Ben Crump, the “black clerk of justice”

Ben Crump, according to the Rev. Al Sharpton, a well-known African-American activist, is America’s “black clerk of justice”.

In less than a decade, this Florida attorney has represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, black people whose deaths at the hands of police and vigilantes gave birth to a movement.

He managed to get many relatives of victims of police brutality to be given millionaire compensation. He campaigned for break-ins to be banned without knocking on the door. He declared before a congressional commission that reform is needed because “it is pitifully obvious that we have two systems of justice: one for whites and one for blacks” in the United States.

Supported African-American farmers who sued a large industry company and families exposed to lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan.

“Believe strongly in what you say. Put up with criticism. He takes cases that others don’t want to touch, ”Sharpton said. “People can come to him.”

These days it seems like it’s everywhere. He was seen with Floyd’s family in April when he celebrated the conviction of ex-cop Derek Chauvin, who killed Floyd by putting his knee on his neck for a long time when he was lying on the floor. He then accompanied mourners at the funeral of Daunte Wright, who was shot dead by police during a stop for a traffic violation outside Minneapolis in the week before Chauvin’s verdict, something he considers scandalous.

“If there was a moment when the police had to take care of themselves, when they had to take all the precautions, when they had to try to calm the atmosphere, it was during this trial, that I consider one of the most important police and civil rights cases in our story, “Crump told the Associated Press.

After Wright’s funeral, he returned to Florida and requested an investigation of an officer who shot two African-American teenagers. And last week he demanded that North Carolina police be more transparent after officers killed a black man outside his home.

There are those who see him as an opportunist who appears whenever there is a tragedy. But those who know him say he has fought for justice long before he was in the limelight.

Crump, 51, is a tireless lawyer who combines the charm of the Southerners with a special talent for attracting journalistic coverage of the cases he takes and the belief that racism is an evil of the country, that must be fought in the courts. .

You make your customers feel like you are familiar to them, according to your fans.

“Not a Thanksgiving day goes by without him calling me, or a Christmas,” said Allisa Findley, who met Crump three days after her brother Botham Jean died in their apartment, shot by a white Dallas police officer who mistook Jean’s department with yours.

“Find time for the little details, when there are no cameras around,” he said. “It is like a family member.”

Crump has a very tight schedule and is everywhere. But on Sundays he doesn’t miss Mass at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida with his wife and eight-year-old daughter, Brooklyn. He also helps raise two cousins, of whom he is the legal custodian.

“I look at my daughter,” Crump said. “I look into his eyes and then I look into the eyes of my nieces and nephews, my two cousins ​​… all black or copper-skinned boys. And you see a lot of hope, optimism, in his eyes. We have to give them a better world ”.

Crump grew up in Lumberton, North Carolina, where he was the oldest of nine brothers and stepbrothers.

In his book “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People” he said that he noticed in elementary school that the money his white classmates received from their parents was what his mother earned. in a week with two jobs, in a shoe factory and washing clothes in a hotel.

“I wanted to know why whites had such a good time and blacks had such a bad time,” he wrote.

She often tells the story of how she became informed of what was happening in the world by reading the newspaper to her grandmother and how her mother taught her who Thurgood Marshall, a renowned civil rights lawyer, was.

At Florida State University, Crump was president of the Black Student Union and led rallies to protest the way the university recruited and treated black students.

He began to be a landmark for African-Americans in 2013, when he represented the family of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was shot and killed by a volunteer neighborhood watchdog in Florida. Then he took the case of the family of Michael Brown, who was shot to death by a white agent near San Luis.

Crump organized marches and attracted media coverage for both cases, which occurred at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement was brewing.

He obtained compensation in about 200 cases of police brutality. In March the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay $ 27 million to George Floyd’s family. Crump says it is the largest compensation in history agreed without reaching a trial.

“I hope that if we make them pay millions of dollars every time they shoot a black person in the back, there will be fewer such episodes,” Crump said. “That’s my theory, but they keep killing us.”

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Ben Crump, the “black clerk of justice”

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