The ABOTA mission statement recognizes: “America’s greatness lies in its people. And in its people lies the foundation of justice – trial by jury.” To believe in the Seventh Amendment, we must first love, respect and value people. If we truly value people, it is our duty to denounce anything and anyone who violates human dignity. Failing to rebuke such injustice subverts the heart and soul of ABOTA’s mission. It is, therefore, our obligation to speak out against the systemic racism that continues to choke the lifeblood of our civil democracy.
Last week, a Minneapolis police officer crushed and extinguished a human life, while three other officers stood by and endorsed the unlawful killing of George Floyd. In just the last decade, we have witnessed the same violence perpetrated against one black person after another. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Oscar Grant. John Crawford III. Ezell Brown. Laquand McDonald. Eugene Ellison. Terrence Crutcher. Antwon Rose II. Stephon Clark. The list goes on. It is important to say their names so that we do not lose sight of the value of their human lives and the meaning of these countless deaths. While the list is long, our memories cannot be short. We cannot be indifferent. Elie Wiesel’s poignant insight challenges us to care: “Indifference is the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor – never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten…. not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity, we betray our own.”
The ABOTA Foundation “envisions equal justice for all in a vibrant and civil democracy.” Even when we feel atrophied and wasted from persisting worry about all who matter to us during this pandemic, we cannot surrender our conscience or our mission to fatigue. Even when we are powerless to prevent injustice, there must never be a time when we fail to protest. Because silence is betrayal, we are called upon to demand that our justice system hold accountable those who trespass against human rights and equal justice.
Fifty-three years later, we must still take the same stand as Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967: “Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.” We are each in a position to speak the truth, to demand justice, to stand for whoever and whatever benefits humanity. Our commitment to the core principles of ABOTA’s mission demands no less.
SFABOTA Past President