Family of Layleen Polanco Settles Civil Suit With New York City, Continues Advocacy #JusticeForLayleen

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, Director of Communications,
New York City Anti-Violence Project
ecruz@avp.org,
917-727-2107

David Shanies, Attorney representing Polanco family
david@shanieslaw.com
212-951-1710

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Family of Layleen Polanco Settles Civil Suit With New York City, Continues Advocacy #JusticeForLayleen

August 31, NEW YORK, NY The family of Layleen Polanco, a 27-year-old Afro-Latinx trans woman who died while being held in solitary confinement in Rikers Island in June 2019, has settled their civil suit with the City of New York. The civil suit for reckless indifference for Layleen’s life was settled for a financial settlement of 5.9 million dollars, the largest settlement paid by the City for a death in custody. 

“My family made the difficult decision to settle our lawsuit with the City of New York. Despite the settlement, my family isn’t done fighting. This lawsuit was only one way we were seeking justice for Layleen and this is only just the start.” Melania Brown, Layleen’s sister said. “To this day, despite evidence of negligence, no one has been held accountable for my sister’s death. The guards who were responsible for caring for my sister must be fired.” 

In June of 2020, both the Department of Investigation and the Bronx’s District Attorney Darcel Clark released reports of their investigations declining to press charges against Rikers officials for Layleen’s death. The reports, which initially deadnamed Layleen, claimed they found no criminal wrongdoing or negligence. A week later, the Polanco family released footage inside Rikers which showed Correctional Officers opening Layleen’s cell and visibly laughing just moments before she was pronounced dead. 

In response to the reports, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced that seventeen correctional officers would be disciplined as well as the City’s intent to end solitary confinement. 

“Justice for Layleen is ending the conditions that led her to her death. It’s ensuring no other family has to experience the grief my family now has to live with for the rest of our lives.” Brown said. “My family would like to thank David Shanies and his firm for representing us, the New York City Anti-Violence Project for their tireless advocacy and support, and to every person who has demanded justice for Layleen. Our fight continues.” 

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) echoes Polanco’s family’s continued calls for justice and demands all of the Riker’s officials responsible for Layleen’s death be fired. 

“The neglect and utter disregard for Layleen’s life by prison officials is reprehensible. Solitary confinement for all must be ended immediately and concrete steps must be taken to ensure the safety of all trans and gender nonconforming people incarcerated, “ Beverly Tillery, Executive Director of AVP said. 

“Unfortunately, we know what happened to Layleen is reflective of thousands of transgender people who are regularly subjected to neglect and violence and stripped of their humanity within our nation’s jails and prisons. These acts of state violence have to stop and we are calling on our city and state officials to take action now to ensure accountability for Layleen’s tragic death, and to end the criminalization and disproportionate incarceration and abuse of transgender New Yorkers.”

The New York City Anti-Violence Project calls for:

  • The Mayor’s Office and/or the Department of Corrections fire correction officers and their captain involved in Layleen Polanco’s death in solitary confinement at Rikers Island
  • The Department of Correction to create and maintain a database of records of Correctional Officers who have committed misconduct. 

Representatives for the Polanco family, their attorney, and spokespersons from AVP are available for comment.

About Layleen: At the time of her death, Layleen Polanco was caught up in the violent bureaucracy of New York’s criminal legal system. She died on Rikers Island on June 7th, 2019 while being detained on $500 bail on a misdemeanor charge. Polanco was being held due to a few missed court dates as part of the services she was mandated to in an alternative to incarceration program due to a prior arrest in a sting operation for sex work in 2017. Furthermore, she was being punished with solitary confinement even though officials at Rikers knew she had a serious medical condition that caused life-threatening seizures, as well as schizophrenia.

About AVP: The New York City Anti-Violence Project empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end violence through organizing and education, and supports survivors through free counseling, legal serivces, advocacy.

 ###

 

NCAVP mourns the death of Brayla Stone, a 17-year-old Black transgender woman in Arizona

NCAVP mourns the death of Brayla Stone, a 17-year-old Black transgender woman, whose death is being investigated as a homicide by local police in Arkansas.  Brayla’s body was found in a car near a walking path in the Little Rock suburb of Sherwood on June 25th.  Media reports that a person on social media later claimed he was paid five thousand dollars to kill her, but the posts have since been taken down.  Local groups held a candle-light vigil for Brayla, at Boyle Park in Little Rock, to celebrate her life and call for attention to her death, and a Change.org petition already has over 200,000 signatures.  As too often happens, Brayla was misgendered and deadnamed in the media, and so news of her death was not given due attention.  

David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said in a statement. “Brayla Stone was seventeen years young when someone murdered her because we live in a society where it is not yet explicit that when we say BlackLivesMatter we mean all Black lives, which includes Black trans women and girls.”

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities.  We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown communities.  If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Merci Mack, a 22-year-old Black transgender woman in Dallas, TX

NCAVP mourns the death of Merci Mack, a 22-year-old Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Dallas, TX, on Tuesday, June 30th, just days after the death of Brayla Stone, 17, in Arkansas on June 25th, and within a month of two Black trans women, Rem’mie Fells (27) and Riah Milton (25), who died in a 24-hour period over June 8th and 9th.  As too often happens, Merci was dead-named in police statement, even though she was identified as a transgender woman.  

Merci’s body was found unconscious in a parking lot of the Rosemont Apartments by a passerby, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. Local residents said they heard gunshots around 5 a.m. the same morning, but police haven’t identified any suspects or a motive yet. 

The Dallas Morning News points out that Texas currently leads the nation in murders of transgender people. The state has had 15 anti-trans murders in the last five years and nearly half of them have happened in Dallas. The actual number could be even higher due to underreporting and misgendering of victims.  

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities.  We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown communities.  If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Jayne Thompson, a 33-year-old white transgender woman in Aurora, CO

NCAVP mourns the death of Jayne Thompson, a 33-year-old white transgender woman, who was shot and killed by a police officer on May 11, 2020. Her death was not initially recognized as another loss of a trans woman, due to misgendering and deadnaming in the media and by police. While Jayne was killed in Colorado, she lived in Arizona.  

The news of Jayne’s death came to light as yet another trans woman, Selena Reyes Hernandez’ death was revealed, similarly delayed due to deadnaming and misgendering by police, medical examiner, and media.  News of Jayne’s loss also comes on the heels of the violent deaths of two Black trans women last week, Rem’mie Fells and Riah Milton, who died in a 24-hour period.  

NCAVP stands in solidarity with all trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities.  We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown communities.  If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Selena Reyes Hernandez, a 37-year-old Latinx transgender woman in Chicago, IL

NCAVP mourns the death of Selena Reyes Hernandez, a 37-year-old Latinx transgender woman, was shot and killed in her home in the Southside of Chicago, by an 18 year old high school student on May 31, 2020.  Her killer told police that he killed Selena because he learned she was trans. Selena’s death did not immediately come to light in queer media, due to misgendering and deadnaming in the media, by the medical examiner, and by police, similar to what occurred around the death of Jayne Thompson in Colorado.  News of Selena’s loss also comes on the heels of the violent deaths of two Black trans women last week, Rem’mie Fells and Riah Milton, who died in a 24-hour period.  

NCAVP stands in solidarity with all trans women of color, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities.  We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black and brown trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown communities.  If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

 

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a 27-year-old Black transgender woman in Philadelphia, PA

NCAVP mourns the death of Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a 27-year-old Black transgender woman, whose June 8, 2020 death was ruled a homicide, according to the Philadelphia Police, speaking to media sources.  Rem’mie’s death onJune 8th was just one day before Riah Milton, another Black trans woman, was shot and killed during a robbery in Liberty Township, Ohio. 

Kendall Stephens, a friend of Rem’mie’s, shares: “We’re devastated.  We live with a constant fear of being assaulted and being murdered before our time. It seems to be a person of trans experience of color, that’s like a death sentence.”  Kendall also shared that Rem’mie was a social butterfly who was very close to her mother, and was making plans to go back to school with dreams of being a fashion designer.  Kendall shares that Rem’mie was also a dancer and artist, a vibrant person, who “ lived her truth so loud that you could hear her a mile away.”  

Rem’mie’s family and friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral expenses. 

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities.  We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown communities.  If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Riah Milton, a 25-year old Black trans woman in Liberty Township, OH

NCAVP mourns the death of Riah Milton, a 25-year old Black trans woman who was shot and killed during a robbery in Liberty Township, Ohio on June 9th, according to media reports.  Riah’s death occurred just one day after the death of  Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, 27, whose death has been ruled a homicide.

Riah worked as a home health aide.  Her mother shared that Riah loved traveling and being outside, was outgoing, helpful, and always put her family first.  Riah’s sister, Ariel Mary Ann shared, “My sister Riah, she was a joyful person,” she said. “She loved her family and she loved her friends. She was just a joy to be around.”

With help from friends, loved ones and online supporters, a GoFundMe meant to pay for Milton’s funeral exceeded its $3,500 goal by tens of thousands of dollars.

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities.  We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown communities.  If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

AVP Calls For An Immediate End To Solitary Confinement

On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the City’s plan to end solitary confinement for those with serious medical conditions effective immediately, and an end to solitary confinement for all in New York City by October. During his announcement he acknowledged that Layleen Polanco should not have been in solitary confinement. This step is necessary but does not go nearly far enough. AVP calls for an immediate end to solitary confinement.

This announcement comes after years of hard work from advocates including the #HALTsolitary campaign and Jails Action Coalition, and supported by AVP after the death of Layleen Polanco. The campaign to end solitary is led by survivors of solitary confinement and family members of those who have died in solitary, who have pushed for an end to this torture since 2013. As the #HALTsolitary campaign has said in their statement, “Layleen Polanco died in solitary over one year ago. Kalief Browder died because of solitary confinement over five years ago. Bradley Ballard died in solitary confinement nearly seven years ago. Jason Echeverria died in solitary confinement nearly eight years ago. Carina Montes died in solitary over 17 years ago. Eliminate this practice now.”

The creation of a working group to figure out how to end solitary confinement is a stalling tactic and unnecessary. The #HALTsolitary Campaign has previously released a detailed plan on how to end solitary confinement once and for all. It does not take a four person work group, over several months, to come up with a simple answer; to end solitary confinement it is simple, stop putting people in solitary confinement.

The Board of Corrections has allegedly been working on ending solitary confinement for over three years now. They have the opportunity to vote and end this violent practice immediately during a scheduled July 14 meeting. New York City cannot wait months for solitary confinement to end. Everyday that passes is a day in which another person could be killed by this inhumane practice. Solitary confinement must end today.

###

AVP Condemns The City’s Fiscal Year ‘21 Austerity Budget with no major cuts to NYPD

Defunding the Hate Violence Prevention Initiative and Cutting Social Services by 20% Without Cutting the NYPD Budget is a Disgrace.

At the close of Pride month, amid protests against anti-Black police violence, an ongoing global pandemic, and a financial crisis; the New York City Council passed an austerity budget that cut essential funding from many progams serving LGBTQ Black and other people of color and failed to meaningfully divest from the NYPD. The New York City Council passed this budget despite calls to #DefundNYPD. Just days before this budget’s passage, police violently attacked protesters marching in the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives, pushing, beating, and using pepper spray against them toward the end of the march in Washington Square Park. This and many other incidents, starting with the Stonewall police rebellion in 1969, illustrate why LGBTQ people are fighting to #DefundNYPD. 

The FY21 budget Council passed on June 30th includes devastating cuts to essential services for those most vulnerable Black and other people of color communities but no meaningful cuts from the NYPD FY21 expense budget. Communities United for Police Reform, a coalition of which AVP has been a voting member since it was founded in 2012, called for at least $1 billion to be cut from the NYPD and to be reinvested back into Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) communities which have been severely impacted by COVID-19. Instead, the FY21 adopted budget cut nearly 20% of discretionary funding that should go directly to community organizations serving marginalized New Yorkers, while protecting significant portions of the NYPD budget. For instance, while all other city agencies are experiencing a hiring freeze, the NYPD is expected to start training a new class of officers in the fall. And through a budgetary sleight of hand, funding for school safety officers was not cut but moved from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education. This budget cuts services and incentivizes over-policing of our communities; it represents dangerous steps backwards from our progress towards safety.

We acknowledge the nine NYC Council members who voted their conscience by voting no on the FY21 budget, recognizing that the NYPD cuts were achieved through budgetary tricks and not a real reduction to officer headcount, or any other meaningful change in priorities to protect vulnerable New Yorkers: Council Members Barron, Kallos, Lander, Menchaca, Reynoso, Rivera, Richards, Rosenthal, and Van Bramer.

The creative solution, the Hate Crimes Prevention Initiative, established in FY20, has been completely defunded in the FY21 budget. The initiative was conceptualized and advocated for by AVP along with eight other community-based organizations working across identities and communities. Jewish, Arab-American, Muslim, LGBTQ, and Black and Brown New Yorkers united to create community safety, working together to make New York safer through bystander/upstander education, reporting and support for survivors, rapid incident response, and restorative justice frameworks. 

The initiative aimed to create pathways to communal responsibility and education as opposed to police arrests for hate crimes to address violence. It is unconscionable that the Council would cut such an initiative in a budget cycle when the need to prevent hate violence is so  dire, as well as the imprative to end  the escalating police violence against Black, brown, queer and trans communities. 

AVP has supported the #DefundNYPD movement because the LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of violence we serve, especially Black people and trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people of color, have historically been profiled and targeted by law enforcement. In addition to the escalating police violence against LGBTQ people protesting, in daily life, police do not make our communities safer. Instead, they escalate and perpetrate violence against those most vulnerable, particularly when called upon to intervene with New Yorkers experiencing crises, like those related to mental health and homelessness, all of which disproportionately impact BIPOC and LGBTQ communities. AVP believes in a different approach to create safety, one that doesn’t include increased policing, but relies on communities to know what they need to be safe and receive the funding needed to implement creative solutions. 

AVP opposes this budget which fails to decrease the size of the NYPD and its daily violent impact on LGBTQ people’s lives, whilst also delivering cuts to alternative safety programs and resources that actually help build a safer world for LGBTQ survivors of violence. We will continue to fight for resources for our community and #DefundNYPD.

Safety Planning for Protests

A safety plan is a way to think through what you need to keep yourself and others safe, connect with people and resources to keep yourself and others safe, and it helps to prepare you for action if confronted with violence or attempted acts of violence. In the context of protests, safety planning is about thinking through potential risks, making a communication plan, and connecting with peers. While a safety plan cannot prevent all acts of violence and it is never your fault if someone chooses to cause harm, creating a plan ahead of time and thinking about ways to protect yourself is one way to stay safe. 

Before attending a protest, it is important to think through a safety plan and assess your personal risk. Creating a safety plan is simply a way to increase safety for yourself and others when entering into a situation where harm is possible, and to prepare for various potential scenarios.  No plan is perfect, and if you experience violence, including by police, it is not your fault. 

For AVP staff: If you’re planning on going to a protest, connect with anyone in COPA to get support.

More resources:
Protest Safety Zine
Coronavirus Risk Reduction During Protests

Current Situation 

The situation as of early June 2020 is highly volatile, with law enforcement and other agents of the state using tactics that escalate violence against community members. Even peaceful protests have been met by state violence in recent days, often without warning, so we want everyone to consider their options and their safety planning carefully in this moment. 

Evaluating Risk 

Before you commit to attending a protest or action, do an honest assessment of your personal risk. You can think about the following questions: 

  • How might my perceived race, gender, sexuality and other identity factors impact the ways that police and community members interact with me or target me?
  • Are there factors that increase risks to my safety if I am arrested, surveilled by police or documented by media or fellow protestors, including around immigration, outstanding warrants, mental or physical health needs, or other risks? 
  • How well have I slept and how is my mental health today? Will either of these factors negatively impact my ability to make clear, fast decisions in a scary moment?
  • How is my body feeling today? Am I able to get away quickly if a situation escalates?
  • Do I need glasses or contacts? If my glasses break or I get tear gassed and need to remove my contacts, will I be able to navigate? 
  • Do I have friends or organizing colleagues I can attend the protest with and create a buddy system with?
  • Do I have a safety contact who is not going who I can check in with and can support my plan in what to do if I am missing after the protest?
  • Could I get home or to a safe place if I lost my phone and/or wallet?
  • Can I walk or move for long periods of time, potentially without rest? If not, is there a way for me to plan for rest and/or map out how long before I should head home if possible?

What to Bring and Wear

  • Wear nondescript clothing – plain colors, especially black, can help reduce the likelihood of being surveilled and identified by law enforcement
  • If possible, cover your hair and identifying marks like scars and tattoos
  • Wear a mask or other face covering to help keep you safe from the spread of COVID-19, chemical agents, and to conceal your identity
  • Wear clothing and footwear you can move quickly in 
  • Bring water and snacks (protein bars are a good option for quick energy and don’t melt like candy bars)
  • Bring medication that has been prescribed for you that maintains your health. If you can, bring a one or two day supply of medication (in case you are detained) in the original prescription bottle to help prevent it being flagged as a controlled substance.
  • Avoid bringing or wearing bulky backpacks or tote bags, and don’t bring any prohibited substances, in case of arrest
  • Bring a portable phone charger if you have one, as well as cables.

Digital Safety Protocol

  • One way to stay safe and in touch with your people is to share your location data using your phone’s capability to do this. That way your designated contacts can view your location without having to text and ask where you are.
  • Conversely, having data shared can make you very traceable by law enforcement, and you might instead consider turning your phone off, putting it on airplane mode, or leaving it at home.
  • Use an emergency location sharing app like Circle of 6 – which was created as a sexual violence support and prevention tool. You can enter the contact information for up to six people who will be alerted with your location and other information you choose to share if you press one simple button in the app during a moment of crisis. Let your contact people know beforehand what you want them to do in case of arrest, detainment, or injury.
  • Documenting police violence can be helpful, but instead of posting it immediately try, if possible, to check in with the community members in the video. Ideally, you should share the video or photos with the people you filmed and let them decide what to do with the video. Some people will choose to share videos of police violence on social media immediately without the consent of impacted people – think ahead of time about the potential harms and benefits of doing so.
  • If you use your phone to take pictures, make an effort to ask for consent of the people you are photographing. If this is not possible in a fast moving moment, use a face blurring app to conceal individual identities. There are many available face blurring apps – search, download, and practice with them ahead of time.
  • Disable face-recognition sign-in to unlock a smart phone and also disable thumb-print sign-in. In the situation someone is detained, it makes it harder for police to unlock your phone if we are not consenting. As an alternative, set up a 6 digit code to unlock the phone.

Planning for Arrest

  • Write the phone number for the National Lawyers’ Guild on your body in sharpie: (212) 679-6018. You may also add other phone numbers to your body of your personal contacts. You might not be able to access your phone or it might run out of battery. Keep in mind that NLG can reach out to your emergency contacts and can support you in ensuring your rights are protected. people should also share their A-number (alien-number for immigrants/non green-card holders) with their emergency contact, whether buddy in protest or remote support person
  • If you are an immigrant or non-green card holder, you should share your A-number with your emergency contact, whether that person is a buddy in the protest or remote support person.
  • Carry at least four quarters – jails still have pay phones and calls are not free.
  • If you get arrested, you can yell your name and birthdate to witnesses either during arrest or once you are at the jail and being transferred inside – this can help your people to find you in the system faster. Keep in mind that you will get booked under the name on your ID, and for TGNC people yelling this name to strangers may not feel ok and that may be a reason not to do this.
  • If you use social media, plan with your contacts in advance about whether or not you want people to tag you on social media with references to your arrest.

General info on arrests:

  • In general folks are being released after a few hours, given desk tickets, no bail set. Not being charged or arraigned. But now with curfew, things might change.
  • If you get arraigned (and not dismissed with desk ticket), you have to call the National Lawyers Guild (when allotted your one phone call). They will connect you to Neighborhood Defender Services or Legal Aid. You will get assigned a lawyer. The lawyers are connected to the bail fund. 

***Most important thing is having an NLG number on your body because they will take your phone. (Make sure ink dries so it is not smudged.) Another resource: 1‑833‑3‑GOODCALL, https://goodcall.nyc/.

Communication Safety Planning

  • Use an encrypted texting app like Signal to communicate with fellow organizers when you are planning for an action and communicating during the protest. You can create a group on Signal so that multiple people can be in the loop. Signal can also be used to make encrypted phone calls.
  • Talk to someone who will not be at a protest about what your plan for the event is. Establish a check in time by which you expect to be heading home and let your check in person know when you’re leaving the protest and when you are home. 
  • Communicate with your check in person about what you want them to do if they have not heard from you by the time you agreed on. Do you want them to try to establish if you’ve been arrested and booked (booking could take place much later)? Do you want them to try and find out if you’re injured or at a hospital? Do you want them to amplify the fact that you are missing on social media?
  • Make a plan for a meet up spot with people you are attending the protest with, in case you get separated or you are unable to use your phone to connect. For a march, you might select several different locations along the route. You might also select a spot that is further away from the site of the action to put a buffer between yourselves and the action.

Aftercare

  • Even without arrest or violence, protests and actions can mean wear and tear on your body and your spirit–make sure you have adequate time and a safe space to rest, eat, and recharge afterwards, if possible. Drink lots of water.
  • Be mindful of what you’ll need to meet your responsibilities in the hours and days after an action, including getting to work, engaging with family, etc.
  • Caring for yourself and your community will look different for everyone, but plan to check in with your people in the days after an action, for mutual support.

Other Ways to Support Actions

These tips focus on ways to increase safety while physically attending protests and actions, but there are many folks for whom it may not be physically or emotionally safe to do so, for many reasons. Here is a list of ways to support actions and protests, beyond attending:

  • Be a check in person for someone who is going to protests. Help them talk through a safety plan.
  • Offer safe space for bathroom and safety breaks, or food and water to folks who are participating, particularly if you live near the route and can offer these things. Evaluate your risk with respect to your health if you are sick with COVID-19 or immunocompromised.  Consider having food delivered if someone is supporting protests from home. 
  • Cover someone’s shift at work or watch their kids, if that is something you can and want to do. 
  • Contribute financially to resources supporting protests and the fight for equity
  • Spread the word on social media and to your networks, being careful not to reveal protesters’ identity or locations that could be tracked by police; 
  • Support efforts to defund the police and invest in social services. In New York, follow the Communities United for Police Reform #NYCBudgetJustice campaign

IMPORTANT NUMBERS & RESOURCES

  • New York City Anti-Violence Project (24 hour Hotline in English/Spanish): 212-714-1141
  • National Lawyers Guild hotline for arrest support 212-679-6018