Law Center News
Victim’s family receives acknowledgement from New Orleans City Council after three decades
During their September meeting, the New Orleans City Council acknowledged and honored the life of Kenneth Borden. Family members and staff from the Southern University Law Center’s (SULC) Louis A. Berry Institute of Civil Rights and Justice were invited to attend the meeting to offer remarks.
There is so much racism in the government today, and you cannot do anything about it,” expressed Reginald Borden, brother of Kenneth Borden. “I started to not even come, but the truth has to come out whether you do something about or not.”
Borden was killed by a New Orleans police officer on September 15, 1970. This day is familiar to local New Orleanians as it is referred to as the infamous “Showdown in Desire,” or the “Standoff with the Black Panthers”. Because of this common association, Borden gets lost in the story of COINTELPRO and how officers used infiltration and other subversive tactics to undermine self-determination in Black communities. He spent his brief life battling sickle cell anemia before being killed in the Desire neighborhood following a standoff between the Black Panther Party and law enforcement. Unfortunately, Borden’s family suffered more injustice in the wake of his murder in the courts, with the truth of his death buried.
At the meeting, family members and associates, including Ruth Borden, sister of Kenneth Borden; Reginald & Eboni Borden, brother and niece of Kenneth Borden; Green Stevens, a former member of the Black Panther Party; Whitley Parker, Ada Goodly Lampkin, director of the Louis A. Berry Institute of Civil Rights and Justice; and Judge Calvin Johnson, retired criminal court judge gave heartfelt remarks about Borden’s death, the false narrative created, and the generational trauma still plaguing the family. After their remarks, the council members echoed their sentiments. They, too, agreed that police brutality and false narratives create generational trauma that truly never heals until restorative justice takes place.
“New Orleans City Council was extremely receptive to the idea and understood the importance of creating space to center the truth for the Borden family,” said Ada Goodly Lampkin, director of the Louis A. Berry Institute of Civil Rights and Justice. “They have been extremely gracious and intentional about the preservation of local history as well as reckonings with that history.”
The case was first researched and presented by Whitley Parker, third-year law student and Student Bar Association president, during her tenure with the Margaret Burnham Honors Cohort that is a result of a decades-long partnership with the Civil Rights & Restorative Justice Project. The cohort is comprised of pre-law and law students who research unfamiliar civil rights cases. Then, students present their findings to a review panel during their annual residency. Since the case is in a neighboring parish, the Institute petitioned the council for an acknowledgment.
The Institute creates opportunities for communities and systems to reckon with historical acts of racial violence that have left families and whole communities with unhealed wounds that continually get passed down, until faced. The Institute uses public reckonings, historical markers, podcasts, mini-docs, and other means to educate the public and develop ways to “course correct”.
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