The National Lawyers
New York--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
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."
The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in
the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.