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Young says excessive police use of force in Michigan and across the country presents contradictions

June 1, 2020

Alford A. Young, Jr., courtesy faculty at the Ford School and Arthur F. Thurnau professor in the department of sociology and a professor of African and African American studies, reacted to protests in Michigan and across the country against police violence on Michigan Radio’s Stateside program May 29.

While the country is focused on the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, in Southeast Michigan, a Washtenaw County deputy recently repeatedly punched Sha’Teina Grady El in the head.

Young said, “It seems like, ‘Here we go again’. And that, I think, is a sentiment not just of people in Michigan, but across the country. It seems like what we’ve seen so often in so many other parts of the United States.”

Young said the issue of police violence against people of color is complicated by contradictions.

“On the one hand, people, black people too, want to see the police, want to see law enforcement as servants of the public interest,” Young said. “Yet, people feel—particularly, black people feel—threatened by the police and law enforcement, when they come in the communities, assault people, punch people.”

You can listen to the program here.

Alford A. Young, Jr. is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of Sociology and a professor of African and African American studies, with a courtesy appointment at the Ford School. He serves as associate director of U-M's Center for Social Solutions and faculty director for scholar engagement and leadership at Michigan's National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID). He has pursued research on low-income, urban-based African Americans, employees at an automobile manufacturing plant, African American scholars and intellectuals, and the classroom-based experiences of higher-education faculty as they pertain to diversity and multiculturalism. He employs ethnographic interviewing as his primary data collection method. His objective in research on low-income African American men, his primary area of research, has been to argue for a renewed cultural sociology of the African American urban poor. Young received an MA and PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago.