George Floyd protests: UNC-CH experts advisory on race and policing

DETROIT, MI - MAY 29: Protesters gather to protest the recent killing of George Floyd on May 29, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Demonstrations are being held across the US after George Floyd died in police custody on May 25th. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.— (June 4, 2020) – The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked nationwide protests against police violence.

Experts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are available to discuss with media relevant issues including policing, race relations and risks of protesting during a pandemic.

If you are interested in speaking with any of these experts please contact our media relations office at mediarelations@unc.edu or by calling 919-445-8555.

Kenneth Andrews

Kenneth Andrews chairs the sociology department at UNC-Chapel Hill and has expertise in social movements and race and ethnicity. He can discuss how social movements grow and spread, the tactics and strategies that activists use, and the influence of movements on political and social change. Andrews can also discuss the impact of local protests in a wider, national movement.

Frank Baumgartner

A professor of political science, Frank Baumgartner is known for his research on racial dynamics in the criminal justice system. His most recent work examines statistics of racial disparities in a range of criminal justice outcomes spanning those from routine traffic stops to arrests, prison terms, and the death penalty. He can discuss issues of race, alienation, and policing.

Quote: “Since the founding of the Republic, white and black Americans have had diametrically opposed experiences with police and criminal justice. Today’s protests reflect these differences as well as the increased understanding among many white Americans of these disparities. Policing makes us all safer when we trust the police. When large segments of the population lose their trust in the police, we all suffer.”

William Sturkey

Assistant Professor William Sturkey is a historian with expertise in the history of race in the American South. Sturkey can provide historical context to the evolution of racial history in the South and discuss how events in modern American history have paved a way to current protests and social movements.

Rick Su

Rick Su is a professor of law at the UNC School of Law. He is available to talk about the intersection of state and federal laws as they pertain to policing. He can also discuss what is enforceable, city governance in general, and municipal efforts toward police reform.

Quote: “I believe any solution to the racial impact of policing requires coordinated efforts between local, state, and federal officials, and I am concerned about the breakdown of those relationships in recent years.”

David Alain Wohl

David Alain Wohl is an infectious disease expert at the UNC School of Medicine. He researches viral infections and can discuss the risk of coronavirus infection as groups gather in large demonstrations.

Quote: “This is a huge concern. The virus does not care if people are protesting lockdown orders or police brutality and racism. It only takes advantage of the proximity of an infectious person to a susceptible host.

“Everyone needs to wear a mask and protest organizers and attendees need to call out those not complying. To not wear a mask seems to me to be denying we are in the middle of a pandemic – which we certainly are. Next, people should remain at least 10 or more feet apart. With shouting and singing I would extend the distance well beyond six feet and lastly, use hand sanitizer.

“Protesters can model how to express themselves while not putting their fellow demonstrators at risk.”


About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 74 bachelor’s, 107 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools, including the College of Arts & Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s 336,392 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories and 164 countries. More than 182,182 live in North Carolina.