Across the US, many major urban cities have seen protests involving social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement. Atlanta is no exception but there are things a person should know before entering the fight for social justice. Activist lawyer Mawuli Mel Davis of the Davis-Bozeman law firm is participating in the event “Legal Training to Support Today’s Social Justice Movement”
Attorney Davis spoke with rolling out about a free event the DeKalb Lawyers Association is hosting in Atlanta on Aug. 2, 2016, and other important facts activists should know.
Why is this event important?
The importance of this event is three fold:
1) this is a step beyond mobilizing that allows us to organize and educate people about how they can be actively involved,
2) this helps us build the necessary capacity to engage in long term action to force the power structure to address the demands of the growing social justice movement around police accountability.
3) this training demonstrates that are organizations and members in the legal community prepared to support and defend those brave young people who engage in non-violent protest to change the system.
What five things should a person know when protesting?
1) It is your protected First Amendment Right to address your concerns and demands.
2) Decide before you protest whether or not you are prepared to engage in civil disobedience that could lead to your arrest.
3) If you are being arrested for engaging in a protest do not run or resist. Submit peacefully for the cause you believe in.
4) Pro Bono legal advice and representation have been made available to protestors before and after protest actions.
5) Report to march organizers and marshals any behavior during the protest that appears dangerous or subversive.
If a police officer assaults you during a peaceful protest, what three things should you do?
1) Seek and document medical treatment immediately. You can request medical treatment even in custody.
2) Attempt to obtain the name of the officers and any witnesses who observe you arrest.
3) Seek legal counsel and file an internal affairs complaint.
Why do you think Black protesters are deemed by some to be terrorists?
The criminalization of Black protestors and activists has its roots in the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program from the 60’s, which sought to destabilize Black organizations and leaders. The ability and desire to define Black Lives Matters activists as terrorists then allows them to be treated without regard for their civil or human rights. We have to remember the mischaracterization and treatment by Dr. King and other leaders by the American Government through the media. It is important that community members not rely on mainstream media to define for them the Black Lives Matter Movement. We each have an obligation to learn for ourselves what these efforts are all about and how we can become engaged to bring about real change. The future of our children’s children depend on what we are willing to do today.
On Tuesday, Aug. 2, several legal professionals will collaborate in training lawyers, students, and organizers on the different areas in which support to the social justice movement can be provided. This training will take place:
Georgia State University-College of Law Conference Center
85 Park Place, Atlanta, GA 30303
Attendees will see an overview of what role lawyers and non lawyers have played in providing support for recent protests. Participants will be able to select from the following training sessions:
-Pro-Bono legal representation (Must be licensed to practice law in Georgia)
-Legal Observer (No legal training or education required)
-Jail Support (No legal training or education required)
-Pre-protest Legal Training (Must be licensed to practice law in Georgia)