Washington Supreme Court Issues a Solidarity Statement Against the Unjust Racial System

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Brief Background

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an African American man asphyxiated to death by the Minneapolis police, Minnesota. He was being arrested for allegedly using counterfeit money at the grocery store. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer smothered the poor man for nine minutes, by pressing his knee to his neck. George kept struggling to get out of the knee hold. He repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe” but to know avail. The incident sparked off nationwide protests all across the 50 states of America. Havoc, vandalism, demonstrations, riots were all part of it. It even sparked a lot of debates and discussions. The death and oppression of black people by white police officers is rampant and not a new event in the U.S. Floyd’s death only instigated an outcry against the prejudiced and racial justice system. 

The Letter by the Judges

On June 4, nine Judges of the Supreme Court, the State of Washington wrote a letter to all the members of the Judiciary and the Legal Community. The letter condemned the persistent and systematic injustice against black lives. They called it the foundation on which the nation was erected. The statement expressed disapproval and pain that bias was not a ‘relic of the past’. “Racialized policing and the overrepresentation of black Americans” is pervasive in the “criminal and juvenile justice systems“, the letter read. 

The letter urges the legal community to take a moment to reflect on the cruelties. The legal community is equally blameworthy for the prevalent injustice, it further said. Both individual and collective actions will curb racism. The judges took responsibility for partaking in the depreciation of black lives. The Court of Washington itself had once denied the right of mourning parents to bury their infant in a cemetery. The judges grieved that what’s done cannot be undone. But the future can be made better with conscience. 

The letter appealed to the lawyers and members of the bar to not let “meritorious claims go unaddressed“. Striking down age-old traditions, to render them obsolete, when harmful is very important. Thus, the racial injustice integrated into the system has to be eradicated. This requires a multiplicity of every individual’s action, each day. A constant recognition of black voices by all will decimate the “shameful legacy“. The title of “justice” must deeply commit to eradicate racism, the letter concluded. It urged everyone to put in efforts together because ‘Black Lives Matter’

Chief Justice Debra L. Stephens and Justices Charles W. Johnson, Barbara A. Madsen, Susan Owens, Steven C. Gonzalez, Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Mary I. Yu, Raquel Montoyo-Lewis and G.Helen Whitener undersigned the letter.


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