Press Releases

Identity Based Violence & Hateful Rhetoric in America

Statement of the New York City Bar Association

The past week has brought an unconscionable spate of violence in America. Eleven Jews were murdered at Saturday worship, allegedly by what can best be described as a homegrown, radicalized terrorist. The murders of a black man and black woman while grocery shopping are being investigated as hate crimes (the alleged perpetrator reportedly first sought to enter a church to kill black people as they worshipped). And a would-be assassin mailed pipe bombs to numerous elected officials, members of the news media and other citizens, apparently in response to their political points of view. The New York City Bar Association condemns this wave of violence in the strongest possible terms, sends condolences to the families of the deceased, and extends its sincerest well wishes to survivors on their long road to recovery. 

We believe these events demand sustained attention. On the one hand, we note that we have spoken out before in favor of stronger gun safety. We do so again here, where two of the three acts of violence – and all of the killings – were carried out with guns. On the other hand, we recognize that two if not all three incidents occurred amidst, and cannot be disassociated from, a rising tide of hateful speech and scapegoating. The premeditated act intended to kill or maim people with pipe bombs also represents nothing less than an attempt to inhibit speech and intimidate the brave women and men of the media whose indispensable duty is to help preserve our open society by reporting on and challenging those in power. 

Now is a time for all public officials to respond to the ongoing deterioration of public discourse in our society, to demonstrate leadership by condemning hateful rhetoric and identity-based violence, and to acknowledge the link that can exist between the two.

As members of the bar, we must exercise such leadership as well. Lawyers are uniquely situated to understand the competing rights in our democracy, constitutional principles including freedom of speech and worship, separation of powers, and protection of the rights of minorities. The New York City Bar Association accordingly stands with our religious and civil rights communities and our elected officials to say with one voice: Political and identity-based violence has no place in the United States of America.


About the Association
The mission of the New York City Bar Association, which was founded in 1870 and has 24,000 members, is to equip and mobilize the legal profession to practice with excellence, promote reform of the law, and uphold the rule of law and access to justice in support of a fair society and the public interest in our community, our nation, and throughout the world.