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August 28, 2014 0

Moving Forward From Ferguson

“His­tory sim­mers beneath the sur­face in more com­mu­ni­ties than just Fer­gu­son,” Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder aptly rec­og­nized dur­ing his visit there. The con­ver­sa­tion about Fer­gu­son can­not start with the death of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man shot to death by a white police offi­cer.  Though tragic in and of itself, the story goes back much further.ferguson-civil-rights

It is a sad tru­ism that America’s laws—and the peo­ple charged with enforc­ing them—have not always pro­tected com­mu­ni­ties of color.  In the infa­mous Dred Scott case, which orig­i­nated just miles from Fer­gu­son, the Supreme Court shame­fully ruled in 1857 that African Amer­i­cans had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”  Though the case served as a cat­a­lyst for the Civil War and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amend­ments rat­i­fied shortly there­after to super­sede the rul­ing, deep-seated racism continued.

Jim Crow laws seg­re­gated soci­ety and rel­e­gated African Amer­i­cans to second-class cit­i­zens. Lynch­ings ter­ror­ized com­mu­ni­ties.  All too often not only did law enforce­ment fail to pro­tect African Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, but police offi­cers par­tic­i­pated in the lynch mobs.  Dur­ing the Civil Rights Move­ment, now-infamous images cap­tured police offi­cers using dogs, fire hoses and billy clubs against peace­ful protestors.

Since the Civil Rights Move­ment half a cen­tury ago we have worked hard as a nation to move towards a more just and equal soci­ety. We have come a long way, but Fer­gu­son stands as a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go.

In address­ing the cri­sis in Fer­gu­son, the first step must be open and respect­ful dia­logue.  We can­not move for­ward unless and until we face the past.  Part of that dis­cus­sion must be about the role of law enforce­ment and their rela­tion­ship with the com­mu­ni­ties they have sworn to serve and protect.

Since 1999 the Anti-Defamation League, in part­ner­ship with the United States Holo­caust Museum, has con­ducted train­ings for law enforce­ment—from police chiefs and the head of fed­eral agen­cies to recruits and new FBI agents—exploring what hap­pens when police lose sight of the val­ues they swore to uphold and their role as pro­tec­tors of the  peo­ple they serve. By con­trast­ing the con­duct of police in Nazi Ger­many, and the role that law enforce­ment is expected to play in our democ­racy, the pro­gram under­scores the impor­tance of safe­guard­ing con­sti­tu­tional rights, build­ing trust with the peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties they serve, and the tragic con­se­quences when there is a gap between how law enforce­ment behaves and the core val­ues of the profession.

We know from our work that the vast major­ity of offi­cers care deeply about the com­mu­ni­ties they serve.  But that is not to say police are infal­li­ble.  None of us is.  And there are cer­tainly some within law enforce­ment who engage in mis­con­duct, as is the case in every pro­fes­sion.  But the bad acts of some can­not and do not define law enforcement.

Amer­ica is strongest and safest when there is mutual under­stand­ing and trust between law enforce­ment and com­mu­ni­ties.  We must seek to build those bridges by rec­og­niz­ing our trou­ble­some past, acknowl­edg­ing the prob­lems per­sist­ing today, and com­mit­ting to changes that move us for­ward to a more per­fect union.

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January 7, 2014 2

Just Ask the Kids About Bullying

Youth are the real experts on what is hap­pen­ing in bul­ly­ing on school cam­puses, and yet their voices, per­spec­tives and lead­er­ship are rarely inte­grated into bul­ly­ing pre­ven­tion programs.

Use stu­dent voices as a part of the solution

“Just ask the kids” is the tagline for a new book high­light­ing research from the Youth Voice Project, the first large-scale research project on bul­ly­ing and peer mis­treat­ment that did exactly that—ask the kids (more than 13,000 teens in 31 schools).  And when you think about it, isn’t it obvious?

For the nearly 25 years of imple­ment­ing train­ing and work­shops nation­ally with youth of all ages through ADL’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Insti­tute, the stu­dents reg­u­larly echo the same sen­ti­ment. “Adults don’t under­stand.” And “No one lis­tens to us.”

For ADL, involv­ing stu­dents was a no-brainer and inte­gral to our work. Using stu­dent voices as a part of the solu­tion is a strength that schools every­where should be uti­liz­ing.  One exam­ple of that strength was high­lighted when four youths, all stu­dent lead­ers from Gris­som High School in Huntsville, AL, pre­sented on the impact of ADL’s No Place for Hate® cam­paign ini­tia­tive at the Inter­na­tional Bul­ly­ing Pre­ven­tion Asso­ci­a­tion Con­fer­ence.

Even more impor­tant than the specifics the stu­dents shared about the great work they have done in imple­ment­ing their No Place for Hate ini­tia­tive, the stu­dents pro­vided very thought­ful and impor­tant advice about what  adults can—and need—to do to bet­ter sup­port stu­dents in cre­at­ing an inclu­sive and wel­com­ing school culture.

More than any­thing, they said, stu­dents want the adults in their schools to be bet­ter role mod­els, and to take these issues as seri­ously as the stu­dents. We can’t ask stu­dents to make a com­mit­ment that the adults are not also making!

The Gris­som High School team looks for­ward to shar­ing this pre­sen­ta­tion at other fac­ulty meet­ings and venues.  They have also asked to be part of a group to review and revise their district’s anti-bullying policy.

And once you have stu­dent experts, THEY can help design and lead pro­grams for fam­i­lies.  Adult fam­ily mem­bers will come out more often when their kids have a role in a pro­gram, so it’s a great way to get par­ent and fam­ily involve­ment, and open that impor­tant dia­logue among fam­ily members.

It takes real, hon­est dia­logue among stu­dents AND adults to make last­ing and sig­nif­i­cant changes.

For more ideas about what stu­dents think teach­ers should know, check out ADL’s tips on 10 Things Stu­dent Wish Teach­ers Knew.

 

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October 28, 2013 1

Matthew Shepard And James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act Four Years Later: Demonstrating Its Value

This week marks the fourth anniver­sary of the sign­ing of the Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act (HCPA).  The HCPA is the most impor­tant, com­pre­hen­sive, and inclu­sive hate crime enforce­ment law enacted in the past 40 years. In addi­tion, pas­sage of the act has sparked a wel­come round of police train­ing and out­reach – and the devel­op­ment of a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant new hate crime train­ing and pre­ven­tion resources. hate-crimes-prevention-act-HCPA

It is appro­pri­ate to pause to reflect on the extra­or­di­nar­ily broad coali­tion ADL was priv­i­leged to lead in sup­port the HCPA – includ­ing over 250 civil rights, edu­ca­tion, reli­gious, civic, and pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tions and, cru­cially, vir­tu­ally every major law enforce­ment orga­ni­za­tion in the coun­try. Orig­i­nally drafted in 1996, progress on the bill was stalled, Con­gress after Con­gress, because of per­sis­tent, adamant – and erro­neous – con­cerns about the impact of the bill’s cov­er­age of hate crimes directed at indi­vid­u­als because of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. In the end, even after 13 long years of advo­cacy, with the strong sup­port of Pres­i­dent Obama and Attor­ney Gen­eral Holder, the mea­sure still had to be attached to “must-pass” leg­is­la­tion – the Depart­ment of Defense FY 2010 Autho­riza­tion bill – in order to be enacted into law.

But now, four years later, advo­cates can­not doubt that the titanic efforts to enact the HCPA by Sen­ate and House cham­pi­ons and the hate crime coali­tion were worth­while. Here are high­lights of some of the impor­tant advances since the enact­ment of the HCPA, Pub­lic Law 111–84.

­Train­ing

  • Lawyers from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DoJ) Civil Rights Divi­sion, FBI agents, and pro­fes­sion­als from DoJ’s Com­mu­nity Rela­tions Ser­vice have trained thou­sands of state and local law enforce­ment offi­cials from more than a dozen states on the HCPA’s new tools and federal-state part­ner­ship opportunities.  

Enforce­ment

  • DoJ has inves­ti­gated dozens of cases and has brought indict­ments in about 20 cases, includ­ing sev­eral cases in states that lack their own hate crime laws.    
  • Under the expanded author­ity of the HCPA, Jus­tice Depart­ment lawyers have pro­vided foren­sic and other inves­tiga­tive assis­tance to state and local law enforce­ment offi­cials pros­e­cut­ing cases under their state laws. 
  • In coor­di­na­tion with sev­eral lead US Attor­neys, DoJ has vig­or­ously defended the HCPA in both facial and as applied con­sti­tu­tional challenges. 

Hate Crime Data Collection

Resources

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