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Ken Thompson’s widow helps out the Black Bar Association’s suit drive

February 10, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Lu-Shawn Thompson, the widow of the late District Attorney Ken Thompson, with Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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The Metropolitan Black Bar Association has been running its Suited for Success men’s suit drive since Jan. 17, but on Wednesday it got a nice donation of 20 suits from Lu-Shawn Thompson, the widow of the late District Attorney Ken Thompson.

To make the announcement, Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez hosted a press conference with Thompson and Paula Edgar, president of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA) in the lobby of 350 Jay St. on Wednesday. The suits will be given to men who have been recently released from the Rikers Island Prison Complex in an effort to help them to try to find jobs.

“My husband, the late and great Ken Thompson, would be happy to know that 20 of his suits and related clothing have been passed on to individuals seeking a better life,” Thompson said. “It is my hope and prayer that this clothing helps someone land their first significant job, obtain independence or even improve their self-esteem. The legacy of my husband will live on through the men who will ultimately adorn his clothes and make their own marks on the world.”

Of course, a big part of Thompson’s legacy will be the work he did with his Conviction Review Unit. The unit was technically started by Thompson’s predecessor Charles Hynes, but it was under Thompson’s watch that the unit grew to be the largest of its kind in the country and was responsible for releasing 22 innocent people.

“The late District Attorney Ken Thompson firmly believed in fairness and second chances,” Gonzalez said. “With today’s generous donation of his personal professional wardrobe, DA Thompson’s legacy continues on and ex-offenders are given an opportunity to present their best self as they seek gainful employment.”

The MBBA is partnered with the DA’s Office and other organizations including 100 Suits for 100 Men and the NAACP-Mid Manhattan Branch while it runs its Suited for Success drive. The drive started last month and will run through Feb. 10. So far the drive has collected 65 men’s suits and more than 200 related items. In addition to 20 of her late husband’s suits, Thompson also donated 22 shirts, 40 ties and 10 pairs of shoes.

In a press release, the MBBA claimed that 67 percent of prisoners are rearrested within three years of release from prison. Their goal through this drive, the association said, is to help the recently incarcerated stay out of prison. Those interested in helping can donate suits to the Brooklyn DA’s Office located at 350 Jay St. through this Friday. Suits can be left in the lobby.

ABOVE: Kim Parker, executive director of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association; Charlene Harden, administrative assistant of 100 Suits for 100 Men; Kevin Livingston, president of 100 Suits for 100 Men; Paula Edgar, president of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association; Lu-Shawn Thompson; and Eric Gonzalez, acting Brooklyn district attorney. Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office

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