Maureen D. Taylor, State Chairperson – MI Welfare Rights Organization
“The presence of NLG legal observers has been an invaluable tool over the years as the fight for democratic rights and social justice continues to deepen.”
Kim Redigan – Woman in Black
“The National Lawyers Guild is an integral part of the Detroit peace and justice community. I am so grateful for their presence at many of our Women in Black marches and for their counsel on the occasions when people are arrested or jailed for justice. The NLG really walks the walk by taking to the streets where rights and liberties are so often challenged by those who would squelch free speech and nonviolent protest. The folks in the green hats are my heroes! It has been a privilege to have them stand beside us as we struggle for a more just and peaceful world.”
Josh Achatz – Detroit Coalition Against Tar Sands
I’ve been meaning to thank you all again for all the support! It is SO much appreciated. From the petcoke blockade, to the Marathon march (and even back to Occupy Detroit) your support has been instrumental! Thank you for freely giving your time, experience and education to support us and help grow the movement. Having the green hats present at our actions gives us so much confidence and security, and is an invaluable asset!
Judith Burkhardt – An Introduction to The National Lawyers Guild
In the time prior to the start of the Iraq War in 2003, a large group of us met weekly for non-violence training and affinity-group forming so that we could join in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of people around the world in protest of what we believed was an unnecessary and immoral war. As a group, we decided to bring a petition to the Judges of the Federal Court, stating our opposition to any violent action and our reasons for this opposition. In the event we were not allowed entry, we decided to lay on the steps of both entrances to the Courthouse in silent witness to the impending war and in solidarity with all of our sisters and brothers around the globe who opposed it. We started at Central United Methodist Church with a blessing given by Rev. Ed Rowe and we walked, with a large group of supporters, to the Federal Courthouse. We were accompanied by members of the National Lawyers Guild and it was my introduction to the “green hats”.
Our Affinity Group was on the Lafayette side of the Courthouse and we were met by Homeland Security, Federal Police and other police in riot gear and we were told we would not be allowed entrance. So, we laid down on the steps. Those on the Fort Street Side were arrested relatively quickly but we were left alone for a substantially longer period of time. When police officers asked us to leave we did not leave and were arrested. NLG members observed and asked where we were being taken. We were transported to the Federal Building where we remained in a large room for about an hour. We were then transported back to the Courthouse where the Judge, after asking our names, addresses and ages, set two court dates to accommodate those of us who could not make the first date. She released us on our own recognizance. NLG members were in the courtroom to insure we had adequate legal representation.
Of the 27 of us arrested, 5 of us requested a trial. We met with NLG Attorneys and related our desire to represent ourselves, indicating we would each provide a different rationale for our actions. NLG agreed with our decision, continuing to meet with us as we shared our rationale. Two Guild members, Cynthia Heenan and Tom Stephens came to our trial and sat with us so they could provide advice if we needed it. From the day of our action on March 18, 2003, until the end of the trial, the NLG provided support, encouragement, and legal advice. I have such gratitude for their giving of their time, their legal advice and their general moral support and it is why I decided to give back to the Guild by becoming a Legal Observer myself.