First summer lecture focuses on activism in Trump era

Three panelists kicked off our summer lecture series June 13 with discussion of how their activism has changed during the Trump administration.

Matt Nelson, executive director of Presente

“This is a really exciting time in terms of legal connection with movement building,” said Matt Nelson, executive director of Presente. “Cycles of organizing are happening so much more quickly.”

Also participating in “Resisting Together: Strength in Diversity” were Cat Brooks, interim director of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and Elica Vafaie, an attorney and program director with the Asian Law Caucus. Legal Aid at Work attorney Mana Barari moderated the event.

Join us live on Facebook for our next lecture June 20 at noon, “Defending Disabilities: Rights in the Trump Era.” The lecture will take place in our office at 180 Montgomery St.  For a flier of the lecture series (screen-reader-accessible), click here

Cat Brooks, interim director of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild

“Obama is smooth and soothe; Trump is smash and grab,” Brooks said. “Obama deported more people than any president before him, but he did it with a smile on his face. Trump did it straight up: ‘This is what’s happening.’ Radical oppression requires a radical response. This is a time for us to be thinking outside of the box.”

The panelists then discussed how important lawyers are to their work.

“We need more lawyers and legal workers to learn the craft,” Brooks said. “We have 12 open cases right now and all of those cases need legal representation. Where are we going to get that from?”

Elica Vafaie, an attorney and program director with the Asian Law Caucus

Vafaie said, however, that “the law is not the end-all be-all.”

“You go to court and you win a case, and at the end of your day, your client or community has suffered tremendously, has pains and gaps that just cannot be filled by winning the court case,” she said.

Here is a recap of the event, including live tweets and a video:

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