The American Bar Association’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice is in a unique position to demand change. Its mission is to raise and address often complex and difficult civil rights and civil liberties issues in a changing and diverse society as well as ensure that protection of individual rights remains a focus of legal and policy decisions. It should therefore be our duty to require accountability and transparency on the part of our government so the senseless cycle of police killings does not repeat itself over and over again. We need to call for independent prosecutors, implicit bias and cultural awareness training for police departments, and improved police-community relations. If transformation will not come from our elected officials and others in power, we must serve as the influencing voice to advocate for justice.
There are more than one million lawyers in this country. Each of us are obligated to fight to ensure the protections afforded under the U.S. Constitution are applied fairly to all people. This includes protecting Blacks from the use of excessive force by police officers, who are paid by our tax dollars to protect and serve.
This article was originally published by the American Bar Association Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. To view the full article, please visit https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/crsj-e-newlsletter/2018-fall-crsj-e-newsletter/2018-fall-member-op-ed.
Melanie Bates is an attorney based in Washington, D.C. She has a passion for criminal justice reform and believes that poverty, lack of education, and other social issues should not feed the pipeline to prison. Through consistent advocacy, she desires to alleviate the factors that force many people to become a part of the criminal justice system. The views expressed here are her own.