Paul Butler

Paul Butler serves as Consulting Editor to CRIME STORY. A former federal prosecutor, Butler provides legal commentary for CNN, MSNBC, and NPR and has been featured on 60 Minutes and profiled in the Washington Post. A law professor at Georgetown University and a visiting professor at Harvard Law School in 2017-18, he is the author of Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice, winner of the Harry Chapin Media Award, and Chokehold: Policing Black Men (both from The New Press). He has published numerous op-eds and book reviews, including in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Paul Butler on “The Simple Opportunity to Breathe”

Paul Butler is a Consulting Editor to CRIME STORY. He is also a Professor at Georgetown Law, a frequent contributor to MSNBC and the author of Chokehold: Policing Black Men. You can find his contributions to CRIME STORY here. THUGS! That is the word the President of the United States used to describe a group of mostly black protesters in Minneapolis. The protests began after a Minneapolis Police Department officer killed George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by using his knee to pin Mr. Floyd’s neck...

Paul Butler: Pandemic Policing: Hands Off; Don’t Arrest?

For people of color who want to left alone by the cops, the public health emergency represents the best of times and, potentially, the worst of times.   The silver lining in the coronavirus cloud is that it has altered policing in urban areas.  The rough treatment that many minority group members routinely experience – random stops and frisks, arbitrary arrests, excessive force- is on the wane.  The police are chilling out not because their regular methods are unconstitutional or bad for their relationship with the community, although both of...

Paul Butler: The Real Target of The Jussie Smollett Charges Is A Progressive Prosecutor

Jussie Smollett is the target of new charges, but his case is no longer mainly about him. Who is really on trial are progressive prosecutors, like Kim Foxx, the Chicago State’s Attorney, whose office made the decision to drop the original charges brought against Smollett. What is really on trial is whether African Americans – as elected prosecutors and as criminal defendants – are entitled to equal justice under the law.   This week, Smollett was charged with six counts of disorderly conduct, for allegedly lying about being the victim of...

Paul Butler: The Real Target of The Jussie Smollett Charges Is A Progressive Prosecutor

Jussie Smollett is the target of new charges, but his case is no longer mainly about him. Who is really on trial are progressive prosecutors, like Kim Foxx, the Chicago State’s Attorney, whose office made the decision to drop the original charges brought against Smollett. What is really on trial is whether African Americans – as elected prosecutors and as criminal defendants – are entitled to equal justice under the law.   This week Smollett was charged with six counts of disorderly conduct, for allegedly lying about being the victim of...

Paul Butler Reads: The Promise and Failure of “Queen & Slim”

Black protest – especially against police violence – scares some people. The Attorney General of the United States, for example, does not think the police should be criticized.  Last week William Barr issued a  threat:  if certain communities don’t start showing the police “support and respect” they “might find themselves without the police protection they need.”   In an earlier speech to the Fraternal Order of Police, Barr claimed “the anti-police narrative is fanning disrespect for the law.” This is, of course, a lie. The movement for black lives is about holding the police accountable, to...

Trump, Jussie Smollett and “Embarrassment to our Nation”

Last week President Donald Trump spoke in Chicago at the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Trump used the occasion to call out the actor Jussie Smollett, who had been accused of filing a false police report claiming that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime. Trump said that Smollett had perpetrated a scam, and that Congress’ impeachment investigation was a scam too.  Earlier in the year it appeared that Donald Trump and Jussie Smollett had some things in common. Each was the...