Welcome to the rebranded Member Recap, formerly known as the Member News Digest, where you can catch up on NLG news from the last two weeks.
Upcoming & Recorded Events
NEXT WEEK: Week Against Mass Incarceration (WAMI2021) Begins!
Stay tuned for a recap of all the great events our NLG law student chapters organize around the theme of “Prison Abolition and Beyond” to include all locations and instances in which people are held against their will, including jails, immigration detention, juvenile detention facilities, psychiatric wards, and more. We also intend the “beyond” to include consideration of the abolition of policing as part of the larger mass incarceration system (and in line with the Guild’s 2020 resolution supporting the abolition of police). Check out the #WAMI2021 page on our website for ways to get involved.
More information about the various events can be found on our social media pages!
You can watch this press conference from February 18, where NLG San Francisco-Bay Area spoke with the Anti Police-Terror Project demanding that the Marin County D.A. Lori Frugoli drop the charges against Indigenous women & two spirit people who demonstrated against the genocidal colonizer Junipero Serra on Indigenous Peoples Day 2020.
National, Committee, and Chapter Statements and News
The NLG National Office is pleased to introduce our 2021 Haywood Burns Fellowship recipients! The Fellowships sponsor law students and legal workers to spend the summer working for public interest organizations across the country in order to build their legal skills , strengthen their long-term commitment to social justice, and provide much-needed legal support to under-served communities.
This year we will send five aspiring people’s lawyers to work on projects focusing on racial justice, immigrant justice, eviction defense, police violence, prison law reform, and the opioid epidemic. Our fellows will be working at social justice organizations including the Advancement Project, the People’s Law Office, Communities Resist, AppalRed, and Project South. Congratulations to Xena Sofia Hinson, Julian Montijo, Jackie Park, Colleen Ryan, and Stephanie Sorquira.
Poor Peoples’ Army: NLG Philadelphia, NLG Housing Committee, and NLG National Sign Onto Philadelphia Anti-Evicition Campaign
The campaign calls for no evictions of 30+ families taking shelter in abandoned HUD properties in Philly.
“As the homelessness continues with the ongoing pandemic and heightened joblessness, lawyers need to take sides and support poor people organizing themselves to survive against corporations and the rich,” said Sarah White, Co-Chair of NLG Housing Committee.
National Lawyers Guild (NLG) membership voted to pass a resolution supporting police abolition following its #Law4thePeople Convention last fall, acknowledging that the institution of policing is incompatible with the NLG’s mission to use law in defense of human rights and ecosystems over property interests. Taking leadership from community demands reiterated during last summer’s uprisings against racist police violence catalyzed by the murder of George Floyd, the resolution calls for the “defunding, dismantling and abolition” of policing in all its forms. […]
The NLG National Office, in collaboration with the proponents of the resolution, will be implementing the resolution by presenting the forthcoming programming and resources:
- The Case for Abolition, for Skeptics, written by Anti-Racism Committee Co-Chair Kira Kelley, as part of a four-part NLG blog series on Alternatives to Policing in the US
- An FAQ document on police abolition
- A webinar discussion about police abolition, featuring resources by Critical Resistance
- Additional programming about police abolition during the WAMI (Week Against Mass Incarceration) March 1-6, led by NLG law students and local chapters
NLG Signs Onto Letter Demanding DOJ Review Chevron’s Retaliatory Litigation Against Human Rights Attorney Steven Donziger
The NLG one of 13 organizations who signed this letter led by Amazon Watch to incoming AG Garland demanding a comprehensive review of the legal attacks against Steven Donziger, including retaliatory SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) litigation by Chevron.
“These actions will allow Mr. Donziger to return to his human rights work and will allow those affected by Chevron’s massive pollution to collect the court judgement against the company in the United States or in other jurisdictions around the world,” the letter states. You can read the whole letter here.
The NLG has signed onto the following letter of support of the Indian Farmers Protest, which is estimated to be the largest strike in history.
“Since the end of November, up to a million protesters have travelled to the outskirts of Delhi, India to protest three recent farm laws that will deregulate India’s agriculture industry in unprecedented ways, threatening the already strained livelihoods of millions of farmers to the benefit of massive corporations. […]
“Justice for Migrant Women is proud to demonstrate our solidarity with the farmers’ protest, alongside more than 75 like-minded organizations across the US and beyond,” said Mónica Ramírez, Founder and President of Justice for Migrant Women. “India’s response to these peaceful demonstrations run counter to the fundamental values shared by all democracies — among them freedom of expression, protest, and the press, as well as the fundamental dignity of all people — and it is time that we all lend our voices to speak against this unjust treatment with those who are fighting for their lives and livelihoods.”
“The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Arkansas’ anti-BDS law on Friday in a clear win against unconstitutional legislation attempting to silence advocacy for Palestinian rights. National Lawyers Guild and Project South had filed an amicus brief in Arkansas Times, LP v. Mark Waldrip, et. al, challenging the anti-boycott law, which required government contractors to sign a “loyalty oath” pledging not to boycott Israel.
“The Circuit Court’s opinion this morning reaffirms that there can be no exception, in a free society, to the right to defend oppressed people in Palestine through our speech and advocacy — including boycotts,” said Amith Gupta, co-author of the brief and Atlanta-based civil rights attorney, NLG member, and former Legal Fellow with Project South.”
“Despite the rapidly accelerating climate emergency, a Washington State Court of Appeals recently denied the Reverend George Taylor the right to mount a necessity defense in association with his civil disobedience action to confront this existential ecological and human rights crisis (State ex rel. Haskell v. Spokane County Dist. Court). With this denial of due process now under reconsideration by the Washington State Supreme Court, three Pacific Northwest civil liberties legal organizations have filed a brief of amici curiae (friend of the Court) asking the Court to reverse the lower Court’s ruling and allow this critical ‘lesser of two evils’ defense to move forward.
“Civil disobedience is an integral thread in the fabric of U.S. democracy. A ruling that individuals who engage in civil disobedience cannot present the necessity defense to a jury undermines our history of validating civil disobedience as an appropriate means of challenging an entrenched status quo. Such a ban deprives individuals of their due process rights,” said National Lawyers Guild attorney, Neil Fox.”
NLG In The News
2/25/21 | In These Times | The Right Is Using the Capitol Riot as a Trojan Horse to Target the Left
“In the wake of the January 6 pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol, momentum has grown across the country to institute a new, domestic “war on terror.” In response, scores of civil rights organizations such as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a group of progressive lawmakers including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D‑Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D‑N.Y.) have objected, cautioning that such an aggressive response could end up targeting activist groups and vulnerable communities.
The events since January 6 suggest that these warnings are all-too accurate. […]
The FBI’s January 15 visit to Sharod isn’t an outlier, says Moira Meltzer-Cohen, a civil rights attorney with the National Lawyers Guild.
“Law enforcement is using the Capitol riot as hook to go after people they perceive as being on the Left,” Meltzer-Cohen says. “There has been a flurry of visits of people perceived by the government as leftists, leftist dissidents.”
2/22/21 | WVTF | MVP Protesters: Day 900 & One
For 900+ days, demonstrators have been living in trees above a section of the Mountain Valley Pipeline near Elliston, VA, in protest of its construction. NLG SW Virginia Chapter Legal Observers have been documenting police activity in response.
“When are we going to get the message that we can’t just wait in a 10, 20 years, we’re still putting in pipelines that are destroying the habitats of species that are ruining the streams in Virginia, and eventually going to carry fossil fuels, which are going to continue to warm the earth. The young people get it, the ones who are putting their lives on the line get it,” said Alan Graf, NLG SW Virginia President.
2/21/21 | San Diego-Union Tribune | New policy on protests outlines when San Diego police should use less-lethal weapons, deem events unlawful
“Some community members said they were concerned with what they viewed as a lack of restrictions on the use of less-lethal weapons and a lack of a focus on de-escalation.
Kylee Belanger, director of the San Diego National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer Program, said she believes the policy’s intent is to “chill free speech.” She said the policy hurts not just the public but also the media and front-line officers because force against a crowd puts them in danger, too.”
2/18/21 | WBAI Radio | Evening Broadcast Interview with Kira Kelley, NLG Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) Chair
“In the end if [reforms are] not taking away resources from the police and redirecting towards public resources, it’s not a viable solution, it’s just further legitimizing an institution that since it’s beginning has only ever been about propping up racial capitalism.”
Listen to the interview, starting at 23:14, here.
2/16/21 | Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement | Moratorium Now Coalition: ‘Statement of Disgust Regarding City’s Counterclaim Against Detroit Will Breathe’
“Mayor Mike Duggan and the City Council have once again failed to support the people of Detroit by approving $200,000 to fund a counter-lawsuit against Detroit Will Breathe, Black Lives Matter movement protesters, in a 5-4 vote. […]
“The City’s counterclaim is one of many examples of a national trend by units of government and corporations to intimidate grassroots activists from suing them by seeking to tie up their time and waste their financial resources with frivolous counter-lawsuits,” said John Royal, president of the National Lawyers Guild Detroit and Michigan Chapter, in a recent statement. “The City of Detroit should not use this repressive tactic against the progressive youth of southeast Michigan who are seeking redress for legitimate grievances against the DPD.”