May 31, 2020

Dear Spelman Community,

This morning, I spoke to a Spelman student who was taken into custody last night, shortly after the curfew instituted by the City of Atlanta. Her account of her encounter with Atlanta's law enforcement is harrowing. She shared that she was a passenger in a car driven by a young man, formerly enrolled at Morehouse College. They drove to the downtown area to witness the events of last night and became entangled in traffic close to the time of the curfew.

Police officers approached them and ordered them out of the car. Terrified, our student fumbled with the car door and was greeted with fists pounding on the car window. A police officer then opened the door, tased her and pushed her on the ground. She was taken into custody. Her crime? Nothing. She was not charged and, after several hours in custody, was released.

What the protesters are protesting is exactly this kind of unacceptable behavior — and that is the disregard, disrespect and aggression that seems to make stalking Black citizens, rather than protecting them, the goal of law enforcement.

To say, "this has got to stop" would be tantamount to shouting into the wind. We have said "this has got to stop" too many times. We need to take steps in the coming days, weeks, months and years to change.

Atlanta prides itself on being an urban leader. The mission of each school in the Atlanta University Center includes producing leaders. This is an opportunity for leadership.

I invite Atlanta Police Department leaders to sit with the student and administrative leadership of the AUC to find a way to forge a cooperative partnership that has as its goal the protection and safety of all of our citizens.

Keep the faith,

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.
President, Spelman College


Office of the President
Phone: 404-270-5001

Fax: 404-270-5010

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