On January 16, 2015, Bay Area lawyers staged a die-in in front of the California Supreme Court in San Francisco to stand in support of the #blacklivesmatter campaign against the killings of unarmed citizens including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.
The action took place as part of a series of 96 hours of actions staged across the Bay Area with the intent of reclaiming "the radical legacy of Martin Luther King."
BLSA co-President Allyssa Villanueva gave a rousing speech to the crowd of over one hundred lawyers, including Jeff Adachi ‘88, Emeritus Professor Shauna Marshall and Professor Alina Ball. Speaking into the megaphone, Villanueva told them, “The movement against anti-Black policing and state violence is just beginning to gain a large base and national media attention. This die-in is a call to action to the Bay Area legal community to take our rightful place in this movement!”
Before coming to UC Hastings, Villanueva was involved in many civil demonstrations related to access to education, racial inequality, and other social justice issues. “It is important for us (lawyers) not to just talk about the problems but to be visible in the community,” she said. “This is more important in the legal profession where Black attorneys are less than 5%. The die-in was a visible sign of solidarity with other community actions and the demands they are placing on our legal system to eradicate racism in policing and provide equal protection under the law.”
Villanueva said she was honored to introduce the next speaker, Eva Patterson, Director and Co-founder of the Equal Justice Society, who has been a huge inspiration to her.