NLG-Mass Chapter Keeps Busy Through June

June has been a very busy month for the NLG-Mass Chapter. Despite the pandemic, our members have been working on many different front providing communities in Massachusetts with legal and political help.

Here’s a report from Jeff Feuer, member of the NLG Board, Mass Defense Committee, and Litigation Committee, on the NLG work he been involved in:

• Work together with Lee Goldstein, Jeff’s law partner, and Northeastern law student Zoe Bowman, to completely rewrite and update the Mass Defense Committee’s material for training activists about the legal aspects of Direct Action protests. We now have a brand new 23-page booklet which contains significantly more material than before; it has been updated to reflect the current issues facing activists arrested at progressive political protests.

Conduct weekly Direct Action trainings over Zoom for law students and activists from all over the Boston area. The trainings are organized, coordinated and publicized by NULS law students – Zoe Bowman, Lindsay Metnik, Aly McKnight, Cristos Andreas, and Annemarie Guare. The students also handle all of the technical details for the Zoom meetings, as well as do vetting of the trainings participants. Every participant in the trainings receives a digital copy of our new Direct Action training booklet. More than 100 people have already attended the trainings and indicated their interest in supporting the current wave of protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

These training series also includes Legal Observer trainings which are conducted by the NLG Board member Melinda Drew.

Conducted a Direct Action training over Zoom for Harvard law students and law students from other Boston area schools. The training was arranged and coordinated by 2 Harvard law students, Joanie Steffen and Marina Multhaup, who are the co-chairs of the NLG chapter at Harvard. They organized the training, publicized both within Harvard and at other law schools, handled all of the technical details for the Zoom meeting, and sent out a detailed summary of the training to all participants afterward. Approximately 40 law students attended the training.

• Worked closely with Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo’s office and coordinated a team of attorneys, including NLG members Lee Goldstein and David Kelston and attorneys from one of the largest law firms in Boston, Wilmer Hale (lead by partner Andrew Dulberg), in drafting an ordinance for the City of Boston that would severely restrict the use of chemical crowd control agents (like tear gas and pepper spray) and so-called “less-lethal” weapons by the police. The ordinance includes a private right of action with treble damages and attorney’s fees for anyone injured by police violation of the restricted use of these weapons as well as mandatory discipline of the police for violating the ordinance. The group also produced an extensive legal memo and supporting medical and other documents to be used to help pass the ordinance and convince the mayor to sign it. All of the work in producing the draft of this ordinance and the supporting documents was accomplished in less than one week. Councilor Arroyo believes that he has the votes in the City Council to pass the ordinance.

• Began work, with NLG members Josh Raisler Cohn and Lee Goldstein, and attorneys from the ACLU and Boston law firm Ropes & Gray, on drafting a lawsuit for injunctive relief to prevent the Boston police from using chemical crowd control agents on political protestors. That lawsuit may eventually be expanded to include the police in Worcester and Brockton. The group is currently in the stage of trying to identify and vet possible plaintiffs for this lawsuit, from protestors and Legal Observers who were attacked with tear gas and pepper spray at various events.

Conducted a Direct Action training over Zoom for the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Massachusetts, organized and facilitated by Sumaiya Zama, their Director of Community Advocacy and Education and their Civil Rights Director, NLG member, Barb Dougan. 23 people attended that training and another training may be scheduled in the coming weeks.