Mississippi Protester Support

Welcome to the Mississippi Protester Legal Support Site! Together with our partners, including Peoples’ Advocacy Institute and Black With No Chaser, Mississippi Center for Justice is here to support Mississippians who are taking action to oppose and transform cultures of injustice in America. We’re doing this in four ways: (1) training Legal Observers; (2) coordinating the work of Legal Observers at demonstrations; (3) providing Know Your Rights information to demonstrators; (4) coordinating, where possible, legal representation of protestors unlawfully seized, arrested, or who are unlawfully denied permits. Email us at protestsupport@mscenterforjustice.org if you have any questions not answered here.

MCJ has run a successful statewide Legal Observer Program since 2020; we have trained Legal Observers and sent them out across the state to help monitor and protect the civil rights of racial justice and civil rights protesters. Legal Observers gather evidence in the event that protesters engaged in constitutionally protected speech activities are criminally charged.  They also gather evidence in the event that counter-protesters break the law to threaten or disrupt the anti-racist or abortion rights advocacy work of Mississippians, who are often under-protected by law enforcement. We also routinely field questions from community-based organizations about protest-related regulations and laws.

 

How Can We Support You?

 

  1. Want to Become a Legal Observer? Email protestsupport@mscenterforjustice.org.
  2. Want Legal Observers at your demonstration or event? Email protestsupport@mscenterforjustice.org.
  3. Want to Volunteer as a Trained Legal Observer? Email protestsupport@mscenterforjustice.org.
  4. Want to Know Your Rights at a Protest? This One Drive folder contains lots of helpful information.
  5. Want to get in touch to discuss an event in which you think your rights as a protestor were violated?  We can’t guarantee we can coordinate legal representation, but please let us know what happened by emailing us at protestsupport@mscenterforjustice.org.
  6. Want to request legal assistance with a protest you are planning? Email protestsupport@mscenterforjustice.org.

 

What is a Legal Observer?

MCJ provides Legal Observer services to support community members or organizations who are engaging in protected speech activities to fight policies, laws, practices, and systems that perpetuate racial, economic and social injustice in Mississippi. Legal Observers are individuals who volunteer with a legal advocacy organization to observe the demonstrations and document any violations of the rights of demonstrators—while agreeing themselves not to participate as a protester in that particular event. Legal Observers wear vests and/or hats (identifying them as Legal Observers) and purposely position themselves close enough to demonstrators to be able to observe and report on law enforcement activity. They follow the direction of Legal Observer program coordinators and MCJ legal staff. They are trained to accurately document in detail their impressions of any law enforcement action that may have infringed on the legal rights of demonstrators. The goal of having trained Legal Observers at demonstrations is two-fold. First, the presence of explicitly identified Legal Observers may sometimes deter law enforcement or counter-protesters from violating the rights of protesters. Second, having Legal Observer impressions created the day of an event can be critical to successfully enforcing the civil rights of demonstrators in particular situations, especially if time passes between the event and its investigation. To volunteer as a Legal Observer with MCJ, you must have completed our training and agreed to program requirements.

 

 

Why We Support Mississippi Protesters

 

Mission of the Mississippi Center for Justice:

  • Mississippi Center for Justice is a nonprofit, public interest law firm committed to advancing racial and economic justice. Supported and staffed by attorneys and other professionals, the Center develops and pursues strategies to combat discrimination and poverty statewide.

 

Mission of the Peoples’ Advocacy Institute:

  • Realizing the endurance and resourcefulness of marginalized communities, we partner with community members to provide education, training, coaching, investigation, research, advocacy and legal services to assist in defining the structural inequities that cause harm, and together we develop new policies and practices that reduce oppression, and foster self-determination and a more unbiased system.
  • The People’s Advocacy Institute (PAI) is a resource and training incubator for transformative justice in the South. We harness the collective genius of frontline communities most impacted by oppression to develop new policies, institutions and practices that engage people in  the proposal, creation and implementation of laws  that respect the dignity, morality and humanity of communities hardest hit by systemic racism, economic violence, and mass incarceration/criminalization.

 

Mission of Black With No Chaser:

  • BWNC is a solution-oriented multimedia roundtable guided by unapologetic and unfiltered minds that THINK BLACK and LIVE BLACK. Our goal is to document the all-encompassing Black experience, specifically in the United States, but throughout the entire African diaspora by building, sustaining, and protecting a safe platform for Black voices to be heard and understood.

 

For more information please write to protestsupport@mscenterforjustice.org.