On Justice and Recent Events

“The past is not dead. In fact, the past is not even past.”
William Faulkner

We send this message with heavy hearts. Like you, we are horrified and angered by the recent killing of a black man by white police officers. Sadly, this is but the most recent reprehensible act of violence committed against a black person. That list is long, but includes Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Sam DuBose, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, and now George Floyd.

In some sense, these victims are like Emmett Till, Jimmie Lee Jackson, and countless others of another too-recent era who suffered brutal deaths.

Unlike the deaths of Till and Jackson, the current wave of killings is not being carried out through the extralegal efforts of a mob or Klansmen, but by those sworn to uphold and enforce the law.

In a brutal confluence of circumstances, we are at the same time confronting the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poor and minorities.

Now we see anger in cities across the country and at the doorsteps of many of our homes and offices, as protests and, in some regrettable cases, riots reflect an outrage that refuses to wait for a justice that is long overdue. Our country must address now the inequities it has fostered.

As a law firm, we stand first and foremost for justice and the equal and humane application of the rule of law. In addition to defeating biased criminal justice, we must address disparate health care and inadequate educational opportunity. And we must truly face up to our past and understand how we came to this place where we are now.

We are determined to overcome prejudice and inequality and to build a better world for every person, a world that lives up to our highest ideals. The work we must do together is not susceptible to easy answers. But do it we must – to understand why we are here and to determine how to make this a better world for all.

Today, we pledge to start where we are and do what we can to encourage peace, meaningful and productive conversations, and actions that create justice for all.

Beveridge & Diamond will continue – and seek ways to expand – our deep commitment to pro bono and other work supporting numerous legal aid, legal services, human rights, and access to justice organizations around the U.S.

We also are recommitting ourselves to progress on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and dialogues – both internal and external – aimed at expanding opportunities for underrepresented members not only in the legal profession but also in our society as a whole.

We must prove Faulkner wrong.

We welcome your ideas and opportunities to partner with you in this most important effort. And we invite you to reach out to us at any time if we can help you.

We wish you, your family, your community – and the community at large – peace and justice for all.

Kathryn E. Szmuszkovicz
Managing Principal

Benjamin F. Wilson