The Mass Defense Committee (MDC) Steering Committee and National Lawyer’s Guild (NLG) National Office have been concerned about an increasing number of reports of police targeting Legal Observers (LOs) in a variety of ways, either with chemical or projectile weapons, physical force and brutality, or arrest and/or questioning. We strongly condemn these actions against any LO and against any participant in the movement for Black lives. The NLG recognizes the brunt of police violence is aimed at Black, Brown, Trans, gender non-conforming people, and that police killing people is a public health pandemic.
We also want to take this moment to let all MDC members and LO volunteers know that we stand in solidarity with you and are here to help and support whenever the police target you in any way. We know that donning our neon green and being clearly marked with “Legal Observer” is both a crucial way of supporting movements in the streets and an easy way to be targeted by the forces that seek to maintain the status quo. This support might look like working with your local chapters to help you figure out your options for dealing with legal, physical health, or mental health needs after surviving police harassment or brutality. It might look like the MDC issuing more public statements decrying police violence and the targeting of LOs. It might look like adapting our mass defense resources to better support LOs in this constantly evolving political moment. It might look like things we have never done before that this political moment calls for.
We want to be in continual communication with all our members and volunteers so we can best help every NLG effort be an effective part of supporting movements for liberation. Please reach out to Tyler Crawford, Director of Mass Defense, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any support. Chapter leaders and LO coordinators should also reach out as needed, as no one needs to be alone in responding to police violence.
We also wanted to highlight a few of the many resources we have found helpful for addressing the trauma that the police inflict on those who dare to take the streets and struggle for liberation (see below).
MDC Steering Committee and NLG National Office
OH SHIT, We’re Gonna Get Sprayed! Surviving Chemical Weapons at Protests by Boston’s Digital Street Medic. (A pamphlet covering ways of protecting against and treating chemical weapons such as pepper spray and tear gas.)
The Number One Crowd Control Weapon is Fear! by Boston’s Digital Street Medic. (A one-page handout with reminders about how to protect against and treat chemical weapons.)
Stay Healthy So You Can Stay in the Streets by Boston Area Liberation Medic (BALM) Squad. (A two-page pamphlet offering suggestions on how to prepare for going out into the streets, tend to your physical needs, treat minor injuries, and prepare for arrest.)
Everything is AWFUL and I’m Not Okay: Questions to Ask Before Giving Up on Yourself by University of Colorado—Colorado Springs (UCCS) Wellness Center. (A two-page handout covering questions to ask to check in with yourself when experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression.)
Activist Trauma and Recovery from activist-trauma.net. (A four-page handout exploring post-traumatic stress disorder, common symptoms, and options for treating it.)
What Helps: Addressing Vicarious Trauma adapted from the Headington Institute. (A two-page handout exploring vicarious trauma and ways to transform it that was adapted from the Headington Institute, an organization of psychologists who support humanitarian aid workers. The resources this handout was adapted from are listed next.)
Understanding & Addressing Vicarious Trauma by the Headington Institute.
Understanding & Addressing Vicarious Trauma: Reflection Questions Workbook by the Headington Institute.
- On June 16, 2020