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Davidson College plans to offer Abolish The Police course this fall

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department chief calls the title of the course “inflammatory, charged and polarizing.”

DAVIDSON, N.C. — Davidson College plans to offer a course this fall titled #AbolishingThePolice.

The course description explains the “course explores the specific relationship between Blackness and policing in the U.S. from a philosophical perspective.” It goes on to say the course “will enlist Black political and feminist theories and social and political philosophies to critically examine and think through issues of race, criminalization, incarceration, police militarization, predictive policing, surveillance, and domestic security.”

Davidson College is located in northern Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, about 20 miles north of Charlotte.

In a statement to WCNC Charlotte, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings, whose department does not patrol Davidson but does patrol over 438 square miles directly to the south, said he could not comment on the specific course curriculum but said: “to use those words in the title of a course is inflammatory, charged and polarizing.”

“No matter the course’s objective, the title certainly is directional on what a student will perceive about it, and that is detrimental to all of the men and women who sacrifice their lives every day to protect others,” Jennings added.

Claudia Garcia-Rojas, a visiting assistant professor of Africana Studies, is expected to teach the course. Her course description says she hopes "to understand the root causes of policing, I propose we begin with a deceptively simple question: What is policing?"

Davidson College did not make anyone from the school, including Garcia-Rojas, or campus police available for an interview. 

The school, which describes itself as a "student-focused institution of higher learning, grounded in the Christian Reformed Tradition and therefore faithful to a God bound by no church or creed," sent WCNC Charlotte the following statement from their director of media relations, Jay Pfiefer: 

"We explore all reality through unlimited employment of our intellectual powers. That same faith tradition extends our loyalty to the whole of humanity. We value diversity and respect the world’s various religious traditions. We honor the dignity and worth of every person. We focus on studies that are liberating and dedicate ourselves to the quest for truth. The offering of any class, whatever its title, reflects that it covers a subject worth studying. Grounded in these values, Davidson assists students in developing humane instincts and disciplined and creative minds for lives of leadership and service. We hope our graduates think clearly, make relevant value judgments, discriminate among values, and communicate freely in the realm of ideas."

WCNC Charlotte has requested interviews with Black student groups on-campus and is awaiting a response.

Charlotte Fraternal Order of Police spokesperson Yolian Ortiz told WCNC Charlotte that the FOP has offered Davidson College assistance with the course. 

"They have been very receptive to have officers be part of the conversation and keep it constructive," Ortiz said in an email.

In a statement to WCNC Charlotte, the Town of Davidson, which oversees the police department off-campus said, "The Town of Davidson does not have any purview over the content or title of college courses, nor does the subject of these classes impact our work as public servants. We will all continue to work together to ensure a safe and bright future for this vibrant community, striving to serve this town to the best of our abilities."

Contact Brandon Golder at bgoldner@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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