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'Presumed Guilty'

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Two Kansas City Police officers were indicted for felony excessive force in the beating of Breona Hill in May 2019.

Berkeley law professor Erwin Chemerinsky's latest book argues that decades of U.S. Supreme Court decisions has enabled racist practices in American law and empowered the police.

Erwin Chemerinsky points out that practices the Supreme Court has allowed include profiling and intimidation, law enforcement behaviors that wind up disproportionally affecting people of color.

"I think that the court has historically sided with law enforcement. Some of it is ideological," says Chemerinsky. "And some of it is that the court has put priority on public safety rather than protecting the rights of criminal suspects and criminal defendants. And as a result, the court very much has empowered racialized policing."

Chemerinsky also believes the reality is there is just too many instances of people of color dying at the hands of police.

The response of the community, Chemerinsky believes, should be to impose controls like banning the chokehold and no-knock warrants, and holding police who use excessive force and the departments that employ them liable.

As Chemerinsky declares in "Presumed Innocent" the court’s record "from 1986 through the present and likely for years to come, can easily be summarized: ‘The police almost always win.’”

  • Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of Berkeley Law, author of "Presumed Guilty:  How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights"
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