For Immediate Release
Paige Cram, Communications Coordinator, 212-679-5100, ext. 15
NLG Legal Observers Targeted by Police in Arizona
PHOENIX, AZ - Roxana Orell, a lawyer and executive
officer with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), was arrested Thursday in
Phoenix while acting as an NLG Legal Observer® for a group of
individuals protesting the immigration policies of Sheriff Arpaio.
Observers of the arrest indicated that Sheriff’s Deputies appeared to
target Orell, who was standing behind the crowd and videotaping the
arrest of Sunita Patel, another Legal Observer.
“The arrest of the Guild Legal Observers is just a continuation of
Arpaio’s campaign of harassment,” said Carol Sobel, co-chair of the
Guild’s Mass Defense Committee. “Apparently, Arpaio thinks that if he
arrests the Legal Observers, no one will be there to witness his
unlawful actions. We have been arrested, shot with projectiles, hit with
batons and pepper-sprayed at protests from Washington, D.C. to Miami to
Los Angeles and we are still here to document misconduct.”
Sheriff Arpaio had announced he would conduct sweeps as part of his
campaign to target and terrorize immigrant neighborhoods, regardless of
the federal court’s injunction issued the prior day against SB 1070. In
response to Arpaio’s plans, a group of demonstrators protested outside
the Sheriff’s building. As they were gathered in the area, a garage door
opened and officers in riot gear came out from the building. The
officers arrested one woman closest to the entrance to the building, and
then reached into the crowd to snatch Orell and Patel.
Brett Beeler, a UCLA law student, witnessed the entire event. He was
approximately five feet from Orell and Patel when they were grabbed.
Beeler saw numerous individuals standing closer to the police, but
believes that the deputies targeted Orell and Patel because they were
wearing the green Legal Observer hats.
The two NLG Legal Observers have been charged with obstruction of a
highway and failure to obey a lawful order. They are expected to be
arraigned late Thursday night. Numerous other protesters have also been
unjustly arrested, and a lack of available translators has caused delays
The National Lawyers Guild deployed Legal Observers in Phoenix for
the large protests against SB 1070 in April and May 2010 as part of its
Mass Defense Committee. Last week, the National Lawyers Guild trained
approximately two dozen local activists in Phoenix to participate in the
program. Orell was heading the effort this week. For each of the major
demonstrations in Phoenix this year, the NLG has provided law students,
lawyers, and legal workers to ride the buses from Los Angeles with the
immigrant workers coming to protest.
The National Lawyers Guild is dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system. Through its members--lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers and legal workers united in chapters and committees--the Guild works locally, nationally and internationally as an effective political and social force in the service of the people.