Law students flock to protect George Floyd protesters’ legal rights

A crowd of black and white people listen to a black speaker with a microphone.

When law Professor Perry Moriearty put a call out for U of M law students and recent graduates to help individuals arrested protesting the tragic killing of George Floyd, she had no idea that, only four hours later, she’d have 100-plus volunteers register for training.

“It was incredible,” says Moriearty, who had asked only a handful of students to get the word out.

The virtual training session prepared students to staff a legal support hotline run by the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis and the National Lawyers Guild’s Minnesota Chapter. The hotline helps individuals arrested while protesting the killing of George Floyd—and their families—get the legal and emotional support they need. The students perform intake on the calls and work with lawyers to provide sorely needed legal support. 

“To me, it is mind-boggling that society is upset over the response, when that response is in reply to centuries of blatant injustice, including what we all witnessed on May 25,” says volunteer Matt DiTullio, a 2020 law graduate. “When folks are arrested, many for their first time, it's a terrifying experience. I hope to let arrestees know that we are going to do everything we can to help them … and they will not be facing these charges alone.” 

Also, through a partnership with the Minnesota Freedom Fund, protesters who need financial help with bail can receive assistance.