An Action Packed, Exciting Year for the Bay Area Chapter

Michael Flynn
Chapter President

Twenty-twelve has been an action packed year for the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF). Our committees and chapter leaders have been busy doing a variety of Guild work, usually in collaboration with friends and allies from other organizations.

In April 2012, as an active organizational member of the Coalition for a Safe San Francisco (CSSF), we successfully achieved unanimous passage through the San Francisco Board of Supervisors of the Safe San Francisco Civil Rights Ordinance, requiring SF police to have reasonable suspicion of criminal violations before surveilling or otherwise targeting people for investigation. The ordinance also specifically requires that collaboration agreements between the SFPD and federal agencies respect privacy and due process rights, as well as undergo public review through the San Francisco Police Commission.

Also in April, we hosted the NLG Far West Regional gathering at UC Berkeley School of Law with a variety of workshops focused on social justice progressive lawyering, and a keynote speech by talented Oakland emcee, and Occupy Oakland activist, Boots Riley of the rap group, The Coup.

In May 2012, the local TUPOCC (The United People of Color Caucus) chapter held its second annual May Day benefit party, at Saturn Café in Berkeley, with musical performers, speakers, art, and a benefit auction.

This summer, Guild members active in the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley continued their long term work to hold police accountable, and scrutinize Berkeley police collaboration with federal agencies. Coalitional efforts successfully stopped the BPD from obtaining an armored military vehicle. Guild activists and friends in Berkeley continue their work.

As part of our ongoing efforts to provide legal training for lawyers, law students, other legal workers, and the broader communities, we have provided or co-sponsored workshops and trainings every month. Occupy Legal and the Demonstrations Committee have co-presented know your rights workshops to Occupy activists as well as trainings for legal observers and legal hotline support workers. The Committee also provided continuing legal education workshops for lawyers defending protesters in criminal court, including a June CLE panel with NLG members Stuart Hanlon and Karen Jo Koonan co-presenting with two Alameda County Public Defenders. The Bay Area Military Law Panel continues to represent people who want out of the military or have left the military after experiencing untreated PTSD and trauma, often sexual trauma. They will be providing a training for hotline workers to counsel members of the military on September 14. In June, long term NLG member John O’Grady provided a workshop on estate planning with amusing movie clips to illustrate legal principles. In July our Thomas Steel summer intern organized an informative CLE workshop on discrimination in employment law, highlighting recent developments.

In July 2012, we joined with other members of the CSSF to issue a joint statement in opposition to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s public comments that he was interested in implementing a NYC style “stop and frisk” policy, a police program widely condemned for rampant racial profiling. Also in July, Guild members active with the NLG Free Palestine Subcommittee collaborated with student, community, and legal groups to issue a letter to UC President Mark Yudof criticizing the “Campus Climate” study and report for mischaracterizing criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism.

In August, we are joining with other organizations in a joint statement to the SF MUNI agency criticizing the acceptance of racist bus ads. The ads said, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” We continue our involvement by meeting with the Human Rights Commission and the SF Municipal Transit Agency on how they will make amends for the damage caused by the racist ads. Our legal training efforts continue with our annual law student-led legal conference, Progressive Lawyering Day, which will be held on September 29, 2012 at UC Berkeley School of Law. The day will be filled with workshops, and a keynote speech by Board member and longtime civil rights lawyer Walter Riley.

The 75th annual NLG Convention will be held in Pasadena, California October 10-14, 2012. With the Convention geographically close, we hope to make a strong showing from Northern California. Law students, legal workers and recent law graduates will have the opportunity to apply for financial help with travel and lodging. Lastly, we will end the year with our annual NLGSF Holiday Party and Benefit Auction, which is scheduled for early December. Please let us know if you may have one or more auction items to contribute; it will help us make the holiday party and auction a success.