News & Politics

These DC Lawyers and Legal Groups Are Offering Free Help to Protesters

Resources for demonstrators facing criminal charges, or who believe police violated their civil rights.

Protesters on June 3 on 16th Street, NW. Photograph by Evy Mages

While protests in DC galvanized by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have been largely peaceful, a week of demonstrations have so far led to more than 300 arrests. An untold number of others have been tear-gassed, hit with rubber bullets, or otherwise injured by law enforcement. A silver lining for protesters here: Washington is home to more lawyers than many entire countries, and a lot of them want to help people now facing criminal charges, or who believe police violated their civil rights.

Protesters who were arrested and now face criminal charges can contact the following resources.

National Lawyers Guild

The country’s largest progressive bar association provides pro bono defense attorneys. It also sends “legal observers” to protests at the request of organizers to help prevent and document police interference. To request a legal observer, email massdef@nlg.org. To request a lawyer, email dcmassdefense@gmail.com.

Law 4 Black Lives DC

This is the DC chapter of a national network that offers legal support for protesters fighting for racial justice. The group provides useful information to demonstrators who’ve been arrested, and connects those who don’t qualify for a public defender to private lawyers who can defend them against criminal charges, or represent them in civil rights lawsuits. If you’ve been arrested, and need a lawyer or just information, call 202-888-1731.

Francisco Mundaca

Mundaca is in private practice with the Spiggle Law Firm in Arlington, where he typically handles employment discrimination cases. But he is now offering to defend peaceful protesters pro bono. The son of Latino immigrants, Mundaca says he has experienced racism first-hand, as well as witnessed it while working as a local prosecutor in low-income communities in New York. After seeing the events of the past week, he says he decided, “It’s time to hit the ground running and walk the walk.” He plans to represent individual protesters for now, but says he’s working on expanding his efforts into a broader initiative long-term. To retain Mundaca, call 202-743-2924.

Protesters who believe they suffered excessive force by law enforcement and want to explore legal action can contact the following organizations.

ACLU of the District of Columbia

On Thursday, the DC arm of the American Civil Liberties Union sued Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and other administration members over the assault on protesters around Lafayette Square. According to its strategic communications director, Suzanne Ito, ACLU-DC is also currently in talks with protesters who were boxed in by police on Swann Street. Other protesters who believe law enforcement violated their rights can email intake@acludc.org.

Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

This local organization joined with the ACLU in Thursday’s lawsuit against Trump, and is also a resource for people who have been hurt while protesting. If you believe you suffered from policing violence, email justice@washlaw.org.

*We will update this post as we learn about additional lawyers and organizations providing legal help to protesters. 

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a possible wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia. Kashino lives in Northeast DC.

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