After chalking up major financial victories for the families of George Floyd and other victims of police brutality, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump said he’s eyeing the US banking system as his next target.
In an interview ahead of the June 19 release of “Civil,” a Netflix documentary about him, Crump said he also plans to continue his efforts to use the civil courts to achieve racial justice. Money talks, as he put it: Big payouts from local governments and corporations can make a difference in how Black people are treated.
In April, Crump, a personal-injury lawyer, joined a lawsuit against Wells Fargo & Co. over racial disparities in home-lending practices. He has called on governments and other institutions to stop doing business with the bank. Bloomberg in March published an article showing that Wells Fargo approved just 47% of Black homeowners who completed applications to refinance mortgages in 2020, compared with 72% of white applicants.
The pharmaceutical industry and the case of Henrietta Lacks, the Black woman whose “immortal” cells underpin many modern-day biomedical breakthroughs, are also in his sights. He awaits a Baltimore federal district judge’s ruling on whether to dismiss a lawsuit he filed against one biomedical company, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., on behalf of the Lacks family.
Crump, 52, is one of the US’s most prominent civil rights lawyers. He led the legal team that negotiated a $27 million settlement with Minneapolis for the family of George Floyd, the largest pretrial settlement in a civil rights wrongful-death case. He also represented the families of Ahmaud Arbery, the jogger whose killers were sentenced in January to life in prison; Breonna Taylor, killed in 2020 by police during a botched drug raid; and Trayvon Martin, the teen shot dead by a neighborhood watchman in 2012.
Crump has been