Detroit’s national anti-poverty think tank, The PuLSE Institute, has launched a Black Lives Narrative Project which will interview and document the stories of survivors of police brutality and misconduct in order to inform public debate for reforming the institution of policing in America. The stories of police violence that is visited upon Black bodies will be published in the Institute for the purpose of advocating for urgent systemic changes within the criminal justice system.
The announcement of the project on the August 28 anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom led by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., is significant because King during his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln memorial raised the issues of police brutality.
“We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality,” Dr. King said.
The historical project is born out of the undying need to ensure that the stories of those who are too often the victims of unspeakable police misconduct are not forgotten and ignored, but rather serve to provide instructive lessons for ensuring equitable and constitutional policing.
That through sharing their experiences, which otherwise would not be known and given the deserving spotlight, it will effectively help to force a systemic review of how law enforcement interacts with the Black community and lead to needed and meaningful changes that will consequently uphold the humanity of Black people. Policing that is fueled by prejudice and intolerance is an afront to the rule of law and the foundational concepts of democratic governance.
Since George Floyd, a Black man, died last year under the knee of a white police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, the calls for police accountability in relation to their dealing with the Black community could not be more greater. Floyd’s death sparked a global demonstration that brought instant attention to the abuse of police authority, the need to tackle systemic racism in the criminal justice system, and the long lasting cruel legacy of slavery and racism.
“This groundbreaking project is significant to the ongoing debate about constitutional policing in America and the need to document the campaign of terror and violence that Black people face in police encounters,” said noted journalist and culture critic Bankole Thompson, the editor-in-chief and dean of The PuLSE Institute, who is leading the project. Thompson is a twice-a-week opinion columnist at The Detroit News.
Inkster Police Chief William Riley, a senior fellow at The PuLSE Institute, where he is focused on criminal justice reform and poverty added, “The conversation around police misconduct and poverty is needed more than ever.”