Maryland Defenders Union In Support of Black Lives Matter

Baltimore skyline with a sign in the foreground saying "BLM 2 OPD"

As front-line defenders, the attorneys, social workers, and core staff of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender have a front-row seat to racist police violence.

For decades, Maryland defenders have heard stories from our clients about the pervasive, everyday harm of routine police harassment; we have heard stories about shocking instances of acute police violence where our clients have survived; and we have awoken to news that police officers have killed our clients. Now that many police officers across the state of Maryland wear body-worn cameras, we spend hours watching videos of police harassment and violence. These videos reveal the lies contained in the police reports that are used to justify our clients' pre-trial detention without any finding of guilt.

Every defender knows this.

The very nature of public defense is to stand next to a person facing the entire weight of the State in a “justice” system that was built on, by, and for racism. We see the violence inherent in the incarceration of children, the long-term impacts of short-term detention, and the irrevocable impact of long-term sentences on individuals and their families. We see the government’s over-surveillance of families of color, the destruction and over-representation of those families in the foster care system, and the cumulative impact of the brunt of the legal system on entire communities.

Every defender knows this.

Defenders in Maryland have failed to adequately bring this reality to the public’s consciousness, and, through our silence, we are complicit. 

Today, the workers of the Maryland Defenders Union say Black Lives Matter.

As defenders, we have a responsibility to fight for our clients individually and collectively. We will continue to help our clients fight against police brutality and a racist system, and we will actively work to ensure that we, through our actions, are not contributing to that oppression. We will strive to increase transparency around police violence on a systemic level. We will support efforts to permanently reduce police violence. We will listen to the communities that we serve.

We are unequivocal in declaring: Black Lives Matter.