The murders of George Floyd and Jacob Blake are part of a continuum of police misconduct and brutality toward Black individuals, which too often ends with murder.  Sociologists study how this issue of police violence is related to class, race, and inequality. The American Sociological Association has compiled a useful list of experts and research as background on the wide range of social issues that must be interrogated to understand the complexity of power and privilege. These experts are available to answer media questions and provide perspective for news stories.

Jacob Faber is an Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University. His research focuses on the causes and consequences of racial segregation--with a focus on how the social and economic isolation of communities of color facilitates their exploitation. He has studied racial inequality in citizen complaints against the police, how federal housing policies encouraged racial segregation, and how communities of color are stigmatized. Contact: [email protected].  

Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Brown University and an affiliated faculty with the American Bar Foundation. She is the award-winning author of the book, Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America's Largest Criminal Court. Gonzalez Van Cleve is a prolific public scholar. She has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, NBC News, Crain’s Chicago Business, and CNN.  Her legal commentary has been featured on NPR, NBC News, CNN, and MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show. Watch the ASA interview with Gonzalez Van Cleve discussing police misconduct and racism. Contact: [email protected].  

Nikki Jones is a sociologist and professor in the Department of African American Studies at University of California-Berkeley whose work examines the experiences of Black women, men, and youth with the criminal justice system, policing, and with various forms of violence. Her current research efforts include an analysis of interviews with police officers and the systematic analysis of video records that document routine encounters between police and civilians, with particular interest in encounters that involve the police and Black youth in high-surveillance neighborhoods. Contact: [email protected].

Kris Marsh, is an Associate Professor of Sociology, and affiliate faculty of the Maryland Population Research Center, Department of Women’s Studies, and African American Studies the University of Maryland-College Park. Her general areas of expertise are the Black middle class, demography, racial residential segregation, and education. Professor Marsh's most recent research and intellectual endeavors center on improving police community relations. Since late 2015, Dr. Marsh has been the driving force behind a bias-free training and research collaboration between Prince George's County Police Department and the University of Maryland. Contact: [email protected].

Philip V. McHarris is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at Yale University. His current research focuses on the experiences of residents of a high-rise Brooklyn housing project as they navigate concerns surrounding safety, policing, and cycles of poverty. His esearch also examines the causes and consequences of the large-scale expansion of policing in the United States since 1965. In addition to his scholarly work, McHarris has written for outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and Slate, and his commentary on race and policing has been featured on HBO, CNN, TIME, and PBS. Contact: [email protected]

Andrew V. Papachristos is working with a team to apply methods of network science to understand police misconduct and violence. They have used data on police complaints in Chicago, in partnership with The Invisible Institute, to recreate the social networks of officers to see how (if at all) peers might influence the use of force and police-involved shootings. Their research shows that networks matter—a lot.  Officers that use force are tied to other officers, and there is strong evidence of possible ’social contagion.”  Likewise, in a paper recently published in The Annals of The American Academy, they found that officers in certain network positions are more likely to shoot than others. Contact: [email protected].

Rashawn Ray, a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, is Professor of Sociology and Executive Director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research (LASSR) at the University of Maryland-College Park. He is also one of the co-editors of Contexts Magazine: Sociology for the Public. Ray’s research addresses the mechanisms that manufacture and maintain racial and social inequality with a particular focus on police-civilian relations and men’s treatment of women. Ray has published over 50 books, articles, and book chapters, and over 20 op-eds. Contact: [email protected].

Victor Rios, Professor of Sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara, conducts research on the relationship between police and Black and Latino youths.  He examines interactions that lead to escalation and police aggression and has developed recommendations for improving police-minority citizen interactions.  He participated in The Joyce Foundation convening on gun violence, policing and mass incarceration at the Obama White House in 2015. Contact: [email protected].

Alyasah “Ali” Sewell is Associate Professor of Sociology at Emory University. Sewell is a medical sociologist and social psychologist that examines the structurally racist foundations of health disparities. Their research on police violence shows that people living in aggressively surveilled neighborhoods report worse health and illuminates the specific vulnerabilities created by ethnoracial and gender marginalization. Their studies of policing policies have been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, and NBC News; their research on residential segregation has been published by ASA. Contact: [email protected]

Carla Shedd is Associate Professor of Sociology and Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center.  Her research is situated at the intersection of racial/ethnic inequality, public policy, justice, and education. She explores how institutional structures such as schools, neighborhoods, and courts shape the educational and criminal-legal trajectories of young people’s lives (NYC-based project). She has won multiple awards for her first book, Unequal City. Contact: [email protected]

Michael Sierra-Arévalo is an Assistant Professor in the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice. His research on U.S. police organizations, culture, and behavior shows how danger shapes officers' understanding of their work and their interactions with the public. He also studies excessive force, police legitimacy, violence against police, gangs, gun violence, and violence prevention. Contact: [email protected]:

Forrest Stuart is an Associate Professor of Sociology and the Director of the Stanford Ethnography Lab. His research analyzes the daily experiences and consequences of policing in poor, minority communities, including how fears of, and past encounters with, police powerfully restructure community involvement, youth culture, daily commutes, and relationships between residents. Contact: [email protected]

For more experts or resources on the topic of the criminal justice system, policing, and racial inequality, contact the ASA.


About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a nonā€profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society. For media seeking to reach sociologist experts, contact Johanna Olexy, Director of Communications, at (202) 247-9873 or [email protected].