September 30, 2023

Ok for context this conversation is taking place in a revocation hearing involving a Black male defendant who had an encounter with a police officer. The district court judge, Erika Ballou, a former defense attorney, is speaking empathetically to the man about why we have to make decisions that will not lead to us having to be encountered by police. Essentially she’s saying- police sometimes approach us when we are not doing anything wrong- which is why we must try not to do things that would actually justify them approaching us as well.

The Las Vegas Police Union called her statements offensive And problematic- when it was simply honesty.

Her statement is a fair and accurate one as reflected by the disproportionate nature of arrests, stops, sentences and the fact that police encounters are one of the highest causes (6th) of death of black men in America now. About 1 in 1000 black men and boys in America can expect to die at the hands of police. That risk is 2.5 times higher than for white men.

The truth is that this judge is someone the police have taken issue with for quite some time because when she was an attorney before becoming a judge, she wore a Black Lives Matter pin to court and the judge presiding over that court (white male) demanded that she remove the pin in his court room.

It’s refreshing to see a judge articulate the realities of this system on the record and if officers want that narrative to change- then they are responsible for changing it & can’t be offended when the truth is told.

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