Tune in to the livestream of the annual Bertha Justice Conference.
Registration has closed for the annual Bertha Justice Conference this year. However, you can tune in from home and watch the live-stream! Portions of the event that will be live-streamed include: The Welcome and Opening Remarks, afternoon Keynote by Phillip Agnew of the Dream Defenders, Closing Remarks by CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren, and our evening Keynote by Harry Belafonte. All panels and some workshops will be recorded and will be available on Bertha’s website.
To view a live-stream of the event, please click here.
This year’s Bertha Justice Conference will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer by profiling global and domestic models of “movement lawyering”–lawyers and organizers working together within grassroots social justice movements to build power. Bertha is honored to spotlight some of the most important movements of our time and the lawyers supporting them including: Stop-and-Frisk in NYC, anti-LGBTQ legislation in Uganda, stand your ground laws in Florida, Guantanamo, torture in Colombia, exploitation of laborers in New Orleans, and the Marikana mineworker massacre in South Africa. The goal is to expose participants to the many different ways lawyers support social movements around the world, and to strategize together about how we can more effectively work for change. The full conference schedule is below:
8:30 – 9:00 a.m.
Registration (Main Lobby)
Breakfast (Outside of Auditorium, Room 2-301)
9:00 – 9:25 a.m.- Welcome: Purvi Shah, Director, Bertha Justice Institute at the Center for Constitutional Rights (Auditorium, Room 2-301)
9:25 – 9:50 a.m.– Opening Remarks: Bill Quigley, Professor, Director of the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University New Orleans. (Auditorium, Room 2-301)
10:00 – 11:45 a.m. Morning Panels
Combating Hate: Challenging U.S. Right Wing Attacks on LGBTQI Movements In Uganda (Room 2/116)
Learn how organizers and lawyers have worked together to challenge rights-erasing attacks in Uganda. In 2012, CCR filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) against Abiding Truth Ministries President Scott Lively, a U.S.-based self-described expert on the “gay movement.” The suit alleges that Lively’s involvement in anti-gay efforts in Uganda, including his active participation in the conspiracy to strip away fundamental rights from LGBTI persons, constitutes persecution. This is the first known Alien Tort Statute (ATS) case seeking accountability for persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
– Moderator: Laura Raymond, Advocacy Program Manager, Center for Constitutional Rights
– Pam Spees, Senior Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights
– Pepe Onziema, Executive Director, Sexual Minorities Uganda
– Kapya Kaoma, Senior Religion and Sexuality Researcher, Political Research Associates
– Holly Richardson, Co-Director, Out Now
The Future of Work: Labor Rights, Retaliation, Corporate Accountability & Worker Organizing (Room 3-301)
As markets continue to become transnational, so too are workers’ organizing strategies. How are workers using the law to defend fundamental labor protections and challenge corporate attacks on the right to organize? What did we learn from the 2012 massacre in Marikana that left 34 striking miners dead? This panel features lawyers and activists who support some of the most vulnerable and visionary workers in the world, including domestic workers, South African miners, communal Mexican landowners, and New York taxi drivers.
– Moderator: Harmony Goldberg, Future of Work Program Manager, Roosevelt Institute
– Alejandra Ancheita, Founding Director, ProDESC (Mexico)
– Nomzamo Zondo, Staff Attorney, Socio-Economic Rights Institute (South Africa)
– Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director, New York Taxi Workers Alliance
–Haeyoung Yoon, Deputy Program Director, National Employment Law Project
Greatest City in the World? Actualizing Civil, Social & Economic Rights New York City(Room 1-205)
New York is often touted as the ‘Greatest City In the World’, but how great is the city for poor and working people? Five local activists and lawyers will dissect the landscape of civil, social and economic rights in NYC, highlighting recent campaign victories and challenges. As we look to the future, what does NYC need to actualize its greatness? And what should be the role of lawyers in helping us get there?
– Moderator: Chaumtoli Huq, General Counsel for Litigation, Public Advocate for the City of New York (not in official capacity)
– Chauniqua Young, Bertha Fellow, Center for Constitutional Rights
– Jennifer Ching, Project Director, Queens Legal Services New York
– Hilary Klein, Chief of Staff, Make the Road New York
– Stephanie Rudolph, Staff Attorney, Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project
Murder By The State: Accountability for Extrajudicial Killings, Occupation, Torture & Drones (Room 3-302)
How can we better use the law to support movements for truth and accountability in the face of state-perpetrated violence? From targeted killings of U.S. citizens abroad, to Colombian struggles to hold U.S. companies responsible for the disappearances and deaths of trade unionists, to crimes against humanity against former president Jean-Claude Duvalier, this panel highlights movements innovating international human rights law.
– Moderator: Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights
– Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
– Soraya Gutiérrez Arguello, Staff Attorney, Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (Colombia)
– Pardiss Kebriaei, Senior Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights
– Hazem Jamjoum, Policy Member, al-Shabaka/ Palestinian Policy Network
50 Years of Youth Movements Since Freedom Summer (Room 3-114)
Around the world, youth are standing up. South African youth are leading the struggle to undo class and race inequalities in education. Black and brown youth-led movements in the US have built powerful national networks that helped win deferred action for immigrant youth facing deportation and bring the Trayvon Martin case into the national consciousness. They are dismantling the cradle-to-prison pipeline, organizing “dream-ins” and other acts of civil disobedience, and demanding citizenship rights. How have today’s youth movements built on the lessons of Freedom Summer, and what do the next 50 years hold for youth organizing?
– Moderator: Steve Williams, Organizer and Co-Founder of LeftRoots
– Ahmad Abuznaid, Legal and Policy Director, Dream Defenders
– Dmitri Holtzman, Executive Director, Equal Education Law Center (South Africa)
– Brad Brockman, General Secretary, Equal Education (South Africa)
– Sofia Campos, Board Co-Chair, United We Dream
Defending the Accused: Storytelling, Community Education & Advocacy for Criminal Defense (Room 2/119)
Criminal defense attorneys who are part of social movements often build their cases with one eye looking far beyond the courtroom. Join criminal practitioners for a session exploring how to service individual clients while also building collective power. In the Bronx, clients can now access a “holistic defense” model in which family support, social work, and civil legal services are woven into criminal defense. Arab-American communities are working with lawyers to develop “community defense strategies” to disrupt the pipeline funneling individuals into the criminal system. Modern day abolitionists are challenging solitary confinement on a macro level while also providing long-term, post-conviction support to prisoners, their families and allies. Can the practice of criminal defense evolve to provide better support to individuals while also challenging the circumstances driving poor people and people of color into the criminal justice system?
– Moderator: Baher Azmy, Legal Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
– Ahmed Ghappour, Visiting Assistant Professor and Director, Liberty, Security, & Technology Clinic, UC Hastings College of the Law
– Kate Rubin, Civil Action Practice Managing Director, Bronx Defenders
– Linda Sarsour, Executive Director, Arab-American Association of NY
– Bret Grote, Co-Founder, Abolitionist Law Center
11:45 – 12:45 p.m. LUNCH (Outside Auditorium)
12:45 – 1:30 p.m. KEYNOTE: Philip Agnew, Executive Director, Dream Defenders(Auditorium, Room 2-301)
1:30 – 1:45 p.m. Break
1:45 – 3:30 p.m. Afternoon Workshops
Embodied Leadership Training (Room 3-301)
Is your leadership aligned with your core principles and values? Do your day-to-day work and actions represent of the kind of world you are striving to create? Often we find ourselves struggling to keep our humanity, our principles, and values at the forefront of our work. The daily stress and trauma of our important work can get the best of us and we find that we longer hold in our centers that which truly fuels are work. This interactive workshop will leave participants with concrete tools and strategies to strengthen their teamwork and leadership skills to ensure that our actions align with our values towards creating more balance in work and lives.
– Rusia Mohiuddin, Leadership Trainer & Somatic Coach, Universal Partnership
Movement Lawyering: Sharpening Our Theory, Deepening Our Practice (Room 3-302)
Despite our best intentions, organizers and activists often recount examples of where legal advocates were in severe conflict, worked at cross purposes, and/or ultimately did more harm than good to political and social movements. In this interactive and participatory workshop, participants will have the opportunity to strengthen their understanding of how to work collaboratively with organizers and activists to build social movements that have the power to win. Specifically, in the workshop participants will: explore the range of roles legal advocates play & the competing tradeoffs of varying approaches; identify the core strategies, tactics, and skills of movement legal work; share real stories of cases/campaigns and constructively reflect on challenges and opportunities; and discuss power & privilege and the importance of an anti-oppression framework to movement legal work.
– Nikki Thanos, Consultant & Trainer, Bertha Justice Institute, Center for Constitutional Rights
– Meena Jagannath, Attorney, Community Justice Project, Florida Legal Services
– Jeena Shah, Cooperating Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights
Palestine 101 for Social Justice Advocates (Room 2-116)
In the US, the Palestinian-Israel conflict has been framed as a national security crisis at worst and an intractable ethno-religious conflict between two peoples at best. While there are indeed national security and ethno-religious implications related to the conflict, this workshop will explore Palestinian social movements through an anti-colonial lens. How has Israel institutionalized Jewish national privilege by law and facilitated the steady and forced removal of Palestinians from within Israel as well as the Occupied Territories? What role can U.S. advocates play in the Palestinian struggle for human rights and equality? Deepen your understanding of Palestinian history, the Nakba, land confiscations, the Apartheid Wall, and international law with trainers committed to equipping you with practical tools for talking about Palestine.
– Noura Erakat, Professor, Attorney, and Human Rights Advocate
– Radhika Sainath, Staff Attorney, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support
Political Economy for Lawyers (Room 2-119)
Social justice lawyers are tasked with representing individuals and communities dealing with the concrete impacts of systemic inequality— be it poor families facing repeated eviction, immigrant workers struggling to get paid, or young people tracked into the prison system. As we watch clients cycle through the legal system and hence our doors, many of us begin to wonder—why is the world the way it is? How do we dismantle the underlying systems of inequality—be it legal, political or economic—that shape our clients’ experiences? This interactive workshop uses case studies to explore how the legal system structures interactions between economic and political forces and how the law is used by the powerful and wealthy to legitimize exploitation and shroud their authority. A political economy approach to law can enable social justice lawyers not to shy away from developing macro-scale perspectives of political, social and economic dynamics and institutions. In particular, the political economy approach can enable the practice of law in ways that question and challenge the underlying distribution of bargaining power within given social, political and economic systems. No matter what kind of law you practice or what setting you work in, take home a new framework for understanding how your work fits into the bigger picture—and how you can more strategically scale up the impact of your work.
– Mazibuko K. Jara, Activist & Scholar
Storytelling, Film & Law (Room 1-205)
Despite the fact that humans communicate and interpret the world in diverse ways, social justice advocates often privilege analysis over narrative. Analysis uses critical reasoning and evidence to examine the world. Narrative uses story and emotion to engage how we experience the world and to expose why we act as we do. Lawyers often use analysis to persuade, despite evidence that people are effectively moved by stories. When it comes to getting people to take action, sometimes a well-reasoned analysis is simply no match for a well-told story. In this workshop, explore techniques for effective storytelling—be it images, words or film—and explore how stories can raise consciousness, mobilize resistance, influence public policy, and sway decision-makers.
– Omar Farah, Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights
– Ibraham Qatabi, Legal Worker, Center for Constitutional Rights
– Aliya Hussain, Legal Worker, Center for Constitutional Rights
– Adam Stofsky, Director, New Media Advocacy Project
Understanding the New Terrain of the Internet (Room 3-114)
The countermeasures utilized by the United States against “national security threats” have constructed a legal and structural framework for a “preventative” paradigm of security that is dependent on mass surveillance capabilities. The consequences range from community profiling, to initiation of law enforcement investigations on the basis of protected speech (such as religious practice or political dissent), to the targeting killing of individuals that do not pose an instant harm to the United States. During this workshop, experts will discuss the rise of the modern surveillance state and what it means for activists and movement lawyers. Drawing on experience in law, technology and activism, the panelists will discuss practical steps that can be taken to protect yourself (and your clients, witnesses and allies) when it comes to mass surveillance, and offer a framework for thinking about privacy on the Internet.
-Ahmed Ghappour, Visiting Assistant Professor and Director of the Liberty, Security, & Technology Clinic, UC Hastings College of the Law
-Nicholas Merrill, Executive Director, The Calyx Institute
-Jacob Appelbaum, Founder, Tor Project
3:30- 3:45 p.m. Break
3:45 – 5:00 p.m. Real Talk: Stories & Reflections from Radical Lawyers
Wind down the day with a reflective and intimate conversation with noted people’s lawyers. Presenters will share with participants about both the personal and political aspects of being an activist and people’s lawyer. Topics for discussion might include career paths and trajectory, reflections on movements past and present, successes and challenges of the work, how to maintain a work/life balance, and what inspires you. Participants will also have time to reflect on what they have learned throughout the day and voice questions about their fears and challenges. Together, we will surface solutions and strategies to maintain a healthy, vibrate and innovative community over the long haul.
Chuck Elsesser, Director, Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services and
Vince Warren, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights.
Facilitated by Alana Greer. (Room 3-301)
Bill Quigley, Professor, Director, Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justiceand the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University New Orleans and
Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
Facilitated by Jeena Shah. (Room 3-302)
Alejandra Ancheita, Founding Director, ProDESC and
Katie Redford, Co-Founder and Co-Director, EarthRights International.
Facilitated by Terri Nilliasca. (Room 3-114)
Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights and
Noura Erakat, Professor, Attorney & Human Rights Advocate.
Facilitated by Nikki Thanos. (Room 1-205)
5:00 – 5:15 p.m. Break
5:15 – 5:30 p.m. Thanks & Closing Remarks, Vince Warren, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights (Auditorium, Room 2-301)
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. KEYNOTE: Mr. Harry Belafonte in conversation with Purvi Shah, Director, Bertha Justice Institute at the Center for Constitutional Rights (Auditorium, Room 2-301)
Click HERE for the livestream.