Tuesday 18 April 2023, at 16:00-17:00 EEST / 15:00-16:00 CEST
America has a policing problem. The video-recorded murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman in May 2020, sparked unprecedented domestic and international outrage. But equally disturbing incidents of police violence have occurred in the years preceding and since Floyd’s death. A non-government study concluded that police killed at least 1,194 people in 2022—more than any year since 2013. According to the study, Black, Native American, and Pacific Islanders are approximately three times as likely as white people to be killed by police. Moreover, most police killings begin with traffic stops, mental health checks, and other non-violent offenses where no crime was alleged.
Despite occasional national and local efforts to reform policing practices in ways that reduce crime while improving public trust, the criminal justice and civil litigation systems continue to protect law enforcement agencies and individual police officers in too many instances where abusive, even deadly conduct is demonstrated or credibly alleged. In her acclaimed recent book, Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable, Professor Joanna Schwartz uses real-life cases of victims of police violence to explain how and why judicial decision-making and legislative stalemate have made it so difficult to deter and obtain redress for such conduct, while offering pragmatic ideas for reform.
As Americans debate policing, the justice system and, more generally, the “rule of law” ethos in the coming months and years—especially as the November 2024 elections approach—this episode of Transatlantic Currents is an opportunity for officials and scholars within and beyond the Finnish legal community to engage one of the foremost U.S. experts on these topics.