A Note from CEO Joel Copperman on the Capitol Riot

Dear CASES Community 

Wednesday was a frightening day in a year of many days that have felt like a waking nightmare. Wednesday was a stark reminder of the reality of two Americas. Last summer, we witnessed aggressive, often militaristic police deployments against Black Lives Matter protesters across the country. Wednesday, we witnessed a mob—apparently led by armed white supremacists—face a mostly minimal police response as they stormed and desecrated our Capitol building.  

While one police officer tragically lost his life on Wednesday, there have been many photos circulating of police officers posing for selfies with the mostly white mob rioters. These deeply troubling and infuriating images must be held alongside the images of violent, preemptive police force that marked many of the Black Lives Matters protests this summer, including here in New York City 

Our work at CASES requires that we be open-eyed, honest, and vigilant. We work with people caught in a racist criminal legal system in a country rife with racial inequities. I believe working at CASES—helping people affected by the injustices of the criminal legal systemrequires resilience and hope. I know that neither is a given and both require support to sustain. Wednesday was a difficult and potentially traumatizing day for all of us but especially for all those who themselves or whose loved ones have been victims of police action. This is a time to be especially vigilant in our support of our friends, our family, and the people we work with who may be traumatized by Wednesday’s mob violence and limited police response—and attentive to our own self-care, as well. 

Maybe it’s a long-practiced January reflex that makes me want to close this note by saying something about it being a new year. Though I am hopeful for a 2021 that is healthy and freer (in all senses of that word), I know the all-too-familiar struggles will continue. As we enter the New Year, I am grateful to be a part of the CASES community and to continue our critical work. 


Joel Copperman, CEO


Image by Martin Falbisoner.