Civil Liberties Defense Center’s mission focuses on defending and upholding civil liberties through education, outreach, litigation, legal support, and assistance. CLDC strives to preserve the strength and vitality of the Bill of Rights and the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as to protect freedom of expression.
CLDC’s projects educate people about their rights and why their rights are important, we defend front line activists, and expose and confront the persistent erosion of our civil liberties and the Bill of Rights. We believe knowledge is power, when, people have the tools and understanding to take action and demand that the government honor all their rights, then grassroots activism will be the best chance of exacting necessary change. CLDC educates, supports, and defends grassroots activists.
In 2003, Lauren Regan, CLDC’s Executive Director and staff attorney, in combination with a group of environmental and social justice activists and attorneys, founded the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC). The creation was an urgent response to a growing and increasingly crucial need for education and legal assistance within the progressive change movement in the post-September 11th era in which decrees like the PATRIOT Act were put in place. CLDC immediately developed a number of public education and outreach programs, offering low and reduced-rate legal assistance to activists, conducting national media interviews and commentary, and monitoring and challenging repressive legislation in the courts.
Our legal know-how, ability to effectively translate legalese, and litigation expertise, provide a foundation in which our constituents can rely on to tackle the tough issues they are confronting. Additionally, the trainings we organize weave together to build activists’ confidence and awareness of what to expect from interactions with law enforcement or counter-protesters.
Check out our 10th Anniversary video to hear a little more about the work we do and to hear from the people we work with:
- Represented over 2,000 environmental, animal and social rights nonviolent civil disobedience protestors
- Coordinated the successful defense of Shell No! Activists, who used civil disobedience to challenge Shell’s Arctic oil refinery operations, against a military tribunal — winning 4 of 5 cases outright and settling the fifth
- Since 2010, successfully defended six citizen journalists facing empty charges for observing government conduct in public, including one where all charges were dropped against an individual who filmed a roundup of wild buffalo outside Yellowstone National Park
- Successfully represented local activist Perry Patterson, a mother of two draft-age sons, who was arrested for shouting “No!” at a Cheney rally after the Vice–President stated that an escalation of the war in Iraq was necessary
Civil Rights Litigation:
- Successfully aided the Winnemem Wintu tribe in gaining back their right to perform a traditional coming of age ceremony in peace, and continued to provide legal support for the tribe’s fight for sacred spaces and water rights
- Won a major precedent-setting victory in civil courts, upholding the rights of Occupy Eugene activists to assemble on federal property for the purpose of peaceful protest
- Assisted Tar Sands Blockade activists in obtaining documents exposing the FBI’s close relationship with Transcanada (the corporation responsible for the Keystone Pipeline), in using government spies to infiltrate and subsequently undermine the activist organization
- Won a civil rights lawsuit against the Eugene Police Department for their use of excessive force against an environmental activist who attempted to lawfully film an officer during a confrontation
- Fought against the Green Scare — the government’s unconstitutional attack on environmental and animal rights activists — by conducting research, participating in public outreach and education, and assisting with the legal defense of non-cooperating defendants; CLDC also provided attorney referrals for various individuals and assisted their attorneys with various legal issues
- Secured the right of Oregon prisoners to practice the Rastafarian religion by allowing them to wear dreadlocks while incarcerated
- Represented a Portland–area Mosque in a successful block of the FBI’s first–ever attempt to subpoena religious records
- Won a major victory in the Oregon Court of Appeals by defending the constitutional right to protest, arguing that a state law was unconstitutional under the federal constitution; Court struck down the “Interfering with Agricultural Operations” statute in its entirety and then exonerated over sixty forest activists that the CLDC represented in the courts!
- Successfully settled a case against the Klamath County (OR) Jail demanding better policy, as well as obtaining a fair settlement for the family of a Native American man murdered while in custody
Trainings and Legal Education:
- In 2016 alone, conducted 300 Know Your Rights (KYR) trainings across the nation (in-person and live-streamed), with approximately 2,000 in attendance
- Thus far trained over 200 bilingual trainers to provide KYR trainings in Spanish and developed customized KYR workshops and materials for Spanish and Arabic speakers, undocumented peoples, youth activists, and as transgendered individuals
- Developed and performed numerous public trainings and presentations all over the country on school-to-prison pipeline, grand jury process, cop-watching/legal observing, and tech/security culture within activist organizations
- Offered online trainings educating activists on how to submit Freedom of Information Act requests, the results of which detailed systematic, long-term government surveillance, infiltration, and intentional disruption of grassroots climate justice campaigns
- Developed action- and location-specific legal primers and other resources for the Break Free and Dakota Access Pipeline protests
- Significantly expanded the CLDC’s online, free resource library to offer trainings and support for individuals and groups located anywhere in the world
- Created the annual Next Generation Climate Justice Action Camp for teens, focusing on empowering youth leaders from diverse backgrounds to plan and implement their own actions
The Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) does not discriminate with respect to employment, membership or provision of services on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, gender, disability, socio-economic background, age, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation, national origin, ancestry, status with regards to public assistance or immigration status. The CLDC is committed to diversity in staff, leadership and membership. Outreach, recruitment, and hiring practices shall reflect our commitment to actively developing the skills of a diverse community.