National Lawyer's 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.

# # #

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

*******

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.

# # #

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).

# # #

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.

Power to the People! NLG Responds to 2020 Presidential Election Results

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) expresses its  deep gratitude to the work of Black, Indigenous, and communities of color around the country who have led the way to the end of a fascist Trump presidency. 

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. As they always have, the rights of our most marginalized communities hang in the balance. There is much more work to be done to address the damage inflicted by the last administration—and the many before it—that have advanced racism, transphobia, misogyny, ableism, capitalism, and imperialism. Peoples’ struggles for liberation will continue under a Biden administration, and the NLG remains committed to working in solidarity with them.

As Angela Davis reminded us, “We know now that we can, indeed, forge our own futures.”

After we take a few moments to breathe, re-group, and celebrate, we will get back to work.

# # #

Related: Read the NLG Labor & Employment Committee’s statement, Workers and Unions Must Remain Vigilant to Prevent Trump from Delegitimizing the Election and Stop Trump’s Desired “Coup” here.

The post Power to the People! NLG Responds to 2020 Presidential Election Results first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

NLG Minnesota Condemns MPD For Mass Arrest of Hundreds, Including Minors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: massdef@nlg.org

MINNEAPOLIS—The Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG-MN) and the Legal Rights Center (LRC) stand in solidarity with the hundreds of demonstrators kettled and arbitrarily arrested last night on I-94. These protesters gathered to demand that all votes be counted—a fundamental tenet of a political system that claims to be democratic. At the direction of elected officials, law enforcement arrested over 600 people and cited many others, including four NLG Legal Observers (LOs) and half a dozen or more minors. At least one person was taken into custody, a young Black woman charged with assault of an officer, and is still in jail. The NLG-MN and LRC unequivocally condemns these arrests and citations. 

Leading up to the arrests and citations, law enforcement gave no orders to disperse. As people attempted to exit the freeway using access roads, they were not allowed to leave by officers and were then subject to pepper spray. The action was carried out by Minnesota State Troopers, Hennepin County sheriffs, and Minneapolis Police Department (MPD); there are unconfirmed reports that the National Guard was also present. A number of legislators and others have contacted Governor Tim Walz’s office, and have reported the governor’s remarks that last night’s law enforcement actions were intended to “teach a lesson.” After being cited, arrestees were put on buses and dropped off at random locations, including the University of Minnesota campus, U.S. Bank Stadium, Lake Harriet, Bloomington, and others. NLG-MN worked with local activists and jail support to organize car caravans to safely shuttle arrestees back to Minneapolis. 

The arrests of NLG LOs and media, present to document the actions of law enforcement, add to the wrongful arrests and are an additional attempt to avoid accountability and documentation of law enforcement actions. One Latinx reporter with a press badge was arrested, while another officer threatened to call Border Patrol on his wife after demanding to see her passport. These tactics, like the others above, are deliberate attempts to create a chilling effect on protest and to scare activists. We are also concerned about the arrests of minors, at least five of whom have been charged with crimes related to being on the freeway. Our hotline received more than 250 phone calls seeking support around citations.

These actions by the MPD, and the overwhelming silence from elected officials, are a striking demonstration of why the MPD cannot be reformed; it must be dismantled. The community is well aware that our elected officials will continue to defend the police department at every opportunity, so it is up to us to continue advocating and agitating for genuine change. We will not stop until our community’s demands are met.

Folks looking for resources and guidance in handling these citations, which are criminal charges, should leave a voicemail on the NLG Minnesota hotline: (612) 444-2654

Due to our current call volume, we may not be able to answer all phone calls as they come in; however, we will follow up with resources as soon as possible. In addition, NLG Minnesota is participating in an All Arrestee Meeting along with Minnesota Uprising Arrestee Support for arrestees and their supporters to discuss solidarity and organizing strategy. The tentative date for the event is November 15. 


Follow the NLG Minnesota Chapter at facebook.com/nlgminnesota, and visit their website at nlgmn.org

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: Minnesota state troopers prepare to kettle protesters on I-94. (Credit: Unicorn Riot)

# # #

The post NLG Minnesota Condemns MPD For Mass Arrest of Hundreds, Including Minors first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

NLG Continues Intensified Mass Defense Efforts Amid Election

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: communications@nlg.org

NEW YORK—The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is continuing its mass defense efforts in preparation for the possibility of a contested US presidential election, and uprisings that may emerge as a result. Many NLG chapters are partnering with Election Protection to provide volunteer attorneys, legal workers, and law students in the interest of fair and free elections.

The NLG Mass Defense Program has had an extremely busy year following the police murder of George Floyd and the mass movements for racial justice that reemerged this summer—and which continue today. Fueled by our volunteer members at local chapters, the Mass Defense Program is an organized infrastructure of Legal Observers, arrest hotlines, and on-call defense attorneys responding to mass arrests and police violence. The NLG released this elections know-your-rights page to help voters protect themselves and their vote, and defend themselves from instances of voter suppression, harassment, or intimidation they may encounter at the polls. 

Additionally, responding to broad concerns about the possibility for unlawful orders regarding the election, the NLG’s Military Law Task Force (MLTF) is providing new and expanded resources for attorneys, GI rights advocates, and servicemembers, including a phone line (619-463-2369) for free, confidential telephone consultations with attorneys to discuss possible illegal orders and related issues. See here for additional MLTF election-related resources for service members and advocates. 

As an organization committed to supporting peoples’ struggles for liberation, the NLG categorically refuses to provide legal support to white supremacists or other hate groups, who are repeatedly encouraged and emboldened by Trump and his administration. Regardless of who becomes the next US President, the NLG will continue its 83-year-long legacy of working in solidarity with communities fighting for a better world, where people and the planet are valued over profit and property. 

Resources: 

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: “Vote!” by rantingfanCC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The post NLG Continues Intensified Mass Defense Efforts Amid Election first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

NLG 2021 Haywood Burns Fellowships

The application for the NLG’s Haywood Burns Memorial Fellowship for Social and Economic Justice for Summer 2021 is now available! The Burns Fellowship is open to students and legal workers working on projects that find creative ways to use the law to advance justice. You can donate to support the next generation of people’s lawyers here!

The application for the fellowship can be downloaded here:

2021 Haywood Burns Memorial Fellowship Application 

Check out the Fellowship Page for information on previous Fellows and their projects. Please also take a look at the history of the Fellowships and the bio of Haywood Burns, which all applicants (and really everyone) should read. Fellowships may be completed with any existing organization whose mission addresses the needs of underserved individuals and groups. We encourage applicants to identify grassroots and non-traditional work opportunities for which there is a serious current societal need. This could be a small non-profit, a short-staffed community law firm, or an organizing campaign that needs legal assistance. In 2021, we expect to award $3,000 for ten weeks of full-time work and will be considering both in person and remote internships.

Students and legal workers actively involved in NLG activities are given preference for the Fellowships, so please apply! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email NLG Director of Education and Research Traci Yoder at traci@nlg.org.

Completed applications are due by January 4, 2021. Applicants will be notified by the end of January 2021. 

The post NLG 2021 Haywood Burns Fellowships first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Election Organizing: Know-Your-Rights and Legal Support

This November, voters will turn out for a historic election taking place at the height of a global pandemic and economic downturn, which many are calling “the most important election in United States history.” The NLG views voting in this election as an action, and governors around the country have already started taking efforts to suppress voter turnout, largely in support of the Trump Administration which says that it will challenge election results if not re-elected, and aggressively crackdown on protests that result. Voters should be prepared for voter suppression on November 3rd, and activists should be aware of their rights. 

Know-Your-Rights on Election Day (Source: ACLU Voting Rights)

  • If you are questioned about your political beliefs by anyone you do not need to respond. 
  • If you are in line to vote and polls close, you have a right to stay in line and cast your vote. 
  • If you make a mistake on your ballot, you have the right to request a new one. 
  • If the machines are down at your polling place, you have the right to a paper ballot. 
  • The following hotlines are available for any emergency needs:
    • English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)
    • Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-866-839-8682)
    • Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US (1-844-925-5287)
    • Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683

Know-Your-Rights at Post-Election Protests

For a comprehensive list of your rights, the NLG maintains a library of KYR booklets for activists in English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Urdu, and Farsi. Activists should know their most fundamental rights for protesting and law enforcement encounters: 

  • If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, always ask: “Am I detained?”
    • If the answer is “Yes” then you have a right to main silent. 
    • If the answer is “No” then you have a right to leave. 
  • Once you are detained, you have an automatic right to remain silent. 
  • While detained, you also have a right to a lawyer.
  • If you are pulled over on your way from a protest, you have a right to refuse a search. However:
    • You may be ordered from your vehicle. 
    • Upon reasonable suspicion, your vehicle may be searched for weapons. 
    • Upon probable cause, your entire vehicle may be seized and searched. 

Legal Support at Post-Election Protests
The NLG Mass Defense Program provides comprehensive legal support for protesters, including Legal Observers, legal support hotlines, and KYR materials. For more information on ensuring that these resources are in place for your protest, contact your local chapter on NLG’s Directory of Chapters.

The post Election Organizing: Know-Your-Rights and Legal Support first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

McCarthyism 2020: A Second Generation NLG Member and Red-Baiting in Texas

Mike Siegel is a civil rights lawyer, long-time National Lawyers Guild member, and candidate for the U.S. House from Austin, Texas.

He is also, according to his opponent Rep. Michael McCaul, “the most radical liberal running for Congress in America.”
After Siegel won the Democratic nomination for the Texas 10th Congressional District on July 14, 2020, McCaul unveiled a series of attacks attempting to portray Siegel as a “red diaper baby” who “won’t stand up to China.”

Exhibit A for McCaul’s attack? A speech Siegel gave to the San Francisco NLG chapter in 2014, when Siegel’s parents, Anne Weills and Dan Siegel, were honored at the annual testimonial dinner. As part of the tribute, Mike Siegel joked that if his parents were Cuban revolutionaries, his mom would be more like Che Guevara (because she has always been committed to grassroots organizing) while his dad is more like Fidel (drawn to institutional leadership). Now, McCaul has injected this speech into the campaign, as he paints Siegel as “too liberal for Texas.”

The irony in all this, is that Mike Siegel’s parents faced red-baiting throughout their decades in the civil rights movement. Anne Weills started working in the early 1960s to organize for African-Americans to get jobs and resist housing segregation in San Francisco. And Dan Siegel got his start during the Freedom Summer of 1964.

As Dan says, “it was my trip to the South that inspired me to become a civil rights lawyer. As we worked to integrate lunch counters and support the movement of Black activists across the South, we faced immense repression. Beatings, threats on our life, and of course police brutality and arrests. I noticed that there were few lawyers who were there to defend us and bail us out — and most of them were Lawyers Guild members.”

Mike Siegel started his career as a public school teacher and then attended Cornell Law School, where he was active in the student NLG chapter. He says, “I was inspired to become a lawyer when I was teaching in Brooklyn, New York, and lived through the attacks of 9/11. After seeing the community come together in a beautiful way, to support each other and foster movements for peace and solidarity, I was horrified how the Bush Administration used that moment to not only advance war abroad, but to also terrorize the Muslim, South Asian and Middle Eastern communities at home. I became a lawyer to fight Attorney General John Ashcroft and support movements for civil and human rights.”

In Texas, Mike Siegel has served as an Austin City Attorney, where he was the lead attorney in a lawsuit to stop Texas Senate Bill 4, a “show me your papers” law passed in 2017 that encouraged racial profiling and harassment of immigrant communities. He also took on cases to challenge housing segregation, to fight for tenants at large apartment complexes, and defend union contracts from right-wing attacks.

His mom, Anne Weills, sees history repeating itself. “In the 1960s, when Dan and I were fighting racism in the South and in the Bay Area, white people who worked in solidarity with Black civil rights workers were called communists and outside agitators. It was a way to delegitimize the struggle for basic human dignity. Now Michael is out there in Texas, standing up for immigrant communities, challenging racist practices, and he’s being red-baited again. The right hasn’t changed its playbook in 50 years.”

Her son is undeterred, however. “I’ve spent 21 years as a teacher and civil rights lawyer, fighting for the community,” Mike says. “I’m running on a platform of universal healthcare, a national jobs program, and strong action on climate change. They can’t attack my work or my policies, so they are grasping for straws. These attacks are a sign of weakness — they know we can win.”

The post McCarthyism 2020: A Second Generation NLG Member and Red-Baiting in Texas first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

2020 Digital #Law4thePeople Convention: THANK YOU!

Dear NLG Family,

Thank you all so much for being a part of the first ever, all digital #Law4thePeople convention!

Although we couldn’t be together in person, these past two weeks have been a wonderful opportunity to build, reflect, and strategize on moving forward in our work to fight for a better world. Thanks to your participation and engagement, over the course of this digital gathering, our community included nearly 1,000 people around the country—and the world. A huge thank you to all our members and guest speakers, honorees, and panelists who helped organize each and every event!

A special thank you to LearningTimes which donated countless hours of their time to helping make this digital gathering a success, and to the captioners and interpreters who helped make this convention more accessible.

Here is a recap of videos from three of our biggest events! More video recordings of sessions will be circulated to attendees in the coming days.

Angela Davis accepting the 2020 Arthur Kinoy Award.

In the meantime, please feel free to share your favorite moments from the Convention on social media using #Law4thePeople and tagging us on the following accounts:

Twitter: @NLGNews
Instagram: @nationallawyersguild
Facebook: @NLGNational

Sending love, light, solidarity, and much gratitude,

NLG National Staff
Daniel, Kimmie, Lisa, Pooja, Tasha, Traci and Tyler

P.S. We’re still working towards reaching our $50,000 fundraising goal. If you are in a position to do so, we welcome you to make a tax-deductible contribution at nlg.org/donate2020. Thank you!

The post 2020 Digital #Law4thePeople Convention: THANK YOU! first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.