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Say it Louder The first Black Senator from the South is a win for civil rights
For months in 2007, the Rev. Raphael Warnock used his pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to call for the release of a young Black man, sentenced to 10 years in prison for a consensual sexual encounter between teenagers. Some of his powerful parishioners, like the congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, had joined the cause, even visiting the young man in prison.
The public pressure campaign was on the brink of success — a lower court ordered the young man’s release, and his family prepared to celebrate. But then the state attorney general, Thurbert Baker, announced that he would appeal the decision.
Mr. Baker also happened to be a member of Mr. Warnock’s congregation. And so it was that on the following Sunday, Mr. Warnock singled him out for special mention. “He has said that it’s his job to be the state’s attorney, and that’s true,” Mr. Warnock said. “But it’s my job to be the state’s conscience.”
At the time, in 2007, Mr. Warnock was still a relative newcomer. Two years earlier, he had become the youngest person ever to assume the role of senior pastor at Ebenezer, the spiritual home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Read the story on NY Times
More of This Lawyers team up with a historically Black church to sue Proud Boys who destroyed BLM sign
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is suing the Proud Boys over the destruction of a Black Lives Matter banner at a historically Black church in D.C.
The litigation, filed Monday in D.C. Superior Court in conjunction with the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, calls for accountability for the attacks on the historic Black church. They are asking for a jury trial and hope that the jury grants the church compensatory and punitive damages. Lawyers did not request a specific amount.
“The lawsuit seeks to hold accountable those responsible for acts of mob violence inside the nation’s capital targeting historically Black churches,” the committee wrote in a press release Monday, calling it a “coordinated and clear acts of trespass, theft, and destruction of property.”
The defendants include Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, Proud Boys International LLC — a far-right group by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group — and several “John Does.”
Metropolitan AME was one of two historically Black churches downtown where Black Lives Matter banners were reportedly torn down and burned after a pro-Trump rally on Dec. 12. Last month, Tarrio claimed he was responsible for burning one of the banners, though he told DCist/WAMU at the time that he didn’t remember the name of the church. D.C. Police is investigating the incidents as potential hate crimes.
Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said Black churches are vulnerable institutions that must be safeguarded and protected.
“The attack perpetrated against Metropolitan AME is one meant to intimidate and instill fear, especially in Black communities,” she said Monday during a press call.
Read the story on DCist
Speaking Of… So you want to stop hate crimes?
William lamar, the pastor of Metropolitan AME Church, in Washington, D.C., was making final preparations for virtual Sunday service on December 13 when he received a text from a friend. “I’m sorry about what happened at Metropolitan,” Karen Brown, the pastor of another local church, wrote. He was confused. “Karen, what are you talking about?”
Brown sent Lamar a link to a video. The night before, a group of white men had stepped over the partition near the steps of the church and ripped down a sign that read black lives matter. They hoisted the sign over their heads and tossed it toward a crowd of celebrating bystanders before stomping on it, yanking at it, and folding it over on itself; a crunch accompanied every flip. “Burn it!” a disembodied male voice yells.
Lamar recounted the story a week later during a conversation with Karl Racine, Washington, D.C.’s attorney general. He felt rage, he told Racine, before finding joy in the people, like Pastor Brown who reached out in the hours and days that followed. The discussion, part of Racine’s regular interview series on Zoom, centered on what it takes to unify in the aftermath of hate. Racine has had this question top of mind in his role as the district’s chief legal official, and as only the second Black person to head the nonpartisan National Association of Attorneys General. When Racine was elected as the organization’s leader earlier this month, he immediately announced what would be his signature presidential initiative: “The People v. Hate.”
A two-minute Google search will turn up dozens of attempts—including initiatives by lawmakers, religious leaders, and others—to combat hate crimes. Nothing has worked. The Department of Justice and human-rights groups have written exhaustive white papers, and justice advocates have spent countless hours over the years discussing hate on panels. Hate crimes have increased in four of the past five years, with 2019 being the deadliest on record for hate crimes, according to FBI statistics. How, I asked Racine during a recent phone conversation, will this effort be any different? It starts at the root, he said: We simply do not have enough data to know the scope of the problem.
“It’s so porous that dozens of people were injured, and Heather Heyer was murdered, in Charlottesville, but if you go back and look at the hate reporting data for Virginia in that year, you won’t find any report of a hate-crime incident coming out of Charlottesville,” he said. “Talk about a gap? That’s a freaking gap.”
Read the story on The Atlantic
Perspective We are the “Exonerated 5”. What happened to us continues to happen every day.
Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana were exonerated after spending 13 years in prison. They are now criminal justice activists.
On Dec. 19, 2002, a judge vacated our convictions for the brutal attack on Trisha Meili, who many know as the “Central Park jogger.” On that day, our 13-year fight for justice came to an end. The lies that we were told by detectives to wrongly convict us were finally exposed and ceased to hold power over us. Now, we are fighting to prevent others from facing the same fate.
At the time of our arrests in 1989, we were just boys — Kevin and Raymond, the youngest among us, were only 14 — and we came to be known as the “Central Park Five.” Now we are known as the “Exonerated Five,” and, largely because of Ava DuVernay’s series “When They See Us,” the world knows our stories.
But what people may not realize is that what happened to us isn’t just the past — it’s the present. The methods that the police used to coerce us, five terrified young boys, into falsely confessing are still commonly used today. But in its coming session, New York State legislators have the power to change that.
It’s hard to imagine why anyone would confess to a crime they didn’t commit. But when you’re in that interrogation room, everything changes. During the hours of relentless questioning that we each endured, detectives lied to us repeatedly. They said they had matched our fingerprints to crime scene evidence and told each of us that the others had confessed and implicated us in the attack. They said that if we just admitted to participating in the attack, we could go home. All of these were blatant lies.
With these tactics of deception and intimidation, detectives sought to exhaust, disorient and confuse us. They hoped to make us so fearful of never seeing our loved ones again that we’d say anything to protect ourselves and our families. Ultimately, that’s what nearly all of us did.
Read the story on NY Times
Judicial Internship for Students
The American Bar Association Section of Litigation is accepting applications for its 2021 Judicial Intern Opportunity Program (JIOP). The deadline to apply is January 10, 2021. Learn more here
Law in Tech Internship for Students
For 2021, the Law in Technology Diversity Collaborative will provide approximately 30-40 successful candidates with a 10-week paid internship split between a high-profile tech company and a top-tier law firm. Learn more here
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