First Defense Legal Aid is working to double that number through a grassroots education campaign and a volunteer attorney corps on call at 1(800)LAW-REP-4.
The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, to send free legal representation to any Chicago police station if someone reports an arrest. First Defense is a not-for-profit charitable organization whose bottom line is protecting people’s rights while in Chicago police custody and helping people experience the power of their human and constitutional rights.
A new campaign “Silence is Power When Anything You Say Will Be Used Against You” features Chicagoans saying “I will not talk, I want my lawyer” and “zipping their lips” when in contact with police. It will be featured on the Green Line inside train cars going to and from the South and West Sides and around the Loop.
On Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., a group of volunteers will hold a press conference after a brief performance called “Zip your Lip” at the Englewood stop on the Green Line: 63rd & Ashland. The Englewood community has been home to infamous wrongful convictions based on false confessions even from innocent children and youth.
Executive Director Eliza Solowiej explains that defense counsel is a constitutional right for everyone under arrest, but because people are not given the phone number and access to the phone, nor a public defender, soon enough- 998 out of 1000 people do not have any way to realize this promise. “This contributes to disenfranchisement and violence. Chicago is known for violence, police abuse and corruption- First Defense Legal Aid is unique in the nation and can make Chicago known for an innovative solution.”