"Of course, whenever you're delving into the representation of participants in controversial social actions, it won't be uniformly enthusiastic," he said. "But that's part of being a criminal defense attorney; you are representing those who may not otherwise have a voice, and you may not be embraced by the larger community."
The calls of complaints he has received from the public have expressed concern that the center is "supporting the protesters," Vischer said.
"I point out that representing someone who is accused of a crime is separate from whether you support the underlying action that they have been arrested for," said Vischer. "Ensuring that someone has representation doesn't mean that the person will escape all punishment for violating the law."
"Defense attorneys broadly have to represent everyone," said Bari. "That is our duty as attorneys. We have to represent people, we have to give people a fair shot at justice in our justice system."
Koziol said that the voices that criticize the clinic often point to the destruction that ensued with protests, often saying, "look at the destruction of Minneapolis and other cities, you are supposed to be taking care of creation, not destroying it," Koziol reported.
Bari challenged that assertion, saying that "by amplifying and standing up for communities who have traditionally been pushed down and silenced, we're helping to not just keep our gardens and yards looking nice, we're helping to actually deliver true justice, which is the fulcrum that any kind of creation needs to be premised on."
"The protests are legitimate and the tactics that have turned violent were turned violent by police," said Koziol. "When protestors can speak up, they can create meaningful change."
As a former public defendant in Chicago, Moran said that she is accustomed to being criticized for her work.
"I'd like to have a longer conversation with them," said Moran. "We have a duty to advocate for the marginalized and we have a duty to stand up for those who have been wronged, particularly when they have been wronged by an abusive authority. That should be very consistent with Catholicism."
The center believes that in defending the protesters it is living its Catholic identity.
"I think a Catholic law school should be instrumental in helping provide a voice for the voiceless and that the views of those on the margins of society are heard, and I think that a criminal defense clinic, generally, is aligned well with that mission, and that includes protesters who are arrested for protests," Vischer said.
"By protecting freedom of speech and expression, that doesn't just help one person, it helps all of us, which is directly tied to our mission, which is 'for the common good,'" said Bari, quoting the University of St. Thomas motto. "It's not isolated as one incident."
"It is deeply Catholic to affirm the dignity of every person, and that's really the starting point for what we're doing here," said Moran. "We are affirming the dignity of George Floyd. After the police denied that dignity and treated him as if he had no value, we are affirming that his life mattered."