GIP Statement on the Killing of George Floyd
As we work to free Georgia’s wrongfully convicted, we are confronted daily with the implicit and explicit racial biases and racism embedded in our criminal legal system. While Black people account for only 13% of the US population, they account for about 40% of the nation’s prison population and more than half of all exonerations since 1989. Our clients, who are most often Black men, were denied the presumption of innocence and were instead wrongfully assumed to be guilty and dangerous because of their skin color. Then, they were subjected to all-white juries to ensure their convictions. Still, we are grateful that they at least have their lives.
That unfortunately is not the case for George Floyd, whose senseless death bears a painful resemblance to the deaths of Eric Garner and Freddie Gray at the hands of police. And it comes on the heels of Ahmaud Arbery’s death, stalked and gunned down in his own neighborhood like Trayvon Martin, as well as Breonna Taylor, whose shooting death during a botched police raid in her own home is all too similar to the killing of Atatiana Jefferson.
While it feels like there’s a constant barrage of bad news competing for our attention, what’s happening in Minneapolis and its reverberation across the nation is impossible to ignore. Nor can we ignore the continued failures of law enforcement to protect and serve Black people. We must all recognize the pervasive and insidious connection between our nation’s legacy of 400 years of anti-Black violence and white supremacy to modern-day systems of excessive policing and mass incarceration that dehumanize, hypercriminalize, cage, and disenfranchise Black people en masse. We at the Georgia Innocence Project stand with communities in Minnesota and nationwide in demanding that the racism and racial bias underlying our criminal legal system be exposed and dismantled so that George Floyd’s death, and too many others, will not be in vain. As we work to address it in our work, we implore our supporters to further reflect upon and continue discussing not only the many different ways that racism and racial bias inform our criminal legal system, but to envision what that system would look like were the systemic racism eliminated.