Washington D.C. is no stranger to protests. As a longtime resident of D.C., I can observe a protest concerning just about any subject you can think of on any given day. Which is as it should be. It’s no accident that the right to free speech, along with its corporate form, the right to peacefully assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, are both in the very front of the Bill of Rights. Our country is founded on that triple pillar.
D.C. Residents Peacefully Unite for Justice
This week, the protests have been different – both in the scale of participation, which you would expect, and in the composition of those participating. On the afternoon of June 2nd, 2020, I strapped my ten-month-old daughter to my chest, and the two of us attended a march on Fourteenth Street. If you want an idea of how peaceful it was, picture Evelyn, smiling and laughing as we marched. The child of two lawyers, Evelyn is starting early in her quest for justice!
The crowd cut across all demographics, from ethnic background, to age, to socioeconomic status and beyond. They were peaceful, they were full of energy, and they show a level of support for the Black Lives Matter movement that is new and exciting.
Later that evening, I attended another gathering in Logan’s Circle, during which the peaceful crowd took a knee for the 8:46 seconds – the same amount of time that Officer Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck. A truly powerful experience. Again, the crowd was full of all manner of citizens, “peacefully petitioning their government for redress of grievances.”
Maybe we are starting to get it right.
From D.C. to Atlanta
In the firm’s home city of Atlanta – and even in the historically-conservative Cobb County, where the firm’s offices are found – peaceful protests have also been happening. These, too, are different than those in the past. Not only are they cross-sectional, but they are also being welcomed by honking cars, waving, and thumbs up from passersby.
But the real question is, will these protests lead to action? For the first time, I’m optimistic that they will. A few miles away from our Marietta office, the Cobb County District Attorney, Joyette Holmes, is prosecuting the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. It was far too long in coming, but on June 5th, 2020, the judge found probable cause for trial.
Black Lives Matter
Also on Friday, June 5th, D.C.’s Mayor, Muriel Bowser, made her own comment: Sixteenth Street, leading directly to the White House and just outside Lafayette Plaza, now bears the logo of “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in bright yellow letters between K and H Streets.
It’s terrible that it took the events of the past few weeks to bring us together. But it gives me hope that things can change. Fighting injustice requires acknowledgment before there can be action. This past week, protests were held in all 50 states, by people of all races and backgrounds, sending out a clear call to action. Can you remember the last time all 50 states agreed on something?
There are other injustices in the legal system. Racial inequality in the criminal justice system is mirrored in some ways by the socioeconomic inequality in our civil justice system. Civil justice is far more attainable for those who have the resources to get it, leading to the frustrating feeling of “justice for sale.”
At Bracker & Marcus LLC, we’re proud to support those doing their part to address injustice and corruption. If you have questions regarding a potential case involving the False Claims Act, contact us today.