The NLG-NYC – in the Streets, in the Courts & in the Struggle

Dear friends,

Last week, in Manhattan Criminal Court, three of the 700+ people arrested last year on the Brooklyn Bridge finally had their days in court. Over a two-day trial, the court heard testimony about what brought them to Zuccotti Park last October and what their state of mind was when they proceeded onto the bridge. The judge found that the exhilarating moment when the police appeared to lead people onto the bridge created a reasonable doubt about their intent to block traffic, and on this basis, two of the defendants were found Not Guilty, after more than a year of adjournments. During this intervening year, protesters made several thousand appearances in criminal court, where they were regularly greeted and assisted by NLG-NYC Mass Defense members. Time and time again, they were told “thanks so much for being here — we couldn’t do what we do without you.”

Contributing to the National Lawyers Guild-NYC helps ensure that we can continue working on behalf of protesters, low-income tenants, the thousands of people subjected to overzealous policing, workers, and others who regularly get the short end of the stick. Because the Guild is deeply invested in the practice of law for the people, we have no big foundation or corporate contributors. We depend on our members and donations from our supporters to sustain our work, and would like to ask you to help with this support.

Contributions can be made online at, or via check made out to NLG-NYC and sent to National Lawyers Guild-NYC, 113 University Place 8th floor, New York, NY 10003. Please see the web page for information regarding tax deductions.

For highlights of the NLG-NYC’s work over the last year, please download our latest newsletter at, featuring work on Occupy Wall Street, the Stop Stop and Frisk trial, surveillance in the Muslim community, and many more details of Guild work in action. Here is a brief description of the work of some of the Chapter committees:

Members of the chapter’s Mass Defense Committee were in the streets as legal observers and in the courthouse assisting with arraignments and court appearances. With more than 800 protesters arrested in 2012 while asserting their free speech and assembly rights, MDC members were in Manhattan Criminal Court nearly every week to expedite the arraignments and subsequent appearances of arrestees.

The chapter’s Anti-Racism Committee presented a series of low-cost and free CLE’s focusing on housing justice, including tenant organizing, non-payment evictions, affirmative litigation for repairs, and NYCHA termination proceedings. ARC also co-hosted a successful party this summer to raise funds for the national TUPOCC travel stipend.

The Muslim Defense Project‘s first full year of activities included facilitating Know Your Rights workshops that provide a realistic assessment of the dangers of interacting with law enforcement officials, in consideration of their repressive tactics, without the presence of an attorney. The MDP provided legal and activist support for those Muslims and Palestinian human rights activists facing government persecution in the courts and stood in solidarity with the local Muslim community by attending and speaking at rallies calling for police commissioner Ray Kelly’s resignation. The MDP also presented a major panel at this year’s NLG national convention.

The Street Law Team continued to tailor its Know Your Rights workshops to address the increased presence of police in communities of color and the NYPD’s unrepentant use of stop and frisk. The curriculum was also expanded to include information specific to immigration status and the Secured Communities program. The Team produced a business-card sized Know Your Rights card in English and Spanish to accompany these workshops.

The Mass Incarceration Committee (which was formally recognized in November) has taken the lead in communicating with the Guild’s many jailhouse lawyer members, and is presently receiving submissions from incarcerated members who would like to be part of the MIC’s steering committee.  The committee’s inaugural event, a screening of the documentary “Broken on All Sides” by Philadelphia Guild member Matt Pillischer, will be held in March 2013, in conjunction with the Anti-Racism Committee.

The Military Law Committee assisted a service member at Ft. Drum charged with a long-term unauthorized absence who was facing jail time for desertion. After lengthy negotiation by Committee members, he was given an administrative discharge, which allowed him to avoid a criminal record and to secure employment.

The Next Generation Committee’s annual City-wide Disorientation introduced over 150 law students to the work of the NLG-NYC, with topical workshops and trainings in Street Law, Immigration Court Observation and Legal Observation. The relationships established at Disorientation are nurtured and strengthened at monthly NextGen social meet-ups throughout the city.

The Labor and Employment Committee presented two CLEs aimed at developing closer relationships among workers’ rights advocates in NYC: “Occupy Labor Law” at 1199 SEIU, and “On Offense: Tools for Worker Justice” at Cardozo Law. Members of the L&E Committee are currently working with the newly formed Post Hurricane Sandy Task Force.

The new Post-Hurricane Sandy Task Force developed a factsheet on health hazards present in storm clean-up work, and has been helping to coordinate legal volunteers to staff clinics in Staten Island and the Rockaways.

At a time when legal courage is in short supply, it is more important than ever that this work continue, which can only happen with the help of a community of supporters. Please consider making a contribution to the National Lawyers Guild-NYC at

Warm regards,

National Lawyers Guild – New York City Chapter Executive Committee




Support the NLG-NYC’s Street Law Team!

The vitality of the NLG-NYC Street Law Team depends on donations made by supporters like you! We are currently raising funds to keep our Street Law Team Coordinator position funded for the next 12 months. Help us reach our goal of $2,750 to ensure we are able to respond to requests by schools, community groups, churches and other organizations to facilitate Know Your Rights workshops for young people!

Learn more about what we do in this video we created with students from BronxConnect‘s Alternative to Incarceration Program and filmmaker Todd Chandler:

Please support us by donating online below or via mail (we’ve already raised $380, please help us raise an additional $2,370 to reach our goal of $2,750):

Learn more about the Street Law Team and how to request a Know Your Rights workshop for your group!

Support the NYC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild in 2012 by donating today!

There are still a few days left for you to donate to the NLG-NYC as a tax-deductible gift! Your contributions have made it possible for us to continue the work of defending protest and the right to dissent, providing critically needed legal support to social movements and the capacity to keep up with the increasing demands of the people for our support.

Legal ObserversYou’ve seen our green hats at protests and our phone number written on the hands and arms of protesters. Our Mass Defense Committee has been on the ground as legal observers for Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests, monitoring police activity for misconduct, and recruiting lawyers to represent the hundreds of people arrested while exercising their First Amendment rights to speech, expression, and assembly. We have worked side-by-side with OWS activists and have responded with immediacy to the pressing legal issues, from the confiscation of generators by the Fire Department to Bloomberg’s military-style “eviction” to middle-of-the-night arraignments for arrested protesters. We’ve mobilized and provided training to hundreds of lawyers, legal workers, and law students to take on these challenges. Many people rely on us to have their backs in court when they step onto the streets in protest, angry with a system that holds property interests above human rights. Your donation makes it possible to do the important work.

Gifts of $100 and above are tax-deductible. Make checks payable to “National Lawyers Guild Foundation” and be sure to include “NYC Chapter” in the memo line to ensure your donation is directed to the NLG-NYC. Please send all checks to:

National Lawyers Guild – New York City Chapter
113 University Place, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10003

We are not currently able to process online, tax-deductible payments. However, donors who can make a donation without a tax-deduction, can donate online here:

We know, based upon our work with the 2004 Republican National Convention protests, a long-term commitment is needed and our Mass Defense Committee is organizing a campaign to deal with the many legal issues that continue to arise around OWS and beyond. At present, our efforts include:

  • coordinating legal representation for more than 1,500 people arrested at OWS-related protests;
  • expanding our hotline for people who have been arrested at protests, fielding calls at all hours of the day, and securing a larger office space to accommodate all of our volunteers.

Of course, our Chapter continues to be involved in many important efforts, including:

  • Our Muslim Defense Committee provides legal observers, an emergency legal hotline, and know-your-rights trainings to Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities targeted by the government in New York and beyond;
  • The Street Law Committee provides trainings on NYPD’s “Stop And Frisk” policies targeting people of color, especially youth; and,
  • We continue the existing work needed to address issues of fundamental fairness in housing, immigration, the environment, labor and employment, G.I. rights, and international human rights.

Your donation will help us to do all of this and more. Thank you so much, and here’s to a New Year full of love and resistance.

Thank you,
National Lawyers Guild – NYC Chapter Executive Committee

Anti-Racism Committee to Host Fundraising Party on July 28 in Brooklyn

Help support the NLG-NYC’s Anti-Racism Committee’s (ARC) fundraising initiative for the Student, Recent Grad and Legal Worker of Color Travel Stipend to the NLG’s National Convention in October 2011.

NLG-NYC ARC works to further the Guild’s commitment to racial justice. Fundraising for the travel stipend is an important component of anti-racist work in the Guild because it promotes the legal education, viewpoints, and work of people of color within our membership and programs as well as the radical community at large.

The Fundraising Party will be held on Thursday, July 28, from 6:00pm to 10:00pm, at Berry Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn! The suggested donation is $10 – $250. Donations will be accepted by credit card, cash or check.

If you are unable to attend, please help support the next generation of students, lawyers, and legal workers of color by donating and encouraging friends and colleagues to donate what they can and spread the word to others. Make an online donation!