The San Mateo County Bar Association (SMCBA) is appalled by the persistent brutalization and oppression of people of color throughout America. The killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless Black Americans before them provide incontrovertible evidence that we as a country are far from achieving equality for all. As attorneys, we all took an oath to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the State of California, both of which prohibit the deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, as well as the denial of equal protection of the laws. This responsibility was reiterated by our very own California Supreme Court on June 11, 2020: “Each of us has a duty to recognize there is much unfinished and essential work that must be done to make equality and inclusion an everyday reality for all.” As attorneys and legal professionals, we are in a unique position to educate, empower and advocate for our communities.
To that end, we established the Race and Social Justice Committee to develop a multifaceted approach to advance justice for all, including:
• Conducting a series of CLEs which will focus on education and specific actions that members of our legal community can take to help dismantle systems of oppression. Topics will include:
- Understanding Implicit and Explicit Bias in legal institutions
- Legal observer training
- Diversity and inclusion in hiring
- Jury selection and racial justice
- Racial discrimination in the Criminal Justice System, Housing, Education, and Healthcare
- Effective anti-racist ally-ship and advocacy
• Educating our communities of color through “Know Your Rights” workshops that include demonstration law, immigration law, housing law, voting rights and the criminal justice system.
• Encouraging our members to support social justice organizations with their time and donations.
We reaffirm our mission to advance the fair and effective administration of justice for all, and will continue actively working to transform that mission into a reality. We support the diversity of humanity and stand together to reject all forms of racism, hatred, and discrimination. We stand with Black Lives Matter to support the movement to end State-sanctioned violence. We are committed to being part of the solution to end systemic racism.