The campaign is called the Inpower Initiative. As part of the initiative, the guild has produced two videos that are being distributed via social media. The four and five-minute videos deal with “stop and frisk,” and “recording police.”
“I see these projects as being a standardized way that we can educate young people and the community on how to interact with police,” said Ada Goodly, president of the SULC’s guild and a fourth-year law student, who developed the idea. “It’s helping to give them a sense of empowerment so when they see the flashing blue lights they’re able to be calm, to breathe, and be peaceful and respectful of the situation.”
Goodly came up with the idea after watching the George Zimmerman trial in 2013. Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watch coordinator, was acquitted after shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old unarmed African-American man, in Florida. Martin’s supporters say he was racially profiled. The case resulted in protests and demonstrations across the nation.
“I watched the entire trial and it was very emotional and taxing,” Goodly said. “There were conversations among parents–and I’m a mother–about what we could do to help our child in that situation. Was there anything we could have told Trayvon that would have made the outcome different? I started thinking of little tidbits of advice, such as he could have called the police if he felt like he was being followed or he could have recorded the situation. That thinking is what led to the videos.”
“I feel as though we can save people’s lives,” Goodly says. “That’s the entire goal of the project in the first place.”
Goodly–along with members of the guild’s Street Law Committee–write, edit, and shoot the videos using some of its members as actors in various scenarios, such as what to do if police want to search your car or your home or what you should do if you’re a passenger in the car that has been stopped by police. The videos also help explain the law and individual’s civil rights.
Goodly says the committee collaborated with the Baton Rouge Police department, attorneys, and prosecutors to develop the videos. The goal is to produce 13 videos, which will be distributed via Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
The first two videos that can be seen on the SULC’s National Lawyers Guild Facebook page have garnered a lot of interest.
Goodly says she and others have been invited to speak to various SULC and community groups. People want to learn more about the campaign and how they can help spread the word.
They want to get the video in front of students in middle and high schools throughout the country as well as institutions of higher learning.
They are also working with officials at the National Lawyers Guild headquarters and other local chapters nationwide to increase awareness.