FEATURING CHENJERAI KUMANYIKA – When police killings of African Americans in the US exploded into mainstream consciousness over the past few years and sparked the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the Obama administration paid some lip service to human rights. Under Obama, the Department of Justice conducted investigations into several police departments such as Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland, and a spate of consent decrees with problematic police departments were signed.
Then came Donald Trump who promised to emphasize “law and order” which is of course code for empowering cops. Now, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has a history of disrespect for civil rights, has ordered a major review of those Obama-era federal consent decrees. To many, Sessions’ announcement is a green light for police to continue with business-as-usual.
Chenjerai Kumanyika is an Assistant Professor of Communications Studies at Clemson University in South Carolina and a correspondent for Rising Up.