In this moment - amid the protracted, ongoing struggle for justice - we urge collective work and responsibility.

NCBL Follow Up Statement on the Events of the Week of July 3rd

The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) joins with other individuals and organizations in continuing to decry the murders of Black people by law enforcement in this country and demanding that the United States and state governments take seriously the need to work with the Black community and others to address the racism, flowing from enslavement of Africans, that is the source of these murders.  The NCBL, like others is still reeling in the aftermath of the tumultuous and traumatic events of the week of July 3, 2016, and we extend our sincere condolences to the families of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Micah Johnson as well as the other human beings killed in Dallas, TX, across this nation and the globe. 

The extrajudicial killings of defenseless Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, affirm yet again, the daunting reality that the lives of people of African descent are not valued and can be taken with little or no consequence by those allegedly charged with protecting those lives. It does not even matter, if they are complying with the instructions of the police. NCBL clearly understands that the devaluation of the lives of people of African descent in the United States is systematically woven into the fabric of this country's history and has been codified in white racist statutory and constitutional law to maintain white supremacy, the foundation of this country. 

Our people's lives have only been valued as chattel to be exploited to build wealth for white elites and colonial settlers, but never as full self-determined human beings. These are the social and political lenses in which we view the executions of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the countless number of men, women and children of African descent who have been systematically and summarily executed by state sanctioned violence

The historical failure to indict police officers for the unjustified killings of people of African descent have shown us that it is nearly impossible to get justice in either the state or federal court system of the United States. The system in its current state, is fatally flawed and must undergo fundamental change if it is to produce justice for people of African descent and other marginalized peoples. 

As an organization advocating for the human rights of African people throughout the diaspora, we encourage all seeking justice for the victims of police killings to frame these tragedies in terms of human rights violations. What our people are subjected to is not merely police brutality. It is state sanctioned terrorism, torture, and genocide. Framing our issues in terms of human rights can and will allow us to bring this inhumane treatment to which we continue to be subjected by the United States and state governments before the world. This positions us to seek redress and justice from an international body that we expect to be more impartial than the racist, patriarchal, and elitist U.S. court, judicial, and policy-making systems. 

There are mixed feelings surrounding the actions that Micah Johnson took on July 7, 2016, when he fatally shot five officers and wounded seven others. The NCBL recognizes that Mr. Johnson's actions reflect the rage and desperation of many African people in the United States at the failure of the state and federal governments to protect African people and stop the racist and violent attacks on them. These unjustified killings of defenseless men, women and children affect different people in different ways, causing different reactions. Yet all these reactions to the repetitive executions of Black people, must lead to a laser focus on addressing the root cause – the racism which created them.

NCBL notes the missing analysis regarding Micah’s status as a returning military combat veteran. The U.S. culture of violence trains killers whether for deployment in the armed forces abroad, or in local (Black) communities. We know there is rampant PTSD and other mental health concerns for our returning war zone vets. Given the racist paramilitary police forces and equipment proliferating across this nation and blatant public murders of Black men, women, and children, it is possible he perceived the Black community to be under attack--at war--and took action per his U.S. training.

The events that have occurred this week and a half are grim reminders of the urgency of now, and the continued need to work tirelessly for justice by dismantling the racist police state and criminal punishment apparatus and replacing them with institutions that recognize the humanity of all people and facilitate the realization of the full potential of all human beings.                   

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     7/16/16 ©National Conference of Black Lawyers