Protesting while Black: The Fourth Estate, Protest Scripts, and How the Mass Media Legitimizes State Violence Against Marginalized Groups

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019
8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Louis C. Greenwood Lecture Series

CWRU Law Downtown at the City Club

1 hour of CLE credit, pending approval

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Event Description

Due to the institutional arrangements between criminal courts, law enforcement and mass media systems, an anti-Black ideology is an instrinsic component of news narratives. This fact is no better demonstrated by examining mass-media construction and articulation of news narratives around the police-involved shooting deaths of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice and the subsequent protests. By endowing certain institutional responses to those protesting (e.g., hypermilitarization) with a presumptive legitimacy, mass media advances a majoritarian orthodoxy under which “Whiteness” and social stability are re-idealized, and its own positionality as a mechanism of social control is re-affirmed. Mass media news serves as a basis of our social discourse, whose content enables us to build consensus (if not agreement) over myriad social problems, and solutions to problems such as the systemic injustices. It is thus critical to embark upon newsgathering and news delivery reforms which could contribute to dismantling majoritarian narratives that shape and sanction resistance against, if not violence toward, Blacks and other marginalized groups engaged in claims making through demonstration.

Speaker Information

Bryan Adamson joined Seattle University School of Law as its Director of Clinical Programs, during which he founded the Law School's first predatory lending clinic, community development and entrepreneurship clinic, and its mortgage mediation practicum. He currently teaches the Consumer Advocacy Clinic, Protest, Policing and the First Amendment, and Mass Media Law and Policy. In his role as a clinical professor, he has served nationally on the boards of the Society of American Law Teachers, the Clinical Legal Education Association, and in numerous roles in the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). Bryan is a former Chair of the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education, its Clinicians of Color Committee, co-chair of its Taskforce on the Future of Clinical Legal Education, co-planner of several AALS Clinical programs or workshops, and is a frequent law school reaccreditation site visitor on behalf of the American Bar Association. He has presented to local and national communities on predatory lending, race and media, civil rights and procedure, and legal education. With other civil procedure and constitutional law scholars, Professor Adamson was also an Amicus Advisor on the Supreme Court's companion case to United States v. Windsor, Perry v. Hollingsworth, and on CLEA's Grutter v. Bollinger Amicus Brief. In 2016, for his national work as a Clinician, Professor Adamson was awarded the prestigious William Pincus Award for Excellence in Clinical Legal Education by the Association of American Law Schools.

Since 2004, he has published over 15 law review articles on topics such as standards of appellate review in the context of civil rights cases President Obama, Muslim rumors and rumor management and on race and media. "'Thugs,' ‘Crooks,' and ‘Rebellious Negroes:' Racist and Racialized Distortions in Media Coverage of Michael Brown and the Ferguson Demonstrations" was recently issued in the Harvard Journal on Racial & Ethnic Justice, and Reconsidering Pre-Indictment Media Publicity: Racialized Crime News, Grand Juries and Tamir Rice, appears in the Alabama Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Law Review. His article, The ‘Blurred Lines' of Marvin Gaye's ‘Here, My Dear': Music as a Tortious Act, Divorce Narrative and First Amendment Totem is forthcoming in the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal. For his prolific writing, in 2016, Professor Adamson was awarded Seattle University's Provost's Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship.

In addition to his teaching and writing, Professor Adamson's serves as a board member and Public Policy Chair of the Greater Seattle Business Association (an LGBT small business and civil-rights chamber of commerce), and as a member of the City's Our Best Advisory Committee and the King County Prosecutor's Office African American Council-both of which focus upon improving outcomes for and diminishing criminal system encounters of minority youth. Bryan has been active in his local community as a Board Member of the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission, and founding Board Member of the Northwest Consumer Law Center.

Before joining the Law School, Professor Adamson was a faculty member at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. In addition to his teaching at Case Law, Professor Adamson served as Assistant Dean for Student Services. Prior to full time teaching, Professor Adamson practiced as a litigation attorney for the Cleveland firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey (now Squire Patton and Boggs) and as an Assistant Prosecutor with Cuyahoga County (Cleveland, OH).

Continuing Legal Education Readings

Event Location

The City Club of Cleveland
850 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

Seattle University School of Law professor Bryan Adamson

Bryan Adamson
Director of Clinical Programs, Seattle University School of Law

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Academic Centers and Continuing Legal Education Programs