NLADA Statement on the Killing of George Floyd and Standing Up with Communities to Defeat Racist Violence

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Release Date: 
Monday, June 1, 2020


NLADA Statement on the Killing of George Floyd and Standing Up with Communities to Defeat Racist Violence

NLADA joins with our community of public defenders, civil legal aid providers and client advocates in mourning the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police and calling for justice. Mr. Floyd’s death is another heartbreak, another unnecessary loss of life from the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers. The nation has seen the video and watched in horror as Mr. Floyd pled for his life to no avail. That day, Mr. Floyd found no safety at the hands of officers sworn to serve and protect and the nation learned the name of another Black man whose life was lost at the hands of police brutality. 

We affirm what we have stated previously – Black Lives Matter. The recurring violence against Black people is but an extreme manifestation of our society’s persistent racism, which denies the Black community, and other communities of color, equal opportunities to be safe and healthy, to work and live with dignity and to flourish.

Mr. Floyd’s murder lays bare that policies and strategies that guard against excessive force are not enough to eradicate this problem. These deaths are painful reminders of how much work is still needed in our country to achieve racial justice. We must find a better path forward to achieve justice for communities of color and against the racial inequality that continues to afflict all our communities.

Terminating the officers involved after this incident and bringing criminal charges against one of them are initial steps toward accountability.  A complete and fair investigation into Mr. Floyd’s death remains an imperative. There also must be a full accounting, review and most importantly, reform of law enforcement practices and policies, especially on the front end to prevent excessive force before it is used. This is not an issue for Minneapolis alone, but as we have seen in the protests over the past week, one experienced in towns and cities across our country. The remedies must be national in scope and comprehensive in nature.

We must address the underlying societal views, structures and indoctrination that are allowing for disparate, violent treatment of individuals of color. The NLADA community has committed to addressing the significant role that race plays in policing practices and to building enduring alliances with communities who struggle against racism every day.  Public defense, civil legal aid and client advocates have been coming together to build partnerships to find effective solutions to combat racism.

These conversations are not easy but they are necessary. We urge our community to renew the commitment to stand in solidarity with the Black community and other communities of color and against the racial inequality that still plagues our nation. We cannot be silent. TAKE A STAND FOR RACIAL JUSTICE TODAY:

  • Commit to courageous conversations on race: Do not shy away from uncomfortable conversations about the history of racism, slavery and white supremacy. Make sure you are having courageous conversations at work and in your community! Silence is complicity.

  • Form genuine and sustainable, community-led partnerships aimed at bridging the racial divide in our country: Ensure your efforts are driven by experiences of people of color.

  • Become an Organization that centers racial equity in your work: It is important that advocates for justice commit to addressing systemic racism and join others who are doing the same. NLADA understands that racial equity must be at the center of our work in improving access to justice, and our new section of the Black Public Defender Association has been shining a critical light on the role that race plays in the criminal legal system: 

  1. Develop a Racial Justice Action Plan. Our plan commits NLADA and our members to (1) speak with clarity about poverty and racial equity; (2) improve our internal governance to reflect the racial equity we seek to secure in our communities; and (3) support a purpose-driven practice that employs strategic advocacy to advance racial justice in our communities. 

  2. Sign NLADA’s Fight Against Implicit Bias and Racial Inequality (FAIR) Pledge, developed by our Client Policy Group. The FAIR Pledge calls upon every equal justice advocate and organization to confront implicit bias, improve capacity to effectively serve clients and positively advance racial justice.

  3. Join the NLADA Race Equity Advocacy Listserv: If you need tools and information about how to advance racial equity in your work, please join the NLADA’s racial justice community to learn about resources and be a part of the community tackling these issues.

How many more tragic and preventable deaths must there be before this problem is solved?  We join with everyone across the country who is standing up and saying, not one more.  


The National Legal Aid & Defender Association, founded in 1911, is America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state and local levels through the creation of our public defender systems and other important institutions from The Sentencing Project to the Legal Services Corporation. A leader in the development of national standards for civil legal aid and public defense, NLADA also provides advocacy, training and technical assistance for equal justice advocates across the country.