PJSA statement on Ending Police Brutality and Promoting Justice

Over the past week, we witnessed the tragic murder of Michael Brown, resulting in civil resistance and a Ferguson/St. Louis County police department's exacerbation of a community expressing its justified frustration and call for peace and justice.

The Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) is opposed to all violence. PJSA condemns the police brutality resulting in Michael Brown's death and the harm and harassment of protesters and media.

We are both saddened by the death of Michael Brown and horrified by the continuing national trend of police violence, miscarried justice and increased police militarism emerging in response to peaceful protests.

As part of our ongoing work to bring attention and change to unjust conditions, the PJSA board of directors endorses the proposals from St. Louis community(link is external) and national leaders, who have suggested the following structural changes:

  1. increased diversity on the Ferguson police force,
  2. creation of a civilian review board,
  3. an end to militarized policing,
  4. continuing long-term conversations about race, and
  5. most urgently, a swift and transparent investigation and prosecution of Michael Brown's murder.

We support these short- and long-term proposals in addition to the incorporation of body cameras on police throughout the US(link is external), significant economic development in communities of color(link is external) and investment in education(link is external), all of which we believe will lead to real structural change and justice.

The Peace and Justice Studies Association offers a network of scholars, activists and educators committed to ending structural, cultural and direct violence. Structural violence involves institutions that condone prejudiced acts and policies in addition to practices that hinder or obstruct citizens' access to opportunities across societal dimensions. We recognize that police brutality is a symptom of structural violence in the US.

PJSA fully supports the proposals for structural justice from St. Louis community organizations. While PJSA is concerned with police brutality, we are firm in our commitment to addressing the deeper structural issues that make possible any symptomatic direct violence by the police.

Mounting empirical evidence has positively illustrated the effectiveness of collective nonviolent strategies in addressing conflict (Chenoweth and Stephan, 2011(link is external)). PJSA seeks strategic partnerships with NAACP, Urban League, ACLU, AFSC, the Nation of Islam and any other organizations in communities of color that are working to eradicate structural violence. We are open to assist in capacity development, community advisement and calls-to-action.

The PJSA board has authorized David Ragland, North St. Louis native, to represent the board of directors in developing strategic relationships with, and offering assistance to, community organizations throughout the USaddressing long-term structural changes using constructive nonviolent means.

David Ragland, PhD. is a the PJSA Membership/Diversity Chair, Visiting Assistant Professor of Education at Bucknell University and the United Nations Representative for the Peace and Justice Studies Association. Dr. Ragland's research focuses and work on school and social violence, restorative justice, and peace, justice and human rights education.

Dr. Ragland is available for comment at 212-203-9181 and will be speaking publicly Monday, August 18, at Cardinal Ritter College Prep high school in St. Louis at 2:00 PM.

Image: Elvert Barnes(link is external) (Creative Commons license).