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The past few weeks have been particularly turbulent in Buffalo and around the country. That’s why we are especially proud to see many members of Buffalo’s legal community showing up to amplify the need for change. 

Last week, Shawn Carey of The Carey Firm organized Walk For Justice. At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10, lawyers, court staff, and legal staff held a silent walk in downtown Buffalo, “in quiet reflection of the legacy of George Floyd and the countless others who have been denied justice for so long and far too long.” 

Buffalo civil rights walk

Carey, along with local attorneys Jennifer Fay, Kevin Habberfield, and Chris O’Brien, got the word out through video conferencing and email blasts to their local legal organizations. What started as just a plaintiffs’ personal injury group extended to include defense lawyers as well, meaning professionals on both sides of the courtroom walked together on Wednesday to send the same message. “There’s clearly a great unity of thought on this issue, which is great to see,” Carey told WIVB News 4 Buffalo.

In addition, the Buffalo chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) voiced the need for change in what the members called “a broken system” in the city. The NLG is a national group of legal professionals who are committed to the principles that human rights should be valued over property rights. The Buffalo chapter’s letter called on Mayor Byron Brown as well as Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood and the Buffalo Common Council to take action against systemic racism and police brutality. Among many important requests, the letter called for acknowledgement of the Buffalo PD’s unjustified force against citizens, anti-racism and de-escalation within police training, direction and executive action against excessive use of force by the police, and more.

“The legal community helped shape the current predicament we are in, especially when it comes to policing in America,” said Sam Dolce-Powers Esq., associate at Milestone and a member of the NLG’s Buffalo chapter. “We are a white dominated, male dominated profession. Many attorneys have built their careers and livelihoods at the expense of communities of color. At the same time, the legal community is always present when there is a cultural shift, a political change, and progress. Attorneys must continue to recreate our governmental and legal systems to protect all Americans. It is our ethical and moral duty.”

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