Legal Aid of Manasota, then Americans Who Tell the Truth, Weds. July 22 at 9am on Peace & Justice
Written by Tom Walker on Sunday, July 19, 2020
This Wednesday, July 22 at 9am, we’ll have as our first guest Linda Harradine, Esq., CEO of Legal Aid of Manasota and Larry Eger, Esq., Board Chair, respectively. They’ll tell us how you can get free legal help on civil (not criminal) matters. She’ll also tell us about the new rental and mortgage assistance funds soon to be offered by Sarasota and Manatee counties. Here are some of the areas where Legal Aid of Manasota can help now:
- Consumer Issues
- Divorce Clinic
- Domestic Violence*
- Family Law
- Medical Legal Partnership
- Nonprofit Assistance
- Other Legal Services
- Wills & Advance Directives
Here is Larry Eger’s statement about the work of Legal Aid of Manasota:
The truth is our justice system works better for some than others. If you happen to be poor, there are overwhelming barriers to justice. By law, a defendant in a criminal case, gets a court appointed attorney (usually a public defender) if they can’t afford one. Unfortunately, the defendant in a civil case who cannot afford an attorney, does not have this privilege. If they can’t pay, they don’t get one. For 28 years, Legal Aid Manasota has been the champion of civil justice for low-come residents in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Legal Aid Manasota provides free civil legal services to low-income residents by partnering with local lawyers. It is this group of local pro bono and staff lawyers who helps stabilize homes, health and families, making our community stronger socially and economically.
It’s easy to assume some basic truths about our justice system. It’s easy to assume that everyone who encounters a life-changing problem such as wrongful treatment by a landlord or debt collector, a problem like child custody or being denied healthcare benefits will get a fair process in our civil courts. But for many low-income residents of Sarasota and Manatee counties who cannot afford to hire an attorney, they will lose their cases in civil court, not because they have done something wrong, but because they don’t have the legal information or help they need. Complex court proceedings and requirements present major barriers to fair and just results. A skilled lawyer is a necessity in court.
On the second half of our show we’ll talk to Bob Shetterly of Americans Who Tell the Truth. Bob is an artist who painted a series of portraits of citizens who “courageously address issues of social, environmental, and economic fairness… By combining art and other media, AWTT offers resources to inspire a new generation of engaged Americans who will act for the common good, our communities, and the Earth.”
Bob painted the portrait of John Lewis above.
John Lewis, the civil rights leader and congressman who died on July 17, wrote this essay shortly before his death:
While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.
That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.
Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.
Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.
Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.
Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.
You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, though decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.
Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.