Here’s your round-up of all the NLG’s been up to these past couple weeks!
Resources, Projects, and Publications
The NLG Review is in the process of releasing a 4-part blog series on abolition and alternatives to policing. The first article, “The Policing Question: Protection v. Service in 2020” by Harold McDougall can be found online here, and the second article, “Defunding the Police” by Paul Petrequin can be found here. Look out for the next blog post!
Check out this resource from Kaepernick Publishing and LEVEL, featuring free online essays from Colin Kaepernick, Dr. Angela Davis, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and many others. “Over the next four weeks, the project will publish 30 stories from organizers, political prisoners, scholars, and advocates — all of which point to the crucial conclusion that policing and prisons do not serve as catch-all solutions for the issues and people the state deems social problems.”
The #CagingCOVID campaign led by Nation Inside was endorsed by the NLG in early December. This campaign seeks to empower the affected by providing a platform wherefrom they can share their stories with the world, thereby raising awareness about the cruelty and neglect suffered by those cut off within correctional facilities across the nation.
It can become a little too easy to forget those locked away, “out of sight and out of mind.” But we can’t allow ourselves to forget them — lives are on the line. We hope that by bringing those voices to the forefront of public awareness, we can remind people of their needs and make the changes necessary to protect the vulnerable among us.”
The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild released this document on the immigration landscape of 2020, outlining their new lawsuits, ongoing lawsuits, amicus briefs, trainings and community conversations, and more.
Santa Rita Jail (SRJ) Hotline
NLG San Francisco launched the SRJ Hotline six months ago. Read the chapter’s description of the project here:
“The Santa Rita Jail (SRJ) Hotline (510-925-4060) is a free resource for prisoners in the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail and their families to report their concerns about COVID-19, jail conditions, and to obtain information about their rights. The hotline consists of attorney, legal worker, and community member volunteers who answer calls, correspond with, and advocate for prisoners. The hotline operates daily from 8am-10pm.
The NLG-SF Santa Rita Jail Hotline has now operated for 6 months – providing a free resource to prisoners in the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail from 8am-10pm daily. The SRJ Hotline would not have been possible without the support of members; Hotline volunteers; community partners; and the Hotline legal team, who contributed their extensive experience and legal license to create a confidential resource for prisoners.”
Description: The webinar featured National Lawyers Guild members who have worked to bring urgent human rights violations in the United States to international attention through the UPR process. The UPR is a unique process through which the human rights record of a country is reviewed by other United Nations member States. Countries are reviewed every 4-5 years. The member States then make recommendations to the country under review, which the country should in theory accept and implement. The United States was reviewed on November 9, 2020.
This webinar is organized by the NLG International Committee.
NLG In The News
12/18/20 | Jurist | In a Pandemic, Why are Cities Still Making it Hard for People to Get Utilities?
Check out this article by Azadeh Shahshahani, former NLG President and current Legal & Advocacy Director at Project South: “With the continuing pandemic – and expiring housing and unemployment benefits across the country – millions of people may have their utilities cut off soon.
Meanwhile, at least 13 states currently have expired moratoriums on water shut-offs. Many notable COVID-19 hotspot states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma) never implemented any moratorium on utility shut-offs. For those facing the greatest impacts of the virus – lower-income Americans, people of color, and mixed-status families with different immigration statuses – this lack of protection is devastating.
It should not have to be this way. Access to utilities should be considered a human right, with no exceptions.”
12/17/20 | Spin | Artist of the Year: Run the Jewels, Antiheroes of the Year We Lost
“As protests raged following George Floyd’s murder, Run the Jewels moved up their release date from June 5 to June 3, giving people a sorely needed surprise — and soundtrack along with the likes of Lil Baby and YG. They also gave away the album for free, encouraging donations to charities like National Lawyers Guild’s Mass Defense Committee, Black Lives Matter and The Bail Project.”
12/17/20 | Law360 | Judge Won’t Ax Detainees’ Suit Over COVID-19 Hot Spot Yet
“Before a Virginia federal judge decides whether to let stand a suit accusing immigration officials of allowing the coronavirus to “spread like wildfire” in a detention facility where almost 90% of detainees tested positive, she wants a fuller record. […] The detainees are represented by Joseph D. West, David Debold, Naima L. Farrell, Thomas J. McCormac IV, Blair Watler and Katherine King of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, Kristin Donovan and Granville Warner of Legal Aid Justice Center, and Sirine Shebaya and Amber Qureshi of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.”
12/16/20 | Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service | OPINION: Before we pick the next chief, let’s fix Milwaukee’s broken system of policing
Check out this local op-ed by Emilio De Torre, a member of the steering committee for the Mass Defense Committee and executive director of the Milwaukee Turners.
“We need solutions to our problems of poverty, addiction, mental illness, hunger, housing, violence and racism. Men with guns and men with cages are not the solution to these issues, no matter who their boss is.
We need to imagine and then build better. We’ve been doing it wrong for a very long time.
Why are we expecting different results when we’re about to do the same thing?”
12/14/20 | The World | International lawyers and activists organize independent inquiry into US police violence
“It’s been more than six months since George Floyd’s killing by police on May 25 sparked worldwide protests, and led the United Nations Human Rights Council to consider creating a commission to investigate police violence in the US. That didn’t happen, but the international network of lawyers and activists who feel such an inquiry is needed didn’t give up. […] The commission’s hearings are being organized by leaders from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, and the National Lawyers Guild, including international human rights lawyer Kerry McLean.”
12/10/20 | Injustice Watch | NLG Jailhouse Lawyer Benard McKinley Gets 39-Year Sentence Reduced
Benard was first sentenced to 100 years for a crime committed when he was only 16 years old. Illinois ruled that any sentence of 40+ years was a de facto life sentence, and thus unlawful for a juvenile. The initial re-evaluation of his sentence resulted in a callous resentencing of 39 years. He appealed and the apellate court reversed the sentence, settling on 25 years. Congratulations to Benard, and thank you to Brad Thompson of the NLG Chicago chapter for letting us know!
12/09/20 | The Hill | Denver police chief vows to implement policy changes after watchdog report on George Floyd protests
“Some activists, meanwhile, said the recommendations would not be sufficient to address the issues raised in the report.
“The idea that body cameras and transparency is going to solve the over-policing and excessive force against our minority communities is just not true,” Jes Jones, a criminal defense attorney and organizer with the Colorado chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, told the newspaper.
During the protests, Jones said, “There were protesters who described themselves as being hunted by police … as being corralled by police. The stories were consistent and egregious.'”