Category Archives: Member & Chapter Activities

David Gespass to speak on police militarization and misconduct at University of Arkansas Fayetteville

David Gespass

David Gespass

The University of Arkansas Student Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild will present a talk by MLTF member David Gespass on November 18. The title of the talk is “When the Thin Blue Line Becomes Delta Force: Rights in the Crosshairs” and it will address police militarization, police misconduct and human rights, both in the US and abroad.

Gespass has written an opinion piece for this website, “Locals have no love for occupying armies, whether in Baghdad or Ferguson” which addressed the events in Ferguson, Missouri, surrounding the killing of Michael Brown there in August of this year.

He had this to say about the topic of his talk:

With increased militarization, the police become more of an occupying force, hostile to the community and serving other hostile forces. Internationally, it’s US imperialism. Within the country, it’s the monopolists. And, when you get right down to it, they are just different names for the same things and people. I’d note that the rising repression in poor communities, especially communities of color and, most especially, poor African-American communities, corresponds to increasing disparity in wealth and greater hopelessness that people can actually make progress through hard work. The result is that there is more of a threat of rebellion and a need to suppress the threat ever more with the stick rather than the carrot.

David began his law practice in Washington, DC, in 1971; his current practice at Gespass and Johnson, a firm established with his wife Kathy Johnson, also an MLTF member, is located in Birmingham, Alabama.

Mr. Gespass’ considerable accomplishments include:

  • In the 1970s, he worked in Yokosuka and Okinawa, Japan, with the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Office, where he assisted US Marines in resisting the Vietnam War.
  • He is the immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild.
  • He served as editor-in-chief of the Guild Practitioner (now NLG Review), the Guild’s intellectual journal.
  • He was a founder, and serves on the steering committee, of the Military Law Task Force and has been a member of the advisory board of the National Police Accountability Project since its founding in 1999.
  • He’s a member of the organizing committee for the Southern Human Rights Organizers Conference, to be held in Savannah, Georgia, December 12-14, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he will be teaching a course in human rights during the upcoming term.

New book by MLTF member Marjorie Cohn examines military drones and other targeted killing

The latest book by longtime MLTF member Marjorie Cohn — who is also past president of the National Lawyers Guild — is due for release on October 30 and is now available for pre-order from the publisher and book stores/distributors. The book provides an examination of the Obama administration policy of using drones and other methods in targeted killings off the battlefield.

MLTF provides GI Rights trainers for Coffee Strong

MLTF will be providing trainers for two GI Rights training workshops at Coffee Strong in December. Coffee Strong is a GI Rights coffeehouse and resource center near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, and also is one of the member groups providing volunteer lay counseling on the GI Rights Hotline.

Executive Director Kathy Gilberd, along with Seattle area attorney and MLTF member David Miner, will conduct a two-day introductory GI Rights hotline training, then Kathy will lead an advanced workshop on discharge upgrades.

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MLTF works hand in hand with GIRN at 2013 GI Rights Network Conference

Kathy Gilberd of MLTLF and Lenore Yarger participate in a panel discussion at the 2013 GI Rights Network Conference. Photo by Siri Margerin.

Kathy Gilberd of MLTLF and Lenore Yarger participate in a panel discussion at the 2013 GI Rights Network Conference

The 2013 GI Rights Network conference, held in Santa Cruz, CA, from March 7 through 10, once again was an opportunity to witness the strong bonds between MLTF and the network of (mostly) lay volunteers that staff the GI Rights Hotline with self-directed groups across the US.

It’s always a time not just for sharing skills and knowledge, but checking in with friends and colleagues working in the broader movement for GI Rights.

MLTF Executive Director Kathy Gilberd is as invaluable to GIRN volunteers as she is to those of us in the Task Force, and the warm, grateful reception she gets from conference attendees each year is witness to this reality.

In addition to working on some element of conference planning each year, she leads or co-leads numerous workshops and sits on several panels on multiple issues. Plus, she runs the MLTF literature table, which also offers, for a modest donation, the jewelry and knitted scarves she has created throughout the year. While other MLTF members attend GIRN conferences, provide their expertise on panels, and often lead workshops, to hotline workers, Kathy is the face and voice of MLTF and they always express a great deal of regard and gratitude for her, and thus MLTF’s, contributions.

According to Kathy, this year “attendees included a mix of current counselors and new ones — mostly IVAW members who attended a pre-conference basic training seminar (and most of whom will work with the Coffee Strong/GIRN group or with Bay Area GIRN). We had good attendance from MLTF attorneys and counselors, including attorneys from the Bay Area and our co-chairs from San Jose, and a couple of lawyers from the East Coast.”

Mario and Kimberly Rivera

Iraq War Resister Kimberly Rivera sentenced to 14 months in military prison after deportation by Harper government

This press release was sent out a short time ago by the War Resisters Support Campaign of Canada

Iraq War Resister Kimberly Rivera sentenced to 14 months in military prison after deportation by Harper government

TORONTO—On Monday afternoon, during a court-martial hearing at Fort Carson, Colorado, Kimberly Rivera was sentenced to 14 months in military prison and a dishonourable discharge after publicly expressing her conscientious objection to the Iraq War while in Canada.

Under the terms of a pre-trial agreement, she will serve 10 months of that sentence.