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SABA stands with George Floyd’s family and communities of color in the US and Canada

Friday, June 5, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Aneesh Mehta
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For Immediate Release, June 5th, 2020

The South Asian Bar Association of North America stands with George Floyd’s family and communities of color in the United States and Canada.

The South Asian Bar Association of North America (“SABA North America”) stands with George Floyd’s family, Ahmaud Arbery’s family, Breonna Taylor’s family, and Regis Korchinski-Paquet’s family, along with Black communities throughout the United States and Canada. We grieve alongside their families and our brothers and sisters, and we recognize the persistent plight of Black people suffering at the hands of deep-rooted systems of institutionalized racism. As the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto shows, these systems are not limited to the United States alone. For decades, Black communities in the United States and Canada have faced unjust persecution and brutality at the hands of law enforcement and have been unjustly targeted purely because of the color of their skin. The latest examples of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, as well as the Central Park incident involving Amy Cooper, are just a few of too many. This must stop. To our brothers and sisters of the Black Community, we see you, we hear you, and we are with you. We pledge not only our support, but also a call to action, to combat the institutionalized racism, inequality and injustice that you have faced for far too long. 

Long after the protests end, this must remain a time for action, and this time must be different. We urge the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to effectively investigate pattern and practice violations by police departments and hold them accountable. We urge Congress to consider expanding the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to give State Attorneys General the authority to enforce “pattern or practice” violations when the DOJ is unwilling or unable to act, as requested by 18 State Attorneys General in a recent letter.[1] We must not allow another George Floyd to be killed due to our failure to act. We must act now. 

To the members of SABA North America, and the greater legal community, too many of us have become comfortable with the status quo. It is critical that we use the present crisis to understand what it means to be Black in the United States and Canada today. We call upon you to engage in peaceful activism, locally and nationally. SABA North America commits to working to support these activities.

  • Put pressure on State and Federal officials to appropriately respond to the Nation’s call to dismantle the systems and institutions that marginalize Blacks in the United States and Canada. 
  • Urge your local officials to institute police reform and review policing practices, ensure accountability through independent oversight, and rethink community interaction.
  • Vote.
  • Challenge your knowledge and preconceptions about race and how it has affected the Black community. 
  • Challenge the biases within our own communities and speak up. Do not shy away from conversations that make you uncomfortable, especially with your family. 
  • Donate.
  • Put the needs of others above your own fears.
  • Do not be silent.

While we recognize that our community has also faced its own racial and ethnic challenges, we must also remember that many of us have benefited from the model minority construct. While it is true that many People of Color have experienced discrimination and injustice, the legacy and history of oppression against Black Americans and Canadians is far too institutionalized and runs deeper than any discrimination and injustice faced by any other community. We must acknowledge that, and we must fight for change.

We applaud the recent actions taken by members of the South Asian community in allyship and solidarity with protesters. As his restaurant in Minneapolis burned to the ground after a night of protests, Ruhel Islam stated, “Let the building burn… Justice needs to be served.” Similarly, Rahul Dubey of Washington, D.C. welcomed dozens of protestors desperately seeking refuge from the police into his home and sheltered them overnight saying, “I hope that my 13-year old son grows up to be just as amazing as they are.” These community members put the needs of others above their own fears. This is true strength, courage and commitment.

SABA North America understands that a moment like this requires more than words. As such, SABA North America is committing now to focusing on efforts like those listed above, to combat the systemic racism present in the legal systems and culture of the United States and Canada. SABA North America has a platform to engage with the South Asian legal community and the South Asian community at large, and it will use that platform to work on these initiatives. We will incorporate activism into our programming, participate in education and outreach efforts to confront racism in our South Asian community directed against the Black community and other ethnic minorities, and join together with our sister bar associations to lobby and advocate for reform including in our Lobby Day initiative in 2021.

This fight for equality and justice will not be short-lived; however, in a matter of weeks or months, the media coverage may stop, donations might slow, and social media posts will likely return to normal. Our countries will attempt to move on and to leave the wrongful deaths of George Floyd and countless other Black Americans and Canadians in the past, as has been done many times before. We urge you, do not let that happen. The systemic oppression and persecution of our Black brothers and sisters is an inescapable reality in America and Canada. We beseech you - continue to say their names, continue to speak up and continue to fight until justice is served. 

Please consider joining and supporting organizations actively engaged in fighting for justice. A few are listed below.

Finally, we want to recognize the various chapters of SABA across North America that have issued thoughtful reflections and calls to action in the last few days. We have been listening and learning from our members, and our statement is informed by their expressions of frustration with the status quo and demands for racial justice. The events of the last few weeks, and the persistent lack of justice and accountability over the years, are galvanizing for our organization. We cannot solve these problems unless we solve them together. We have faith that our members will answer the calls to action outlined above, and will continue to stand up for justice in meaningful ways.

[1] https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000172-808d-d3d2-ab7a-b78d69050000

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SABA North America (formerly NASABA/North American South Asian Bar Association) is a voluntary bar organization and serves as an umbrella organization to 26 chapters in the United States and Canada. SABA North America is a recognized forum for professional growth and advancement for South Asian attorneys in North America and seeks to protect the rights and liberties of the South Asian community across the continent. Learn more at www.sabanorthamerica.com.

 

Dinesh Kumar   

Vice President of Public Relations

South Asian Bar Association of North America    

publicrelations@sabanorthamerica.com