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On Memorial Day 2020, an unarmed Black man was killed when police officers held him down and knelt on his neck. For eight minutes and 46 seconds, a uniformed police officer’s knee pressed against the innocent man’s neck as three other officers stood by and watched, doing nothing. The man, who was not resisting the officer’s force, repeatedly told the officer that he could not breathe and, in his last moments, cried out for his mother. Bystanders witnessing this tragedy pleaded with the officer to take his knee off the man’s neck to no avail. George Floyd senselessly died that day due to what can only be characterized as egregious police brutality.
In the wake of the tragic killing of George Floyd, hundreds of thousands of people across the country have been protesting the long-standing injustices facing Black people and People of Color. Most of these protests are peaceful, and intended to bring attention to the frequent acts of police brutality being committed against Black people.
This is undoubtedly a challenging time, yet it is also a time for everyone to speak up and denounce all acts of discrimination. At Gelb & Gelb, P.C., we stand with the protestors in their efforts to expose the deep-seated racial biases of many Americans, and the policies – both official and unofficial – that these attitudes have created. The effects of racism run deeper than the murder of George Floyd, yet the appalling acts of those police officers have again brought the issue to the forefront.
BLACK LIVES MATTER. And while openly acknowledging the pervasive racism and White privilege that exists in current American society is necessary, talking about these issues is not enough. It was never enough. Action must be taken, and, unfortunately, until now the voices of those of us calling for change have not been heard. In large part, this is because White men and women have failed to speak up against the racism that they witness every day. Even those who have long been against racism and police brutality too seldom make their positions known, allowing racism to continue to fester. Enough is enough. No longer can the White majority remain silent while our Black community members suffer from the very real effects of a society that, in many ways, was built upon the belief that we were not all created equal.
At Gelb and Gelb, we are committed to using the power that we have as Washington, D.C. attorneys to inform, educate, and advocate for change in our community and across the country. Action must be taken at home, at work, when socializing with friends, on social media, and at the ballot box. Police officers should not interfere with our right to engage in non-violent protests. However, there have been countless reports of police officers responding aggressively to protestors, even those who posed no threat to the police. In fact, hundreds of non-violent protestors have been seriously injured across the country, including in Washington, D.C. The police force needs to know that we are watching them, and that all acts of aggression against Black people must stop.
For over 65 years, Gelb and Gelb has represented injured victims in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. During this time, we have seen first-hand that the justice system suffers from the same implicit – and sometimes explicit – biases that are pervasive in the United States. We are not ambulance chasers. We are dedicated advocates who aggressively stand up for the rights of accident victims – regardless of the color of their skin. At the same time, we recognize that now is not the time to be “color blind.” We understand that the experiences of Black men and women, as well as other People of Color, are unique from our own. While we cannot claim to understand the hardships that racism causes first-hand, we can do better every day by using our platform to advocate for the eradication of practices and policies that treat citizens differently based on the color of their skin.