February 17, 2017, National Lawyers Guild
First, there was the Women’s March. Then, the world suddenly rose up to protest the executive order temporarily barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The Guardian’s Francine Prose put forth the idea of a #General Strike (and #F17) calling for workers to take the day off and abstain from shopping to show their opposition to President Donald Trump and his administration’s controversial executive actions. Strike4Democracy translated Prose’s op-ed into more than 100 actions planned for today.
Yesterday was the national, enormously broadly based, energetic, and creative “day without immigrants.” Naturalized citizens and undocumented immigrants challenged each other to stay home from work or school, close their businesses, and abstain from shopping. As the New York Times reported, “People planned for it in restaurant staff meetings, on construction sites and on commuter buses, but the movement spread mostly on Facebook and via WhatsApp, the messaging service. No national group organized the action.”
Today, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm EST, in coordination with the #F17 general strike, the National Lawyers Guild is calling lawyers, legal workers, law students, paralegals, court interpreters, investigators, social service advocates, and others who advocate and work in the courts to gather in front of courthouses across the country to protest the new presidential administration’s actions. #LawStrikesBack is an opportunity for professionals in the legal community to express their solidarity with many others in resisting what they see as blatant violations of the constitution, the rule of law and human rights on both a local and international scale. More than thirty-five organizations endorsed this initiative.
This is an opportunity for the legal community to express our solidarity with the growing movements against the new regime and its white supremacist agenda. Engage your local community! Invite speakers, make signs, and share with your legal colleagues and allies!
Is it unfair for the National Lawyers Guild to suggest that the president is a racist? Aside from “the wall,” the “travel ban,” and the apparent legitimization of racial and religious bigotry, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and misogyny by this president and his advisors, consider President Trump’s “lengthy and bizarre news conference” yesterday, when just after saying he was the “least racist person,” he suggested to a black reporter that simply because she is black that she was probably working with the Congressional Black Caucus.
The Trump administration has incited a whole new level of creative action, a willingness to come out for one another’s’ issues and a kind of traveling energy. But, this still requires the guidance of trusted civil society organizations that are pressed to act differently in the face of the need. The Lawyers Guild and other similar nonprofits, in other words, need to learn how not to so much direct as cohere and help grow that energy for change while maintaining faith with stakeholders and partners. We live in interesting organizational and challenging political times. How will nonprofits conduct themselves in the midst of all of that?—James Schaffer