Course facilitators Ryan Henyard, R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy and Derrick Jackson. (Photos via Facebook)
Course facilitators Ryan Henyard, R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy and Derrick Jackson. (Photos via Facebook)

The free “teach-out” can help Michiganders understand how issues of race and police brutality affect communities of color.

ANN ARBOR, MI — The University of Michigan is tackling the timely issues of racial inequality and police brutality in a new online program.

“The tragic deaths of Geroge Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have sparked a wave of renewed protests against police brutality across the United States,” said Ryan Henyard, program creator and faculty experience designer at the Center for Academic Innovation. “These nationwide uprisings have transformed into an intense interest from the public to understand systemic racism and abuse of power.”

After a month of hard work designing & leading this effort, our Teach-Out on Police Brutality in America is now live….

Posted by Ryan Henyard on Monday, July 6, 2020

Calls for understanding are becoming increasingly louder, alongside calls for justice and change. The Ann Arbor university is answering with an online program that examines the history of policing and police brutality in the United States.

U-M’s Center for Academic Innovation created the series to help Michiganders and others understand how issues of race and police brutality affect communities of color. The teach-out features three pre-recorded videos totaling a little more than five-and-a-half hours. 

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Subject matter experts from the university and the larger community lend their knowledge to online forums in a way reflective of the teach-ins of the 1970s, which exposed students on campus to relevant topics of the day.

The platform hopes to shed light on issues commonly discussed among people of color in a way that helps other Americans better understand problems in communities outside of their own.

R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy will discuss the differences between reforming a system and abolishing it. 

“Abolitionists historically and contemporarily are those who engage in everyday struggle in practice and envision a world that almost seems impossible,” said the U-M alumnus, who is now an associate professor at New York University. “Sometimes reforming prison and reforming police just make them bigger and still more harmful.”

Activist and abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore. (Photo via Facebook)

READ: What Michigan State Police Are Doing to Prevent Situations like George Floyd’s Death

Other featured experts include Derrick Jackson, director of community engagement at the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, and Barbara McQuade, professor from practice at the University of Michigan Law School. Their sessions will address how real-time changes are happening in Michigan policing and the qualified immunity legal doctrine, respectively.

“In our community, defunding police is not a new thing, not a scary thing,” Jackson explained.

Henyard said the program can help beyond Michigan as “millions of Americans and people around the world are watching incidents of police violence and excessive force captured on video.” 

“But [they] are looking to learn about the inequalities at the root of these incidents,” he said. “While the calls of Black Lives Matter protesters to defund the police are being heard for the first time by many Americans, they are part of a longstanding effort by communities and activists to reinvest in communities rather than policing and prisons.”

The free program can be accessed on the University of Michigan’s website.

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