From a young age, we’re taught that police are heroes put in place to protect us, but did you know that…

  • Modern police originated from slave patrols.
  • St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department kills more people per capita than any other police department in the country.
  • Most police officers only make one felony arrest per year.

Police do not do what you think they do, but only every few years, when a police murder of a Black person gains national attention, do we begin to collectively question their function. Meanwhile, officers across the country who are sworn to “protect and serve” are dehumanizing and destroying the lives of society’s most vulnerable communities daily. Their routine actions, whether the use of excessive force, unlawful seizures, false arrest, violations of constitutional rights, or policing as a means of generating revenue for a city, do not constitute public safety but instead cause tremendous hardship and perpetuate cycles of poverty and violence.

At ArchCity Defenders, we use holistic legal advocacy as a means to hold police accountable while advocating for programs and policies that re-imagine the role of police and address the root causes of harm.

Holistic Direct Services

Through a blend of legal expertise and compassionate support, our direct representation attorneys help clients navigate the maze of the legal system and overcome setbacks caused by predatory policing, discrimination, and undue hardships at the hands of law enforcement. We assist with both misdemeanor and felony-level cases, as well as low-level offenses in municipal court, such as traffic and motor vehicle violations and more.

Our social services team centers provides comprehensive and intensive case management that centers common experiences of racism, trauma, and state violence, which often stems from interactions with police. Our unique Social Services Pilot Program supports clients in gaining stability and pursuing personal goals while holding paid participatory research meetings that focus on conversations about reimagining public safety – a world without policing, surveillance, or incarceration.

Systemic Civil Rights Litigation

Whether in the context of peaceful protest or everyday experience, ACD has engaged in litigation to support our clients and their communities in fighting back against state violence, particularly targeted against poor people and people of color in the St. Louis region. Our individual and class-action lawsuits challenge use of excessive force, unlawful seizures, false arrest, and retaliatory charges.

Media & Policy Advocacy

In partnership with community members and organizations, our team engages in media and policy advocacy to frame local and national conversations around policing and combat the narrative that a racially- and-financially-motivated carceral system constitutes public safety. We do so by creating and packaging print, digital, and social content aimed to educate public audiences, aid the work of advocates and activists, and empower the community to take action on some of the most critical issues of our time. Below are sample resources:

Resources and Publications
Podcast episodes
Blog posts

Community Collaborations

Defund. Re-Envision. Transform. is a grassroots campaign co-anchored by ArchCity Defenders, Action St. Louis, Freedom Community Center, and forward through Ferguson. Every month, DRT holds trainings and movement meetings for community members to deepen their knowledge about St. Louis City government, the budgeting process, and the history of policing and abolition. Each year, the campaign develops and distributes a Budget Toolkit, which highlights how the City plans to spend taxpayer dollars and how individuals can advocate for a budget that prioritizes services and resources instead of policing and caging people. Learn more here.