Last night, two members of the Atlanta University Center family (one from Morehouse College and one from Spelman College) were detained with unnecessary force by law enforcement in downtown Atlanta. While we understand the need to maintain order, the abusive behavior reported to us is completely unacceptable. Today, we have spoken to Atlanta Mayor Bottoms and to Atlanta Police Chief Shields to request a thorough investigation and appropriate action.
It is clear that the behavior of law enforcement in this country must change. Incidents like the one last night and the many events of police violence (recorded and unrecorded) leading up to today heighten the urgency of this need for change. And we support our students as champions and activists on behalf of change.
Students and alumni from Atlanta University Center institutions have historically been a force for equity and justice in the United States and around the world and we support their engagement in the ongoing fight to not only end the senseless murder of people of color at the hands of law enforcement, but to also address the broader tenants of systematic racism and injustice which have too long been endemic in our society. Indeed, a critical aspect of our mission is to disseminate knowledge as catalysts for positive social change- our institutions support the peaceful raising of voices highlighting the injustices of systemic racism and for being a part of the design and implementation of solutions that will bring about this change. We boldly embrace our role in social justice and we call on all alumni, faculty, staff, and students to actively engage in the hard work these solutions will require.
As a reminder, we are in the midst of a pandemic that has taken a disproportionately greater toll on the African-American community. If you plan to participate in a public in-person social activism event, we encourage you to prioritize your safety and the safety of others in the campus and broader community. We encourage you to observe local laws and curfews and adhere to public health regulations including:
· Practicing social distancing
· Wearing masks
· Practicing proper sanitation including frequent handwashing
We are united in our call for social justice and continue and strongly support the desire to impact the change our country needs.
George French, Ph.D.
President, Clark Atlanta University
David Thomas, Ph.D.
President, Morehouse College
Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, FACOG
President, Morehouse School of Medicine
Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.
President, Spelman College
Statement Regarding Recent Unrest in Atlanta and the Nation from the AUCC Council of Presidents