Pennsylvania Bar Association Issues Statement on Recent Injustices Against People of Color

Harrisburg (June 2, 2020) – The following statement was issued today by Pennsylvania Bar Association President David E. Schwager:

“As lawyers, we concern ourselves with the importance of the rule of law. Inside the courtroom and out. In our business dealings and in our personal lives.

All people – all people – should be able to depend upon the rule of law to protect them at all levels of the justice system. No one is above the law and no one is below the protection of the law. Without adherence to the rule of law, our country, our communities and our citizens suffer.

Sadly, the death of George Floyd is only the most recent example of a failure by some to adhere to the rule of law when dealing with men and women of color. Mr. Floyd’s needless death on the heels of far too many other similar examples demonstrates that all of us must remember that the rule of law must be fairly applied to everyone regardless of race, religion or any other characteristic. We must adhere to our nation’s foundational principles – that all of us are created equal, and that all of us are endowed with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Our American democracy also supports the right of all people to assemble and express their views. Protests and demonstrations expressing outrage and demanding equal treatment for all are understandable and laudable. However, as officers of the court, we can never condone harm to people or to property for whatever reason. Therefore, we are saddened for the Pennsylvania cities and towns and those across the country that have experienced violence and destruction. Although the level of frustration that led to these demonstrations is clear, we do not condone the actions of those who engage in criminal acts of destruction and violence.

The Pennsylvania Bar Association joins with other lawyer groups across Pennsylvania and around the country in demanding that brutal incidents like those that took place recently in Minneapolis never be allowed to occur and that all citizens of our commonwealth and our nation stop the violent acts that have occurred. Justice should be the legacy of Mr. Floyd’s death, not looting, violence and destruction.

We pledge to participate in the restoration of trust that must come after these terrible events and to support the actions of others working toward the goals of fair and equal application of the rule of law, equal access to justice, and equal administration of public safety for all people.”

Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access of legal services; and serve the lawyer members of the state’s largest organized bar association.