National Lawyer's Guild

Member Recap: Feb. 25, 2021

 

Welcome to the rebranded Member Recap, formerly known as the Member News Digest, where you can catch up on NLG news from the last two weeks.

Be sure to keep up with us in real time on social media, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

 

Upcoming & Recorded Events NEXT WEEK: Week Against Mass Incarceration (WAMI2021) Begins!

Stay tuned for a recap of all the great events our NLG law student chapters organize around the theme of “Prison Abolition and Beyond” to include all locations and instances in which people are held against their will, including jails, immigration detention, juvenile detention facilities, psychiatric wards, and more. We also intend the “beyond” to include consideration of the abolition of policing as part of the larger mass incarceration system (and in line with the Guild’s 2020 resolution supporting the abolition of police). Check out the #WAMI2021 page on our website for ways to get involved.

More information about the various events can be found on our social media pages!

Recording: NLG San Francisco-Bay Area Press Conference with Anti Police-Terror Project

You can watch this press conference from February 18, where NLG San Francisco-Bay Area spoke with the Anti Police-Terror Project demanding that the Marin County D.A. Lori Frugoli drop the charges against Indigenous women & two spirit people who demonstrated against the genocidal colonizer Junipero Serra on Indigenous Peoples Day 2020.

 

 

National, Committee, and Chapter Statements and News NLG Announces 2021 Haywood Burns Fellows

The NLG National Office is pleased to introduce our 2021 Haywood Burns Fellowship recipients! The Fellowships sponsor law students and legal workers to spend the summer working for public interest organizations across the country in order to build their legal skills , strengthen their long-term commitment to social justice, and provide much-needed legal support to under-served communities.

This year we will send five aspiring people’s lawyers to work on projects focusing on racial justice, immigrant justice, eviction defense, police violence, prison law reform, and the opioid epidemic. Our fellows will be working at social justice organizations including the Advancement Project, the People’s Law Office, Communities Resist, AppalRed, and Project South. Congratulations to Xena Sofia Hinson, Julian Montijo, Jackie Park, Colleen Ryan, and Stephanie Sorquira. 

Poor Peoples’ Army: NLG Philadelphia, NLG Housing Committee, and NLG National Sign Onto Philadelphia Anti-Evicition Campaign

The campaign calls for no evictions of 30+ families taking shelter in abandoned HUD properties in Philly.

“As the homelessness continues with the ongoing pandemic and heightened joblessness, lawyers need to take sides and support poor people organizing themselves to survive against corporations and the rich,” said Sarah White, Co-Chair of NLG Housing Committee.

You can sign the petition at http://bit.ly/3duKIk8 & read the press release at poorpeoplesarmy.com/#press.

NLG Adopts Resolution Supporting the Abolition of Policing

National Lawyers Guild (NLG) membership voted to pass a resolution supporting police abolition following its #Law4thePeople Convention last fall, acknowledging that the institution of policing is incompatible with the NLG’s mission to use law in defense of human rights and ecosystems over property interests. Taking leadership from community demands reiterated during last summer’s uprisings against racist police violence catalyzed by the murder of George Floyd, the resolution calls for the “defunding, dismantling and abolition” of policing in all its forms. […]

The NLG National Office, in collaboration with the proponents of the resolution, will be implementing the resolution by presenting the forthcoming programming and resources:

NLG Signs Onto Letter Demanding DOJ Review Chevron’s Retaliatory Litigation Against Human Rights Attorney Steven Donziger

The NLG one of 13 organizations who signed this letter led by Amazon Watch to incoming AG Garland demanding a comprehensive review of the legal attacks against Steven Donziger, including retaliatory SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) litigation by Chevron.

“These actions will allow Mr. Donziger to return to his human rights work and will allow those affected by Chevron’s massive pollution to collect the court judgement against the company in the United States or in other jurisdictions around the world,” the letter states. You can read the whole letter here.

NLG Signs Onto Letter in Support of Indian Farmers Protest

The NLG has signed onto the following letter of support of the Indian Farmers Protest, which is estimated to be the largest strike in history.

“Since the end of November, up to a million protesters have travelled to the outskirts of Delhi, India to protest three recent farm laws that will deregulate India’s agriculture industry in unprecedented ways, threatening the already strained livelihoods of millions of farmers to the benefit of massive corporations. […]

“Justice for Migrant Women is proud to demonstrate our solidarity with the farmers’ protest, alongside more than 75 like-minded organizations across the US and beyond,” said Mónica Ramírez, Founder and President of Justice for Migrant Women. “India’s response to these peaceful demonstrations run counter to the fundamental values shared by all democracies — among them freedom of expression, protest, and the press, as well as the fundamental dignity of all people — and it is time that we all lend our voices to speak against this unjust treatment with those who are fighting for their lives and livelihoods.” 

 

Arkansas Appeals Court Strike Down anti-BDS Law, After Amicus Brief Filed by NLG and Project South

“The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Arkansas’ anti-BDS law on Friday in a clear win against unconstitutional legislation attempting to silence advocacy for Palestinian rights. National Lawyers Guild and Project South had filed an amicus brief in Arkansas Times, LP v. Mark Waldrip, et. al, challenging the anti-boycott law, which required government contractors to sign a “loyalty oath” pledging not to boycott Israel.

“The Circuit Court’s opinion this morning reaffirms that there can be no exception, in a free society, to the right to defend oppressed people in Palestine through our speech and advocacy — including boycotts,” said Amith Gupta, co-author of the brief and Atlanta-based civil rights attorney, NLG member, and former Legal Fellow with Project South.”

 

NLG Seattle, CLDC, and Others File Amicus Brief in Support of Washington State Minister

“Despite the rapidly accelerating climate emergency, a Washington State Court of Appeals recently denied the Reverend George Taylor the right to mount a necessity defense in association with his civil disobedience action to confront this existential ecological and human rights crisis (State ex rel. Haskell v. Spokane County Dist. Court). With this denial of due process now under reconsideration by the Washington State Supreme Court, three Pacific Northwest civil liberties legal organizations have filed a brief of amici curiae (friend of the Court) asking the Court to reverse the lower Court’s ruling and allow this critical ‘lesser of two evils’ defense to move forward.

“Civil disobedience is an integral thread in the fabric of U.S. democracy. A ruling that individuals who engage in civil disobedience cannot present the necessity defense to a jury undermines our history of validating civil disobedience as an appropriate means of challenging an entrenched status quo. Such a ban deprives individuals of their due process rights,” said National Lawyers Guild attorney, Neil Fox.”

Check out NLG Seattle’s other work here.

NLG In The News 2/25/21 | In These Times The Right Is Using the Capitol Riot as a Trojan Horse to Target the Left

“In the wake of the January 6 pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol, momentum has grown across the country to institute a new, domestic ​“war on terror.” In response, scores of civil rights organizations such as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a group of progressive lawmakers including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D‑Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D‑N.Y.) have objected, cautioning that such an aggressive response could end up targeting activist groups and vulnerable communities. 

The events since January 6 suggest that these warnings are all-too accurate. […]

The FBI’s January 15 visit to Sharod isn’t an outlier, says Moira Meltzer-Cohen, a civil rights attorney with the National Lawyers Guild.

“Law enforcement is using the Capitol riot as hook to go after people they perceive as being on the Left,” Meltzer-Cohen says. ​“There has been a flurry of visits of people perceived by the government as leftists, leftist dissidents.”

2/22/21 | WVTF MVP Protesters: Day 900 & One

For 900+ days, demonstrators have been living in trees above a section of the Mountain Valley Pipeline near Elliston, VA, in protest of its construction. NLG SW Virginia Chapter Legal Observers have been documenting police activity in response.

“When are we going to get the message that we can’t just wait in a 10, 20 years, we’re still putting in pipelines that are destroying the habitats of species that are ruining the streams in Virginia, and eventually going to carry fossil fuels, which are going to continue to warm the earth. The young people get it, the ones who are putting their lives on the line get it,” said Alan Graf, NLG SW Virginia President.

2/21/21 | San Diego-Union Tribune New policy on protests outlines when San Diego police should use less-lethal weapons, deem events unlawful

“Some community members said they were concerned with what they viewed as a lack of restrictions on the use of less-lethal weapons and a lack of a focus on de-escalation.

Kylee Belanger, director of the San Diego National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer Program, said she believes the policy’s intent is to “chill free speech.” She said the policy hurts not just the public but also the media and front-line officers because force against a crowd puts them in danger, too.”

2/18/21 | WBAI Radio Evening Broadcast Interview with Kira Kelley, NLG Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) Chair

“In the end if [reforms are] not taking away resources from the police and redirecting towards public resources, it’s not a viable solution, it’s just further legitimizing an institution that since it’s beginning has only ever been about propping up racial capitalism.”

Listen to the interview, starting at 23:14, here.

2/16/21 | Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement Moratorium Now Coalition: ‘Statement of Disgust Regarding City’s Counterclaim Against Detroit Will Breathe’

“Mayor Mike Duggan and the City Council have once again failed to support the people of Detroit by approving $200,000 to fund a counter-lawsuit against Detroit Will Breathe, Black Lives Matter movement protesters, in a 5-4 vote. […]

“The City’s counterclaim is one of many examples of a national trend by units of government and corporations to intimidate grassroots activists from suing them by seeking to tie up their time and waste their financial resources with frivolous counter-lawsuits,” said John Royal, president of the National Lawyers Guild Detroit and Michigan Chapter, in a recent statement. “The City of Detroit should not use this repressive tactic against the progressive youth of southeast Michigan who are seeking redress for legitimate grievances against the DPD.”

Jobs Members-Only Job Board

Are you searching for a movement-related legal or organizing job OR internship?

A reminder that all current NLG members have access to our Members-Only job board! This resource includes open positions for attorneys, paralegals, organizers, legal workers and law students.

Check it out at nlg.org/job-board (NOTE: you must be logged in with your nlg.org account to view this page). Have a job or internship listing you’d like to share with fellow Guild members? Send it to jobboard@nlg.org.

The post Member Recap: Feb. 25, 2021 first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

NLG Adopts Resolution Supporting Police Abolition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: communications@nlg.org

National Lawyers Guild (NLG) membership voted to pass a resolution supporting police abolition following its #Law4thePeople Convention last fall, acknowledging that the institution of policing is incompatible with the NLG’s mission to use law in defense of human rights and ecosystems over property interests. Taking leadership from community demands reiterated during last summer’s uprisings against racist police violence catalyzed by the murder of George Floyd, the resolution calls for the “defunding, dismantling and abolition” of policing in all its forms.

The resolution cites the various ways anti-Blackness, other forms of white supremacy, and additional  systems of oppression are inherent within the institution of policing. It traces its origins to slave patrols in the South and the repression of organized labor and social movements, especially those for Black liberation. In addition, it recognizes that the incremental, liberal reforms have consistently failed to stop police murder and other abuse, and have only served to further legitimize an institution built to perpetrate racialized, gendered, colonialist, and class violence. Furthermore, it reaffirms commitments made by past NLG resolutions that also implicate policing, such as those in support of prison abolition, the decriminalization of sex work, and liberation for Palestine, among others. The resolution also aligns with other areas of NLG work, such as the Mass Defense Committee and the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence against People of African Descent in the US.

The NLG National Office, in collaboration with the proponents of the resolution, will be implementing the resolution by presenting the forthcoming programming and resources: 

This resolution is a reiteration of the NLG’s commitment to peoples’ liberation, and a small but important step towards dismantling the state-funded institutions that impede it. 

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

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Featured image: Abolish the Police by Bart Everson /  CC BY 2.0

The post NLG Adopts Resolution Supporting Police Abolition first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Announcing the 2021 NLG Haywood Burns Fellows!

The NLG National Office is pleased to introduce our 2021 Haywood Burns Fellowship recipients! The Fellowships sponsor law students and legal workers to spend the summer working for public interest organizations across the country in order to build their legal skills , strengthen their long-term commitment to social justice, and provide much-needed legal support to under-served communities. This initial exposure to progressive lawyering is often the single most significant event that influences a person’s decision to become a people’s lawyer.

This year we will send five aspiring people’s lawyers to work on projects focusing on racial justice, immigrant justice, eviction defense, police violence, prison law reform, and the opioid epidemic. Our fellows will be working at social justice organizations including the Advancement Project, the People’s Law Office, Communities Resist, AppalRed, and Project South.

Your contribution to this important fellowship will make all the difference for new legal practitioners to engage in social justice lawyering this summer and throughout their careers. Your financial support—which provides 100% of the project income—is essential to the program. Please make a donation today!

2021 Haywood Burns Fellows

Xena Sofia Hinson is currently a 2L at American University Washington College of Law (WCL), a Dean’s Merit Scholar, and a former Dean’s Fellow in the Re-entry Clinic. She is a trained legal observer through the NLG, a pre-law mentor to students from underrepresented groups, and an executive board member of WCL Criminal Law Society. Xena is a former People’s Justice Fellow through the COVID-19 Rapid Response + Summer Institute at Harvard Law and a trainee of the Movement Law Lab. In support of the NLG Mass Incarceration Committee, she drafted a UN claim on the human rights violations of individuals incarcerated in US prisons during COVID-19. Xena has also provided jail support to medically vulnerable human beings and assisted clients facing parole hearings during the pandemic. Before law school, she served as a Re-entry Community Mediator and Americorps member facilitating collaborative conflict resolution in Baltimore City correctional facilities between men in custody and their loved ones. Xena has also advocated for the rights of returning citizens working in the food service industry in the SF Bay Area where she grew up. She is passionate about prison abolition and dedicated to amplifying the voices of justice-impacted individuals. Xena believes in the power of leveraging art and the law to create social change. As a Haywood Burns Fellow, she will be working with Advancement Project, a non-profit organization using innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements.

Julian Montijo is a second-year student and Public Interest Law Scholar at Northeastern University School of Law. Before beginning his graduate studies, Julian worked as a paralegal in the Family Defense Practice at Brooklyn Defender Services assisting in the representation of individuals facing accusations of child neglect and abuse in family court. In this role, he worked extensively with parents advocating to clear their names from child abuse registries to expand employment opportunities and support their families. While in NYC, Julian volunteered with the NY People’s Education Initiative, teaching extracurricular classes to students incarcerated on Rikers Island. His current academic interest is in prison ecology, abolition, and critical legal studies. As a Haywood Burns Fellow, Julian will work with the People’s Law Office in Chicago on criminal and civil rights cases challenging anti-Black police violence and wrongful convictions, seeking relief and accountability for survivors of police torture. Julian is a 2015 graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Comparative Literature and Economics.

Jackie Park is a 2L at UCLA School of Law on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples.  Jackie is specializing in Critical Race Studies and Public Interest Law and Policy.  Jackie holds a B.A. in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies from Middlebury College.  While they are not proud of the embarrassingly elite education that follows their resumé, Jackie is proud that they have always found community to study together and place interpersonal struggles into a historical context, realizing in time that Black folks, Indigenous folks, and other folks of color were always at the forefront of movements. During their time at UCLA, Jackie is involved in multitude of organizations like Tenants Law Association, Queer/Trans People of Color Collective, Asian/Pacific Islander Law Student Association, NLG-UCLA, UCLA Law Review, and Housing Committee of NLG-LA. Prior to law school while working at legal aid, Jackie found interest in tenant and housing rights where they saw the only attorneys who were running around the office were the eviction defense attorneys (and also because Jackie saw how safe housing or the lack thereof impacted every tenet of people’s lives). As a Haywood Burns Fellow, Jackie will intern at Communities Resist in unceded territories of the Lenape people/NYC, partnering with communities of color in Brooklyn and Queens to combat racial capitalism and gentrification that terrorizes Black and Brown tenants.  Jackie is excited to be supported by the Fellowship as they will get to see advocacy and litigation in tandem with disrupting a legal system that favors displacement and incarceration. This summer will further Jackie’s goal of being an attorney/advocate—agent of the State—that is “on tap, not on top.”

Colleen Ryan was raised in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee and is currently a 2L at Belmont University College of Law. During law school, she has worked with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, the Tennessee Justice Center, and Disability Rights Tennessee, addressing a broad range of civil legal issues facing Tennessee families during the COVID-19 pandemic. After graduating from the University of Tennessee in 2017, Colleen studied post-war reconstruction and justice sector reform as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of York. She also completed graduate studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China through the Schwarzman Scholars Program. Colleen hopes to use her career to advance access to justice in rural and other under-served communities in the Appalachian South. As a Haywood Burns Fellow, Colleen will be working with AppalReD Legal Aid on holistic legal representation for Appalachian families affected by the opioid epidemic.

Stephanie Sorquira is a 1L student at the City University of New York School of  Law (CUNY Law), focusing on immigration law. Before coming to CUNY Law, Stephanie attended Emory University School of Law, where they received a Juris Master with a focus on International Human Rights Law.  While at Emory Law, Stephanie volunteered at the Emory Immigration Clinic. At Emory Law, Stephanie also served as Conference Chair for OUTLaw and had the privilege of co-organizing interesting conferences on immigration and public health, one of which was named “No Pride in Borders.” As a Haywood Burns Fellow, Stephanie will be working with Project South’s Legal and Advocacy Program to defend Black, immigrant, and Muslim communities against state repression.

The post Announcing the 2021 NLG Haywood Burns Fellows! first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Member Recap: February 4, 2021

Welcome to the rebranded Member Recap, formerly known as the Member News Digest, where you can catch up on NLG news from the last two weeks.

Be sure to keep up with us in real time on social media, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Upcoming and Ongoing Events TONIGHT! Webinar: Who's Watching the Cops?

Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) is hosting a webinar TONIGHT (2/4) at 6 P.M. EST featuring NLG's Director of Mass Defense, Tyler Crawford. Read the event description and register here.

For several decades now, community activists and movement lawyers alike have actively opposed police brutality. They organized “cop watch” and legal observer initiatives across the U.S. and have made a real difference to folks on the ground. Join CLDC and experienced panelists to learn more about how these projects document and push back against law enforcement abuses.

  ENDING SOON: International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States

The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) have assembled a commission of experts from around the world to investigate racist police violence against people of African descent in the United States. The International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States will broadcast live hearings online with testimony from victims’ families and lawyers beginning January 18, 2021, which is the day that the United States commemorated the birthday of civil rights legend Martin Luther King, Jr. The hearings come to a close on February 6, 2021.

Please visit the website of the commission at  https://inquirycommission.org/ to see the hearing schedule, to review the case list, and to register to attend these public hearings. All of the hearings will take place over Zoom and will be recorded and transcribed. This project is supported by a grant from the National Lawyers Guild Foundation.

#WAMI2021: Prison Abolition and Beyond

For the 2021 Week Against Mass Incarceration (March 1-6), we ask NLG Law Schools and Local Chapters to organize around the theme of “Prison Abolition and Beyond” to include all locations and instances in which people are held against their will, including jails, immigration detention, juvenile detention facilities, psychiatric wards, and more. We also intend the “beyond” to include consideration of the abolition of policing as part of the larger mass incarceration system (and in line with the Guild’s 2020 resolution supporting the abolition of police). Check out the #WAMI2021 page on our website for ways to get involved.

National, Committee, and Chapter Statements and News NLG Detroit helps get city to drop 238 charges against BLM protesters 

After January's major NLG Detroit victory where 40+ protesters represented by NLG Detroit and their partners, the city has decided to drop a vast majority of the protest-related charges.

"Police came under fire for their handling of the protests, leading to a federal lawsuit that alleges officers used unnecessary, excessive force to break up peaceful demonstrations against police brutality. Members of the media also were arrested and assaulted by police."

Rhode Island National Lawyers Guild opposes House Bill 5001 and the criminalization of protest

"The Rhode Island Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild supports the rights of people advocating for racial justice and against police violence to protest, and strongly opposes House Bill 5001, which would make protesting on the highway a felony punished by mandatory minimum sentences. This bill appears to be a response to recent demonstrations protesting police violence, including the the failure of the legal system to hold those responsible for the murder of Breonna Taylor and the injury to Jhamal Gonsalves accountable. It was proposed once before in 2015 following demonstrations protesting the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Such demonstrations are an important way for people to voice their frustration with a system in which Black lives do not appear to matter. And the intent of this bill is clearly to punish Black Lives Matter demonstrations."

NLG National signs onto Fight for the Future's letter, asking officials not to gut Section230

"Section 230 is a foundational law for free expression and human rights when it comes to digital speech. It makes it possible for websites and online forums to host the opinions, photos, videos, memes, and creativity of ordinary people, rather than just content that is backed by corporations. 

The danger posed by uncareful changes to Section 230 is not theoretical. The last major change to the law, the passage of SESTA/FOSTA in 2018, put lives in danger. The impacts of this law were immediate and destructive, limiting the accounts of sex workers and making it more difficult to find and help those who were being trafficked online."

You can read the whole letter here.

NLG Atlanta sends letter to City Commissioner, demanding dismissal of BLM protest-related charges

Read through the letter the NLG Atlanta Chapter sent to the Atlanta City Commissioner on January 28th, 2021:

"We are writing to you to demand that the pending charges against the over 500 protestors from last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests be dismissed. This request comes on the heels of the country watching with horror as white supremacist insurgents took to our country’s capital to prevent the democratic process of confirming President Joseph R. Biden in Congress. We watched these same insurgents walk the streets of the capital well past curfew without arrest. The insurgency of January 6, 2021 made evident what many of us in the fight for racial justice and the end to police brutality already knew: that there are two Americas– one where white supremacists get to roam the streets violently without consequence and one where peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors mourning the unjust murders of Black people are swiftly arrested right as the second hand on the proverbial clock hits curfew."

NLG Milwaukee signs onto letter to ask if local officers participated in assault on nation’s Capitol

"The inability to prevent terror, the destruction of property, and loss of human life has inspired fear. For many members of the public, the lack of effective response also suggests the potential of collusion between those agents of the law and the invaders. […] As individuals from Wisconsin(3) have been identified as participants in the assault, the public must be assured that officers of the law did not travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in these illegal activities. Fleeting social media posts by law enforcement in Milwaukee since January 6th have demonstrated approval and support for the law breakers in Washington, D.C."

NLG National signs on to JVP's Facebook, We Need to Talk campaign

"Right now, Facebook is reaching out to stakeholders to ask if critical conversations that use the term “Zionist” fall within the rubric of hate speech as per Facebook’s Community Standards. Basically, Facebook is assessing if “Zionist” is being used as a proxy for “Jewish people or Israelis” in attacks on its platform. […] Attempts to stifle conversations about Zionist political ideology and Zionist policies carried out by state actors — both of which have real implications for Palestinian and Israeli people, as well as Jewish and Palestinian people around the world — are part of an emerging pattern of political censorship by the Israeli government and some of its supporters."

Learn more and sign the petition: facebookweneedtotalk.org

 

NLG San Francisco launches a campaign to open an investigation into SF Immigration Judge Nicholas R. Ford

"Judge Ford has demonstrated that he is unfit to hear immigration cases due to discriminatory statements and behavior, particularly on the grounds of race, class, gender, and sexuality. We have become aware of his bigoted and unconstitutional actions through our own observations and reports of his treating individuals with immigration hearings, practitioners, and witnesses in an unprofessional and hostile manner as well as engaging in unlawful manifestations of bias or prejudicial conduct. These extremely troubling reports from attorneys, court observers, and immigrants and asylum seekers themselves call into question the integrity of the San Francisco Immigration Court and its commitment to due process for those who appear there."

You can read more and sign on here.

New installment of the NLG Review Blog Series: “Thugs” and “Riots”: Legitimizing Police Violence at Protests Against Police Violence

In the third article of the series, criminal justice professor Cedrick Heraux discusses how the language of violence and bias impacts policing during social movements, particularly when it is the excessive use of force by police that is being protested. He notes that both legal and moral norms are violated most often when those protesting are members of minority communities, with little accountability for those violations. You can read the article here. NLG In The News 2/4/21 | KNX10.70 NewsRadio National Police Foundation holding 2 public listening sessions to review LAPD response to George Floyd protests

"In a federal lawsuit filed in June by the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, BLM-LA and Los Angeles Community Action Network, the plaintiffs maintain there were more than 3,000 people arrested over the course of several days of demonstrations and many were seriously injured by police."

2/1/21 | Democracy Now! The Assassination of Fred Hampton: New Documents Reveal Involvement of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

Check People's Law Chicago and NLG Chicago members Jeff Haas and Flint Taylor's interview on COINTELPRO, the FBI, and the murder of Fred Hampton.

"Well, yes. I think the cover-up continues, in the fact that many of these pages contain redaction, including the information from O’Neal. So there are things the FBI has still not released, we think showing the involvement of higher-ups. We do have a continuous rewarding of the special agent, Roy Mitchell, referring to the success of the raid, how the raid was critical to the role of the FBI. So, some of these documents are new. But for the next year, Roy Mitchell got congratulated for how well he had handled O’Neal and how important the information he’d gotten. And they continuously internally called the raid a success, while externally they were hiding it."

1/29/21 | Food and Water Watch Amidst Affordability Crisis, Comprehensive Water Justice Bill Introduced in Chicago City Council

The National Lawyers Guild of Chicago endorsed the Water-for-All Ordinance; you can read more here:

"Today’s Chicago City Council meeting saw the introduction of the Water-for-All ordinance, a comprehensive water policy solution that targets the thousands of Chicagoans who no longer have access to water. The ordinance addresses water affordability, ensures transparency from the Department of Water Management, and bans water shut-offs as a means to extract payment from the 14 percent of Chicago residents who can’t afford their water bills."

1/28/21 | Common Dreams George Floyd "Narrated His Death," Says Attorney at International Inquiry

Read through this piece by former NLG President Marjorie Cohn on the Inquiry Commission hearings:

"George Floyd, who was publicly tortured and lynched by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020, narrated his own death, legendary civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump told the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States at its January 25 hearing. "He narrated his death, like a cinema movie at the time."

1/27/21 | Philadelphia Inquirer Legal observers sue Philly police, alleging brutality at Walter Wallace Jr. protests

"Berg [an NLG Philadelphia LO] is one of two legal observers — the trained volunteers who take detailed notes and monitor public demonstrations for civil-rights violations — who filed a lawsuit against the city and the Police Department last week over allegations of brutality during the October protests."

1/22/21 | Impact Fund Impact Fund and Amici Support State Efforts to Protect Vulnerable Workers During Deadly Pandemic

The NLG Labor and Employment Committee helped file this brief to support vulnerable workers in California:

"Our coalition addressed two seemingly obvious realities: (1) the COVID-19 pandemic is an emergency that warrants immediate action to avoid serious harm to the public health and general welfare, and (2) the Emergency Temporary Standards are necessary to protect the health of vulnerable low-wage workers. Our amicus briefs explored the record prepared by the Standards Board, which conclusively demonstrated that COVID-19 is a threat to human life and documented how it continues to spread in workplaces."

1/21/21 | WENY News Ithaca-based collaboration receives $1M grant to prevent displacement of low-income tenants

"Partners include the City of Ithaca, Cornell Law School, Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County, Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. and the National Lawyers Guild student chapter at Cornell Law. The collaboration has received a one million dollar grant. Funding for the grant comes from Enterprise Community Partners, a non-profit organization working to “promote housing stability among low-income communities”. Jobs Members-Only Job Board

Are you searching for a movement-related legal or organizing job OR internship?

A reminder that all current NLG members have access to our Members-Only job board! This resource includes open positions for attorneys, paralegals, organizers, legal workers and law students.

Check it out at nlg.org/job-board (NOTE: you must be logged in with your nlg.org account to view this page). Have a job or internship listing you'd like to share with fellow Guild members? Send it to jobboard@nlg.org.
The post Member Recap: February 4, 2021 first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Letter Demanding Dismissal of Charges for the 500+ Black Lives Matter Protesters in the City of Atlanta

Read through the letter the NLG Atlanta Chapter sent to the Atlanta City Commissioner on January 28th, 2021:

The full PDF, with all the signatures, is at the bottom of this page.

Dear Mr. Carter,

We represent the members of the National Lawyers Guild, including the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG Metro Atlanta) and The United People of Color Caucus of the National Lawyers Guild (TUPOCC). The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights. We are writing to you to demand that the pending charges against the over 500 protestors from last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests be dismissed. This request comes on the heels of the country watching with horror as white supremacist insurgents took to our country’s capital to prevent the democratic process of confirming President Joseph R. Biden in Congress. We watched these same insurgents walk the streets of the capital well past curfew without arrest. The insurgency of January 6, 2021 made evident what many of us in the fight for racial justice and the end to police brutality already knew: that there are two Americas– one where white supremacists get to roam the streets violently without consequence and one where peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors mourning the unjust murders of Black people are swiftly arrested right as the second hand on the proverbial clock hits curfew.

The entire country has uplifted and celebrated the City of Atlanta and the State of Georgia for ‘turning Blue” both during the November 2020 Presidential Election and during the January 5, 2021 Senate Run-Off race. The country is finally recognizing the progressive politics of this state and the city, thanks in large part to the amazing Black and Brown grassroots organizers who helped register people to vote and helped them get to the polls. These very same organizers were in the streets last summer, demanding that the world see the humanity of Black people, calling for an end to police brutality. Failing to dismiss these charges runs counter to the message the residents of Atlanta and Georgia have fought so hard for — that this is a progressive City, a City that celebrates the right to protest, a City that recognizes the insidiousness of white supremacy, and a City that does not engage in the disparate treatment of individuals based on race. By failing to dismiss these charges, the City of Atlanta is showing that yes, in fact, there are two Americas, one for white supremacists and one for Black Lives Matter protestors, and that the City is keen on maintaining that racist distinction.

Then there’s the matter of public safety. During COVID-19, it is wholly unsafe to have such a large number of individuals coming into municipal court to have these matters adjudicated. By not dismissing these charges, many of them frivolous curfew ordinance violations that lack the evidence necessary for a conviction, the City of Atlanta is putting its employees as well as attorneys and Atlanta City residents in danger of contracting the virus.

Finally, we must restate our disappointment with the City of Atlanta refusing to dismiss the charges for NLG Metro Atlanta Chapter President, Asia Parks, who was legal observing on June 1, 2020. As the Southern Coalition for Social Justice so eloquently stated in their Open Letter Condemning the Arrests of Legal Observers:

The right to observe and document law enforcement is enshrined in our Constitution. It serves as a safeguard on free speech, the right to protest, and freedom from state tyranny. We join together to condemn the arrests of legal observers performing their duties to witness and record police actions against demonstrators.
Serving as non-participants who document police conduct towards activists, including arrests, National Lawyers Guild (NLG) volunteer legal observers protect these basic first amendment principles. These lawyers, law students, and civic-minded individuals are trained to neutrally observe law enforcement, and remain under attorney supervision throughout each protest situation. They are easily recognizable nationwide by their bright green hats emblazoned with “National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer.” NLG legal observers play a crucial part in holding law enforcement accountable for any legal violations or Constitutional harm. They do not participate in protests or demonstrations. When police act with impunity and without legal observation, speech is chilled and our very marketplace of ideas is threatened.

We applaud the City of Atlanta for dismissing the charges of other Legal Observers who were collecting the information of protestors being arrested right around the time of curfew. We ask that Ms. Parks be given the same equitable treatment as these other Legal Observers by dismissing her charges as well. We further welcome the opportunity to work with your office, the Mayor’s Office, the Atlanta City Council, and the Atlanta Police Department on understanding the history of NLG and the importance of legal observing in preserving the rights of protestors, and on creating a policy to prevent the unlawful arrests of legal observers in the future.
We hope you use this poignant moment in American History to show Atlanta, Georgia, the country, and the world where the City stands when it comes to treatment of protestors. We hope you do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Download the PDF file .

The post Letter Demanding Dismissal of Charges for the 500+ Black Lives Matter Protesters in the City of Atlanta first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

“Thugs” and “Riots”: Legitimizing Police Violence at Protests Against Police Violence

Note: The NLG National Office, in collaboration with NLG Review, is publishing a 4-part blog series exploring questions around policing in the United States. Guild members are sharing pieces analyzing the policing of social movements, the role of police in maintaining current power dynamics, and alternatives to policing from community power to defunding to abolition. The goal of this series is to generate discussion and conversation among our members and the public regarding the current state of policing and to envision new strategies of social organization. Please also read the Guild’s recent resolution supporting the abolition of policing passed by the membership in 2020. 

In the third article of the series, law professor Cedrick Heraux discusses how the language of violence and bias impacts policing during social movements, particularly when it is the excessive use of force by police that is being protested. He notes that both legal and moral norms are violated most often when those protesting are members of minority communities, with little accountability for those violations. 

Read the full piece below, or download the PDF

Dr. Cedrick Heraux is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Adrian College. He received his MA in Criminal Justice from SUNY-Albany, and his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University. His research focuses on police use of force behavior, and his work has appeared in Justice Quarterly, as well as the Journal of Criminal Justice. He has also attended use of force training sessions presented to in-service law enforcement personnel.

 

Download the PDF file .

 

 

The post “Thugs” and “Riots”: Legitimizing Police Violence at Protests Against Police Violence first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Member News Digest, Jan. 22, 2021

View this page on our website

Here’s your round-up of all the NLG’s been up to these past couple weeks!

Be sure to keep up with us in real time on social media, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Upcoming and Ongoing Events International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States

The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) have assembled a commission of experts from around the world to investigate racist police violence against people of African descent in the United States. The International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States will broadcast live hearings online with testimony from victims’ families and lawyers beginning January 18, 2021, which is the day that the United States commemorated the birthday of civil rights legend Martin Luther King, Jr. The hearings come to a close on February 6, 2021.

Please visit the website of the commission at  https://inquirycommission.org/ to see the hearing schedule, to review the case list, and to register to attend these public hearings. All of the hearings will take place over Zoom and will be recorded and transcribed.

 

The ADA in the Wokplace: Recognizing and Resisting Discrimination

The National Disabled Law Students Association will be hosting this event on February 10th, 2021, at 1 P.M. EST via Zoom. How does the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) apply to employment? How can legal professionals use the ADA as a tool to protect employees in the workplace? What is the “interactive process” and why does it matter? Answers to these questions and more will be addressed by our expert panelists who have experience in applying the ADA in creative ways to address accessibility problems in the workplace and the legal profession.

CLE Information (via New York University, New York): This event is approved for 1 credit in the Areas of Professional Practice category. The credit will be both transitional and non-transitional. This event is appropriate for both newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

#WAMI2021: Prison Abolition and Beyond

For the 2021 Week Against Mass Incarceration (March 1-6), we ask NLG Law Schools and Local Chapters to organize around the theme of “Prison Abolition and Beyond” to include all locations and instances in which people are held against their will, including jails,  immigration detention, juvenile detention facilities, psychiatric wards, and more. We also intend the “beyond” to include consideration of the abolition of policing as part of the larger mass incarceration system (and in line with the Guild’s 2020 resolution supporting the abolition of police). Check out the #WAMI2021 page on our website for ways to get involved.

National, Committee, and Chapter Statements and News NLG Members & President File Class Action Lawsuit Over NYPD Policing of BLM Protests

Members Gideon Oliver, Remy Green, Wiley Stecklow, Dave Rankin, and President Elena Cohen “announce the filing of a major class action lawsuit against the City of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, and other City officials, over the NYPD’s violent policing of the George Floyd protests this summer. The lawsuit seeks to put an end to ongoing, violent protest policing tactics deployed by the NYPD against Black Lives Matter activists in New York City.

You can read more here.

NLG Demands Immediate Structural Change in Wake of Impeachment and Attempted Coup

Last week’s white supremacist coup attempt facilitated by law enforcement makes clear that the path forward requires a serious reckoning with the conditions that caused this moment. […] For this reason, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) demands that the political response to last week’s fascist mob looks beyond the Trump administration and enacts structural change, including an overhaul of the prison and policing systems, a firm condemnation and rejection of white supremacist ideologies, and the implementation of more progressive policies across the board.”

NLG Michigan: 40+ Cases Against 30 BLM Protesters Dismissed in Detroit

“Detroit’s 36th District Court Judge Larry Williams, Jr., dismissed without prejudice all criminal cases on his docket against all Black Lives Matter protesters arrested during this past summer: a total of over 40 cases involving 30 protester defendants. Most of these cases involved protesters arrested during the initial weekend of protests following the police murder of George Floyd (May 29, 30 and 31; June 1 and 2), but  also included are protesters arrested on other dates during the summer; and also some protesters arrested for blocking Detroit school buses, to prevent them from picking up school children for dangerous in-person school sessions during the pandemic. Most of these cases involved misdemeanor charges of Disorderly Conduct or Loitering.”

NLG Condemns Attempt by Fascist Mob Incited by Trump to Overturn Election, Complicity by Law Enforcement

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) opposes today’s attempt to overturn the election, led by Trump loyalists and right-wing operatives in Washington, DC, in the strongest terms possible. Following a rally by Trump where he continued to falsely claim victory, a right-wing fascist mob stormed and occupied the U.S. Capitol Building and several state Capitol buildings in an attempt by white supremacists and other revanchists to preserve the racist, sexist, and colonial inequalities on which the United States was founded—with complicity by law enforcement.”

NLG In The News 1/21/21 | truthout Eric Garner’s Mother Says We Must Push for Justice That Her Son Didn’t Receive

Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, spoke at the opening hearing for the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States.

From truthout: “They killed him. It is no justice for him. But we must still stand for justice,” Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said during the commission’s opening hearing on January 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “We must get justice for those who come behind him.”

1/19/21 | Briarpatch How Canada is targeting Indigenous resistance to TMX

Check out thie piece written by Kris Hermes of the Mass Defense Steering Committee:

“In December, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick found Jim Leyden guilty of criminal contempt of court for breaching an injunction originally brought by Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC (TMX) in March 2018. The injunction is the line that TMX has drawn in the sand, so as to stifle any meaningful resistance at the company’s worksites throughout the province – including TMX contractors and subcontractors – and all along the pipeline’s path.”

1/15/21 | The Nation These Progressives Helped Keep Hope Alive in 2020—and Prepare Us for 2021

The Guild is proud to endorse the Justice for All Act, introduced by Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib.

From The Nation: “The Michigan Democrat’s new Justice for All Act seeks to guarantee that victims of discrimination can vindicate their rights in the courts by restoring and expanding the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. National Lawyers Guild president Elena Cohen says legislation like Tlaib’s is “sorely needed in order to protect all people of this country.”

1/14/21 | Capital & Main Seeking to End “Juan Crow” Laws in the Next Congress

“As Joe Biden is about to enter the White House, immigrant rights advocates claim that, in the same way that society is coming to grips with the inadequacies, irrationalities and abuses of the criminal legal system, a parallel process to defund from harms and invest in community programs is also appropriate in immigration, especially as they’ve come to be so entwined. […]

“All of the worst excesses that exist in the criminal legal system have been imported into the immigration system,” says Sirine Shebaya, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild’s National Immigration Project. “Excluding people because of their contacts with the criminal legal system often has harsh consequences, on both sides.”

1/13/21 | KQED Alameda County Jail to Start Coronavirus Testing for Staff

“Santa Rita jail in Alameda County plans to implement COVID-19 testing for staff this week in response to the region’s recent surge in cases. On-site testing was previously not available to staff. […]

“We feel that soon the sheriff is going to claim, as they have before, that they’ve controlled this outbreak when all they’ve really done is just stop seeing it,” said Lina Garcia Schmidt, a member of the San Francisco chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Jobs Members-Only Job Board

Are you searching for a movement related legal or organizing job OR internship?

A reminder that all current NLG members have access to our Members-Only job board! This resource includes open positions for attorneys, paralegals, organizers, legal workers and law students.

Check it out at nlg.org/job-board (NOTE: you must be logged in with your nlg.org account to view this page). Have a job or internship listing you’d like to share with fellow Guild members? Send it to jobboard@nlg.org.

The post Member News Digest, Jan. 22, 2021 first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

NLG Demands Immediate Structural Change in Wake of Impeachment and Attempted Coup

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: communications@nlg.org

Last week’s white supremacist coup attempt facilitated by law enforcement makes clear that the path forward requires a serious reckoning with the conditions that caused this moment. White supremacy, though mentioned in mainstream news media more frequently in the last year, is not remotely a new phenomenon—it was the ideology the United States was founded on and remains this government’s primary political underpinning, regardless of the political party in power. For this reason, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) demands that the political response to last week’s fascist mob looks beyond the Trump administration and enacts structural change, including an overhaul of the prison and policing systems, a firm condemnation and rejection of white supremacist ideologies, and the implementation of more progressive policies across the board.

The NLG remains firm in our abolitionist principles, and last week further demonstrated that law enforcement not only stood down in the face of white, fascist insurrectionists, but actively aided their attempts to enter the Capitol to overturn the election. Law enforcement is, and always has been, the body that carries out the brute force of the state’s white supremacist violence. We have already seen lenient sentencing for the insurrectionists and an arrest count less than ⅓ that of arrests made this summer in D.C. during BLM protests. Yet, “anti-terrorist” legislation will only harm communities of color through the expansion of the police and surveillance state. But this moment does bring about a critical question for abolitionists: how do we effectively address systemic violence without calling for a mass prosecution? The NLG is calling for consequences to white supremacist ideology as a whole, beginning with the political expulsion of all local, state, and federal officials who pushed the narrative of a stolen election, encouraging a pro-Trump attempt to seize power. This begins with, as Missouri Representative Cori Bush put it, the expulsion of “the white supremacist-in-chief,” Donald Trump. At the same time, the NLG understands that impeachment is not enough, and neither is a return to the status quo.

The legislature choosing to impeach Donald Trump at the eleventh hour, only after an attempted coup with possible support from elected representatives and the mysteriously-missing panic button in Massachusetts Representative Ayanna Pressley’s office, among other indications of this being an inside right-wing job, highlights the bottom line of the U.S. government. Ongoing public affiliation with white supremacists, separating families in ICE detention, horrendously mismanaging the COVID-19 crisis, multiple sexual violence allegations, the deployment of federal troops to suppress racial justice protests, attempts to designate “antifa” as a terrorist group, xenophobic travel policies, and the plethora other violent actions of Donald Trump and his administration were all permissible—it was not until the Capitol itself, and the respectability of the institution it represents, was threatened that there was enough support to act decisively. The U.S. government has failed miserably to implement even minimal support to marginalized people, and it is endlessly clear that this country continues to run at the expense of our BIPOC, disabled, queer, trans, low-income, and undocumented communities. The NLG agrees Trump ought to be barred from holding public office ever again—but we also need meaningful, structural change moving forward. The expulsion of Trump and his associates is just the first step.

White supremacy is violence, and it is an ideology not easily reformed or rehabilitated. Even and especially as abolitionists, we must simultaneously address the roots of white supremacy and find ways to address its perpetrators in real-time. Prison is not the answer, but consequences in-and-of themselves are not inherently carceral. Wealth redistribution in the form of reparations for slavery and Jim Crow, an end to prisons and policing, the abolition of the electoral college, and serious budget cuts to the Department of Defense are a start. In the meantime, the NLG will continue to uplift grassroots movements for community support and healing justice. 

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

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Related

Featured Image: Screenshot of CSPAN stream of House vote to impeach President Trump for second time.

The post NLG Demands Immediate Structural Change in Wake of Impeachment and Attempted Coup first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Update on Accountability for Natasha Bannan’s Cultural Appropriation

Dear NLG Members, 

Last week’s revelations of cultural appropriation by an NLG past president, Natasha Bannan, have elicited expressions of outrage, hurt, dismay, from Guild members as well from people across the country and the world. We share in that outrage and commit to taking the necessary steps to support the healing justice and accountability that our members deserve. 

NLG leadership learned of these revelations last week and have since been discussing next steps with members who have been most impacted. This includes members of The United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC), Anti-Racism Committee (ARC), National Executive Committee (NEC), and other committees and chapters of the Guild as well as the independent working group of BIPOC members who originally came together to address this issue. 

In October, this independent group convened outside any formal Guild body to exchange information about Natasha’s cultural appropriation. To be clear, this was the only group of NLG members aware of Natasha’s misrepresentations. This independent group provided helpful recommendations that we have reviewed. The members of this committee will continue their efforts through their involvement in TUPOCC. At this time a new committee of NEC, TUPOCC and ARC members will form to handle any accountability process that may follow. 

The Executive Council (EC) of the NEC has decided upon the following plan, which will take effect immediately: 

Natasha’s membership and leadership positions within the NLG, including but not limited to: the International Committee’s Puerto Rico Subcommittee, Colombia Subcommittee, and Taskforce on the Americas, will be suspended. 

Steps are being taken to design an appropriate accountability process. The EC is in the process of hiring a professional facilitator to devise and implement an accountability plan. ARC has contacted Natasha in regards to this accountability process. Should Natasha not agree to the process, or if the accountability process is unsatisfactory to those in our NLG community who have experienced harm, Natasha’s membership will be permanently revoked. 

Furthermore, we will demand that Natasha issues an apology to the National Lawyers Guild—including all of the committees she has participated in and often secured leadership positions within, including The United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) and various subcommittees of the International Committee—acknowledging the fact that as long as she identifies as Latinx, she is engaging in cultural appropriation and causing harm.

We will also take steps to: 

  • Remove Natasha’s authorship from essays for forthcoming NLG publications 
  • Remove Natasha from the NLG Scholars speaking list 
  • Disallow Natasha from accepting speaking engagements on behalf of NLG 
  • Suspend Natasha’s access to NLG listservs pending accountability process
  • Provide funds to support TUPOCC’s efforts to support those directly impacted by Natasha through a process of their choosing 

We recognize that Natasha’s ability to take up leadership positions using a false identity as a Latinx woman and co-opt space intended for Latinx leaders of color are symptoms of a larger problem of white supremacy that exists within many institutions and movement spaces beyond the NLG. 

We see this moment as an opportunity for NLG leadership bodies, chapters, and committees to strengthen our efforts to challenge white supremacy within the Guild, and our movements as whole. 

We also know that BIPOC leaders and their white allies have been struggling for decades to confront manifestations of white supremacy in the Guild. That work must be acknowledged and appreciated. There are BIPOC leaders throughout the Guild working toward a just and accountable path forward, including staff, committee and chapter leadership, and a majority BIPOC EC. This has been a very stressful time for them in many ways. We urge our members and the public to act in ways that do not perpetuate harm to other women of color and people of color in their pursuit of healing justice. 

In Solidarity,

NLG Executive Council (EC)

The post Update on Accountability for Natasha Bannan’s Cultural Appropriation first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Message to TUPOCC members regarding process of accountability for cultural appropriation

Dear TUPOCC members,

This week’s public revelations of cultural appropriation by the Guild’s former president have elicited expressions of outrage, hurt, dismay, and more from people across the country and world, including Guild members and members of The United People of Color Caucus. Beyond the reactions to the abuse itself, some have raised questions and sought information about the accountability process that was referenced in news accounts and a letter from the Guild’s Executive Committee. 

We write to you now as the task force for accountability for this cultural appropriation, to give you insight into our efforts over the past few months, and to share our proposals for seeking accountability for the harms we, and you, are experiencing. 

The group, initially seven BIPOC Guild members, convened outside any formal Guild body in the first week of October 2020, following one-on-one conversations in which some of us exchanged information which raised questions about potential cultural appropriation by this person. (The information ranged from rumor to comments made by this person, either publicly, or to some of us.) We have since met weekly or bi-weekly.

Our chief concern was to act strategically within the Guild to ensure actual accountability for the harms this person has caused and is causing. As long-time BIPOC Guild members committed to building the power of BIPOC folks within the Guild, we have felt the weight of white supremacy culture within the organization. 

To us, this meant, first, that we had to gather evidence sufficient to trigger a serious commitment from leadership bodies across the Guild to pursue consequences for this conduct. Anything less, we feared, could make these legitimate claims vulnerable to being gaslit, minimized and manipulated, undermining the goal of seeking accountability for this grave harm. So, we gathered publicly available evidence, including representations made by this person, details about positions of power she occupied, and opportunities she’d benefited from, like fellowships. 

Second, to avoid undermining our goal, we knew we had to commit to a process with integrity. We could not afford to let the substance of this harm be outweighed by criticism about our process. Because we were acting outside any duly elected Guild body, we considered which Guild bodies could and should anchor this process. Our first choice was and remains TUPOCC. However, TUPOCC, without elected leadership, has lacked the capacity to carry out official business. Previous efforts to convene TUPOCC meetings faltered amid critiques that the individuals involved had not properly constituted the body per longstanding TUPOCC procedural rules. To rectify this situation, several comrades have taken steps to rekindle TUPOCC’s capacity by following TUPOCC rules to reconstitute the body. In the absence of a TUPOCC board, this means convening TUPOCC’s Leadership Council, which has the authority to ensure that TUPOCC remains a space of and for BIPOC.

As the work to reconstitute TUPOCC unfolded, we continued to gather information and decided to involve the Anti-Racism Committee, reasoning that the labor of realizing accountability for these grave harms should not rest solely on the shoulders of BIPOC and white folks should take some responsibility for this work. Two Anti-Racism Committee members joined the task force last month. Next, we resolved to develop recommendations and deliver them to a body or bodies within the Guild for appropriate action. 

As of last week, we had compiled evidence, drafted recommendations, begun outreach to members of various committees who could carry some of this work, and were prepared to contact the person to ask about their willingness to engage in an accountability process.  Then we learned that a reporter planned to publish an article within the next day or two. It was only at that moment, we first informed the Executive Committee about the task force’s existence and the limited mandate we had given ourselves. The EC expressed a willingness to consult with this task force about accountability measures, and more importantly to center BIPOC members of the Guild more broadly.  

Two days later, the news report was published. Through the anger and pain, members of the task force have met frequently to consider how or whether an accountability process could move forward in the light of this person’s public responses to being confronted with the evidence of her own conduct. A task force member has contacted this person to inquire about her interest in engaging an accountability process. The task force is looking forward to the convening of TUPOCC as a BIPOC space to collectively name and process this horrible harm and to consider appropriate accountability measures. The task force is recommending these steps as a starting point:

To TUPOCC: remove the person from membership in TUPOCC

To the Executive Committee: appropriate funds for facilitation for TUPOCC LC and membership meetings on this issue

To the National Office: disallow this person from accepting speaking engagements on behalf of the Guild, pending a potential accountability process 

To the International Committee: remove the person from her leadership positions pending a potential accountability process; convene a conversation among willing members, not including this person at this time

Regarding next steps for TUPOCC, no date has yet been set for the LC meeting. The task force expects that the LC will notify TUPOCC members once that meeting is scheduled, and will convene a separate TUPOCC membership meeting, at which time the issue of cultural appropriation will be on the agenda for full participation and inclusive discussion by current TUPOCC members. 

Whatever TUPOCC decides to do moving forward, the members of the task force are clear that this ensuing discussion and the steps that TUPOCC chooses to take must center not just Latinx and Puerto Rican persons who have been harmed, but more particularly, our Afro-Latinx, Afro-Puerto Rican, indigenous, and working-class Latinx siblings who are systematically marginalized and harmed by the whole apparatus of policies and norms that reproduce anti-Black racism within Latinidad.  We will not be satisfied with anything less.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Adely, President-Elect, on behalf of the members of the task force for accountability for cultural appropriation in the Guild

The post Message to TUPOCC members regarding process of accountability for cultural appropriation first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

A Letter to NLG Members

Dear NLG Members,

Some of you may have seen this story:https://www.prismreports.org/article/2021/1/7/the-national-lawyers-guilds-outgoing-latina-president-is-a-white-woman

With the approval of the NLG’s Executive Committee, an ad hoc committee has formed. This committee is facilitated and bottomlined by the Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) at the behest of and with ongoing guidance from The United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) leadership. We have asked this committee to draft a letter, see below, in response to the article, so that we may transparently communicate this process to the membership.

National Lawyers Guild Executive Committee

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The National Lawyers Guild is committed to racial justice internally and externally. In mid 2020, BIPOC leaders in the NLG came together to address important issues stemming from the disclosure that former NLG president, Natasha Bannan, has been passing as a person of color and Latina in spite of being white and of European descent.

We acknowledge the harm that our fellow Guild members have experienceds by Natasha’s acts regarding her identity–including her occupying space and taking up leadership for years within The United People of Color Caucus, a space created exclusively for people of color in the NLG. 

We have spent a long and intentional period of time working to understand this particular case of mispresentation. We understand that Latinx identity is nunaced, and we cannot unpack its complexity within this letter. Yet, we can say definitively that a lived experience as a member of a colonized community cannot be conjured by means of association, spirituality, choice, or performance.

We were preparing to engage in a confidental and internal process with Natasha alongside those who have been harmed to work towards acknowledgment of that harm and build a just accountability process. However, given that this issue has been made public in opposition to our intentions, we felt it important to inform the NLG membership of our process.

The Anti-Racism Committee, with consultation from members of TUPOCC, will invite Natasha to engage in an accountability process going forward that is rooted in our abolitionist principles and focused on addressing the harms she has caused, internally and externally, by claiming and performing a culture and ethnicity that are not hers and by taking up leadership space under the guise of being a person of color. 

As abolitionists, we recognize that carceral logic, which prioritizes punishment and disposability over accountability and transformation, is harmful to everyone involved, and that it will do nothing to further the healing or reckoning process. We wish to navigate this conflict in ways that center the people harmed by Natasha’s actions without losing sight of Natasha’s humanity.

People of color in the Guild or our movement network who have been harmed by Natasha’s appropriation and wish to talk more about this accountability process may contact The United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) at tupocc@nlg.org or the Anti-Racism Committee at antiracism@nlg.org.

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The post A Letter to NLG Members first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

NLG Condemns Attempt by Fascist Mob Incited by Trump to Overturn Election, Complicity by Law Enforcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: communications@nlg.org

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) opposes today’s attempt to overturn the election, led by Trump loyalists and right-wing operatives in Washington, DC, in the strongest terms possible. Following a rally by Trump where he continued to falsely claim victory, a right-wing fascist mob stormed and occupied the U.S. Capitol Building and several state Capitol buildings in an attempt by white supremacists and other revanchists to preserve the racist, sexist, and colonial inequalities on which the United States was founded—with complicity by law enforcement. 

At the root of today’s right-wing violence are centuries-long efforts to disenfranchise voters of color, made central in this presidential election. For weeks, the Republican party facilitated the administration’s racist, false narratives of a “stolen election,” culminating in today’s attack on the Capitol Building. 

At the outset of Trump’s term on January 20, 2017, police responded violently to protesters at his inauguration, deploying chemical and other “less-lethal” weaponry, ultimately kettling a random assortment of over 200 people, arresting and charging them with breaking a few windows—with potential sentences of up to 70 years

Since May of last year, DC police have brutally punished protesters for demonstrating against the state, police violence, and white supremacy. Those demonstrators demanded a revolution in pursuit of liberation, equality, and against fascism and white supremacy, which police met with violence and mass arrests. As part of the nationwide movement for Black lives, similar events played out throughout the country, which the NLG has supported through its mass defense program

This is in sharp contrast to the police response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, VA in 2017, where right-wing operatives and loyalists rioted in attempt to reverse a city council decision to remove racist monuments. Police stood down, but the anti-racist, anti-fascist left did not. Counter-protesters moved to protect the town and its residents, but the white supremacists retaliated, with one driving a car into the middle of a counter-protest, injuring dozens and killing Heather Heyer. The NLG was there to provide legal support to those anti-racist counterprotestors in that moment, and throughout the aftermath and J20 trials.

Today, police stood down yet again—as is expected of such an inherently white supremacist institution. These right-wing operatives are their friends, family, and political brethren. The difference between the police response to protesters of color just a few months ago and all throughout American history, and the current response to white Trump supporters instigating a coup, lays bare the priorities of U.S. law enforcement. As we witnessed today, right-wing revanchists were able to storm the Capitol with little to no resistance by law enforcement. Some police officers were even documented opening barricades to let right wing operatives through, taking selfies with them, and carefully escorting them away from the scene. 

These events exhibit the racist, politically-imbued nature of policing in DC and the United States at large. The NLG continues to oppose this racist system, with all support and power to the people.

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

Featured Image: Featured Image: Trump rally in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021 (Public Domain Mark 1.0).

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The post NLG Condemns Attempt by Fascist Mob Incited by Trump to Overturn Election, Complicity by Law Enforcement first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Member News Digest #11

Here’s your round-up of all the NLG’s been up to these past couple weeks!

Be sure to keep up with us in real time on social media, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Resources, Projects, and Publications Alternatives to Policing Blog Series

The NLG Review is in the process of releasing a 4-part blog series on abolition and alternatives to policing. The first article, “The Policing Question: Protection v. Service in 2020” by Harold McDougall can be found online here, and the second article, “Defunding the Police” by Paul Petrequin can be found here. Look out for the next blog post!

Abolition for the People

Check out this resource from Kaepernick Publishing and LEVEL, featuring free online essays from Colin Kaepernick, Dr. Angela Davis, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and many others. “Over the next four weeks, the project will publish 30 stories from organizers, political prisoners, scholars, and advocates — all of which point to the crucial conclusion that policing and prisons do not serve as catch-all solutions for the issues and people the state deems social problems.”

Caging COVID Video Resource

The #CagingCOVID campaign led by Nation Inside was endorsed by the NLG in early December. This campaign seeks to empower the affected by providing a platform wherefrom they can share their stories with the world, thereby raising awareness about the cruelty and neglect suffered by those cut off within correctional facilities across the nation.

It can become a little too easy to forget those locked away, “out of sight and out of mind.” But we can’t allow ourselves to forget them —  lives are on the line. We hope that by bringing those voices to the forefront of public awareness, we can remind people of their needs and make the changes necessary to protect the vulnerable among us.”

NIPNLG’s Year in Review

The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild released this document on the immigration landscape of 2020, outlining their new lawsuits, ongoing lawsuits, amicus briefs, trainings and community conversations, and more.

Santa Rita Jail (SRJ) Hotline

NLG San Francisco launched the SRJ Hotline six months ago. Read the chapter’s description of the project here:

“The Santa Rita Jail (SRJ) Hotline (510-925-4060) is a free resource for prisoners in the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail and their families to report their concerns about COVID-19, jail conditions, and to obtain information about their rights. The hotline consists of attorney, legal worker, and community member volunteers who answer calls, correspond with, and advocate for prisoners. The hotline operates daily from 8am-10pm.

The NLG-SF Santa Rita Jail Hotline has now operated for 6 months – providing a free resource to prisoners in the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail from 8am-10pm daily. The SRJ Hotline would not have been possible without the support of members; Hotline volunteers; community partners; and the Hotline legal team, who contributed their extensive experience and legal license to create a confidential resource for prisoners.”

To support the project, you can donate here.

Webinar Recordings UPR Process and International Mechanisms: Holding the U.S. Accountable for Human Rights Violations

Description: The webinar featured National Lawyers Guild members who have worked to bring urgent human rights violations in the United States to international attention through the UPR process. The UPR is a unique process through which the human rights record of a country is reviewed by other United Nations member States. Countries are reviewed every 4-5 years. The member States then make recommendations to the country under review, which the country should in theory accept and implement. The United States was reviewed on November 9, 2020.

This webinar is organized by the NLG International Committee.

NLG In The News 12/18/20 | Jurist In a Pandemic, Why are Cities Still Making it Hard for People to Get Utilities?

Check out this article by Azadeh Shahshahani, former NLG President and current Legal & Advocacy Director at Project South: “With the continuing pandemic – and expiring housing and unemployment benefits across the country – millions of people may have their utilities cut off soon.

Meanwhile, at least 13 states currently have expired moratoriums on water shut-offs. Many notable COVID-19 hotspot states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma) never implemented any moratorium on utility shut-offs. For those facing the greatest impacts of the virus – lower-income Americans, people of color, and mixed-status families with different immigration statuses – this lack of protection is devastating.

It should not have to be this way. Access to utilities should be considered a human right, with no exceptions.”

12/17/20 | Spin Artist of the Year: Run the Jewels, Antiheroes of the Year We Lost

“As protests raged following George Floyd’s murder, Run the Jewels moved up their release date from June 5 to June 3, giving people a sorely needed surprise — and soundtrack along with the likes of Lil Baby and YG. They also gave away the album for free, encouraging donations to charities like National Lawyers Guild’s Mass Defense Committee, Black Lives Matter and The Bail Project.”

12/17/20 | Law360 Judge Won’t Ax Detainees’ Suit Over COVID-19 Hot Spot Yet

“Before a Virginia federal judge decides whether to let stand a suit accusing immigration officials of allowing the coronavirus to “spread like wildfire” in a detention facility where almost 90% of detainees tested positive, she wants a fuller record. […] The detainees are represented by Joseph D. West, David Debold, Naima L. Farrell, Thomas J. McCormac IV, Blair Watler and Katherine King of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, Kristin Donovan and Granville Warner of Legal Aid Justice Center, and Sirine Shebaya and Amber Qureshi of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.”

12/16/20 | Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service OPINION: Before we pick the next chief, let’s fix Milwaukee’s broken system of policing

Check out this local op-ed by Emilio De Torre, a member of the steering committee for the Mass Defense Committee and executive director of the Milwaukee Turners.

“We need solutions to our problems of poverty, addiction, mental illness, hunger, housing, violence and racism. Men with guns and men with cages are not the solution to these issues, no matter who their boss is.

We need to imagine and then build better. We’ve been doing it wrong for a very long time.

Why are we expecting different results when we’re about to do the same thing?”

12/14/20 | The World International lawyers and activists organize independent inquiry into US police violence

“It’s been more than six months since George Floyd’s killing by police on May 25 sparked worldwide protests, and led the United Nations Human Rights Council to consider creating a commission to investigate police violence in the US. That didn’t happen, but the international network of lawyers and activists who feel such an inquiry is needed didn’t give up. […] The commission’s hearings are being organized by leaders from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, and the National Lawyers Guild, including international human rights lawyer Kerry McLean.”

12/10/20 | Injustice Watch NLG Jailhouse Lawyer Benard McKinley Gets 39-Year Sentence Reduced

Benard was first sentenced to 100 years for a crime committed when he was only 16 years old. Illinois ruled that any sentence of 40+ years was a de facto life sentence, and thus unlawful for a juvenile. The initial re-evaluation of his sentence resulted in a callous resentencing of 39 years. He appealed and the apellate court reversed the sentence, settling on 25 years. Congratulations to Benard, and thank you to Brad Thompson of the NLG Chicago chapter for letting us know!

12/09/20 | The Hill Denver police chief vows to implement policy changes after watchdog report on George Floyd protests

“Some activists, meanwhile, said the recommendations would not be sufficient to address the issues raised in the report.

“The idea that body cameras and transparency is going to solve the over-policing and excessive force against our minority communities is just not true,” Jes Jones, a criminal defense attorney and organizer with the Colorado chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, told the newspaper.

During the protests, Jones said, “There were protesters who described themselves as being hunted by police … as being corralled by police. The stories were consistent and egregious.'”

Jobs Members-Only Job Board

Are you searching for a movement related legal or organizing job OR internship?

A reminder that all current NLG members have access to our Members-Only job board! This resource includes open positions for attorneys, paralegals, organizers, legal workers and law students.

Check it out at nlg.org/job-board (NOTE: you must be logged in with your nlg.org account to view this page). Have a job or internship listing you’d like to share with fellow Guild members? Send it to jobboard@nlg.org.

The post Member News Digest #11 first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Defunding the Police

Note: The NLG National Office, in collaboration with NLG Review, will be publishing a 4-part blog series exploring questions around policing in the United States. Guild members will be sharing pieces analyzing the policing of social movements, the role of police in maintaining current power dynamics, and alternatives to policing from community power to defunding to abolition. The goal of this series is to generate discussion and conversation among our members and the public regarding the current state of policing and to envision new strategies of social organization. Please also read the Guild’s recent resolution supporting the abolition of policing passed by the membership in 2020. 

In the second article of the series, NLG member and attorney Paul Petrequin discusses the emerging movement to defund the police and suggests two strategies to immediately initiate this process: 1) investing in infrastructure and resources to address mental health crisis intervention and 2) ending the War on Drugs through decriminalization and treatment. 

Read the full piece below, or download the PDF.

Paul Petrequin is an attorney and fundraising professional currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a Legal Coordinator and Observer for the National Lawyers Guild and volunteers with several local progressive organizations to provide mutual aid, research, and organizing.

 

 

 

Download the PDF file .

The post Defunding the Police first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

The Policing Question: Protection vs. Service in 2020

Note: The NLG National Office, in collaboration with NLG Review, will be publishing a 4-part blog series exploring questions around policing in the United States. Guild members will be sharing pieces analyzing the policing of social movements, the role of police in maintaining current power dynamics, and alternatives to policing from community power to defunding to abolition. The goal of this series is to generate discussion and conversation among our members and the public regarding the current state of policing and to envision new strategies of social organization. Please also read the Guild’s recent resolution supporting the abolition of policing passed by the membership in 2020. 

In the first article of the series, law professor and NLG Review board member Harold McDougall discusses who police are intended to protect and serve, offers an overview of policing debates and alternatives, and proposes a community service model for dispute mediation, environmental protection, economic and social development, and rapid response needs. 

Read the full piece below, or download the PDF.

Harold McDougall of Howard University School of Law is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. He has a background in civil rights and community organizing, and served asWashington Bureau Chief for the NAACP in the late 1990s. Professor McDougall specializes in civic culture and civic infrastructure, focusing particularly on how these support sustainable social and economic development and human rights. Prof. McDougall has written numerous articles andHuffington Post blogs, as well as two books pursuing these themes—Black Baltimore: A New Theory of Community and African American Civil Rights in the Age of Obama: A History and Handbook. His most recent articles are “The Challenges of Legal Education in the Neoliberal University,” (NLG Review, 2015) andThe Rebellious Law Professor: Combining Cause and Reflective Lawyering,” (J. Legal Education, 2015). The Rebellious Law Professor was recently featured in Scholastica’s spotlight blog. Areas of expertise include civil rights, sustainable development, human rights, land use and development, community development, and gentrification. He can be reached at hmcdougall@law.howard.edu.

 

Download the PDF file .

 

The post The Policing Question: Protection vs. Service in 2020 first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Member News Digest 12/3: Webinars, Resources, and Committee Updates!

  Here’s your round-up of all the NLG’s been up to these past couple weeks!

Be sure to keep up with us in real time on social media: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Upcoming Events NLG Chicago Virtual Celebration 2020 / Saturday, Dec. 5, 7 P.M. – 9 P.M. CST

Presented by the NLG Chicago Chapter

Registerhttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/nlg-chicago-virtual-celebration-2020-tickets-124861320571

Running a hotline for thousands of arrestees, spending hours in the streets legal observing, and showing up for jail support at all hours of the night – sounds like just another day for NLG Chicago in 2020. While protesters have filled the streets in support of the Black Lives Matter uprising, NLG has been holding down legal support in the streets and in the courts. As the year comes to a close, join us in celebrating NLG Chicago, reflecting on the work of the past year, and building our vision for a better future.

Join lawyers, legal workers, law students, and all our friends and comrades as we share space virtually. Keynote speech will be given by Mariame Kaba. Program will include scholar Adam Green, Chicago-based grassroots organizer Ariel Atkins, and jazz virtuoso Dee Alexander accompanied by pianist Miguel de la Cerna. With MC Barbara Ransby.

Please contact chicago@nlg.org with any questions!

Holding the US Accountable for Human Rights Violations: The UPR Process and International Advocacy / Tuesday, Dec. 8, 4 P.M. EST

REGISTER ONLINE: https://bit.ly/uprprocess

Over the past year National Lawyers Guild members have worked to bring urgent human rights violations in the United States to international attention through the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. The UPR is a unique process through which the human rights record of a country is reviewed by other United Nations member States. Countries are reviewed every 4-5 years. The member States then make recommendations to the country under review, which the country should in theory accept and implement. The United States was reviewed on November 9, 2020.

Join the NLG International Committee to learn more about key takeaways, strategies and organizing to challenge U.S. violations of human rights and uphold the right to an adequate standard of living in international fora. NLG members who have been involved in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process at the UN Human Rights Council will present about their experiences and analysis of the process and what more can be done to draw attention to U.S. domestic and international human rights violations.

Webinar Recordings AFRICOM & U.S. Militarism in Africa with Prof. Horace Campbell

Description: The United States Africa Command, or AFRICOM, was established in 2007. The United States government claimed that part of AFRICOM’s mission was to promote peace and security in Africa. Yet in the years since its inception AFRICOM has launched military strikes in African countries, and has faced accusations that some of its activities have amounted to war crimes. Join us for a discussion exploring the scope and reach of AFRICOM , and the struggle to get US military forces out of Africa.

Professor Horace G. Campbell is an internationally-known peace and justice activist. He holds a joint Professorship in the Department of African American Studies and the Department of Political Science at Syracuse University.

Kerry McLean is an international human rights lawyer who has lived and worked in East, West, Central and southern Africa. She chairs the NLG Africa Subcommittee and is a member of the Steering Committee of the International Committee. Watch the recording here!

This webinar is organized by the NLG International Committee and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

National and Committee Updates NLG’s Pooja Gehi Transitioning out of Executive Director Position

As was sent in a message to all NLG members earlier this week, Pooja Gehi has announced that she will be transitioning out of her role as NLG Executive Director to focus on her writing and movement lawyering. She writes: While leaving this position is not easy, it feels good to know that the NLG is now stronger than I found it. I appreciate the NLG and have every confidence that NLG board, staff, and members will continue to lead and build in ways the world needs in coming years. I look forward to aiding the transition process and participating as an NLG member. Read her full message here.

The National Office is deeply grateful for Pooja’s leadership, compassion, and political vision over her five years as Executive Director, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors!

NPAP Member Ron Kaye Appointed by Governor Newsom to LA County Superior Court

National Police Accountability Project member Ronald Kaye has been appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to serve as a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. […] Kaye is renowned for challenging and prevailing over public officials who have violated the rights of his clients. He has successfully received substantial damage awards for plaintiffs in cases involving wrongful imprisonment, inadequate medical and mental health care in custodial facilities, and excessive force.

NIP and CAIR Coalition challenge the administration’s regressive asylum rules

With co-plaintiffs CLINIC Legal, Pangea Legal, and Dolores Street Community Services, and with counsel from the National Immigration Project of the NLG, the Immigrant Defense Project, Harvard Refugee and Immigration Clinic, and Deportation Defense & Legal Advocacy Program of Dolores Street Community Services, the CAIR Coalition is challenging new asylum rules. These new asylum rules cast an incredibly broad net, banning people from receiving asylum for minor misdemeanors such as using a fake ID out of necessity. If implemented, they will prevent thousands fleeing violence from accessing the life-saving relief asylum is meant to provide.

NLG In The News 12/03/20 | The Appeal | Why Los Angeles Activists Don’t Want their Mayor in Biden’s Cabinet

“As part of the 2007 settlement in Jones v. City of Los Angeles, the city agreed that, with few exceptions, police would stop enforcing the ordinance until 1,250 more units of permanent supportive housing were built for chronically homeless people. The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the National Lawyers Guild had filed the suit in 2003 on behalf of several people without homes. In 2018, Garcetti said the city had met its obligation, so arrests could resume.”

12/02/20 | Washington Post | Undoing Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ could take minutes, but results could take months or years

“There’s a large group of people who would have applied for visitor visas, student visas, a variety of other temporary visas, and they’re probably going to start from scratch,” said Sirine Shebaya, executive director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. “So people who might have otherwise gotten a multiple-entry visitor visa I think are probably at step zero.”

11/19/20 | New York Times Why Charges Against Protesters Are Being Dismissed by the Thousands

“But not all jurisdictions in Los Angeles County are dismissing cases. Beverly Hills is pursuing misdemeanor charges against a group of 25 people stemming from one protest in June and plans to pursue others from another protest in July, said Rachel Steinback, the coordinator for the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles’s Mass Defense Committee.”

11/13/20 | Harpers Bazaar So, Joe Biden Won. Now, Activists Look at the Work That Still Lies Ahead

Harper’s Bazaar reached out to 7 organizations asking what struggles lie ahead in a post-Trump world, and the NLG was one of them. Here’s is our response:

“It is the hard work of community organizing—not any single politician, celebrity, or political party—that has led us to this moment. We are breathing a collective sigh of relief as we welcome an end to the Trump administration, but we remain vigilant and will not let this election fool us into complacency. We refuse to return to the status quo and will continue to fight for a world in which everyone can thrive. Our demands for transformative justice, accessible health care and education, and an end to the carceral state remain as urgent as ever, even as the country changes leadership.”—National Lawyers Guild

11/07/20 | Davis Vanguard | More than 600 Arrested During Peaceful ‘Count the Votes’ Protest in Minnesota

According to legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild, law enforcement never gave orders to disperse, and sprayed the crowd with pepper spray, arrested them, and dropped the arrestees off at random locations around Minnesota including Bloomington, Lake Harriet, Bank Stadium, and even the University of Minnesota campus.

The Minnesota Chapter of National Lawyers Guild (NLG-MN) worked with local community activist groups to organize and provide shuttles for arrestees to safely return to Minneapolis.

Resources & Publications

NLG Colorado Legal Observer Comic

Check out this comic by an NLG Colorado Legal Observer, outlining the purpose and function of the Legal Observer program!

Vol. 77 Issue 2 of the NLG Review

Read through for articles on abolitionist movements in Atlanta and how traffic tickets lead to financial crises. Take a look at past issues on the NLGR archive page.

Endorsements #CagingCOVID

#CagingCOVID is an effort led by the Nation Inside team, in partnership with the incarcerated and their families on the outside. We seek to empower the affected by providing a platform wherefrom they can share their stories with the world, thereby raising awareness about the cruelty and neglect suffered by those cut off within correctional facilities across the nation.

It can become a little too easy to forget those locked away, “out of sight and out of mind.” But we can’t allow ourselves to forget them —  lives are on the line. We hope that by bringing those voices to the forefront of public awareness, we can remind people of their needs and make the changes necessary to protect the vulnerable among us.

Jobs Members-Only Job Board

Are you searching for a movement related legal or organizing job OR internship?

A reminder that all current NLG members have access to our Members-Only job board! This resource includes open positions for attorneys, paralegals, organizers, legal workers and law students.

Check it out at nlg.org/job-board (NOTE: you must be logged in with your nlg.org account to view this page). Have a job or internship listing you’d like to share with fellow Guild members? Send it to jobboard@nlg.org.

The post Member News Digest 12/3: Webinars, Resources, and Committee Updates! first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

An Announcement from Pooja Gehi: Transitioning from Executive Director to Member

Dear NLG Members,

Please see the following message from Pooja Gehi:

I am writing to share that after five years as Executive Director of the NLG, I have stepped down to focus on my writing and lawyering for social justice.

It has been an honor and privilege to lead the NLG in our ongoing work to unite lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers in service of people and the planet, not profit. In the last five years, we have quadrupled our membership and increased our budget, with over $1 million in new donations just in the last six months. We have committed to prison abolition, and furthered our existing commitment to Palestinian solidarity and the Boycott, Divest, & Sanction (BDS) movement. We have supported water protectors in Standing Rock and Black Lives Matter protesters around the country. We have educated our members and the public about bail funds, refugee caravans, and criminalization related to COVID-19.

While leaving this position is not easy, it feels good to know that the NLG is now stronger than I found it. I appreciate the NLG and have every confidence that NLG board, staff, and members will continue to lead and build in ways the world needs in coming years. I look forward to aiding the transition process and participating as an NLG member.
 
In struggle and solidarity,

Pooja Gehi

The National Office is deeply grateful for Pooja’s leadership, compassion, and political vision over her five years as Executive Director, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors!

The post An Announcement from Pooja Gehi: Transitioning from Executive Director to Member first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.