The stark images from the video of George Floyd’s death led to the most significant collective demonstration of civil unrest in generations. This event was a tipping point, the latest in a series of police and community violence against people of color, most especially Black and African Americans. This Center was created to acknowledge past inaction and take concrete steps toward addressing systemic inequalities.
We cannot ignore that America’s foundation is rooted in slavery, an institution that persisted for more than 200 years. That legacy did not end in 1865 with abolition. We note our country’s troubled past and present with lynchings, Jim Crow laws, mass incarceration, voter suppression, economic redlining, zoning laws, and lending and hiring practices that created concentrations of poverty, unequal education, inadequate health care, and disproportionate rates of unemployment in the Black community. Justice in this country has not been blind or equal. While we acknowledge some progress, we recognize that the legacy of slavery persists to this day in both overt acts of discrimination and in more subtle and pernicious attitudes, behaviors, and laws.
Get Involved: Contact The AFSCRE
The Center has embraced a thematic approach to the Firm’s substantial pro bono commitment, devoting thousands of hours by 98 lawyers on projects that specifically further the goals of racial justice and equity. Among our accomplishments, we highlight our Partnership with Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center and Affiliations with NAACP LDF and LCCUL:
- We supported the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University in drafting legislation to introduce in Congress. The legislation would create a fund to provide behavioral health support to people who have been victims of police violence. We are working with Congresswoman Cori Bush to advocate on the Hill and get the Bill introduced and passed into law.
Texas Voting Rights
- We represent NAACP LDF in a challenge to voting laws passed by the Texas legislature after the 2020 election. The LDF believes the laws restrict access to voting, will disproportionately impact minority voters, and is unconstitutional.
- We researched and provided responses to a request for information from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The request issued by OSTP focuses on the public and private sector uses of biometric technologies. Biometric, artificial intelligence, and other similar technologies, including facial recognition technology have been continuously shown to have racial bias. This raises concerns about disparate impacts on communities of color, such as through racial profiling, mass surveillance, and its misuse by law enforcement. The comment to the OSTP will focus on Title VI and how it applies to these technologies.
Center for American Progress
- We were engaged to provide advice relating to the laws of a variety of states relating to the process for the certification of elections, remedies for failing to properly do so and other matters relating to free and fair elections.
Chicago Police Monitorship
- Maggie Hickey was appointed as the Independent Monitor after the US Attorney General launched a civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) policing practices, where the US Department of Justice (DOJ) found a longstanding, pervasive “pattern or practice” of civil rights abuses by the CPD. The Office of the Illinois Attorney General sued the City of Chicago to address the DOJ’s findings and negotiated a Consent Decree with the City of Chicago. The Independent Monitoring Team is required to regularly assess and report on the City of Chicago’s and the CPD’s progress on the reform efforts. Maggie’s team issued its fifth semi-annual monitoring report on April 11, finding the CPD to be in at least the first of three stages of compliance with over 70% paragraphs with requirements in the Consent Decree.
“As a law firm, we have a central role to play in the process of reconciliation. As lawyers, we have a special responsibility to promote values of justice, fairness, and equality in the law and in practice. ArentFox Schiff has the resources, talent, and prominence to effect change and bring about meaningful reform.”
– Mark M. Katz, Of Counsel
“ArentFox Schiff was founded in part because of lawyers who experienced a system of prejudice and exclusion, and we have worked to create a welcoming and nurturing environment for lawyers and staff from all backgrounds. With the legacy of the Firm’s founder Al Arent clearly in mind, we acknowledge the urgent need to take action and do more.”
– Cristina A. Carvalho, Firmwide Co-Managing Partner
At Work Supporting and coordinating initiatives to promote equality for Black people and other people of color at the Firm and in the legal community.
In the Law Initiating and supporting pro bono activities to promote racial justice in all of our communities.
Through Education Sponsoring workshops and educational sessions to advance the Mission.
In Policy Advocating for legislative reform.
In Communities Strengthening our partnerships with existing organizations that are dedicated to racial justice, ending discrimination, and social reform for members of the Black community and communities of color.