Norristown, PA – On Monday, May 25, 2020, video footage circulated of the senseless and unspeakable killing of George Floyd in an incident involving Minneapolis police officers. Since that time, protests and demonstrations expressing outrage and demanding equal treatment for all have materialized throughout the country, with some regrettably culminating in further harm to people and property. The level of frustration that led to these demonstrations is clear, and although we do not condone the actions of those who engage in criminal acts of destruction and violence, we nonetheless must acknowledge and confront the level of divisiveness within our communities that these events have laid bare.
I write today to declare and affirm that Montgomery Bar Association joins in the grief and anger over the fact and manner of Mr. Floyd's death and stands with the countless leaders across our nation, including lawyers, business people, police chiefs and others, who are denouncing acts of racial injustice and brutality against any person, as well as acknowledging the systemic challenges and biases experienced by many in our local communities.
Throughout history, lawyers have been the agents of vast social change through lawful activism, legislation and litigation and have routinely championed meaningful reforms in an effort to bring about systemic change. While the answers to racial injustice are complex and multi-faceted, Montgomery Bar Association can, and surely should, take proactive efforts to serve as leaders and support opportunities for education and empowerment related to the administration of justice, the impact of the justice system on citizens, and a critical examination of how we can strengthen, and in some cases, rebuild trust and faith in the rule of law and our legal institutions.
Montgomery Bar Association has an incredibly active Diversity Committee dedicated to a myriad of issues relating to diversity and inclusion, but we are now more committed than ever to facilitating significant and challenging discussions on how we as an association can drive solutions. In that regard, our Diversity Committee has already laid the groundwork to foster a discussion that thoughtfully examines the intersection of racism and the law. This timely discussion will be led by Representative Joanna McClinton, Chair of the Democratic Caucus in Pennsylvania (the first African American woman to be elected to this position), who the Honorable Cheryl Austin has described as “truly impressive” and “perfect for this event.” This event, which just today was approved for CLE credit and is free to members, will be held next Tuesday morning, June 9th, at 10:00 AM. I invite and encourage you to register for this special event at the following link:
The challenges and sadness felt around the country, already exacerbated by a global pandemic, feel overwhelming and the events of this past week have been simply heartbreaking to so many of us. Montgomery Bar Association can play a role in mending this heartbreak, however, and we can do that by continuing to listen, learn, and foster dialogue; by supporting all civil, peaceful and lawful means to promote change; and by facilitating access to justice for all.
Patrick J. Kurtas, Esquire
President, Montgomery Bar Association