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African-American Lawyer Detained by Police After Being Suspected of Posing as a Lawyer

It is 2019, and this article is being written.

So we’re gonna go against the Supreme Court and say racism ain’t over, friends.

Add to the list of mundane activities that black people are arrested for:

Being a lawyer.

Rashad James, a lawyer with Maryland Legal Aid’s Community Lawyering Initiative, was detained on March 6th upon finishing up a hearing on behalf of an absent client.

James was approached by a deputy inside of the SAME COURTROOM WHERE THE DEPUTY SAW THE JUDGE ACCEPT–ON THE RECORD–THAT JAMES WAS AN ATTORNEY and called by his client’s name.

When he corrected the deputy, the deputy then asked for “proof” that James was a “real lawyer.”

Watch his account here.

“It was a very surreal moment,” said James.

While James was released without incident, the Sheriff’s office of Bel Air, Maryland is investigating after a claim filed by James’ lawyer, Chelsea Crawford.

“If he was white this wouldn’t have happened,” Crawford said.
“We are asking that the Harford County Sheriff’s Office conduct a full investigation.”
The Sheriff’s office promised a “complete and thorough investigation,” but also offered this annoying and slightly invalidating response to people’s disquiet about the incident:
“We hear your concerns … As in all cases of ‘trials through social media,’ facts and the truth are often lacking, exaggerated or non-existent … the complaint we received did not mention, accuse, or infer that a deputy ‘locked up’ or ‘arrested’ anyone.”

Maryland Legal Aid released an angry statement, saying they were:

“incensed at the treatment of our colleague, Mr. Rashad James, an extremely talented and dedicated civil legal aid attorney, who under MLA’s Community Lawyering Initiative, is tasked with navigating every stretch of this state to provide civil legal counsel and representation for Maryland’s poorest and most vulnerable individuals and communities.”

The results of the investigation notwithstanding, this likely would not have happened to a White lawyer.

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Written by Mike Walsh

Mike is a writer, dancer, actor, and singer who recently graduated with his MFA from Columbia University. Mike's daily ambitions are to meet new dogs and make new puns on a daily basis. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @mikerowavables.