If you were in Charlottesville last summer during any of the rallies and protests, you may have seen legal observers in their official green hats.
Members of the Central Virginia NLG will talk to us about their mission, and about training to become a legal observer.
The National Lawyers Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest progressive bar association and was the first one in the US to be racially integrated. Our mission is to use law for the people, uniting lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers to function as an effective force in the service of the people by valuing human rights over property interests. This is achieved through the work of our members, and the Guild’s numerous organizational committees, caucuses and projects, reflecting a wide spectrum of intersectional issues. Guild members effectively network and hone their legal skills in order to help create change at the local, regional, national, and international levels.
The NLG is dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system. Our aim is to bring together all those who recognize the importance of safeguarding and extending the rights of workers, women, LGBTQ people, farmers, people with disabilities and people of color, upon whom the welfare of the entire nation depends; who seek actively to eliminate racism; who work to maintain and protect our civil rights and liberties in the face of persistent attacks upon them; and who look upon the law as an instrument for the protection of the people, rather than for their repression.
The National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer program was established in 1968 in New York City in response to protests at Columbia University and city-wide antiwar and civil rights demonstrations. That same year, Guild students organized for the defense of people swept up in mass arrests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
The Legal Observer program is part of a comprehensive system of legal support by our Mass Defense Committee designed to enable people to express their political views as fully as possible without unconstitutional disruption or interference by the police and with the fewest possible consequences from the criminal justice system. In addition to Legal Observers, Guild attorneys often provide legal defense for protesters who are arrested and bring civil litigation if needed. Legal Observers are typically, but not exclusively, law students, legal workers and lawyers who may or may not be licensed locally. Legal Observers are trained and directed by Guild attorneys, who often have established attorney-client relationships with activist organizations, or are in litigation challenging police tactics at mass assemblies. The presence of Legal Observers may serve as a deterrent to unconstitutional behavior by law enforcement during a demonstration.#Speaker #LegalObserver #activism #MonthlyMeeting #Educational