A history of civil rights advocacy and action 

Since our inception in 1968, we have been guided by the belief that everyone
—regardless of race, class, or legal status—deserves equal treatment under the law.

We March With Selma! Photo by Stanley Wolfson
Photo Credit: By Stanley Wolfson, New York World Telegram & Sun, via Wikimedia Commons.

Founded to address racial and economic injustice

Inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy and devastated by their dual assassinations in 1968, members of the San Francisco Bar Association founded the San Francisco Lawyers’ Committee for Urban Affairs. Headed by President Richard C. Dinkelspiel and Robert H. Fabian, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Bank of America, the group’s goal was to enlist the local legal community to advocate for and ensure the enforcement of new civil rights legislation.

Today we advocate for the numerous civil rights issues that impact our communities

By the 1970s, LCCRSF attorneys drafted fair housing ordinances, developed financing arrangements for black retailers, and provided assistance to black teens in the juvenile justice system. Today we’ve expanded our commitment to address issues such as housing, voting, employment, social services, education, economic security, and fair treatment within the criminal justice system. 

SIREN Rally at San Jose City Hall, March 5, 2018.
SIREN Rally at San Jose City Hall.

Key Victories

Parkmerced Discriminatory Housing

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling
1973

Conferred standing under the 1968 Civil Rights Act for existing tenants of the Parkmerced neighborhood in San Francisco to challenge discriminatory housing practices.

Integrating SF Unified School District

U.S. District Court Consent Decree
1981

Required the San Francisco Unified School District to implement a specific plan for integrating schools and improving the quality of public education at all levels.

First SF Women Firefighters

U.S. District Court Injunctive Orders and Consent Decree
1987

Resulted in the hiring of the first San Francisco women firefighters and hiring and promotional goals for people of color and women within the San Francisco Fire Department.

Police Brutality Clinic

1993

LCCRSF Thurgood Marshall Fellow Van Jones started the Bay Area Police Watch, one of the first police brutality hotlines in the country. 

Protecting the California
Voting Rights Act

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling
2007

Protected the California Voting Rights Act against claims against its constitutionality, resulting in the U.S. Court of Appeals upholding the Act and the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to reverse the ruling.

Day Laborers’ Rights

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling
2011

In a victory for immigrants and constitutional rights in public spaces, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional an ordinance in a southern California town that prevented day laborers on public sidewalks from soliciting work from passing drivers.

Fair Hiring Practices

San Francisco Board of Supervisors
2014

Passed the Fair Chance Act that strengthened and expanded the City’s current fair hiring policies and removed unnecessary barriers to stable housing and employment for individuals with a conviction record.

End License Suspensions for Failure to Pay

2017 & 2018

Due to LCCRSF’s coalition and advocacy work, California became the first state to repeal the law that suspended residents’ driver’s licenses for unpaid traffic tickets. After LCCRSF and its partners filed a lawsuit, the DMV reinstated over half a million licenses. 

Public Banking Act

Passed AB 8572019

This first in the nation bill, requires local agencies to establish public banks, subject to approval by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Conditions of Confinement in Immigrant Detention

U.S. District Court Ruling
2020

A historic victory setting a constitutional baseline for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol detention facilities in the Tuscon Sector and across the country. The court order overhauled the way the agency detains people in its custody, including requiring facilities provide basic needs like nutritious food and a bed.

Reparations for Separated Families

Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) Complaints
2020

Co-led a national mass litigation collaborative to represent every family forcibly separated at government hands under the Trump Administration. Filed over 260 administrative complaints, seeking monetary damages, immigration relief, and deterrence from future government abuses.   

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