CLEVELAND – June 1, 2020 - With the tragic turn from a peaceful demonstration by many to criminal acts committed by few, the central focus of Saturday’s “I Can’t Breathe” protest has been overshadowed by discussion of property damage and curfews. Make no mistake, those who destroyed property and stole from Cleveland businesses should be prosecuted. But our collective focus should remain squarely on the circumstances surrounding the killing of George Floyd.
The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association stands for the rule of law. That means all people and all institutions are subject to and accountable to our laws. It also means our laws must be fairly applied and fairly enforced by those who control the legal system, including members of law enforcement.
The police officers responsible for Mr. Floyd’s death must be held fully accountable. It is time for men and women who work in law enforcement to stop using – or enabling others to use – the thin blue line to shield criminal wrongdoing. Likewise, it is time for all of us who work within the legal system to improve the entire system so that everyone has access to true justice, regardless of skin color, privilege or position in society.
The CMBA strives to bring people together for constructive, civil conversation - even on the most difficult of subjects. Yesterday’s early afternoon rally drew thousands of participants in person, and countless more via social media. Included among those were many CMBA members including CMBA President Ian N. Friedman, President-Elect Joseph N. Gross and CEO Becky Ruppert McMahon. As an invited speaker, Ian shared how watching Mr. Floyd’s death has shown us clearly that racism and acts of violence targeted against people of color cannot continue to go unchallenged or unpunished.
“There is no longer a sideline to stand on. If you choose to remain silent from this moment forward you are complicit. You are responsible in part should another life be taken merely because of the color of one’s skin.”
Ian N. Friedman
Additional excerpts from Ian’s remarks can be viewed above, with the full 16-minute speech available below.
Watch Full Speech
The CMBA will continue to proactively work with its partners and stakeholders to reform the criminal justice system including but not limited to bail/bond reform, jail protocols, justice center construction, and criminal sentencing. We call on all CMBA members, other bar associations and everyone else who works in and around the legal industry to join us in these efforts so together we can and will stand up and speak out against intolerance, racism and acts of violence.