An opinion piece published on October 23, titled, “Demonizing the police endangers everyone” by staff writer Shawn Fleetwood has received a considerable amount of backlash from the UMW community.
First and foremost, pieces that are published in the Blue & Gray’s Viewpoints section are not reflective of the views of the editorial staff or the University. Unless otherwise stated, all pieces published by the Blue & Gray Press are the work of students enrolled in the Practicum Journalism course and/or a part of the Blue & Gray club.
While no editor on the team agreed with the material discussed in this piece, we felt that refusing to publish would be actively censoring a student’s right to free speech. And while the sourced information in the piece is not entirely incorrect by itself, it has been contorted to fit a particular opinion that downplays horrific events that take place in our country, particularly in the last year.
For those who have voiced their anger about this piece, you have been seen and heard. We understand that the published opinion is not widely shared in our community for good reason. By keeping this piece on our website, it allows for the name of the author to continue to be attached to the opinion, as well as being responsible for the response from the community.
A precursor has been added to the beginning of the piece by staff to highlight that the Ferguson effect is widely criticized by scholars and activists. In addition, a news article on the Ferguson effect and a counter Viewpoints piece will be published in the coming days.
For those who continue to be displeased by the opinion piece, we encourage you to reach out to us and write a piece of your own to be published. As a student-run newspaper, we want to allow all student’s voices to be heard, even if you are not currently a part of the class or club.
Moving forward, we will be taking this outcome into heavy consideration if faced with a similar challenging situation in the future. We hope all of our readers can understand the difficulty in determining what can and cannot be published while also not restricting a student’s freedom of speech.