From our founding in 1995, The Legal Project has envisioned a world where all people have access to justice and to equal protection under the law. Our mission is to assist those who have been denied access to civil legal assistance. Racism is antithetical to our core belief in access to justice and to equal protection under the law. We condemn racism in all forms.

Events of the past months have, once again, exposed to our nation the ongoing injustices and violence perpetuated against African Americans, including by private citizens, by law enforcement, and the legal system itself. The killings of George Floyd by police, and of Ahmaud Arbery, murdered by entitled racists for jogging in a leafy Georgia suburb, were recorded and widely broadcast. Breonna Taylor, an aspiring nurse, was killed by police in her own home in the middle of the night in Louisville. There are too many names to list here, which is an indignity to all justice seeking people. Worse, these are not “new” crimes. Just new victims.

The theft of George Floyd’s breath is merely the latest example in a long, contemptible history of institutional violence against African Americans; a history which is as old as America itself. Eric Garner, killed in Staten Island in 2014, is also recorded begging to be allowed to breathe before his death at the hands of police. To breathe is a fundamental, non-negotiable human right. And not just to breathe – but to use that breath to speak, and to shout, and to be heard. To not be silenced by fear, or smothered by oppression. To use one’s breath in the pursuit of a just and peaceful world.

We at The Legal Project are frustrated and angry with the seemingly endless stream of racist acts, of institutional and interpersonal violence against African Americans, and of murder by those sworn to protect them.

It is offensive to us as seekers of justice and equality.
It is offensive to us as human beings.
It has to stop.

We believe that Black Lives Matter, and we at The Legal Project re-commit ourselves to use our voices – our breath – to continue to call for access to justice and equal protection of the law for all people.

We will channel our anger and sorrow into challenging and working to change systems that allow injustice to continue. We will use our breath to speak for those whose voices have been muffled or ignored. Or snuffed out.

But that is not enough. We also commit ourselves as advocates and as an organization:

• To examine ourselves and our practices to avoid contributing to inequity;

• To educate ourselves with humility and a sincere desire to understand the effects of racism in our community and in our legal system;

• To listen, closely and attentively, to the voices of our community to better understand their needs and to ensure that our work is culturally relevant;

• To use trauma informed approaches that recognize and take into account the harm of racial trauma, so as to provide better representation to our clients;

• To ensure hiring practices that will help our clients see themselves reflected in our staff;

• To zealously follow our core mission of representing those who have been denied access to civil legal assistance, especially, and with deliberate effort, by advocating for the African American members of our community.

We stand with all who denounce racism, violence, and injustice. Black Lives Matter.

In solidarity,
Michele Pollock Rich
Executive Director
The Legal Project
June 5, 2020