TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Attorney Benjamin Crump is gaining international attention for taking on major civil rights cases of our time.
Crump, 51, rose to national fame after taking on the civil case in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. Since then he’s added Michael Brown, Botham Jean and Tamir Rice to his case load.
The tragedies that happened to his clients have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement leading to protests and demonstrations around the world. The passion seen by protestors is something he says he feels as well.
“The reason why you see so many Black people and brown people so emotional when they see these stories of these police excessive use of force and these police shootings, because they all know without a shadow of a doubt — but by the grace of God that could be my child,” Crump said. “No question! I think about my own children every time you have one of these incident happen.”
This year alone he has traveled around the United States taking on even more high profile civil suits; including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake Jr.
He says it’s their stories that inspire him to take on the work.
“When you think about George Floyd who had Officer Derrick Chauvin’s knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds saying ‘I can’t breathe’ 28 times, saying I can’t feel my inside, I can’t feel my legs, tell my momma I love her, tell my children I love them, I’m dying now. They killing me. I mean he is literally narrating his murder by the police who gave him no respect, no professionalism, no humanity.”Benjamin Crump
On Sunday, August 23, a Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times as he leaned into an SUV, with three of his children seated inside. Kenosha police said they were responding to a domestic dispute and that Blake resisted officers when they arrived at the house. The shooting was caught on camera.
NewsNation’s Felicia Bolton asked Crump his defense in the Jacob Blake Jr. case.
“It’s the simplest defense ever! Why is it that when Black people have a video showing the police doing something inappropriate, immoral or illegal they say oh well you have to put it in context,” Crump said. “You have to see what happened first before the video started rolling, we got to look at the bigger picture, but when Black people are accused of doing something inappropriate unethical or illegal they say oh just look at the video,” Crump said.
Crump was born and raised in the small town of Lumberton, North Carolina. He’s the oldest of 9 siblings. Now, he’s quickly becoming a household name and an icon for the new civil rights movement.
He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Florida State University. Later, he became the first African American president of the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Florida and the first African American chairman of the Florida State University College of Law Board of Directors.
“I became a lawyer because I wanted to be like my personal hero Thurgood Marshall. I can’t let it be just about making money. I got to keep trying to engage people, educate people and empower people to try to make this world a better place for all of our children.”
With his legal expertise, the city of Louisville, Kentucky agreed to pay $12 million dollars to Breonna Taylor’s family and institute sweeping police reforms in a historic settlement.
“I think they had leadership that wanted to be on the right side of history. I think Mayor Fisher and his administrators understood there was a grave injustice that took place with this young woman being killed while she was in her own apartment by the people that are supposed to protect and serve her,” Crump said.
As a part of the settlement, the city agreed to establish a housing credit program as an incentive for officers to live in the areas they serve. Also, before officers seek judicial approval, police commanders must review and approve search warrants. Plus, social workers will be used on certain police runs.
“I think it’s a restructure. It’s a reimagining policing in America,” Crump said.
Despite the outcome of his civil case, the criminal case against the officers who killed Breonna Taylor did not lead to any charges in her murder. Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not recommend it .
In the eyes of Crump, that’s a searing injustice.
“It’s disturbing when you know in your heart of hearts if Breonna was a young white woman there’s no way they would have tried to offer these justifications,” Crump said.
From wrongful deaths to the Flint, Michigan water crisis and re-investigating the death of Tupac Shakur, Ben Crump has a history of taking on and winning major cases.
As the president and founder of his law firm, he and his team have won more than $30 million dollars in personal injury suits and more than $10 million in civil rights cases.
Recently in a jury trial held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, he and his team secured a $411 million settlement for a retired U.S. Army veteran injured in a 2018 multi-vehicle accident on Florida’s I-10 highway.
Despite these victories, Crump says the money is not what matters. When he isn’t in the courtroom he spends his time writing and with his family.
Crump is the author of “Open Season, Legalized Genocide of Colored People.” He is a life member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP, the Urban League and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
As protests continue across the world demanding justice for his clients, Crump hopes the work he’s doing will leave a lasting impact for generations to come.
“We want to have a more just society. A more just America where George Floyd has an opportunity to take a breath. A more just America where Breonna Taylor has an opportunity to sleep in peace. A more just America where Ahmaud Arbery has an opportunity to run free without being lynched. We’re not asking for anything extraordinary. The same way you protect and serve our white brothers and sisters, we want you to protect and serve us too.”