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John Cusick

2017, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, John Cusick

John Cusick

Name of Host Organization: NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
City, State: New York, New York
Issue area: Civil Rights/Civil Liberties
Sponsors: Venture Justice Fund

The Project

Protect the rights of students of color by advocating for increased police accountability in NYC schools through litigation, policy advocacy, and community education.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
African Americans and Latino/as are disproportionately stopped, searched, arrested, and shot by law enforcement as compared to white people. This policing predicament is equally prevalent in New York City (NYC) schools. Students of color and students with disabilities bear the brunt of unconstitutional and ineffective school policing. Despite some recent reforms, NYC communities are in urgent need of meaningful accountability mechanisms to address school-based police misconduct.
The Right Person For This Project

John is the right person for the project because:
• He came to law school committed to a career focused on criminal justice and policing reform, which stems from personal and professional experiences
• Over the past seven years in New York City, he worked on policing reform in a variety of capacities, including as a student organizer, policy researcher, and legal advocate

Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship

In the first six months, John will:
• Identify and build relationships with community organizations and draft grassroots and education campaign strategies
• Begin investigation for federal litigation by conducting interviews, reviewing publically available data, and identifying plaintiffs
• Host a series of community forums and roundtable discussions in each borough to begin developing community-led accountability models and input for legislation and rules