The Republican and Democratic conventions are fast approaching. The host cities, Tampa, Florida and Charlotte, North Carolina, are rolling out the red carpet for thousands of delegates, reporters, and partisans who will amass for days downtown. It would be nice if the same were true for those who plan to attend without the benefit of a convention badge.
But if recent news is any guide, protesters will face big barriers to making their voices heard. Both cities have already passed ordinances that restrict movement near the convention, allow police to search people without cause, and ban a dizzying list of household items, all in the name of security. Charlotte police are busy spending $25 million on new equipment, while Tampa's police department has already test-driven a tank down the streets of the city's financial district.
Who We Are
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has experience with this kind of thing. For three quarters of a century now, the NLG has been defending social justice movements, from labor to civil rights to Occupy. In recent years we’ve seen protesters subjected to preemptive raids, mass arrests, gassing, and plain brutality by law enforcement, all in an effort to scare dissent off of the streets.
We hope these scenes don’t replay in Tampa and Charlotte but if they do, we’ll be ready. The NLG will have legal teams on the ground during the conventions in both cities. Our trained Legal Observers® will be in the streets for as long as protesters are, recording arrests and police misconduct, backed by a coordinating office and 24-hour hotlines.
What We Do
Over decades of developing our Legal Observer® program we've found again and again that just the presence of Legal Observers® is enough to make police think twice about abusing the badge. And when the cuffs and clubs do come out, we don't just document brutality. That is an important part of it, but our legal help line enables Legal Observers® and protesters to call in up-to-the-minute information to an office of lawyers, law students, and legal workers. The office team, in turn, tracks people through the legal system, begins work on defense strategy, and makes sure there's a lawyer waiting in court when arrested protesters first appear.
The impact of this work goes beyond securing not guilty pleas: NLG protest lawsuits have prompted major changes to police practices in cities around the country.
NLG members will converge on Tampa and Charlotte with unmatched experience at and dedication to doing this work.
But we can’t do it without your help.
The NLG is a non-profit, membership organization, and our RNC/DNC legal team will be made up entirely of volunteers. Still, a legal support effort this large costs money. The things we need to proceed are simple: office space and office supplies, travel expenses, housing, and hats for our Legal Observers®. But every piece is vital to our effort and the costs add up.
The NLG is a grassroots organization and we figured, what better way to fundraise than a grassroots campaign?
How You Can Help
Think back. Has the NLG ever helped you or someone you know through a protest arrest? Have you ever been comforted by the sight of our green hats at a demonstration? Do you want to help fight for a world where human rights are valued over property interests? If so, please consider giving today.
Your contribution will go directly toward the nuts and bolts we need to defend protesters’ rights at the RNC and DNC. To the right are a set of suggested donation levels, but no amount is too small or large. Oh, and we’re also offering some snazzy rewards, starting with fresh NLG accessories and going all the way up to dinner with NLG executive director and mass defense expert Heidi Boghosian.
If you are unable to give but you'd still like to help, please spread the word by sharing this campaign with your friends and family members.
Indiegogo has tools for sharing through Facebook and Twitter, as well as an embed code if you would like to showcase this campaign on your website or blog. Also, don’t underestimate the power of direct contact. If you think someone you know might like to help but would be unlikely to see it online, consider emailing or mailing her or him directly. If you’d like to mail a donation and/or to make your donation tax deductible, please send a check or money order with “RNC/DNC” in the subject line, payable to National Lawyers Guild Foundation to 132 Nassau St. Rm. 922 New York, NY 10038. If for some reason you would prefer to donate to us online directly, you can do so at www.nlg.org/donate.
From your friends at the National Lawyers Guild, many thanks and a parting reminder: in order for your constitutional rights to remain strong, they need exercise.
We’ll see you in the streets.
Special Thanks to:
Ted Leo for letting us use his song "Mourning in America"
and Leah Goudsmit for putting it all together
Team on This Campaign: