As a personal injury lawyer, I often hear stories of injuries and loss of life caused by the negligence of others that are difficult to hear. These conversations have to be handled with empathy and compassion. As a black lawyer, the anger, frustration and sadness I feel as it relates to the loss of life because of flaws in our criminal justice system that disproportionately impact black people is indescribable. As an instructor at the local police academy, I have been given the responsibility of educating new recruits about the rights of all Americans and the rules in place intended to ensure that they are not permitted to abuse the authority given to them. The situation that unfolded in Dallas, Texas, during a peaceful protest causing the loss of blue lives is heart wrenching. The courage of the police in our community that have sworn to protect and serve and have lost their lives cannot go unnoticed. But it should also not serve as a distraction to a long standing history of injustice to people of color. This senseless loss of life requires inflection.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Martin Luther King, Jr. said. Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Dekea Boyd, Corey Jones and countless others have died as a result of the American criminal justice system that no doubt often unjustly confronts and punishes black people. As we wake to the senseless killing of five law enforcement officers and we learn the names of those killed in the line of duty as they worked to protect those exercising their First Amendment right to peaceful assembly, it is evident that our community and the police have to join forces. Sadly, today many families and individuals have lost lives or been injured in Dallas. In my opinion, something needs to change. We need to re-examine our criminal justice system for the benefit of America. Our laws were intended to protect all of us citizens, all Americans, irrespective of race, creed or color.
Nicole Hunt Jackson focuses her practice on wrongful death, personal injury, motor vehicle cases and related matters. She also advocates for children in our community that need a voice in our justice system through volunteer work and in handling private adoption cases. She is also an adjunct professor for Palm Beach State College providing legal training to police officers.