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.
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.
NLG Legal Support Hotlines
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:
Buffalo, NY: 716-332-4658
Central Pennsylvania: 717-686-9989
Chicago, IL: 312-913-0039
Cleveland, OH: 216.5050.NLG (654)
Madison, WI: 608-520-0654
New York City: 212-679-6018
Portland, OR: 503-902-5340
San Francisco/Bay Area, CA: 415-285-1011
Seattle, WA: 206-422-4663
Our Mass Defense work and Director position are 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!
Your donation will be used to help:
- Train Legal Observers to monitor police at protests
- Fund our Mass Defense Director position
- Expand our outreach to Muslim and immigrant communities
- Provide Know Your Rights bookets and trainings
- Enhance NLG Litigation Support
For further assistance, contact our Mass Defense leadership:
Director of Mass Defense: King Downing
Mass Defense Committee Chair: Jude Ortiz
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 NLG Mass Defense Director.
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.