Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Know your Rights Bandana

 The Guild has teamed up with PM Press for a limited edition "Know Your Rights" bandana in Spanish and English!


The bandanas are available by mail order only from the PM Press website for $15 each. At least $5 raised from each bandana will go toward the Mass Defense Committee.

Don't be caught in the streets without your KYR bandana! Order one--or more--today and please share the link widely!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Federal Defense Hotline

National Lawyers Guild Announces Federal Defense Hotline

Contact: massdef@nlg.org

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) National Office is launching a hotline for activists and lawyers to report incidents of federal repression, such as FBI “door-knocks” at activists’ homes, grand jury investigations and subpoenas, and any other federal law enforcement efforts to undermine civil rights, such as federal grab squads and the use of unidentified federal agents to police protests. The line is live at: 212-679-2811.

Since May, the NLG has continued to support the movement for Black lives, organizing to support legal defense efforts and provide Legal Observers for demonstrations. In the last week, we have seen the use of anti-protest shock troops by the federal government, such as Portland, where federal grab squads have arrested activists and taken them away from demonstrations in unmarked vans.

A memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suggests that these officers are acting under the auspices of DHS and are members of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC). This is a unit typically tasked with high level law enforcement operations and it is formed under US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). These officers are acting under direct orders from the Trump Administration and Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf.

The use of BORTAC to disrupt activism is a recent escalation by the federal government, which has also used the National Guard, FBI, and Secret Service in order to violently quell protests. These efforts come in combination with an aggressive political and legal strategy labeling ‘antifa’ a domestic terrorist organization. Federal prosecutors are also filing criminal charges against activists throughout the country.

The NLG Federal Defense Hotline will allow callers to have privileged conversations with attorneys, and to receive attorney referrals, know-your-rights information, and resources for responding to grand jury investigations and subpoenas. Inquiries about the line can be sent to massdef@nlg.org. The line is staffed by attorneys organizing with the NLG, and will remain active as long as federal prosecution efforts continue.

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.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

NLG Legal Observers

In early June, New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) issued a two-page report detailing how legal observers with the National Lawyers Guild, a progressive association of attorneys and legal advocates that has been around since the 1930s and sends representatives to public protests to monitor police activity, were in fact “an anarchist extremist subgroup.”
“‘Lawyers’ may be identified by their bright neon green hats or clothing; however, these individual [sic] may or may not be licensed lawyers,” the office warned. “Their role is to record information regarding the interactions Antifa members are having during an arrest. This individual will record the interaction with the aid of another member, while noting information. The ‘lawyer’ will also obtain booking information and are known to argue with police over arrests and interactions.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

NLG Partners with Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is proud to announce a new sustainable partnership with Know Your Rights Camp (KYRC), founded by Colin Kaepernick. KYRC's mission is to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, and mass mobilization.

KYRC and NLG will partner to expand legal support for social justice movements and increase capacity for providing legal resources for freedom fighters arrested in relation to the movement for Black lives. The agreement includes a $500,000 grant to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation. "This inspiring grant will help the NLG strengthen digital security for mass defense organizing, assist chapters with mass defense infrastructure, expand criminal defense preparations, and create timely new know-your-rights publications," said NLG Executive Director Pooja Gehi.

This partnership builds on decades of mass defense organizing by the NLG and the recent work of Kaepernick's KYRC. The grant will be used in part to support the NLG's growing infrastructure of 65 chapters and 125 student chapters across the country. During the protests following the killing of George Floyd and many others, the NLG has played an important role in supporting activists and the movement for Black lives. The NLG has provided jail and legal support to arrested activists, tracked federal prosecution efforts, and trained and deployed thousands of Legal Observers. The NLG's mass defense efforts serve to strengthen its continued support for various intersectional social justice movements, including health and housing rights, labor struggles, environmental justice, immigration, anti-police violence, LGBTQ rights, disability rights, international solidarity, and abolition of the prison-industrial complex.

The NLG is a proud endorser of #8toAbolition, which calls for defunding police, investing in communities, and freeing people from jails and prisons. "Abolitionism is a crucial component of the NLG's mass defense efforts because both seek to dismantle the institutions most responsible for driving the racist exploitation of Black and Brown communities and political repression of activists," said NLG Director of Mass Defense Tyler Crawford. The NLG recognizes and welcomes the recent increased public support for abolition movements and dedicates itself to continuing to support communities working to make this a reality.

The NLG was formed in 1937 and was the first racially integrated bar association in the United States. The NLG has provided mass defense since 1969 along with its mass defense committee (MDC). The MDC is a network of lawyers, legal workers, law students, and jailhouse lawyers who provide legal support for activists, protesters, and movements for social change. In addition to providing direct legal support to movements, the mass defense program also distributes know-your-rights  materials, hosts reports on state responses to movements, and its widely recognizable green Legal Observer hats are a prominent feature at protests around the country.

Featured image: NLG Legal Observers document arrests during a #NoDAPL protest in New York City, 2016.

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.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Street medic training in Milwaukee: June 26th-28th

20-hour Street Medic Training

Forward Action Medics (FAM) is hosting a 20 hour street medic training in Milwaukee:

Friday, June 26th: 5:30PM – 10:00PM
Saturday, June 27th: 9:00AM – 6:30PM
Sunday, June 28th: 9:00AM – 6:30PM

Location will be shared with participants. We can help make transportation arrangements if needed.
You must be on time for the training. Individuals later than 30 minutes will not be able to attend. This is because there is a lot of information to cover in a very short amount of time, and what we cover in 30 minutes is the equivalent of one workshop’s worth of information…. so please be on time! If you know that you are often late to events, make sure you leave early to compensate.

This 20-hour training covers basic first aid skills and prepares you to help others stay safe and healthy at protests. It will also prepare you to meet health needs as part of a team in your organization, in your community, or as a member of Forward Action Medics, so that activists and communities can stay well and stay in the streets.

This training is rooted in street medics’ history of sharing first aid skills as a form of self-defense for our communities. It focuses on situational awareness and on issues that are common at protests including weather, delays in accessing medical care, and police violence. This training does not cover CPR.

Accessibility: While we strive to make these training opportunities accessible to all, some restrictions apply due to the intense physical nature of the training scenarios. Must be able to lift 30 pounds, move 25 feet independently, and easily handle and utilize first aid supplies. To request and/or discuss accommodations, please indicate so on the registration form and we will contact you.

Please register as space is limited. We will be in contact with participants before the training.

No photo description available.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Police Targeting NLG Legal Observers at Black Lives Matter Protests

Police Targeting NLG Legal Observers at Black Lives Matter Protests

June 7, 2020
Contact: communications@nlg.org
Since protests have spread to all 50 states in response to the police murders of George Floyd and countless other Black people, law enforcement has responded with a violent show of force against protestors as well as journalists, street medics, and legal support. Multiple National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Legal Observers (LOs) have been arrested or injured while monitoring demonstrations against racialized police brutality. The NLG strongly condemns this attack on Legal Observers, who attend protests to document police activity and ensure demonstrators’ legal rights. Guild LO’s wear neon green hats and other paraphernalia with the label “NLG Legal Observer” to identify their role, but this visibility has also made them a target for police. 
In the past week, police have arrested, attacked, and tear gassed LOs in a least a dozen cities. In Sacramento, LO Danny Garza was shot in the face with a rubber bullet while covering local demonstrations, and hospitalized due to a concussion. A Bay Area LO was shot with high speed impact munition by police in Oakland, and a San Jose LO suffered multiple contusions from rubber bullets. While legal observing in Chicago, Guild member Michael Drake was knocked to the ground and beaten with batons by at least five officers simultaneously before being arrested. Several LOs in Detroit were beaten with batons, punched, tear gassed and then arrested while trying to take names from arrested protesters. Multiple LOs in various cities have been detained or arrested for monitoring protests after the start of arguably illegal curfews, including Washington D.C. and New York City. Most charges against LOs include disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and breaking curfew.
Reports from NLG chapters in multiple cities lead us to conclude that police are intentionally targeting LOs. In Atlanta, LOs Megan Harrison and Asia Parks were arrested and held for 17 hours before being released. According to Harrison, she was walking down a line of protesters linking arms, taking names and dates of birth in case of arrest. When police attacked the crowd, she heard “get the girl in the green hat,” before being grabbed from behind and forcibly arrested. In Des Moines, LO Ryan Krause was physically detained by a group of police who tried to take his notes and called legal observation “suspicious activity” and “harassment.” In Kansas City, several LOs were physically shoved and pepper sprayed by police, while being told their “credentials would not protect them.” 
“The targeting of NLG LOs goes right to the heart of why we do this work. While the police enforce the law on protesters, who is there to monitor the police? The intentional targeting of NLG Legal Observers by the police is a showing of confidence and hubris that they expect to remain unaccountable,” said Garza. 
NLG Legal Observers are a core part of the NLG Mass Defense program, which began in 1968. For the past 50+ years the Guild has provided legal support designed to enable people to express their political views as fully as possible without unconstitutional disruption or interference by the police. The NLG will be putting the full support of our network of thousands of legal professionals into assisting protesters, including our LOs and the many journalists and street medics who have also been arrested or injured during these police riots.
We are deeply grateful to our LOs on the ground, and Guild members and staff are following up with LOs arrested or injured to assist with possible legal, physical, and mental health needs. We affirm our ongoing support for Black organizers and activists who continue to face the greatest amount of violence, harassment and intimidation by law enforcement. 
NLG Resources:
Image: NLG Legal Observer arrested by Atlanta Police, June 1 (John Bazemore/AP).
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.

NLG National Office


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

NLG Statement on the President’s Unlawful Declaration of Antifa as a Domestic Terrorist Organization

June 2, 2020
Contact: communications@nlg.org

In the long history of protest, governments have often sought to discredit political activists who challenge the status quo. President Donald Trump’s recent declaration, that “Antifa”—shorthand for “anti-fascist”—is a domestic terrorist organization, is no departure from this tradition. As protests continue to erupt around the country in response to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police officer on May 25, people of all classes, races, genders, and political orientations are expressing outrage and grief in the streets and on social media. The demonstrators have been repeatedly and violently attacked by heavily militarized police departments using an array of tactics—including chemical weapons during a global pandemic—against people in the streets. In an effort to shift blame away from legitimate calls for racial justice and the violent police response to protests, the President is using his bully pulpit to obscure the fact that these demonstrations are supported by a broad majority of Americans.

The term Antifa originates in the 1930s when progressive activists organized to oppose far-right authoritarianism emerging throughout the world. In recent history, some have re-adopted the phrase as a political orientation opposed to the re-emergent ultranationalism in the US and throughout Europe and Latin America. Contrary to the suggestions of Trump and many of the right-wing politicians who support his presidency, Antifa has no leaders and it is not a formal organization, although activists who identify with the term often favor direct action instead of policy reform, as well as autonomous  mutual aid. It is not clear who or what the targets of a federal Antifa investigation would be, and whether such an effort would be lawful.

"When police continue to murder Black people with impunity and when calls for systemic change to policing and structural racism are ignored, popular unrest is inevitable," said National Lawyers Guild legal worker Kris Hermes. "Federal investigations and the targeting of antifa will unfortunately result in increased surveillance and repression, and must be resisted."

While the Department of Justice (DOJ) can indict people on federal terrorism charges, no clear legal authority exists for the President to designate Antifa a “domestic terrorist organization.” Nevertheless, Attorney General William Barr quickly followed Trump’s declaration with an official statement announcing that the DOJ would use its existing network of 56 FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) offices to investigate Antifa. DOJ investigations will only serve to harass protesters and provide the state with additional means to prosecute political activists. The Trump administration’s threats are nothing more than political theater and an attempt to sow division and intimidate those who exercise their right to fight injustice.

"Trump's declaration that Antifa is a domestic terrorist organization has no basis in fact or law and is merely an attempt to criminalize ordinary people who are exercising their right to protest," said NLG Mass Defense Director Tyler Crawford, "The NLG condemns any such attempts by the government to interfere with the right of the people to have their voices heard in demanding  justice for George Floyd and an end to racist police violence."

The NLG will continue to oppose any attempts to exploit this crisis to repress political activism and social justice movements working to end to white supremacy. The Trump administration continues to ignore the ongoing injustice wrought on Black communities by institutional racism, including police brutality, in favor of seeking to physically or politically punish those who are part of anti-racist and anti-fascist movements. The NLG will continue to provide legal support to activists as they take to the streets to call for justice for George Floyd, from Minneapolis to Washington, D.C. and many other cities.

Related Links & 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.
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