NLG legal observers assist organizers by carefully documenting the activities of law enforcement during demonstrations, and by signaling, with our bright green hats, that someone is watching.
If you are requesting NLG legal observers for the first time, please read our post below on What NLG Legal Observers Do (and Don’t Do).
There are two ways for organizations to have legal observers at their events. At your request, we can send a team of trained legal observers to your events, or we can train people from within your organization to fill this role.
TO REQUEST LEGAL OBSERVERS, please send the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Name and contact info of point person.
- Organization name.
- Date and time of event.
- Brief description and location of event.
- Your best guess at how many people you are expecting.
Note: the sooner in advance you contact us, the more likely we will be able to respond with enough observers to be effective.
What NLG Legal Observers Do (and Don’t Do)
NLG legal observers are only one element of an effective legal defense strategy. If you are anticipating arrests at your event, you will want to arrange jail support and legal defense in addition to requesting legal observers. The National Lawyers Guild may be able to assist with defense and/or with setting up jail support, but these are separate from the legal observer program.
WHAT WE DO
NLG legal observers are there to carefully document the activities of law enforcement during demonstrations. This includes, for example, any arrest, use of force, intimidating display of force, denial of access to public spaces like parks and sidewalks, and any other behavior on the part of law enforcement that appears to restrict demonstrators’ ability to express their political views. This documentation may later be used in court to defend arrestees or to bring charges against the police.
WHAT WE DON’T DO
Legal Observers are not there to intervene. Our presence may deter law enforcement from engaging in unconstitutional acts, but we do not have any special legal powers or immunities, and we cannot interfere with arrests. We are simply there to witness and to record everything law enforcement does.
Legal Observers are not jail support. Jail support is extremely important; if you are anticipating any arrests, you will want a plan in place to track and support your fellow protesters. The National Lawyers Guild may be able to provide jail support assistance and training, but this is separate from the legal observers program.
Legal Observers are not your attorneys. We will collect and pass on our notes for your lawyer to use, but the legal observers at your event cannot represent you in court. Many of us are not even lawyers. Guild attorneys often provide legal defense for protesters who are arrested and bring civil litigation if needed, but this must be coordinated separately.
Northstar Health Collective trains and coordinates street medics.
If you represent a group that provides another action-related support service, let’s network! Email us at email@example.com.