Join us April 7 to April 9, 2017 as the NLG Chicago Chapter hosts the NLG Midwest Regional Conference! For more information, including how to register, click here.
**Access the annotated agenda here.**
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) organized a day of action for the legal community to express our solidarity with the growing movements against the new regime and its white supremacist agenda. On February 17 at noon, lawyers, legal workers, law students, and law professors gathered in front of the US District Court in Federal Plaza along with other actions around the country in coordination with the nationwide #GeneralStrike planned for the same day.
“We are facing unprecedented attacks on our most fundamental human rights and are seeing the unfolding of authoritarianism before our eyes. The legal community has no choice but to show up, to defend our communities and to fight back by holding our institutions accountable,” said NLG President and LatinoJustice PRLDEF Associate Counsel Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan.
In the three weeks since Donald Trump has taken office, we have seen a flurry of executive orders targeting immigrants and intensifying law enforcement; racist, unqualified millionaires appointed to the nation’s highest positions; assaults on the press, and “alternative facts” presented as truth. However, we have also witnessed communities engaging in profound organizing and direct action—from the streets to airports and schools—to reject the current administration and disrupt business as usual. On February 17, we’re taking the resistance to courthouses.
“It is crucial for the legal community to come together to provide support for resistance movements against the current administration. We must fight back against the legitimization of racial and religious bigotry, xenophobia, Islamophobia and misogyny that violate the core principles of democracy,” said NLG Executive Director Pooja Gehi.
The speakers at the rally were:
Dima Khalidi, Palestine Legal
Joey Mogul, People’s Law Office
Max Suchan, NLG Chicago’s Mass Defense Committee
Nieves Bolanos, Potter Bolanos
Vickie Casanova Willis, FDLA
Ben Meyer, FDLA
MiAngel Cody, The Decarceration Collective
Diane O’Connell, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
Megan Davis, Northern Illinois Justice for our Neighbors
Lam Nguyen Ho – CALA
— Palestine Legal (@pal_legal) February 17, 2017
— Palestine Legal (@pal_legal) February 17, 2017
The Chicago rally was co-sponsored by:
People’s Law Office
Thedford Garber Law
CALA (Community Activism Law Alliance)
Uptown People’s Law Center
American Constitution Society JMLS Student Chapter
Potter Bolaños LLC
Northern Illinois Justice For Our Neighbors
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
First Defense Legal Aid
The Decarceration Collective
National Conference of Black Lawyers – Chicago Chapter
For more photos check out: https://www.facebook.com/events/1915782851969046/
For more info, read the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article on the event here.
Attorneys for long-time National Lawyers Guild legal observer Jerry Boyle filed suit in federal court today to challenge the sweeping use of “Stingray” cell phone spying devices by Chicago Police.
The suit, which aims to be certified as a class action, alleges that the stingray devices are frequently used without warrants or any official guidance, indiscriminately sweeping up cell phone data from innocent people, including attendees at political rallies, demonstrations and other 1st Amendment-protected activities.
Stingrays have the power to obtain identifying information about cell phones, access the content of phone calls and texts made on the phone, reveal website browsing histories, and track a phone’s cumulative movements.
According to the suit, “CPD owns and operates an arsenal of cell site simulators with these intrusive capabilities,” spending over a half million dollars between 2005 and 2010 to obtain them. The devices typically can access cell phones located more than a mile away from them, and capture data from up to 60,000 phones simultaneously.
The suit alleges that the Chicago Police Department’s use of cell site simulators “is secretive and widespread…and [CPD] has long refused to disclose information about its use of cell site simulators to the public and fought attempts to obtain such records in the courts, choosing to conceal its use of the technology.”
“The City does not even maintain any policies or procedures on what its officers may do with the personal information seized from thousands of individual cell phones without a warrant. The City has also, as a matter of practice, refused to train its officers about constitutional issues associated with officers’ use of cell site simulators. In addition, the City has maintained a widespread practice of permitting its police officers to deploy cell site simulators without a warrant specific to each phone that is searched in the process, and has frequently failed to obtain warrants even for the phone of the target in question.”
The suit cites as an example of the illegal surveillance a January 15, 2015 “Reclaim Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” demonstration organized by Black Lives Matter protesters at which Boyle’s and hundreds of others’ cell phones were illegally surveilled.
“The people of Chicago should be able to exercise their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, association, and assembly without being spied upon by police,” said Boyle. “Government spying on its citizens without appropriate judicial oversight is inconsistent with the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.”
“The Chicago Police Department can’t give its officers weapons that have the power to search and seize our most personal information without any instructions about how to use them,” said Craig Futterman, a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School and one of the lawyers representing Mr. Boyle. “That’s like giving officers guns and telling them to go get the bad guys, without even teaching them how to shoot. We’ve recently seen how this lack of surveillance oversight has played out at the NSA, where employees abused surveillance tools to spy on their spouses.”
“Any surveillance of political groups is particularly troubling,” said Matt Topic of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, another of Boyle’s attorneys, “but there is no dispute that even when CPD has a valid basis to track a legitimate suspect, the technology results in a search of every other phone in the area to find the suspect. This is a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent bystanders every time it is used.”
Defendants named in the suit include former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and current Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms, and over the past decade has won more multi-million dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the entire country. Last November, Loevy & Loevy successfully obtained the release of the dashcam video of Laquan McDonald’s shooting death at the hands of Chicago police.
The University of Chicago Law School’s Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project is one of the nation’s leading civil rights clinics focusing on issues of criminal justice. The mission of the Law School’s clinical programs is to teach students effective advocacy skills, professional ethics, and the effect of legal institutions on the poor; to examine and apply legal theory while serving as advocates for people typically denied access to justice; and to reform legal education and the legal system to be more responsive to the interests of the poor.
For further reading see:
Chicago NLG member, Jerry Boyle was interviewed for WBEZ for his participation in the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Check out the story here:
Back by popular demand, Chicago NLG member Dan Massoglia hosted a Crypto Party workshop.
The world-wide CryptoParty movement empowers regular people to protect their private data in an era of widespread surveillance. There are many tools available to do this – some more user friendly than others. Technical experts were there for an introduction to crypotography and hands-on help for those who were interested in learning how to keep themselves and their data safe.
On Saturday, April 16, EFF co-hosted a free workshop on surveillance self-defense with local grassroots groups based in Chicago. The workshop was particularly structured for lawyers and activists supporting social movements.
Participants did need not wield technical expertise to attend this session, which is geared towards regular smartphone and laptop users. EFF’s Shahid Buttar facilitated a teach-in and skill-share on surveillance, some immediate and practical steps you can take to protect your communications, and how to work with neighbors to inform surveillance policy at the state and local level.
The event was co-sponsored by the Chicago GNU/Linux User Group, Restore the Fourth, and the Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.