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The National Lawyers Guild, Massachusetts Chapter is a radical legal nonprofit organization dedicated to overcoming political, social, and economic injustice.

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Upcoming Events

Muslim Bans, Refugee Bans, Ending DACA: A Threat to Our Freedoms: How did we get here? What can we do?

Tuesday, December 5th, 5:30-8:00 PM

Harvard Law School, Hauser Hall (1585 Mass Ave., Cambridge), Room 102

NLG Massachusetts is cosponsoring this panel discussion, “Muslim Bans Refugee Bans, Ending DACA: A Threat to Our Freedoms: How did we get here? What Can we do?” The Muslim and Refugee bans are discriminatory and unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, in Honolulu, wrote that the Muslim Ban 3.0 Executive Order “plainly discriminates based on nationality” and would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” The Trump Administration wants to negotiate DACA protections for building the Wall. These legislation attempts are part of a continuum of exclusionary, xenophobic and racist policies that promote white supremacy and discrimination on the basis of faith, national origin, and immigration status.

As arguments continue in the courtrooms, it is vital that communities continue to resist. Everyone has a role in defending a welcoming and inclusive America. Think you can’t do anything – you can!

Come participate in an important discussion on how we got here, what’s at stake, and what actions you can take.

NLG Holiday Party

Friday, December 8th, 2017, 5:30-8:30 PM

Shapiro Weissberg and Garin, 90 Canal St., 5th Floor, Boston

NLG Members and friends are invited to the NLG Holiday Party on Friday, December 8, 5:30-8:30 PM. This year we’ll again be hosted by Shapiro Weissberg and Garin. Tasty food and wonderful wine will be served, and all attendees will be able to participate in a drawing of exciting raffle prizes.

Our Recent Work

August 22, 2017

NLGMA Supports the Fight Supremacy Rally in Boston: 

The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG-MA) stood proudly in solidarity with the Boston community at the Fight Supremacy Rally on Saturday, August 19th. At the rally, organized and led by Black women, over 40,000 people turned out to denounce white supremacy in all its forms and affirm that Black Lives Matter.  

The NLG-MA Mass Defense Committee provided support before, during, and after the historic march. Members provided four legal trainings for activists leading up to the rally. We also took to social media to promote the NLG-MA Legal Hotline. Thousands of people felt more secure with the number Sharpied on their forearm. On the day of the rally over two dozen green-hatted legal observers scanned the crowds, followed the march, and kept eyes on the riot cops and their armored vehicles. Observers documented numerous acts of unprovoked police brutality including beatings, arrests, and pepper-spraying. After the formal rally ended NLG-MA lawyers and students stayed on to document additional arrests and police interactions with the crowd.  Further into the night, lawyers worked with Black Lives Matter organizers and the Mass Bail Fund to bail people out from the clutches of the Boston Police and the MBTA Police.

The Guild worked to make sure every protester that was fighting for justice and liberation was bailed out that night. And although the NLG is a prison abolitionist organization, we do not waste our resources bailing out neo-nazis.  

Folks that were arrested are being arraigned this week in the Central Division of the Boston Municipal Court on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Come out and support your comrades.

There were 33 arrests, including a few white nationalists.

And please remember, if you are out there fighting for freedom and liberation, for Black lives and against racism, we have your back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 19, 2017

NLG RESISTS WHITE SUPREMACY!!
 
In Boston, on Saturday August, 19th, we had over 30 NLG LOs observing a counter-protest attended by several thousands of people.  Because of a very low nazis turnout (30-35 fascists), their 2-hour rally was cut short after 30 minutes.  They were then escorted by cops outside Boston Common, but because of huge anti-nazis crowds waiting for them, cops decided to put them in 3 police wagons and drove them out of the protest site.
Later, small rallies were still going on around downtown.  So far we know about 25 arrests.  Pepper spray was also used.  Our Mass Defense Committee members are now working with activists to get people out of jail and to organize court representation for Monday.

 

August 14, 2017 –

NLG’s MARK STERN FILES SUIT IN UNION DEMOCRACY CASE
I have been working the past two months on a union democracy case involving AFSCME and a local of minority members and leaders its NE Council (#93) decided to eliminate and transfer all its members. My clients allege this is retaliation for their objecting to racial discrimination in hiring and representation, and multiple AFSCME Constitution violations committed by the Council. The lead count in the case focuses on the unequal system of voting for its Executive Board representatives. Since the Executive Board is the power center in AFSCME NE, with $17 million income and 55 staff, and the local unions weak, with no staff and virtually no income, the inequality in representation goes to the core of the case. Council 93 is in the process of attempting to remove the lead Plaintiff from the Executive Board, who has been a critic of these unlawful actions of the Council. The Counsel President has told him and by the same logic that the 400 members of the local that Council 93 eliminated have lost their right to run for office for two years. Suit was filed on August 14, 2017. 1:17cv11495 in the federal district court.
By Mark Stern

August 10, 2017 –

NLG MASS CHAPTER CONDEMNS NORTHAMPTON POLICE BRUTAL ASSAULT OF A PEACEFUL PROTESTER  

Boston, August 10, 2017   —  On Monday, August 6, 2017 police officers in Northampton, MA were caught on camera brutally arresting a Black man who was participating in a peaceful, silent protest.

The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild strongly condemns this brutality.

Mr. Matlock was sitting in front of one door of a courthouse, holding a sign, and causing no commotion.  It is clear from the video, that the police dragged and pepper sprayed Mr. Matlock, and that these actions were in no way necessitated by Mr. Matlock’s actions.

This behavior by the Northampton Police Department represents yet another example of police violence being lodged against people of color in general, and Black people in particular.  This racist violence is compounded by the fact that the Northampton Police, in arresting Mr. Matlock, have acted in clear violation of his rights to free speech and expression under the United States and Massachusetts Constitutions.

Any criminal charges lodged against Mr. Matlock should be immediately dismissed, and the city of Northampton should launch an independent investigation into both this incident specifically, and the Northampton Police Department’s policies and practices involving interactions with political protesters.

 

Contact:
Makis Antzoulatos   
NLG-Massachusetts Chapter
617-980-2313

Summer 2017 Updates:

  • The NLG is currently coordinating representation for a group of Anti-Fa protesters arrested in Worcester during an “anti-Presidents Day” event in February. Seven people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct disturbing the peace, and trespass for allegedly blocking traffic outside the U.S. District Courthouse. Members of an organization called the Worcester Antifa, whose facebook page states it is “an autonomous organization fighting against neo-nazis and the far right,” walked through the streets carrying an effigy of President Donald Trump and carrying a large sign reading “Antifascist Action New England” and shouting anti-police chants. The seven protesters were arrested after failing to heed repeated warnings by police to move the protest to the sidewalk.

 

  • The NLG is providing continuing representation to climate activists fighting the West Roxbury pipeline. Mass Defense Committee co-chairs Makis Antzoulatos and Josh Raisler-Cohen have also engaged in continued community outreach towards the movement. Antzoulatos  previously provided Direct Action training to the group and the NLG also conducted a Know Your Rights training with the activists as well.

 

  • The NLG has fostered an ongoing relationship with If Not Now Boston, a group of Jewish youth fighting the occupation in Palestine. The NLG has provided Legal Observers at numerous actions to ensure the safety and rights of protesters and expert attorneys at If Not Now meetings to advise activists of their rights regarding the police and legal system. NLG legal observers Maddie Thompson, kt crossman,Josh Raisler-Cohen, Charles Haigh, and Trevor Maloney, to name a few, have worked with the group over the last year. The NLG has also assisted If Not Now during court proceedings.

 

  • The NLG, in coordination with TUPOCC sent a delegation of members to Portland, ME to assist Black Lives Matter activists arrested after a march last summer. The group feels it is being targeted by the District Attorney and Court who continues to attempt action against the group despite their pleading guilty in January to civil charges of disorderly conduct and violating a city ordinance. In May, the District Attorney claimed the group violated the conditions of their plea agreement after a disagreement with the Portland Police Department and asked the court to hold a hearing to decide whether the 17 activists could consequently be brought up on criminal charges ranging from obstructing public ways and failure to disperse to disorderly conduct. In July, however, the judge said there would be no hearing and that the two sides need to get together to work out a deal. The NLG, along with TUPOCC, are providing the group with resources, information, and strategy advice.

 

  • The NLG continues to conduct various activism trainings activists throughout the state. It has conducted hundred of Legal Observer trainings across Massachusetts, recently including Makis Antzoulatos in Turner Falls in Western Massachusetts, Melinda Drew and Jeffrey Feuer for members of the Havurat Shalmon community in Somerville, Jeffrey Feuer at Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, and Fair Work in Boston, and  Lee Goldstein at Harvard Law School. In addition, the NLG conducted Direct Action trainings for dozens of groups, including a group in Lowell focused on ICE deportations, and at at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School (Jeff Feuer and Lee Goldstein.)

5/2/2017:

NLG Supports Cosecha Protest Against I.C.E. Detentions of Immigrants

On Monday, April 24, 2017, the NLG provided six Legal Observers to support a large and lively demonstration  at the Suffolk County (South Bay) House of Correction organized by Cosecha to protest the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants by I.C.E.  The action was the first civil disobedience action on immigration issues in Boston in recent months and among the largest nationally since President Trump took office, according to Cosecha, with approximately 140 participants, including a brass band!  Twenty students, clergy, and other activists were arrested after they sat down, linked arms, and blocked the entrance to the jail.  The federal government leases space in the House of Correction and 167 of the 962 inmates housed there were immigration detainees.  The NLG Legal Observers included Maiyim Baron, Amber Houghstow, Jude Glaubman, Lor Holmes, Jeff Feuer, and Neil Berman.

On Tuesday, April 25th, NLG attorneys Danny Beck, Neil Berman, and Jeff Feuer appeared in Roxbury District Court to represent the twenty arrested protestors, who were charged with trespass and disorderly conduct.  With significant guidance and advice from NLG Mass Defense CommitteeCo-Cordinator Josh Raisler-Cohn, who supplied his expertise and knowledge about the ADA’s and judges in the Roxbury court, the Guild attorneys were able to secure an extremely favorable disposition for all twenty defendants.  Every defendant had their criminal charges converted to a single civil infraction of trespass upon payment of a $50.00 fine (equivalent to a traffic ticket) prior to arraignment (with the disorderly charge being dismissed outright), which meant that no one would have a criminal record as a result of these arrests.  The demonstrators expressed their gratitude for this outcome and the support of the Guild for their action and vowed to continue their fight against Trump’s racist deportation policies.

 

3/6/2017: 

On Monday, March 6, 2017, Benjie Hiller and Jeff Feuer were in the Boston Municipal Court representing four activists who were arrested at a protest against the North Dakota/Standing Rock pipeline in November, 2016 at the TD Bank in Boston (which helps to finance the pipeline).  This was the third court appearance for the defendants who were charged with resisting arrest, disturbing the peace, and trespass, as a result of having both bolted themselves together and to the bank door, which required a significant amount of time and effort by the Boston Fire Department to cut them loose.  We served an 8 page discovery motion on the Commonwealth, seeking, among other things, information about police surveillance of the activists and any evidence of ties between TD Bank and the City of Boston.  We also made it clear that we would be serving a discovery motion on TD Bank to obtain detailed information on their financial involvement with the North Dakota/Standing Rock pipeline and that we would be aggressively defending these political activists who were working to preserve the planet and the rights and dignity of indigenous people.

As our clients expressed a desire to try to resolve the case, rather than continue to come back to court, we had a number of open and fruitful discussions with the Assistant District Attorney handling the case, including a discussion of the Guild’s pro bono role in these protest cases.  As a result, we eventually reached a reasonable plea deal in which the activists agreed to accept a Continued Without a Finding for 4 months on the trespass charge, with the resisting arrest and disturbing the peace charges being dismissed; 60 hours of community service with no court costs or probation fees; and the sending of a letter to the Fire Department acknowledging (but explicitly not having to apologize in any way) that the Fire Department’s resources could be better spent fighting fires and securing public safety than spending time ending peaceful protests which raise awareness about the role of banks in financing projects that attack the rights of native peoples and endanger the public.

Given the charges our clients were facing, this was an excellent outcome for this case.

 

Jeff Feuer, NLG Mass Defense Committee

12/6/16:

Water protectors in North Dakota are suffering vicious assaults by law enforcement for peacefully demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Between 5,000 and 13,000 indigenous water protectors and supporters have converged at the edge of the recognized Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation, where DAPL is building a pipeline which crosses tribal land, desecrates sacred burial grounds and threatens water supply for millions of humans.

Members of the Massachusetts NLG- Rita Sebastian, Jude Glaubman, Makis Antzoulatos, kt crossman, Maddie Thomson and Josh Raisler Cohn– recently traveled to North Dakota to do legal support for the water protectors at Standing Rock.

These NLG members are volunteering with the Water Protectors LEgal Collective, a group of attorneys and legal workers providing jail support and some civil representation to water protectors. Massachusetts NLG members contributed to the civil suit that was filed on Monday, November 28, 2016 to stop the particularly horrifying abuses of water protectors that were committed by law enforcement on November 20, 2016 (see NLG coverage here).

Activists in Massachusetts have been arrested in a series of actions targeting TD Bank, one of DAPL’s major investors, in solidarity with the water protectors and many of them are represented by NLG members Oren Nimni, Jeff Feuer and Benji Hiller. 

11/9/2016: 

A victory on the day after the election, from Jeff Feuer of the Mass Defense Committee:

This past Monday I was in court for the second appearance of three activists who were fighting to close the Plymouth Nuclear Power Station; they were arrested on trespass charges in Gov. Baker’s office at the State House back in September.  The Assistant District Attorney (ADA) in the Boston Municipal Court (BMC) who was handling their cases obtained an order for the 3 defendants to stay away from the State House while out on personal recognizance bail. (We were able to overturn that order with significant assistance from Mass Defense Committee Co-Coordinator Josh Raisler-Cohn).

In September, the ADA also said that he would only accept a Continued Without A Finding (CWOF) as a plea deal. This past Monday, after I submitted a ten-page discovery motion, that same ADA took a totally different tack with us. Even before reading my motion, he said he had researched my clients’ issues with the Plymouth nuke plant and their years-long crusade to close the plant due to its inherent danger to citizens of the Commonwealth.

The ADA asked if he could talk directly with my clients (with me in the room) about the issue and their case. My clients agreed to do so. He told them how impressed he was with their commitment and how he viewed the issue that they were protesting as an extremely important one!

He explained that he still had a “role to play” in the system. We reached an agreement that converted the case to a civil infraction, with no fine and immediate resolution of the case that day (no filing of the case for future resolution).

We then presented this plea agreement to the Judge – who proceeded to grill the ADA about why he was doing this, why he wasn’t seeking a fine or some additional punishment, why he was allowing protestors who had previous convictions on their record to get off so easily, etc.

The ADA stood up to the judge’s often pointed questioning and stated that, in his opinion, after having spoken directly with the protestors, this was a fair and just resolution, that their intent was to raise awareness of an important public issue and that, though he may disagree with their methods, there was no point in seeking any harsher penalty or resolution!

The judge finally relented and approved the motion! My clients and I then thanked the ADA for his integrity and courage in standing up to the judge … and celebrated an outcome that will allow my clients to continue their campaign to close the Plymouth nuke plant without being further constrained over the next several months by the legal system!

Jeff Feuer

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Today, 9/29/16, at a public hearing held by the Department of Corrections (DOC), Barb Dougan represented the NLG Mass Chapter and presented NLG comments opposing proposed changes to DOC regulations that would limit the number of visitors for each prisoner and require those visitors to be pre approved by way of a cumbersome process. You can read the comments here. 

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Statement on the Movement for Black Lives

The National Lawyers Guild of Massachusetts supports and endorses the Movement for Black Lives recently released “Vision for Black Lives – Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom, & Justice.”  We feel it is critical to promote the voices of Black radical leaders and to follow their lead.

We encourage all members of the National Lawyers Guild of MA  to read through the vision statement and, if you choose to endorse, to do so as an NLG-MA member.

https://policy.m4bl.org/

Carl Williams, co-chair of the Mass NLG, said “We need to support and defend the Black Lives Matter movement.  In doing that we must also support and defend the liberation ideas they are putting forth.”

 

Co-chair kt crossman added “We are excited to use our legal experience to aid in the struggle to ending the war on Black people, granting reparations, and supporting real community control of resources.”

 

We know that real, true freedom will come for Black people and we know it is our responsibility to fight like hell to make that day come sooner.

 

– NLG Mass Chapter Board of Directors –

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2016 County Sheriff Elections:

The NLG is a member of the Ad Hoc Coalition to Stop New Jails in Massachusetts, which has prepared extensive materials for activists and voters in each county. This is the first-ever statewide project to focus on sheriffs races. We encourage you to use these materials to educate yourself and others, to find out where the candidates stand, and to get involved.

This fall, all Massachusetts sheriffs are up for election/re-election for six-year terms. County sheriffs oversee the incarceration of over half of all prisoners in Massachusetts. While they may not create the laws or prosecution policies that lead to mass incarceration, their practices have a direct effect on prisoners, their families and taxpayers.

Click on your county to find a full set of materials, which include an overview of sheriff races, county fact sheet, candidates’ general information, campaign contact information and questionnaire for sheriff candidates.

NOTE: While the general election is on November 8, in some counties the September 8 primary will determine the race.

Questions? Please contact Barb Dougan, bdougan2731@gmail.com.

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Update on I-93 case

As we reported in the April issue of Mass Dissent, the NLG Mass Defense Committee successfully represented the Black Lives Matter activists who held a protest on I-93 in February 2015.

The only remaining defendant whose case was not resolved prior to trial, was a medic, Jessica Lowell, who had gone to the protest to observe the police response and to provide medical care and support, if necessary.  Despite the fact that she never set foot on the highway, she was arrested and charged with trespass, disorderly conduct, and conspiracy to commit trespass.  She was represented during a 3 ½ day jury trial on the disorderly conduct and trespass charges in Somerville District Court by NLG attorneys Mark Stern and Jeff Feuer, with significant support from many other members of the Mass Defense Committee.  The jury, with minimal deliberation time, returned verdicts of “Not Guilty” on both counts!

Despite the two not guilty verdicts, and despite the fact that the District Attorney’s office had absolutely no evidence of any conspiracy, the two ADA’s who tried the Commonwealth’s vindictive prosecution of Ms. Lowell immediately requested the trial judge to set a date to try her on the remaining conspiracy to commit trespass charge.  In response, Ms. Lowell’s NLG defense attorneys filed a substantial motion for a Bill of Particulars, demanding to see any evidence that the Commonwealth had concerning an alleged “conspiracy”.  As a result, three days before that motion was to be heard by the Court, the District Attorney filed a notice that it was “nolle prossing” Ms. Lowell’s case and dropping the conspiracy charge against her.  Jessica Lowell deserves enormous credit for her courage and perseverance in refusing to take a plea deal and insisting on a trial to prove her innocence in the face of an overzealous and baseless prosecution of her by the Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan that lasted more than a year.  This was also a significant victory for protestors and for the Guild’s Mass Defense Committee!

-Jeff Feuer

For additional coverage of the I-93 case from WGBH check out this article.

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Other Updates

From the National Office:

NLG Member, Jeff Haas has published the following article about NLG building the Red Owl Collective at Standing Rock in Truthout: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/37795-lawyer-s-view-recent-days-at-standing-rock

NLG and BMLP Support Charlotte Uprising, Endorse Demands and Call for Immediate Release of Protesters

https://www.nlg.org/news/releases/nlg-and-bmlp-support-charlotte-uprising-endorse-demands-and-call-immediate-release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2016

Contact:
Tasha Moro, NLG Communications Director
communications@nlg.org | 212-679-5100, ext. 15#

Nicole Lee, Esq., BMLP Co-Founder
Nicole@bmlp.org | 202-270-0774

CHARLOTTE, NC—On Monday night, police arrested about 10 people, including unsuspecting protesters, bystanders, and an NLG Legal Observer, during a peaceful march in Charlotte Center City, NC. Witnesses say there was no dispersal order given by police, and some arrestees had been merely standing on the sidewalk. All were charged with impeding traffic, and the Legal Observer, an attorney, was additionally charged with resisting arrest. Protests have been ongoing in Charlotte following the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott on September 20, resulting in 114 total arrests so far. Thirteen people still remain in custody. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and Black Movement Law Project (BMLP) call for the immediate release of all arrestees, and fully support the demands set forth by Charlotte Uprising.

Demonstrations took place throughout the day Monday with little interference by law enforcement. It wasn’t until about 11 PM when a small group of protesters marched in the streets following a meeting at City Hall, that dozens of riot police and members of the National Guard suddenly appeared and began the “snatch-and-grab” style of arrests, the first of which was Denise Heberle of the NLG Michigan and Detroit Chapter, who was serving as a Legal Observer at the time.

“This was an ambush of the last few people involved in a long evening of peaceful protest. Legal Obersvers were targeted along with protesters. The police removed the only people who were present solely to bear witness,” said Heberle, while on her way to give an Legal Observer training in Kalamazoo, MI.

Activists in Charlotte have organized quickly in response to recent events. Charlotte Uprising, “a coalition of community members, local and state organizers committed to ensuring the safety of their communities, and advocating for police accountability, transparency and social and economic equity,” has been leading the organizing efforts, coordinating volunteers, releasing a set of demands, starting a petition and operating a bail support/legal hotline for arrestees, and offering other crucial support. The Durham Solidarity Center established the Freedom Fighter Bond Fund, which is collecting donations for protesters’ legal support. BMLP and the NLG have been on the ground providing jail support, legal observing, and recruiting pro bono representation for protesters.

The NLG and BMLP stand with Charlotte Uprising and will continue to support the Movement for Black Lives. Learn how you can get involved below:

NLG & ACLUM Reveal Pattern of Police Spying and Surveillance

Boston Police Violate their own Rules in Spying on People Expressing their First Amendment Right

Over the last ten years, the U.S. government has increased its scrutiny of dissenting political voices in the country to a degree that is almost unprecedented in history.

In response, in August 2011, the National Lawyers Guild, Massachusetts Chapter (NLG) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLUM) filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on behalf of local activists and organizations to challenge the Boston Police Department’s (BPD) refusal to release public records concerning its ongoing surveillance of peaceful political demonstrations and events.

As a result of the lawsuit, the BPD released documents and video footage which show the extraordinary extent to which local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, combining their forces in one of 72 regional domestic surveillance centers (the Boston Regional Intelligence Center – BRIC), routinely monitor, spy, and report on ordinary citizens engaged in peaceful, First Amendment-protected activities.  The shocking scope of this police misconduct demonstrates how far we have gone down the road to becoming a country obsessed with surveillance and control, with little or no regard for the constitutional rights or privacy of the people.

On October 16, 2012, the NLG & ACLUM sent a letter to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis demanding that the surveillance and monitoring of peaceful activists and organizations stop immediately and that mechanisms be created to ensure transparency and accountability of the BRIC and its officers.

On October 18, 2012, the NLG & ACLUM released documents and video footage (BPD protest footage and BPD police training on Occupy Boston) obtained through the filing of the FOIA lawsuit, and a report with an analysis of those documents and videos.To view the NLG/ACLUM press release or read additional documents, click the links below.

As reported by Channel 7 WHDH-TV News

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