In response to the guilty verdicts of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for last summer’s murder of George Floyd, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) reaffirms its support for communities calling for the abolition of policing. As the verdict was being announced, Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl, was killed by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, and just last week, police killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright 10 miles away from where Chauvin was being tried for murder. As Black-led movements have asserted for decades, policing is an inherently violent, racist institution that cannot be reformed. The NLG continues to be in solidarity with the families and communities of George Floyd, Ma’Khia Bryant, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and too many others killed, hurt, and traumatized by police violence and racism. The NLG remains committed to supporting people’s movements in demand of a better world.
As an abolitionist organization, the NLG is embracing the wide range of emotional responses to a guilty verdict for Chauvin. We continue to support calls for meaningful, systemic change—rather than superficial reform—as a matter of survival, and of justice for those murdered, harmed, and traumatized by this institution. We also reaffirm our support for survivors of police violence, both personally and communally, through all the complexities and tensions of navigating abolition and the trial of Derek Chauvin.
Lawmakers threatened by the power of community organizing are actively attempting to quash peoples’ legal rights to dissent. Citing the uprisings for Black lives sparked by George Floyd’s murder last summer, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an “anti-riot” bill into law Monday, which would increase the severity and scope of punishments the state can use against protesters, raising serious civil liberties concerns and claims of unconstitutionality.
In an attempt to mitigate the massive state repression of anti-racist protesters last summer, the NLG continues to call for support in demanding the Biden Administration to drop the charges against the more than 350 people facing federal charges for participating in last summer’s uprising for Black lives. Though an imperfect solution, it would be a means to reducing harm, and we are hoping to extend the bare minimum of freedom from legal trouble to those demanding an end to racism.
With 200 anti-protest bills across multiple states attempting to regulate protest and dissent, the need for abolition is past due. The NLG will continue supporting communities demanding liberation, using the law in service of 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.
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