Dear Partners and Supporters,

The murder of George Floyd was unconscionable. So were the murders of Breonna Taylor, of Tony McDade, of Ahmaud Arbery, of Trayvon Martin, of Sandra Bland, of Philando Castile, of Kalief Browder, of Eric Garner and of Malice Green. So were the murders of thousands upon thousands of others whose names we cannot say because we do not know them. Each of these murders is part of a lineage dating back to the founding of a republic built upon the extraction, exploitation, and slaughter of Black and Brown people.

There was footage of much of Capitol Hill on fire this week. There was footage of much of America on fire. There is far too frequently footage of Black and Brown people being murdered at the state’s hands. This brazen, racist murder, and the impunity with which it happens, is meant to grind us down and beat us into submission.

That is what makes this moment so remarkable. The people under the thumb of this brutality are not numb to oppression, are not beaten into submission – they feel it acutely. And they are standing up in the face of continuing police brutality in order to create a genuinely equitable way of life and demand a liberatory path forward.

We know we live in a country where racism is endemic to every system of life. That informs our mission at NDS: literally every program we run is designed to confront and fight systemic inequality. From immigration to healthcare to the criminal legal system to family court to education to employment to housing, we battle systems infused with racism.

The pace of the work is relentless and takes a toll on all of us. Yet we continue to engage passionately in the mission to secure our clients’ rights and ease their pain in the midst of a million daily indignities, violence, and even death. Indignities, violence, and death that they have endured for centuries.

The trauma these systems inflict informs how we, our clients, and our partners experience this moment. For us, these protests are a manifestation of the anger and pain we, our clients and our communities have been feeling for hundreds of years. Our criminal legal system did not become unjust last Monday with the murder of George Floyd. Black and Brown Americans do not enjoy the same benefit of the doubt as the rest of the country. For many of us, any interaction with law enforcement can quickly become a matter of life and death. It is no surprise that America is on fire. This is unsuppressed Black rage that is finding voice on our streets.

NDS will continue its work and unwavering commitment to our clients, their families and communities. These are frightening and challenging and heartrending times. I am blessed, however, to be in the company of such staunch allies and supporters, and surrounded by a truly heroic staff. In the midst of such tragedy, I look forward to building a more just world, in concert with each of you.


Rick Jones
Executive Director
Neighborhood Defender Service