The marchers head down Pennsylvania Avenue with the U.S. Capitol in the background. Native Nations March. Native nations gather this week to stand up for indigenous rights. Thousands march from the Army Corps of Engineers to Lafayette Park, in front of the White House, where a rally is held. Photo: Amanda J Mason/Greenpeace

About the "protect the protest" task force

We believe that free speech, freedom of assembly, and peaceful dissent are fundamental pillars of democracy.

A growing number of corporations, law firms, and individuals are attempting to intimidate public watchdogs with a range of repressive tactics, notably “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation” (SLAPPs).

SLAPPs masquerade as legitimate civil lawsuits, but are an abuse of the court system and a threat to democracy. For decades, powerful interests have filed these meritless lawsuits, knowing they can’t win but hoping to intimidate and silence public watchdogs.

Abusing the courts to silence free speech is part of a global trend. Attempts to close civic space have intensified around the world as those who speak truth to power are harassed, jailed, and even killed. Legislatures are passing laws to criminalize protests. Journalists are being restricted in their ability to report on sensitive issues.

Governments are not the only ones responsible for suppressing free speech, freedom of assembly, and dissent. Corporations and billionaire bullies are using SLAPPs to try to limit the First Amendment rights of their critics.

A new task force of organizations that have long dealt with SLAPP threats is combining our expertise and collective power to protect free speech in a new public campaign. An attack on one is now an attack on all.

Our task force includes experienced lawyers, journalists, communications professionals, and activists. The threat we face is serious, and so is our resolve to fight back.

We stand together as one to expose courtroom bullying, and protect the right to boldly speak the truth.

We provide expert support to the targets of SLAPPs, emboldening public watchdogs to continue their efforts with confidence.

Our approach is threefold:

● Building Resilience to SLAPPs - We provide resources and training for civil society organizations, community leaders, journalists, and the broader public on how to best protect themselves from SLAPPs and what to do if they’re targeted. This includes a network of attorneys to defend those facing SLAPPs, especially individuals and small organizations with extremely limited resources.

● Exposing SLAPPs and Those Who File Them - We draw on our own organizations’ campaigning, communications, and legal expertise to support public interest advocates and watchdogs targeted by SLAPPs. This includes campaigning against the biggest SLAPP offenders, as well as legal defense where resources allow.

● Campaigning on Strategic Issues - When a specific SLAPP poses a broader threat to civil society or to democracy, we mobilize our collective resources to protect the rights to free speech and peaceful protest. Likewise, when opportunities arise to advance anti-SLAPP policies or laws, we engage in close collaboration with other stakeholders.

Together, we defend public watchdogs from this threat to democracy, while using our collective power to deter SLAPP bullies by exposing their tactics. As a result, those who file SLAPPs will not only lose in court – they’ll lose in the court of public opinion as well.

American Civil Liberties Union
Amnesty International
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for International Environmental Law
Civil Liberties Defense Center
Climate Defense Project
EarthRights International
Electronic Frontier Foundation
First Amendment Project
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Human Rights Watch
International Corporate Accountability Roundtable
Mosquito Fleet
Natural Resources Defense Council
Rainforest Action Network
Public Citizen
Democracy depends on a strong civil society and a free press to speak truth to power. For too long, those with power have used SLAPPs as a way to silence their critics. We need your help to end this threat once and for all.