The Black Bar Association (“BBA”) decries the undeniable pattern and system of the unjustified use of force against Black people by law enforcement officers across the nation. We further condemn and wholeheartedly reject the affront to the constitutional right to gather and protest, and we say, unabashedly that Black Lives Matter.
Having been founded over a decade ago, “to seek justice,” for the historically disenfranchised in Will County, Illinois, BBA’s core mission has always been to ensure equity in our legal system.
And as citizens of a global community, we join and echo the cries of countless others, who have decided that enough is simply enough. As the protests subside and lives return to our new normal, we continue to mourn the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Elijah McClain, and countless others whose deaths have gone unnoticed for generations.
We are encouraged by the solidarity, support and words of our allies, because we know that the overwhelming majority of police officers, lawyers and judges aspire to apply the law equally. But the clear and undeniable facts, statistics and evidence of the pervasiveness of institutionalized racism cannot be denied- neither can implicit bias be resolved merely by good intentions. The work that lies ahead requires critical self-reflection, and confronting racism at
every level- and we, as members of the bench and bar, will address the issues in our legal infrastructure. We are committed, as the first minority bar association in Will County, to take bold action.
As Black lawyers we know, all too well, the emotional and mental strain of constantly having to weigh the balance of belonging to a race of people who have been so mistreated, at every level, while working and operating within the very legal system fueled by these inequities. Perhaps W.E.B. DuBois said it best when he said “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, —an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”
Being arguably in one of the best positions to effect the most change to the core of the legal system in Will County, we will not sit silently by during these historic times while our communities are hurting. In the weeks and months to come, BBA will be working on a strategic plan of action. We lend ourselves as resources, liaisons and advocates for change: we encourage our friends and allies to join us in these efforts.
BBA will partner with local stakeholders to address issues pertaining to:
Law enforcement and prosecutorial policies and behaviors that permit and promote unequal application of the law;
The criminal justice system, specifically empirical inequities in arrests, charging, jury selection, sentencing, and incarceration;
Implicit bias training for members of the justice system; and
Voting rights, candidacy, and voter suppression.
We stand ready to engage in training and education for members of the bench and bar, to ensure that our local justice system stands as a beacon of light, of hope, and reconciliation in these desperate times. We know that our success depends upon allyship and cooperative work from all interested parties, representing a cross-section of our community, because only in understanding our similarities, and celebrating our diversity, will we bring unity, affording a better world for ourselves, and the generations to come.
via The Times Weekly | Community Newspaper in Chicagoland Metropolitan Area
August 19, 2020 at 09:06AM