Welcome!

Hi – welcome to the website for Fists Up Legal, the independent collective of lawyers, law students, legal workers, and activists who are working closely with the National Lawyers Guild to provide legal support for the Black Live Matter actions in the Bay Area. See below for our latest updates, or explore the site for useful information!

Changes, & how to request legal support

Fists Up Legal Collective is in a transition process. We are very proud of our intensive legal support and community education work over the past four months and are in a process of deciding our best role and capacity in the current moment. We will post further information later this month.
Don’t worry, legal support is available from the National Lawyers Guild, nlgsf.org, as always. Legal support requests to the NLG are shared with Fists Up Legal Collective members. To request demo legal support, please fill out the online form at http://nlgsf.org/form/legal-support-request as far in advance as possible. It is not necessary to share secure action details on the form, you can ask to come in, or contact the NLG by phone, 415-285-5067 x 6. Be aware that requests are not picked up outside of staff hours and that the NLG legal hotline, 415-285-1011, is only activated by request. As with Fists Up, the ability to meet legal needs depends on volunteer availability. Please read this handout which explains what the NLG Demonstrations Committee does, and what it needs organizers to do, for successful legal support:  www.nlgsf.org/sites/default/files/2012WorkingWithNLG.pdf

Charges not filed for 12/8 I-80 Mass Arrest

Charges were not filed for over 200 people who had arraignments today (1/6/15) related to the mass arrests that occurred the night of 12/8, early 12/9. The District Attorney said they are still waiting to review police reports before making any charging decisions. This does not mean the cases are dismissed – the DA has up to a year to decide to file misdemeanor charges.

If you were scheduled to have an arraignment today, see here for details on what to do next. Also, please support people who are being charged.  People of color are particularly being singled out for harsh charges. Please come to court to support the Ferguson 3, the #BlackFriday14 and others. To find out when court support is needed and for more info, check out the Bay Area Anti-Represssion Committee. You can also donate to the Bay Area Anti Repression Committee bail fund through that link.

12/30 San Francisco arraignments not charged

SAN FRANCISCO arrestees whose arraignments were scheduled for 12/30 are NOT being charged by the DA. If you are one of those arrested on 11/28 in SF, you do NOT need to go to court on 12/30 and you do NOT need to keep calling the DA to check on the status of charges – you are not being charged. HOWEVER, if you get arrested for similar charges again within a year, the DA says she may charge you for both incidents at that time.

If you are able, please help us continue the legal support ​work by donating to the ​National Lawyers Guild.  Click on the “donate” button here or mail in a check payable to the NLG with “Demo Committee” in the memo line, to NLGSF, 558 Capp Street, SF, CA 94110. Thanks!

Alameda County Arrestees who haven’t been charged

Most people whose ALAMEDA COUNTY arraignments have already occurred have not been charged by the DA. If you are one of them, read this.

In many cases, the Alameda County DA has not filed charges by the date set for arraignment because they have not yet received the police report or other info from the cops. Keep in mind that the DA has up to one year to file charges.

Call the DA’s number in a couple of weeks, and then once a month to find out if they have filed criminal charges against you: 510-268-7500.

But DO NOT agree to go in and talk to the DA about your case! Doing so won’t help you. You have a Fifth Amendment right not to talk to the DA, police, or their investigators. (What if you don’t call to find out about charges? The DA will send you a summons by mail, to the address you gave when cited out or bailed out.)

If you find out you are being charged, call the NLG / Fists Up Legal Hotline right away to let us know: 415-285-1011, if you would like criminal representation from the NLG. (Keep in mind that we may not be able to find volunteer attorneys for everyone, and that in some cases it may be a good idea to go with the Public Defender.)

 We still need help getting in touch with more arrestees. We are missing contact information for many of those arrested. Please spread the word for folks to fill out the confidential form, or call the hotline 415-285-1011 with their info (we’d rather you use the form to keep the hotline free.)

If you were subjected to police misconduct, there’s info from the NLG and a confidential report form here.

If you are able, please help us continue the legal support ​work by donating to the ​National Lawyers Guild.  The attorneys, hotline workers, and legal observers are all working for free, but it costs money to keep the NLG office open, accept collect calls from jail, print out know your rights materials, send out bright green hats to legal observers, and brew coffee for our overnight hotline shifts! Click on the “donate” button here or mail in a check payable to the NLG with “Demo Committee” in the memo line, to NLGSF, 558 Capp Street, SF, CA 94110. Thanks!

Fists Up Legal Updates

We’re just getting started, but here’s some info you should know if you’ve been arrested!


Hi –
This message is from Fists Up Legal, the independent collective of lawyers, law students, legal workers, and activists who are working closely with the National Lawyers Guild to provide legal support for the Black Live Matter actions in the Bay Area. You are receiving this message because we have a record that you were arrested, and we wanted to give you a few updates. First off, thanks for standing up against ​police violence!

What We Do

We’re the folks who have answering the legal support hotline and dispatching the legal observers in the lime-green hats. We have also been recruiting NLG volunteer lawyers to work on getting those being held in jail on more serious charges released, and to work on their cases. We are also trying to provide representation to folks who were ​​mass arrested and cited for generic minor charges, and are willing to be part of a group defense.

What Happens Next?

  • Please check your citation for a court date. This date is called an arraignment, during which the District Attorney can formally bring charges against you. Note – the DA decides your official charges, not the cops who arrested you. ​The DA could decide not to charge you at all, or could give you different charges than those the police put on your citation.
  • We probably won’t know the DA’s decisions about charges prior to the initial court date. Typically, the majority of people arrested at demonstrations are not charged, or if you are charged, the charges are often reduced. If the DA does file charges, we will try to schedule a future court date and discuss strategies for your defense. If charges are not filed, they have a year to bring misdemeanor charges against you.
  • Sometimes the city will send people info directly from the DA’s office about their case (referrals to community courts, notice that it was reduced to traffic court, etc.) If you should receive any notices in the mail, let us know! Do not respond to any of these notices without getting legal advice.
  • It’s your choice to either go with our volunteer attorneys, hire your own attorney, use a public defender, or represent yourself. Whichever option you choose, please keep in mind that your case is your responsibility! Remember: we’re all volunteers. We are trying to track hundreds of cases – help us out by staying on top of yours!
  • A lot of people have been asking what to do about holiday travel plans. If you were part of a mass arrest, you don’t have felony charges, you are certain we have good contact information for you, and you have court on one of the following dates, you don’t need to come to your court date – we will have an attorney appear for you. (Although you are definitely encouraged to come!) Here’s the dates we know we have covered thus far:
    • Alameda County (Oakland/Berkeley): 12/23/14, 12/24/14, 12/26/14, 1/6/15
    • San Francisco: 12/30/14
  • If you were arrested individually, in a smaller group, or have more serious charges, you will need your own individual attorney. Common ‘more serious’ misdemeanor charges include resisting (148), vandalism (594), and assault (243). The NLG is trying hard to recruit volunteer lawyers but may not be able to find lawyers for everyone, so you may need to use a public defender, or find your own attorney. If the NLG is not able to represent you, we will do our best to provide information and help the arrestees and non-NLG lawyers coordinate with each other and the public defenders.
  • If you experienced police misconduct or injuries, go here for info from the NLG.

We Need Your Help!

  • Make sure we have your info! We’ve setup an online form to help us collect important information from arrestees. Please fill it out if you haven’t already called us with all of your information. It’s at https://forms.fistsup.info . (Don’t worry – we absolutely will not share your info with anyone except your attorney).
  • We need help getting in touch with more arrestees. We are missing contact information for many of those arrested, and we know there are folks who were arrested that we don’t know about. Please forward this email along, spread the word, and encourage folks to fill out the above form or call the hotline with their info. (We prefer folks fill out the form to keep to hotline free).
  • If you are able, please help us continue the legal support ​work by donating to the ​National Lawyers Guild.  The attorneys, hotline workers, and legal observers are all working for free, but it costs money to accept collect calls from jail, print out know your rights materials, send out bright green hats to legal observers, and brew coffee for our overnight hotline shifts! Checks can be made payable to the NLG with “Demo Committee” in the memo line and sent to NLGSF, 558 Capp Street, SF, CA 94110; or click on the “donate” ​button here.

We’ll be updating this website with additional information as we get it!