We’re launching an email news roundup for our members recapping the latest NLG news and press clippings!
All news found below has been posted and shared with our global online following of more than 115,000 people across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (which we hope includes you)! Any articles mentioning the NLG can also be found on the In the News page on our website.
We hope this helps connect fellow Guildies through all your great work happening in NLG chapters and committees, and elsewhere.
For the 2020 Week Against Mass Incarceration, we ask NLG Law School and Local Chapters to organize events and actions on mass incarceration, highlighting the connections between the role of policing institutions and practices and the exponential increase of incarcerated people over the last four decades.
This year the NLG will be partnering with the Guild’s National Police Accountability Project (NPAP). Founded in 1999, NPAP is a nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to protecting the human and civil rights of individuals in their encounters with law enforcement and detention facility personnel. NPAP’s members are plaintiffs’ attorneys, legal workers, and law students who work on law enforcement misconduct cases, including civil actions against prison and jail personnel.
The United Nations will review the U.S.’ human rights record at the Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in May 2020. The UPR takes place for each country only every four years, so this marks a unique and important opportunity for the National Lawyers Guild to raise its voice at an international level regarding U.S. human rights violations.
Please help the NLG support Kerry McLean and Martha Schmidt to attend the UPR. The NLG has submitted two reports to the UPR process as part of a collective effort organized by the US Human Rights Network, on the right to health care and violations of voting rights.
2/25/20 | The Atlantic | What Bloomberg Did to Peaceful Protesters
The Atlantic revisits Bloomberg’s mass arrests of 1,806 people during protests at the 2004 RNC (including members of the press and legal observers) who were held in toxic conditions:
“Simone Levine, a representative of the National Lawyers Guild, said during a contemporaneous television interview:
‘The police department has known for over a year that they are going to be having the Republican National Convention here. They have said for over six months that they expect 1,000 arrests a day, [yet] they provided a detention facility which was slick with oil, which is causing people to have chemical burns. It used to be a bus depot. And they have a holding facility in which we have received calls from demonstrators that they have been held in for 20 and 30 hours.'”
Greenpeace USA and the National Lawyers Guild submitted these comments to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in reference to General Comment 37 on Article 21: right of peaceful assembly.
Here’s an excerpt: “We also strongly urge you to reconsider the use of any remotely controlled weapons systems, no matter the state of an assembly, as described in Paragraph 106. We submit there is never a scenario that justifies this sort of force.”
Read the full letter here.
2/7/20 | Phoenix New Times | ‘No One Claims Responsibility’: Amid Rising Homelessness, Phoenix and Its Largest Shelter Are Out of Sync
“The question of whether threatening people with arrest if they don’t move their tents and belongings violates the Ninth Circuit’s ruling remains “unsettled,” said Kevin Heade, a lawyer and member of the Central Arizona National Lawyer’s Guild. Heade, with the Central Arizona National Lawyer’s Guild, said he thought the city should be forced to accommodate homeless people in a place that offered infrastructure and facilities — which the encampment in downtown Phoenix does not.
As part of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women CSW64/Beijing+25, taking place in March 2020 in New York City, the National Lawyers Guild is supporting two important side events.
On Monday, March 9 at 10:30 am at the Armenian Convention Center, Vartan Hall, 630 2nd Avenue in New York, the Center for Pan-African Affairs will host “Reproductive Injustice: Confronting the Black Maternal Mortality Crisis.” The panel is co-sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the US Human Rights Network. People interested in attending should contact Kerry McLean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 18, 2020, at 6:15 pm at the Salvation Army Downstairs Room, 221 E. 52nd Street, the American Association of Jurists (AAJ), Union Nacional de Juristas – Cuba (UNJC), and International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) will present a panel on reproductive rights, legal abortion and comprehensive sexuality education in Latin America, also supported by the NLG’s International Committee. Panelists will include Nelly Minyersky of AAJ, Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan of AAJ, IADL and Past President of the NLG, Yamila Gonzalez Ferrer of the UNJC and a representative of the Asociacion Civil por el Derecho a Decidir (Civil Association for the Right to Choose).
2/22/20 | The Buffalo News | Erie County pays $27K, but plans to appeal order that sheriff turn over jail records
For two years, the NLG Buffalo Chapter has been fighting for the Erie County Sheriff’s Department to turn over jail records regarding prison suicides and suicide attempts—which internal reports categorized as mere “inmate disturbances.” That fight continues:
“In January, almost two years later, State Supreme Court Justice Mark A. Montour signed an order granting the Guild many of the records and awarding it more than $27,000 in attorney’s fees. While the Guild has collected the $27,098, the records will not be handed over any time soon. Two weeks after Montour signed the order, a county lawyer filed a document saying the Sheriff’s Office will appeal to the State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division…”
2/20/20 | Middle East Eye | Trump’s Muslim ban: Iranian-Americans are treated like the enemy within
NLG past president Azadeh Shahshahani reflects on Trump’s expansion of the unconscionable Muslim Ban as an Iranian-American activist and human rights lawyer:
“My reaction as an Iranian-American was one of sheer rage. This is a president who issued a ban targeting Iran and other Muslim countries, imposed devastating sanctions on the people of Iran, and threatened to bomb Iran’s cultural sites. His administration has detained and deported Iranian students with valid visas, and treated Iranian-Americans, including US citizens, as suspects. The recent expansion of Trump’s Muslim ban only serves to show that this president is fully committed to his Islamophobic agenda. Anything coming out of his mouth about support for the people of Iran should be ridiculed and dismissed.”
2/14/20 | California News Publishers Association | Supreme Court sets hearing in case over increased CPRA fees
“The California Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in a case that could allow state and local agencies to charge requesters exorbitant amounts to obtain records under the state’s public records law.
[…] The case arises from a CPRA request submitted by the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter for written and electronic records related to protests of police shootings in 2014. The city identified certain police body-worn camera (“BWC”) footage as responsive to that request.
However, before it would turn over the videos, the city demanded that NLG pay a fee of more than $3000, purportedly to cover the cost of staff time related to identifying the responsive videos and redacting them. The trial court determined that the CPRA did not permit Hayward to charge these costs to NLG. The Court of Appeal, however, reversed and upheld the fee.
If the appellate court ruling is allowed to stand, agencies could charge high fees to a requester which could be used to obstruct access to disclosable information that the requester would otherwise have a right to obtain.
The Supreme Court will hear the NLG case on March 9.”
Talia Curtis, Menna Elsayed, Breonna Grant, Sacha Maniar, and Jesse Vogel will spend this summer working with: The Legal Aid Society NY Consumer Law Project, the Southern Center for Human Rights, Florida Justice Institute, TakeRoot Justice Immigrant Rights Project, and ArchCity Defenders.
NLG Haywood Burns Fellowships sponsor law students and legal workers to spend a summer working for public interest orgs 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 initial exposure to progressive lawyering is often the single most significant event that influences a person’s decision to become a people’s lawyer.
Your financial support—which provided 100% of the project income in 2019—is essential to the program. Please make a donation today at nlg.org/donate/haywoodburns!
“The International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the oldest and largest human rights bar in the United States, its Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Committee, and its Environmental Human Rights Committee, stand in solidarity with the sovereign Wet’suwet’en nation and its people, including the traditional Unist’ot’en (C’ihlts’ehkhyu), in their just opposition to the construction of pipelines from the Tar Sands Gigaproject and LNG from the Horn River Basin Fracturing Projects near and across their territory and sacred and ancestral lands. The government of Canada has failed to respect the national sovereignty and interests of the Wet’suwet’en and its people, has failed to respect the nation-to-nation relationship with the First Nation and Canada, and has failed to respect the Wet’suwet’en right to free, prior, and informed consent for the construction of any pipeline across their territory and lands.”
2/4/20: The Chicago Sun | Lightfoot urged to pull the plug on facial recognition technology
NLG Chicago is one of 75 local organizations joining with Lucy Parsons Labs calling for a ban on facial recognition technology in Chicago.
“Martinez [of Lucy Parsons Labs] cited a recent study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology that found ‘some algorithms’ of facial recognition technology are ‘100 times more inaccurate against black women than they are against white male faces.'”
Past President Marjorie Cohn on Democracy Now! : Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations & Corruption
Watch NLG past president Marjorie Cohn discussing the Trump impeachment on Democracy Now!:
“There are many different grounds that he could have been impeached for: violation of the emoluments clause, corruption and war crimes, as you said, most recently killing Soleimani in violation of the U.N. Charter, in violation of the War Powers Resolution.”
Petitions Endorsed by the NLG
In 2010, former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning disclosed earth-shattering information about the nature of asymmetric warfare and U.S. handling of global affairs. And she paid dearly for it. Chelsea was incarcerated for years, including long stretches in solitary confinement, under conditions that the United Nations condemned as torture.
After millions of people around the world spoke out and demanded her release, Chelsea’s sentence was commuted. But the US government did not stop persecuting her.
Now, Chelsea has been back in jail for nine months, and faces nine more. Not because she has committed any crime, but because of her conscientious objection to participating in a secretive grand jury investigation into the publication of her 2010 disclosures. Sign the petition to Judge Anthony Trenga demanding Chelesa’s immediate release.
Petition endorsed by the NLG and Veterans for Peace. We are citizens of the United States who urge you to deny the extradition request of our government. If Julian Assange is delivered to the United States it will be a momentous setback for press freedom.