The New deadline to submit essays for the Jonny Gammage Scolarship
is Friday, April 18, 2014 at 11:59 pm.
EMAIL CORRECTION PLEASE NOTE! PLEASE SEND ESSAYS TO jonnygammagescholarship@gmail.
Three Scholarships are available with the award being $3,000 a piece.
The Summit is the Black and White Renioun’s primary fundraiser. A portion of the proceeds supports the Jonny Gammage Memorial Scholarships, which are presented by BWR, NAACP Pittsburgh, and the Negro Educational Emergency Drive (NEED) to support Black law students with an interest in studying civil rights and social justice issues at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. The scholarships are awarded to the winners of an essay contest.
This year’s essay question, written by Bret Grote, asks applicants to choose one case of an individual killed by law enforcement and to write documents that the victim’s survivors could use as the basis for a legal case against the killers. The cases are selected from the book Stolen Lives, a compilation of hundreds of such cases, beginning with 500 from 1990 to 1997 in just the first edition. Stolen Lives is a project of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation.
The scholarship is named for Jonny Gammage, a Black businessman and philanthropist who died from positional asphyxiation at the hands of white police during a “routine” traffic stop in 1995. This incident, and the “not guilty” verdicts in court cases against the police, inspired the founding of the Black and White Reunion, the Summit Against Racism and the Scholarship.
2014 scholarship Question
Download the Question HERE
You have been hired as a new staff attorney for the Pittsburgh Anti-Racist Law Project (PARLP). The senior attorney at PARLP has given you the following assignment:
I. Identify the potential constitutional claims involved in the case summaries of the 10 young Black and Latino/a men and women. Consider individual claims and possible class action claims. Discuss the evidentiary requirements necessary to support each claim. What facts do you need to learn to support the claims and how might you go about discovering these? (NO MORE THAN 3 DOUBLE-SPACED PAGES)
II. Identify other strategies for helping community organizations challenge the stop-and-frisk program, including specific research and investigative objectives, documentation projects, public events, coalition-building, organizing initiatives, etc. Be imaginative and specific. Discuss the role and responsibility of lawyers in the context of a movement-building approach to challenging abuse of state power. (NO MORE THAN 2 DOUBLE-SPACED PAGES)
During your first week on the job, leaders of several community organizations approach you about the following problem.
In 2010, Pittsburgh hired a new police chief who immediately implemented an aggressive stop-and-frisk program directed at so-called “high crime” neighborhoods. An oral directive was issued to every precinct to treat the following behavior and characteristics as sufficiently indicative of reasonably articulable suspicion sufficient to justify a stop-and-frisk: loitering on residential sidewalks or commercial property for any period of time, however brief; frequent use of cellular telephones in areas with high rates of drug arrests; individuals who avoid eye contact with police and avert their gaze in police presence; groups of three or more teenagers or young men in their 20s or 30s; shouting.
Police officers were told that this was an essential tactic for suppressing gang violence. Another oral directive was given indicating that the vast majority of gang activity in the city was concentrated in the African-American communities. This assertion was made without defining gang activity, nor referencing any empirical assessment of its validity. The oral directive included instructions to treat young black males as being more likely to be involved in criminal gang activity as a result of the racial make-up of the city’s “gangs.”
These oral directives were never reduced to writing, and although there have been unconfirmed rumors that they were issued, along with mounting evidence that they are being pursued, the police chief and mayor have so far denied that the stop-and-frisk program is based on these directives.
Residents of the North Side, Homewood, East Liberty, and the Hill District subsequently experienced a dramatic increase in police encounters on residential and commercial property. In addition, a growing population of Latino/a residents of the city, many of them undocumented immigrants, have been subjected to aggressive stop-and-frisk tactics in the Oakland neighborhood. White residents of Oakland, especially students, have not been targeted by these tactics.
Since 2006, crime rates in the city have been dropping precipitously. This downturn has continued throughout the present. The police chief and the mayor have been adamant that stop-and-frisk is a key reason for the dropping crime rate.
Since 2010, police have more than doubled the rate at which they are stopping pedestrians and frisking them. In communities of color, this rate has actually increased fourfold or more. The city keeps data on stops, arrests per stop, and the neighborhood of the stop and/or arrest. Demographic data on the race of the individual stopped is not kept. None of the data that is kept has been made publicly available, as police assert this will assist criminals in avoiding detection.
There has also been an increase in use of force incidents during this time. Approximately 8 out of every 10 use of force incidents involve a Black or Latino/a resident. In half of these incidents, the resident involved in the encounter is given criminal charges for resisting arrest, assault of a police officer, or attempted assault. Several of those involved have since come forward claiming that they were framed, and that these “cover charges” are meant to obscure the reality of unprovoked police violence.
In your meeting with community leaders, they present to you case summaries of 10 young Black and Latino/a men and women who have been subjected to an average of 5 stop-and-frisk encounters each year since 2010. Of the 50 stops, only 2 have resulted in an arrest. Each has had force used against them on two or more occasions. Two of the use of force incidents resulted in the resident being hospitalized for injuries caused by police officers. These two were both Black men, aged 22 and 23 respectively. These two instances accounted for the two arrests of the 50 stops. In each instance, the men were charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and issuing terroristic threats. Each individual adamantly denies the charges, asserting they were accosted by police officers and beaten severely while attempting to shield their faces from police blows.