Prince George’s Co. town hall will discuss dilemma Black male prosecutors face

A town hall co-hosted by Prince George’s County, Maryland’s, top prosecutor will discuss the unique, and often uncomfortable, position Black male prosecutors face in the criminal justice system.

Prince George’s Deputy State’s Attorney Perry Paylor, who is Black, pointed out what he called the many micro-aggressions Black male prosecutors face.

On any given day, Paylor said he can walk into a courtroom, and the judge asks, “Where’s your lawyer?” — assuming that since he is a Black man, he must be the defendant.

While on the job, Black male prosecutors may be “on the side of law enforcement;” but “as soon as we get off work, we’re a part of a class that’s subjected to excessive force and over-policing,” Paylor said.

Paylor is among the prosecutors who will be taking part in the upcoming virtual town hall “Caught in the Crossfire: Black Male Prosecutors and the Dilemma of Consciousness,” hosted by Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy and the D.C. Chapter of the National Black Prosecutors Association.

“We absolutely believe in the system, but we absolutely believe the system can be improved. Period,” Braveboy said, explaining that the town hall is not a critique of the judicial system.

There are more Black police officers, judges and prosecutors than there have been in the past, but Paylor said while hiring people who reflect the demographic of the communities they serve matters, there also has to be a culture that allows for police and prosecutors to stand up and say something when there’s misconduct.

“The individuals you hire have to have the opportunity to change the culture,” Paylor said.

“We have to push ourselves; we can’t be afraid to have these conversations. We have to be courageous,” Braveboy said. “That’s how we become a fairer, more just society.”

The event will take place Feb. 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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