Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas. For those of us who were alive and sentient back then, it was a signal event. JFK was the first of a new generation of leadership for the country, and held the promise, as it were, for hope and change. We will never know if his death also killed, or at least wounded, those expectations or whether the Johnson administration held to Kennedy’s vision. JFK opposed the historic March on Washington and was unable to pass civil rights legislation. That accomplishment was left to Lyndon Johnson, in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination and the rebellions that followed in cities across the country.
NLG past president Marjorie Cohn recently participated in a panel on the illegality of drones and targeted killing off the battlefield at the conference, "Drones around the Globe: Proliferation and Resistance," in Washington, D.C. Nearly 400 people from around the world came together to gather information, protest, and develop strategies to end targeted killing by combat drones. The Summit was sponsored by CODEPINK, The Nation Magazine, Institute for Policy Studies, Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Georgetown Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years for the “crime” of revealing the seamy underside of U.S. diplomacy and war-making. The sentence is substantially less than the 60 years the prosecution asked for, but greater than what the defense requested. It was predicated on alleged damage done to the U.S., though it remains unclear what actual damage, aside from embarrassment, occurred. Indeed, the idea that transparency is damaging is one that should shock the conscience of any patriot, if one defines patriotism as something other than blind obeisance to whatever one’s government says.
The National Lawyers Guild affirms its strongest support for hunger striking prisoners in California, Guantánamo Bay, Colombia, and Palestine, and urges members and supporters to participate in and defend actions of solidarity protesting solitary confinement, arbitrary detention, and other rights violations. The Guild’s Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Committee calls on people to take action to support the prisoners.
[Update]: In her public statement issued on 8/22/13, Pvt. Manning disclosed that her name is now Chelsea Manning and that she is a female.
In recent weeks, lawyers from the NLG’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter achieved two major victories for the rights of protesters faced with police brutality and unlawful repression.
America should seize upon the election of a new Iranian president and immediately lift all sanctions.
On May 9, the Maryland chapter of the National Lawyers Guild hosted a celebration of multiple historic civil rights milestones, including what would have been the 100th birthday of Rosa Parks and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The NLG gathering was also a send-off for a march commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign, a 1968 effort to push for economic and social justice for poor people in the United States. The evening was an inspirational gathering of social justice lawyers, activists, artists, and people who took part in the campaign.
Kimberly Rivera, a conscientious objector and pregnant mother of four was recently sentenced to 10 months in jail because she refused to serve in the Iraq war.