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September 24, 2010
3:35 PM

CONTACT: National Lawyers Guild

Paige Cram, Communications Coordinator, 212-679-5100, ext. 15

National Lawyers Guild Issues New Report on Unlawful Police Tactics

WASHINGTON - September 24 - The National Lawyers Guild has released its third comprehensive report on government violations of First Amendment rights on the one-year anniversary of the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh. “The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the U.S.” documents how police over-reaction to protected speech has informed unlawful police tactics at National Special Security Events, such as the 2008 Republican National Convention and the 2009 G-20 Summit.

The report lays out age-old government tactics that have been reintroduced under new anti-terrorism policies and legislation. Spying on and infiltration of activists’ meetings, the use of agents provocateurs, raiding organizers meeting spaces and the misuse of grand juries to collect information are some of the practices that are backed up with recent incidents observed and being challenged in court by National Lawyers Guild members.

Much of the report deals with recent prosecutions of activists on terrorism-related charges based on fabricated evidence and the attaching of inflated meaning to protest rhetoric:

"Protesters' calls to "crash the convention" or "shut down the convention" are political rhetoric and are not direct calls for the commission of crimes. Despite a body of Supreme Court decisions holding that hyperbolic political speech is protected by the First Amendment, and law enforcement's own awareness that there is no threat posed, police continue to justify vast intelligence initiatives based on such protected speech."

Copies of the report are available by calling the National Lawyers Guild at 212-679-5100, ext. 15, or by downloading it from from our publications page.


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.

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