Again last night, thousands of protesters marched in the streets of the District, seeking justice and accountability in the wake of George Floyd’s senseless killing. Legal Aid stands in solidarity with those speaking out, demonstrating, and demanding a country and society that will treat every one of its residents with dignity and respect.
We are heartbroken, horrified, and outraged by Mr. Floyd’s death. It is an inexplicable loss that comes even as we are still mourning the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. In the long, sad shadow of earlier police shootings—of Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, John Crawford—and too many others to name. At a time when we are already so frustrated and angry to bear witness to the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately ravaging communities of color here in DC, just as it is doing across the country. And in an era when prominent political leaders repeatedly exploit racial division, bait protesters, and fan the flames of white supremacy.
Enough is enough.
We at Legal Aid unequivocally affirm that Black Lives Matter. We understand that the recurring violence—literal and figurative—against black Americans is a manifestation of our society’s persistent, deep-seated racism, and we must all vow to end it. We know that it is not enough for a legal services organization like Legal Aid to do good, anti-poverty work. We must also pursue an anti-racist agenda.
So today, we at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia are renewing our commitment to pursue our mission in a way that protects the right and opportunity of black DC residents, and other residents of color, to be safe and healthy, to work and live with dignity, and to flourish. We pledge that our work will be driven by the experiences of people of color and an explicit charge to combating racism. We pledge to look hard within ourselves and our organization, to do our best to challenge our own biases and the ways we contribute to white privilege. We pledge to do our best to build enduring alliances with the communities we serve and with our clients, who struggle against racism every day. We will continue to do our best to make all of these things and more an integral part of our work and our cause.
Please join us. We cannot allow our collective despair, or frustration, or exhaustion to stand in the way of our ability to realize a better city and a better country—the city and country Americans deserve. The free, high-quality, client-centered, zealous advocacy that Legal Aid provides is as important, as compelling as ever. Let us rededicate ourselves to doing all we can to make justice real, in individual and systemic ways, for all of our neighbors in the District of Columbia.