Ella Baker Center Partners with ACLU on Tool to Hold Law Enforcement Accountable

(Los Angeles)  – The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (EBC) is partnering with the ACLU of California to support their launch today of Mobile Justice CA, a free smart phone app allowing Californians to automatically record and submit cell phone videos to their ACLU affiliate when they feel law enforcement officers are violating civil rights.

Videos captured on the Mobile Justice CA app available for use on Android and iOS phones will be transmitted to the ACLU and preserved even if the user’s phone is later seized or destroyed.

EBC will collaborate with the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) on broadening and deepening community organizations' and community members' engagement with the app.

"People who historically have had very little power in the face of law enforcement now have this tool to reclaim their power and dignity," said Patrisse Cullors, director of the Truth and Reinvestment Campaign at EBC. "Our vision is that this app will ultimately help community members connect and organize to respond to incidents of law enforcement violence, and then share their experiences and knowledge with others."

Mobile Justice CA can be downloaded free through Apple’s App Store or Google Play. It enables users to register, record, witness and report interactions with law enforcement and includes information on individual rights.

  • Record allows individuals to capture exchanges with police officers and other law enforcement officials in audio and video files that are automatically sent to the ACLU of California.
  • Witness sends out an alert to anyone with the app, giving them the option to go to the location and document the encounter when police stop someone.
  • Report allows the app user to complete an incident report and send it directly to the ACLU for review.
  • Know Your Rights provides an overview of what rights protect you when you are stopped by law enforcement officers.

“Our country has a long history of not holding the perpetrators of racialized violence accountable,” said Zachary Norris, executive director of EBC. “For too long, low-income communities and communities of color, who have been the most affected by law enforcement violence, have not been part of developing reforms and policy solutions. We envision that through toolkits, a registry of resources, and an on-the-ground support network, this app will build the leadership capacity of those individuals to push for change.”

Acts of brutality against Freddie Gray, Rekia Boyd, Walter Scott, Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and the many more people who have experienced law enforcement violence demonstrate the need for a hub that creates greater transparency by allowing people to document abuses.

“The concerns over police practices, including racial profiling and excessive use of force, are very real for communities across the state,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of ACLU SoCal. “This app will help serve as a check on abuse – whether by police officers, sheriff’s deputies, border patrol, or other officials – allowing ordinary citizens to record and document any interaction with law enforcement.”

While Mobile Justice CA is intended for use by bystanders, the ACLU of California recognizes that some users may want to use it while they are involved in a police encounter. Anyone interacting with law enforcement should announce that they are reaching for a phone, and that they are attempting to access the app to record the exchange. Users’ safety depends on their ability to clearly communicate any actions they take and remain calm.

Learn more about Mobile Justice CA and download the app from https://www.mobilejusticeca.org.

The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights’ mission is to build a movement to end criminalization, mass incarceration, and state violence by moving resources away from prisons and punishment and towards services that make communities stronger and safer, like education, healthcare, housing, and job training. Learn more: ellabakercenter.org.

Contact: Zaineb Mohammed, zaineb@ellabakercenter.org, 630-921-1741