APALA-NJ Press Releases

Apala-NJ’s Statement on George Floyd and the Fight Against the Criminalization of the Black Community

May 30, 2020 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APALA-NJ ISSUES POWERFUL ANTI-RACISM STATEMENT

Condemns Killing of George Floyd and Criminalization of Black Community

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, May 30 – Today the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey issued a powerful statement condemning the killing of George Floyd and the treatment of the Black Community by the criminal justice system. The organization called for increased review of discriminatory practices by law enforcement agencies that infer racial bias, stating that, “we must fundamentally change our broken system.”

The full text of the statement reads:

APALA-NJ’S STATEMENT ON GEORGE FLOYD AND THE FIGHT AGAINST THE CRIMINALIZATION OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY

Many of us simply want things to go back to “normal” as a global pandemic and economic crisis looms and upsets everything we know. We cannot go back to “business as usual” without systemic changes in our criminal justice system, workplaces, homes, schools and recreational spaces. For many Americans “normal” means being explicitly or implicitly targeted, based on the color of your skin and on account of your race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or ability– whether it be wearing a facemask in public, shopping at Walmart, jogging in your neighborhood, bird watching in the park, or being placed under arrest. Normal should not and cannot be a handcuffed, unarmed black man dying face down on the street under the knee of a police officer. In America. In 2020.

This is a systematic failure to protect black lives.

The Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey (APALA-NJ) stands in solidarity with George Floyd, his family, the black community, and all those fighting to end racism and hate. We cannot and will not remain silent and ostensibly complicit in police brutality against black and brown lives. As lawyers, we learn about the importance of criminal procedure, due process, and probable cause.  In order for there to be systemic change, we must not only call on the legislature or the highest court of the land, but also within our own communities.

We cannot simply condemn such obvious injustices, but must do more. As Angela Davis said, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.” We must have honest discourse with people of all races and ethnicities. We must ask ourselves in public and in private "what have I done to help end racism?" And it is time for all of us to have an answer other than "nothing." Although Black and Asian solidarity is deeply rooted in American history, it often goes unnoticed. APALA-NJ is not a monolithic group. Even within our executive board, we have an officer who is Latina and a director who is a mother of a black daughter. What happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson, and Christian Cooper not only can happen to our friends and colleagues but also our own families. 

APALA-NJ joins in the fight to stop the criminalization and commodification of black bodies.  APALA-NJ further joins those calling for a systemic reform on the use of deadly force by law enforcement agencies, and increased review of discriminatory practices that infer racial bias. We must fundamentally change our broken system.

APALA-NJ holds this truth to be self-evident that all persons are created equal. We pledge ourselves with a renewed sense of urgency to work alongside our friends and colleagues in other affinity bar associations, in the New Jersey State Bar Association, to make that truth reality.

APALA-NJ, founded in 1985 and incorporated in 1993, is the largest specialty bar association that collectively represents the interests of Asian Pacific American lawyers in the State of New Jersey.

Please click here to view or print a PDF version of this press release.