No justice, no peace: National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area chapter turns up the heat against police violence and racism

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The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls for an immediate end to police violence, the taking of Black lives and the terrorizing of Black communities.

As huge crowds around the U.S. cried “Black lives matter” on Saturday, Dec. 13, thousands marched down San Francisco’s Market Street and rallied in Civic Center. Prominent in the mostly Black and Brown crowd were supporters of two of the most recent police murder victims in the city, O’Shaine Evans and Alex Nieto. – Photo: Adriana Camarena
As huge crowds around the U.S. cried “Black lives matter” on Saturday, Dec. 13, thousands marched down San Francisco’s Market Street and rallied in Civic Center. Prominent in the mostly Black and Brown crowd were supporters of two of the most recent police murder victims in the city, O’Shaine Evans and Alex Nieto. – Photo: Adriana Camarena

We are inspired by the determination and courage of the people of Ferguson, Black people across the United States, and solidarity protests. Their actions express the outrage so many people feel at the systematic use of police violence against Black and Brown, queer and transgender, immigrant and poor communities across the United States. In the face of such incredible injustice, we openly support this people’s rebellion.

Whether providing legal support for organized protests or spontaneous uprisings, mass transit shutdowns or highway blockades, the NLG works to protect peoples’ right to be brave and bold in their organizing for justice. We are committed to defending and protecting the rights of protesters in direct actions and demonstrations and of all people involved in the long-term struggle against police violence.

We denounce attempts by the police, U.S. government and corporate media to shame the families of those murdered by the police and to criminalize the protestors.

Black and Brown people have endured hundreds of years of racism and oppression in the U.S. Military and police violence are not new – they are at the very foundation of this country, from the use of the military and militias to drive indigenous people from their land to the capturing of escaped slaves.

Today, the U.S. is home to a system of mass incarceration that targets Black and Brown people and a judicial system that does not treat everyone equally under the law. Police are key enforcers of structural racism. They protect privilege, wealth and private property, and now the true nature of their role is being exposed.

The system is not just broken; it is faulty by design. The murder of a Black person every 28 hours by someone employed or protected by the US government is not an isolated event.

NLGSF demands

  • An immediate repeal of the Police Bill of Rights, open access to police disciplinary files and other data casting light on police spending and practices, and the reversal of Copley Press v. Superior Court, which prevents the disclosure of police misconduct records to the public.
  • A redistribution of resources away from police and prisons and toward the basic needs of communities: affordable housing, education, healthcare and access to employment and community-driven, transformative justice approaches to harm. This is far more likely to lead to true safety and security than any police action.
  • That prosecutors drop charges against people taking a stand for police accountability and resisting police violence.
  • Creation of independent panels empowered to investigate and hold accountable police officers in cases of unlawful violence. Independent panels must not be restricted by current secrecy laws that shield dangerous and violent cops from public scrutiny.

The San Francisco Bay Area NLG seeks organizations and individuals to sign onto the above list of demands, insisting that without justice there can be no peace.

NLGSF decries lack of police accountability

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 – 415-285-1011 – since the protests began, 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.

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.

“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.

“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.”

“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.

The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter can be reached at 558 Capp St., San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-285-5067 or contact@nlgsf.org. Executive Director Carlos Villarreal can be reached at carlos@nlgsf.org.

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