You may shoot me with your words,

                          You may cut me with your eyes,

                          You may kill me with your hatefulness,

                          But still, like air, I'll rise.


                                                       Maya Angelou      


         This powerful and stirring verse in Maya Angelou's poem Still, I Rise says so much about the ongoing struggle our African American brothers and sisters face today fighting against the systemic racism and prejudice that continues to plague our nation.  Despite the progress in civil rights over the past 45 years with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and judicial decisions aimed at eradicating the vestiges of segregation and Jim Crow, Black Americans remain disproportionately affected by police misconduct and brutality, and overt discrimination which continues to marginalize people of color in all aspects of our society, including in our politics, voting (as evidenced by voter suppression efforts), our economy, and in our  criminal justice system.  


         Several months ago, a pandemic drove us all indoors and away from each other. And, several weeks ago, an old but simmering pandemic, the pandemic of racism and division, drove us all outdoors, onto the streets of our cities, towns and villages, to protest the murder of another unarmed black man at the hands of the police and systemic racism which permeates our police departments and other government institutions. From an increase in anti-Asian sentiment at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the outrageous and unjustified killings of so many unarmed African Americans  just in the past five months, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Javier Ambler, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks by police and white vigilantes, as well as countless other victims killed on the streets of our cities including Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin,  Philandro Castile, Freddie Gray and Tamir Rice, the ugly truth of  racism and prejudice embedded in our culture has risen to prominence. 


            While perhaps it is easier to register our disgust at these unjustified killings by simply offering our "thoughts and prayers" to the victims (as we routinely do after a mass shooting), rather than mobilize hundreds of thousands of people on the streets in largely peaceful protests, NOW is the time to commit ourselves, once and for all, to successfully work towards the goal of dismantling structural racism in America.   


         Black Lives Matter to the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County.

The Legal Aid Society of Nassau County condemns the actions of police who have killed unarmed African Americans and white vigilantes who have murdered  many innocent black men and women, often without consequences.  While mourning these unnecessary killings, we wholeheartedly stand with other public defenders across New York and our nation in support of the  hundreds of thousands of protesters who have taken collective action to fight against racism and demand major changes in policing in America, as well as structural changes in all of our institutions still plagued by insidious prejudice and racism.    


                          Out of the huts of history's shame

                          I rise

                          Up from a past that's rooted in pain

                          I rise

                          I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,

                          Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.


                          Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

                          I rise

                          Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear

                          I rise

                          Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

                          I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

                          I rise

                          I rise

                          I rise.


Let us all rise together and denounce racial disparity, injustice and prejudice which permeates virtually all of our institutions in government, education, policing, criminal justice, health care, and our economy. Let us demand an end to systemic racism and implicit biases that are embedded in every aspect of our society.  Let us reflect upon and remember the words of Barak Obama, who when discussing race relations in America, eloquently stated:


 "But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who

did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways."


This is our time to continue to work with the hundreds of thousands of protesters on our streets, and so many millions of other Americans who support social and racial justice, to make immediate and necessary structural changes, so that our nation may ultimately form a more perfect union free of hate, prejudice and inequality. 


For answers to common questions about what types of legal work we do, please click here.



This site last updated on:

June 17, 2020



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