Author: Gabriel Sanders, 99% Campaign team member and IARS Communications and Policy Intern
On the evening of 13 April 2015, at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, some of the most accredited and acutely aware minds of United Kingdom academia gathered to discuss restorative justice and hate crimes, the issues closest to our hearts at IARS. The present writer from the University of California, Davis, was there as well as an unexpected but very fortunate participant.
Surveying the room from my place on the panel, I took in the faces of men and women seated in the audience who hailed from widely varied academic and personal backgrounds. To my left sat the three distinguished panelists: hate crime expert Dr. Mark Walters of Sussex University, restorative justice Professor Marelize Schoeman from the University of South Africa, and of course Dr. Theo Gavrieledes, chair of the event and founder of IARS.
Fashioning the event after the well-known Question Time T.V. programme, Dr. Gavrieledes guided the panelists through stimulating, hard-hitting questions from attendees of the event. Some were preselected by Dr. Gavrieledes and some were posed spontaneously by the audience. Questions ranged from topics addressing hate crime education in the UK and the US, to the role of religion in hate crimes and restorative justice, to the steps necessary for restorative justice to begin on a large scale between peoples and nations.
As the least pedigreed member of the panel, I found myself answering questions in what I heard characterized as a bold, fresh, and even controversial perspective that seemed to complement the well-seasoned and long-researched theories of the PhDs seated beside me. Similarly decorated members of the audience contributed perspective from their own unique lives and fields, augmenting the rich discourse of the panelists among whom I was lucky to count myself.
Smiling nods of accord, contemplatively furrowed brows, and murmurs of thoughtful approbation urged the panelists and audience members onward through the complex questions and even more thoughtful answers. By the end of the question and answer session, the fields of study for hate crime and restorative justice had clearly been advanced. A new level of fervor was quite evident in the half hour or so of networking that took place after the formal event ended.
Over refreshments, stimulated minds discussed the issues that had brought them together as well as the assertions and questions which had most captivated them throughout the event. Each attendee left the event ready to return to their respective fields with an enriched perspective, to the benefit of all who are affected by hate crime and could benefit from restorative justice.
Photos and videos of the event will be available shortly on the IARS website–check back soon to immerse yourself further in the discussion and become a part of the movement toward a more just world.
The event was recorded and the podcast can be found here.