Lambda Legal Responds to Tragedy in Baltimore

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April 29, 2015

This statement was co-authored by Jael Humphrey, Staff Attorney, and Beverly Tillery, Deputy Director of Education & Public Affairs for Education, Advocacy & Inclusion.

There was much to celebrate yesterday as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a marriage equality case that could result in a ruling that would remove a key obstacle to legal rights for LGBT individuals and couples. And yet, just up the road in Baltimore, a community is in turmoil after Freddie Gray, a 28-year-old Black man, died in police custody, the latest in the recent string of tragedies to gain widespread public attention. While we are making strides towards legal equality, we are still too often losing when it comes to lived equality; and what’s happening in Baltimore is another result of the criminalization of marginalized communities.

Freddie Gray’s death reminds us that we are miles from an equality that would protect the most vulnerable members of our community from violence and discrimination by the police.  We are saddened and dismayed that we are issuing another statement voicing our concerns about accountability for police violence in this country. While we are not privy to all of the facts that led to the death of Freddie Gray, once again, an unarmed black man lost his life while in the hands of the police. Around the country, we are increasingly aware of similar tragedies and loss of life that have resulted from the deadly combination of racism, police profiling, excessive use of force and a general disregard for the lives of black and brown people.

We mourn Freddie Gray and every victim of police violence by continuing to work for justice – for better policing and fairer laws. As an organization fighting for the rights of LGBT people and people living with HIV, we know that bias and prejudice can lead to injustice and unfair treatment by police, in courts, jails and prisons. We believe that these issues must be addressed in a systemic way and all of us must be active participants in holding law enforcement agencies accountable for ending the assault on the lives of all of our communities that are marginalized and criminalized – whether on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, HIV status, immigration status, or economic status.

Lambda Legal has a long history of standing up against misconduct by police and other government officials and we will continue to work with our sister LGBT organizations and other civil rights organizations to make sure that police are properly protecting and serving all the public, including LGBT people and people living with HIV.

Read the press release.