A group of CJP students authored a statement in response to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and protests around the country:
We, student-attorneys with Georgetown Law’s Community Justice Project (CJP), write to recognize and join the national dialogue surrounding continuing failures of the U.S. criminal justice system. This conversation was reignited by the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner--young, unarmed black men killed by police officers who faced no liability for their actions. These events highlight the criminal justice system’s well-established propensity to devalue the lives of people of color and afford police officers an increasing and unprecedented level of autonomy and legal immunity. We at CJP stand in resolute solidarity with the victims of police brutality and their families--as well as legal professionals and political activists across the country--to advocate for change to our public institutions and to craft a system that ensures justice for all.
With increased police autonomy and weakened legal protections, our nation has become increasingly polarized so that security and peace is only a reality for a segment of our country’s population. For far too many, the legal system is a looming threat to the physical, economic, and social security of individuals and communities. The losses of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other minority victims of police brutality make clear that this threat is real and present. This state of affairs is abhorrent. As future professionals and experts, we are uniquely poised to recognize, confront, and combat this problem; we cannot refuse to act without becoming implicated in the continued devaluation of the lives of people of color.
True reform does not begin or end with the simple indictment of reckless police officers or the eradication of stop and frisk; it begins with a change in the mindset of individuals and is an ongoing process. We as legal practitioners and civil servants must recognize our participation in society’s unequal legal systems. We must learn to integrate our passions and convictions into our daily practice. No matter how zealous our advocacy for individual clients, we must be ever-mindful that being true champions for justice requires ensuring that the system as a whole reflects the principles and values our society aspires to embody, for “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
The Community Justice Project is a clinic at Georgetown Law where students represent individual clients and act as advocates for community, non-profit, educational, faith-based and other organizations and groups.
Each spring we accept requests from community, non-profit, educational, faith-based, and other organizations and groups for projects to be completed in the upcoming academic year. As we take referrals directly from the court, we do not directly accept individual direct representation clients.
Our students serve as advocates, consultants, advisors, capacity-builders, strategic planners, policy analysts and community organizers to help clients tackle complex, high priority projects.
The Community Justice Project teaches students about the commitment that will sustain and energize them as advocates, the tactics that can produce success in particular cases, and the strategies that look to long-term (perhaps very long-term) success and participation in a protracted struggle for justice.