We at the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project join the Innocence Network and the Black Lives Matter Movement in condemning the senseless murder of George Floyd and so many other Black citizens killed by police brutality.
In our work, we unfortunately see the effects of systemic racism and anti-Blackness every day. Our Black clients often are assumed to be dangerous criminals simply because of their race, even when they’ve never been arrested before and even when there’s powerful evidence of their innocence. The Black families of murder victims and suspects — and the Black communities most affected by violent crime — too often are ignored when they tell police what really happened. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic that is disproportionately killing Black Americans, our clients are housed in overcrowded prisons without access to soap, cleaning supplies, masks, fresh air, or the ability to distance themselves from others.
We know those stories are the tip of a much larger iceberg and that our work is a small part of a much larger struggle that has exploded into the streets of cities around this country. As an organization and as individuals, however, we remain committed to fighting for racial justice in the criminal-legal system and elsewhere. The task may seem insurmountable right now, but we draw inspiration from the great strength, love, and perseverance we see in our Black clients and their families as they strive to bring justice and truth to light. We stand by them, for them, and for all affected by these insidious problems, and we will do our part to make sure their voices are heard. As Bryan Stevenson recently said, “We can change the culture of institutions in this country. We have done it time and time again.” None of us will stop fighting until we do.