Be a watchful eye at protests: Legal observer training coming up

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Updated at 8:43 p.m. Monday, April 19:

The Kansas chapter of the National Lawyers Guild will soon offer three sessions of legal observer training for those who are interested in police accountability and protecting First Amendment rights, according to the organization.

Legal observers witness, document and deter unconstitutional conduct by law enforcement during demonstrations, civil disobedience and other forms of public political speech, according to the guild.

“The Legal Observer program is part of a comprehensive system of legal support by our Mass Defense Committee designed to enable people to express their political views as fully as possible without unconstitutional disruption or interference by the police and with the fewest possible consequences from the criminal justice system,” according to the organization. “The presence of Legal Observers may serve as a deterrent to unconstitutional behavior by law enforcement during a demonstration.”

No legal training is necessary, according to the guild. The sessions are open to anyone, though registration is required.

Upcoming training dates are:

• 7 p.m. Thursday, April 22: Environmental Activist edition with Austin Spillar, policy associate with the ACLU of Kansas

• Noon Saturday, May 1: Workers Rights edition with Melissa Stiehler, advocacy director at Loud Light

• 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 18: Legal observer training with Nichole Lee, campaign manager with Progeny

Sign up for one of the three trainings via Participants need to complete and return a screening form and confidentiality agreement ahead of the training. The form is available through each of the event signup pages. If you have questions, email the guild at

Why the confidentiality agreement?

Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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