Maryland Carey Law Statement on the Killing of Black and Brown People

With heavy hearts, we, administrators, faculty, and staff of the University of Maryland Carey Law School, feel compelled to speak to a matter of great concern to justice and humanity. While our nation deals with a viral pandemic, we see the continuing tragedies of a largely unaddressed social epidemic. Too often, black and brown adults and children, because of their race, are gunned down, choked, or otherwise deprived of their ability to live and breathe by law enforcement officers and vigilantes. These victims are dehumanized, treated like monsters. For us to remain silent in the face of this epidemic would be immoral.

George Floyd was a human being. Notwithstanding Mr. Floyd’s total physical submission—he was handcuffed and completely subdued—a former Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer kept Mr. Floyd pinned to the ground by putting and keeping his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck. His pleas for his life were ignored, not only by the officer pinning him down like an animal, but by three other Minneapolis police officers—those charged to protect and serve the public—who were present and involved. Even after Mr. Floyd’s pulse had stopped, the police officer still pinned his body down. George Floyd died in the street.

Ahmaud Arbery was a human being. Mr. Arbery was jogging, unarmed, through a neighborhood when, in a scene reminiscent of lynching attacks from decades past, residents of the neighborhood armed themselves, chased and cornered Mr. Arbery, and then shot him at close range. Ahmaud Arbery died in the street.

These are just two recent killings that have achieved national infamy, but they are not isolated. They happen within a context. It is impossible to state or even know the comprehensive list of individuals whose lives have been erased in these tragic ways, but we can name a few. Freddie Gray was a human being. Philando Castile was a human being. Trayvon Martin was a human being. Sandra Bland was a human being. Tamir Rice was a human being. Walter Scott was a human being. Michael Brown was a human being. Eric Garner was a human being. Breonna Taylor was a human being. And the list goes on. 

And as we focus—rightly so—on the recent killings in Minnesota and Georgia, we should not forget the myriad non-fatal indignities forced upon black and brown adults and children. Stop and frisk policies, pretextual stops, racial profiling, are among real harms suffered. We should not tolerate these harms in a society that claims “Equal Justice for All” as one of its foundational tenets. 

Criminalization of race is a stain on the fabric of our culture.  In even the most seemingly benign of circumstances, race can be weaponized in an instant by the privileged. We recently saw a dog walker in Central Park threaten (and then follow up on her threat) to call the police and tell them that her life was being threatened by a black man, bird watcher Christian Cooper. This was not an innocuous suggestion to get the police involved in a personal confrontation in Central Park; it was a genuine threat on Mr. Cooper’s life. The subtext here is explicit: Interfere with the unmitigated privilege of a white woman, and I will put your life in mortal peril.

In these moments—in the face of continuing, unnecessary brutality—it is easy to feel helpless and to lose faith in justice and the rule of law. What can we do? We can continue to advocate. We can continue to educate new crops of lawyers who can fight for justice. We can require our public leaders to uphold the rule of law. We can partner with our communities to address injustice wherever we see it.

At the very least, we can remember the names of these victims. We can remember that they were human beings with families and lives. And we can remember that their lives mattered.

Donald B. Tobin, Dean and Professor of Law

Riley Aldridge
Andrew Altshuler
Ally Amerson
José Bahamonde-González
Taunya Banks
Dina Billian
Brenda Blom
David S. Bogan
Richard Boldt
Shara Boonshaft
Rebecca Bowman-Rivas 
John Brosnan
Yorghos Carabas
Anne-Marie Carstens
Jennifer E. Chapman
Douglas Colbert
Robert J. Condlin
Ellen Cornelius
Karen Czapanskiy
Peter Danchin
Maggie Davis
Quentin Davis
George Eichelman
Deborah Eisenberg
Martha Ertman
Sarah Everhart
Francisco Xavier Flores
Heather Foss
Wendy Geist
Donald G. Gifford
Jonathan Glick
Vicky Godinez
Sara Gold
Barbara Gontrum
Leigh Goodmark
Liz Graham
Aaron Graham

David B. Grahek
David Gray
Michael Greenberger
Barbara Sugarman Grochal
Toby Guerin
Rebecca Hall
Ian Hamilton
Hilary G. Hansen
Wanda Haskel
Michele Anita Hayes
Lisa Hemmer
Diane Hoffmann
Kathleen Hoke
C. Quince Hopkins
Blair Inniss
Sarah Jackson
Beverly Petersen Jennison
Marilyn M Jones
Gabriela Kahrl
Seema Kakade
Sherri Keene
Robert I. Keller
Ann Kim
Lee Kovarsky
Susan Levitan
Kerri McGowan Lowrey
Gerald Magbulos
Lu Ann Marshall
Susan McCarty
Russell A. McClain
Lila Meadows
Riva Medina
Michael Millemann
Paula A. Monopoli
Will Moon
Dana L. Morris
Shanti Narinesingh

Joseph Neumann
Michael Pappas
Robert V Percival
William Piermattei
Michael Pinard
Jennifer Pollard
Amanda Pustilnik
Peter E. Quint
Glenn Rabut
Natalie Ram
Markus Rauschecker
Sharon Reece
Jenny Rensler
Bill Reynolds
Trish Rider
Nathan D.M. Robertson
Karen Rothenberg
M. Teresa Schmiedeler
Maneka Sinha
Anastasia W. Smith
Colleen Stanley
Max Stearns
Rena Steinzor
Maureen A. Sweeney
Tanya S. Thomas
Donald Tobin
Brooke Torton
Michael Van Alstine
Lydia C. Watts
Jessica Williams
Lipmon Woon
Micah J. Yarbrough
Edward W. Yee
Ben Yelin

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