The American Lawyer Quotes B&D Chairman Ben Wilson in Story on Black Law Leaders’ Reactions to Racial Injustice
On June 3, 2020, in an article titled "'It Could Have Been Me': Black Attorneys Reflect on George Floyd's Death and What Comes Next," The American Lawyer quoted Beveridge & Diamond's Chairman, Ben Wilson (Washington, DC). Seven black attorneys—including Ben—from cities and firms across the U.S. recounted their reactions to George Floyd’s death and the resulting days of protests. The story explores the perspectives of black lawyers not only regarding Floyd's death, but also their experiences as lawyers, firm leaders, and family members, as well as their thoughts on where we go from here.
Ben described not only pain for Floyd, but also "for black people who recently met similar fates: Breonna Taylor, whom the police shot dead in her Louisville home, New York’s Eric Garner, whose cries of 'I can’t breathe' were echoed by Floyd and, now, demonstrators across the country."
“To me, it’s overwhelming; I thought about this as someone’s son, someone’s brother, and he’s not going home tonight,” Wilson said. "You fear for your children and grandchildren. We fear that this could have been our child, our brother. In the case of Breonna Taylor, our sister, or mother. It is a very heavy burden that I don’t feel anybody can quite measure.”
He noted the historic significance of this moment in a timeline including other "black Americans whose names have been echoed by protesters and civil rights leaders for decades. Names such as Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy lynched in Mississippi, and Jimmie Lee Jackson, a deacon and civil rights activist who was killed by the Alabama State Police." And he highlighted author William Faulkner's quote, “The past is not dead. In fact, the past is not even past.”
Other attorneys interviewed for the piece include Angela Crawford, co-founder of boutique firm Crawford & Acharya; Robert Simpson, partner at Carlton Fields; Jon Harmon, chairman of McGuireWoods; Jason Murray, partner at K&L Gates; Sozi Tulante, partner at Dechert; and Christopher Taylor, a New Jersey-based attorney.
In closing Ben said:
“If there are not changes to our criminal justice system, he will have died in vain,” Wilson said. “We must have change, not promises of change. We must have action; we must have it now. They [people] will not respect the rule of law, if they find it unjust, if they find it not to be fair.”
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