Criminal Justice

ABA president says 'our hearts are aching,' calls for action in wake of George Floyd’s death

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George Floyd protests

Protesters march in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in late May. Image from

ABA President Judy Perry Martinez released her second statement on the violence against George Floyd and others in the black community Friday, saying “the American Bar Association stands for justice and fairness, and our hearts are aching.”

In a video message, Martinez said that “the killing of George Floyd and so many other black men, women and children at the hands of police are the latest instances in centuries of mistreatment and violence against the black community.”

ABA President Judy Perry Martinez.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground, pushing his knee into Floyd’s neck and ignoring Floyd’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe. His death has sparked national outrage and calls for an end to systemic racism.

Martinez contended that lawyers have “a special responsibility to address” persisting injustices, including violence and racism that exists “through laws that unjustly and disproportionately impact people of color.” She specifically called for the elimination of governmental immunity for police brutality and “stand your ground” laws that have resulted in the deaths of innocent people.

She also pointed out that peaceful protesters who are responding to Floyd’s death and other injustices must never face violence from their own government.

“Americans are rightfully disturbed by looting and violence, but we cannot allow those acts to deter us from our important work to end systemic racism,” Martinez said. “I urge you to stand with the American Bar Association as we intensify our efforts for justice and fairness.”


ABA’s Racial Equity in the Justice System website

See also:

ABA Journal: “ABA president responds to George Floyd’s death in police custody and subsequent protests”

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