We are called today, June 4, to a National Day of Mourning, as a memorial service was held for George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Like many of you, we have witnessed and supported the national rebellion against the systemic and racist police brutality that murdered George Floyd last month and that has killed Black, Brown, and Indigenous People for centuries.
Breonna Taylor was killed when police barged into her home with a “no knock warrant” and shot her multiple times in March. Ahmaud Aubrey was shot and killed by a former cop while jogging in a white, affluent neighborhood in February. Tony McDade was shot and killed by police on May 27. There are so many others.
This is a pivotal moment for all of us. Do we continue the inequity and injustice, or do we start to make changes to local, state, and national systems that led us to this moment?
The marches, rallies, and protests happening across the country demand change, and change requires that those of us who enjoy our white privilege and comfort get uncomfortable. It is time for those of us who enjoy and expect safety and due process employ our privilege to support those who do not.
As public interest lawyer, justice advocate, and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson said when addressing the American Bar Association,
“We have to be willing to do things that are uncomfortable and inconvenient, because justice doesn’t come when you only do the things that are comfortable and convenient. We advance justice only when we’re willing to do things that are uncomfortable. I believe that for lawyers in particular, we’ve got to stay hopeful. Hopelessness is the enemy of justice. It takes courage to be hopeful.”
Trustees is a nonprofit law firm focusing on environmental law and justice. Most of our staff and Board are White. We know we must individually and organizationally acknowledge and change the racist and complicit practices that harm people of color. People of color are disproportionately negatively impacted in nearly every way—from pollution to health issues to poverty to incarceration to education to on and on and on.
We believe in a justice system based on just laws, not the degradation, humiliation, subjugation and killing of human beings, and yet we know that the degradation, humiliation, subjugation and killing of Black, Brown, and Indigenous People forms the foundation of a nation built on the backs of slaves and the stolen lands of Indigenous Peoples.
We commit to doing anti-racist work daily, to knowing our privilege and using it to support anti-racist movements, and to taking our cues and learning from the expertise and knowledge of Black, Brown and Indigenous leaders.
We seek and encourage input, and want to be called out when we make mistakes or fail to step up and speak up.
All of us at Trustees invite you to join us, if you have the means, in donating to organizations that provide legal support to people of color and protestors speaking out against police brutality.
There are many, many groups across the country doing this work. Here are a few that need support right now:
- Black Lives Matter
- The NAACP Legal Defense Fund
- The Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Fund
- The Movement for Black Lives and National Bailout