More of This The unapologetic Ben Crump
"Fists in the sky, get them up, raise them high!”
There is nothing shy or retiring about attorney Ben Crump. He thrives on media attention. It is, he acknowledges, an essential weapon in his toolbox. "I believe when you're representing a marginalized minority in America, especially a Black citizen, that you have to fight in two courts: You have to first fight in the court of public opinion, and then, if you win there, then maybe, just maybe, you might get to fight in the court of law," he said.
And so, the picture of Crump surrounded by cameras has become a familiar and recurring image.
It's an image that began taking hold in 2012, when he sought compensation for the family of an unarmed 17-year-old high school student who was visiting his father when he was shot and killed walking through his dad's neighborhood. Crump seared an image into the national consciousness of Trayvon Martin, wearing a hoodie, carrying a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles. "Once again, law enforcement is attempting to demonize and blame the victim," he said then.
President Obama remarked, "If I'd had a son, he would've looked like Trayvon.”
Crump told "Sunday Morning" special contributor Ted Koppel, "After Trayvon Martin, it was Michael Brown in Ferguson – 'Hands up, don't shoot!'; Corey Jones; Markeis McGlockton; Terence Crutcher; Botham Jean; Stephon Clark; Alesia Thomas.
"And then we come to 2020, which, during a pandemic, where everything is shut down, except implicit bias and police brutality in America, you see Ahmaud Arbery, lynched for 'jogging while Black'; then, Breonna Taylor is killed in the sanctity of her own home; then, George Floyd is tortured to death; right after George Floyd, Trayford Pellerin; Dijon Kizzee; Jacob Blake Jr.; Anthony McClain – a Black man who literally ran out of his shoes when you look at the police bodycam video; Andre Hill.
"They continue to kill unarmed Black people over and over again," he said.
Read the story on CBS
Speaking Of… The civil rights lawyer who took down Derek Chauvin
As a young civil rights lawyer almost 20 years ago, Keith Ellison took on a client who accused two Minneapolis police officers of sodomizing him with a toilet plunger.
The case had echoes of an earlier police brutality case in New York, in which four officers were sent to prison in connection with the sexual assault of Abner Louima, who was attacked with a broken broom handle in a precinct bathroom.
The officers in the case involving Mr. Ellison’s client, Stephen Porter, were ultimately cleared by an F.B.I. investigation. But Mr. Ellison achieved a very different outcome on Tuesday regarding another Black man’s encounter with the police, when Derek Chauvin, the white former officer charged with killing George Floyd, was convicted of two counts of murder as well as manslaughter.
Mr. Ellison, 57, who grew up in Detroit and moved to Minnesota to attend law school, became the first Muslim elected to Congress in 2006 and a rising star of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. He served in Washington for 12 years before abandoning a safe seat to run for attorney general in Minnesota in 2018, becoming the first Black person elected to statewide office. A little more than a year after taking office as attorney general, he took charge of the Chauvin case.
Read the story on NY Times
Say it Louder Black folks are most impacted by the justice system. Shouldn’t they have a part in fixing it?
During a recent D.C. Council hearing, Patrice Sulton, a civil rights lawyer, began to scold Charles Allen, chair of the council’s judiciary committee. At issue was whether the District should create its own parole board, and Sulton, who is Black, was concerned that not enough relevant Black voices were being heard.
“This is not the way you should go about making a decision like this,” said Sulton, who is also founder and executive director of DC Justice Lab, a nonprofit that advocates for “community-rooted” public safety reform. “Ninety-three percent of the people sentenced in D.C. are Black. So your job is to fill your office and fill this room with people who can advise you about what is going on. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like you don’t have anybody Black working on legislation.”
The hearing was on Zoom, with Sulton looking sternly at the camera while testifying from her home in Northeast Washington. The discussion was part of a broader effort at reforming the city’s criminal justice system, which produces some of the nation’s worst racial disparities in arrest and incarceration rates. Black people are 47 percent of the city’s population but make up 86 percent of arrests.
Sulton noted that Allen, who is White, had scheduled the meeting for 9:30 a.m. on a weekday when many working people, especially Black people who disproportionately fill in-person essential jobs, would find it difficult to tune in. She also pointed out that the announcement about the hearing had been posted on the D.C. government website just three days earlier, too little time for concerned citizens to prepare cogent presentations.
Read the story on Washington Post
Perspective What Black people are owed
Two days after an officer shot Ma’Khia Bryant in the back, and one day after an officer shot Andrew Brown in the back of the head, I asked my friend, Ray Gunn, if he was tired of talking to white folks about Black death. Gunn told me he didn’t understand my question.
I repeated it.
Gunn asked if I was getting paid for these conversations I was having with white Americans about Black death. I told him sometimes. He asked me why I would ever talk to white folks about Black death if I wasn’t getting paid.
“You know,” I told him, “like on social media …”
Gunn shook his head.
“Or sometimes, you know, folks call you because they …”
Gunn sucked his teeth.
“I mean, I’m a teacher and you know, like …”
Gunn looked lightweight disgusted.
He reminded me that he was a teacher too. “But that,” he said, “that’s not Black teacher work. That’s white family work.”
Gunn told me he hadn’t had an actual conversation with a white person in 14 years, not out of protest but because there just weren’t any white folks at his job, in his house, at his church, on his social media, or in his phone. “Now, if the check was right,” he said, “I’d be a grinning, hustling-ass race whisperer. I’d be talking to everything white. Rice. Milk. Pillows.”
I fell out laughing.
Read the story on Vox
Trans Allyship Workshop
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Tribal Justice Fundraiser
In the fourth installment of our Voices for Justice event series, we’re raising awareness about Tribal Justice and centering Native American voices, which have always been front and center in our work. Native men, women and youth are overrepresented at every stage of the criminal justice process, from arrest to sentencing, incarceration to reentry.
June 10 at 6-8PM PST. Register >
How to become an administrative law judge
ALJs are a vital part of every level of government. To help attorneys learn more about the role of ALJs in the legal system and the importance of diversifying the administrative side of the bench, we have put together a wonderful panel of ALJs from a range of different agencies to discuss their careers.
Sponsored by California Asian Pacific American Judges Association (CAPAJA), Judiciary Committee, and Asian American Bar Association (AABA) of the Greater Bay Area
June 10 at 5PM PST. Register >