Covid-19 Mutual Aid, Antiauthoritarian Activism, and the Law

60 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2021 Last revised: 11 Feb 2022

See all articles by Michael Haber

Michael Haber

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law

Date Written: July 15, 2021


As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe in the spring of 2020, thousands of grassroots, participatory, and often social movement-connected community efforts to help feed, shelter, and care for one another through the crisis were launched, many of which identified their projects as “mutual aid.” This article presents an overview of mutual aid and gives an introduction to the legal issues being confronted by mutual aid groups. It begins by presenting a history of mutual aid practices, principally in the U.S. context, situating mutual aid within the political framework of anti-authoritarian activism. It then gives an overview of common legal issues being confronted by COVID-19 mutual aid groups, including questions related to: (1) risk, liability, and entity formation and structure; and (2) raising and distributing money and goods, and how these activities may be taxed. It concludes by arguing that mutual aid groups should not limit their visions to short-term disaster response but instead seek to maintain and grow their networks to build long-term grassroots power.

Keywords: Law and Social Change, Law and Social Movements, Movement Lawyering, Mutual Aid, Non-Profit Law

JEL Classification: L3, L30, L31, L38

Suggested Citation

Haber, Michael, Covid-19 Mutual Aid, Antiauthoritarian Activism, and the Law (July 15, 2021). 67 Loyola L Rev. 61 (2020), Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Michael Haber (Contact Author)

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States

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