Bezugsgruppenreader Teil 1 (Februar 2007)

Bezugsgruppenreader Teil 2 (Mai 2007)



National Lawyers Guild

District of Columbia Chapter

May 2000

The November 1999 W.T.O. demonstrations in Seattle and April 2000 World Bank/IMF demonstrations in Washington, D.C. have energized a new activist political movement against the global corporate economy.

These demonstrations have gone on continuously for several days. Direct action has been widely used by activists. Much activity has been spontaneous. Huge numbers of arrests have occurred. Jail solidarity tactics have been employed. The response of national and local law enforcement to all of this has been harsh and will probably get worse. For all of these reasons, substantial advance preparation for these demonstrations by Guild chapters is necessary in order to serve this new political movement effectively.

Similar major demonstrations are likely to occur this summer in the convention cities of Los Angeles and Philadelphia, as well as in other cities during the period ahead. This brief outline is based on our experience in April 2000 in Washington, D.C. We hope it will assist other Guild chapters.

Organizing Needed Before the Demonstration

# Invite and recruit participation of Guild members and other legal groups like the NCBL, ACLU, public defender organizations, private criminal defense bar, etc. The demonstration legal team should be a joint project of all progressive legal groups and their members.

# Hold weekly legal team preparation meetings for 7 or 8 weeks prior to the demonstration. Invite and recruit all interested lawyers, law students and legal workers to attend these meetings. Meetings should also have activists in attendance to update the legal team on demonstration plans and issues and to explain and answer questions on the various forms and tactics of jail solidarity. Lawyers invariably have concerns, often strong concerns, with jail solidarity tactics. In order that lawyers don't undermine solidarity after arrests begin, it is important that all legal team members fully understand jail solidarity.

# Develop lists of attorneys on the demonstration legal team with home, office and cell phone numbers, email, and what each person will commit to doing and what times each will be available.

# Set up an open email list serve for all members of the legal team. Have the general website of the demonstration refer to this legal list serve so that out of town lawyers and law students can also plug in.

# Set up small committees or list of lawyers with expertise or special needs that are anticipated during the demonstration, e.g., juvenile cases, grand jury subpoenas, immigration, felonies.

# Determine whether the direct action activists have a policy of no prenegotiations with the police, prosecutors or courts and act accordingly.

# Some activists should attend all legal team meetings. Legal team members should try to attend as many of the activist planning meetings and training sessions as possible.

# Set up a legal team subgroup (involve ACLU in this) on first amendment issues and possible first amendment litigation to be brought before and during demonstration. Key organizers of the demonstration should be part of this sub(c)group to authorize any litigation, identify persons to sign supporting affidavits, etc.

# Advise demonstration organizers that in addition to the usual police harassment, surveillance, and infiltration they should be aware of the likelihood of preemptive strikes (arrests, raids on demonstration headquarters/training sites, etc.) by police attempting to disrupt the demonstration before it begins. This preemptive strike strategy was used by the police in D.C. The demonstration headquarters were raided and closed, banners and literature were impounded, and over 600 people were arrested all on the day before the demonstrations here were to begin. This preemptive strike strategy will undoubtedly be copied by police in other cities.

# If the Midnight Special Law Collective is part of the demonstration, it is important that they be made welcome and made a part of the overall legal team as quickly as possible. The MSLC will play a crucial role before, during and after the demonstration. MSLC has an existing trust relationship with the direct action demonstrators and has jail solidarity training and implementation skills. MSLC will also provide essential training for legal team members in how to work with and support jail solidarity. MSLC has an administrative capability that will prove vital to the legal team during and after the demonstration. They will assist the local legal team in many ways. In D.C., for one example, the phone calls and questions of over a thousand arrested demonstrators and their friends were directed to the MSLC. This took a huge burden off the D.C. based legal team. MSLC also has detailed written handouts for activists explaining various legal issues and jail solidarity tactics.

Pre-Demonstration Litigation

In Washington, before the demonstration the police widely and publicly said the demonstration would be violent citing Seattle, intercepted emails, etc. The press accepted this. We should have aggressively fought this characterization. A week before the demonstration, for instance, the police announced that a huge part of downtown D.C. around the World Bank would be cordoned off to avoid violence. We should have taken them to court immediately on the size of this cordoned off area. This"violent" characterization, if allowed to go unchallenged, will be repeated over and over by the police (and the press) as their justification for preemptive strikes and repressive police actions against the demonstrators.

Prepare the papers ahead of time to seek an emergency court order on access to counsel. In D.C., and we are informed also in Seattle, detained activists were made to wait up to two days before seeing their attorneys and they were requesting attorneys by name while their attorneys were standing outside the police lock ups unable to gain access.

Legal Observers

# Prepare written instructional materials for legal observers.

# distinctive hats, arm bands, etc.

# legal observer reporting forms.

# arrange and publicize time and place of legal observer training sessions to be held several weeks before and also a day or two before the demonstration. Put on website so out of town legal folks can attend training and serve as legal observers

# Legal observers with cell phones need list of as many cell phone numbers as possible.

# Legal observer coordinating committee. One of their tasks is to dispatch observers to where conflict is occurring. This is difficult given the mobile nature of small affinity groups of demonstrators. Regular cell phone contact is necessary; consider assigning legal observers to specific locations.

# Legal observer dispatchers should be scheduled 24 hours a day during demonstration days, and should be integrated with the protester's communication/ logistics team.

# Legal Team Office

# A guild lawyers office; multiple phone lines; bring in a couple of TVs to monitor live demonstration coverage; office staffing by legal team members (c) lawyers, students or legal workers; schedule office staffers ahead of time.

# During demonstration days keep office open 24 hours a day have 3 or 4 people staffing during demonstration.

# continue staffing office after demonstration during jail solidarity phase with 2 or 3 people. Press calls will increase.

# Office functions: communication/command center for legal team; deploy lawyers and legal observer; contact point for out of town lawyers, students; handle press calls; legal team meeting site; place for legal team members to check in, hang out; etc.

Lawyer Deployment During the Demonstration

# To lockups/temporary holding areas when arrests first occur. Jail solidarity support. Lawyer should be accompanied by an activist organizer experienced with legal issues and with jail solidarity tactics.

# To court for mass arraignments (c) all night sessions, need list of lawyers available to pull long hours. Activist/organizer experienced with legal issues and with jail solidarity tacticsshould be present.

# To jail for jail solidarity support/ decision making facilitation. Activist organizer experienced with legal issues and jail solidarity tactics should accompany lawyer.

# The demonstration will go on for several days. On subsequent days you should be prepared to deploy lawyers and activists simultaneously to holding areas, the court and jail.

# Negotiations - a legal team negotiating conduit between demonstrators engaging in jail solidarity and prosecutors. The lawyer or lawyers serving as the negotiating conduit should work closely with several activist/organizers experienced with legal issues and solidarity tactics.

# Special deployments: representation of activists subpoenaed by grand jury; juvenile cases, immigration problems, felony charges.

# Press statements/ TV interviews. The office of the legal team will get hundreds of media calls during the demonstration and while jail solidarity continues. These calls all need to be handled in an accurate and politically effective way. In addition, a legal person should be assigned to work with the demonstration'smedia office and assist them on legal issues.

Post Demonstration Activities

# Debriefing meetings of legal team.

# Gather, collate and organize individual demonstrator complaint forms and legal observer forms, photos, videotape.

# follow up open criminal cases; follow up individual police brutality civil cases. Make sure legal representation and investigation in place.

# possible public responses to massive police repression and denial of First Amendment rights:
Setting Up a Legal Team
This document was created to help organizers form an effective legal team for a mass action. It is a general overview of places to begin discussion and work. Read Office Setup and Legal Team Action Roles for a look at the details and logistics of an action legal team.

Questions to consider:

* How will the legal team make decisions?

* How will the legal team be accountable to the larger group?

* What are the goals of the legal team? What assumptions are implicit that need to be made explicit?

* Who are you committing to provide legal support for? (e.g. anyone arrested in conjunction with the action, only those participating in legal solidarity, only those whose tactics or charges fall inside the "action guidelines", etc.)

* What are likely police tactics (e.g. police picking people up in small groups after the action, rather than in mass during the action)? What are possible strategies to deal with these tactics?

* Are there proactive legal or political steps you can take to thwart police or government harassment and repression? (e.g. temporary restraining orders, putting the police on notice, media blitz, etc.)

Lawyers: It's crucial to establish good relationships with the local legal community.

* Connect with progressive legal organizations, like the National Lawyer's Guild and the ACLU, as well as public defenders. Also, if you don't already have ties in the local legal community, ask a local activist which lawyers might be interested and who can help the legal team network.

* Try to arrange a group meeting with all the lawyers who are interested and all members of the legal team.

* Lawyers are usually busy, so the earlier you can let them know what kind of help you will need and when you will need it, the better.

* Make sure everyone's commitments are clear so that you know what to expect and they don't feel put upon. Don't expect them to come to every meeting or training, but let them know what is happening and they are welcome to come.

* Communication is key. Be friendly and respectful and make them a part of your team.

Issues to flag:

* Make sure legal team members and volunteers don't always get stuck doing the same mundane tasks. This is especially true with the Away Team (the people who go out into the streets, jails, and courts), which can be fun and exciting, versus the Office Team (the people who take all of the calls and process all of the information), which can be frustrating and stressful.

* The legal team can only be effective if everyone has good information. One of our biggest weaknesses in past actions has been sharing information effectively between Away Teams and the office as well as within the office.

* Most lawyers are used to working hierarchically. In the past, there have been issues with control and power dynamics between activists and lawyers. This can be a big problem when it comes to decision-making and information sharing. Be sure to identify and deal with any issues before the action.

Volunteers: Volunteers are critical for the success of your legal team. Here are some tips:

* Think about how you plan to train volunteers and incorporate them into the office.

* Do recruitment and get them involved early on so that you'll be sure to have enough people.

* Coordination/Scheduling of volunteers is difficult, and should be done as much in advance as possible.

* The office can be hell, and people get can burned out quickly. Show your appreciation, let people take breaks, and vary their tasks.

Trainings: Be prepared to give trainings on Know Your Rights, the Legal System, Legal and Video Observing, and Legal Solidarity (if you're using it).

Legal/Judicial Research: Research the municipal or state codes regarding things like the wearing of masks; the allowed dimensions of wooden poles for signs; marching without a permit; graffiti and vandalism (especially in consideration of anti-gang laws); etc.

Also research the court system in your district.