Photos: Public Defenders March in Newport, Covington for Racial Justice
RCN has updated this story to add clarification to Mrs. Crabbe's comment:
Public defenders in Campbell and Kenton counties marched through Newport and Covington on Monday in support of Black Lives Matter and for racial justice.
The march began in Newport and featured stops at the Campbell County Courthouse there and in Covington at the Kenton County Courthouse. The marchers paused for nearly nine minutes while kneeling in silence, in honor of George Floyd, the man killed by police in Minneapolis after an officer knelt on his neck for that amount of time.
Public defenders around the country are engaging in similar action. In Northern Kentucky, the march followed weekend marches in Fort Mitchell and Erlanger/Elsmere.
"As a public defender, I have clients who are incarcerated for low-level felonies, low-level misdemeanors, and it pains me to see officers murdering people on video," said Sheena Baylon, an organizer of the local march. "Being recorded while people are begging them, begging for the officer to stop. And then those officers get to go home to their families. Those officers aren't immediately incarcerated."
"I think it really speaks to something when we expect less from the people we pay to uphold the law than we do out of everyday citizens. It completely defies the rule of law."
"An ideal goal, I mean we are a small group, but my hope is that people of color see this and that they know they have allies, that they know that we support their cause, that they know that we hear them and we are listening," Baylon said.
"I started to understand other people's circumstances, and how the system really affected them," said Heather Crabbe a participant in the march who was a public defender covering Boone, Grant, Carroll, Gallatin, and Owen counties. "I felt like I didn't always have the tools to effectively help them. A lot of times I could get an acquittal or I could get a case dismissed or a charge reduced, but I still wasn't able to help with a lot of the systemic things that led them to me in the first place."
"I think things have gotten a little better," she continued. "When I started, Boone County had zero social workers - now they have two."
"But we have a long way to go."
"That's the thing about public defenders, they always see the humanity in people, they know that no one started off their life that way, there are circumstances that led to the situation they are in," she said.
"I would like to see accountability for people in power, specifically police officers that violate people's rights. There is no way that a department should be investigating itself."
-Connor Wall, RCN contributor