Black Voters Matter Launches Its 2023 Freedom Summer Warrant Clinics Tour Across Several States Beginning In June
National voting rights organization will host community court to expunge the records of individuals with traffic and misdemeanor warrants
GEORGIA — Today, Black Voters Matter (BVM) in partnership with Growing Real Alternatives Everywhere (GRAE) announced the kick-off of its 2023 Warrant Clinics Tour as a part of the organization’s Freedom Summer campaign. BVM and GRAE will offer ONE-DAY community court clinics in multiple states through the end of the year, beginning with Pontiac, MI in June. The program is designed to help individuals regain a sense of normalcy and freedom by eliminating outstanding traffic, misdemeanor, and in some cases, lower-level felony warrants. The warrant clinic events are held in predominantly Black and underserved communities to combat the decades of racial profiling and targeted policing in these areas. The goal of this program is to promote community justice and police accountability. Other stops on the tour include Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Alabama, and Missouri.
The warrant clinics are organized in partnership with judges, district attorneys, and community partners, and are held on Saturdays at local churches or community centers to ensure the promise of “arrest-free” spaces. Warrant clinics are family friendly and provide free childcare and a relaxed setting with a live DJ, food trucks, fun and games, and resources for the whole family. Pre-registration is required for all participants in the warrant clinic.
The warrant clinic Initiative was launched in 2017 in order to expunge the records of people whose lives have been severely impacted by the ramifications of low-level warrants. In 2022 alone, there were 270 warrants cleared resulting in $250,000 in fees and fines cleared. Outstanding warrants can have a devastating effect on a person’s ability to gain employment, approval for housing, and can result in the loss of one’s driver’s license and access to voting. Community court alleviates the fear of arrest for individuals and significantly reduces court fines and fees so they become more affordable and can be paid. In addition, this program creates a bridge so courts are able to build trust within Black and marginalized communities.
One young mother who recently walked away from an abusive relationship and ended up at the battered women and children’s shelter said last year’s warrant clinics helped her navigate a complicated judicial system and obtain her license, lifting numerous obstacles for finding work and housing for her family.“One of my case managers follows Black Voters Matter on Twitter and shared this event with me. I attended and was able to see a judge and get my warrants removed in an environment where I felt supported, safe, and respected. I AM NOW ABLE TO GET MY ID!!!! Maybe to you all this isn’t a big deal, but for me and my two kids, it is a huge deal. I have no words to thank you all for organizing the event, standing behind people in difficult and complicated situations, but most of all, for doing it compassionately. I basically left in tears(of joy), it felt like BVM helped liberate me from a traditionally rigid, complicated, and intimidating judicial process that would have been essentially hindering my ability to progress as a citizen of the community. A system that more often than not seems to target minority groups; sort of strategically maintaining a level of oppression.” said the anonymous mother of two from San Antonio, TX.
“Ever since the days of slave patrols, Black communities have historically been targeted by police as Blackness has been criminalized in this country. Low-level offenses that are typically a slap on the wrist for other groups become arrest warrants and suspended licenses for many Black people. As a result, routine traffic stops can become life or death situations. This is why we are working through community court to help lift this burden for so many. Our communities deserve better and we are demanding more accountability from law enforcement and the judicial system for better outcomes for our people,” said Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter.
LEARN MORE: To learn more about the 2023 warrant clinics and local events taking place in each state, please visit the website.