June 4, 2020
A Statement on Recent Events
Neighborhood Legal Services Program of the District of Columbia has been a part of the DC community since 1964. Founded in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, we align ourselves firmly and proudly with those seeking justice. We join our voices with others demanding accountability in the wake of George Floyd’s senseless killing.
NLSP stands in solidarity with those who choose to peacefully protest and demonstrate in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. We are against the massive genocide visited on African American people over hundreds of years. We have witnessed scores of African-American citizens dedicating their lives to this country and the people within it. Yet time and time again, injustices are visited upon them as people of color, as Black people strive to achieve the same dreams as those of their white counterparts. Equality is an ideal often spoken and less often actualized. It is no surprise when a crisis hits, that African Americans are among those first victimized – whether it is by an international pandemic or a simple traffic stop by police that has mortal consequences.
NLSP was founded on the premise that everyone (including Black people) are deserving of equal access to justice. We were, and remain, dedicated to the principles that serve as the foundation of our country. Our country is not just the country of white Americans; but, the country of Americans of all colors and nationalities. A week ago Monday was a sad day – sad because someone died, sad because that someone was an African-American man who was forcibly restrained with handcuffs, a knee on his neck, and two officers pinning him on his chest and legs, despite his pleas that he couldn’t breathe and calling his mother. It is sad because he was not the first man to suffer such horrific consequences nor will he be the last to suffer a violent fate driven by racism unless there is massive change in our country and communities.
NLSP shares the outrage that is sweeping across our country as we mourn the death of George Floyd and the deaths of those who came before him, like Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, and Amadou Diallo – (just to give a name to a few of those souls that were lost because they were born the wrong color). But undoubtedly the list of known victims is far eclipsed by the victims who we don’t know. Violence against Black Americans must stop.
We must collectively recognize and call out racism when we see it; acknowledge unconscious bias not as a condition but a fact; and understand that there can only be racism where there is power. In the wake of this tragedy and the ensuing struggle, NLSP will continue to dedicate itself to leveling the playing field, intentionally seeking out and ensuring racial equity – through our advocacy, through our representation and through all of our actions.
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