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The Urban Law Center is a research center focused on the role of the law in contemporary urbanism, advancing our understanding of the most pressing legal, policy and governance challenges facing cities and their metropolitan regions.

Statement on Cities, Law and Racial Justice

For days after the senseless torture and killing of George Floyd, we at the Urban Law Center have found ourselves overwhelmed by this loss, and also so moved by the courageous women and men across the United States protesting police brutality and racism in America’s cities. Senseless is not the correct word, though, for the injustice inflicted on George Floyd and on so many other black lives. In its least harmful meaning, senseless means stupid or foolish, or at most lacking perception. The brutality against Black Americans we have witnessed are none of these; instead they are products of institutionalized and internalized racism, discrimination, and inequality, which we are all obligated to confront.

As the Urban Law Center’s mission is to seek ways to build better cities through interdisciplinary collaboration and research, we call on local governments to do the hard work necessary to be places of trust and support in a moment of crisis. As an academic center, it is our responsibility to provide the research, programming, and mentorship to help, in our own small way, chart paths to overcome the devastation and injustices we are experiencing in these dark times. Cities are not only governmental entities or the buildings and parks we use; they are the people and their hearts, minds, fears, and dreams. Cities, our legal system, and our whole society must recognize, as we have never truly done, that the lives of our most marginalized must be at the center of the work to make cities places of justice, and we commit ourselves to that task.



Professor Nestor M. Davidson

Faculty Director, Urban Law Center


Naomi Nelson

Program Coordinator, Urban Law Center

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