UW Law Hosts Forum on Recent Events in Ferguson

On Tuesday, December 2, the University of Washington School of Law hosted a forum in response to the recent grand jury decision in the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Seattle defense attorney Jeffrey Robinson led a discussion on the ethical, factual and legal issues surrounding state use of force, policing in communities of color and the grand jury process. Washington Supreme Court Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud and former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan were also on hand at the law school for the discussion.

Watch the full presentation here:

Mr. Robinson’s presentation was titled, "You Can Observe a Lot Just By Watching: The Killing of Michael Brown and the Transparent Grand Jury Investigation" and focused on the killing of Michael Brown and recent protests in Ferguson and around the country, as well as larger issues of criminal justice, racism and law enforcement. For a detailed list of the resources included in his presentation, see this blog post from the Gallagher Law Library on the forum.

Dean Kellye Testy introduced Mr. Robinson by discussing the events in Ferguson. "I'm really pleased we could gather today as a community ... to talk about the events in Ferguson, the killing of Michael Brown and of course, what happened with the grand jury investigation and decision. As tragic as that event was on it's own, in isolation for the loss of Michael Brown, of course, it doesn't happen in isolation. Issues of race in our criminal justice system are incredibly pervasive and it's something that our law school ... will remain quite engaged with."

Mr. Robinson opened up the discussion encouraging honest discourse. "Let's just have an agreement. Even if we disagree that's OK. The discussion, I think is what's important."

1L student Martina Kartman spoke about her recent experience traveling to Ferguson, and noted that "the people closest to the problem are also closest to the solution."

Mr. Robinson closed the panel with an uplifting message of progress, "We are having conversations in America that we have never had. Not in my lifetime. I'm 58 years old. And the conversations that are going on now have the potential to be transformative."

The forum was followed by a discussion hosted by UW Law’s Diversity Committee and later that night, students from UW Law joined students from the Seattle University School of Law in a candlelight vigil organized by students from the two schools to recognize the social issues brought to the forefront by recent events in Ferguson.