When the law has not belonged to all of us

Open Door Legal’s statement on the murder of George Floyd

Photo by Arielle Tannin

Our organization’s vision is a simple one: the law belongs to all of us. That conviction is at the core of what we do. We believe that everyone should be equally protected under the law. However, as we have seen yet again in the past weeks, that is not the reality of our country.

The law was not there to protect George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many of our Black neighbors and friends. It needs to be said over and over again that Black Lives Matter, especially in light of how violently Black lives are being snuffed out by those supposedly tasked with their protection.

In our line of work, we consistently witness racial bias by law enforcement. We have Black clients who are victims of domestic violence whose complaints are ignored by the police; Black clients who have had property seized or destroyed by the police for no reason whatsoever; Black clients who live in uninhabitable and dangerous housing in constant fear for their safety, yet are terrified of calling the police, and so much more.

These murders are not isolated incidents. This is part of a pattern and history of racism that works to deny freedom and dignity to people of color. At Open Door Legal we are doing our part to protect the rights of Black people in San Francisco, but what is also clear is that policing in this country needs to change.

We are angry and fully support the community’s right to be angry. We stand unequivocally behind the Black community of San Francisco and are here to address any legal needs that our clients may have regarding police misconduct.

We also know that as an organization there is always more we can do to support the Black community and help fight white supremacy. We would love to hear any thoughts or feedback on how we can improve, and how we as a staff can be the best allies to our clients that we can be. If you are interested, you can submit a comment on this anonymous form with any thoughts or feedback you may have for us.

To all of our clients, and the entire Bayview, Excelsior, and Fillmore Black communities: we are here for you. Whether that is helping you navigate an issue with police, talking through the difficulty of the past weeks, or helping you navigate resources you can use, please feel free to reach out to us.

Now is not the time to stay silent — if you haven’t already, we encourage you to get educated and educate others about the history of police brutality and systemic racism in our country and do what you can to fight it.

In times like this, we will work to double down on our mission of eliminating preventable injustice. And we will continue to work until our vision — that the law truly does belong to all of us — becomes a reality.

Below are some helpful resources that are primarily focused on the Bay Area community:

Organization fighting police brutality in the Bay Area: http://www.antipoliceterrorproject.org/

Faith-based racial justice group: https://www.faithinaction.org/our-work/we-stand-in-rebellion/

Bay Area bail fund for protestors: https://rally.org/ARCbailfund

National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Chapter: Lawyers who represent activists, organizers, and social movements: https://nlgsf.ourpowerbase.net/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=3

Bay Area Black-owned restaurants to support: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/1/d/1mTthE5lwqVnTCIm3iQtQXLyxwK-pc17cuCp--BhAYX8/htmlview?pru=AAABcpWeVjg*RpLZobc8cNOj3opWL0COqg

COVID Aid for Bayview: https://www.gofundme.com/f/aid-for-the-bayview-covid19

Learn more about your local police department: https://policescorecard.org/

Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition: https://www.facebook.com/justice4mariowoodscoalition/

Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community — Justice 4 Mario Woods: https://www.facebook.com/Wealth-and-Disparities-in-the-Black-Community-Justice-4-Mario-Woods-1597022747260594/

Justice 4 Luis Demetrio Góngora Pat: https://www.facebook.com/groups/230409604013458/

Rest in Power Alex Nieto: https://www.facebook.com/groups/721427181211650/

We are a San Francisco-based non-profit pioneering the country’s first system of universal access to legal help. Learn more about our work at opendoorlegal.org