George Floyd’s life was stolen, like so many before him, by a pattern of violence committed by law enforcement officials that has resulted in the loss of countless Black lives stretching back decades. 

It cannot go on like this. Black Americans have endured years upon years of police violence and cried out for justice for far too long. We need change now.

We have experienced this kind of devastation before. In 2014 when Eric Garner, Mike Brown, and Akai Gurley were killed by police. In 2015 when Freddie Gray and Walter Scott were killed, in Baltimore and North Charleston, and Sandra Bland died in jail in Texas. In 2016 when Korryn Gaines and Terence Crutcher were killed by police officers in Baltimore County and Tulsa, OK. And these are just a few of the cases in which we have been involved.

Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel, on the Immediate Actions Needed to Achieve Justice for George Floyd 

Through all of these terrible killings we have worked not only to demand justice in the individual cases, but to draw the nation’s attention to the deep, powerful, longstanding systemic racism in this country that gives rise to the misconduct of law enforcement in their interactions with our communities. LDF’s work addressing policing violence has been going on since the earliest days of the organization. We increased our work on this issue in 2014 after Eric Garner was killed. Within days of Mike Brown’s death in Ferguson, we were in then-Attorney General Eric Holder’s office demanding DOJ action in response to the systemic reality of police violence against unarmed African Americans.

We created a formal Policing Reform Campaign (PRC) in 2015 to give greater focus and coherence to our work at a time when the nation’s attention seemed finally focused on this issue.

To protest against injustice is the foundation of all our American democracy.

Thurgood Marshall

The PRC team has worked tirelessly to demand justice in cases of police killings of innocent African Americans; to lift the voice of communities beset by police violence; to compel Dept of Justice action designed at changing police conduct and culture and challenging systemic unconstitutional policing; and to litigate where possible on behalf of the communities we serve. LDF also actively works to change the law of qualified immunity, the defense that so often shields law enforcement officers from accountability when they use violence to violate the constitutional rights of Black victims. 

Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel, on the Tragic murder of George Floyd and the Call for Justice 

The Campaign has also sought to directly confront and interrupt the public media narrative that presents Black men as criminals, and that minimizes the critical importance of communities in defining and developing public safety systems. The PRC’s work focuses on policing reform in New York, Baltimore, North Charleston, Ferguson/St. Louis and Tulsa, OK, but also includes work in other jurisdictions. The PRC team includes members of LDF’s Litigation, Policy, TMI, Organizing and Communications teams.

The PRC team has been working tirelessly – engaging with grassroots community activists and leaders, researching criminal law in Minnesota and the record of policing issues in MN; strategizing with colleagues, and engaging with elected officials and leaders throughout the state of Minnesota.

 

Progress for Black people in this country has only ever come from periods of great pain and strife, and from the determination, focus and commitment of those of us dedicated to this work. For eighty years, LDF has remained committed to dismantling systemic racism. 

And we will not stop. 

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