The Elon University School of Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild issued the following statement today after the grand jury decisions in the cases stemming from the police shooting death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and choking death of Eric Garner in New York City. Elon Law School is located in downtown Greensboro, and the National Lawyers Guild chapter is a student organization.
“We, like many, are deeply saddened and troubled by the recent events in New York City and Ferguson. We have felt these emotions as students, members of the legal profession, and citizens. Moreover, we feel this because we are human beings.
Citizens across the country are feeling hopeless and many are losing what little faith they had in the criminal justice system. They do not feel secure or confident that our current system is designed to protect them. Our continued silence can be considered complicity with injustice or unjust outcomes. We issue this statement in solidarity with those who feel affected by these injustices, and those that live in fear as a result of them.
The North Carolina Rules of Professional Responsibility state that lawyers are citizens that have a “special responsibility for the quality of justice.” The cases of police brutality are complex and challenging. There are no easy answers to the questions that remain in the aftermath. Yet these events can serve to affirm our special responsibility as to justice.
These travesties of justice may also serve to acknowledge our — lawyers’ — place in a fractured system. As future lawyers, we have a responsibility to accept that this system is fractured, so that we can embrace our roles in the process of healing it. We issue this statement as an expression of our intention to do this. To heal our system, not use it as a shield, nor as a weapon.”