This is a re-post from our Circle Mobilizing because Black Lives Matter Compassion Team. It was written by Kris Eden here.
We had a remarkable turnout for Tuesday’s “Know Your Systems” training, led by Mark Houlden and Kavita Levy of the Public Defenders Association of Philadelphia.
Mark and Kavita led us through an overview of the trial process, from arrest to sentencing. Thanks to many challenging questions asked by a passionate and inquisitive crowd, they had difficulties ending on time.
Along with Mark and Kavita, we think that we can challenge our system. We believe one way within our means is through the model of Participatory Defense, which better equips people to advocate for themselves and their loved ones, and save precious time outside our prison system.
Right now, we’re sifting through the sign-in lists from Tuesday night and preparing some email blasts to get a better sense from those who came out, about what they’re ready to do with us. We think we have enough gravity to open a Participatory Defense Hub at our South Broad location (2212 S. Broad Street) by September, if we keep this momentum going.
Even if you personally can’t free up an evening during the week (we haven’t decided which day, yet, anyway), we’re asking for your help in the following ways:
Get the word out. Tell people:
- Participatory Defense can help people by connecting them to systems of peer support and information. It’s a very new model here in Philly, and it’s already working. Kris Eden, our team member, showed up to court in support of a man falsely accused of possessing and selling drugs, and witnessed what a difference having a handful of people sitting in the stands on his behalf made for him, keeping him from a prison sentence.
- Training is available. You don’t need to be a lawyer to volunteer. We’re not experts, and you don’t need to be, either.
- Can’t hang out in the evening but have time during the day?Great! How about showing up to court for someone? Often, just you showing up along with other community members in support of someone on trial makes a huge difference.
- We hope you’ll help us get the South Philly Hub off the ground. But if we’re too far from you, or the night won’t work for you, there are two other hubs in Philadelphia (and more in the future)
Hey! On your way out of this blog post, enjoy these photos (credit: Kris J. Eden):