We are the legal arm of the progressive movement.
Demonstration and Direct Action Support
NLGSF can provide the following types of Legal Support:
- Legal education/training/briefing
- Legal briefing before an action
- Legal observing during an action
- Operating a legal hotline during an action and until arrestees are out of custody
- Tracking arrestees through the legal system and recruiting pro bono or low cost lawyers for them and/or coordinating with public defenders and appointed counsel
- Providing the legal component post-action
Legal Education / Training / Briefing
Experienced NLGSF attorneys and legal workers can present information about the legal risks of demonstrations and civil disobedience, what your rights are during protests, what to do if you are arrested, and walk you through the court process. We can also provide Know Your Rights trainings that focus on the basic legal information you need when interacting with the police and other government agents. Know Your Rights trainings are conducted in an interactive way, designed to allow participants to explore their options in realistic settings.
Legal observers play a crucial role monitoring law enforcement at demonstrations. Legal observers collect information on arrests and information that may be used in criminal defense of activists or in advocacy against police and government misconduct and repression. Legal observers ensure that the police know that they are being watched. In addition to providing legal observers during an action, NLGSF can also train members of your activist community to serve as Legal Observers.
NLGSF can operate a legal hotline from our office during a demonstration when arrests seem likely. The legal hotline helps coordinate Legal Observers on the ground and tracks arrestees until everyone is released from custody. The hotline is not continuously staffed, it is usually activated by advance request. We can also train organizers to operate your own hotline or to help staff ours.
We have a two number system:
Demo Jail Hotline
415-285-1011 if you were arrested at an action the NLG is supporting and are inside a local jail. Write this number in permanent ink on your body whenever you attend a demonstration or direct action where you could be arrested. This number can ONLY be called from inside of a Bay Area jail. vist organizers have worked with the Guild to set it up.
Demo Public Hotline
415-909-4NLG is for hotline calls from people who are NOT in jail, such as:
- Your friend or loved one is in jail and you want to find more information about their status.
- You are at a demonstration or action and witnessing an arrest. Please try to get the arrestee’s legal name and birthdate.
- You were arrested, but are out of custody. We ask all arrestees to check back in with us after they are let out so we know your most up-to-date information on your well-being, charges, and your next court date so that we can coordinate further support.
Legal Representation / Post-Action Legal Component
NLGSF can usually arrange for attorneys to visit arrestees in jail and assist with jail release procedures in the event arrestees are held in custody. We can also usually recruit attorneys to cover initial court dates, and often, throughout any criminal cases. We try to find attorneys to meet with and defend arrestees on a pro bono or low bono basis and also coordinate with sympathetic public defenders and court appointed lawyers. It is essential that we receive a complete list of arrestees and we count on organizers to help compile this. The NLG does NOT provide bail. Contact our friends at the Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee if you need bail support.
Requesting Legal Support
If you would like to request legal support for your upcoming demonstration and direct action, please read “Working With the NLG to Plan Legal Support for Demonstrations” and, if possible, submit the legal support request form at least one week prior to the date of the demonstration. This document tells you what we need from you in order to try to meet the legal needs arising from your demo.
“Thank you NLG, writing your number on my arm in marker feels like putting on a piece of armor.”
– Chris Edwards, Activist, San Francisco
If you have been contacted by the FBI (or other federal agency) as part of a domestic security investigation, please contact our FBI Hotline immediately so that we can connect you with an attorney who can advise you about your rights.
FBI Hotline: (415) 285-1041
Please leave a voicemail; someone will return your call within 72 hours.
The FBI may lie to you about their motives so remember: you have the right to remain silent and the right to speak to an attorney. Do not talk to the FBI or let FBI agents into your home before speaking with an attorney.
Our FBI Hotline is designed to assist:
- Members of the Muslim or Middle Eastern community who are being targeted by Homeland Security.
- Activists who have been subpoenaed to a grand jury.
- Activists who have been visited at their home by FBI agents.
- Non-citizens who have questions about the impact their political activity could have on their immigration status.
Immigration Know Your Rights Training
NLGSF’s Immigration Committee and our trained affiliates provide important Know Your Rights training to affected immigrant communities so that they are better equipped to organize and defend themselves against ICE repression. The training provides an overview of non-citizens’ constitutional and procedural rights when interacting with immigration agents (Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection) and other state and federal law enforcement. It also covers how to get involved in supporting immigrants’ rights movements and certain laws that may help undocumented immigrants obtain legal status, worker protections and other benefits.
If you are a community group and would like to request a Know Your Rights training, please fill out our request form. Please note that we are an all-volunteer group and cannot guarantee presenters for every request made. Please allow for at least 4 weeks’ notice to allow us adequate time to find presenters and plan the format with organizers. To request a Know Your Rights Training, click here.