Watch This How to show up for Black lives
Featuring DA Diana Becton and PD Manu Raju.
More of This The young Black lawyers fighting voter suppression
The Young Black Lawyers’ Organizing Coalition (YBLOC) announced the launch of its “Black Ballots, Black Futures–Georgia” GOTV voter protection campaign, which seeks to empower Black voters and protect Black voting rights during the Georgia run-off elections.
“As we head into the final weeks of the Georgia runoff elections, it is critical that we mobilize as young Black lawyers and law students to empower Black voters to protect their vote,” said Abdul Dosunmu, the founder and chief strategist of theYBLOC. “Building on our voter protection work during the November general election, YBLOC is working in collaboration with grassroots communities in Georgia to ensure that Black voters are able to exercise their full political power.”
YBLOC will host a series of nonpartisan voter-protection education sessions with strategic partners and local media platforms to engage grassroots leaders to serve as voter protection ambassadors in their communities.
Sessions will be held December 13-15 and December 28 focusing on the Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) community and grassroots leaders such as local Black barbers. YBLOC will also engage in local advocacy to ensure the equitable administration of elections.
“In the Georgia runoff elections, Black voters will again have to navigate an election cycle fraught with voter suppression, the global coronavirus pandemic, and unprecedented attacks on democratic norms and traditions. It is imperative that we work to protect Black voters and Black ballots,” Dosunmu said.
YBLOC is the only network of young Black lawyers and law students mobilizing to protect and empower Black voters across the country through community-centered voter education, litigation and election protection support, and local advocacy.
Read the story on Atlanta Voice
Speaking Of… When corporate lawyers team up with social justice lawyers
Hard on the heels of defeat at the ballot box, US President Donald Trump deployed a battery of lawsuits to try to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his opponent Joe Biden’s victory. To many attorneys specialising in election law, it was a cynical attempt to manipulate the courts into disenfranchising millions of voters.
When district court judge Matthew Brann threw out the president’s attempt to invalidate election results in Pennsylvania, he was damning of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s efforts, calling them “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations”. Overt as Mr Giuliani’s efforts were, lawyers who fight unfair election practices across the US say most disenfranchisement attempts are more endemic and concealed.
Stanton Jones, a constitutional lawyer with Arnold & Porter in Washington DC, says election laws in the US are riddled with hidden traps that can cost citizens their voice in democracy. “Whether it’s an overly burdensome voter ID law or a gerrymandered map designed to predetermine the outcome of elections before any ballot is cast, these kinds of laws are anti-democratic and unconstitutional,” he says.
Earlier this year, Arnold & Porter partnered with non-profit law firm Forward Justice to fight disenfranchisement in North Carolina. The team forced the state to strike down a law that prohibited North Carolinians from voting if they owed fines or other debts arising from a felony conviction. The win meant thousands more, mostly black, citizens could vote in the presidential election, says Forward Justice co-director Daryl Atkinson, whose non-profit works to improve racial and social justice in southern states.
Read the story on Financial Times
Say it Louder BIPOC communities don’t want to defund the police. They want the police to protect them.
In 2020, the widespread protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd took both the news cycle and the American conscience by force. The result was an immediate and seismic shift in public opinion: According to the polling from Gallup in June, 19 percent of Americans consider racism an important issue, up from just 4 percent in May. That made these concerns just as important as the coronavirus to the American public.
The zeitgeist-warping power of these protests wasn’t without controversy. More recently, critics of the movement’s endorsement of ideas like “defunding the police” have blamed them for contributing to the Democrats’ losses in swing districts throughout the nation. President-elect Joe Biden has continued to repeat these warnings out of concern that Republicans will paint the Democratic Party as full-bore endorsers of these ideas ahead of the hotly contested runoffs in Georgia.
This movement, led by Black people, has put policing—and especially the idea of “defunding” the police and reinvesting that money in social services—at the forefront of the fight against racism. But at the same time, it’s brought what looks like a puzzling contradiction to the surface, in which the broader Black community evinces a distinct disapproval of the police while simultaneously voicing the desire to see a more persistent police presence in its communities.
A natural question to ask, then, is what do Black people actually think about policing? As with most issues, it turns out that the answer is: It’s complicated. But new research offers an avenue to resolving this seeming incongruity.
Read the interview on The New Republic
Perspective The problem campus police
A.T. McWilliams is a Black writer and poet based in Brooklyn.
While visiting friends at Princeton nearly 10 years ago, a campus police officer approached me at an eating club with a confident accusation.
“I saw you walk in off the street,” he barked breathlessly across the backyard—quickening his pace as if preparing to charge. “This is a private residence. You need to come with me.”
By the time I fought back fear long enough to muster words, and explained that I’d entered through the front door, the officer had firmly wrapped his fingers around my upper arm. As he tugged me through the crowded house party, whose mostly white attendees stared and shook their heads from the sidelines of my perp walk, I begged the officer to check the list of attendees. But the more I defended my innocence, the more he tightened his grip.
It wasn’t until a throng of students came to my defense, and presented the sheet of RSVPs to reveal my name, that the officer loosened his clutch. Although he walked away without saying a word—as if unable to spare the second it takes to say “sorry”—his silence served as a resounding reminder: While my Blackness rendered me guilty until proven innocent, his badge permitted him to act without consequence.
Even as this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests have resulted in policy changes across state and local police departments, including chokehold bans and department defunding, campus police officers have largely evaded scrutiny.
However, campus police, which can be found at 92 percent of public colleges and 38 percent of private colleges, present the same structural problems currently criticized across traditional law enforcement, including unchecked bias, insufficient training, and excessive weaponization. In order to transform policing in America, police reforms, such as those banning excessive force and tear gas, must be replicated for the thousands of officers charged with protecting and serving millions of college students every day.
Read the interview on Slate
The MTO Fellows Program is a ten-month initiative aimed at preparing 25-40 aspiring diverse students for admission to and success in law school. The program seeks applicants from all backgrounds and strives to increase the diversity of the legal profession.Learn more here
Judicial Externship Program for Latinx People
The program was started to address the critical need of increasing the number of Latino/as exposed to federal practice, but importantly to provide Latino/a students an opportunity that many would not otherwise have in the competitive environment of federal judicial externships. Learn more here
Racial Economic Justice Program Director
Legal Aid at Work seeks a Racial Economic Justice Program Director who will lead our organization in the fight to achieve racial justice through the vigorous advancement and enforcement of workplace civil rights and employment laws. Apply here
Calling all BIPOC judges: can you open the door to others?
The Judicial Mentor Program is designed to identity, encourage and provide mentors for all individuals considering a judicial career. Learn more here