thumbnail of 
     Conference on racism in the law ; no.5 Various aspects of racism in pre-
    and post-courtroom proceedings 
  ; Conference on racism in the law
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Our speaker today who is now the director of California legal Rural Legal Assistance had a drastic change in clientele when he took over his present position. He formally practice corporate law in Los Angeles after he graduated from Harvard in 1954. Mr. James LeBron will speak to us again on some of the further problems of Mexican-Americans. Thank you. I don't know how much I'm going to talk today about Mexican-Americans. I really can't speak for Mexican-Americans because I'm not one myself but I want to talk a little bit about poor people and some of the things we've experienced. There's a treatise on civil rights and civil liberties written by Emerson and Haber which I think is the best treatise in the field and
on the inside cover and the introduction is the statement that civil rights is too important a subject to be left to lawyers. That's what I really want to talk about today. To really consider why civil rights is too important a subject to be left to lawyers there is a story that is told of three men who were on a raft in the middle of the Pacific obviously shipwrecked. They were an engineer a doctor and a lawyer. They sailed for many days. They were near starvation. They finally came upon a deserted island in the middle of nowhere. They got about 100 yards off shore and they noticed that between the raft and the shore were hundreds of fins swimming back and forth in the water. Obviously man eating sharks. They debated for several hours what to do. Finally the lawyer
jumped into the water and started swimming to shore and immediately the Sharks parted. He cut a swath right through the sharks swam all the way to the beach climbed up on the shore and waved back at the people who are still in the raft. The engineer turned to the doctor and said My God that was a great act of courage. The doctor said no just professional courtesy. Not really maybe that's what Emerson and Haber mean because lawyers as lawyers are part of this problem and that means all of us and certainly myself are implicated in this problem. And maybe that's what is meant in part by the Free Huey but maybe that's an indication that
racism is part of our society. It's certainly part of our legal system. I doubt that anyone in in this room would disagree with that. This is not the CO on us club of. Montebello. Most of the people here in this room appear to be part of the movement. The problem that I face as a lawyer is that even if we were able to take the racism out of the society and out of ourselves. And the people in the legal system were fair people and judicious people which they are now not even if we did all of that. We would still have problems. Because the system as such even apart from the people is inherently unfair to poor people. And because poor people are brown and black. The system is therefore inherently unfair to brown people and black people. And let me tell you why I feel that way. First of all we
most of us are lawyers or law students or legal secretaries. Most of us in this room are middle class people with a particular kind of jargon with a particular kind of perception. No matter how committed we may be we are not the people themselves. We may speak for them we may represent them but we do not have their perceptions and until they are able to demand of us more. We will not be able to operate more effectively because without that without a vigilant demanding client or group of clients lawyers all of us can cheat. We can project our goals our priorities what we think is important. What we want done and sooner or later we end up implicitly as the real parties and interests. And that is a very very dangerous thing. A lawyer
like Mr. Gary I suggest to you is an exception. Hes a fluke and if we are galled into thinking that the lawyers in this society are like that we're kidding ourselves. And I doubt in the near future that we are going to have many more lawyers like that. Lawyers can become like that if their clients make them like that. So what we have to be concerned about as well is the legal profession is also the client profession. The people themselves and the people are not well served by the legal process. Even her it is fair. People do not know enough. They do not have the financial resources First of all to get preventive law. The way power is exercised in this society as you know is to plan ahead of time to
take care of as many possibilities as you can see. Consider to draft corporations reorganizations all kinds of plans which keep you out of trouble and out of court. A good lawyer and a good corporate firm regards it as failure. If one of his corporate clients ever gets hauled into court and litigation. So part of our problem is assuming implicitly that our clients have got to be in court. The legal system should be operating so that they can act preventively and never have to go to court. But right now they don't have those resources and they can't make those demands. Secondly when you are involved in adjudication as you know there is a delayed system of benefits. At best. You have to be able to wait. And poor people can't wait. They can't wait for litigation to take a
year or two years. They can't wait for an issue of fact to be decided because many of the witnesses may have moved away. Or can't be found or can't remember. And so those people are at a particular disadvantage. Whenever they step in the court and we ought to recognize that they are always going to be. Merely tampering with the rules to make the rules fairer I suggest is not the answer. We can tamper with the welfare system forever and the welfare system in and of itself will be unfair because as long as you have conditional benefits to people you have to have a determination or adjudication. Either judicial or administrative. As to whether those conditions are satisfied. And that means waiting. And it means implicit pressure. It means the possibility that the benefit can be withheld by somebody else.
As soon as you get into that you get into control of our clients by the system you get into fear. You get into the danger of retaliation. A man will not file a complaint because he is afraid of losing his welfare payments. A man will not sue a landlord because he is afraid of being a victim. A man will not sue his employer if he has one because he may get fired and no matter how fair we make the system there is still that risk and we as attorneys have to advise him of that risk and that risk in and of itself means that he is not likely to use the legal system. Once a lawyer said to me whose advice I respect don't raise problems solve them. And I'm really hard put to try to figure out in our own practice how to solve such basic problems as these because in part they
mean a denial or rejection or a recognition of the limitations of my own profession and my training and in the way of my life commitment. They really sound a deep note of pessimism. But I think there are possible ways out of this bag. And I'm not sure that we should look to lawyers for the answers to these problems because nine times out of ten when you ask a lawyer you devise a solution which involves a lawyer. It's really build and featherbedding by the profession isn't it. We're even worse than the trade unions. In fact we're the most effective trade union in the United States. Much more effective than the medical profession. I think one possible solution is that we have to perceive that grants that are made to our clients money jobs housing what it's going to take whatever
it's going to take to make them full participants in this society. But those grants cannot be conditional. We cannot allow adjudication of those that may be full fledged social insurance and maybe guaranteed annual income. But whatever it is it shouldn't be conditional. It shouldn't have to resort to the legal system which means delays possibility of retaliation. Anything else. That means that we should not try to reform the welfare system. We should try and strive to reject it. Secondly I think we have to start perceiving the need to simplifying the legal system which we are going to continue to have. The people themselves have to be able to understand that system until they use it. That doesn't just mean lectures and handbooks and things like that. I'm pretty cynical about that although I have been interested to know
really incredible reaction to a little book we put out. A trouble raising little booklet called farmworkers the law can protect you if you demand your rights and has pictures of growers and employers in here and policeman and farm workers. There's been an enormous demand for this. Farm workers want to carry it in their hip pocket. Some of them despite the dangers want to be able to confront their labor contractors their employers their landlords their welfare workers. That's a start but it's not very much of a start. People have to be involved much more. They have to be involved through non-lawyer non-judge forums such as neighborhood councils neighborhood mediation. They have to be able to start influencing what goes on in the law. I think part of this means that we have to see a large change of responsibility in the
legal profession from the lawyer to the non lawyer. This means that in order to represent people to help people we shouldn't have to be a lawyer in this society. You know regionally in the 1830s Andrew Jackson ran on the platform. It's a legal profession and the entrance into the legal profession would not be controlled by lawyers. So the real fear of lawyers that was something for the people you could learn law from Blackstone. You had access into the influencing of rights legal rights was not a matter just for the professionals. It was a concern of the people as well. But often instead of simplifying so that the people can operate effectively we complicate. And as long as lawyers Soliah lawyers are involved in law reform in the society on the constitutional revision commission on various state bar commissions
as long as lawyers are involved I suggest you will have an increasing rather than decreasing complexity of the rules which govern this. There have to be black people there have to be brown people there have to be laymen on all of those Law Reform Commission making this a more specific suggestion. I would say that Brown groups and black groups should go to the president of the state bar next week and ask for a full review of the participation of laymen and of brown people and of black people and what happens to the laws in our society. If you leave it to the lawyers in this society you had better forget it. I really believe that. And when I say lawyers I include myself. I think thirdly groups and organizations in the Bay Area and Los Angeles and throughout this state have to recognize that if the system is inherently unfair you have
to challenge the system as such. Point this out make it clear and even consider the legal breakdown of that system. I am not counseling violence here because I don't believe in violence. But let me give you some examples. We have already tried somewhat successfully but we're only beginning to put enormous pressure on certain governmental agencies just through volume. If every welfare recipient in the state whenever something went wrong demanded a fair hearing which he has a right to do. The welfare system would not be able to function. If every time police harassment and brutality or as we call it in more conservative communities bureaucratic discourtesy occurs. If every time that occurred the person involved filed a claim in small
claims court against the policeman. You wouldn't win necessarily. But what that would mean would be that the way the policeman would have to show up at the small claims court. And that would be a tremendous burden on the resources of the police. It's a very interesting way I think of policing the police and sooner or later they are going to have to start bargaining with you. I won't say fairly but they're going to have to start dealing with you if nothing more than to free the policeman from the court system. And finally I suggest individuals in and of themselves in this society are so weak especially poor people are too weak to be able to make these changes. The only people who are going to be able to make these changes are groups groups of poor people with internal discipline with an internal decision making process
with ways of bringing pressure of delaying benefits of waiting of discipline of co-ordinated pressure. And that means that what we're really talking about the nub in my view of racism and of the malfunctions of the legal system as it now exists. Is not law at all. It's not the color of your skin at all it's power. That's really what I think we're talking about today. No minority group in this country. Is going to be able to enjoy the power that the majority. Of white people now enjoys. But there would be enough power that I think is possible with a quarter of this nation for there to be substantial deterrence. Substantial self protection.
Supposedly when Joe Hill the I.W.W. leader was about to be shot. And Utah he said Don't weep for me. Organize. That's really the name of the game. Until that happens we lawyers must be waiting in the wings. Nothing more. We must follow that lead. That's where the light if it shines will come from. We really are dependent upon the people. And as soon as the people recognize that I hope suppling is going to happen. I believe it will. Thank you. Was. I perform. Throughout the day there have been allusions to. The
individual or individuals who start the whole ball rolling. And this is the one person most often encountered by the individual member of a minority group to discuss with us some of the practices of that individual. We are fortunate indeed to have a gentleman with us who from 1947 to 1963 was a member of the police force of San Francisco. He's well trained having attended the University of California San Francisco City College and these Lincoln College of Law. He's now associated with the Bureau of family relations of the district attorney's office. It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you at this time. Mr. Richard Phineas who will discuss police practices. Thank you.
The problem we have that we read in the paper every day is the source of riots which come from the ghettos. Apparently they. Are. Treated by a sort of spontaneous eruptions which the police figure prominently. However the placement who was assigned to this district must have the wisdom of job and rarely ever has. He is a high school graduate possibly two years of college at the most. He comes into the apartment a young man with very little knowledge of social concepts whatsoever. He. Is generally from the lower middle class or middle classes has very little contact with minorities either. Latin Americans are negroes and being thrown into the ghetto he finds himself confined over the entirely different set of values set of problems. He tries to use his middle class
standards that which is good and that which is bad and ultimately find himself in hot water. Now from one thousand forty seven to nine hundred sixty three hours where the police department. I. Have been born and reared here in San Francisco and as a negro I was certain that I had a tremendous sense of social values. I was incredibly ignorant. I found out when I worked in the Fillmore district the mission Hunters Point double rock largely I might add as a lot of the negro policeman to be in those areas. And going in there as a policeman I found out that. You are resented. As a negro. First of all because you are black and therefore you are a stool pigeon of the white authority. You must
overcome this problem or you cannot function conversed. You are required to enforce the laws and certainly the laws are designed based upon a social order and a social order is basically middle class order. And. Because of this limited education because of a limited amount of communication there's a tremendous amount of anger and frustration. I have walking a beat I've had people spit at my feet. Throw inadvertently object at me. And so they were just missed. This is not conducive to good will. After you work there for a while and you find that you go into a bar and some you are only filling out a function and somebody starts cursing you. You're inclined to put him in jail and as you're taking to jail used to thinking of some charge and when you book him you might book him on anything that is available. There again is the
orientation. Of the weapon more often than not you'll find in a ghetto situation. Most of the males many of the females will have a weapon. What I would consider a weapon a knife. I believe Section 12 91 of the penal code says it's a violation of law to carry a weapon while you're loitering on the street. You have miles of this violation. What does a policeman do. How does he handle it. He. Walks along and a young man. Appears to be doing nothing maybe he's just standing there and you stop and ask him why he's standing there and he tells you just in a rather. Racy language that is none of your business. You proceed to search him you find a weapon. As it says it has a code and you arrest him. He's angry very very angry. His idea is I wasn't doing nothing just standing there.
After this happens over a long period of time there's a formation of this frustration anger and a lack of communication here you see this big cop walking down there who can escape. He works his eight hour period of time. He sneers at the people he sees and he leaves. He tries to impose his will on these people and they become frustrated. The slightest spark the slightest little. Push can get a raging fire going as I'm sure that we've all seen the lack of this the weakness of this is another pipe itself. Well as the city has itself what is the process that most cities particularly San Francisco have had no concept of or no idea at all of the huge influx of Negroes here right after the war was containment. That within the area of the ghettos Hunter's Point Fillmore West in addition. Leave me alone don't rock the boat so long as they stay in their own little Bailey way. For this reason.
The placement standards were I'd say ambivalent. He didn't really know where to go what to do. If some people were shooting craps in an alley looked the other way if they were shooting craps in the street and blocking the pedestrian right away the rest of. This is out of a rather tenuous thing for a policeman of 22 to have to decide. We found out that particularly in the domestic complaints wife beating is generally frowned on by the middle class is very very common among the lower classes but among middle class they think there's not a nice thing to do. Ordinarily it's a battery and a person is subject to arrest and prosecution. However residence is almost a continuing fight in a ghetto. What does a policeman do. Well says a wall says the poor man got a fight you can't fight his boss if you fight another man is liable get seriously injured so there's the wife. Well or whatever should her relationship with him is.
And should he rush wildly there with a red light and siren to drag this man kicking and screaming to jail when he was only doing the only outlet he possibly had our Should he ignore it he chooses to ignore him. Feels that it's simpler just to let them settle their own problems so therefore he ducks the issue whenever he possibly can this. I'm sure the neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation has had a tremendous amount of problems with restraining orders. And that. The have never enforced it before so I belted it. So what. The people who are unfortunately many negroes who live in the ghettos cannot get out for reasons of cost of rent for any number of other reasons cannot get out of there and they want and demand protection when they don't receive it. They're angry they complain to the chief of police they complain of the mare. My children play out here in France as prostitutes. Why and I was drinking in the
street. Why don't you do something. Again here's this contradiction. If he starts doing something he's going to get in trouble. Many of the complaints of police brutality as that I was a coming very popular here in the last few years has been blown up by the press. Conversed when there was genuine brutality 20 25 30 years ago where the average ghetto resident took police brutality for granted. Mild types of problems that arise now are relatively inconsistent at least here in San Francisco. The department has had a policy I would say for the last 15 years that a policeman who decides to go on his own little adventure into chastising whom he considers the guilty will find himself all alone. Answering an awful lot of questions from civil courts administrative organization within a department and there's been very little However this
does not stop a policeman from sometimes using injudicious phrases and words. A. White policeman who's lived out in the Sunset District has heard negroes referred to as boys won't even think anything about saying a boy. However when you've just dragged a negro out of a bar he's wildly angry because you embarrass them in front of his girlfriend and then you call him a boy. You know I will have all kinds of problems on your hand this is in effect a provocation of police brutality how are we. It's almost impossible to draw a line. The problem. As most major cities are beginning to find out is in education there has been and is no really formal requisite for policemen to go beyond high school. The most of the bay area colleges have a training program now. They have what they call police science is the sort of criminalistics program in which the police can learn how to
how to find a burglar how to direct traffic how to investigate traffic. And I believe in Sam's Isco state. I think that they have a social science course which relates to the police science venture really. They will have to set up a training program for a policeman involved in a social science study of the history of the ethnic groups of minorities living in ghettos which of course are Latin Americans and of course Negroes are the predominant people oriented to a certain extent. And until they have this until they have a program which will reach every policeman you are going to have the same ghetto problems you're going to have the same conflicts you're going to have the same riots and everything else. Thank you.
Our final speaker has a very broad topic to consider. He's talking about post courtroom proceedings after we've gone through all the things we've talked about all day today and only scratched the surface about. We get down to sentencing probation parole and imprisonment. Our speaker on this broad subject is a member of the Puerto Rico Virginia and Michigan bar associations. He's a 1956 graduate of the Howard University School of Law. He is an author of two books the summer that didn't in an act of conscience. And he's also eminently well qualified to talk I believe on the post court room situation because He's evidently had some contact with it as a veteran of the jails in Mississippi Michigan Virginia and Dawna.
It's my great pleasure and privilege to introduce to you as our final speaker. Mr. Lynn Holt squar. Let me first dispose of a couple of the NRMA matters. I would like at this time to call your attention to the presence and what you stand to. Mr. Sylvester Herring will you please stand if you're here. And to Mr. Nelson Inman who connected with the Department of Corrections Oakland branch and who rendered invaluable assistance to me and becoming more familiar with the workings of the California prisons. I would also call your attention to that one point that was present here I don't know if you still hear
the minister of education of the Black Panther Party Mr. George Murray and his assistant Mr. Weldon. If they are still here would they stand and be recognized. Taking care of business there is another matter which I think I personally share some of the responsibility for and would cause you to accept my apology for the existence of that condition. I got out of my car. And I walked through the door of this hotel and I saw I don't harm him. He was white. I came into the lobby of this hotel. And was looking for this meeting. And the bellman was white. I participated in the luncheon which was conducted here and my waiter was white and as I looked around the
room every other waiter was white. I went to the place of refreshments. The bartender was white. The waiter in the place of refreshments was white. And then it occurred to me that this is the same damn Sheraton palace which hundreds of people spent hundreds of hours trying to get jobs for black people. And that I as a member of the advisory committee was in a position. Had I thought of it to insist that at least the waiters at least the waiters at this conference on racism in the law could have been black. I ask you to accept my apology for forgetting that and being derelict in my duty. I would also say to the distinguished person who preceded me that. You could have well given a definition of a
cop. And I would define a cop. As God. If a cop came in this room right today with his uniform on I would respond to him. As some of you would respond if God came into your presence because he is for most black people the municipal judge the judge is the superior court the judge of the Court of Appeals the judge of the California Supreme Court and the all nine justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. He is as my people refer to them the law. Good bad or indifferent he is the law. And he described the limitations of the policeman that is the law. It's not the books which lawyers have on that wall. It's not these decisions which come down. It is the cop. Who is the law. And we treat him as such.
I would recommend highly to the person who just preceded me that we provide a copy of Mr Sweat's document and that we asked Mr swep to break it down. He was a gentleman who spoke at a luncheon to break it down so that the people can get a little bit more of it. And it's so happens that the things he said about the cop mentality are more than true. Let's think about the cops who is the law of the United States. It's not the judge it's not all these other people whom we refer to. This cop has a high school education and he is a person who has a cop mentality and he knows it when he takes the job. He is a person who willingly submit see himself to one of the most terror radical organizations that exist in this country outside of the military. He has insulted and treated like a dog he is a captive of the very thing that he deals with and he suffers that because he wants to be the symbol of power.
And in fact is the power I'm These remarks are not designed for black people who know it but it was designed for the white participants in here who may have viewed the cops in other terms. And I'm not impressed with the San Francisco Police Department. And I'm not impressed with the other police departments because lately and I call your attention to this. They are celebrating in the papers the appointment of the first. The first Negro sergeant. I use the word Negro quite deliberately because you won't have any black cops. You have Negro cops are colored cops biologically black and San Francisco at this day is rejoicing at the first Negro cop. And this is nothing. This is nothing and it only indicates how in the midst of the so called liberal attitude the free North how sickness can prevail.
I come from Virginia and 10 years ago we had the first coloreds negroes side in the police department and that's enough of Virginia crack a town where white people honest. And in Atlanta eight years ago the racists clearly are racists but the police department had eight colored Sargeant. Now the question raises itself if if San Francisco is just now getting a negro Sergeant how far are we behind some of the cities of the South and even clinching ourselves of some of this racism about with this whole conference is about. But I'm not here to talk about cops. I'm not here to talk about some of the other things that we want to talk about I'm here to talk about the joints commonly referred to in the parlance of the middle class as the
institutions of correction of the state of California. These institutions are misnomers and they penitentiaries where people are not provided with the opportunity to be pendent in their correction institutions where they don't correct and they have the sickness to call the worst prison in the state the following name which I think indicates some of the hypocrisy which exists in the Bay Area and it's known as the California medical facilities. Let's talk about the joints joints the places where we middle class people either actively or passively sin. People who are humans and transform them into vegetables.
And we send them there not for any other purpose than the same purpose as was mentioned by my biological brother just a few minutes ago. The purpose of containment. We don't give a damn what happens to it just so the facilities there keep them and keep them and keep them. And this is a tragedy in our society. If we are concerned about racism and it's a tragedy because of this society is to be transformed. It will not be transformed by lawyers. Lawyers are an expression of what is their orientation is stari decisis and precedent. What has been before as a guide to what we shall do now and outside of the religious institutions of this country the legal institutions are the most segregated and the most races institutions we have. The salvation of our nation is to be found in places like
Vacaville San Quentin Folsom Chino and the other 13 institutions where we attempt to transform humans into vegetables. And we succeed extraordinarily well. Well let's let's look at them. The prisons are almost as segregated in their personnel as the San Francisco Police Department is. Let's look at the prison that have 13 joints with 13 wardens. More than 13 associate wardens more than 13 assistant wardens and they're all white. That was 13 joints with gods that very critical member of the correction institution San Quinten has the amazingly high percentage of 5 percent
of its guards who are colored persons and therefore biologically black. But the general and overall average of the Guards personnel of California prisons is 1 percent. One out of every hundred on the average of the guards is biologically black. And the person who preceded me. Give me your name again brother. Mr. Finn. Finance stated the characteristics and requirements for a policeman. They are even less for the garments. And these guards are the critical critical cornerstone that shaped the life of a person who expresses quote antisocial close quote behavior and they find out. Every week on every prisoner they report and they can put in their lies damn lies or statistics and there is no challenge to it. These
men manipulate the Mexicans against the blacks the whites against the Mexicans and the blacks. They manipulate the homosexuals against the heterosexuals. They manipulate the lifers versus the short timers to create one condition namely containment. Because the ratio of guards to prisoners is roughly one per 100. And these are not all on one shift. They work in three shifts and bees are grayed why grain grade ZT white people who have all the prejudices that the white society has but they have it magnified and we send and tolerate Vanguard people for the real transformation of this society into their tender care and this guard's report follows a person throughout his throughout his life throughout his life. And if a prisoner is to complain about a guy this
in-itself in the prison is an offense. He can even call him a name. He can't even disagree because for him to do that is to be reported as being insubordinate and insolent. And this is a vegetable factory. And when the person gets out of the joint he has to sign. If he gets out without serving the full sentence that some parts of our society has to sign this statement from the California adult authority in which he waves and grabs away the few rights he didn't have. And I the documents here and you can examine it elsewhere afterwards. I just want to call out point thirteen. A number of your civil rights have been suspended by law. You may not engage in business signed certain contracts are exercise certain other rights. Unless this is a keyword on yes
your parole agent recommends alright beautiful That's to say you the parole agents on you. There was in this state at this time five regional offices and a miracle occurred here out of the five regional directors. One of the persons is biologically black. Fantastic. There are as part of each region approximately six units two of these units are headed by persons who are by all logically black and Mr. Sweat I think is very clearly it didn't mean it that that is a different culture and that we do live it differently and we do think differently. But everything in the state penal system is designed to make us in the following image and I quote At this point from the person whom I'm standing in
for mystically Eldridge Cleaver as he describes a black man in prison in the following way. He says a black man in prison is a black cat who has to learn to bark to survive in a white dog park. And I think that ably describes it. Now let's let's go even further. We have the situation in California whereby that the parole arrangement is so damn bad that they buy only logically black employees of the parole system are petitioning indirectly through the Epi PC to try to get the racism within the department which prevents a black employee from being promoted chains because they can't get promotions. If if this system is racist towards its own employees how how can it help but further the vegetal izing
of black people when they get some under their supervision. All right now. It's growing late. I have a four page document copying what is done in the joint. I will submit that to you afterwards. It's written it's copied from interviews of prisoners at Vacaville and it talks about the ways that this prison can carry out an execution of a person by the whim of a god. It talks about how the prison controls by fostering every item of racial prejudices that exist out here is personified in there and you can go into prisons and you see it in the little places they have paintings on the walls of the reception area and painting after painting after painting as nothing but white faces in it and they're drawn by black prisoners who constitute at this time I'm told
something about 40 percent of the prison population of California just a small aside I have indicated to you that the persons who will liberate and really transform this society are in jail. And if you doubt me I would merely call to your attention that country after country in its process of liberation has put at his head the ex inhabitants of the prisons. You name them they were present. You name them they were in joints in that country. And I point out to you that we don't change things and I'm not going to. When I say we I mean we lawyers we are part of what is not a part of what ought to be. And I think I want to say one other thing in conclusion that the conference has attracted of necessity primarily white attorneys
primarily because I think that many black attorneys around. But and people have described the conditions of racism under which the Indians suffer. The Mexican-American suffering the black man suffers and the Japanese and Chinese Americans suffer. But I would like to indicate to you that you should not leave this conference with the idea that as far as the black people are concerned that we came here begging we are not begging. We are not begging because in my right hand I am on. There will be no more. I think picketing and sitting in the cause this damn hotel to hire black people. We have the solution. We have found a solution. And when I say we I don't mean me cause I'm booze while I like you. But the people who are in jail who are the real revolution is the people who will transform and will
carry out the edict of Jeremiah namely the tab down which is the prerequisite if you're going to build something you tear down the existing structure and then you build something new and root up. And you plan. And these are the people who have the intellectual and emotional capacity to not cop out to not find a rationalization for not doing it. But I think also in this group that we have to include as part of the auxillary the black lawyers the black lawyers may not be out there shooting but I am sure you from what I've heard them say that they will find a way to supply some ammunition or to sell the guns that they have for 50 or 60 cents or 10 cents to someone who will use them. Because the same indignation that is felt by the lower class black is felt even more by the middle class would be middle class negro because we've done all the things that the society says we ought to do we washed our face
we've shaved beards we put on a tie. We've taken a bath and we've gone to your schools for 19 and 20 years to be circumcised and to be made into black cats that can learn to bark in order to try to survive in this white dog park. But the brother runs us and the dog pounds gone change. And I Baldwin said at the fire next time and we read it and we were a muse and we threw a ball when you got it in black. Now your committee the commercial Kerner report has said it in white that we are faced with a situation where we have a nation divided into camps and there's no doubt which camp I mean and there's no doubt which camp every black lawyer will be here because you have definite gaited in his face. And right now the problem in Washington D.C. is not to get a negro or a colored person on the jury it's to get a white man and I say to you those of you who have colored people
Negroes or even black attorneys in your law firms and your associates raise the money. Those of you don't have anybody black in the office go find somebody. You don't know where to find them we can tell you where to find you they aren't in law school. Send them to law school and then you from your position as a practitioner. A man who feeds his family pays nine of clubs bill and and American Express bills and goes to Tijuana and Palm Springs and trying to get a little less white that if you expect to survive you better get somebody black in that office because the day is coming that day is coming and we don't have to beg through to forces through the power of Negroes to destroy and through that sharing not force of numbers. The city is armed and the countryside you know serve us nothing because the cities are the heart of the country. And when you come the draft you will come into a city where
the person judging you will be colored Negro or black. Where the judge judging you will be colored Negro or black. Well your corporation will have its future determined by the same colored or negro or black people. And I say to you that if you want to make sure there's some degree that we don't treat you like you've treated us that now is the time to prepare. We've you know talked about some of these things but we're not begging. We don't have today time. The future is on the side of the black man. You've got only one choice. To accommodate yourself to us or kill us and thank God for the existence of the philosophy of people like the Panthers. We know that we will not be killed easily and you better end that wall over there in a hurry or you won't be able to make sufficient damage to
us because if you got your troops over there they show can't be used here and that these people are serious people are serious and I'm going to talk about the kinds of commitment the people who aren't here who aren't talking have when a black person in a city for example Snipes he is indicating that he believes in something so well that he's willing to die for nobody drastic. You've got heroes in Vietnam and other wars that were drafted and they get there in a situation and whole question survival means you got to shoot the enemy. But these are volunteers because anybody goes up on a building with a rifle and Mr. Finnis will tell you has decided that he is willing to die because the cops are going to treat him like you made that decision am I right. This isn't all right. These are the kind of people who say well we talk about legislation reform and new bills and and conferences and negotiating. These people are downright sad. Where are you.
Where are you what are you going to do about the racism in your law firm your law practice. Where are you. Where are you when we come to power. I don't let me get to one other thing. Three lawyers perhaps four have spoken about the representation that he knew. I joined them. I think it is important that a black face be among the representation. I think Charlie Gary ought to meet with the Clinton White Swan and the others who are here and let's work out something on that because there are two problems concerned with criticism. One to criticize and number two to offer not alternatives. And I think it's very damaging and I my mentor my law partner will bear this out that the struggle of the black man for all these days prior to the black movement has been to try to convince himself and to convince others. That he was a man. And that tradition in the South used to
be if you hired a negro lawyer and I used the word Negro deliberately that he would go and thus employ a white lawyer and black people are smart they said. Why make that intermediate step. And they would go and get white lawyers and black professionals and had to fight for their very existence against that form of racism. And when there's a very popular expression in our culture which you may not be familiar with that used to be one minute. That used to be that if you wanted it done right. Get somebody white to do it. That theory shouldn't be and is disappearing. We have solicited nobody white they help us conduct what distinguished gentlemen perceive recall riots in some Asian thirty seconds in some Asian the correction to some of the problems that we gathered here about and I salute you
because together under the banner of racism and the law is to admit in your opening this is the first time I've heard it admitted in this area that the law was meaning the police the judges the courts and the prison all races. Is a significant step but we've got to go farther and between now and the takeover of the American cities by blacks. There are some specific steps which can be taken. I won't. I've got 10 seconds now so I won't take up the time by giving those specifics. But it seems to me that a logical conclusion of this day of effort this time these words the whole pain would be to call a specific conference to work on specific measures which we can implement both in our private practice in terms of the state legislature in terms of the local courts and decide on forms that that can during the interim make the transition
from this presently white dominated and run collections of cities in the Bay Area to the black dominated and run collection the cities in the area. One second that I would also state to you that it would please me and be very meaningful if all of you would consider writing a letter to the adult authority of the state of California. And asking that the parole of a very beautiful eloquent and very black. Man Eldridge Cleaver's be reinstated. Oh thank you. The address for those people who carry pencils around. Can recur. Adult authority state office building number one. Sacramento California thank you for inviting me.
At this time it gives me immense pleasure to turn the microphone back over to the gentleman who has made this conference such a grand success. James turned an Escalade. It's getting late I know. And before this conference couldn't clewed we want to make some kind of summer and project a proposal or two. Len Holt the old Baptist preacher really put his finger I think on the most significant thing achieved here today and that is the fact. That all of us black white Orientals and Mexican-Americans have come together in
an admission that there is racism in the administration and enforcement of the law. And if any problem social or otherwise is ever to be solved. That problem must be admitted to exist. And there must be some clear definition then delineation of that problem. I'm not quite sure whether we really delineated the problem today and all of its dimensions. And that's not to be expected in the first conference of this sort. But this conference has brought new insight into the nature of racism a novel legal system and I trust that all of us have been benefited in some ways by the comments and speeches made here today. Many suggestions have been made as to how individual lawyers can when they represent clients combat and fight racism racism in various situations. Good is the suggestions and comments
are. They when executed on an individual basis can never solve a problem. That's become structure than institutionalized and so deeply rooted in them our tradition as the problem of racism is. If we are going to solve the problem of racism we must have some ongoing movement with as Jem LORAN pointed out with power. Power is the determining factor that solves all social problems and we've got to get some policy some continuous and sustaining power to work on these problems. The power of the organized ball must be brought to bear on this question. The power of course of the federal government because more than any other institution in this country the federal government which enforced the Fugitive Slave Law which brought with its power of the black people to this country must play a role. In this day to help eradicate racism out and that out of the country.
And that can only come about. When these forces organize discipline and will be a continuing effort to eradicate racism. I therefore would propose the following. That a permanent committee conference on racism in the law. Be established by the sponsors of this conference that the membership on that committee be open to all bar associations in the Bay Area. And the law schools that the committee saw stablished would be charged with the following functions. The committee rigorously investigate. Complaints relative to racism in the administration and enforcement of the law. And secondly that this committee would take whatever actions necessary
to correct daughter and eradicate racism and the administration of the law that this committee Thirdly what it can gauge in a program to help recruit minority group students follow school and to broaden employment opportunities for minority group members who are lawyers who are going to law school and all phases of the legal profession. That such a committee would be responsible for organizing and proposing a study along the lines suggested by Professor swep. At the luncheon meeting. And fourthly that this committee would be responsible. For the establishment of the devising of a psychological test to be given to all judges
all policeman and all people involved in the legal culture to determine the extent. Of racism as expressed in these people and their make up. I would hope that the representatives from the various sponsoring organizations would go back to their organizations present these proposals work to get them implemented ot get them adopted so that. Some time very soon. We could call that committed together to work on the problem of eradicating racism in the law and if that is to be achieved we will need the support the cooperation of all of you who have expressed an interest in this matter by attending this meeting today. Again let me say that we want to thank all of the
Conference on racism in the law ; no.5 Various aspects of racism in pre- and post-courtroom proceedings
Conference on racism in the law
Producing Organization
KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
Pacifica Radio Archives (North Hollywood, California)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/28-5717m04819).
On May 4, 1968, nine Bay Area legal organizations sponsored a conference on "Racism in the law" held at the Sheraton-Palace Hotel in San Francisco. This is the concluding session of the conference. Moderator Sandra Cox introduces Director of California Rural Legal Assistance, James Lorenz, speaking on the importance of civil rights to civilians; San Francisco's first permanent Black police officer Richard Finis discussing police practices; and attorney, author, and veteran of jails in Mississippi, Michigan, and Ghana, Len Holt, esquire, who speaks post-courtroom proceedings such as sentencing, probation, parole, and imprisonment. James Herndon closes the conference with proposals for future action.
Broadcast Date
Created Date
Talk Show
Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Public Affairs
Race discrimination--Law and legislation--United States; Conference on racism in the law; Discrimination in criminal justice administration--United States; African Americans--Civil rights--History
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: 2845_D01 (Pacifica Radio Archives)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: PRA_AAPP_BB1721_05_Conference_on_racism_in_the_law_part_5 (Filename)
Format: audio/vnd.wave
Generation: Master
Duration: 1:07:39
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “ Conference on racism in the law ; no.5 Various aspects of racism in pre- and post-courtroom proceedings ; Conference on racism in the law,” 1968-08-17, Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 28, 2022,
MLA: “ Conference on racism in the law ; no.5 Various aspects of racism in pre- and post-courtroom proceedings ; Conference on racism in the law.” 1968-08-17. Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 28, 2022. <>.
APA: Conference on racism in the law ; no.5 Various aspects of racism in pre- and post-courtroom proceedings ; Conference on racism in the law. Boston, MA: Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from