CLG’s August 2020 Statement Against Racism
The events of the past months have brought into focus the racial injustices that still persist in our community and country. Racism, in all its pernicious forms, is contrary to our belief as Catholics in the inherent dignity of all persons. And it is incompatible with the love and mercy at the heart of our faith.
As Catholics, and as attorneys in a city that has struggled for so long with the sins of racism, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye. We have an affirmative obligation to do what we can to bring about a more just and compassionate society. Over the past two months, the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago has been listening carefully to those who have been impacted by racism and reflecting on concrete steps it can take to play its role in the fight against racism. Below are just a few of the steps the Catholic Lawyers Guild is taking:
- First, we are doubling down on our efforts to promote Restorative Justice legislation in Illinois. As many of you know, at the request of Cardinal Cupich, the Catholic Lawyers Guild has been leading the effort to promote Restorative Justice practices in our schools and communities, with a particular focus on communities of color where Restorative Justice practices might have the greatest impact. Effective Restorative Justice practices, however, depend on an open and honest dialogue, and such dialogue can be inhibited by the risk that statements made in a Restorative Justice circle could later be introduced in court. So, the Catholic Lawyers Guild drafted H.B. 4295, legislation that would protect the confidentiality of statements made in Restorative Justice circles. Over the past months, we have been actively working to make this legislation the law, including through our letter to Governor Pritzker. Most recently, Representative Carol Ammons (103rd Dist.), Secretary of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, has become the primary sponsor of H.B. 4295. We hope that you can join us in our effort to support this landmark legislation and invite you to pass on information about H.B. 4295 to Illinois legislators.
- Second, we are hosting discussions to help members of our profession better understand racism in the criminal justice system and the legal profession. We believe that an important step in bringing about real change is to listen and understand. Over the past two months, we have hosted a number of Zoom discussions on topics relating to racism, criminal justice, and Catholicism. In the coming months, we will be hosting additional Zoom events, including an event on “Healing the Wounds of Racism” with the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation and an event on “Racism and Institutional Bias in the Legal Profession.” We hope that these dialogues will help us to deepen our understanding of the different dimensions of racism and its impact on black people in our community. Stay tuned for more information on these events.
- Third, coming out of these discussions, we will be launching an anti-racism initiative that will, among other things, seek to provide support to students of color interested in becoming lawyers. The problem of racism is not one that will be solved today or tomorrow. The Catholic Lawyers Guild is committed to fighting racism in our legal community and criminal justice system. So, we will be launching an anti-racism initiative that will, among other things, seek to provide support to students of color interested in becoming lawyers.
Healing the Wounds of Racism: A Discussion with Members of Chicago’s “Back of the Yards” Community
In August 2020, the CLG and the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR) hosted an important discussion on “Healing the Wounds of Racism.” Over 100 participants tuned in to listen to three extraordinary men – Orlando Mayorga, Fred Weatherspoon, and Adolfo Davis – share their life stories and their encounters with racism and the criminal justice system. Father Dave Kelly, the Director of PBMR, moderated the discussion. The event was a powerful reminder that we all have a role to play in bringing our community together to find healing and reconciliation.
We invite you to watch the event recording below:
Being Explicit About Implicit Bias: Reflections on Racial Justice in the Law and Legal Profession
In January 2021, the Catholic Lawyers Guild hosted a panel discussion on “Being Explicit About Implicit Bias: Reflections on Racial Justice in the Law and Legal Profession.” The panel featured retired Judge Ed Washington, counsel for Nixon Peabody LLP, Judge Ramon Ocasio, a judge on the Circuit Court of Cook County, Tanya D. Woods, the Executive Director of the Westside Justice Center, and Tamiko Russell, a law student at UIC John Marshall Law School. The discussion was moderated by Kevin Murphy, the President of the Catholic Lawyers Guild, and helped shed light on actions we as lawyers can take to ensure a more just and inclusive law and legal profession.
We invite you to watch the event recording below: