The Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) Board of Directors is deeply disturbed and saddened by the events that have unfolded across the country in the last couple of weeks. These events have reemphasized our country's history of violence against Black and African-American communities. We condemn the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the harassment of Christian Cooper, and the police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade and the unacceptable countless other similar tragedies. Enough is enough.
BALIF condemns the deep injustice and pain this violence has inflicted on the families of those lost and the community at large. This violence affects all of us. BALIF must stand with the various Black and African-American communities during these painful times and always against police misconduct, bias, discrimination, and harassment on the basis of race, whether actual or perceived. BALIF is a community of LGBTQI+ legal professionals that envisions a world where LGBTQI+ people live with dignity and equality under the law. BALIF's mission is to lead our LGBTQI+ legal community through advocacy, justice, community empowerment, and professional development. BALIF is committed to advancing the interests of all marginalized, underrepresented, and underserved communities through our power as an organization of attorneys. We know we cannot fully realize our mission without advocating against the daily violence facing our Black and African-American community members. While the State of Georgia and the Hennepin County Attorneys General have brought formal charges against those involved in the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, justice has been unduly delayed for them and others. We call for justice to be served, equally and fairly, and for these extrajudicial killings to end now. BALIF has joined many other LGBT organizations in a letter committing to combating racial violence. You can read the letter here.
We call on our members to similarly oppose the over-policing of and violence towards Black, African-American, and POC communities by calling for police accountability, oversight, and the fair administration of the judicial process to ensure justice is served. As members of the LGBTQI+ legal community we have a distinct role to play in the fight for equality. As members of the LGBTQI+ community, we occupy intersecting identities stemming from our gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), physical and/or mental disability, and other characteristics. And with this intersectionality, we have a special duty to not only fight for equality for ourselves, but for others within our community, our allies, and other marginalized communities who bear dual consciousness of their LGBTQI+ identity and race, and thus are doubly victims of bias and discrimination. We must extend the political power some of us have achieved to those marginalized, underrepresented, and underserved communities that still suffer, for none of us shall find true liberation until all of us can live our lives with dignity and the equal protection of the justice system.
We cannot stand by as another Black, African-American or other person of color is murdered for going on a jog, bird watching, or encountering the police. As Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissent in Utah v. Strieff,
We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are 'isolated.' They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere.
In solidarity, we invoke our members to take action in the way they individually find meaningful and possible to advance the issue. We also invite our members to read Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual, created by the ACLU and designed to provide context, tools, and avenues to take action
Lastly, we would like to encourage our members to continue providing feedback to the Board by emailing the Chairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and to continue bringing issues of importance to our attention. Please reach out to each other and those in your lives who are feeling impacted by this violence. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those lost and wish all of you reading this message safety and good health.
On behalf of the BALIF Board,
Daniel H. Galindo, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer
Conference of California Bar Associations Committee Co-Chair