A small, informal group discussion about the issues raised by the racial tension that has roiled Ferguson, MO, over the shooting of teenager Michael Brown took place in the law school on Aug. 25.
The brown bag luncheon invited all members of the law school community to share their thoughts about the events of the past two weeks in a calm and respectful atmosphere.
Ably guided by Professor Sarah Duggin, the hour-long discussion encouraged students, faculty, and members of the staff to ask questions, trade insights, and try to dig deeper into the complex racial and socioeconomic issues that have boiled to the surface in the wake of Brown’s fatal shooting by a city police officer on Aug. 9.
Roundtable participants in the talk contributed their thoughts about many aspects of Brown’s death, and others like it that have occurred before.
As with society as large, there were a variety of opinions expressed about the incident. One point raised that seemed to resonate with people was the frequent “thugification” of shooting victims like Brown, i.e., the media’s tendency to sensationalize prior brushes with the law that may have had little or nothing to do with the actual incident that caused their deaths.
Professor and former law school dean Veryl Miles, who grew up in the vicinity of Catholic University, saw some similarities between the rioting in Ferguson this month and the rioting in Washington, D.C. in 1968 following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
The events of both eras underscore the need for community policing and a higher level of trust between the men and women in blue and the communities they serve, said Miles.