"We are not felons, we are college students"
Rawlinson, Lakiesa Cantey
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Drawing on Critical Race Theory, this phenomenological study explored nine Black males’ perceptions and experiences with campus police and local law enforcement at two public universities in the southeast. Few scholars have critically analyzed this population’s views of law enforcement amid the wave of police brutality incidents in the United States and have rarely examined their realities with police officers beyond the context of predominately-White institutions (PWIs); Semi-structured interviews and photo elicitation were the data collection methods utilized. The data analysis revealed six themes, which indicated that participants had similar conceptions of the law enforcement groups and all officers, irrespective of race and gender identities, harassed, stereotyped, and racially profiled them. Data also exposed that the recent deaths of Black males [e.g., Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, etc.] by use of excessive police force and White citizens ultimately altered participants’ attitudes toward local police. Most participants proclaimed being in college had no bearing on their lived experiences with the law enforcement groups; their race, gender, class, religion, and perceived sexual orientation identities adversely effected their encounters. To strengthen relationships between law enforcement and Black educated men, participants explained that the criminal justice and higher education systems need to have stronger accountability measures for bias-based policing; in addition, counselors and student affairs administrators should regularly assess students’ opinions of campus police and local law enforcement groups supporting colleges and universities; in addition, offer programs on self-advocacy and civil rights.