Peggy Jane Lee participated in countless sit-ins and marches in the 1960s. So when the call came for the longtime attorney to stand with other lawyers and march against racism in the community and the legal system, she was there.
Holding a sign that said “Justice for all” on one side and the names of various people whose deaths involved police on the other side, Lee marched Wednesday morning, June 24, with about 200 others from the Memphis legal community. They were participating in a “Bar Unity” march organized by the Ben F. Jones National Bar Association, the Memphis Bar Association and the Association for Women Attorneys.
They gathered outside the Walter L. Bailey Criminal Justice Center at 201 Poplar at 8:46 a.m., a time chosen to note the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd before he died.
Wednesday’s marchers held signs that read “Black Lawyers Matter” and “Defend Black Lives.” Attorneys, many in suits, stood and listened to several speakers before the march began.
Among those present were attorneys in the public sector such as Shelby County Dist. Atty. General Amy Weirich and many of her prosecutors, along with Shelby County public defenders and federal public defenders. Lawyers from many law firms throughout the city also joined the march.
The City Council has approved resolutions calling for the “8 Can’t Wait” set of reforms on use of force policies and a community task force to have input on the selection of a new police director next year. Mayor Jim Strickland has also called for a review of police policies.
Before the group began marching, it honored Floyd with 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence. The group then marched from 201 Poplar to the Shelby County Juvenile Court and then back to the criminal justice center.
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