Joint Statement From the Black Law Students Association & the Student Bar Association on the Death of George Floyd and the Ongoing Protests

June 2, 2020

Note from Dean Marc Miller:

The murder of George Floyd has shocked our community to its roots.  
 
The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law community stands with its Black Law Students Association and Student Bar Association to reaffirm our commitment to advancing justice for all.

Arizona Law community, friends, and allies:

We at Arizona Law BLSA and SBA are shocked and saddened by the tragic death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Like so many others, we have seen the sickening video images of Mr. Floyd pleading for his life as a police officer casually, and cruelly, knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. Along with the rest of America, and the world, we heard him crying “I can’t breathe” as he died in the street. We believe that this is a clear example of police brutality, and that it certainly is not the first: The deaths of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, echo throughout this tragedy. Too often in America, the lives of people of color have appeared to matter less than those of other Americans. We reject this racist, false, and dangerous characterization of human life. Instead, we make this our declaration:

BLACK LIVES MATTER. And George Floyd's life mattered.

We believe that the police should have made every attempt to ensure that he survived their encounter. That didn't happen. And the fact that it didn't happen is a national tragedy, and a national disgrace. Our prayers go out to the Floyd family, and to George’s friends. We feel your loss, as if it were our own, and join you in your solemn call for JUSTICE.

In America, our society is premised on the undeniable, self-evident truth that all men and women are created equal; that all of us are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Too often, however, this eternal promise has rung hollow for communities and people of color. From slavery, to Jim Crow-era segregation, to modern-day institutionalized racism, America has never fulfilled the promise of equal justice to people of color in this country.

Since time immemorial, the American Dream has played out more like a nightmare for racial and ethnic minorities. Since time immemorial, black Americans have been unable to breathe free under the stifling boot of racism. This reality is unacceptable. As responsible, justice-loving Americans, we must demand change. We urge the people of this country to not let George Floyd’s death fade into the morass of history. Rather, we call for this tragedy to lead to a new awakening — to a new call for racial justice and tangible, institutional reform in America.

We have been encouraged by the sight of the peaceful, intergenerational, and multiracial protests occurring in our country, and around the world. The sight of so many Americans, so many people, coming together to stand for equality gives us hope that we can progress forward in a positive, united direction. We would also like to recognize the responsible, professional law enforcement officers and agencies who protect our communities every day with pride and integrity, and who have spoken out against the injustice that Mr. Floyd suffered.

And while we certainly understand the anger and frustration felt by so many Americans, during this perfect storm of unrest, we implore that all protests across the country be peaceful, and that all protesters wear protective face coverings and engage in appropriate social distancing. We cannot allow the method of protest to overshadow the message of protest. This is the time to come together as one nation, to build the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood, and not the time to burn, vandalize, and loot our communities. In the same vein, we also call for all of America’s leaders — at the local, state, and national level — to spread messages of unity, peace, and solidarity, and not to fan the flames of division in our country. A nation is only as strong as its leadership, and we need strong leaders to help shepherd us through the tumultuous struggle for justice that lies ahead.

Finally, we urge our LawCat community to remain civilly active and informed. As prospective lawyers, who have been granted the privilege of a legal education, we have a sacred burden and a special responsibility in the fight for equal justice. We are the future advocates, future judges, future lawmakers, future innovators, and future leaders of our society. Indeed, in conferring our degrees upon us, our deans and professors are granting us tremendous, unrivaled power to effect positive change on society. As law students, and as future attorneys, we must answer the call of JUSTICE, whenever she rings. We must recognize that WE represent the change that we have been waiting for in society; that WE stand, almighty, in the eyes of history. Only then, can we bring Dr. King’s prophecy to fruition and let JUSTICE roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

We hope that each and every one of you is staying safe and healthy during this difficult time in our nation’s history.  Let us stand for JUSTICE and equality together, as one community, that may never be torn asunder.

Sincerely,

The Executive Boards of the Black Law Students Association and the Student Bar Association at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

 

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