ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Lawyers from the Rochester area gathered outside the Hall of Justice on Thursday to bring awareness and demand change to the justice system.
Former public defender Danielle Ponder said this isn’t just a national issue. She said the local problem starts with the Rochester Police Department and goes into the district attorney’s office and the court system.
“The only message worth talking about is how is the district attorney’s office going to act differently, how is the Rochester Police Department going to act differently, how are judges going to act differently? That’s the only conversation we should be having,” Ponder said.
Many black lawyers joined in the protest. Duwaine Vascoe was one of them. He said he’s experienced systematic racism in the courtroom.
“It could be anything from the obvious, walking into a courtroom and the judge tells me I’m not sitting in the right place because I’m sitting with the other attorneys. This is not 50 years ago this is four years ago,” said Vascoe.
Ponder said we need more black lawyers like Vascoe in Rochester.
“We need people who can relate to the experiences of our community and I think that that’s why it’s important that black attorneys are here right now, it’s important that they use their voice.”
The protest stayed peaceful, but Ponder said if people believe in racial justice, the looting that happened this past weekend shouldn’t change their minds. More peaceful protests have continued in the region throughout the week and another one is scheduled for Friday.
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