Reed Magazine February 2003
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defending indigents,
activists, and anarchists,
attorney and civil disobedience adviser
katya komisaruk ’78
is a retrovirus
within our legal system

By Miriam Posner ’01
Photos by Allison Sexton

It’s hard work being an anarchist lawyer.

Demand is high, supply is low, and the rewards—at least the tangible kind—are few. Fortunately, Katya Komisaruk ’78 is well equipped to handle her occupation’s unique challenges.

Komisaruk works at the Just Cause Law Collective, a nonprofit Oakland, California, law firm that specializes in defending and advising protestors engaged in civil disobedience tactics. She’s perhaps best known for her successful defense of hundreds of demonstrators arrested during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle.

A Harvard-educated lawyer, Komisaruk can speak with authority on the repercussions of civil disobedience. Her empathy for imprisoned activists and her vocal lack of faith in the American legal system are grounded in the two years she spent in prison for vandalizing nuclear weapons navigational equipment at Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1987.

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Reed Magazine February