Cornell University

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Democracy 20/20: Already Authoritarian? Violence, Policing, and Democracy

Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 1:00pm to 2:15pm

Virtual Event

Federal authorities have responded to this summer’s protests with force, spraying tear gas on crowds and empowering unidentified law enforcement personnel, some of whom have used unmarked vans to pick up protesters at random. The protests, while spurred by recent killings of African Americans by police, have highlighted long-established patterns of intensive and often violent policing of communities of color.  

This webinar will examine these developments in the context of American history, examining the extent to which they deviate from or continue established patterns, and analyze them relative to the experience of policing in other countries around the world, in order to reveal the implications for U.S. democracy. 

Register now!


Sabrina Karim is an assistant professor in Cornell's Department of Government. Karim’s research focuses broadly on state building in the aftermath of political violence, with a particular focus on international involvement in police reforms to post-conflict states.

Ayobami Laniyonu is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, where he studies race, policing, and social inequality. Previously, he served as senior research scientist at the Center for Policing Equity in New York City, working with police departments across the United States to identify and correct racial disparities in police contact and use of force.

Vesla Mae Weaver is the Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. She studies the persistence of racial inequality, colorism in the United States, and the causes and consequences of the dramatic rise in prisons and police power.


Robert Mickey is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He studies U.S. politics and contemporary democratic stability, racial conflict, and the intersection of long-term political and economic development.

Democracy 20/20: A webinar series sponsored by the American Democracy Collaborative, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs

The Democracy 20/20 webinar series brings together historical and comparative experts to promote deeper understanding of the challenges these unsettling times pose for American democracy. The series goes beyond the day-to-day rush of events to convene conversations that help us understand the broader context of our times and advance the search for constructive answers to our society’s most urgent questions.

Beginning in June 2020, the series will continue through the 2020 election. The stakes for American democracy have never been higher—so please join us for these critical conversations.

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