Ferguson and Beyond: Discussion on race and police killings is focus of event

Ferguson and Beyond: Discussion on race and police killings is focus of event

In the wake of officer-involved deaths in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York, a UNL professor has organized a group discussion to examine the issue in what he hopes is a broader and more in-depth manner than what is often transmitted on the evening news.

The event, “Ferguson and Beyond: Race and Police Killings,” is 3 p.m. Dec. 12 in the Nebraska Union Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

In August, protests occurred after the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson. As protests flared in Ferguson, UNL political science professor Michael Combs said he began thinking about how the university could best approach the situation as an academic community.

In November, a grand jury declined to indict the officer who fatally shot Brown. Earlier this month, another grand jury also declined to indict a New York police officer in the choking death of black Staten Island man Eric Garner. The decisions set off a number of protests in a number of cities across the nation.

“Those events pushed me to ask this university and our students to take part in an opportunity to discuss an issue that seems to be so important for the nation and for our university community,” Combs said.

“I am hoping that we can move away from how the media has presented the issue and that we can have a more in-depth discussion,” he said. “Not to just use headlines and sound bites but to place the whole issue of race and police killings in a broader context of history, psychology, political science, and … sociology.”

The event will feature a panel discussion with UNL faculty members Gwendolyn M. Combs, associate professor of management; Jeannette Eileen Jones, associate professor of history and ethnic studies; and Patrick Jones, associate professor of history and ethnic studies.

The discussion will open with remarks from each panelist, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience.

“We want it to be an exchange of ideas and perspectives,” he said. “I’m just very thankful that the university community and the Lincoln community are showing such great interest in this topic. I truly believe that we will all be richer after having this discussion.”