Joint Statement from Federal Defenders on the Killing of George Floyd

The moral arc of the universe, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, bends towards justice. And yet, we all saw that arc snap again under a police officer’s white knee on George Floyd’s Black neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. That knee has been placed on too many Black necks before and too often without repercussions.

This time must be different. While we can kneel in solidarity with Mr. Floyd, we also must stand up and demand that racism, overt and implicit, be acknowledged and confronted.

As federal public and community defenders, we represent the overwhelming majority of those charged with crimes in federal court, most of whom are minorities, of all colors and orientations. We have witnessed “wars” on drugs and crime become dog whistles for hate and racism. Intentions to make communities safe are hijacked by other insidious agendas. The war on crime is a new Jim Crow that permeates our criminal justice system. Daily, we see charges that are too harsh, sentences that are too long, and a system that turns a blind eye to oppressive structural racism because it seems to fear “too much justice.”

George Floyd died face down, gasping and begging to breathe. It is ell beyond time for us all to say, ” Enough.”

We are better than this; we can be just and empathetic. We can do what is right and what is moral. We can keep communities safe by holding out our hand to help, aware of our own failings and biases.

And in this crucible of anger, we take a breath, and begin to repair the moral arc and bend it back towards justice.

As federal defenders, we stand with many like George Floyd who have been held down and denied their humanity. It is our job, our calling. It is our privilege. For George Floyd and all of our clients, we renew our longstanding commitment to fight daily for equal justice.

Christine Freeman
Executive Director
Middle District of Alabama

Kevin Butler
Federal Public Defender
Northern District of Alabama

Carlos Williams
Executive Director
Southern District of Alabama

Jamie McGrady
Federal Public Defender
District of Alaska

Jon M. Sands
Federal Public Defender
District of Arizona

Lisa Peters
Federal Public Defender
Eastern District of Arkansas

Bruce Eddy
Federal Public Defender
Western District of Arkansas

Amy Karlin
Interim Federal Public Defender
Central District of California

Heather E. Williams
Federal Public Defender
Eastern District of California

Steven G. Kalar
Federal Public Defender
Northern District of California

Kathryn Nester
Executive Director
Southern District of California

Virginia Grady
Federal Public Defender
Districts of Colorado & Wyoming

Terence S. Ward
Federal Public Defender
District of Connecticut

Edson Bostic
Federal Public Defender
District of Delaware

A.J. Kramer
Federal Public Defender
District of Columbia

Randolph P. Murrell
Federal Public Defender
Northern District of Florida

Michael Caruso
Federal Public Defender
Southern District of Florida

Christina Hunt
Executive Director
Middle District of Georgia

Stephanie Kearns
Executive Director
Northern District of Georgia

John Gorman
Federal Public Defender
District of Guam

Peter Wolff
Federal Public Defender
District of Hawaii

Samuel Richard Rubin
Executive Director
District of ldaho

Thomas W. Patton
Federal Public Defender
Central District of Illinois

John Murphy
Executive Director
Northern District of Illinois

Stephen R. Welby
Federal Public Defender
Southern District of Illinois

Brad Hansen
Acting Federal Public Defender
Districts of Northern & Southern Iowa

Monica Foster
Executive Director
Southern District of Indiana

Scott Wendelsdorf
Executive Director
Western District of Kentucky

Melody Brannon
Federal Public Defender
District of Kansas

Rebecca Hudsmith
Federal Public Defender
Western District of Louisiana

Claude Kelly
Federal Public Defender
Eastern District of Louisiana

James Wyda
Federal Public Defender
District of Maryland

David Beneman
Federal Public Defender
District of Maine

Miriam Conrad
Federal Public Defender
Districts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire & RI

Katherian Roe
Federal Public Defender
District of Minnesota

Sharon Turek
Federal Public Defender
Western District of Michigan

Lee Lawless
Federal Public Defender
Eastern District of Missouri

Anthony Gallagher
Executive Director
District of Montana

Omodare Jupiter
Federal Public Defender
Northern & Southern Districts of Mississippi

Rene L. Valladares
Federal Public Defender
District of Nevada

Madeline Cardarella
Federal Public Defender
Western District of Missouri

Stephen P. McCue
Federal Public Defender
District of New Mexico

David Stickman
Federal Public Defender
District of Nebraska

David Patton
Executive Director
Southern & Eastern Districts of New York

Richard Coughlin
Federal Public Defender
District of New Jersey

G. Alan DuBois
Federal Public Defender
Eastern District of North Carolina

Lisa Bellew-Peebles
Federal Public Defender
Northern District of New York

Stephen C. Newman
Federal Public Defender
Northern District of Ohio

Marianne Mariano
Federal Public Defender
Western District of New York

Julia L. O’Connell
Federal Public Defender
Northern District of Oklahoma

Louis Allen
Federal Public Defender
Middle District of North Carolina

Lisa Hay
Federal Public Defender
District of Oregon

Anthony Martinez
Federal Public Defender
Western District of North Carolina

Heidi Freese
Federal Public Defender
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Deborah Williams
Federal Public Defender
Southern District of Ohio

Eric Vos
Federal Public Defender
District of Puerto Rico

Susan Otto
Federal Public Defender
Western District of Oklahoma

Lisa Freeland
Federal Public Defender
Western District of Pennsylvania

Leigh Skipper
Executive Director
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Elizabeth Ford
Executive Director
Eastern District of Tennessee

Parks Small
Federal Public Defender
District of South Carolina

Doris Randle-Holt
Federal Public Defender
Western District of Tennessee

Jason Tupman
Federal Public Defender
Districts of North & South Dakota

Jason Hawkins
Federal Public Defender
Northern District of Texas

Henry Martin
Federal Public Defender
Middle District of Tennessee

Maureen Franco
Federal Public Defender
Western District of Texas

G. Patrick Black
Federal Public Defender
Eastern District of Texas

Michael L. Desautels
Federal Public Defender
District of Vermont

Marjorie A. Meyers
Federal Public Defender
Southern District of Texas

Geremy Kamens
Federal Public Defender
Eastern District of Virginia

Scott Wilson
Federal Public Defender
District of Utah

Andrea K. George
Executive Director
Eastern District of Washington

Matthew Campbell
Federal Public Defender
District of Virgin Islands

Brian J. Kornbrath
Federal Public Defender
Northern Di strict of West Virginia

Juval Scott
Federal Public Defender
Western District of Virginia

Craig Albee
Executive Director
Eastern District of Wisconsin

Michael Filipovic
Federal Public Defender
Western District of Washington