The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLGSF) supports the right of people to take to the streets in protest of structural racism and the killing of black people. To that end, the NLGSF is organizing criminal defense for more than 350 people who have been arrested in the past 15 consecutive days of anti-police violence demonstrations. In conjunction with an activist legal support collective, the NLG has maintained a legal hotline since the protests began (415-285-1011), has been sending legal observers to demonstrations, and has been dispatching NLG volunteer attorneys to defend arrestees in court and obtain their release from jail.
The NLGSF calls on the San Francisco and Alameda County District Attorneys to drop all charges against people arrested standing up against police racism and violence.
"There is genuine anger about systemic racism and a crisis of accountability among law enforcement," said NLGSF Executive Director Carlos Villarreal. "District Attorneys should not waste resources prosecuting protesters while police who kill are left to roam our streets."
The NLGSF notes that resources for law enforcement have greatly increased over the past few decades, while accountability and transparency have decreased. Justice has been sorely lacking for a string of killings and assaults by police in the Bay Area and beyond, and the impact has been greatest in the black community and other communities of color.
"If elected officials and law enforcement leaders are concerned about violence, they should start by repealing laws that make police records secret, shrouding police from accountability," said NLGSF President Rachel Lederman. "Instead of more police, more technology and more weapons, public funds should be redirected to human needs."
Last year, the NLG won federal court settlements overhauling Oakland Police crowd control and mass arrest policy, and Alameda County mass arrest release policy, as well as more than $2 million for Justice for Oscar Grant and Occupy Oakland demonstrators whose civil rights were violated.