With each passing month, Philadelphia mobilizes against racist police violence in greater and greater numbers. Up Against the Law is committed to providing legal observing for demonstrators and Know Your Rights training for organizers and communities as this movement continues to grow.
Here is a brief snapshot of the support UATL has provided over the past few weeks.
In Solidarity with Baltimore
Since the murder of Freddie Gray in mid-April, thousands have poured into the streets of Baltimore, defied curfew, and actively resisted military occupation and hyper-aggressive policing daily. Thousands more have stood with Baltimore in cities across the country. Up Against the Law has assisted these efforts in both Philadelphia and Baltimore.
On April 30, the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice, with others, mobilized over 1,500 demonstrators for a “Philly is Baltimore” solidarity march that shut down Philadelphia’s streets for hours. Nine observers with Up Against the Law accompanied the march, documented the provocatively aggressive police response (including uncontrolled horses and pepper bombs), and coordinated jail support for those arrested during the demonstration. Up Against the Law will continue to support anyone subjected to violence or arrest while resisting police oppression.
On May 2, the collective answered a general call for legal observers from local organizers in Baltimore at a mass rally demanding justice for Freddie Gray. Seven members of the collective observed actions throughout the day, including a post-curfew march in West Baltimore.
At the peaceful post-curfew march, police armed with shotguns, armored tactical units, and riot gear arrested two collective members and nine other supporters from Philadelphia, along with dozens of other demonstrators.
In true goon spirit, the police targeted legal observers and street, zip-tied one protester so tightly that she screamed in excruciating pain for over 20 minutes before being unbound, and failed to buckle-in several protesters after placing them in a police van—the same malicious ‘oversight’ that contributed to Freddie Gray’s death. Their actions displayed blatant racism and sexism, as the brunt of this brutality was inflicted upon the black womyn arrested; these womyn were among the last to be released Sunday.
In unambiguous violation of habeas corpus, several of those arrested, including one collective member, were held for more than 24 hours. Reports on the ground indicate that Baltimore has consistently failed to release individuals within 24 hours, which is the maximum amount individuals may be legally held without charge.
Moreover, many protesters have been jailed for days as they, their families, and organizers struggle to meet bail that towers into tens of thousands of dollars.
While Baltimore organizers have raised significant sums to put towards bail and legal support, these funds have already been largely exhausted. If possible, we ask that you contribute to the Baltimore United Bail and Legal Fund at:
The fund has been organized by Baltimore United, a group of local organizers and community leaders.
The collective, in conjunction with a group of student programmers from Bryn Mawr College, has just finalized an application for Android phones.
The core function of the app enables users to notify the collective or a designated person that they have been arrested with the press of a button, before locking down the phone to prevent police from accessing it. In a system where people are detained for hours—sometimes days—without contact with loved ones or comrades, the application will help the collective and community organize jail support in both political and day-to-day situations.
The app also offers step-by-step instructions for a variety of police encounters, and directions and a video function for legal observing.
More detailed information on how to download and use the app will be provided in the coming days– be sure to check back!
We are currently working on a port for iPhones. If you are able to help us with this, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to the Bryn Mawr students who designed, programmed, and tested this application!
On March 19, community members disrupted a town hall at the Lawncrest Recreation Center in Northeast Philadelphia—attended by DA Seth Williams and Police Commissioner Ramsey—to protest the DA’s decision not to file charges against the officers who murdered Brandon Tate-Brown on December 15 in Mayfair, and the Commissioner’s refusal to release the names of the officers involved. Philadelphia Police attacked the community members, arresting 10.
Up Against the Law was there providing legal observing during the attack, assisted in jail support while the Philly 10 were held, and has continued to offer legal support to these courageous community members during the litigation process. We are committed to the Philly 10 until they have all been cleared of charges manufactured to conceal this instance of police brutality.
The Philly 10’s trial date has been set for June 10 at 1301 Filbert St.
More details about the time and courtroom will be coming in the next few weeks. The Philly Coalition for REAL Justice has issued a call for folks to come out in support of the Philly 10 at the trial. Up Against the Law encourages everyone who is able to meet this call– court support is both a crucial display of political solidarity and an important source of empowerment for those facing the criminal “justice” system.
Know Your Rights/Stop Snitching on Yourself Trainings
A crucial aspect of political resistance and, for many of us, going about our daily lives, is understanding how to use your rights to your advantage in encounters with the police.
While Up Against the Law has no illusions about the state and police’s lack of respect for these rights, we also recognize that folks who are equipped with knowledge of their rights are better empowered when they face the police. To this end, the collective offers Know Your Rights trainings for any interested groups.
Contact us at email@example.com if you would like to organize a training.
In April, the collective conducted two trainings for TEACH (Treatment Education Activists Combating HIV) Outside classes, a project of Philadelphia FIGHT to train formerly incarcerated individuals who are HIV positive to be peer educators and activists in their communities. Many participants shared their own stories of unjust treatment by the police, and there was so much knowledge in the room already that many of the questions raised were answered by other members of the class. We wrapped up our training with a discussion of the limits of what knowing our rights can do for us and the importance of pairing self and community education with fighting for change! We’re grateful to this dynamic group for sharing their stories and knowledge with us and with each other.
The collective also organized a training for the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice in April.
In addition, the collective will run a training for 7th graders at John B. Stetson Elementary conducting a project on police brutality with Need In Deed mid-May.