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The Daily Tar Heel

Law school panel grapples with national police violence debate

Those who attended a panel convened by the UNC School of Law on Friday had one thing in common: an interest in understanding and improving the relationship between citizens and police officers.

The panel, which focused on activism, was the third in a day-long conference dedicated to the topic of police violence. 

The program was sponsored by the UNC School of Law Clinical Programs and the UNC Center for Civil Rights. 

“I went because I’m interested in what we can do about police violence and how it affects community and how we might be able to do something to affect it,” said Danielle Bernard, a student at the UNC School of Law. 

The panel included speakers with various social backgrounds, who all voiced their support for activism in the face of police violence. 

Blair Kelley, an associate professor of history at N.C. State University, started her presentation by describing the social situation for the first generation that was confronted with racial segregation and how those people fought against it. Although many civil rights movements failed, Kelley saw the meaning in them. 

“Success is not guaranteed, but doing something and saying something in a crucial moment is important,” Kelley said.

She said she believes that the spirit of rebellion is necessary in today’s movement, and she encouraged people to protest without fear of failure. 

“People are still making movements. Of course, people are arguing about the best way of movement," Kelley said. "Of course, people are arguing about strategy. And they should. It helps us think. It helps us learn. It helps us plan. It helps us to challenge each other and to be active in this kind of movement.” 

Mark-Anthony Middleton, pastor of Abundant Hope Christian Church, proposed another way to look at the police violence. 

Middleton suggested activists use police data to support their argument.

"Why are the numbers apart so much along racial lines?" Middleton said.

Qasima “Q” Wideman, an N.C. State student and youth organizer, talked about the meaning of supporting activism against police violence and expressed the wish to build a better world. 

“A world where black lives matter is a world where all people of color are safe from police and the prison industrial complex," Wideman said.

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