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ACLU Protecting Civil Rights of Protesters

The Mobile Justice App records video directly to ACLU Servers. (ACLUPA)
The Mobile Justice App records video directly to ACLU Servers. (ACLUPA)
July 26, 2016

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Thousands of people have traveled to Philadelphia to rally and protest at the Democratic National Convention, and civil liberties advocates are on hand to be sure the protesters' rights are protected. Initially the city tried to ban marches on a main street connecting City Hall and the convention center, and to deny rally permits between 3 and 6 p.m. But the ACLU sued, and the city backed down.

Molly Tack-Hooper, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said her organization has received assurances that police will not interfere with lawful protests.

"The message coming from Mayor Jim Kenney and the police commissioner has been that the department's intent is to respect the First Amendment rights of protesters," she said.

However, she advises that if police do overstep their authority, protesters should not push back on the street, but document the encounter as accurately as possible. To make that easier, the ACLU has created a smartphone app called Mobile Justice PA.

"It lets you record the police and it uploads that video directly to our servers so that if your phone is tampered with, if your videos are destroyed we will have a copy," she added.

The free app is available from app stores for both iPhones and Android phones.

With thousands of people rallying on the streets of Philadelphia, Tack-Hooper points out the ACLU is not the only organization ready to help.

"We are also working with several other groups who do legal observing and do criminal defense of protesters to make sure that we have a big team in place to deal with anything that comes up," she said.

Anyone who is arrested or cited during the convention can get legal help by calling the Up Against the Wall Legal Collective hotline at 484-758-0388.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA