CAMERON ALFORD | STAFF REPORTER
The discussion began by referencing the disproportionate amount of African-Americans who are incarcerated and the political, legal and social reasons behind the issue.
Butler political science professor Terri Jett, a member of the panel, said that there is a connection between education and the justice system in her opinion.
She addressed that connection by referring to the “school-to-prison pipeline” concept. She said that if students are not educated early on, they have a higher chance of going to prison in the future.
The panel then discussed the handling of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, two African-American males who died in relation to violence associated with officers in their respective communities.
The discussion carried forward and noted specific situations of excess police force, including the controversial stop-and-frisk law in New York City.
David Shaheed, Supreme Court Judge of Marion County, another member of the panel, said there is no problem with the stop-and-frisk mandate in New York. In his opinion, however, the law leads to brutal outcomes directed at “people of color,” he said.
Finally, the last point of debate related to racial profiling in major cities across the United States. The panel analyzed and spoke about human rights concerns in relation to a lack of privacy for individuals.
Douglas Hairston, Minister and Director of Mayor Ballard’s Front Porch Alliance, said racism is still alive in subtle and sometimes extreme ways.
Hairston said society will not be able to solve all of its problems until individuals engage with one another, as opposed to remaining separate to another group’s concerns.
“Sure there is room for reconciliation, but you have to have a willing heart to get to a point where a reconciliation discussion can happen,” he said
The Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation, and Global Justice, Black Student Union, Demia and Christian Theological Seminary’s Black Student Caucus hosted the event.
The panel participants included Douglas Hairston, minister and director of Mayor Ballard’s Front Porch Alliance; Dr. Terri Jett, ACLU Indiana Board president and associate professor of political science at Butler University; Judge David Shaheed, Superior Court judge for Marion County; and Robert Turner, former police officer and director of public safety for Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
For more information on future events at the Desmond Tutu Center, check out the Desmond Tutu Center’s website, and follow its Facebook and Twitter (@thetutucenter) accounts.