Member News Digest: Steven Donziger & #AntiChevronDay, Upcoming Webinars, Article on BDS Case, Propose Convention Programming

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5/21/20 | The Intercept | Judge Rules That Attorney Steven Donziger Must Remain Under House Arrest Until September

On #AntiChevronDay, The Intercept gives an update on the case of environmental attorney Steven Donziger, who represented Indigenous people in a decades long legal battle against Chevron. A federal judge has ruled he must remain under house arrest until September, for a total of 13 months, waiting trial on charges that carry a maximum of six months.

The article cites the NLG and IADL letter signed by 70+ organizations demanding #FreeDonziger, #MakeChevronCleanUp & #InvestigateKaplan, and quotes NLG member Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, who is part of his legal team: “We believe Chevron is going after this public interest lawyer because they want to chill and scare other public interest lawyers from ever suing them,” said Regan. “They want to make it so litigants cannot obtain counsel to challenge all the death and poisoning they’ve done around the planet… People are beginning to realize that, if you don’t stand up for people like Steven Donziger, when they come for you, there will be no one left to stand up for you.”

5/18/20: Over 475 lawyers, legal organizations and human rights defenders support lawyer Steven Donziger

“Over 75 organizations, including international legal organizations and major human rights networks, signed on to an open letter released today in support of environmental lawyer Steven Donziger, who has faced nearly unprecedented sanctions from a U.S. federal judge for his pursuit of Chevron for a judgment against the oil giant over its environmental devastation in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The letter identifies the case as “one of the most important corporate accountability and human rights cases of our time.”

In 2011, indigenous plaintiffs in the Ecuadorian Amazon received a $19 billion judgment against Chevron for the actions of its predecessor company, Texaco, which spilled over 17 million gallons of crude oil, dumped over 16 billion gallons of toxic wastewater and left hundreds of open pits throughout the Ecuadorian Amazon. The persecution of Donziger, a lawyer for the indigenous peoples affected, stems directly from Chevron’s attempt to avoid paying the judgment, which was reduced to $9.5 billion in 2013 by the Ecuadorian Supreme Court.” Read the full press release here.


TOMORROW, 5/22: NPAP Webinar: Asking for Damages During a Pandemic

This one-hour program by the National Police Accountability Project of the NLG will feature Debra Cohen and Randolph McLaughlin from New York and Hugh Eastwood from St. Louis, Missouri, discussing approaches to seeking damages during a pandemic.

Register for Friday’s free NPAP webinar here.


5/19/20: NLG Ends Frivolous Lawsuit Attacking its Commitment to BDS Movement

Anti-Palestinian activist and serial litigant David Abrams has voluntarily agreed to dismiss a lawsuit against the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) filed after NLG refused to publish Abrams’ advertisement indicating that Gush Etzion is part of Israel. In fact, Gush Etzion is an illegal settlement on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank.

“We’re pleased to end this time-consuming lawsuit for a payment of zero dollars and get back to our urgent work ensuring that vulnerable populations across the globe have access to housing, healthcare, income and other basic human rights,” said Pooja Gehi, NLG executive director. “NLG reaffirms its commitment to Palestinian liberation, including support for Palestinian rights through grassroots tools such as boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS).” Read the full NLG press release here.


May 20 | Electronic Intifada | Agent for Israel drops lawsuit against National Lawyers Guild

A lawsuit intended to harass the National Lawyers Guild over its support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights has been voluntarily dismissed by the anti-Palestinian litigant who filed it.

The lawsuit was “part of a global effort, led by Israel, seeking to paint support for Palestinian human rights as discrimination,” according to NLG.

David Abrams, the director of the Zionist Advocacy Center, filed his lawsuit after the civil rights group refused, in 2016, to publish an advertisement in its annual journal for his shadowy company located inside an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. Read the full article here.


Next Wednesday, 5/27: Organizing Socially Responsible Protests: A Virtual Town Hall

With the world now gripped in a battle with a global, deadly pandemic and governments instituting policies that have restricted mass public gatherings, campaigners and activists have been forced to change tactics and shift how they organize and protest to keep each other safe. 

Join Defending Rights & Dissent on Wednesday, May 27 LIVE at 8 PM (ET) as we explore how the world of protest and organizing has changed and how activists can adjust to the new normal in the age of social distancing and policies restricting mass gatherings. We will review the legal terrain for activists to give you an understanding of what the potential obstacles are, case studies of several recent protests, and what are the lessons that can be learned from them. 

Moderated by DRAD policy director Chip Gibbons, this town hall will feature Chinyere Tutashinda, Co-Director of BlackOUT Collective; Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Co-Founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund; Nick Robinson, Legal Advisor for the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL); Tyler Crawford, Mass Defense Director at the National Lawyers Guild; and NeeNee Taylor, Core Organizer for Black Lives Matter DC. Register here!


#Law4thePeople 2020 Digital Convention: Call for Major Panels, Workshops, Award Nominations, and Resolutions!

ATTN: NLG MEMBERS! The proposal period for major panels and workshops, award nominations, and resolutions is NOW OPEN! For the latest  #Law4thePeople news, join the Facebook event. All NLG convention news is also available at nlg.org/convention.


5/19/20: NLG & WPLC Joint Statement of Solidarity with Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribe

“The National Lawyers Guild and Water Protector Legal Collective stand in solidarity with the governments of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (the territorial government of Mnicoujou, Itazipco, Siha Sapa, and Oohenumpa people of the Lakota Nation) and the Oglala Sioux Tribe (the territorial government of the Oglala people of the Lakota Nation) in their efforts to protect their nations’ citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic by establishing health checkpoints within the jurisdictional boundaries of their territories. We call on South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to respect these Indigenous Nations’ sovereign right to do so.”

Read the full NLG WPLC statement here.


5/14/20: [VIDEO] “Fighting for Housing Justice: Movement Lawyers and Housing Activists on COVID-19 and the Urgent Struggle for Homes for All” Webinar

Thank you to the nearly 500 of you who registered for last week’s webinar organized by the NLG Housing & Homelessness Committee! In case you missed it, would like to watch again, and/or share with your friends and colleagues, the recording of the webinar is available for streaming here!

It was a deeply powerful discussion that revealed the causes of the current housing crisis and how communities are fighting back—which panelists emphasized existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic. As panelist and housing organizer Kenia Alcocer invited us to consider: “How do we turn this moment into political power and grow collective consiousness?” Watch the full webinar now!  Additional NLG webinars are available here.


5/14/20 | Fresno Bee | Fresno residents show support for councilman, after scuffle on apartment doorstep

Last week, a group of Second Amendment activists protesting quarantine closures went to the home of Councilmember Michael Arias in Fresno, CA banged on his door, and attempted to break in—while his two young children were inside. The incident ended with police giving him citations for misdemeanor battery, after they allowed the protesters to make a “citizen’s arrest” of Arias. The NLG-Central Valley Chapter expressed their support for the Councilmember:
“The National Lawyers Guild stands in solidarity with Councilmember Arias against all forms of white supremacy. We are concerned that when Mr. Arias called for help, what happened was he was the one given citations when police arrived. There’s a long history in the United States that continues to today of people of color calling the police seeking help and are the targets of police violence,” said NLG Central Valley President Mariah C. Thompson.

5/21/20 | Fresno Bee | Commentary: Fresno police show racism in the arrest of City Council President Arias

 more here: https://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article242900721.html#storylink=cpKathr

Mariah C. Thompson and fellow NLG Central Valley member Kathryn E. Forbes followed up with this op-ed in the Fresno Bee, highlighting how the incident relates speaks to the racist history and origins of policing in the US and the problematic nature of “citizen’s arrests”: 

“The police officers’ actions reflect a long history of institutionalized racism within policing and illustrate the ways police officers continue to fortify white supremacy through state-sanctioned violence […] By their own admission, the FPD were the ones who suggested that the racist agitators make a citizen’s arrest. In addition to raising legal questions, this legitimized the agitators’ invocation of law enforcement authority to criminalize a man of color while simultaneously framing the criminalization of Arias as a decision made by the public rather than one made by police, therefore allowing FPD to evade responsibility.”

Read more here: https://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article242900721.html#storylink=cpy

5/16/20 | Truthout | Cuba’s Resilience Through Economic Crisis Prepared It for COVID Health Crisis

NLG past president Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan has been in Cuba since early March, when the world started to take COVID-19 seriously. She reports in Truthout how the country’s approach to managing the pandemic is so starkly different from that of the US:

“The failure of many states to prevent, protect against and help contain an illness that was known about for months shows how concerns over loss of capital took priority over our lives. And it is this capitalist approach to administering government that is perpetuating the same harms and ensuring a continuous crisis for communities most devastated by the pandemic of our lifetime.” Read the full article in Truthout here.


NLG Endorses the People’s Strike!

The NLG has endorsed the People’s Strike, a growing coalition of workers, community, and political organizations confronting the COVID-19 pandemic by struggling against inept and corrupt government and the forces of capital (banks, corporations, brokers, etc) that put profit before the people and the planet.

Launched on May 1, the People’s Strike calls for actions the first of every month. View the People’s Strike demands here.


Members-Only Job Board

Are you searching for a movement related legal or organizing job OR internship?

A reminder that all current NLG members have access to our Members-Only job board! This resource includes open positions for attorneys, paralegals, organizers, legal workers and law students.

Check it out at nlg.org/job-board (NOTE: you must be logged in with your nlg.org account to view this page). Have a job or internship listing you’d like to share with fellow Guild members? Send it to jobboard@nlg.org.

Posted in Member News Digest.