Although most reform prosecutors face opposition from police unions and other stakeholders seeking to maintain the status quo, in recent years Black women lead prosecutors seeking change have faced a unique and especially virulent series of attacks. These have included lawsuits, appointments of special prosecutors, and racialized intimidation—including death threats, use of racist language, and even a noose that was delivered to one prosecutor.  

In response, Vera created Black Women Lead, an effort that provides strategic support to Black women lead prosecutors facing racialized attacks on their reform agendas. As part of this effort, Vera’s Reshaping Prosecution team organized a retreat in August 2019 that provided Black women prosecutors with a space to regroup and strategize, opportunities for professional and personal support, and sessions with experts on navigating hostile political environments. In January 2020, our team joined a group of Black women elected prosecutors for a press conference and panel in support of Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis Kim Gardner, who has faced virulent and sustained attacks from local “law and order” stakeholders opposing her reform efforts and has filed a federal lawsuit against both the City of St. Louis and its police union over these attacks. Our team helped organize and facilitate the press conference to highlight and support the reforms being pursued by reform-minded Black women elected lead prosecutors like Gardner despite racist and gendered attacks. Finally, Vera has partnered with the Justice and Public Safety Action Fund to coordinate with leaders from several social justice organizations, including The Justice Collaborative, ACLU, and Color of Change, to provide ongoing legal, professional, and communications support.