ArchCity Defenders collaborates with organizers, activists, and other advocacy partners on local events, initiatives, and campaigns to build community power in furtherance of a commitment to racial justice, human dignity, and liberation in St. Louis and beyond.
We are active in coalitions calling for accountability among public officials and policymakers. We help to organize town halls to provide community members with an outlet to share their ideas of what it means to re-envision public safety. ACD partners with aligned organizations and individuals to design electoral debates and forums in a way that elevates issues disproportionately impacting poor people and black people in the region.
We support bailouts that bring public awareness to the harms of mass incarceration and help to free people from cages. We joined with our community partners to launch the Close the Workhouse campaign, where directly-impacted people led the effort to permanently shutter a notoriously hellish local jail and decarcerate St. Louis. ArchCity Defenders remains integral to the Re-envisioning the Workhouse process, where activists are working to ensure that the Workhouse cannot be reopened as a carceral institution, but will be transformed into a community-designed, community-centered space.
Our decarceration work continues with the Defund. Re-envision. Transform. campaign, where a coalition of abolitionist organizations are empowering the people of St. Louis to have their voices heard in the City’s budgeting process, demanding the reallocation of millions of dollars from systems that surveil and punish our citizens into systems that uplift and transform the lives of our most vulnerable residents. The D.R.T. campaign has championed the idea of participatory budgeting since its formation, successfully pushing for more public hearings and creating toolkits to help visualize the disparity between police funding and social services funding in the City. Through the D.R.T. campaign, St. Louis citizens have said “no” to once-in-a-lifetime American Rescue Plan Act monies being funneled into policing rather than transformative systems, and achieved a Civilian Oversight Board to strengthen civilian-led investigations into police misconduct.
Community collaboration is also integral to ArchCity Defenders’ work in housing justice. Since the end of COVID-19 eviction moratoria, ArchCity Defenders has partnered with Action St. Louis on the We the Tenants campaign, pushing for improved renters’ rights in St. Louis City and County. Our legal staff and organizers provided subject matter expertise to the sponsor of Board Bill 180, a local effort to gain the right to counsel for tenants facing eviction. The We the Tenants campaign, along with the efforts of other advocates, coordinated significant public testimony in favor of this board bill, including the vocal support of both tenants and landlords. We the Tenants continues to advocate for tenant rights beyond right to counsel, envisioning a future where everyone has unrestricted access to safe, stable, affordable housing.
ACD remains committed to deep and sustained community collaboration because we believe that it is the only way to achieve lasting systemic change.