Policing Color: Black, Brown, and Blue

The 2017 LENS Conference poster, Cyber, Security & Surveillance: Truth & Consequences

We are living in a moment in which significant tensions exist between law enforcement and communities of color. Of course, these tensions are not simply a product of our time. There is a history of racism in policing; and as a consequence of that history and based on the lived experiences of people of color, many communities of color bear a deep distrust of the police. At the same time, law enforcement personnel sometimes feel besieged and isolated as police officers attempt to meet their duty to protect and serve many different communities. The issue has taken on added urgency most recently with the deaths of a long list of people of color following interactions with the police, as well as the deaths of police officers in Dallas and other cities this past year. This year’s Provost Forum brought together participants from multiple vantage points including activists, scholars, and police officers to help us better understand the problem in its full complexity; provide insights on the nature of police and civilian interactions; help us appreciate the impact on marginalized communities that are experiencing racial violence through the media; offer us a process for achieving justice between sometimes oppositional communities; and point us toward potential solutions. For those who are looking for a way to make a difference in our current environment, this Forum could provide you with some options. We encourage you to view footage from each panel linked below.

Friday, March 3, 2017


Dr. Sally Kornbluth, Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor, Duke University
Dean David E. Levi, Duke Law School


Understanding the Problem
This session will seek to identify and define factors, both historical and contemporary, that contribute to the escalation of interactions between police and people of color.

Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor, African American Studies, Emory University
Douglas A. Blackmon, University of Virginia; Author, Slavery by Another Name
Johnetta Elzie, Co-Founder, Campaign Zero
Ian Haney López, John H. Boalt Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley
Wesley Lowery, Journalist, The Washington Post

10:30am: BREAK


Dissecting Police and Civilian Interactions
An exploration of the culture and practice of policing, and how police are viewed by citizens of color and/or members of certain communities.

Barry Friedman, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law; Affiliated Professor of Politics; Director, Policing Project; New York University
Lori Lightfoot, President, Chicago Police Board
Harold Medlock, Chief (Ret.), Fayetteville Police Department
Samuel Sinyangwe, Co-Founder, Campaign Zero
David Sklansky, Stanley Morrison Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
Perry Tarrant, Assistant Chief, Seattle Police Department

12:15pm: BREAK (Pick up lunch. First come, first served.)

Living the Aftermath: Parents’ Perspective

Michael Brown, Sr., The Michael Brown Foundation: Chosen for Change
Rolanda Byrd, Mother of Akiel Denkins




Visualizing the Impact of Racial Violence
Featuring a short documentary examining how police shooting videos are affecting our society, in particular the groups that are likely the target of the police shootings. Discussion will follow about access to these images and the role of that access in fostering transparency, creating collective memory, and experiencing collective trauma.

Zaina Alsous, Organizer, Durham Beyond Policing Campaign
Bree Newsome, Filmmaker and Activist (confirmation pending)
Tin Nguyen, Founder & Managing Attorney, Central Law Group, PLLC
Katina Parker, Filmmaker/Photographer, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University
Monnica Williams, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut

3:00pm: BREAK

Obtaining Justice and Balancing Power
A focus on understanding the prerequisites for justice and reconciliation in oppositional communities. The central question will concern how marginalized communities can address the obstruction to justice and reconciliation that is posed by power.

Valerie Cooper, Associate Professor of Religion and Society and Black Church Studies, Duke Divinity School
Curtiss DeYoung, Executive Director, Community Renewal Society
Crystal Fleming, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Stony Brook University
Michael McBride, Director of Urban Strategies, LIVE FREE Campaign
Oliver Muhammad, Imam of As Salaam Islamic Center of Raleigh

4:45pm: BREAK

Constructing Solutions
This session will provide participants with concrete, immediate, and actionable opportunities for engagement and empowerment. We will also discuss the concept of allyship and how non-marginalized groups can support marginalized ones.

Tracie Keesee, Deputy Commissioner, NYPD
Tru Pettigrew, CEO, Tru Access
Song Richardson, Senior Associate Dean, Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine, School of Law
Scott Roberts, Senior Campaign Director, Criminal Justice, Color of Change
Laurie Robinson, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Criminology, Law & Society, George Mason University; 2014 Co-Chair, White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Stephen Rushin, Assistant Professor, University of Alabama School of Law


6:30pm: Forum Concludes 

The Forum is organized by a university-wide steering committee composed of staff, faculty, and students, and sponsored by the Office of the Provost. The committee members are: Sara Sun Beale, Ajenai Clemmons, Christena Cleveland, James E. Coleman, Jr., William Darity, Jr., Courtney Reid Eaton, Kiah Glenn, Lisa Kern Griffin, Kerry Haynie, Wesley Hogan, Shajuti Hossain, Camille Jackson, Taylor Jones, Amanda Lacoff, Stephanie Lowd, Mark Anthony Neal, Katina Parker, Corey Pilson, and Quinton Smith.