8 things to know about Tallahassee civil rights attorney Ben Crump

In some of the nation's most controversial and racially charged legal cases of the last 10 years, Tallahassee civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump has been front and center.

He has represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and the residents of Flint, Michigan, among others. His relentless promotion of those cases helped triggered nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Here are a few things to know about Ben Crump.

'Awed and humbled': Netflix debuts Ben Crump documentary 'Civil' on Juneteenth

Ben Crump was born in North Carolina but became an FSU grad

Benjamin Lloyd Crump, 52, was born in Lumberton, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg, the oldest of nine siblings and step-siblings. His mother worked two jobs, as a factory worker and hotel housekeeper and he grew up in an extended household.

She later sent him to live with her second husband in Plantation, Florida, where he attended South Plantation High before going to Florida State University to receive his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from FSU College of Law in 1992 and his Juris Doctor in 1995. That's where he met his future law partner, Daryl Parks.

In 2017, Crump and Parks decided to part ways and Crump started his own Tallahassee-based national firm, Ben Crump Law.

Crump is married to Dr. Genae Angelique Crump and is the father of Brooklyn Zeta Crump and legal guardian to Chancellor Isiah Crump and Jemarcus Olajuwan Crump.

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The Trayvon Martin case brought Ben Crump national attention

Many in the Florida Panhandle first got to know Crump when he helped raise public outcry about the death of Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old boy who was killed on his first day incarcerated at a boot camp-style youth detention center in Panama City. Crump won more than $10 million for Anderson's family from the state of Florida and other entities.

But Crump rose to national prominence when he represented the family of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in 2012. Zimmerman was acquitted, but Crump helped the family settle a wrongful death lawsuit against the homeowners association where Martin was killed for a reported $1-2 million.

Since then, Crump has been standing alongside grieving families all over the country and has been called "Black America's Attorney General."

National notice: After Trayvon Martin, Tallahassee's Ben Crump became civil rights go-to lawyer

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Ben Crump represented the family of George Floyd

Arguably Crump's biggest national case came when Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, in the course of an arrest in May 2020, knelt on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, for more than nine minutes, leading to his death. Phone video of Floyd gasping for air and repeatedly pleading "I can't breathe" while a crowd shouted at Chauvin and three other officers went viral and touched off months of protests across the country.

With Crump representing the family, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a $27 million settlement, the most money offered in a pretrial civil rights settlement in u.S. history. Chauvin was ultimately found guilty of state murder and manslaughter and sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison. He's appealing the verdict.

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Ben Crump: Black lives have always had a price. Floyd case brought new accountability.

Ben Crump represented the family of Breonna Taylor

In March 2020, Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were asleep when Louisville, Kentucky police executed a no-knock warrant, banging on their door and then bursting into their home with a battering ram. Unaware the plainclothes intruders were police, Walker fired at them as they broke in, striking one officer in the leg. The police returned fire, spraying the apartment with 32 bullets and striking Taylor eight times, killing her.

Crump was hired to represent Taylor's family, Six months later they were awarded a $12 million settlement against the Louisville Police Department, which also promised multiple police reforms. Louisville also moved to ban no-knock warrants with an ordinance called Breonna's Law, and several states followed suit.

Despite public outcry and nationwide protests, none of the officers were charged with her death. One officer, Brett Hankison, was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.

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Ben Crump represented the family of Ahmaud Arbery

Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot three times as he jogged through Satilla Shores, a neighborhood two miles from his home in Brunswick, Georgia. Three white men, Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and Travis' neighbor William Bryan saw him running in their neighborhood. They later told police, believed him to be a burglary suspect.

The McMichaels armed themselves and drove after Arbery in one vehicle with Bryan following in another. Arbery, who was unarmed, attempted to flee during the five-minute chase, but after a confrontation and struggle Travis McMichael shot him three times with a shotgun. Bryan recorded this on his phone.

No arrests were made for over two months until the video was released online, and then it quickly went viral, bringing nationwide criticism of racial profiling and the problems of getting law enforcement to address the killings of Black people. All three men were ultimately convicted and are serving life in prison for Arbery's murder, with hate crime and kidnapping charges added later.

"The reason they arrested Travis and Greg McMichael for executing Ahmaud Arbery was not because the law enforcement officials saw the video,” Crump said in a statement to NPR. “It was because we the people saw the video, and we were outraged when we saw that modern-day lynching and because we could not unsee what we have saw on that video."

Justice for Arbery's family: Ahmaud Arbery verdict represents 'progress' toward 'true justice,' civil rights leaders say

Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump has been named in Time Magazine's list of world's 100 most influential people.
Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump has been named in Time Magazine's list of world's 100 most influential people.

Ben Crump was named in Time's 2021 list of world's most influential people

"I’m very humbled and grateful to be acknowledged as one of the most influential people in the world, but I never forget why God blessed me with this influence,” Crump told the Tallahassee Democrat. "I think about so often the people who are not present with us today who we must continue to keep their legacy relevant in the present day.”

Crump, whose profile was written by activist and author Gwen Carr, is listed among 15 others in the "Pioneers" category, which includes singer Billie Eilish, Indonesian public health researcher Adi Utarini and Olympic gymnast Sunisa Lee.

Crump also has been listed in Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 Most Influential African Americans, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, and was the 2014 NNPA Newsmaker of the Year. He has been recognized with the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award, the SCLC Martin Luther King Servant Leader Award, the American Association for Justice Johnnie Cochran Award, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Eleanor Roosevelt Medallion for Service. He has also served as the president of the National Bar Association.

From 2015: Benjamin Crump new president of National Bar Association

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There's a Ben Crump documentary coming to Netflix

"Civil," produced by #BlackAF and "Blackish" creator Kenya Barris, debuts on Netflix on Juneteenth, June 19. Director Nadia Hallgren, recently known for directing former First Lady Michelle Obama's Netflix "Becoming" documentary, followed Crump for a year getting interviews with his law partners, investigators, family and community leaders in Tallahassee as well as a look at his life outside the courts.

“There are a lot of things that people don’t see,” said Adner Marcelin, an attorney in Crump’s law firm. “They don’t see the days when Mr. Crump is sleeping on a window, because that's the only little bit of time he gets to sleep. The constant 24 hours and being up all day, running around with staff, just to be able to get justice for a particular person.”

'CIVIL': Netflix documentary in the works on civil rights attorney Ben Crump

That's not Ben Crump's only television production

Crump clearly has an interest in getting his views out in front of people wherever he can. He hosted the critically acclaimed legal docudrama "Evidence of Innocence" on TVOne and "Who Killed Tupac: The Search For Justice" on A&E, appeared on "You The Jury" on FOX and served as executive producer of the documentary "Woman in Motion" about Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura from "Star Trek"), one of the first African-American TV actresses. He has appeared in the documentary "Beating Justice," the story of the Martin Lee Anderson case, and BET's "I am Trayvon." He is currently listed as an executive producer for the upcoming documentary "American Originals" and the movie "The Highwaymen."

He's even acted here and there. He portrayed attorney Z. Alexander Looby in the 2017 movie "Marshall," and appeared as himself in the show "Black Lightning," the movie "Karen," and in the "Love One Another" music video from Tay Da Prince featuring John Legend.

Contributors: TaMaryn Waters, Tallahassee Democrat; Nicquel Terry Ellis, USA TODAY

C. A. Bridges is a Digital Producer for the USA TODAY Network, working with multiple newsrooms across Florida. Local journalists work hard to keep you informed about the things you care about, and you can support them by subscribing to your local news organizationRead more articles by Chris here and follow him on Twitter at @cabridges

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Ben Crump: What you need to know about the Tallahassee attorney