Criminal Defense for Political Activists: A Lawyer’s Solidarity with the Movement

By Bina Ahmad
a protestor confronts a police officer

a protestor confronts a police officer

For those of us who have had the privilege (whether class, race, gender, or general societal privilege) to attend law school and become licensed attorneys, we have a political and moral duty to use that privilege, power, and knowledge of the law to protect our communities from the crushing might of the state. One of the most violent and powerful arms of state power is the criminal system: the power to cage human beings and deprive them of their liberty. If we truly believe in solidarity, we must use and share our knowledge of a complex, oppressive system with those it seeks to incarcerate, while also checking our privilege as attorneys. We bring a certain important skill set to movement solidarity work, but these skills do not give us authority over movement work—rather, we are another tool in the toolbox. We stand shoulder to shoulder with these communities in these struggles, and it is our duty to do so humbly and keep the most vulnerable at the center of these fights against state repression.

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