(De)Racing Policing and Security Project

Racialized criminal justice is as American as apple pie.  Since the nation’s founding, criminal law has been used to control, coerce, and detain black and brown bodies.  The same laws, even when facially neutral, are selectively enforced to buttress structural racism in housing, schools, public spaces, the economy, immigration, and politics.  To conceal racist motives, the government often constructs a grand narrative of a “War on” crime, drugs, or terror proclaiming to protect the security, safety, and stability of (white) American society.  In turn, criminal law and policy is weaponized to surveil, prosecute, incarcerate and deport black, brown, and Muslim communities.   All the while, whites who commit the same crimes are under-policed, humanized, and granted leniency in the same criminal justice system.

The most recent iteration of racialized criminal justice was on fully display on January 6, 2021 when tens of thousands of White nativists sieged the U.S. Capitol in an attempted insurgency.  That they were able to plan for months—in plain sight—and execute their violent purposes without law enforcement intervention speaks volumes about the racial double standards within the FBI and local police departments.  As White nativism was on the rise, Black Lives Matter protesters were beaten by militarized police, prosecuted, and described as domestic security threats for their nonviolent, mass anti-racism protests.  As white supremacy was mainstreamed, Muslims were vilified, surveilled, and banned in a racialized counterterrorism regime.  Indeed, the FBI designates African American political activists as “Black Identity Extremists” in its systematic online surveillance.

Is the problem one of law, enforcement, racial politics or all three?  How can communities of color and their progressive white allies uproot systemic racism in national security regimes in defense of democracy and individual rights while cognizant that stricter domestic terrorism laws are most likely to be enforced most aggressively against minorities? 

The (De)Racing National Security and Policing Project addresses these timely political, policy, and legal questions using a three-pronged approach: 1) build on existing and develop new theoretical and analytical critical race frames through which to understand and combat racialized national security; 2) develop cross-racial advocacy strategies for de-racializing counterterrorism enforcement and by extension criminal justice; and 3) break the physical and conceptual barriers between (non-Muslim) African American and the racially diverse Muslim communities.  

Policy Fellows


Fatema Ahmad

Executive Director, Muslim Justice League
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Kanya Bennett

Managing Director of Government Affairs, The Leadership Conference


Jaspal Bhatia

Program Officer, Equity Initiative, American Institutes for Research
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Zahra Billoo

Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA)
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Sarah Calderone

Project Coordinator

Kiran Gill

Executive Director, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
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Carl Hamad- Lipscombe

Executive Director, Envision Freedom Fund
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Ayan Jama

Associate Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Santos Manuel Student Union


Lakshmi Sridaran

Executive Director, South Asian Leading Together (SAALT)
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Community Organizer Fellows


Fahd Ahmed

Executive Director, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)
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Asad Dandia

Organizing Coordinator, Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York (CAIR-NY)
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Margari Hill

Co- Founder and Executive Director, Muslim Anti-Racism Collective
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Lara Kiswani

Executive Director, Arab Resource Organizing Center (AROC)
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Cedric Lawson

Field Director, The Leadership Conference


Nick Encalada-Malinowski

Civil Rights Campaigns Director, VOCAL-NY
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Muhammad Sankari

Lead Organizer, Arab American Action Network
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Jinan Shbat

National Organizer, American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Rania Mustafa

Executive Director at Palestinian American Community Center
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Academic Fellows

Sahar Aziz

Professor of Law and Chancellor’s Social Justice Scholar, Rutgers Law School
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Brittany Friedman

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Southern California
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Justin Hansford

Professor of Law, Howard University; Executive Director, Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center
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Fareed Hayat

Interim Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor, City University New York (CUNY) School of Law
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Alexis Karteron

Associate Professor of Law, Director of the Constitutional Rights Clinic, Rutgers Law School
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Eric McDaniel

Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Government
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Eric Miller

Professor of Law, Loyola Law School
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Saher Selod

Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology, Simmons University
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The (De)Racing Policing and Security Program is supported by the Open Society Foundations