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African-Americans & the Black Experience: Black Lives Matter and Police Killings

Researching Resistance

15/365 Black Lives Matter

The purpose of this research guide is to:

  • Provide context to the #BlackLivesMatter and the Civil Rights movements, as wee as activism for racial justice more generally.
  • Offer relevant academic, university, and community support to those interested in learning more about racial inequality historically and how that impacts contemporary life and thought.
  • Inform the important and serious interest in contemporary activism surrounding these topics.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter wikipedia entry

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter T-Shirt

Black Lives Matter T-Shirt

John Crawford, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice.

Order information.

The T-shirt, housed in Special Collections, is available for Library Displays.

Hands Up. Don't Shoot.

No one should have to teach their children this in the USA / Mary Engelbreit

Beloved Illustrator (Mary engelbreit) Blasted by Fans Over Ferguson Artwork, Ben Davis, ArtNetNews, August 21, 2014

A copy of the poster is available in the MSU Libraries Special Collections.

Black Lives Matter - More General Links This is the Official #BlackLivesMatter Organization founded by Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza. #BlackLivesMatter is an online forum intended to build connections between Black people and our allies to fight anti-Black racism, to spark dialogue among Black people, and to facilitate the types of connections necessary to encourage social action and engagement.

Black Lives Master Syllabus.

Black Lives Matter Postings from Huffington Post

Black Lives Matter Resource Guide from San Francisco Unified Schools.

Black Lives Matter Reading List from GoodReads.

Black Lives Matter Posts via Twitter.

Black Lives Matter Facebook Page.

Black Lives Matter Resource Page (Ranti Junus, MSU Libraries)

Campaign Zero. "We can end police violence in America.

Mapping Police Violence

State Sanctioned : Black Lives Matter Movement


Related Articles

Juliana Menasce Horowitz and Gretchen Livingston, "How Americans view the Black Lives Matter movement", Pew Research Center, July 8, 2016.

Bianca Montes, "Pro/Con: Can police best police themselves?", Victoria Advocate, June 28, 2015. With a string of alleged police-involved improprieties flooding news headlines, questions about whether departments can objectively investigate one of their own are being raised. Harsh criticism of a police-involved shooting in Wisconsin led to the state's governor signing a bill into law in April requiring deaths in police custody to be investigated by outside organizations - a first in the nation.

German Lopez, "David Simon's brutal diagnosis of the problems with Baltimore policing", Vox, April 29, 2015. The Nation's War on Drugs has corrupted policing in places like Baltimore, the former home of Freddie Gray. As the crack cocaine epidemic exploded in inner cities during the 1980s, desperate governments — including that of Baltimore — reacted with draconian policies that emphasized arresting as many people as possible in order to deter drug trafficking and other crimes. But as this escalated, local governments and police lost sight of their original purpose and focused more and more on punching up the number of arrests and punishments — rather than helping impoverished communities rise up.

Chris Hedges, "Corporate Capitalism Is the Foundation of Police Brutality and the Prison State", Nation of Change Blog, July 7, 2015.

Sam P. K. Collins, "Police Union Fights To Keep The Names Of Officers Who Shoot Civilians Secret", Nation of Change Blog, July 6, 2015.

Carimah Townes, "Justice Department Report Says Police Exacerbated Violence in Ferguson", Nation of Change Blog, July 1, 2015.

Andrew Emett, "Police Barring Release of Videos Showing Cops Killing Unarmed Innocent Man", Nation of Change Blog, June 30, 2015.

Charles D. Ellison, "Police Misconduct and More Killings Go Largely Ignored", July 8, 2015.  :  Three reports in June indicated an alarming deficiency of police standards, lack of training, and misconduct that is being ignored and unregulated.

Isaiah J. Poole, "Will Black Lives Matter at the Republican Presidential Debate?", Nation of Change Blog, August 4, 2015.

Lauren Victoria Burke, "#BlackLivesMatter Asks, so #BlackLivesMatter Receives", The Root, August 22, 2015.   Imagine that: If you tell Democratic politicians exactly what you want (and you’re part of their most dedicated voting base), they actually act on it. Protesting works.

Charles F. Coleman Jr., "The Absurdity of Blaming #BlackLivesMatter for Killing Cops", The Root, September 1, 2015.   While white killers are routinely characterized as mentally disturbed, the entire black community is often blamed for the heinous acts committed by an individual.

Sandhya Somashekhar, "How Black Lives Matter, born on the streets, is rising to power on campus", Washington Post, November 17, 2015. : The Black Lives Matter movement was born on the working-class streets of Ferguson, Mo., but its strongest foothold may now be in a far more elite environment: the American university. College campuses have become fertile ground for the movement, a network of provocative activists who are clamoring for an overhaul of the nation’s criminal-justice system and other social changes aimed at bettering the lives of African Americans.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. Black Lives Matter on campus too African-American student protests reflect the many anxieties facing the black middle class   Al Jazeera, November 29, 2015.

Waleed Shahid , "How Is Black Lives Matter Winning?", Dissent, December 5, 2015.  The numerous symbolic actions taken by Black Lives Matter—large marches, die-ins, blocking traffic, and even disrupting the speeches of presidential candidates—have shifted public opinion. These high-profile actions have not necessarily focused on receiving a concession from a particular decision-maker, but have instead tried to draw public attention to the issue of racism and compel ordinary people to take action—or at least choose sides.  -- Because of this change in the political climate, several municipalities have adopted reforms regarding police conduct, community oversight, limited use of force, independent review boards, body cameras, de-escalation training, ending abusive revenue generating practices, and prohibiting police departments from using military weapons. Other racial justice campaigns have also been boosted by the energy generated by Black Lives Matter. Campaigns for the softening of three-strikes laws in California, against the construction of a new jail in Philadelphia, and for “banning the box” that allows employers to see a candidate’s conviction records, all won important victories this year. -- Perhaps even more important than the local and state-level changes that have already been implemented, there has been a huge shift in the public conversation regarding race and policing in the United States. All of the major Democratic primary candidates have been pushed to develop more detailed proposals on racial justice than any candidate did in 2008. Foundations and community organizations have launched brand new funding opportunities and grants to fund racial justice projects. And unions like the AFL-CIO and SEIU are talking about the connections between the movements for labor and racial justice. These victories by no means suggest that the battle to end racism in the United States is over. But it is significant that hundreds of thousands of people have been moved to protest in dozens of cities for a demand that symbolizes the worst aspects of racial inequality in this country: black death at the hands of public officials.

German Lopez, "Police shootings and brutality in the US: 9 things you should know", Vox, February 12, 2106.  Since the August 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, police in America have been under heightened scrutiny. The Black Lives Matter protests in particular have shined a light on what many see as a systemic emphasis on excessive use of force by police, particularly on racial and ethnic minorities.  So here's what you need to know about use of force by police in America.

Race and Policing Special Collection from IssueLab.  Again and again the data show that people of color in the U.S. are disproportionately, and systematically, stopped, frisked, arrested, and exposed to the use of force by police. Police departments and communities across the U.S. are struggling with these realities and with what has become a glaring divide in how Americans experience and relate to policing. This special collection includes research from nonprofits, foundations, and university based research centers, who have not only described and documented the issue but who also provide much-needed recommendations for addressing this chronic and tragic problem.


The Trayvon Martin riots : two essays regarding the response to Trayvon Martin's murder and George Zimmerman's acquittal in Oakland California / edited, typeset, and printed by the Anti-Cybernetic League.  Oakland, California : Anti-Cybernetic League, March of 2014. 32 unnumbered pages.  Special Collections Radicalism Collection  HN18.3 .T73 2014 : Essays originally posted online by participants in Oakland, California protests after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida in 2012.

“Black Women Matter: the Zine Edition, Vol. 1”   Underground Sketchbook, 2014.   This zine is dedicated to black women. Read the stories of 11 black women who have been killed by law enforcement. Know their names. See their faces. Remember their stories.

Don't.  Special Collections Rare Books E185.615 .D66 2014  : Quarter-size zine on metallic silver stock. Text reads: "Don't shoot me (but they did)" with an image in silhoutte of an individual with hands raised. Back cover has names of 37 African-American individuals killed by police or in popularly contested circumstances, including Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin.

Freddie Gray Death in Police Custody - Baltimore, Md. - April 19, 2015

The Baltimore Protests Over Freddie Gray's Death Explained (Vox)

David A. Graham, "The Mysterious Death of Freddie Gray", The Atlantic, April 22, 2015.

Peter Hermann and John Woodrow Cox, "A Freddie Gray primer: Who was he, how did he die, why is there so much anger?", Washington Post, April 28, 2015.

German Lopez, "David Simon's brutal diagnosis of the problems with Baltimore policing", Vox, April 29, 2015 : The Nation's War on Drugs has corrupted policing in places like Baltimore, the former home of Freddie Gray. As the crack cocaine epidemic exploded in inner cities during the 1980s, desperate governments — including that of Baltimore — reacted with draconian policies that emphasized arresting as many people as possible in order to deter drug trafficking and other crimes. But as this escalated, local governments and police lost sight of their original purpose and focused more and more on punching up the number of arrests and punishments — rather than helping impoverished communities rise up..

Freddie Gray Posts from Democracy Now.

Freddie Gray News Highlights via ABC News.

Timeline: What We Know About The Freddie Gray Arrest by NPR.

German Lopez, "The Homicide of Freedie Gray : 6 Baltimore Police Officers on Trial", Voxt, September 2, 2015.

Racism is Real

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, "A Freddie Gray Mistrial", New Yorker

Preserve the Baltimore Uprising 2015

Investigation of the Baltimore Police Department.  A Justice Department investigation found that the Baltimore Police Department engages in unconstitutional practices that lead to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests of African-Americans, and excessive use of force against juveniles and people with mental health disabilities. The Department of Justice monitored the department's policing methods for more than a year at the request of the Baltimore Police Department, after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal injury while in police custody. The long-awaited report, which covered data from 2010 to 2016, attributed the practices to "systemic deficiencies" in training, policies, and accountability structures that "fail to equip officers with the tools they need to police effectively." Gray's death touched off protests and riots in Baltimore and beyond, fueling ongoing debate over racial bias in policing that has drawn the Justice Department's attention. Though the report does not directly reference the actions of officers in the Gray case, it notes that "recent events" underscored the importance of mutual trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, a recurring theme in DOJ investigations of police departments following police-involved deaths of African-Americans.

  U.S. Department of Justice.  Office of Civil Rights.  August 2010.

Black Lives Matter Overview

"Black Lives Matter" march in Minnesota

Star Tribune, 8/22/15 [Image Source]

In many ways, the origin of the Black Lives Matter movement is rooted in the unfinished revolutions of the 1960s and the more recent work of groups like the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Organization. Founded by three Black queer women as a call-to-action in the Fall of 2013, #BlackLivesMatter emerged as a response to anti-Black racism and state-sanctioned violence. Since then it has grown as a decentralized horizontal movement and has become a nationwide activist network, a political organization, and a global rallying cry. Supporters have issued multiple statements clarifying the intersectional nature of the movement and its critique of heteronormativity and the politics of respectability. Activities undertaken under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter have included street level disruptions, high school walk-outs, boycotts, meetings with politicians, national conferences, campus protests, and chapter building on the local level. While not free of criticism from both the left and right on its strategies and tactics, the movement has proved adept at adapting to different political contexts while imagining and defining a more just future.

Educators inspired by the #Blacklivesmatter movement have created resources such as the San Francisco Public Schools libguide, the Frank Leon Roberts BLM Syllabus, #CharlestonSyllabus and #FergusonSyllabus. College students have also used Black Lives Matter as a vehicle of protest against discrimination on campuses and shed a national spotlight on issues of prison divestment, historic monuments, and the role institutions of higher education played in slavery and colonization. #BlackLivesMatter is in schools, brought there by students and teachers interested in linking contemporary debates to questions of the past and the future of this country. However, recent efforts to suffuse curricula in K-12 schools and universities through a lens of social justice often rely on a tolerance-based narrative that advocates for basic literacy and appreciation of “multiculturalism.” While this can be useful, there are many pitfalls in watering down the realities of historic and present forms of institutional racism and systemic oppression. The tenets of social justice cannot be realized within institutions of education, when larger organizational and structural issues are ignored. The #BlackLivesMatter movement presents opportunities for educators to not only discuss issues of race, power and privilege, but also enact alternative ways of organizing, resisting, and acknowledging the historic struggle for equity across the nation and world.

Radical Teacher invites essays that examine the #BLM movement and the issues it has raised in the classroom, in schools, and other spaces. We also encourage brief reflections on teaching with a particular educational resource, text, or on an individual class session related to #BLM, including spoken word, poetry, artwork, protest anthems and music. This is not limited to teaching specifically about #BLM, but also how #BLM can inform teaching about other ideas and concepts..

Marquette Frye - Watts - August 11, 1965

Fifty years ago this week, before a crowd of onlookers alarmed by what they saw, a 21-year old African-American motorist was pulled over and arrested, along with his mother and brother, by a California Highway patrolman, thus setting off the Watts Riot, one of the largest urban uprisings in U.S. history. It was on August 11, 1965, that a white patrolman pulled Marquette Frye over for reckless driving near the predominantly black neighborhood of Watts. A patrolman struck Frye on the head with a baton, knocking him unconscious. The mother was shoved when she tried to intervene. Another officer pulled a shotgun on them.

The gathering crowd began yelling and throwing rocks at the officers for what onlookers saw as police brutality. More than 1,000 people joined in that night, throwing bricks and bottles at officers and motorists in an uprising that swelled to as many as 30,000. The police sealed off most of South-Central Los Angeles. It took some 3,900 National Guardsmen to quell the six days of unrest, which finally ended on August 17. The riot claimed 34 deaths, more than a thousand injuries, millions in property damage and put a spotlight on the conditions of urban life in America.. The uprising that hot summer night came after decades of disillusionment over the segregation and hostility that greeted the hundreds of thousands of black southerners who had fled to California during the Great Migration. While Los Angeles did not have overt Jim Crow laws, restrictive covenants and unspoken custom barred African-Americans from most of the city's housing stock and cordoned them off into the South-Central section of the city. African-Americans faced attack when they sought to move into white neighborhoods: A cross was burned on the front lawn of the singer Nat King Cole when he moved his family into the all-white neighborhood of Hancock Park.

The year before the riot, California voted overwhelmingly to legalize housing discrimination in the form of Proposition 14, an amendment to the state constitution. The proposition gave homeowners and landlords the right "to decline to sell, lease or rent such property to such person or persons as he, in his absolute discretion, chooses." When Dr. Martin Luther King went to Los Angeles to fight the proposition, white Angelenos picketed his speech and carried signs such as "King Has Hate, Does Travel." Then-Gov. Edmund "Pat" Brown, a Democrat, opposed the proposition and instead supported the Fair Housing Act that the proposition sought to undo. Brown was ousted from the Governor's mansion, in part for the stand he took, by Ronald Reagan who supported Proposition 14 and opposed the Fair Housing Act.

While much has changed since the Watts uprising, there is a sobering distinction between that traffic stop in 1965 and current-day cases in the news. Walter Scott in North Charleston, SC, Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY, and others whose cases have made headlines, died in their interactions with police in the past year. Marquette Frye survived his arrest and died of pneumonia in 1986 at age 42. His mother, Rena Price, died of natural causes in 2013 at age 97.

For more information: 
-- “Alabama on Avalon: Rethinking the Watts Uprising and the Character of Black Protest in Los Angeles” an essay by Jeanne Theoharis in the book, "The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era," edited by Peniel Joseph
-- NPR discussion of Watts, Ferguson and the current state of race relations in America:

Source : Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Journey of America's Great Migration

Rodney King - Watts - March 3, 1991

Rodney Glen King III (April 2, 1965 – June 17, 2012) was an American taxi driver who became nationally known after being beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers following a high-speed car chase on March 3, 1991. A local witness, George Holliday, videotaped much of it from his balcony, and sent the footage to local news station KTLA. The footage shows four officers surrounding King, several of them striking him repeatedly, while other officers stood by. Parts of the footage were aired around the world, inflaming outrage in cities where racial tensions were high, and raising public concern about police treatment of minorities.

Four officers were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. Three were acquitted of all charges. The jury acquitted the fourth of assault with a deadly weapon but failed to reach a verdict on the use of excessive force. The jury deadlocked at 8–4 in favor of acquittal at the state level. The acquittals are generally considered to have triggered the 1992 Los Angeles riots, in which 53 people were killed and over 2,000 were injured, ending only when the California national guard was called in.

The acquittals also led to the federal government's obtaining grand jury indictments for violations of King's civil rights. The trial of the four in a federal district court ended on April 16, 1993, with two of the officers being found guilty and subsequently imprisoned. The other two were acquitted again.

Source : Rodney King wikipedia entry

Los Angeles Police Officer (Rodney King Beating) Trials,  1992-1993, part of the Famous Trials web page.  It seemed like an open-and-shut case.  The George Holliday video, played on television so often that an executive at CNN called it "wallpaper," showed three Los Angeles police officers--as their supervisor watched-- kicking, stomping on, and beating with metal batons a seemingly defenseless African-American named Rodney King.  Polls taken shortly after the incident showed that over 90% of Los Angeles residents who saw the videotape believed that the police used excessive force in arresting King.  Despite the videotape, a jury in Simi Valley concluded a year later that the evidence was not sufficient to convict the officers.  Was the all-white jury racist, as some charged, or did they see something in the evidence ....

Sean Bell - New York City - November 25, 2006

The Sean Bell shooting incident took place in the New York City borough of Queens, New York, United States, on November 25, 2006, when three men were shot a total of fifty times by a team of both plainclothes and undercover NYPD officers, killing Sean Bell on the morning before his wedding, and severely wounding two of his friends, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman. The incident sparked fierce criticism of the police from members of the public and drew comparisons to the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo. Three of the five detectives involved in the shooting went to trial on charges of first and second-degree manslaughter, first and second-degree assault, and second-degree reckless endangerment, and were found not guilty.

Source : Sean Bell Shooting Incident wikipedia entry

Stephon Clark - Sacramento, Cal. - March 18, 2018

John Crawford III - Beavercreek, Ohio - August 5, 2014

The shooting of John Crawford III occurred on August 5, 2014. Crawford was a 22-year-old African-American man shot to death by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams, in a Walmart store in Beavercreek, Ohio, near Dayton, Oh while holding a toy BB gun.

A grand jury declined to indict the two officers of criminal charges. Crawford's death lead to protests, including some organized by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Source : Shooting of John Crawford wikipedia entry

Trayvon Martin - Sanford, Florida - February 26, 2012

Fast Facts About Trayvon Martin Shooting from CNN

George Zimmerman/Trayvon Marton Case from CBS

Jordan David - Jacksonville, FL - November 23, 2012

The shooting of Jordan Davis occurred on November 23, 2012, at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, United States over loud music.

Jordan Russell Davis, a 17-year-old African-American high school student, was fatally shot by Michael David Dunn, a 45-year-old white male software developer from Brevard County who was visiting the city for a wedding. The incident began when Dunn allegedly confronted Davis and his companions because he found objectionable the music, Lil Reese, that was being played in the vehicle in which Davis was a passenger. A verbal argument ensued to which Dunn responded by retrieving a loaded handgun from his car and shooting 10 rounds into the teenagers' car, fatally injuring Jordan Russell Davis. In closing arguments at the first trial, the defense lawyer for Michael Dunn cited the language of Florida's stand-your-ground law The jury was unable to return a unanimous verdict on a charge of first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Jordan Davis, the judge declared a mistrial on that count.

Dunn was convicted, however, on three counts of attempted second-degree murder for firing at three other teenagers who were with Davis and one count of firing into a vehicle. The three other teenagers were not shot.

Dunn faced up to 75 years in prison for the four counts on which he was already convicted Dunn's retrial for first-degree murder began the week of September 22, 2014.

He was found guilty October 1, 2014, and was sentenced to a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole on October 17, 2014.

Source : Shooting of Jordan Davis wikipedia entry.

Charleston, S.C. Church Shooting -June 17, 2015

Samuel DuBose Shooting - University of Cincinnati - July 19, 2015

Sandra Bland Arrest and Death in Police Custody - Texas - July 13, 2015

Death of Sarah Brand wikipedia entry

Ashoka Jegroo, "Across the US, Activists Shine Light on Sandra Bland’s Mysterious Death", Nation of Change Blog, July 31, 2015.

Rebecca Ruiz, "Sandra Bland was absolutely right to protest violent male authority", Mashable, July 25, 2015.

Mitch Smith, "Grand Jury Declines to Indict Anyone in Death of Sandra Bland", New York Times, December 21, 2015

Philip Luke Sinitiere, "#SandyStillSpeaks: 'Living Black History' and Resources on Sandra Bland", AAISH, January 28, 2016.

James Blake - New York City - September 2015


Black Lives Matter Minneapolis Protest

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis Protest (28246559695)

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis Protest. (Credit: Andy Witchger / CC BY (,

Updates from the Hooks Institute

Creative Resistance

Michael Brown, - Ferguson - August 9, 2014

Battling the Fury of Ferguson.  Protests, chaos continue as a community reacts to developments related to the Brown shooting.

Ferguson Newspaper Coverage, August 14, 2014.   Coverage from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

Shooting of Michael Brown wikipedia entry

2014 Protests Over the Michael Brown Shooting, Explained

Black Lives Matter Resource Guide from San Francisco Unified Schools.

Resources for Ferguson Library Guide from Michigan State University.

Ferguson Resources Library Guide from the University of Arizona.

#FergusonSyllabus via Twitter.

Ferguson Action

Jenée Desmond-Harris , "Twitter forced the world to pay attention to Ferguson. It won't last", Vox, January 14, 2015

Jim Salter and Jim Suhr, "Year after Michael Brown’s death, Ferguson has changed", Detroit News, August 7, 2015.

Rick Cohen, "Ferguson Commission Close to Final Recommendations One Year after Michael Brown’s Death", Nonprofit Quarterly, August 10, 2015.

Ferguson : One Year Later by WDET, August 12, 2015 ; Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Carl Taylor, a professor of sociology at Michigan State University, and Rachel Lippmann, a reporter from St. Louis Public Radio. They talk about what America has learned and how we have changed since the first protests in Ferguson, Missouri following Michael Brown’s death.

Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department.  U.S. Department of Justice.  Office of Civil Rights.

The Ferguson Report by the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.

Rick Cohen, "Ferguson Commission Report a Systemic Approach to Systemic Racism", Nonprofit Quarterly, September 15, 2015.  The Ferguson Commission released its final report yesterday, with conclusions basically along the lines of the recommendations that were largely disclosed a month ago. That shouldn’t make the conclusions of this yearlong effort any less meaningful, given what has occurred in the interim—numerous incidents of excessive police force resulting in the deaths of unarmed black civilians in Cincinnati, New York City, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Waller County, Texas.

Steve Dubb, "Who We Really Are: Movement Leaders Forge A Path Post-Ferguson", Nonprofit Quarterly, June 2018.

America After Ferguson WGBH Boston Public Television Panel Discussion.

America After Ferguson PBS Town Hall Broadcast.  56:46 minutes.

Documenting Ferguson">, a freely available resource that preserves and makes accessible the digital media captured and created by community members following the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014. Universities participating in the Regional Collecting Initiative on Ferguson are historically Black Harris-Stowe State University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University, and Saint Louis University.

Oscar Grant - Oakland, CA - January 1 , 2009

Oscar Grant III was fatally shot by BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California, United States, in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2009. Responding to reports of a fight on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco, BART Police officers detained Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station. Officer Johannes Mehserle and another officer were restraining Grant, who was lying face down and handcuffed. Officer Mehserle stood and, according to his attorney, said, "Get back, I'm gonna Tase him." Then, Mehserle drew his pistol and shot Grant once in the back. During his court testimony, Mehserle said that Grant then exclaimed, "You shot me!" Grant was unarmed; he was pronounced dead the next morning at Highland Hospital in Oakland.

The events were captured on multiple digital video and cell phone cameras. The footage was disseminated to media outlets and to various websites, where it was watched millions of times. The following days saw both peaceful and violent protests.

The shooting has been variously labeled an involuntary manslaughter and a summary execution. On January 30, 2010, Alameda County prosecutors charged Mehserle with murder for the shooting. He resigned his position and pleaded not guilty. The trial began on June 10, 2010. Michael Rains, Mehserle's criminal defense attorney, argued that Mehserle mistakenly shot Grant with his pistol, intending to use his Taser when he saw Grant reaching for his waistband. Pretrial filings argue that his client did not commit first-degree murder and asked a Los Angeles judge to instruct the jury to limit its deliberations to either second-degree murder or acquittal.

On July 8, 2010, the jury returned its verdict: Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not guilty of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. Though initial protests against the ruling were peacefully organized, looting, arson, destruction of property, and small riots broke out after dark. Nearly 80 people were eventually arrested.

On July 9, 2010, the U.S. Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation against Mehserle, as the federal government can prosecute independently for the same act under the separate sovereigns exception to double jeopardy, though no charges have been filed to date.

On November 5, 2010, Mehserle was sentenced to two years, minus time served. He served his time in the Los Angeles County Jail protective custody, occupying a private cell for his own safety. On June 13, 2011, Mehserle was released under parole after serving 11 months.[1]

Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against BART on behalf of Grant's family. BART settled with Grant's daughter and mother for a total of $2.8 million in 2011, while the cases of Grant's father and friends were denied.

The incident was the basis of the critically acclaimed 2013 film Fruitvale Station (available in the MSU Library Digital and Multimedia Center)

Source : Shooting of Oscar Grant wikipedia entry

Renisha McBride - Dearborn Heights, MI - November 2, 2013

Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old African-American woman, was shot on November 2, 2013, in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, United States. Renisha McBride crashed her car at a street in Detroit, and then walked to a neighborhood in Dearborn Heights where she loudly knocked on the windows and the door of a house. The homeowner, Theodore Wafer, shot McBride with a shotgun. Wafer contended that the shooting was accidental and that he thought his home was being broken into after he heard her banging on his door at 4:42 in the morning.  The shooting prompted some to claim her death was a result of racial profiling.  Wafer was later convicted of second-degree murder on August 7, 2014,[4] and received a sentence of 17 to 32 years in prison.  Source : Wikipedia

Criminalizing Black Corpses"  No Charges Filed After White Man Kills Detroit Teen Renisha McBride

Renisha McBride articles from Huffington Post

Floyd Dent - Inkster, Michigan - January 28, 2015

Nine months after graphic videotape surfaced showing a Detroit man being beaten during a traffic stop, the Inkster police officer accused in the attack has been found guilty.

William Melendez, who was fired from the force after the incident, was convicted Thursday on assault and misconduct charges in the beating of Floyd Dent, who is African-American, during a traffic stop Jan. 28 on a lonely Inkster street off Michigan Avenue. He was acquitted of a third charge of strangulation.

The video of the traffic stop beating went viral on social media and sparked protests over police brutality. It was one of a number of cases around the country in which police were accused of abusing power during interactions with suspects.

The incidents sparked a national debate on the issue of how much force by police officers is reasonable and whether white cops were treating black suspects more harshly.

Oralandar Brand-Williams,  "Melendez guilty of assault in beating of motorist", Detroit News, November 19, 2015

Also see Community Protest Against Floyd Dent Beating, Detroit News video

Walter Scott Shooting - North Charleston, S. C. - April 4, 2015

Tamir Rice - Cleveland - November 22, 2014

Shooting of Tamir Rice wikipedia entry

Amy Goodman, "VIDEO: Tamir Rice Killing: Activists Push for Arrests After Judge Finds Probable Cause to Charge Officers", Nation of Change Blog, June 13, 2015.

Andrew Emett, "DOJ Reaches Agreement to Reform Cleveland Police Brutality", Nation of Change Blog, May 28, 2015.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, "The Legal Murder Of Tamir Rice", The Atlantic, October 11, 2015

Brittney Cooper, "The horrifying lesson of Tamir Rice: White America will use “objectivity” to justify the murder of black children", Salon, October 14, 2015.   A child with a toy gun was shot dead on a moment's notice. There is no justice as long as this tragedy is excused

Mitch Smith and Richard A. Oppel, Jr., "Tamir Rice’s Family Fears Grand Jury Is Biased Toward Cleveland Officer", New York Times, December. 23, 2015

Stephen Henderson,  "Black lives, Tamir Rice and America's uncivil history", Detroit Free Press, December 29, 2015.

Eric Gardner, - New York City - July 17, 2014

Death of Eric Gardner wikipedia entry

"Grand Jury Declines To Indict NYPD Officer In Chokehold Death Of Eric Garner", Huffington Post, December 3, 2014.

Ashoka Jegroo,  "Eric Garner’s Death Remembered with a Week of Actions", Nation of Change Blog, July 18, 2015.

The 2014 grand  jury decision not to indict a white police officer for the choke-hold death of Eric Gardner, an unarmed African American man -- an incident captured on video -- left Jon Stewart too saddened and disgusted to make any attempt at even bleak humor.  "We are definitely not living in a post-racial society, and I can imagine there are a lot of people out there wondering how much of  society we're living in at all."  Source : Julie Hinds, "8 on-air moments show his true genius", Detroit Free Press, August 2, 2015.