Everybody Wants Correct Civil Rights Schooling – The Every day Utah Chronicle

(Designed by Sydney Stam | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

In 1990, Clifton Spencer became the prime suspect in the murder of Stacey Stanton and the police arrested him on separate charges for detention. Spencer claims that police repeatedly interrogated him without a lawyer and even violated protocol by removing him from the district where he was arrested. At the time, Spencer was unaware that the police officers were violating his rights. The next year Spencer was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Stanton, despite weak evidence against him and many prosecutors doubting his guilt.

People like Spencer are being exploited for not knowing their rights. Of the many injustices in our legal system, this is perhaps the most egregious. We need to make sure that our education system teaches people what their rights are and how to defend those rights. Utah needs to add comprehensive civil rights teachings to its civics education.

Violations and misunderstandings against civil rights

Some civil rights violations are evident. The Salt Lake City police, who fired 10 shots at a 13-year-old autistic boy believed to be unarmed, are a clear example of excessive violence. Other violations may not be as obvious, such as when the police broke protocol by taking Spencer to another district. Many of us are unfamiliar with the legal system, which makes it difficult to tell when officials are violating our rights. The best way to ensure that we are protected from these violations is the help of an attorney who knows what laws are protecting us.

In an interview with law professor Jensie Anderson of the University of Utah, she said that “our system is designed to be navigated by individuals with attorneys”. However, people are reluctant to ask for a lawyer because, as Professor Anderson went on to explain, “people see this as a sign of guilt in some cases”. This situation shows that many people lack the education they need to protect themselves in our justice system.

A 2017 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center shows that most Americans are “ill-informed” about our constitutional rights. 37% of a sample of 1,013 people did not give their first change rights without being asked. If many Americans cannot identify some of our most basic rights, then they likely lack a solid understanding of concepts such as the likely cause. If we are not properly informed about our rights, civil rights violations will continue to harm people.

Civil Rights and Race

Talking about civil rights without talking about race would ignore how the two are intertwined in the history of our country and our state. As a white woman, I’m rarely scared if I’m stopped or stopped by the police, but many people of color have a very different experience. BIPOC communities often have to fight to protect their rights – even now, decades after the civil rights movement.

In 2011, for example, Utah passed House Bill 497 which inadvertently requested racial profiling by authoritative officials to investigate immigration status and review the identification documents of anyone they stop, allowing those officials to base acceptable forms of identification of “reasonable suspicion” that the documents are incorrect.

Fortunately, the law was revised in 2014 following backlash from Utah civil rights groups. Even if the situation ended in victory, it still shows how the civil rights of BIPOC communities in our state are still at risk. Knowing that many people do not understand their rights, we need to work harder to make sure we protect everyone, regardless of race, equally.

Change in our political education

Everyone knows we have the right to remain silent because we’ve heard this line hundreds of times on TV. The same cannot be said for many of our other rights. Our state can remedy this by reforming our political education to teach us more about our civil rights.

Civics in Utah is currently focused on the workings of our government and the foundations of early American history. The Citizenship Test, which every high school student in Utah must pass, asks students how many Senators are in Congress, the roles of each government agency, and who wrote the Federalist Papers. This information enables students to become responsible citizens, but it is not enough.

We need to teach our students the interface between civil rights and race. We also need to give them practical civic information such as: B. When the police are authorized to use force, what are the likely reasons and the importance of having a lawyer.

Our education should address common misconceptions so that people are comfortable exercising their rights. By expanding our civics education to include civil rights education, we are giving our students the tools they need to defend themselves in a complicated and frightening judicial system.

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