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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE         8/20/01


Contacts:        Nat'l VP Zachary Wolfe, 202-530-5992
                         Exec. VP Kit Gage, 301-587-7442


GUILD LAWYERS CHALLENGE CRACKDOWN ON DISSENT


Litigation challenging dangerous law enforcement trends designed to silence dissent was filed today by National Lawyers Guild members at the Partnership for Civil Justice in Washington, DC.

The lawsuit is in response to announcements by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department that it will create massive no-protest zones, to include some two miles of 9-foot high fencing, to prevent access to streets, sidewalks, and parks near the White House and the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank during the financial institutions' joint meetings at the end of September.

The MPD has followed the pattern of other cities by making vague references to violence and property destruction, even as they acknowledge that tens of thousands of peaceful, lawful demonstrators will have their First Amendment rights curtailed.

"Nationwide, the government seeks to demonize people who demonstrate against corporate globalization, accusing them of violence and declaring a need to instigate a form of marshal law.  In fact, there have been very few convictions for crimes at these protests, while literally thousands of demonstrators have been arrested, exposed to pepper spray and tear gas, or beaten with clubs," said Zachary Wolfe, NLG National Vice President and a PCJ attorney on the case, along with Carl Messineo and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-founders of PCJ.

"Law enforcement now imposes draconian measures on any protest associated with this movement, because they are associated with this movement.  The Constitution does not permit this sort of targeting of demonstrators on the basis of their political views," said NLG Executive Vice President Kit Gage.

Founded in 1937 as the nation's first racially integrated bar association, the NLG is in the service of the people, with 6,000 members across the country who are committed to challenging such unconstitutional efforts to silence dissent