Candidate Statements 2013

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan - Executive Vice President

Gabriela Lopez - National Vice President

Bina Ahmad - National Vice President

Claire White - Student National Vice President


Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan - Executive Vice President

"Dime con quién andas y te diré quién tu eres." In Spanish, this means tell me who you walk with and I´ll tell you who you are.  I have had the privilege of walking with some of the most thoughtful, brilliant, insightful, talented and radical lawyers, law students and legal workers over the past several years since I became involved with the Guild.  I have been inspired and supported, provoked and encouraged, roused and humbled by this body.  I have seen the faces of people I work with, advocate with or do activist work with when I mention the name of the Guild – they all light up with appreciation at the years of solidarity, advocacy and legal representation this organization has given them.  And because I have experienced firsthand the significance of our work, I am running for the position of Executive Vice President to continue to support it. I got involved with the Guild while a law student at CUNY School of Law, namely through the International Committee, which I currently co–chair, along with the Puerto Rico Subcommittee.  And it has been an honor to help plan this year´s convention, the first time the Guild has held its convention outside the United States.  I traveled to Venezuela last year as part of a Guild delegation to observe the Presidential election of then President Hugo Chavez and have helped plan this year´s delegation to Colombia to meet with human rights defenders from various sectors.  Just last month, I filed a petition in the Guild´s name before the Inter–American Commission on Human Rights against the United States for human rights violations in the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, the first of its kind ever presented in an international forum.  I have also been a member of TUPOCC and the Anti–Sexism Committee.  
And yet I see so much more possibility for our work and the role the Guild can play, particularly in communities of color.  Four years ago I initiated an annual joint forum with the Puerto Rican Bar Association to discuss human and civil rights issues in Puerto Rico which has proven to be successful each year.  PRBA members will come to this year´s convention, including the PRBA President.  Building alliances with other legal institutions representing or working in communities of color to jointly engage in radical work is critical and yet remains largely unaddressed institutionally within the Guild.  

I am running for EVP to not only continue to ensure that the Guild remains a known, engaged and thoughtful radical institution, but to also ensure that we remain relevant. I ask for your support for my candidacy, y te pido que andes conmigo.

Gabriela Lopez - National Vice President

I first became involved in the NLG as a student at CUNY law through the street law program.The Street Law program allows law students to go into public schools and talk to young people about their rights when being stopped by the police. Through this program I was able to connect with young people of color who are directly affected by the school to prison pipeline and listen to their stories about law enforcement abuses. I went on to become the first paid Street Law coordinator and conducted several trainings for trainers at NYC area law schools. I also helped craft the curriculum and pushed for larger involvement from students of color in curriculum development and in the trainings.

Since then I never looked back. I can proudly say that I am a very active member of the Guild both at the chapter level and nationally. I participated as a legal observer during the occupy protests in New York City, provided research and investigative support for Guild attorneys defending arrestees, helped create the curriculum for the Muslim Defense Project’s know your rights program, and participated in trainings in Muslim and South Asian community centers around surveillance and racial profiling. As a new member the Bay Area’s demonstration committee I provide pro bono legal representation for activists and was a Guild representative, on the now defunct, Coalition for Safe San Francisco. I also served on the National Executive Community (NEC) as TUPOCC co-chair and helped develop this year’s anti-oppression trainings for the board and members at the convention. As a member of the NEC I am active in the membership committee, whose goal is to conduct outreach to new members. I have also helped plan for this year’s Convention Safer Spaces Harassment & Anti-Violence hotline.

Without the Guild I don’t know how I would have gotten through law school or found so many amazing people who share my political beliefs. I love being a member of a passionate and dynamic organization that promotes human rights over property rights and is not afraid to push for radical change in all spectrums of the law.

It is my strong devotion to the Guild that has pushed me to run for National Vice President. I want to help grow our membership and make the Guild become relevant once again with a new generation of lawyers, law students, and legal workers.

As a young member I have seen first hand how the NLG’s culture can make it difficult for new members, particularly people of color, to become active in the Guild. This problem is something that I wish to change as National Vice President. I would like to push the Guild to connect with other legal and activist organizations to promote cooperation as a means to make us relevant once more. This is something that the Bay Area chapter has been to some extent successful in doing and I would like to help the national organization create similar connections.

I look forward to working on these issues as National Vice President and ask for your support in the upcoming election. 

In Solidarity, Gabriela M. Lopez

 

Bina Ahmad - National Vice President

 

I was first exposed to the Guild while a law student at Northeastern University School of Law.  And though Northeastern is a progressive law school, being one of the only students of color and one of the only students speaking out about Palestine and animal rights, it was fellow Guild law students who were my allies.  When I was publicly targeted by a Zionist professor for my views, fellow Guild students were the ones to have my back.  Having gone to law school for social justice, I found the Guild to be the only place I felt at home with my politics, particularly once I left law school and entered the legal professional world.

I became more involved with the Guild in New York City when I began working as a volunteer lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, an organization founded by Guild lawyers with a heavy Guild membership amongst the staff to this day.  While at CCR, I focused on international human rights violations, enforcing international and foreign law domestically, international human rights and humanitarian law, First Amendment law, and civil rights law regarding race discrimination and equal protection.  With the birth of Occupy Wall Street, I began heavily legal observing dozens of demonstrations, represented several clients charged with criminal offenses for their activism, and eventually was hired as a paid legal consultant for the Guild's civil litigation work surrounding the state crackdown of OWS.  The Guild graciously honored me as a Spring Fling honoree for my work surrounding OWS at the 2012 Spring Fling.  I also began serving on the New York City chapter's Executive Committee around the birth of OWS.

I am currently a very active member of the Muslim Defense Project, a unique subcommittee founded to defend and advocate for Muslims being increasingly targeted and scapegoated by the state.  Using Know Your Rights materials I had crafted while working heavily within the animal rights community, myself and other core MDP members adapted these materials to create our own Know Your Rights materials for the Muslim community and conducted over two dozen trainings for mosques, Muslim Student Associations and other organizations.  I am also a founding member of the Guild's new subcommittee the Animal Rights Activism Committee, which has in its short time submitted comment on legislation, hosted an introductory panel for the launch of the Committee, advocated for vegan food at Guild events, and a panel at this year's convention where I will be speaking along with a few other members of the Committee.  I am also a founding member of the New York chapter of TUPOCC.

Currently working as a Public Defender with the Legal Aid Society, I bring my Guild politics to my work every day.  I have promoted the Guild within LAS, encouraging many fellow coworkers to join and become aware of the work the Guild does.

As a young female attorney of color, I believe in organizations and movements self-critiquing themselves to make themselves stronger and better.  The culture of the Guild has not always been very welcoming for other attorneys of color, something that I have worked heavily to change and continue to push against.  I believe the Guild's radical political history demands better for us and of us, and radical politics demand we be willing to push ourselves to be better and stronger, to change where it is politically the best route to take.  I want to be a part of that driving force that improves the Guild and makes it the organization it truly is meant to be.

The Guild and my fellow Guildies have constantly also challenged me to fight harder, always question myself and if I am being the best radical attorney I can be, had my back in the toughest of struggles when they are unpopular to take, and provided me with a home in a conservative professional field.

If elected as one of the National Vice Presidents, I plan to continue this struggle and fight, in solidarity with all my brothers and sisters in the trenches doing this radical work every day.  I look forward to continuing this struggle together, and hope you will stand in solidarity with me in my bid for National Vice President along side Gaby Lopez.

 

In solidarity,

Bina

 Claire White - Student National Vice President 

 

Hello Guild Law Students!! I am Claire White, President of the UC Davis King Hall School of Law Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and I would be honored to serve as your Student National Vice President.

 

During the last two years, my involvement with the Guild has become the focal point of my activism, organizing and legal education. As chapter president this year, my role with the Guild has grown dramatically. The mission I have set for our chapter this years is to build a righteous, motivated vanguard of social justice law students and lawyers! Our method for enacting that mission has been providing opportunities for promoting participation in meaningful engagement in the struggle. To that end, this year saw the launch of the first ever, King Hall Know Your Rights Clinic, an escalation of our efforts organizing around the law school tuition crisis, already over 25 Guild events on campus, an increased membership, and a committee structure enabling us to engage in a broad spectrum of social justice issues. 

 

This year, I have conducted over 25 Know Your Rights Trainings to diverse audiences including law students, veterans, homeless residents, youth offenders, labor activists, community college students and others. I have legal observed at more than ten different social justice actions, have been an instrumental figure in the revival of the NLG Sacramento Chapter (including authoring by-laws and creating/maintaining our website), organized a panel on prisoners rights and reform for Progressive Lawyering Day, and am a board member of the King Hall Veterans Association. 

 

I left the military in June 2012 and started law school two months later with a lot of passion, energy, and social justice spirit, but no vehicle through which to express it and do actual work on issues. The Guild gave me that vehicle, and I'd like to give something back. The general theme of all my work with the Guild and through the other oganizations with which I affiliate has been building networks of solidarity. My service in the military left me with many positive and negative lessons. But the most important take aways were that we are stronger together than we are alone, and that with solidarity and shared purpose anything is possible.

 

I would like to promote those values from within the Guild, as your SNVP, through building networks of solidarity among law students at different chapters around the country, on issues related to tuition, critical legal education, and more, in order to build chapters' abilities to offer opportunities for meaningful engagement in the struggle to their members.