by Joshua Caytetano, Yale Daily News, April 18, 2019
[Article below is excerpted from yaledailynews.com/blog/2019/04/18/cayetano-yale-shot-stephanie-washington]
The shooting of Stephanie Washington, a young black New Haven resident, by an officer of the Hamden Police Department and Yale University Police should produce grave concern and protest within the Yale student community.
Facts are still emerging, narratives are still changing, but one incontestable truth persists: Hamden and Yale University police shot an innocent, unarmed black woman. The University has the opportunity to take the steps toward racial reconciliation in front of a local and national audience. Yale can move from silence and complicity to solidarity with our hurting neighbors. One way is to commit to pressure local law enforcement to ensure a transparent investigation and a just outcome.
Other steps toward solidarity can include: 1) The issue of a public apology, 2) A commitment to terminate the employment of any responsible party, 3) A review and revision of YPD’s relationship to the broader New Haven community, and 4) A renewed, material commitment to these communities of need. But until the University proves itself to be a reliable partner for justice, this movement must begin with the students.
As Yale students, we must ask ourselves, “Is my safety ensured at the expense of someone else’s?” In light of this shooting, the answer should be an unequivocal yes.
Within the University’s protective bubble, we can easily ignore the uncomfortable truths that implicate our institution in injustice. We must correct our vision to include the many overlooked and under-considered people who challenge our presumption of moral superiority.
How can we be national advocates for justice if we allow the injustices in our backyard to pass unnoticed? How can we study centuries of racial oppression in our classrooms, yet not speak up when we witness it first-hand? Stephanie Washington might not have died from the bullet, but this fact in no way lightens the burden of responsibility. We must continue to #SayHerName, along with other black and brown people who have been brutalized by the police.
[editor’s note: there is a gofundme page set up for helping Stephanie get back on her feet. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/help-for-stephanie-washington
Joshua Cayetano is a first year at the Yale Divinity School. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.