Demo & Protest Support
We ask that organizers read Working with the NLG to Plan Legal Support for Demonstrations.
To effectively provide legal support, it is essential that we receive a complete list of arrestees, and we count on organizers to help compile this.
If you are risking arrest and would like to submit your information to us in advance, please complete the Arrestee Form below.
If you are an activist in need of support please submit a legal support request below.
What To Do and When
Experienced NLG-SF 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, as well as 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 manner, 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, NLG-SF can also train members of your activist community to serve as Legal Observers.
The NLG-SF 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.
The NLG-SF can host meetings with people who have been arrested at a demonstration to discuss what your rights are, what you should expect at your court dates, and what you and your community can do to prepare for state repression. Content discussed in arrestee meetings includes:
- An introduction to the National Lawyers Guild’s mass defense work
- The impact of COVID-19 on court procedures
- Arraignment procedures
- What happens if no charges are filed
- What happens if charges are filed
- Legal strategies for pre- and post-arraignment
- Solidarity and social media practices
The NLG-SF can arrange for attorneys to visit arrestees in jail and assist with jail release procedures in the event that arrestees are held in custody. We can also recruit attorneys to cover initial court dates; and, often, to provide representation throughout any criminal cases. We try to find attorneys to meet with and defend arrestees on a pro bono or low bono basis. We also coordinate with sympathetic public defenders and court-appointed lawyers.
To effectively provide legal support, 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.
If you have any questions about the types of legal support NLGSF can provide, please contact our Demonstrations Coordinator below.