Mass Defense Committee


The Mass Defense Committee (MDC) is a network of lawyers, legal workers, and law students providing legal support for political activists, protesters and movements for social change.

MDC members from across the country provide Know Your Rights trainings, Legal Observer trainings, assistance in setting up temporary legal offices and legal support structures, and materials for supporting activists engaged in mass protests and civil disobedience. Contact the Mass Defense leadership listed below to set up a training in your area.

MDC Know Your Rights booklets are available for widespread use in English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengal, and Urdu. Booklets can also be ordered from the NLG National Office.

NLG reports on the state response to mass demonstrations, include The Assault on Free Speech, Public Assembly, and Dissent (2004), Punishing Protest (2007), and The Policing of Political Speech (2010), Developments in the Policing of National Special Security Events: An Analysis of the 2012 RNC and DNC (2013), and Operation Backfire, which details how environmental and animal rights activists are targeted by the government as a top domestic terrorist threat.

Check out our Mass Defense Brief Bank here.

Some local NLG chapters operate Legal Support Hotlines. If you're planning an action with a high risk of arrest or you've been arrested at a political demonstration, you can call legal support hotlines in the following areas: Ferguson/St. Louis 314-862-2249; San Francisco Bay Area 415-285-1011; New York City 212-679-6018; Portland, OR 503-902-5340; and Baltimore 443-814-9160.

For further assistance, contact our Mass Defense leadership:

Director of Mass Defense: King Downing

IMPORTANT: The Mass Defense Coordinator position is funded with a matching grant from the CS Fund and relies on contributions from NLG members. So that we can sustain this position, please donate to the MDC today!

Mass Defense Committee Chair: Joshua Norkin

You can also find some NLG attorneys here who provide criminal representation for activists arrested during mass protests. For NLG attorneys in other areas of the country, or to find a legal collective near you, please contact the Director of Mass Defense.

The MDC listserv is a great way to learn from and work with NLG mass defense practitioners around the country. To subscribe to the list, you must be an NLG member. If you'd like to become a member, you can sign up here. NLG members can join the MDC listserv here.