LVDSA Steering Committee Condemns the Attacks Against Judge Erika Ballou
Earlier this week, a video showed Clark County District Court Judge Erika Ballou presiding over a case and speaking with a defendant. In the video, Judge Ballou told the defendant:
“You’re a Black man in America. You know you don’t want to be nowhere where cops are… cause I know I don’t, and I’m a middle-aged, middle-class Black woman. I don’t want to be around where the cops are because I don’t know if I’m going to walk away alive or not…[Y]ou should have walked away instead of staying. You needed to walk away because you knew you were on probation, you knew.” Judge Ballou then revoked the defendant’s probation due to a violation.
What we see here is Judge Ballou describing her experience as a Black woman while still upholding her duty as a judge.
Nonetheless, the Las Vegas Police Protective Association (LVPPA) quickly lived up to its name and worked to shield law enforcement from any forms of criticism, going so far as to call for Judge Ballou’s resignation. They were followed by a statement from Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Sheriff and gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo.
This is because Lombardo and LVPPA know the facts:
- Black people are 2.6x more likely to be arrested by LVMPD than a white person
- Black people make up 29% of the incarcerated population, despite only being 8% of the state’s population
- Black people were the subject of 43% of LVMPD’s non-deadly-use-of-force incidents and 50% of LVMPD’s officer-involved-shootings in 2021
- Las Vegas and surrounding areas are significantly overpoliced compared to cities of a similar population, and mostly arrest for low-level (not serious) offenses
- Earlier this year, LVMPD killed a young Black man in the middle of the night while implementing a “no-knock” warrant which the victim was not associated with
This is not the first time that LVPPA has attacked Judge Ballou. In 2016, the police union’s executive director wrote a statement to object to Ballou, then a defense attorney, for wearing a Black Lives Matter pin, calling it “propaganda”.
LVPPA, LVMPD, and Joe Lombardo deflect from their own egregious, racist failures because they value protecting police from criticism more than they value preserving Black lives and the dignity and well-being of Black people.
We call on community leaders and elected officials to defend Judge Ballou’s statements, and condemn Joe Lombardo and the LVPPA for their continued attacks against a fair, honest judge elected to represent and serve her community. Their attempts to invalidate the experiences of Black people, especially as it relates to law enforcement, must be denounced.
We invite all to join us in our fight to dismantle the prison-industrial complex, defund and demilitarize police, and replace them with systems that actually keep people safe so that one day we can all live without fear of police.