works frequently with media outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition,” NBC’s “Today” show, and many others.

He taught at The University of Toledo College of Law through 2007. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Northwestern University, a juris doctor from Yale Law School, and a master of law degree from Georgetown University.

The Stranahan National Issues Forum is a joint program of The University of Toledo College of Law and its chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. It is made possible by an endowment from the Stranahan Foundation.

The forum’s purpose is to address issues of national importance through the lens of the American legal system. Harris joins a long list of high-profile speakers who have delivered the Stranahan Lecture at the UT College of Law.

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