National Lawyers Guild chapter forms in Gainesville
October 2002

A chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has formed in Gainesville.

The NLG is a national organization of lawyers, legal workers, law students and jailhouse lawyers committed to the struggle for social justice since 1937. The Gainesville Chapter builds on a long history of the NLG's commitment to the legal and political struggles to end oppression and discrimination in the United States and internationally.

The NLG is on the front lines of national litigation and organizing to challenge the threats to civil liberties under the USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism). Recently, Guild members won court battles to force the government to disclose the names of thousands of men of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent being detained in jails, although not charged of any crime. The NLG has also coordinated legal defense strategies for thousands of demonstrators at national protests of the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and World Bank and countless other mass demonstrations around the country.

The Gainesville Chapter will be active in the NLG's national Post 9-11 Project to defend civil liberties at risk under new so-called "anti-terrorism" laws such as the USA PATRIOT Act. Chapter members are working with the local Campaign to Restore Civil Liberties to educate the community about the implications of this law on people's right to privacy in their homes, library and bookstore habits, internet usage, and the government's ability to detain people (including U.S. citizens) without charging them of a crime and deny them access to the courts and legal counsel.

The NLG is co-sponsoring a town meeting on civil liberties, "Preserving the Constitution After 9-11," on Oct. 19 at the Thelma Boltin Center (516 NE 2nd Avenue) from 2 to 5 p.m. and has written a resolution in support of civil liberties that will be presented to the Alachua County Commission on Oct. 22 at 5:30 pm. The NLG will also work with community groups organizing for the rights of women, workers, prisoners, against police misconduct and other social and economic justice issues.

NLG members have been in Gainesville since the late 1960's. In 1973, Guild attorneys were part of the victorious defense team for the "Gainesville Eight," members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War who were indicted on conspiracy charges to disrupt the Republican National Convention.

Founded in 1937 to support New Deal legislation, assist the emerging industrial labor movement and oppose segregation in the American Bar Association and elsewhere, the NLG was the first integrated national organization of lawyers. In the 1940's and 50's, the NLG aided workers in organizing industrial unions and opposed racial discrimination. Following WWII, Guild members participated in the Nurenberg Trials and the founding of the United Nations. During the "McCarthy Era," the NLG played a central role in the defense of those targeted by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee for their political affiliations.

Throughout the 1960's and into the 70's, the NLG organized large scale assistance to the Southern Civil Rights Movement and opened up offices around the south to defend those committing acts of civil disobedience in the fight against segregation and racism. During the Vietnam War, the NLG provided legal counsel to draft resisters and anti-war activists. The Guild also worked to defend women's rights, gay and lesbian rights, the rights of Native American defendants from Wounded Knee and prisoners charged in the uprising at Attica Prison in New York.

Guild lawyers have developed innovative strategies for international human rights advances, fought the anti-poor and anti-immigrant sentiments that have grown over the last decade, defended affirmative action and provided legal support for activists in the growing anti-globalization movement against corporate power at the expense of human rights. The NLG also has a National Police Accountability Project which is part of the national movement to fight against and end police misconduct.

The next general meeting for lawyers, law students and legal workers will be: December 12, 2002, 7 p.m. (location to be announced).

For more information, email: and to join go to

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