Lawyers lie down in the rain to protest killings by police

Lawyers, law students and others lie on the ground in the rain outside an L.A. courthouse to protest the handling of killings by police.
(Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

Amid calls for justice and chants of “black lives matter,” more than 100 lawyers, law students and others staged a “die-in” outside a downtown Los Angeles courthouse Tuesday, arguing that the legal system in which they operate is broken.

The group blocked a lane of traffic and clogged the walkway leading to the Hill Street entrance of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, making it virtually impossible for passing motorists and court visitors to ignore their message.

“The issue of police brutality is not about any single officer or victim, nor is it about good people versus bad people,” Priscilla Ocen, a law professor, declared over a bullhorn. “The number of unjustified homicides is a result of an entire system left too long without the leigitimate checks necessary to ensure accountability and justice.”


Tuesday’s “die-in” marked the second day in a row that a group of white-collar professionals has demonstrated in support of calls for increased police accountability following the deaths of unarmed black men.

“As legal actors, we are sworn to uphold and enforce the law, so we have a responsibility to condemn the racist criminal justice system of which we are a part,” Ocen said. “Today we must challenge this structure and take a stand against it.”

When about 10 demonstrators lay in a lane of traffic; a Los Angeles police car moved to blocked the lane behind them. Courthouse deputies snapped photos of the attorneys lying on the wet courthouse steps and described the scene to commanders.

After about 30 minutes of chanting and lying in the street, the protest was over.

The group said it scheduled the “die-in” for about 15 1/2 minutes – to mark the 11 times Eric Garner said “I can’t breathe” to New York police and the 4 1/2 hours Michael Brown’s body lay on a road in Ferguson, Mo., after he was fatally shot.

On Monday, about 50 African American men in suits gathered on the front steps of the federal courthouse in downtown L.A. and held a silent vigil for those who have died in police confrontations. At about the same time in Oakland, protesters chained themselves to the city Police Department’s headquarters.


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