Public defenders across country protest police brutality

Public defenders across the country are standing in solidarity on Monday to protest police brutality.

In Oakland, specifically, black public defender employees from Alameda County will talk about what they’ve seen and experienced on the job.

And former clients and inmates and community members will also discuss being impacted by what they describe as the "criminal punishment bureaucracy."

The California public defenders will also call for action, including supporting the end of money bail in California by voting “yes” on the November referendum and supporting state Assembly Bill 3070, which would forbid the use of peremptory challenges based on race in jury selection.

“In 1968, the Black Panthers protested on these very same steps and their 10-point plan demanded an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people,”  Alameda County Chief Public Defender Brendon Woods said of the steps of the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland. “Over 50 years later, it is a damn shame that we are here to make those same demands. We support the actions of the protesters and demand an end to state-sanctioned police violence against Black people. We have had enough.”

Appointed by the Board of Supervisors in 2012, Woods is the first Black chief public defender of Alameda County and is currently the only black chief public defender in California.

Similar scenes will be replicated in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Atlanta and in Salt Lake City and elsewhere across the country. 

In San Francisco, public defenders will also lie down or take a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds - to commemorate the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck, killing him.

As a complement to what the public defenders are doing, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley announced on Monday the creation a "Fair and Equitable Policing and Prosecution Advisory Council."

The council will include members from the Alameda County community, particularly from the African American community, as well as selected members from her office and other governmental entities.

"We are often adversaries to the public defenders in the courtroom, but not on this issue and not in this moment," she said. "We support, honor and stand in solidarity with our colleagues in the Public Defender’s Office, as well as our community, calling out police brutality, racial profiling, social inequalities and systematic inequities committed against African Americans in our community and communities across this country."