FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NLG Members Offering Legal Support to Ferguson Protesters
NEW YORK — The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is on the ground providing legal support to Ferguson, Missouri residents protesting in the wake of last week’s fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson. Since then, community protests and neighborhood demonstrations have been violently confronted by the Ferguson Police Department, armed with military-grade weaponry. Yesterday morning, Governor Jay Nixon deployed the Missouri National Guard to supplement St. Louis County police, while the state of emergency he announced on Saturday remains in effect. In light of the police brutality aimed at protesters thus far, the NLG is deeply concerned about the use of the National Guard for civilian police duties, normally reserved for natural disasters or insurrection.
In response to needs of local demonstrators and organizers, the NLG is mobilizing a range of legal support such as criminal defense, jail support, injunctive relief, and Legal Observers –NLG-trained volunteers who protect the rights of protesters by monitoring and documenting police activity at demonstrations. The NLG’s presence in Ferguson includes legal workers and lawyers from the St. Louis area, as well as others from Chicago, Detroit, and New York in collaboration with local St. Louis and Ferguson organizers.
Interim NLG Executive Director D. Gregor, currently in Ferguson helping with legal support, said, “Nobody should have assault weapons leveled at their chests by police or tear gas rounds fired at them for exercising free speech and petitioning government for a redress of serious grievances. This is a community expressing legitimate anger at not just the murder of one unarmed black teen a week ago, but also the countless young men of color brutalized every day across the country by the police, and now, the military.”
The Guild recognizes that the ongoing events in Ferguson reflect a dynamic and complex struggle around issues including race, class, state repression, and free speech. The NLG urges Gov. Nixon and law enforcement to respect the protesters’ right to free speech and assembly, while treating them with the dignity they deserve.
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.
Photo: An NLG Legal Observer looks on as protesters outside Gov. Nixon’s office chant, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” Photo credit: D. Gregor.