Rule of Law Collaborative symposium focuses on police, community relations

January 2015 protest in Seattle. (Photo: Scott Lum via Flickr)

On April 7, the University of South Carolina Rule of Law Collaborative (ROLC) will host a symposium at the School of Law: Bridging the Divide: African-American Communities and Law Enforcement. The symposium looks to heal the relationship between communities and the officers that serve them, exploring whether restorative justice mechanisms, specifically Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, would help unify the two groups.

The ROLC welcomes experts from all areas of transitional justice to come together for an in-depth discussion from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The symposium will be broken into four sessions: Addressing the Root Causes, Comparative International and Domestic Initiatives, The Case for Restorative Justice, and From Rhetoric to Action—Restorative Justice in the United States.

National experts such as Fania Davis, co-founder and executive director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, and David Ragland, co-founder of the Truth-Telling Project in Ferguson, MO, will lead a conversation about practical application, such as how a restorative justice mechanism would operate alongside the federal justice system, and how much legitimacy those commissions would have in communities where trust is already low. International experts in restorative justice, including Yasmin Sooka, the current executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa, will take their experiences and observations, and discuss the implications of adapting those practices in the United States.

The ROLC sees this symposium not as a one-time event, but as the launching pad for further discussion and exploration on this issue, which affects communities across our country. The goal is to turn conversation into practice, allowing the university to serve as a place where change begins.

The symposium is free and open to the public.