LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cornell Law Clinical Faculty Respond to Racism and Police Violence

To the Editor:

As individuals and as professors, we oppose racism in all its forms. We are outraged by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and by the killings of countless other Black people who have lost their lives as a result of racialized violence. We are also outraged by commentators, some of them attached to Ivy League Institutions, who are leading a smear campaign against Black Lives Matter. In describing the protests, they deliberately use terms like “wilding,” a racially loaded term coined in 1989 to describe the imagined actions of five innocent Black teenagers (Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray and Yusef Salaam) who were wrongly convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for the assault of a White jogger. These commentators express rage over the sporadic looting that has taken place amidst the largely peaceful protests, calling for organized manhunts to track down those responsible. Theirs is a form of racism that gives cover to those police who use their batons and tear gas and rubber bullets and fists to silence and maim their critics.

Hundreds March from Ho Plaza to Ithaca Police Headquarters, Decrying Police Brutality

In front of the Ithaca Police Department, after a peaceful march filled with chants from the heart of Cornell’s campus to the Commons, a light rain began. The crowd of over a thousand knelt on the pavement in front of the police department for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the time it took for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to suffocate George Floyd to death.