The turmoil over recent killings of unarmed civilians by police marks “a prime moment to have a conversation about civil rights,” Professor Donald Tibbs said in an interview on WHYY’s "Radio Times" that aired on Dec. 23.
Protests that followed the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others reflect the need to call attention to “differences in the way that people experience their civil rights in America,” Tibbs said.
An expert on the overlapping issues of race, law, civil rights and criminal procedure, Tibbs disputed claims that widespread outcry over Brown and Garner’s deaths inspired the recent killing of two New York City police officers.
“The only way we’re going to have a real conversation about this is for everyone to accept that there’s lots of tragedy involved and stop pointing fingers about who’s at fault,” Tibbs said.
Joining Lehigh University Professor James Peterson on the program, Tibbs said the civilian deaths have sparked important questions about police tactics, the criminal justice system and civilians’ constitutional rights.
“People want to know that the way criminal justice system works is that it holds everyone accountable,” Tibbs said.
Tactics such as “stop and frisk” are neither new nor necessarily unreasonable, Tibbs said, adding that police choices regarding which individuals to pat down stokes controversy.