In some of the nation’s most controversial and racist court cases over the past 10 years, Tallahassee civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump has been at the forefront.
He has represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and the residents of Flint, Michigan, among others. His relentless promotion of these cases has helped spark nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
Here are a few things to know about Ben Crump.
“Intimidated and humiliated”:Netflix releases Ben Crump’s ‘Civilian’ documentary on June 19
Ben Crump was born in North Carolina but graduated from FSU
Benjamin Lloyd Crump, 52, was born in Lumberton, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg, the eldest of nine siblings and half-siblings. His mother worked two jobs, as a factory worker and hotel cleaner, and he grew up in an extended family.
She later sent him to live with her second husband in Plantation, Florida, where he attended South Plantation High before going to Florida State University to receive his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from FSU College of Law in 1992. and his Juris Doctor in 1995. This is where he met his future legal partner, Daryl Parks.
In 2017, Crump and Parks decided to go their separate ways and Crump has created his own national company based in Tallahassee, Ben Crump’s Law.
Crump is married to Dr. Genae Angelique Crump and is the father of Brooklyn Zeta Crump and the legal guardian of Chancellor Isiah Crump and Jemarcus Olajuwan Crump.
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The Trayvon Martin case caught Ben Crump’s national attention
Many Florida Panhandle residents became acquainted with Crump when he helped raise the public outcry over the death of Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old boy who was killed on the first day of his incarceration at a boot camp-style youth detention center in Panama City. Crump won over $10 million for Anderson’s family from the state of Florida and other entities.
But Crump gained national notoriety when he represented the 17-year-old family Trayvon Martinwho was fatally shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in 2012. Zimmerman was acquitted, but Crump helped the family settle a wrongful death lawsuit against the homeowners association where Martin was killed for the amount of 1 to 2 million dollars.
Since then, Crump has been alongside bereaved families nationwide and has been called “Black America’s Attorney General”.
Ben Crump represented the family of George Floyd
Crump’s biggest national case arguably came when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, during an arrest in May 2020, knelt on George Floyd’s necka black man, for more than nine minutes, leading to his death. Phone video of Floyd out of breath and repeatedly pleading ‘I can’t breathe’ as a crowd yelled at Chauvin and three other officers went viral and fired up months of protests Across the country.
With Crump representing the family, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a $27 million settlement, the most money offered in a pretrial civil rights settlement in U.S. history. Chauvin was finally found guilty of state murder and manslaughter and sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison. It is appeal the verdict.
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Ben Crump represented Breonna Taylor’s family
In March 2020, Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were sleeping when police in Louisville, Ky., executed a no-knock warrant, knocking on their door and then breaking into their home with a battering ram. Unaware that the plainclothes intruders were police officers, Walker fired at them as they broke in, hitting an officer in the leg. The police responded, spraying the apartment with 32 bullets and hitting Taylor eight timeskilling her.
Crump was hired to represent Taylor’s family, Six months later they were awarded a $12 million settlement against the Louisville Police Department, which has also promised multiple police reforms. Louisville also moved to ban no-knock warrants with an order called Breonna’s Lawand several states have followed suit.
Despite public outcry and nationwide protests, none of the officers have been charged in his death. An officer, Brett Hankison, was charged with three counts of wanton first-degree endangerment.
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Ben Crump represented Ahmaud Arbery’s family
Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot three times while jogging in Satilla Shores, a neighborhood two miles from his home in Brunswick, Georgia. Three white men, Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and Travis’ neighbor William Bryan saw him running in their neighborhood. They later told police they believed he was a burglary suspect.
The McMichaels armed themselves and drove after Arbery in one vehicle followed by Bryan in another. Arbery, who was unarmed, attempted to flee during the five-minute chase, but after a confrontation and struggle Travis McMichael shot him three times with a shotgun. bryan recorded this on his phone.
No arrests were made for over two months until the video was uploaded, then it quickly went viral, bringing national critique of racial profiling and the problems in getting law enforcement to deal with black murders. The three men were eventually convicted and are serving life in prison for Arbery’s murderwith hate crimes and kidnapping charges added later.
“The reason they arrested Travis and Greg McMichael for executing Ahmaud Arbery is not because law enforcement officials saw the video,” Crump said in a statement to NPR. “It’s because we the people saw the video, and we were outraged when we saw this modern lynching and because we couldn’t ignore what we saw on this video.”
Justice for Arbery’s family:Ahmaud Arbery’s verdict represents ‘progress’ towards ‘real justice’, civil rights leaders say
Ben Crump named to Time’s 2021 list of the world’s most influential people
“I am very humbled and grateful to be recognized as one of the most influential people in the world, but I never forget why God blessed me with this influence,” Crump told the Tallahassee Democrat. “I think so often of the people who are not here with us today and who we need to continue to ensure their legacy remains relevant today.”
Crump, whose profile was written by activist and author Gwen Carr, is among 15 others in the “Trailblazers” category, which includes singer Billie Eilish, Indonesian public health researcher Adi Utarini and Olympic gymnast Sunisa Lee.
Crump was also listed in Ebony magazine’s 100 Most Influential African Americans, Top 100 National Trial Lawyers, and was the 2014 NNPA Reporter of the Year. He received the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award, the SCLC Martin Luther King Servant Leader Award, the American Association for Justice Johnnie Cochran Award, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Eleanor Roosevelt Medallion for Service. He was also president of the National Bar Association.
A Ben Crump documentary is coming to Netflix
“Civil,” produced by #BlackAF and “Blackish” creator Kenya Barris, debuts on Netflix June 19. Director Nadia Hallgren, most recently known for directing former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Netflix documentary “Becoming,” followed Crump for a year securing interviews with her legal partners, investigators, family and community leaders in Tallahassee. as well as a glimpse of his life outside the courts. .
“There’s a lot of things that people don’t see,” said Adner Marcelin, attorney at Crump Law Firm. “They don’t see the days when Mr. Crump sleeps on a window because that’s the only bit of time he has to sleep. The constant 24 hours and being on your feet all day, running around with staff, just so you can get justice for one particular person.
This isn’t Ben Crump’s only TV production
Crump clearly has an interest in getting his point across to people wherever he can. He hosted the critically acclaimed legal docudrama “Evidence of Innocence” on TVOne and “Who Killed Tupac: The Search For Justice” on A&E, appeared on “You the juryon FOX and was executive producer of the documentary “Woman in Motion” about Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura of “Star Trek”), one of the first African-American television actresses. He appeared in the documentary “Beating Justice , “the story of the Martin Lee Anderson affair and BET’s “I am Trayvon.” He is currently listed as an executive producer of the upcoming documentary “American Originals” and the movie “The Highwaymen.”
He even played here and there. He played lawyer Z. Alexander Looby in the 2017 film “Marshall” and appeared as himself in the show “Black Lightning”, the film “Karen” and in the music video “Love One Another” of Tay Da Prince with John Legend. .
Contributors: TaMaryn Waters, Democrat of Tallahassee; Nicquel Terry Ellis, USA TODAY
CA Bridges is a digital producer for the USA TODAY Network, working with several newsrooms across Florida. Local journalists work hard to keep you informed about the topics that matter to you, and you can support them by subscribing to your local news agency. Read more of Chris’ articles here and follow him on Twitter at @cabridges