New student group brings Rep. Hank Johnson to campus

At Million Hoodies Movement event, Johnson spoke about criminal justice reform issues, discrimination among police.

AU’s chapter of the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice hosted Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.)  at AU on April 20 in the Butler Boardroom.

The Million Hoodies Movement for Justice is a nationwide network of advocacy groups founded by AU alum Daniel Maree following the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012.

At the event, which was cosponsored by the Kennedy Political Union, Johnson spoke about issues he has worked on as representative of Georgia’s 4th congressional district, including police demilitarization and criminal justice reform.

“I see what feels to me as open season on black males as a consequence of there not being enough blacks in law enforcement,” he said. “I see it as there being too many people who are in law enforcement who don’t think black lives matter as much as white lives do.”

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Johnson opposes the militarization of local law enforcement agencies. He introduced the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2014, a bill that would reform a Pentagon program that supplies state and local law enforcement with surplus weapons-grade equipment. Last month, Johnson re-introduced the bipartisan bill to the current session of congress.

“It’s a very dangerous and volatile situation that we have when we start militarizing our law enforcement,” Johnson said.

Johnson answered questions from moderator Dr. Isis Semaj-Hall, adjunct professor of African-American Literature in the College of Arts & Sciences, and from the student audience.

The event was a kick-off for AU’s new chapter of Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, said SPA Freshman Devontae Torriente, who helped organize the event. The group will host events next semester as it looks to expand its membership, Torriente said.

“We bring speakers to discuss these things, so people can be more engaged and not left out of the conversation,” Torriente said. “The events I imagine hosting through Million Hoodies are primarily speakers and things like that.”

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