Dr. Rashawn Ray, a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, is Professor of Sociology and Executive Director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research (LASSR) at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also one of the co-editors of Contexts Magazine: Sociology for the Public. Formerly, Ray was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Arthur Romano is an Assistant Professor at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the George Mason University Korea Campus. He is a scholar-practitioner whose research and applied interests include global educational movements, the use of transformative and experiential education in communities affected by violence and nonviolence education. He worked on the international Day of Peace NGO steering committee at the UN over 20 years ago in helping to make it a global holiday.
Peace demands attention to individual, social, and community needs regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, or economic status. It cannot be realized when police as militarized representatives of the state exert extreme violence repressively, mercilessly, and with impunity. Police reform processes are essential to address the unnecessary violent police practices as well as the impunity with which they are carried out.
Police violence has a long history in the United States, starting with, for example, the capture and return of runaway slaves and the maintenance of Black Codes. Violent policing practices also occur in various forms across the globe. In the US, victims of this violence are primarily Black, Brown, poor, mentally distressed, homeless, or, as we have recently seen, individuals exercising their right to assemble and protest. For decades, globally as well as across the US, communities have called for police reform, de-escalation, abolition of police departments as currently constituted, and reformation to focus on police and the community in a social relationship that no longer exercises outdated and unjust social control by force. The role of building peace in relation to policing as currently framed, as reformed, or as reconstructed requires accountability for harm done by police to citizens as well as the direct involvement of communities in any reform, de-escalation, abolition and/or reformation discussions. These approaches are, as presently debated, contentious and fraught with issues of identity, power, privilege, and fear. As such, there is much to consider as we explore these dynamics together.
Links exploring (peace in terms of increased community resources, decreased police individual/community/social violence) police reform and police abolition: