November 29, 2018
ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit civil rights law firm based in St. Louis, was presented with the 2018 Thomas Merton Award during the Thomas Merton Center’s 46th annual celebration held in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. ArchCity was recognized for their visionary work using holistic legal advocacy to combat the criminalization of poverty and state violence against poor people and people of color.
Since its founding in 1972, the Thomas Merton Center has worked to build a consciousness of values and to raise the moral questions involved in the issues of war, poverty, racism, classism, economic justice, human rights, and environmental justice. The Thomas Merton Award honors those whose work for peace and justice makes a real impact in people’s lives.
“ArchCity Defenders is thrilled to receive the Thomas Merton Award. While our work is far from over, we are proud to engage daily in zealous holistic advocacy in partnership with activists, organizers, and service providers committed to systemic change. To stand alongside a list of individuals and organizations as illustrious as the recipients of the Thomas Merton Award is an incredible recognition for which we are honored and grateful,” said Blake Strode, Executive Director, ArchCity Defenders.
“ArchCity Defenders’ work centers people targeted by the criminal legal system and offers inspiration for on the ground work across this country. We’re honored to host them as the 2018 Thomas Merton Awardee,” said Gabriel McMorland, Executive Director of the Thomas Merton Center.
Past awardees include Angela Davis, Vince Warren and the Center for Constitutional Rights, Vandana Shiva, Noam Chomsky, Joan Baez, Marian Wright Edelman, and Daniel Berrigan.
Since its founding in 2009, ArchCity Defenders has represented over 10,500 people and filed over 40 civil rights lawsuits challenging police misconduct, debtors’ prisons, cash bail, inhumane jail conditions, inadequate shelter for homeless residents, and violations of Freedom of Speech, Due Process and Equal Protection. As a result of the impact litigation, municipalities throughout the region have curbed unlawful and predatory practices, leading to decreases in municipal court revenues, and over $7.9M in judgements awarded to thousands of people across the region.
Z. Gorley, Communications Director at ArchCity Defenders