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Hey folks – I just got this email and hope you will join me in placing a call to the Department of Justice to demand an investigation into the Durham Police Department. Here is the message from the body of the email:

“There are still more questions than answers in the tragic death of 17 year old Jesús Huerta. The young man died of a gunshot wound to the face received while handcuffed in the back of a police car in Durham, North Carolina.

Durham Police have released a report saying that Jesús somehow shot himself, a claim that defies logic. Jesus’s hands were cuffed behind his back, and the officer who arrested Jesus claims to have frisked him before arresting him.

Jesús’s grieving family needs answers they can trust now more than ever. Last month the Department of Justice received more than 18,000 petition signatures calling for a patterns and practices investigation of Durham Police Department, but so far they’ve done nothing.

It’s time to increase the pressure for them to act. Can you take a moment to call the DOJ to ask for an investigation of Durham Police? We’ll give you the phone number and a short script you can use.

Sunday night marked two months since Jesús’s death, and his family organized a prayer vigil in Durham. Jesús’s family and community are still seeking answers and assurances this will never happen again.

While we still can’t be sure how Jesús died, we do know that he was the second Latino and third man of color to die in the presence Durham Police Department since July. We know that the police chief is under investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission following his own vice chief’s allegations of discriminatory practices in hiring and promotion. And we know that an analysis of traffic stop data reveals troubling evidence of racial profiling by Durham police.

A Department of Justice investigation could lead to the kind of reforms within Durham Police Department that would ensure that no other family would have to grieve the way Jesús’s family has.

Please place a phone call to the Department of Justice and ask them to investigate the Durham Police Department. We’ll give you the phone number and a brief script.

Thanks and ¡adelante!
Arturo, Roberto, Jesús, Erick, Erica, Refugio, and the rest of the Presente.org Team”

I can’t find a transcription of this speech that is correct.  All of the versions available leave out critical bits of this speech.  They leave out the mention of spending too much on military bases instead of bases of genuine concern, etc.  A typical example of the attempt to de-radicalize the good Rev. King.   Listen to this in its entirety.

“Violence against women –once treated as fodder by comedians and regularly ignored by police– is now taken seriously” –Nancy MacLean, The American Women’s Movement, 1945-2000

Taken seriously by whom?  Not by the police officers I confronted this Friday at 2:00 A.M. after watching one man beat a woman with his belt, then loop the belt around her neck saying, “I need to keep my women in check” while another man (his friend?) took pictures.  I ran less than a block from the Ackland Store to the Subway entrance, where a bunch of cops were loitering and creating a hostile environment for several law-abiding people of the Chapel Hill area.

“Hey cops!  Did you see that shit?”

A blonde cop responded that he had seen the man beating a woman with his belt, but because the woman appeared to be giggling, he thought she consented to being beaten in public.  “I can’t impinge upon your rights,” he said.

Whose rights can’t he violate?  My right to feel safe when I walk at night?  A man’s right to beat a woman in the street?  Even if you support a person’s right to engage in consensual BDSM, the people involved were visibly drunk.  According to North Carolina law, that would invalidate any extremely dubious consent the officer claimed to have perceived.

I personally felt unsafe confronting the two men on my own.  If the police are unwilling to address sexual harassment and violence even in the most public spaces, we need to create working alternatives in order to address violence and support survivors.  This isn’t a new issue.

More training for cops may help, but heavier policing will not.  If a woman can be beaten by a man in front of a group of six cops, a stronger police presence is not the answer to our problem.

To the extent that we actually have a Carolina Family, or a campus community, we have a responsibility to explore our options for holding perpetrators of violence accountable without the intervention of law enforcement.  Addressing violence is never simple, but doesn’t have to involve police officers working on behalf of violent state authority.  By developing our own tools to address interpersonal violence, including a constant effort to hold ourselves and our loved ones accountable for their actions, we better ensure survivors’ safety and recognize the humanity in the people who perpetrate interpersonal violence.

The Task Force to Review Student on Student Complaints of Harassment needs input from students on how to address violence between students on and off campus.  As a member of the Task Force, I would like to open a space for addressing hostile environments that allows survivors the greatest number of options, and doesn’t subject survivors to further trauma.  Please submit an anonymous suggestion at the Campus Conversation website.  If you would be more comfortable meeting in person (and processing your feelings verbally), e-mail skbryan1@live.unc.edu or contact another member of the Task Force.

http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/

For more information about what transformative justice may look like, this page has links to good reads: http://www.phillystandsup.com/contact_links.html

Sarah-Kathryn Bryan

When I hear people talk about UNC many people think of sunny quads, winning basketball teams, and stellar academics. This is no different among many of the students that attend the university either but the reality is that for many of us attending school here has not been an amazing experience. In fact it has be a very hard and arduous path and not something I am looking forward to recount to anyone in coming years. While people are doting on how beautiful the quad the quad is in the spring or how amazing their educational experience is here’s what I’ll be thinking of:

I’ll think about a university that seduces people of color with a promise that they will be included and represented here yet when they arrive they become tokens in classes full of “good white liberals” with tons of microaggressions. I’ll think about the white man who told me that black people don’t belong on this campus and about that white woman on the p2p who told me she had an intrinsic hate of black people. I’ll think about the other white woman who called the police on me for having a pocket knife and the elderly white man who turned down my help because I was black. I’ll think about all those white people who would move when I got on the bus and I’ll think about white people who cannot or will not listen to anything a person of color has to say and will do anything (and I mean anything) to derail conversations and make them about their guilt or hurt. I’ll think about the administration who has, on more than one occasion, told me that they weren’t surprised that I wasn’t succeeding at UNC because I was black and who told me that I should just be glad I’m still here and to stop worrying about succeeding.

I’ll also think about how incredibly hard everything at this university became once my depression hit rock bottom. I’ll think about how absence policies became the bane of my existence when I simply could not get out bed in the morning. I’ll think about how my depression has led me down a dismal path of hatred of everything administrative at carolina because trying to do anything is like jumping through burning hoops of fire in order to get it approved. I’ll think about how professors dismiss depression and anxiety as real mental health issues and who tell you that you should drop out if you can’t keep up. I’ll think about how “friends” called me lazy and unmotivated while shouting “stop the stigma of mental health” in the pit a day or two later. I’ll think about how once my knee started being in constant pain it became impossible for me to navigate this university because of the uneven bricks and the largeness of the campus. I’ll think about how that is further complicated by all the incredibly ableist people around me who told me that I was moving too slow or that told me to simply “work through the pain.” I’ll think about how all of this was said in the spirit of the “carolina way”.

when I remember UNC I’ll remember feeling like I never truly found a community of people because I was always shaving off little bits of myself to fit into different spaces. I’ll remember seeking “refuge” in a queer community that was full of people that perpetuated the same stereotypes that the sexual majority perpetuated. I’ll remember accepting wrong pronouns from certain friends, the wrong sexuality from other friends, and putting up with racist remarks from other friends because no one at Carolina could ever truly get it right. I’ll remember a certain air of elitism that came with attending Carolina and that made it okay for students here to put down students at other universities because their schools didn’t have the same prestige that Carolina had.

I’ll remember [white] sororities throwing racist parties and I’ll remember [white] fraternities turning away black people.

I’ll also remember the fact that this University (as well as many others) are in bed with college athletics and do not care about what that promotes.

I’ll remember its treatment of sexual assault survivors and I’ll remember it’s commitment to trying to shut those survivors up because it didn’t want to lose rank.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s beautiful Carolina parade but to say that I love this place would be a huge overstatement. I have met great friends here and have enjoyed some of the opportunities that I have been afforded by attending this university but I will not let my experience go unheard.

It is high time we began listening to the experiences of marginalized people because often times they represent a flaw in our institutions and something that could be improved upon. If we listen to the experiences of those who haven’t had a stellar time at this university (and many other “elite” institutions) we may well began to see that these places have a lot of work to do in order to create environments that foster learning and growth for everyone at the university and not just a select few.

Addison E.

Feminist Students United (FSU) is a progressive feminist organization which affirms that no form of oppression can be overcome until all aspects of racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism are dismantled. We acknowledge intersecting identities and strive to be mindful of these intersections in all our work. We endeavor to create an environment which is non-hierarchical and supportive in nature, and we work to bring about change in our community through education, outreach, direct action and community organizing.

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Spring 2015: Wednesdays at 7:30 PM in Murphey 202

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