Jaeah is a former reporter at Mother Jones. Her writings have appeared in The Atlantic, the Guardian, Wired, Christian Science Monitor,Global Post,Huffington Post,Talking Points Memo, and Grist. She tweets at @jaeahjlee.
Did Laquan McDonald, Mario Woods, and others die because of a police training myth from the 1980s?
Jaeah LeeDec. 14, 2015 7:00 AM
Screenshot taken from a video showing the police shooting of Mario Woods in San Francisco on December 2, 2015.
Last month, the attorney representing the Chicago police officer who shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald offered an explanation for his client's actions: "There is this 21-foot rule," the attorney, Dan Herbert, told CBS News. "It talks about how an individual is a significant threat to a police officer when they're in that 21-foot boundary."
Chicago police officials said the black teen held a four-inch folding knife on the night of the shooting last October, and that he waved it aggressively at Jason Van Dyke and other officers, ignoring orders to drop the weapon. But the video, released in late November on court orders, showed McDonald was wielding a knife but was shot with 16 bullets as he was facing away from the officers and then fell to the ground.
A week later, a video emerged showing multiple police officers in San Francisco fatally shooting another knife-wielding suspect, Mario Woods, on December 2. San Francisco PD officials said Woods was the suspect of a stabbing that occurred earlier that day, and that Woods refused to relinquish a kitchen knife even as officers ordered him to drop it, fired bean bag pellets, and pepper-sprayed him. A cell phone video from a bystander showed Woods standing against a wall, surrounded by the police with their guns drawn. As Wood began to walk away, an officer stepped in his path, and a series of gunshots rang out. Five officers opened fire, according to the SFPD.
Both McDonald's and Woods's deaths have sparked protests and raised questions about whether it was really necessary for the officers to open fire against suspects who had knives but didn't appear to pose an immediate threat. And with lethal force by the police under intense scrutiny, experts are now callingattention to how the "21-foot rule" cited in the McDonald case—referring to a decades-old article about handling suspects who are wielding edged or blunt weapons—has been widely misconstrued over the years.
The concept originated with a March 1983 SWAT magazine article, "How Close Is Too Close," by Dennis Tueller, a retired lieutenant and former firearms instructor with the Salt Lake City Police Department. "Let's consider what might be called the 'Danger Zone' if you are confronted by an adversary armed with an edged or blunt weapon," Tueller wrote. Tueller conducted a series of tests and found that in the time it took for the officer to unholster, aim, and shoot his gun—1.5 to 2 seconds—the attacker could cover a distance of 21 feet.
"The '21-foot rule' concept spread throughout the law enforcement community almost like a virus."
Tueller never called this idea a rule, but that's how it became known. "The '21-foot rule' concept spread throughout the law enforcement community almost like a virus," Ron Martinelli, a retired cop and forensic criminologist, wrote in a March 2015 Law Officer article about the so-called rule. "Tueller never imagined when he designed his simple firearms training drill that, 30 years later, the 21-foot rule would eventually become a police doctrine that is taught and testified to hundreds of times a year."
The problem is that interpretation of Tueller's concept has been too simplistic, explains Seth Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law and a former police officer in Florida. "If the officer is already aware that a person has a weapon and pointed at the suspect, then the officer needs much less than a second and a half to make a decision to fire," he says. "But it's also dangerous for cops because, in some cases, 21 feet doesn't give enough time to properly respond to an aggressive threat." He added, "Nevertheless, it remains enshrined in policing."
In recent years, Martinelli and other policing experts haveraised concerns. In an interview with theMarshall Project's Beth Schwartzapfel last month, even Tueller tried to address the misinterpretation of the concept. "I have more than a mild disagreement with that term," Tueller said.
The "21-foot rule" isn't typically required curriculum in police academies, but as Stoughton and others note, it remains widely cited and taught as part of informal training seminars. After revisiting Tueller's research, Martinelli said he found "no forensic testing, examination, reconciliation of data, or scientific oversight of a research model was ever conducted." He added, "The truth is that the 21-foot rule should not be considered to be an absolute rule at all."
Despite the recent efforts to clarify it, Stoughton says, "the '21-foot rule' remains one of the persistent and frustrating urban myths of law enforcement training."
Curtis J. Cope, a policing consultant who previously served as an officer and a training instructor, says he believes most officers are well aware that the "21-foot rule" is not a rule in and of itself, and that they operate based on the departmental policies and laws governing the use of force. "If you're going to be faced with a knife, you need to know the potential for you being stabbed or cut," he says. "You need to be able to figure out what types of defenses you're going to be able to utilize based upon the circumstances that you're faced with."
"Officers get very little training in confronting suspects other than using a firearm."
But many police officers in America are trained to draw their guns when facing a potentially lethal threat, Stoughton says, even though the threat to officers from suspects holding edged weapons—such as knives—has "decreased substantially" over the past few decades. "Officers get very little training in confronting suspects other than using a firearm," he says, because much of their training focuses on deadly encounters, when in reality officers are more likely to face less lethal or nonlethal threats.
A recent survey of 281 police agencies found that young officers spend far more time getting trained on firearms and defensive tactics than on de-escalation tactics and crisis intervention. But officers need more training on how to contain and disarm suspects without a gun, Stoughton says. He points to past examples such as police in the United Kingdom disarming a man waving a machete by closing in on him with riot shields, and Seattle police disarming a man with a knife using a ladder after an 11-hour standoff. "Without that training and experience, officers fall back on the weapon that they know they can rely on—and that's a firearm."
People gathered at a vigil for Mario Woods on December 3, 2015
Dozens of people gathered at a candlelit vigil on Thursday night in San Francisco, at the spot where 26-year-old Mario Woods was killed by police the day before. Woods, who is black, died in a hail of bullets fired by San Francisco Police Department officers on Wednesday afternoon in the city's Bayview district. Police identified him as the suspect in an attack whose victim was apparently stabbed in the shoulder but is expected to survive. Police officials said Woods was wielding a kitchen knife that he refused to relinquish even as officers ordered him to drop it, fired bean bag pellets, and pepper-sprayed him.
The moments leading up to the shooting were captured on several widely circulated videosrecorded on cellphones. In one, Woods can be seen standing with his back against a wall, surrounded by police whose guns are drawn. When Woods begins to walk away, an officer steps in his path, and within seconds a series of shots rings out. SFPD Chief Greg Suhr told reporters that a total of five officers opened fire. (Warning: graphic images)
Woods died at the scene. A resident who lives next to the site of the shooting told Mother Jones that he counted at least 36 shell casings on the sidewalk after the violence was over. Another angle also captured the shooting (graphic).
SF Weeklyreported that Woods had been a gang member in 2009 and had previously served prison and jail time for possession of a firearm by a felon. Woods' mother, Gwendolyn, told ABC7 News that her son had suffered from mental health issues but was getting through them. "He just needed some help," she said. "He fought past them." She told interviewers that her son had "gotten his uniform" for his new job with the United Parcel Servicethat he was slated to begin the day after he died.
The San Francisco police departmenthas had a troubled history of police aggression and racism toward minority communities. In February, four San Francisco police officers were cleared in the shooting death of Alex Nieto, a 28-year-old Hispanic man who was shot 10 to 15 times by police in March 2014. Police officers mistook a Taser for a gun. In March, a series of racist and homophobic text messages sent among a group of officers in 2011 and 2012 emerged as part of a federal case against a former San Francisco police sergeant convicted of corruption charges, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The department tried to fire eight officers and suspend several others involved, but the disciplinary process is ongoing. In August, a video of more than a dozen San Francisco police officers surrounding and tackling a disabled homeless man went viral, spurring outrage.
Neighborhood residents where Woods was shot questioned the level of force used to subdue him.
"They had six officers against this one little guy," area resident Cedric Smith told the San Francisco Chronicle. "They could have used batons. They could have backed off. They didn't need to shoot him." And Chemika Hollis, another resident, wondered why police officers shot him so many times. "How can you feel a threat when you have 10 cops around you?" she said.
Thursday's vigil was set up on the spot where Woods was gunned down, with pictures of him, candles, and a sign posted to the wall reading, "Black Lives Matter." A few blocks away from the vigil, dozens more gathered at a community meeting in the St. Paul of the Shipwreck Catholic church, while others held apeaceful protest outside.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr has said the officers were justified in shooting Woods, and he promised a thorough investigation.
"It's a tragic loss anytime somebody dies. We never want to do that," he told reporters after the shooting. "But this is all they could do. I really don't know how much more you can make it plain to a wanted felon that he should drop the knife."
Officers' accounts of the incident highlight tactical blunders, expert says.
Jaeah LeeDec. 3, 2015 7:00 AM
A still from surveillance footage of the shooting.
The grand jury investigating the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police last fall is "now very near a decision" on whether to recommend criminal charges against the shooter, according to a lawyer for one of the two officers involved.
Officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot and killed Rice within two seconds of arriving on the scene (a Cleveland park) is the sole subject of the criminal investigation and grand jury proceedings—although three outsidereviews of the case have stated that the actions of Officer Frank Garmback, who pulled the officers' cruiser to within a few feet of the boy, warrant a criminal investigation as well.
On Tuesday, after a year of silence, the two officers released their own accounts of the shooting, which took place last November 22 and was captured in surveillance footage. Loehmann and Garmback had remained tight-lipped despite multiple interview requests from county sheriff's investigators and subpoenas from the grand jury. With a grand jury decision imminent, it was "time for us to present our statement to the Sheriff, if we were going to do so," Michael Maloney, Garmback's attorney, told Mother Jones in an email. (The prosecutor's office would not discuss the grand jury's timetable, and Loehmann's attorney has not responded to requests for comment.)
"I kept my eyes on the suspect the entire time," Loehmann wrote in his letter, adding that he and Garmback thought Rice was going to run toward a nearby community center. "I was fixed on his waistband and hand area. I was trained to keep my eyes on his hands because 'hands may kill.'" Loehmann wrote that he saw Rice pull out a gun, and that he then fired twice toward Rice's hands. One of those shots struck the child in the abdomen—he died at a hospital the next day.
Garmback, in a separate letter, wrote that he first saw Rice had a gun "about the time Ptl. Loehmann exited the cruiser. The male was pulling it from the right front area of his waistband. I thought the gun was real." In June, the county sheriff's five-month investigation revealed that the 911 dispatcher had failed to relay the caller's description that Rice was "probably a juvenile" and that his gun was "probably fake." Indeed, it was a toy replica.
The officers' statements, which attorneys for Rice's family called "self-serving" and "inconsistent," left key questions unresolved. The accounts were "flatly contradicted by the objective video footage," the family lawyers wrote in their own statement on Tuesday. "Hopefully, the grand jury will see through this."
"The bottom line is that you don't come barreling in. You follow him if he runs. You don't get up close."
Loehmann and Garmback, for instance, claimed Rice was heading toward the recreation center before he turned toward the squad car as it pulled up. But that's not apparent in the surveillance video. Loehmann also wrote that he and Garmback issued multiple warnings for Rice to show his hands as the cruiser pulled up, and as Loehmann was getting out. Garmback, however, wrote that the car windows may have been rolled up.
The officers' statements revealed troubling tactical errors, according to Dave Klinger, a former cop and a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. For one, Loehmann described the scene as "an active shooter situation." That's inaccurate, Klinger explains. "An active shooter is what happened in San Bernardino—someone who is actively shooting at people. So right off the bat something is not right. There's so much we don't know about what was going on in this guy's mind and the mind of his partner officer."
The biggest tactical blunder, Klinger says, was in Garmback's pulling the vehicle so close to Rice. Garmback wrote that "the cruiser did slide when I applied the brakes. I am not sure how far. The car did not stop where and when I intended." Even so, Klinger says, "the bottom line is that you don't come barreling in. You follow him if he runs. You don't get up close. That doesn't make any sense."
Klinger, who has testified as an expert witness in police-shooting cases, adds that the verbal warning Loehmann and Garmback said they issued—"show me your hands"—was a "brain-dead" move. "It's not a warning, it's a command," Klinger says. "And it's the wrong command to issue when someone has their hands not in plain view in that moment. I do not understand why police officers are sometimes trained that 'show me your hands' is an appropriate thing to do when somebody who you believe had a gun has their hands not in plain view."
Neither officer explained in his letter why he neglected to administer first aid or tend to the child's wound—even after the scene was secured.
Neither officer explained in his letter why he neglected to administer first aid or tend to the child's wound—even after the scene was secured. Earlier this year, Cleveland police sergeant Janell Rutherford told investigators that the city's police vehicles are not equipped with first-aid kits, and that Cleveland officers receive no medical training at the academy, except for CPR.
The officers' statements are the latest pieces of evidence made public by county prosecutor Timothy McGinty. Beginning in October, McGinty released three reports from current and former law enforcement officials he'd tapped for that purpose. The reports unanimously concluded that Loehmann and Garmback had acted reasonably under the law, and that any tactical errors they may have made did not warrant criminal charges. In releasing those reports, McGinty broke with a longstanding tradition of keeping grand jury documents off limits to the public, raising suspicions about his motives. Rice's family and supporters have called for a special prosecutor to take over the case.
Klinger, the former cop, says the officers' tactical errors don't rise to the level of criminal offenses, although they may facilitate a settlement in a wrongful death suit the Rice family has filed against the city. But two expert reports released last week by the family's lawyers call the officers' actions "reckless" and legally unjustifiable. Those findings were echoed in June by the Cleveland judge who found probable cause to charge the officers, but left the decision to the county prosecutor.
"The killing of this child was completely avoidable and preventable."
Jaeah LeeDec. 1, 2015 7:00 AM
Protesters in New York City on the one-year anniversary of Tamir Rice's death.
On Saturday, attorneys for the family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was shot to death by a Cleveland cop last November, released two new reports concluding that the actions of the two officers involved, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, were "reckless" and "objectively unreasonable" by legal and professional standards.
The reports were authored by Roger Clark, a former Los Angeles County deputy sheriff, and by Jeffrey Noble, a former deputy police chief for Irvine, California, who were retained by the Rice family's attorneys. Both former police officials have concluded that Loehmann, who fired the shots, and Garmback, his partner who drove the squad car to within a few feet of Rice, committed a series of tactical errors that were legally unjustifiable. The officers created a dangerous and avoidable situation, they say, that jeopardized the safety of the officers and the boy. The officers, Noble writes, "engaged in reckless tactical decision-making that created the danger, thus the use of deadly force was excessive, objectively unreasonable and inconsistent with generally accepted police practices." That conclusion fits with the analysis of other policing experts who have weighed in on the case.
In their review of the surveillance footage of the shooting and its aftermath, Clark and Noble both concluded that Rice was not holding a weapon when the officers drove directly up to him in a Cleveland park, and therefore posed no immediate threat to the officers. "It is absolutely critical to emphasize that no weapon was visible to either Officer Loehmann or Officer Garmback upon their arrival on the scene," Clark wrote. "Officer Loehmann jumped out of the car with his gun in his hand before the car had even come close to a complete stop. Thus, it appears that Officer Loehmann must have unholstered his gun while en route to the call."
Clark and Noble's conclusions differ starkly from those of three previous reports, also written by former or current law enforcement officials, which suggested that Rice may have been holding a gun or reaching down toward his waist when the officers approached. Those three reports were released recently by Timothy McGinty, the county prosecutor leading the grand jury investigation, sparking controversy over their apparent absolution of the officers.(Read all five reports below.)
Clark also noted that the 911 operator who took the call, Constance Hollinger, relayed "grossly incomplete information," and that her actions justified "significant discipline or discharge." As Mother Jonesfirst reported in June, Hollinger did not enter the caller's details about Rice being "probably a juvenile" and the gun being "probably fake." But even setting aside those details, "based upon what he observed and knew at the time, it was unreasonable for Officer Loehmann to jump out with his gun drawn and immediately open fire within 1.7 seconds at a person he could not be sure was the subject of the dispatch."
"Hiring and retaining plainly unfit police officers is a recipe for disaster."
Clark and Noble also criticized the assessments released by McGinty from previous experts. In part they pointed to the "glaring omission" of statements from Loehmann and Garmback—who have refused to speak with investigators in the year since the shooting, as Mother Jonesfirst reported in May. They also noted the grainy surveillance video, captured at a distance, and how it was misused by the previous experts: "Their reports ignore and/or distort the objective evidence," Clark wrote. "All three experts appear to speculate about what the officers might have seen or thought."
Clark and Noble also zeroed in on Loehmann's record, including the officer's history of "lying to his supervisor" and how he suffered from emotional instability. Both concluded that Loehmann's prior record not only tainted his credibility in the Rice case but also demonstrated that he was unfit for duty as an officer and never should have been hired in the first place. "Hiring and retaining plainly unfit police officers is a recipe for disaster," Clark wrote. "In this case, the obvious delinquencies in this regard lead to a tragic and unavoidable fatality."
With the grand jury continuing to hear evidence and deliberate on whether Loehmann should face criminal charges, attorneys for the Rice family submitted the two reports to McGinty, who they say has failed to "impartially investigate and prosecute this case." Attorney Zoe Salzman confirmed to Mother Jones that McGinty has since agreed to present the two reports commissioned by the family's attorneys to the grand jury.
Read all the expert reports being considered by the grand jury below.
Fully understanding the rising wave of campus protests over racial injustice requires looking back centuries, explains Craig Steven Wilder, a historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wilder spent more than a decade researching the fraught racial history of America's colleges and universities—including their roots in one of the country's most ignominious eras. "It's difficult to celebrate diversity while standing in front of buildings that are named after slave traders," he says.
Wilder spoke to Mother Jones about how that history came to light, and how it informs current politics and the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mother Jones: What went through your mind when you first heard about the protests at Mizzou and Yale?
Professor Craig Steven Wilder. Courtesy of MIT
Craig Steven Wilder: I had just given a talk at Yale. One of the things that came to mind was the reemergence of a student activism that is increasingly important on our campuses and also in the broader social conversation about racial inequality and racial justice. If you look back at what's happened over the past few years, with both Occupy and Black Lives Matter, you'll see a heavy student involvement. The fact that they're now beginning to articulate a kind of common vision seems to me predictable.
MJ: In 2013, you published Ebony and Ivy, a book about the role slavery played in the founding of America's earliest colleges and universities, dating back to the 1700s. Do you see any connection between the racial injustices then and the protests we are seeing now?
CSW: It actually dates back to the early 1600s, to the founding of the very first English academy in the American colonies. I don't see a direct linear connection between those things, but there is a connection. Institutions are a product of their histories, like Georgetown has experienced. We have campuses that are filled with buildings named after founders and early participants in the founding and establishment of universities who both owned and traded human beings. It's difficult and awkward to celebrate diversity while standing in front of buildings that are named after slave traders.
An advertisement for a slave auction on a ship owned by a charter trustee of the College of Philadelphia, now the University of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Gazette/Courtesy of Craig Steven Wilder
MJ: For those who haven't read your book, tell us more about how slavery played a significant role in the growth of American universities.
CSW: Every college that survived the American Revolutionary War did so by attaching itself to the slave economies of the Atlantic world. It's those economies that sustained them. Slavery wasn't just an aspect of their early history—slavery decided which colleges would survive. When Harvard was founded in 1636, it was founded just before the Pequot* war breaks out—the war between the Puritans and the native communities of southern New England which culminates in the massacre of several hundred Pequot, and the survivors are sold into slavery in the Caribbean. The ship that sells them is the first to transport slaves out of the British colonies. It returns with African slaves to New England. The year that it returns, Harvard gets its first slave on campus. Yale became a college that expanded in the 18th century by finding more intimate connections to slavery, including owning a small slave plantation in Rhode Island that it leased out to a series of slaveholding tenants. The rent from that estate helped Yale establish its first graduate program and its first scholarship.
Northern universities in particular have been terribly effective at hiding their relationship to the slave trade.
There's an academic revolution that happened in the quarter century just before the American Revolution. There are only three colleges in the British colonies until the 1740s. William and Mary in Virginia, Harvard, and Yale. Then, between 1740 and 1769, seven new colleges get established. That's the moment when the slave trade is peaking. New wealth is being produced in the Americas that allows the various Christian denominations to establish colleges to help cement their presence in the colonies. Engineering schools in the pre-Civil War period were largely funded by people who were making significant amounts of money off the products of slavery: cotton manufacturers, textile manufacturers in New England, and sugar refiners in places like New York.
You spend a whole bunch of time in the university archives and then you walk outside to put coins in the meter or to grab a sandwich, and you're walking past buildings named after the people who are in those records—the slave traders and slave owners. Those legacies are very real.
MJ: When did we first begin to see universities confront these legacies, and where?
CSW: It's just before 2003, when Ruth Simmons, an African American woman who had been president of Smith, is selected as the next president of Brown University. President Simmons decided to challenge the university and the trustees and the alumni body by establishing a commission to look directly at Brown's relationship to the slave trade, and to bring forth a report on it, to make it public, with suggestions of ways of addressing that history. Northern universities in particular have been terribly effective at hiding their relationship to the slave trade. So that was a moment of tremendous courage.
At Princeton, after the president died his slaves were auctioned off from the president's house.
It didn't happen in a complete vacuum. A couple of years before Simmons became Brown's president, Yale had its 300th anniversary, during which they often commission a history. Yale's history focused heavily on its contribution to the abolitionist, anti-slavery movement. A lot of Yale graduates became abolitionists, but the university was actually anti-abolition in its official position. Even more important, Yale had a much longer history with slavery, like all of the universities did, than it did with abolitionism. A group of graduate students and staff pointed this out on a website, "Yale, Slavery, and Abolition." There was a huge backlash. People accused them of attacking the university by bringing up things that were uncomfortable to deal with at the moment when people should be celebrating.
But whatever the motivations, it's simply true that these universities have a much deeper relationship with slavery, which they've successfully avoided. Brown gave a template for how to wrestle with this history.
MJ: We've also seen a backlash against the protests at Mizzou and Yale. Where do you see this coming from?
CSW: I once gave a radio interview in which one of the callers accused me of digging up the past, which is a strange accusation to make against a historian—that's the job description. What that accusation really is, is the protest of someone who's uncomfortable with a certain historical truth. I think there's a fear of where this will lead.
When I was doing the research for the book, you have these references to enslaved people who are on campus. At Princeton, after the president died, his slaves were auctioned off from the president's house. The founder of Dartmouth showed up to New Hampshire with eight enslaved black people. He's got more slaves than faculty. He's got more slaves than active trustees. I'm not the first one to have seen this. But a lot of historians have made the decision that what they were seeing isn't all that important to the story they were telling.
Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia, leased its slaves to bring in additional revenue. Library of Congress/Courtesy of Craig Steven Wilder
When these investigations first started, one of the fears was that any acknowledgement that slavery played in the histories of institutions would lead to calls for reparations. That's an extraordinarily cowardly position to take. The truth can't be held hostage to our fear of consequences.
MJ: Has the lack of diversity among university faculty and students had anything to do with the time it has taken to accept these truths?
CSW: I think in the past 25 to 35 years, the increasing diversity of American colleges and universities has created the conditions for beginning to unpack some of this history and to challenge it on campus. On historically white, predominantly white university campuses, we've developed a tendency to celebrate diversity and to talk about diversity as a positive good, particularly for marketing purposes, and how we should be ranked with competitors. But at the same time, there's been a reluctance to do the very difficult work of managing a diverse community of people and thinking about what it really requires to sustain a diverse community of people.
The business of dealing with diversity has gotten harder to do as colleges and universities have gotten more corporatized, as costs have inflated, and as we've turned to our upper administration to deal with the business of raising money, building campuses, expanding endowments, and primarily focus on the fiscal health of the institutions. One of the things we've created is a generation of higher education officials who don't necessarily have the skill set to manage diversity.
MJ: How do the ongoing campus protests tie in with the Black Lives Matter movement that emerged more than a year ago?
CSW: Actually, I believe that the campus protests are influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement. Some of these students got their initial experience in organizing and political action from BLM. It is, unfortunately, not difficult to see how the social crises that produced BLM also play out on campus. These movements are grassroots reactions to social injustice.
I also think this is a moment where we need to look at the health of our university system more broadly—is it performing the role we think it's supposed to? And as the students come to experience their own campaign's successes and failures, their goals will evolve. The original Montgomery bus boycott had very modest aims. It wasn't until community action began to experience its own power that the aim of desegregating the transit system emerged. Even in a movement that broad and spectacular and historically significant, you have this evolution. So what I see happening with the students is that—much like the student athletes over the past several years who've been pushing for compensation and recognition of the roles they're playing, and the money that's being generated off their labor—their aims have been evolving over time.
Diversity is not disconnected from those broader conversations. It needs to be embedded in those broader conversations, which is how we hold ourselves accountable over time. It's how we avoid this habit of pretending to be surprised by things that we know are bubbling up on our campuses.
Correction: The original version of this story misspelled the name of the Pequot tribe.