More than 500 lawyers, law students, and legal workers from across the U.S. came together in Chicago for the 77th annual convention of the National Lawyers Guild, a national bar association whose members use the law to advance social justice and support progressive social movements. As a follow up to last year’s convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico was still very much on the NLG’s agenda. The Guild reiterated its historical support for Puerto Rican independence and the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoners in a resolution which calls on President Obama to immediately release Oscar López Rivera. Puerto Rican Cultural Center Executive Director José López spoke at a workshop on gentrification. At the NLG International Committee reception, former Puerto Rican political prisoners Luis Rosa, Edwin Cortés and Ricardo Jiménez were warmly received as special guests. At the Puerto Rico Subcommittee meeting, National Boricua Human Rights Network representatives Alyssa Villegas and Matt McCanna spoke about the campaign for Oscar’s release and encouraged NLG members to collect letters to the president for Oscar’s release. Additionally, in solidarity with human rights efforts on the island, various NLG entities, including The United People of Color Caucus, the Queer Caucus, and the International Committee signed on to a letter supporting pending legislation to enable same sex couples, regardless of their marital status, to adopt children.
Later that day, despite a damaging thunderstorm that ended just as the tour began, 30 conference attendees were led on a tour of Paseo Boricua by José López and Alejandro Molina. The conference attendees were clearly thrilled with the community that has been built on Paseo Boricua and the transformation of Division Street into a street of hope and possibilities. Some of the participants said this was the highlight of the convention.
Both activities were sponsored by The National Lawyer’s Guild The United People of Color Caucus.