The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery are only the latest in a long history of unnecessary and violent deaths of Black Americans, each of which demonstrates that systemic racism is a present and persistent feature of American society. In addition to outright violence, we have seen the ease with which white women too often exacerbate and exploit systemic racism, including most recently the Central Park birdwatching incident.

The Women’s Bar Association of DC (“WBA”) demands that local, state, and federal agencies conduct prompt and thorough investigations into these and other policing practices. More broadly, and more importantly, the WBA condemns racist and white supremacist ideologies that permeate our society, as evidenced by systemic, unchecked police brutality and the legal structures that allow it to continue.

The WBA calls on our members and the legal community to rise to this moment, and advocate for justice and human rights for all Americans – regardless of their skin color. Our community must use its time, skills, privileges, connections, and money to effectuate real change as part of the effort to dismantle systemic racism.

This will not be easy, and will not be quickly accomplished, but we must do the work. The WBA will develop a resource page for its members and the broader community, and we encourage our members to self-educate about racist and white supremacist ideologies in America and the ways in which Black Americans need allies to support the dismantling of systemic racism. We will create spaces for these challenging conversations. We will educate our members and community regarding the actionable, concrete steps we must take to dismantle systemic racism and effectuate real change.

The WBA supports and commends those who have taken to the streets of their communities to exercise their First Amendment right to assemble in protest against these deaths and the larger systemic issues that allowed these deaths to take place. We denounce the unnecessarily brutal responses of uniformed law enforcement officers toward protestors and the press, and condemn any acts that unjustly abridge First Amendment rights.

We know the legal profession is not immune to the impacts of – and is often complicit in supporting – systemic racism. If it were immune, the numbers of women and men lawyers of color holding leadership and high-profile roles in the legal profession would more accurately reflect our legal community and population.

It is not enough for us to be allies and non-racist, this moment demands that we be actively anti-racist.