Statement by President Travis on Recent Shootings

Statement by President Travis on Recent Shootings

Statement by President Travis on Recent Shootings

July 12, 2016

To the John Jay College Community:

We have just witnessed a week of horrific, gut-wrenching violence in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Falcon Heights, Minnesota; and Dallas, Texas.  It has aptly been called a “week from hell.”  We experience many reactions to these events – shock, outrage, fear, numbness. Many voices around the country are offering suggestions about ways to move beyond these tragedies to find a new common purpose.  In these dark days, the John Jay community must also come together—to grieve, to process the unthinkable, and to recommit ourselves to our important mission of educating for justice. 

These tragic events touch our community on many levels.  First and foremost, we should consider our students, the majority of them students of color who must wrestle with their own interactions with the police.  Many of our students are preparing for careers in law enforcement.  We hope they are heartened by the outpouring of support for law enforcement following the deaths of the Dallas officers. We also hope they enter their chosen profession aware of the deep distrust of the police in many quarters and committed to overcoming that distrust.  These events have also touched our staff, both in their personal lives and their interactions with our students.  We hope they find the strength and resolve to turn these tragedies into more insightful service. Finally, our faculty have been deeply affected, some more directly than others.  We are fortunate to count among our faculty some of the nation’s leading experts on policing, race, violence and criminal justice policy, many of whom have been prominently featured on national media.  Others have well-established reputations for integrating themes of justice, reconciliation, oppression, and identity into their curricula. As always, we count on our faculty for their expertise and guidance, both inside and outside the classroom.

John Jay has a special obligation at this moment.  Our college was founded in 1964 in an era of heightened racial tension, urban unrest and intense national introspection. John Jay was created as part of a broader response by educational institutions to improve law enforcement through education and to advance social justice more broadly. We are the inheritors of that tradition, and this requires us to be part of a larger national conversation about a better way forward.  As an immediate step, we will initiate a campus conversation with an open forum for sharing our present pain, affirming our sense of community, and articulating our thoughts about the future.   This forum will take place on Thursday, July 21, in room 9.64NB from 12-2 pm.   All are invited to drop in to the forum at any time in this two-hour period to speak or just to listen.  In the meantime, for individuals who would like to see a counselor, please contact The Wellness Center, L68NB, (212) 237-8111.

We extend our condolences to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, both killed by police officers, and the five police officers killed in Dallas, Brent Thompson, Lorne Ahrens, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Smith and Michael Krol.  We can never fully comprehend their pain but wish them strength.  We are grateful for those elected officials, community leaders, and ordinary citizens who have called for reconciliation while deploring the violence.  This is a time for calm voices.  We are grateful for the good work of our police officers and recognize the difficult and dangerous task they have embraced on our behalf.  We commend those who are helping the nation understand the importance of coming to terms with the legacy of racial oppression and its consequences for the criminal justice system.  This is a historical imperative of the first order.  As an educational institution, we are especially impressed by the young people around the country, of all races, who have raised their voices for justice.  Like generations before them, they are eager to improve the world.   

I thank you for your commitment to the values that our community holds dear and hope that you find solace and a renewed sense of purpose in these trying times.


president Jeremy Travis' signature



Jeremy Travis