PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - While Black male prosecutors in Prince George’s County and across the nation are defending the law, many also have experience facing micro-aggressions. That’s why now they’re working to improve the overall justice system.
Perry Paylor, Prince George’s Deputy State’s Attorney explains:
"I am employed in a law enforcement capacity. I’m a criminal prosecutor, but at the very same time – I’m a member of a class of Black male that has been the subject of over-policing at times and victimized. Subjected to excessive force based on our race and gender.
Paylor said when he walked into a courtroom years ago he was asked by a judge, "Where’s your lawyer?" They assumed that since he is a Black man, he must be the defendant.
"It’s not always culturally legitimate to view the Black man in the courthouse as the defendant, but rather now you see we can be the leader, the judge, the prosecutor, the elected officials, so we want to make sure that we’re viewed in all positive light as well," said Paylor.
In Prince George’s County, one of the wealthiest African American communities in the country, there are more Black police officers, judges, and prosecutors than there have been in the past.
The county’s top prosecutor, Aisha Braveboy, says while hiring people who reflect the demographic of the communities they serve is important, there also has to be a change in culture that allows for police and prosecutors to stand up and say something when there’s misconduct.
That’s why on February 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., she will co-host a virtual town hall to discuss the unique, and often uncomfortable, position Black male prosecutors face in the criminal justice system.
Anyone interested can sign up here: CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE: Black male prosecutors and the dilemma of consciousness
Braveboy said what sparked the idea is when George Floyd was killed by a police officer, she couldn’t help, but think about how Black male prosecutors are impacted.
"I thought about what they must be feeling, right now, at this time in America, where there’s this outcry for reform, for justice, for constitutional police, for all of these things yet they have to every day as part of their duties to our community, go in and prosecute people who look exactly like them," said Braveboy.
The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office plans to take a closer look at their policies, how they charge, sentencing recommendations, and among other ideas to improve the justice system.