By Adam Zaki
Published: November 15th, 2017
In a packed Woody Tanger Auditorium on Nov. 1, the Brooklyn College Women’s Center hosted Andrea J. Ritchie, an African American police misconduct attorney, who spoke about her new book Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color, and how the treatment of certain individuals in police custody has changed.
In her talk at Brooklyn College, Ritchie highlighted the case of Duanna Johnson, a transgender woman who was beaten by police in 2008. Outrage from gay rights groups all over the world followed, and the police officers involved in the case were fired. Johnson was murdered five months later, when she was found with a gunshot wound. Ritchie claimed that because Johnson was transgender, her story failed to receive major national attention.
Ritchie has authored much of the literature and research on the criminalization of African American, LGBT, and transgender individuals. Most notably, Ritchie was the lead counsel in Tikkun v. City of New York, a case which led to major changes to the way transgender individuals can be searched while in custody. While making appearances in all of the major media outlets on a fairly regular basis, Ritchie has testified at the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, the Prison Rape Elimination Commission, the White House Council on Women and Girls, along with several United Nations Treaty Bodies.
Associate professor in the BC English department Rosamond King told BC News, “We have a lot of activists on campus—and people who want to be activists.”
King was one of the faculty members who got Ritchie to come to campus, and thought her unique combination of accolades and authenticity would be beneficial for students.
“I wanted to bring Andrea J. Ritchie to Brooklyn College because she’s someone who has the scholarly chops and is well-published, but who also has been in the streets, organized with different communities, and who knows how to bridge those divides,” King said.
During the event, Ritchie shared her thoughts on how to be an activist for these rights while being a productive college student.
“Take a piece [of justice-oriented action], any piece, in your immediate community,” she said. “Talk to one person. Try to figure out just one way that you can effect change. Write one letter to an editor of a magazine. Write one article for your student newspaper. Go to one meeting. Go to one rally. Look at other examples of resistance. You can unravel the giant web if you pull on the right threads.”