STATEMENT ON RACIAL JUSTICE
The ongoing perpetration of violence by police departments and others against people of color, and particularly Black men, is a symptom of centuries of racial injustice in the United States. We mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the many more whose murders did not receive national media attention. We protest the innumerable assaults of unarmed people of color in our communities, especially Stephanie Washington and Paul Witherspoon, who were shot by officers of the Yale and Hamden Police Departments last year.
We stand with organizations and individuals across the country calling for an end to this violence and for drastic reform to our police departments, including the Yale Police Department. We stand in particular with Yale student and alumni groups and New Haven community groups: Yale Black Alumni Association, Black Students Alliance at Yale, Yale Black Men’s Union, Yale Black Women’s Coalition, New Haven Citywide Youth Coalition, and Black Lives Matter New Haven.
Yale is the funder and manager of the Yale Police Department, and bears responsibility in the ongoing crisis of over-policing and brutality against communities of color. Only 40% of private university campus police departments have armed officers, and we stand with Black Students for Disarmament at Yale in calling to disarm the YPD. Savings associated with this change should be redirected to alternative community programs administered by the City of New Haven.
Disarming the YPD and redirecting funds to alternative community programs will not happen overnight. In the interim, Yale should immediately enforce the 8 Can’t Wait proposals that are proven to decrease police violence. Specifically, Yale currently does not: 1. Require officers to exhaust all alternatives before shooting; 2. Require bystanding officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers; 3. Have a use-of-force continuum restricting severe police weapons to extreme situations; or 4. Require comprehensive reporting every time officers use force or threaten to use force.
Yale has a responsibility to actively participate in dismantling the racial injustices that permeate our institutions. As a first step, Yale should commit to improving faculty diversity, hiring more New Haven residents, providing more support to the City of New Haven, increasing funding for Yale’s cultural centers, and recognizing Indigenous People’s Day.
Race and racism are interwoven in every aspect of our society. Yale is not immune, as we have seen in recent years with the renaming of Calhoun College, named after the pro-slavery 19th century politician John Calhoun. Yale University was founded on the backs of Black slaves: Elihu Yale, the University’s namesake and original benefactor, was a slave trader. The consequences of this intergenerational oppression continue to permeate our lives today, and it is our responsibility to grapple with and overturn these injustices.
Black lives matter.