RNC 200 Philadelphia by Brandun Kayal

NLG Organizing Legal Support Ahead of 2020 RNC and DNC


Contact: communications@nlg.org

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is preparing legal support for anticipated protests at the 2020 Republican and Democratic National Conventions taking place this month. NLG chapters in Charlotte, NC; Jacksonville, FL; and Milwaukee, WI have been coordinating with the National Office to support demonstrations in the midst of rapidly changing plans due to COVID-19. 

The NLG has provided legal assistance for RNC/DNC protests for decades. The 2020 convention season comes in the wake of an unprecedented global pandemic and violent state repression against the wave of Black Lives Matter protests that began with the police murder of George Floyd in late May. Plans for the political conventions have changed multiple times over the past few months, with both conventions eventually transitioning to a mostly digital platform. Trump’s decision to hold the RNC in person—first in Charlotte and then in Jacksonville—has caused much confusion and concern. 

Local NLG chapters are preparing an organized mass defense infrastructure of Legal Observers, jail support, arrest hotlines, and on-call defense attorneys in case of mass arrests or police violence. NLG Legal Observers monitor protests and document police misconduct at the request of local organizers. Jail support volunteers track arrestees through the criminal legal system, and support solidarity efforts for protesters being held in police custody. The NLG also helps connect volunteer criminal and civil movement lawyers with defendants to provide legal representation for cases arising out of protests.

As designated National Special Security Events, the RNC and DNC usually include intensive security and have in the past attempted to limit the constitutional rights of protesters. 

“For decades, the Republican and Democratic conventions have been flash points for mass resistance and police violence,” said Kris Hermes, NLG member and author of Crashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000. “In this moment of popular uprisings against structural racism and police violence, these conventions hold particular weight. Without fail, the NLG will be in the streets monitoring the police response and steadfastly supporting the Movement for Black Lives.”


Featured Image: RNC Protests – Philadelphia, 2000. Brandun Kayal /  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The NLG Mass Defense Committee was formed in 1968 in response to the wave of protests during that tumultuous time. To support the NLG Mass Defense Fund and the right to protest, please donate at www.nlg.org/massdefense

The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

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