By David Greenwald, Davis Vanguard
The California Legislative Black Caucus held it annual Martin Luther King Breakfast last Thursday to honor the legacy of Dr. King and the relentless commitment to community service in the Black community.
Among the honorees was Attorney John Burris, who received the Civil Rights Leadership Award.
“Prominent Bay Area Civil Rights Attorney John Burris is best known for handling high profile cases,” the emcee for the event explained. Burris is author of the book, “Blue versus Black: Let’s End the Conflict Between Cops and Minorities.”
Burris was awarded by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Senator Holly Mitchell.
“Given Mr. Burris’ stellar 40 plus year career in the legal field, and how relevant he is to our community, my assembly brother, and I decided we would yield our time to Mr. Burris himself to say a few words,” said Senator Mitchell.
Burris said, “I’m very fortunate to be involved in a social movement in a progressive way on police issues.” “But I’m also now extremely worried about where we are. The Justice Department under Obama did tremendous work in bringing forth issues of patterns of practice in various cities.
“Yesterday, watching Jeff Sessions, perhaps the new attorney general, I became very worried that those kinds of matters will not be brought forward,” he said.
He is concerned that those like himself who are working and fighting against issues of police brutality and racial profiling will have an uphill struggle. “People who have mental health issues are being shot and killed, it’s unconscionable,” he said. “The use of deadly force in ways that we all know with unarmed African American men are being shot and killed under very questionable circumstances.
“We have a case here in Sacramento that I’ve been working on for the last several months,” he said. “All I can say is that there is work to be done.
“As I listen and think about Dr. King, who said we need to keep grinding through difficult times,” he said. “There’s always been difficult times. I think often about my parents and grandparents who all had difficult times in the South, but they overcame. And we can as well.”
He said, with the leadership in California, “I know at the very least, regardless of the state does, in California, we have the kind of leadership that will move forward and maintain the gains that we have made and make even more progressive gains in the times ahead. I will be part of that gain as we continue to work.”