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SSW Responds to Violence

Dear colleagues –

We write this statement in an all too familiar moment of grief and solemnity. Alton Sterling, a street vendor and father of five was killed by two police officers in front of a Baton Rouge convenience store where he sold CDs for nearly six years. Within hours, the police killing of Philando Castille, a partner, son and school cafeteria worker was broadcast live over a social media feed from the suburb of Falcon Crest, MN. At 32 years old, Mr. Castile had been stopped by the police for minor traffic violations 49 times in just 13 years. His fiancé and her 4 year old daughter watched as he died in the passenger seat.

Just like when Eric Garner was killed by asphyxiation the year before in New York City, stopped for selling loose cigarettes and choked to death by a police officer. Jason Crawford was shot to death in a department store, standing unaware, talking to his partner on a cell phone in an aisle with a toy gun, these killings conjure images of a long, violent, and troubling racial history. They remind us that the expansion of the criminal justice system disproportionately affects black and brown Americans.

Following our profession’s long tradition of fighting for racial justice, the University of Michigan School of Social Work mourns the loss of these men and stands in solidarity with their families, our students and alumni, and the communities most affected by violence.

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