Document Type


Publication Title


Publication Date



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.

Included in

Law Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.