Thanks so much to all of you that have reached out or replied to my description of the “injustice in the courtroom.” It’s been really meaningful to see the way so many have rallied around this young woman. I feel a sense of loss for all the stories like this that happen everyday and don’t get the proper attention. Hopefully that will continue to change. But I certainly am grateful for the way her particular story has been responded to. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people over the last day and half, and here are a few updates that seem worth sharing:
>> A Civil Rights lawyer reached out to me, and we had a great conversation. We collaboratively examined the possibility of filing a Civil Rights violation against the officers and/or bouncers for the clear mistreatment. I’m not sure that is going to make the most sense though. It was actually the bouncers who beat her up, and while that is still a clear violation, it’s different than if the officers would have been the ones to do it. The officers were certainly abusive in their own way, but it would be far tougher to make that case now that she has already been convicted of a jury. We will keep examining the possibility though, and if we find a clear path towards seeking justice on this front we most certainly will.
>> On a more positive note, a former colleague of mine from Willow Creek put me in touch with an apellate lawyer who is willing to represent the defendant pro bono. That is a very exciting possibility, and something we are pursuing with full vigor. The young woman who was so unjustly treated faces a serious impediment to her future goals with the two convictions. She had already been in the process of applying to grad schools to get her Masters in Social Work, and it goes without saying that having two convictions for resisting arrest is a substantially negative credential. It puts up a very real barrier to her being able to pursue the vocational track to which she feels called. The appellate lawyer is in the process of talking to the defendant, as well as communicating with the trial lawyer that represented her up until now. Even with pro bono representation it will be expensive – there will be as much as $6,000 dollars in fees that have to be paid to the court to have all of the transcripts and records developed. But that leads to the next item of good news.
>> I have been so blown away by the generosity that many of you have shown. There are already over a dozen people who have said that they want to financially contribute to her legal costs to appeal, and some have even said they want to help her replenish the money spent for representation up until now. I’m working with the leaders of our church to find the best way to facilitate this. I want to be sure that whatever process we use, that it’s 100% transparent, clear, and accountable, so that donors know that all of it is going to her.
>> I’m still trying to figure out if there is more that can/should be done to bring attention to this case. I’ve had a couple of conversations with friends in the media world, and a couple other conversations with friends in the organizing world. The answer is not clear to me yet, and I’m having a hard time separating my own feelings from it. I am so angry about this whole thing that I could punch a hole in a wall, and I can’t get the image of this assistant prosecuting attorney out of my head. Her accusations are on a loop in my mind, and I only get madder each time I hear her demonizing and villanizing a young woman who did nothing but defend herself. There is a huge part of me that wants to shine a gigantic spotlight on this particular courthouse and prosecuting attorney, but I’m trying to get a sense of whether that’s the right thing to do, and if it is, how to best do it. If you’ve got any strong or helpful thoughts on this particular point, I would love to hear from you.
Thanks again for the way so many of you have responded. There are many points along this journey where it is easy for discouragement to set in. It often feels like the whole world lives with this giant sense of apathy towards God’s cry for justice and reconciliation. But then there are moments like this when you realize how deeply connected many of us are, and it is really encouraging. I’ve been praying and reflecting on the famously simple cry that came from God through the prophet Amos (5.24):
“Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”