Here’s your round-up of all the NLG’s been up to these past couple weeks!
Be sure to check out nlg.org/convention if you haven’t already—#Law4thePeople registration is now open!
Grand Jury Repression: Preparing for Solidarity / TODAY, 6:30pm PT-8:30 pm PT
Both the state and federal government have historically used grand juries as a tool of repression against resistance movements. Grand juries are used to gather intelligence and information to target particular individuals who are leaders in social justice movements. Several people have already been served with grand jury subpoenas as a result of the recent uprisings. At the same, it is a historical tradition to resist grand juries and not to comply with this extrajudicial government form of repression. Sometimes this has meant going to jail in order to protect the movement. Come hear grand jury resisters speak about their experiences from lawyers who defend them and about how you can prepare to resist and act in solidarity with those who choose to do so.
Defending Voting Rights in 2020 / TOMORROW, August 14, 12pm-1:30pm ET / 9am-10:30am PT
The conversation of this panel will center around the question: “How can legal workers/attorneys/organizers help fight voter suppression and purging?” Speakers include: Greg Palast, Investigative Journalist and Author of How Trump Stole 2020; Terry Ao Minnis, Senior Director of Census & Voting Programs at Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Jeanne Mirer, Co-chair of the NLG International Committee and President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. See Jeanne Mirer and Jerry Wallingford’s recent article on voting rights in Truthout here. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
The NLG National Lawyers Guild – Pittsburgh Chapter established this legal defense fund at nlg.org/pghlegalfund to support activists facing “unsubstantiated felony charges.” They write: “We believe that these severe and unprovoked charges are being used to intimidate with the intention of repressing protests against police brutality in our city. 100% of funds raised will be used directly for the legal defense and expenses of these individuals. It will also provide much needed commissary funds while they are in jail.” Support and/or share the NLG PGH-legal defense fund here.
“In addition to SPD’s haphazard and arbitrary deployment of force, officers specifically targeted the Seattle NLG’s legal observers (LOs), all while concealing their badge numbers. These incidents included: Deliberately spraying pepper spray into a LO’s face at close range, tossing flash bang grenades directly at legal observers, needlessly grabbing and shoving LOs; purposely hitting LOs with their bicycles…” Read the full press release at the NLG Seattle webpage here.
In response to the persecution of environmental human rights attorney Steven Donziger, a dedicated group of attorneys coordinated by the NLG International Committee and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers reviewed the record in the case and came to believe Judge Lewis A. Kaplan violated the Canons of Judicial Conduct in his handling of the case and facilitating Chevron’s attacks on Mr. Donziger and the Ecuadorian judgment and that his actions with respect to the criminal contempt charges are evidence of his misconduct.
Complaints of judicial misconduct may be filed by anyone concerned with this conduct. Your signature on this complaint will assist in making the reviewing judges realize the importance of this case to the community of lawyers and lawyer/jurist/bar associations.
NLG In The News
8/12/20 | Insider | Protesters in Minneapolis say they won’t clear barricades around the George Floyd Memorial until the city leaders meet their 24 demands
“Protesters created a list of 24 demands that they said city leadership must meet, or they themselves would maintain the barricades around the memorial… Protesters gained the support of the National Lawyers Guild of Minnesota, which in a Facebook post wrote: ‘Neighbors, youth, and community activists have been tending to this space for months since the police murder of George Floyd in order to keep it a sacred space for the memorial. It is inherently a space of protest.’
The guild added: ‘The people of George Floyd Square have developed very clear demands that need to be met and have openly communicated to the city what needs to happen in order for negotiations regarding the removal of the barricades to begin.'”
8/10/10 | Washington Post | Federal scientists begin addressing massive covid-19 outbreak at immigration detention center in Virginia
“The CDC staff will focus on one specific thing,” said Sirine Shebaya, a lawyer with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer’s Guild, which is representing some of the plaintiffs in that case. “In our lawsuit, we’ve raised a whole list of conditions that go beyond the issue of testing,” she said. “It’s very unlikely that the CDC inspection will cover all of these different areas.”
8/10/20 | Verso Blog | Destroying to Replace: Settler Colonialism from Kashmir to Palestine
NLG past president Azadeh Shahshahani co-wrote this piece with activist Zainab Ramahi: “Despite India’s successful overthrow of British rule, it has created a colonial occupation of its own in Jammu and Kashmir. And recently, it has been taking its cues straight from Israel’s playbook,” the write. Read the full piece here.
8/7/20 | Roanoke Times | Lawyers guild says Floyd Courthouse’s Confederate monument sends wrong message
The Southwest Virginia Chapter of the NLG issued a statement last week calling for the removal of a Confederate soldier statue at the entrance of the Floyd County Courthouse. The SW VA NLG “presents these events and issues to support the Guild’s concerns about whether people of color will receive equal treatment under the law at the Floyd County Courthouse,” the statement said.
8/3/20 | Truthout | Congress Put the Brakes on Cuba Relief to Protect Front-Line Democrat
“Two amendments aimed at alleviating the stranglehold on Cuba’s economy were withdrawn because of pressure to protect a vulnerable Florida rep.” Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, a human rights attorney and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, helped organize support for the amendments with a coalition of progressive foreign policy groups, including the push to get McGovern to allow the amendments on the floor. She said that advocates figured the amendments ‘would be a sure thing’ — considering the congressman’s ‘longstanding support’ for the normalization of relations between Cuba and the U.S.
8/1/20 | Truthout | Mass Arrests in 2020 Echo the Brutality Endured by RNC Protesters 20 Years Ago
NLG legal worker member Kris Hermes wrote this piece comparing the police violence towards protesters at the 2000 RNC (and the legal support mobilized by groups like the NLG and Up Against the Law Collective) to that of Black Lives Matter activists today: “As uprisings continue across the country, people are refusing to accept anything less than structural change. The Movement for Black Lives is demanding not only that we rethink policing and the carceral system, but also that we address the systemic economic and social inequities that have been perpetuated against Black people for years.” Kris Hermes is the author of Crashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000.
Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests.
The NLG National Office released this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page. Visit: nlg.org/FederalRepressionResources
Rally Saturday, August 15 @ Trump International Hotel NYC. The NLG endorsed this upcoming rally that will commemorate the first National Reparations Day Rally held in the US on August 17, 2002.
“Reparations speak to the crimes committed, the damages caused, the compensation needed to repair and advance collectively. Reparations encompass police terror, criminal injustice, inadequate healthcare, skyrocketing unemployment, inferior housing, education designed for incarceration, lack of wealth, shorter life spans and higher infant mortality rates….This is why we call for all those outraged by what is happening now to join us on August 15th around the country to put forward the demand for Reparations. In New York City we will demonstrate in front of President Trump’s International Hotel, a half block from the statue of Christopher Columbus, the genocidal initiator of our MAAFA. These two embody the continuum of terror, misery and exploitation of Africans in this country.” Learn more about at the December 12 th Movement website.
The NLG is one of 100+ racial, economic, and social justice organizations and coalitions have issued an open letter with an accompanying primer encouraging community institutions and organizations to rethink their relationships to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The letter comes in response to the ADL’s history of targeting and co-opting movements for justice—particularly those led by communities of color—and advancing Islamophobia, policing, and global militarism while projecting a false badge of progressivism. Read more at droptheadl.org.
We recently joined an open letter with Public Rights Project and many other public interest legal organizations urging state bars to cancel bar examinations this year and award full diploma privilege to recent law school graduates. Both in-person and online exams exacerbate inequities affecting applicants of color, lower-income applicants, and applicants with disabilities, and COVID-19 has only made the need for licensed public interest lawyers greater. Read and have your public interest legal organzation endorse the open letter here: bit.ly/SupportingDiplomaPrivilege
As you may have seen, registration for the all-digital #Law4thePeople Convention, Sept 21-Oct 4, is now OPEN!
We’re honored to announce that scholar, author, and activist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor will be our keynote speaker! In addition, we have a great lineup of timely major panels, workshops, and CLEs planned, which you can check out here. Full descriptions with confirmed speakers for each event will be posted soon.
We’re also thrilled to announce the following 2020 awardees! (Additional awardees will be announced soon.)You can learn more about them here and congratulate them with an ad in our Awards Program Tribute Journal—all while supporting the NLG!
NLG Minnesota Chapter: Law for the People Award; Jeanne Mirer: Ernie Goodman Award; Jodi Hill: CB King Award; Charlotte Kates: Debra Evenson “Venceremos” Award; Sara Kershnar: Legal Worker Award
Register or learn more at nlg.org/convention!