Since its inception in 2011, The Community Justice Unit (CJU) in the Criminal Defense Practice has worked with Cure Violence sites to combat gun violence and provide comprehensive legal services to enable healthier and safer communities. Their ongoing initiatives include community outreach, legal education, clinics, and trainings provided to the Cure Violence network. The Unit also advocates for and empowers families and communities by teaching them their rights in the criminal and civil contexts.
CJU provides immense support for black and brown communities all over New York City through education, outreach and advocacy. Through grassroots organization and advocacy the CJU is on the front lines fighting for accountability and transparency in the criminal justice system for Hispanic and Latinx community members who are victims of police brutality and misconduct. This was the case with 17 year old Jimmy Alvarado, who on May 21st, 2018 was paralyzed from the neck down by an NYPD officer during a police encounter in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
On May 26th, Councilman Carlos Menchaca called on the city to release security camera footage of the police chase and encounter that left the teen paralyzed. The Community Justice Unit joined Council Member Menchaca alongside Jimmy Alvarado’s family and friends in solidarity demanding justice and transparency for the teenager. CJU also partnered with the grassroots group, El Grito De Sunset Park, a cop watch organization that documents police interactions in Sunset Park by helping them FOIL the NYPD for the video footage of the nearby cameras where the incident occurred.
Victor Dempsey, community advocate in the Community Justice Unit stated, “I’m out here today to stand in solidarity with the family and also the Sunset Park community…This has gone on far too many times where police have used excessive force and negligence. We want to help the family fight for justice.”