Chicago human rights lawyer Standish Willis, founder, Black People Against Torture, and chair of the Chicago Chapter of The National Conference of Black Lawyers, will discuss his recent successful defense of the rights of victims of police torture in Chicago and its implications for human rights. His work speaks to larger questions about the translation of international law to local contexts, about the use of law to fight institutionalized racism against communities of color, and about the practice of law and the realization of human rights in communities. In 2005, Willis led a group of lawyers and community activists to focus international attention on Chicago, presenting evidence on police torture before the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the UN Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination in Geneva. In 2015 he filed a Stakeholders’ Report with the UN Periodic Review of the United States, challenging the closure of predominantly Black schools and the privatization of public education.
This talk is a continuation of conversations begun at the University-Community Housing Summit hosted by the Global Studies Center last fall. The Housing Summit explored how urban planning and development policies displace disproportionate numbers of African Americans and disrupt the communities and lives of city residents. One aspect of urban housing policies that contributes to the processes of displacement and gentrification is discriminatory policing. Mr. Willis shows how the law can be used as a tool to fight such discrimination and considers how human rights advocacy relates to broader struggles for racial and social justice.
Cosponsors: Global Studies Center, Sociology Department, Center for Latin American Studies, Department of Africana Studies, School of Law Diversity Committee, and the Political Science Department at the University of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance and Alliance for Police Accountability.