‘Justice Is a Decision’

I’ve been speaking and connecting with so many people since Memorial Day, and many of us have the same sadness and anger.

Most of us know about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. But, have we already forgotten about Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and many, many others?

But, I’ve been fortunate to find pockets of hope.

For example, today, I spoke with Harvard Law School’s Professor Ron Sullivan, who was kind enough to spend time with me. I know Ron via some non-profit work we do. I also heard him speak once. It was one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard.

Among his many responsibilities, Ron works to release innocent people from prison. His TED Talk is below. I love his point: “Justice doesn’t happen. People make justice happen…. Justice is a decision.”

His Talk encourages people to take the extra minute to rectify a situation. When someone tells a sexist joke, he says, don’t laugh and instead speak up.

Ron believes taking extra time really works, and he explains the case of Jonathan Fleming:

Fleming…spent 24 years, eight months in jail for a murder that was committed in Brooklyn, New York, while he was in Disney World with his kids. How do we know this? Because when he was arrested, among his property in his back pocket was a receipt — time-stamped receipt that showed that he was in Disney World. That receipt was put in the police file, a copy of it was put in the prosecutor’s file, and they never gave it to his public defender. In fact, nobody even knew it was there. It just sat there for 20-some-odd years. My team looked through the file, and we found it, did the rest of the investigation, and figured out someone else committed the crime.

Given the events of the past few weeks, we all have to make a decision about what we want to do about progressing justice. And, not making a decision is a decision, in my opinion.

Our family has spoken at length about today’s world. We all have heavy hearts. But, we also want to help and have come up with a list. One is to continue supporting Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative (prior posts here and here).

In the grand scheme of things, our list seems so small and ineffective against the enormity of the problems our nation faces. But, it is a start, and we will keep going.

Have you made any decisions?

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