STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE FAMILIES OF TERENCE CRUTCHER AND KEITH LAMONT SCOTT
The University of Pennsylvania Black Law Students Association (BLSA) responds to the murders of Terence Crutcher and Keith Scott, by Tulsa and Charlotte Police Departments, respectively, with protests in solidarity and the following statement of condolences to their families.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, September 22, 2016 -On Friday September 16, 2016, Terence Crutcher, a father of four, was heading home from music appreciation class at Tulsa Community College when his SUV broke down in the middle of 36th Street North and Lewis Avenue. Shortly after police arrived on the scene, Crutcher, who had no weapon on his person or in his vehicle, was shot and killed with his hands in the air.
Not even a week later, on September 20, 2016, another life was lost in Charlotte, NC. 43- year-old Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by Police while waiting in his car to pick up his child from the bus stop. We write this letter in solidarity with Mr. Crutcher’s and Mr. Scott’s family and alongside each individual affected by these two tragic events and each individual affected in our community.
The student members of Penn Law’s Black Law Students Association are tired. We are tired of marching. We are tired of chanting. We are tired of hearing news that another unarmed black person has been killed by the hands of law enforcement. However, despite our fatigue, we will continue to let our voices pierce through our world because there is a responsibility that we must uphold - the responsibility to collectively stand up for those who have no voice.
Penn Law BLSA will not be silent in the face of injustice against our own or any injustice. As Dr. King once said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The events that took place in the past week were in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte, North Carolina, but the loss of a black man’s life at the hands of law enforcement could have happened (and does happen daily) in literally any city in this country. This is an issue.
We are sickened, outraged, confused, and fed up with the lack of respect and dignity that some law enforcement officers have when dealing with situations that involve men and women of color. With the information currently available, it seems as though there is absolutely no reason to justify either of these killings. No reason that Mr. Crutcher’s or Mr. Scott’s family has to be without a son. A brother. A cousin. Mr. Crutcher was stranded on the road with nowhere to go. He was unarmed. He was walking away from the officers. His hands were up. He was unarmed. He was profiled, and then he was murdered. His life was cut short. Mr. Scott was waiting in a parked car to see his child. While the facts surrounding the North Carolina case are still surfacing, what we do know is that he is no longer with his family. What we also know is that the video showing the details has yet to be released.
Our prayers and hearts go out to the family of Mr. Crutcher and Mr. Scott. We hope that justice in these cases come swiftly and correctly. We already see hope as Officer Betty Shelby of the Tulsa Police Department has been formally charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher. Penn Law BLSA stands in solidarity with the attorneys of the families. This release is in no way a condemnation of police in general nor is it hate-speech. It is merely a recollection of pain expressed through words that we hope reach the right hearts. With that said, this is a condemnation of the actions taken by the individual officers in both Police Departments and a condemnation of the mentality that plagues many police forces across the nation: shoot first, ask questions later. This is a statement that is meant to increase pressure for more common sense training, accountability, and transparency. The violence must end. The injustice must be stopped.
Penn Law BLSA feels that it is our duty to uplift not only the families and loved ones of these fallen men, but that it is equally important to create a safe space to continue the conversation for solutions. We understand and empathize with the many emotions, confusions, and frustrations that those of us in the Penn community are dealing with during this difficult time. To that end, we want to extend a hand to anyone who is moved to join us in a conversation about the recent events and ways to prevent them in the future. Please be on the look out for details to come soon.
Each year it seems like a tragedy like this happens, and each year our country faces the inconvenient truth that we still have work to do. If anyone is still confused as to why Americans across our nation silently kneel and continue to shout “Black Lives Matter”, then this is why: because an entire portion of the population feels as though their lives do not matter. We are hurt, but we are hopeful. We are here to strengthen our communities, continue the good fight, and we are all working to make this place a better world.
The University of Pennsylvania Black Law Students Association
It is such an honor to serve as this year’s President and Vice President. We welcome the Class of 2019 and each new member of our organization to the Penn Law School community. Thus far, we have already hit the ground running – moving forward the hard work that our predecessors have done.
Even in 2016, the racial climate in America is one that causes some extreme discomfort. Be it police reform, lack of diversity in the legal profession, or the constant battle to have our issues considered on major political platforms, our organization is dedicated to creating a BLSA family for students who identify with and support our community. We understand that being students of color at an elite institution comes with a responsibility – the responsibility to collectively stand up for those who have no voice in our community and ensure that those in our community are well informed of their rights. We strive to provide opportunities for our members to position themselves to achieve the apex of their potential both academically and professionally. In our organization, we have individuals doing amazing things such as studying abroad in different countries and leading initiatives to eradicate the school-to-prison pipeline. Moreover, we remain committed to engaging the broader Philadelphia community where possible. From our Outreach and Project Peace Programs to future programs on informing the Philadelphia community of their legal rights when stopped by law enforcement, BLSA commits itself to the betterment of the Philadelphia community.
Finally, we seek to grow in the legal community, by building and maintaining relationships with our alumni to foster the progression of diversity in the legal community. We invite you to learn more about our organization through our website and to contact us if you have any questions or ideas for our BLSA.
With BLSA Love,
Jamil A. Favors, President
Nicole Pennycooke, Vice-President