What a week. Some people got their court dates rescheduled less than a week out, which is pretty shitty, and leads us to our first points of order, bold and capitalized for emphasis. THERE ARE NO HEARINGS THIS FRIDAY. If you are still coming on Friday because you want to meet with your lawyer in person, or you are going to sight-see in DC, or whatever, and you’d like to meet us in person—let us know! We’d be happy to see your faces.
Important, crucial note that bears repeating: If you need housing for your upcoming status hearings, please write to us as soon as your date is confirmed: housing (A) dclegalposse.org
On the Lawyer Front
As you may have seen from a recent motion objecting to the government’s protective order—with dozens of lawyers’ names attached to it—counsel is choosing sides and getting organized! There is currently a listserv of attorneys collaborating on motions, filings, evidence, etc. It is a very, very good idea to ask your attorney to join this listserv. The NLG also sent out an email to all of the attorneys introducing the work that DCLP is doing, along with a living motion bank that we have compiled. The NLG’s goal is also to create motions templates that all attorneys can use. Your counsel would be overjoyed, we bet, to have their load lifted through the joys of collective, collaborative defense. To get your attorney in on the fun, contact us and we’ll tell you how to get your lawyer involved.
Lastly, we have heard from over a dozen defendants that they are dissatisfied with their counsel. We are trying to get new lawyers for you, but it is tough, y’all: so, so many lawyers are already on this case. We have sent an email out to all of the hot-shot firm lawyers on this case, in the hopes that with their ample resources they would be able to take on extra counsel. We haven’t heard back yet, but will be sending a second follow-up email before the close of the week. However, if your lawyer is being unresponsive, you should keep a log of all the attempts you have made to contact your attorney. Every time you call, leave a message and say that you will be emailing them to follow up. Email them, and note the dates for your records. This may become useful in securing new counsel.
Defendant-Centered Media and Fundraising Strategy
We’ve been really pleased to see an uptick in J20-related fundraising, but we’d like to encourage you to do even more of it. We’d like to provide whatever guidance we can. Most resources about grassroots fundraising are written for nonprofits, but many of them can be adapted for and applied to personal solidarity fundraisers. Here’s one example we like.
As for media and press interactions, there has been some confusion about the role that DCLP is playing. Our comrade Sam, who is not a defendant, is currently fielding interviews and media requests for the DCLP. He is not a spokesperson for the defendants, nor should he be fielding media statements on behalf of defendants. We want to emphasize this: we are not a clearinghouse. If you have a press release that is out, we can forward that to our media contacts, and publish it on our website (as your press release).
However, we want to encourage you to step forward and take ownership of your media strategy. To that end, DCLP and other experienced comrades can look statements over from a media/political/lay-person’s legal perspective. You should, however, also make sure your lawyer looks it over. We’re not necessarily saying you should follow your lawyer’s media advice (because many lawyers would prefer you not say anything about your case to the media ever), but make sure you go forward with any media statements or decisions with the full knowledge of what you are doing.
If you want to talk to media, or give interviews or quotes, MACC Legal is willing to rehearse media interviews with you. Journalists are very good at getting their questions answered (it is their job), even if you did not walk into the interview intending to answer those questions. It’s very good to be prepared. We would, however, like to emphasize these basic points:
- Nothing you write or say should be admissible against any defendant as evidence. Ever. This means no statements like, “My friend Fred and I went to J20, and they were pepper-sprayed in the face by a riot cop. Here’s video proof of that happening!” Congratulations, you have just handed visual identification of Fred to the prosecutor.
- Hence, have a lawyer read through any statement you make, to ensure that the above never, ever happens.
This may seem obvious—as obvious as not talking about anything you may not want the cops to know about in court!—but we want to be overly cautious about this.
ICYMI: Update on the Activist Raid and Other J20 News
There was coverage in local ABC News as well as Vocativ on the raid, featuring interviews with both Dylan (the activist in question), and us. There’s a copy of the redacted affidavit in the ABC article. A Washington Post article also broke the sad but unsurprising news that the J20 planning meetings were infiltrated.
In connection with J20, we testified at the MPD budget oversight hearing last week for the D.C. Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. At the hearing, the chair, Charles Allen, promised to fund an investigation into MPD’s response to J20. But a promise isn’t enough—we need to publicly push them to hold police accountable. Here’s a link to our petition—please sign and share widely!
Natasha Lennard wrote a kick-ass article for Esquire on the J20 arrests (as you may have seen from her Nation piece in January, she was there). Zoe Tillman at Buzzfeed covered the seizure of cellphones, and a group of defendants published a statement via Buzzfeed pledging to reject plea deals as well. We also got some press from Pacific Standard, which wrote about the support work we’re doing and the collective organizing y’all are doing. Keep at it.
We have booked a permanent space to call home for the DCLP, which means that we have a dedicated meeting space for you guys after the hearings in the coming months. We will book the rooms for about four hours starting after the hearings at a location a short walk of the courthouse. We will be checking IDs to ensure that only defendants and known support people are present. Defendants must pre-approve guests by email—this includes support people! We want to ensure your safety and security. We’ll be doing an intro Q&A, providing snacks, and then leaving you to it.
That’s all, folks. As ever, let us know if you need anything.
Love and solidarity,
The Dead City Legal Posse