People v. Silas

Photo: The Marshall Project

When Crishala Reed, a 28-year-old Black woman, received a jury summons, she was eager to go. But when she told the court that she supported the Black Lives Matter movement, it became clear that she was not going to be seated on the jury.

She was questioned by the prosecutor about whether she supported rioting and property destruction. The trial court said her support for Black Lives Matter “gives cause to question” her fitness for jury service. And when the prosecution ultimately struck Ms. Reed from the jury, pointing to her support for Black Lives Matter, the trial court deemed the removal “race-neutral.”

Alongside a coalition of civil rights groups, we’ve filed an amicus brief in a California appeals court arguing that Ms. Reed’s removal violates the Constitution.

Support for Black Lives Matter—for the idea that Black people’s lives have inherent value—isn’t “race-neutral.” And supporting Black Lives Matter doesn’t make someone unfit to serve on a jury.

As prosecutors around the country use Black jurors’ support for Black Lives Matter as a reason to exclude them from jury service, the MacArthur Justice Center aims to set the record straight and fight to ensure that courts don’t approve of that tactic.

That these same techniques of racial discrimination, in an attempt to whitewash jury boxes, are not just part of Southern trials, but are a part of some of the most progressive parts of the United States, is exceptionally troubling.