Excerpts from Looking Back: Justice for Stephanie and Paul, One Year Later

by Mackenzie Hawkins, Yale Daily News, April 16, 2020

In the early hours of the morning on April 16, 2019, Hamden police officer Devon Eaton and Yale Police officer Terrance Pollock fired 13 and three shots, respectively, at Stephanie Washington and Paul Witherspoon, an unarmed black couple in their car.

The day of the shooting, life on Yale’s campus continued as normal, spare a morning email from YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins and an evening one from Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Janet Lindner. … But beyond campus borders, a movement was growing. Activist groups, including People Against Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter New Haven, organized an evening rally outside the Hamden Police Department, drawing a crowd of about 200. Later that night, organizers protested at the site of the shooting on Dixwell Avenue and Argyle Street.

“I think we all built, during this time, the foundation for a relationship rooted in solidarity,” People Against Police Brutality organizer Kerry Ellington told the News in an April 14 interview. “I think all the different communities that were involved wanted to — and still want to — see an end goal where both officers are held accountable for their reckless actions on April 16 of last year.”…

Over the past year, student and community activists have collaborated to organize around last April’s shooting and a broader set of issues — building relationships that have transcended the incident that spurred them.

“There have always been iterations of students who have come through to this city who have really understood the significance of connecting with the community,” Ellington told the News. “So I don’t want to disregard students that I’ve worked with and organized with in the past. … But [the shooting was] definitely, I would say, a significant moment for both black and brown Yale students on campus and black and brown residents in New Haven — a moment that was clear to come together, clear to make a united call.”…

“To see a group of young black Yale students sit down and learn from [local activists] was amazing,” Elm City Vineyard Lead Pastor Joshua Williams ’08 DIV ’11 said in an April 13 interview. He was involved in race-related student activism during his time at Yale and said that New Haven’s black community had played a pivotal role in movements like the one to change the name of Calhoun College.

Yale students showing up for New Haven in the wake of the shooting, he said, was a “twin moment” paired with dining hall worker Corey Menafee smashing a window in protest of Grace Hopper College’s former namesake. New Haven residents have consistently fought for Yale students of color, he said, and students followed and reciprocated in the Founders’ Room that Thursday.

“In terms of an urgent response, it was the first time I had seen black students have this incredible deference to black New Haven — [asking] black New Haven to lead [so that Yale students] could follow,” Williams told the News.

To read the full article which includes much information about the follow-up to the present, go to: http://features.yaledailynews.com/blog/2020/04/16/looking-back-justice-for-stephanie-and-paul-one-year-later

Yale Shot Stephanie Washington

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.

Click to read more on the GoFundMe page

GoFundMe (click to read more)

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 joshua.cayetano@yale.edu.