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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

A call for change

In light of the horrific killings of George FloydAhmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, members of the University of South Carolina School of Law community are joining the chorus of voices speaking out against racial injustice.  

“As lawyers and future lawyers, we are well-prepared with the knowledge, the skills, and the commitment to lead the cause of advancing and preserving justice on all fronts and to advocate with both zealousness and civility for meaningful and lasting reforms when they are needed,” wrote Rob Wilcox, dean of the School of Law, in a letter to students, faculty and staff.   

Various student organizations and faculty members have also acknowledged the unique positioning of the legal community to advocate for justice for all over the last week.  

Professor Seth Stoughton, who studies policing and is a former police officer himself, has been particularly vocal in calling for police reforms.  He has written extensively on the topic, including a just released book, Evaluating Police Use of Force,” co-written with Geoffrey Alpert and Jeff Noble. 

The three penned an op-ed in the Washington Post outlining the mistakes the officers made in the ultimately fatal arrest of Floyd, and an article in The Atlantic that offers a blueprint for police reforms at the national, state and local levels.  

Stoughton previously detailed the long and dangerous history of citizens arrest laws for The Conversation following the death of Arbery at the hands of two men who attempted to make a citizen’s arrest.  

Various student organizations are also speaking out. The Student Bar Association charged members of the community to “engage with these issues and inequities and find how you can help shape the future.” The Honorable Matthew J. Perry, Jr. Chapter of the Black Law Students Association likewise noted that members of the community “must not be afraid to voice our frustrations with the injustices that these communities face.” 

President Bob Caslen also addressed the university community at large reiterating the calls of the Carolinian Creed: to “respect the dignity of all persons”; “respect the rights of others”; “strive to learn from differences in people”; and “demonstrate concern for others.”  

The full text of statements from the South Carolina Law community can be found below: 

Many are also asking what they can do to educate themselves and to combat racism. The University of South Carolina Law Library has compiled this list of online resources that may be of help to those looking to learn more about the history of racism and how to combat it in their communities today. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.