Lawyer Die-In at the Philadelphia's Criminal Justice Center on December 17, 2014

Today, December 17, 2014, at 9 AM, Amistad Law Project Legal Director Ashley Henderson and Policy Director Nikki Grant participated in a lawyer-led “Die-In” at Philadelphia's Criminal Justice Center.

The following is their statement about the event this morning and about the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ Movement.

"We believe that the Ferguson Rebellion and the uprisings happening all over the country show that people are demanding an end to white supremacy and the systems that enable it. This movement must be led by young people of color, who are disproportionately harassed and targeted by police. This movement must include people from all walks of life, all races, all socioeconomic levels, and with different experiences with privilege, police, and mass incarceration.

Lawyers, as representatives of the law, have a particular role in this movement and work. We must fight within this unjust system AND we must fight for different systems of responsibility and accountability. We must fight for ways to combat violence that recognize people’s humanity, seek to improve and enrich our communities, and that acknowledge the destructive neoliberal policies that perpetuate and contribute to the violence in our communities by underfunding our schools and exacerbating poverty.

We believe organizing and activism are crucial components to our work and to racial equality, social equality, and the liberation of Black people. We remember the many Black men who have been harmed by state violence, recognize that the most vulnerable community to state violence is Black trans women, and call attention to the invisibilization of the many Black women who have been harmed by police.

Lastly, we see the violence of police as one component in the larger system of oppression that is mass incarceration. We cannot fight only the racist policies of police. We must fight the policies that incentivize police to harass and arrest people and the policies that steer people, especially young people of color, to prison. We do not believe that body cameras or civilian review boards or taking away riot gear will keep us safe. We do not believe that being women will keep us safe. We do not believe that law degrees will keep us safe.

We will not settle for anything less than the recognition of the full humanity of Black and brown bodies."

(Photo credit: Jody Dodd)