For months, the city of Louisville in Kentucky has been at the center of nationwide protests demanding justice for the police killing of Breonna Taylor. Now the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law is offering a course to educate its students on the systemic inequalities that have led up to her death. The 15-week course, titled “Breonna Taylor’s Louisville: Race, Equity and Law,” is being overseen by the law school’s Dean Colin Crawford. The class, which began on August 13, touches on topics relating to race, inequity, and law such as as policing, housing, employment, finance, and healthcare. “The circumstances of Breonna Taylor’s tragic death demand we collectively rethink how police and other institutions of the state engage with the public,” Crawford told CNN. “My goal in this course is to give students material for them to think of themselves as agents of positive change using the law, not just looking at problems but finding ways to fix them.”
Louisville Metro Police Department officers fatally shot Taylor on March 13 while executing a “no-knock” search warrant at her apartment. Gunfire broke out after her boyfriend fired a warning shot because he thought the plainclothes officers were intruders. The 26-year-old EMT, who was unarmed, was killed in the barrage of gunfire. Crawford said he was inspired by the University of Maryland after they launched a course called “Freddie Gray’s Baltimore,” which was centered around the 25-year-old Black man who died after sustaining a neck injury while in police custody.
Crawford’s class consists of discussions and speakers from the community, such as the executive director of Louisville’s Metropolitan Housing Association and the CEO of a community development project in Louisville’s West End, the historically Black part of town. “When is there going to be another opportunity to take a class like this?” Erin Langley, a third-year law student at the university, told CNN affiliate WDRB. “Thinking about how each of us could have a role that means something going forward and when we graduate.” “These are things that are happening a few blocks away from campus,” she added. “It’s really right here.” Former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree for his actions on the night Taylor was killed by police. “This ruling provides an opportunity for us here in Louisviille and as an entire society to reevaluate the circumstances under which the police interact with the public,” Crawford said. “It’s an opportunity to reexamine our policies and practices not just in the criminal law but in many areas.” The class meets once a week on Thursdays, and Crawford hopes it will become a permanent addition to the law school’s course offerings.
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