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Spiwe Jefferson, Amran Farah, Mike Essien, Uzodima Franklin Aba-Onu, Jules Porter and Ben Omorogbe
Pictured are, from left to right, Spiwe Jefferson, Amran Farah, Mike Essien, Uzodima Franklin Aba-Onu, Jules Porter and Ben Omorogbe

2020 Diversity & Inclusion: Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers

More than 200 members of the Minnesota legal community showed up in solidarity with the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers for a silent protest at the Hennepin County Government Center on June 8 to highlight police brutality in the Black community and the death of George Floyd.

The attorneys timed the protest to coincide with a court hearing for Derek Chauvin, one of the police officers charged with murder in the death of Floyd. Attorneys took a knee to commemorate Floyd’s death in police custody.

“I think the protest succeeded in calling attention to the problem of police violence against members of the Black community,” said Uzodima Franklin Aba-Onu, MABL’s president and legal counsel for Prime Therapeutics. “George Floyd’s death needs to be a turning point for what needs to be discussed in our community.”

Aba-Onu offered praise for MABL members who planned the protest, including past president Amran Farah, at-large board member and webmaster Jules Porter, and attorneys Ben Omorogbe, Mike Essien, and Spiwe Jefferson. Communications co-chairs Athena Hollins and Jefferson helped draft statements with assistance from Gloria Stamps-Smith, Maya Sheikh-Salah, and Maria Mitchell.

Started in 1995 to promote the interests of Black attorneys, MABL members have served on the Minnesota Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals and county courts. The organization stays active on social issues, offering a statement on the treatment of immigrant children on the Mexican border and criminal justice reform, and hosting various online events.

Over the past few months, MABL, in collaboration with other organizations, held a judicial boot camp for attorneys seeking to apply for judicial vacancies in Minnesota State District Courts and sessions on how members can support protesters and promote voter rights. “We will continue to be a resource for Black lawyers and to promote equal rights,” Aba-Onu said. “We hope the legal community also continues to stay engaged in these important efforts.”

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