Published April 6, 2021
In what may be the most closely watched criminal trial in decades, not just one errant police officer but the entire culture of American law enforcement face scrutiny and judgment. Other ordeals, from the pandemic to climate change, are no less critical. Here, you’ll find helpful insight and expertise from Rutgers faculty members who appear in a wide range of media outlets.
As the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin gets underway, The Telegraph features Rutgers experts discussing Chauvin’s record, police brutality, and racism in U.S. law enforcement. Frank Edwards, a professor at the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice in Newark, says that police violence is a leading cause of death for Black men. “About 1 in 1,000 Black men and boys are killed by police,” says Edwards. Research by Rutgers sociology professor Paul Hirschfield also figures prominently in the story, highlighting sharp differences in policing and gun culture between Europe and the United States.
“There is…much to learn from organizations that have long fought against anti-Asian violence without expanding the power of law enforcement,” writes Diane Wong, a professor in Rutgers University–Newark’s School of Arts and Sciences. Her Star-Ledger op-ed is a call to “reimagine community wellness” without “investing more resources in the police and oppressive systems that fail to keep our communities safe.” Citing GenForward data on broad support for divestiture, Wong suggests that government budget priorities should shift toward “other areas such as health care, education, and housing.”
In Georgia’s new voting laws, Domingo Morel, an assistant professor of political science at Rutgers University–Newark, sees reflections of a long history of states taking over local functions when Black communities gain power. “Such policies have persisted throughout American history,” Morel writes in an op-ed for The Washington Post. “States have been responding to Black political power by taking over local authority since the 1990s in cities throughout the U.S.—specifically to get around federal laws designed to end Jim Crow.”
Scientists aren’t sure whether the COVID-19 vaccines currently available will be effective against the virus’s variants and new mutations that may develop. For that reason, says Stanley Weiss, a professor of epidemiology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, safety precautions need to remain in place and vaccinations need to ramp up. Otherwise, “current vaccination efforts may not suffice to reduce the pandemic, especially as continuing rapid spread is precisely the way to provide an opportunity for this devious virus to continue to evolve,” Weiss tells NJAdvanceMedia.
Inhaled COVID-19 vaccines are being developed around the world and may be more convenient than injected ones. Renata Pasqualini, an oncologist and researcher at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, suggests that inhaled vaccines could provide easier access to the public. “Think about a vaccine you could mail out to people,” Pasqualini tells Quartz. “People who are homebound or otherwise unable to access clinics could easily gain immunity.”
School of Public Health professor Rob Laumbach CC’84, RWJMS’97 co-authors a Star-Ledger op-ed about air quality in New Jersey, highlighting traffic reductions caused by the pandemic and important lessons we can learn from them. “We don’t have to resign ourselves to living in a state with dangerously high air pollution,” writes Laumbach. “There are numerous steps we can take to make a serious dent in New Jersey’s air pollution levels. The most critical is electrifying our transportation sector, so diesel trucks on the Turnpike would go from having toxic black plumes flowing from their exhaust pipes to no tailpipe emissions at all.”