June 23, 2020
“Enough is enough.”
George Floyd’s younger brother, Philonise Floyd, voiced the cry of not only Mr. Floyd’s family but also millions of Americans in his powerful testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on June 10th, slightly more than two weeks after his brother’s killing at the hands of a police officer during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. As the world is all too painfully aware in the midst of widespread protests, unrest, violent clashes between law enforcement and protestors, and still more deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police during the last few weeks, Mr. Floyd’s death is part of a decades-old pattern of too many Black men and women being killed in the U.S. by excessive force being deployed by law enforcement officers. We write to share our anguish and outrage, but more important to issue a call for action among our fellow alumni.
Black lives matter. George Floyd’s life mattered. The horrific way George Floyd’s life was extinguished matters.
The Harvard Law School Association, the worldwide association that connects HLS graduates around the world through a network of local and regional HLS associations and shared interest groups, has a responsibility to act at this time of global unrest sparked by the death of Mr. Floyd.
Our Dean, John Manning, wrote to all alumni worldwide: “[W]e must never take for granted, and must always fiercely protect, our commitments to equal justice under law, the rule of law, and the principle of accountability that underlies it – that no one is above the law.” The unraveling of one thread of the rule of law threatens the entire fabric of it. These recent killings cruelly drive home the point that in too many instances and in too many contexts, the criminal justice system and other core aspects of American life do not work as they should for Black Americans. This gross injustice requires not only the national conversation in which we are engaged, but also comprehensive systemic reform.
As the outgoing and incoming Presidents of the HLSA, we commit the HLSA to anti-racism in the core functions of the Association:
- its programming and events, to include a broader range of voices and topics;
- the strengthening of the relationships among alumni and supporting mentorship between alumni and students, especially students of color; and
- promoting the school to prospective students.
The HLSA will be working to develop programming to convene a dialogue among key stakeholders from within our HLS community to address issues of racial justice and the rule of law. In addition, we will be urging each HLSA club and shared interest group to organize a program within the next six months supporting racial justice and policing reform, and we will be seeking to engage in a dialogue with those clubs and groups over the next few months to facilitate this. We will also be calling on local clubs and SIGs to make equality under the law a recurring focus of their programming.
We ask our alumni to consider how we can best pool our collective and formidable legal, academic and community resources to help drive systemic change in law enforcement methods and means to halt this disproportionate and tragic loss of Black lives. In our programming and through other means, we will be exploring ways of engaging in this dialogue with our alumni in order to facilitate an open exchange of suggestions and resources. This will not be the last time you hear from us on this topic.
We have an extraordinary privilege and platform as graduates of Harvard Law School. We work as lawyers in every imaginable practice area, and as educators, judges at every level, elected and appointed government officials, law enforcement officers, leaders of for-profit and non-profit enterprises of all sizes, members of the media, faith leaders, caregivers, musicians and artists. And we all have a role to play in the field of justice with the fierce urgency of now.
Enough is enough.
|Daniel E. Eaton '89||Christopher L. Mann '89|
|President, HLSA||President, HLSA|
|July 2018 - June 2020||July 2020 - June 2022|