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.

We are a task force of nonprofit organizations that have long dealt with SLAPP threats. We have combined our expertise and collective power to protect the free speech of public interest advocates in the United States. 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. If you need support, contact us here.

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.

Amazon Watch
American Civil Liberties Union
Amnesty International
Business & Human Rights Resource Center
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
Mosquito Fleet
National Lawyers Guild
Natural Resources Defense Council
Palestine Legal
Portland Rising Tide
Public Citizen
Rainforest Action Network
Sierra Club
Union of Concerned Scientists
Democracy depends on those who are willing to speak truth to power. Let's speak up together: we want to hear your stories and your ideas for ending SLAPPs. Please contact us through the form below or at (Note: Members of the Protect the Protest task force commit to the shared goal of ending SLAPPs. Individual members do not necessarily endorse or participate in every action conducted in the name of the task force.)