By Fighting Words Staff
Since the police execution of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the vigilante murder of Ahmaud Arbery during 2020, the demand for the defunding of the police and the abolition of detention facilities have gained widespread exposure.
In Detroit, the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at the Wayne State University Law School sponsored a second forum on the topic of the historical and contemporary role of policing in the United States. Despite the attempt by the administration of President Joe Biden and his allies in Congress to silence the call for abolition, the issue remains a vital one in African American and progressive communities throughout the country.
On May 17 this was the topic at the Law School where Lloyd Simpson spoke, a leader within Detroit Will Breathe and a researcher at the University of Michigan History Department Policing Lab in Ann Arbor. The Policing Lab has collected thousands of documents on the systematic brutality and misconduct of the Detroit Police Department dating back to the late 1950s through the 2000s.
Other panelists were Tawanna Petty of the Detroit Digital Justice Project who discussed the spread of electronic surveillance in Detroit and the campaign to halt “Shot Spotter” technology. Attorney Nancy Parker of Detroit discussed the legal challenge to the Shot Spotter project in the city where 77% of the population are African Americans. Alia Harvey-Quinn of Force Detroit addressed the need to reduce violence in the communities. The event was opened with a poem by Dr. Gloria Aneb House and read by Shushanna Shakur of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Attorney Julie Hurwitz of the National Lawyers Guild moderated the panel.
Co-sponsors of this forum were the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR), the Detroit Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability, and the Detroit and Michigan chapters of the National Lawyers Guild.