Statement from the OC-NBA Board

June 2020

Beloved Community:

Stop targeting us. Let us breathe.

Black people continue to die at the hands of police officers and their allies, and we are outraged, saddened, and traumatized.

The killing of George Floyd is not only a tragedy to our community, but it is a tragedy to the nation. This nation is failing us. We demand fair treatment. We should not be met with injustice, racism, hatred, or apathy. 

We watched as former Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck for approximately nine minutes until he could no longer breathe. No one should be killed by police while they are handcuffed, forcibly pinned to the ground, and begging for help. All officers involved should be held accountable. There is no place for extrajudicial killings. 

We are filled with pain and grief for our community. While we grieve the unjust killing of George Floyd, we recognize that the national outrage is not limited to Minneapolis. There are countless other racially motivated injustices by law enforcement, including here in Oregon, that have negatively impacted the lives and liberties of Black people. We condemn the weaponization of law enforcement to control Black bodies.

We support the right of people to engage in peaceful protests. While some agitators are resorting to violence, we should not allow them to detract from the true message: we need justice now. We condemn the use of distractions and excessive force to dispel those demonstrations. 

Our mission includes the advancement of the science of jurisprudence and the improvement of the administration of justice. To that end, we condemn the police brutality that has for far too long plagued the criminal justice system. Yet it is obvious that condemnation alone is insufficient to create real change. We recognize the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in which he recognized that unjust laws “are no laws at all.” We assert, as Dr. King did, that the criminal justice system can consist of laws, procedures, and policies that can be just on their face, yet unjust in their application. The notion that time alone, without concrete changes in policy, will cure an unjust criminal justice system is as incorrect today as it has been for the past centuries.

We stand with protestors that demand that our government reform its laws and policies. We stand with those that seek to hold our government accountable. We stand with allies that seek to hold their communities accountable. We need our leaders to take a stand. We need change.

All lives do not matter until Black Lives Matter.

For justice,

Oregon Chapter of the National Bar Association

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