As lawyers who have dedicated their careers to defending our clients' civil rights, we are horrified by the unspeakable murders of African Americans like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. With iPhones these images may be new and ghastly to some, but minorities in New York and throughout the country have experienced police harassment and brutality for decades. Institutional racism has undoubtedly existed, now, it is there for all to see.
We are also well aware of the disproportionate number of arrests of African Americans and minorities, which ultimately leads to minority mass-incarceration – one of the most egregious realities plaguing our Nation. African Americans make up 38% of the prison population, but 12% of the population in the United States. That shocking statistic should stun everyone. In conjunction with the use of excessive force against unarmed minorities, and failed policies like “Stop and Frisk,” here in New York, it is not hard to understand the level of frustration that has manifested itself on our streets in the form of protests and marches.
Unless one has experienced institutional racism, one can not fully understand the anger and frustration that the African American community feels now and each day. As a small gesture, Sullivan Brill will make a donation to the NAACP, an organization that has committed to protecting and progressing the lives of people of color against bigotry and racial hatred. We will also continue to join with all minority communities here in New York and around the country who peacefully protest, seek reform, and strive to make the criminal justice system fair, just and equal for all.
Even in the face of this uprising and anguish, we are still hopeful. Large-scale marches and protests are meant to bring the issue to the masses and lead to reform both in our police departments and the justice system as a whole. It is a start, but we have such a long way to go. Institutional racism is entrenched in our justice system. At Sullivan Brill, we too will remain vigilant and continue to do our part in representing victims of civil rights violations, defending those accused of crimes, and standing for the individual against the government, so that our criminal justice system is fair, just and equal for all. If the system will not “police the police,” then we as attorneys will continually strive to do it ourselves.