“Good morning this is Tamika from Virginia.”
“This is Autum from Philadelphia, and I have 2 sons”
“This is Vicki from Cleveland. I have a 21 year old.”
“Good morning from San Diego, there’s no sun here yet.”

The callers continued to introduce themselves from cities around the country, often adding the ages of their sons. At 9:35 a.m. promptly someone read an inspirational quote (“There’s no greater warrior than a mother protecting her child.”), and then turned over the mic to members of NAPD.

On the morning of Saturday, November 5th, attorneys from the National Association of Public Defense in partnership with  The Legal Aid Society of New York CIty presented an online Know Your Rights training to Mothers of Black Boys United. MOBB United is a national collective of concerned mothers who came together after the murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. The organization already has over 160,000 members. The group sent NAPD a list of frequently asked questions and concerns from their members and asked for legal advice about how to best prepare their children for encounters with police. 

NAPD Attorneys from four states collaborated to answer the mothers’ questions. Heather Hall, Development and Engagement Director for NAPD, gathered NAPD attorneys from across the country so that the legal advice would be relevant for multiple jurisdictions.  Tamara Giwa & Sandeep Kandhari, of Legal Aid Society NYC presented on the call along with Melissa Shearer, Travis County, Texas Mental Health Public Defender; Zanele Ngubeni, Senior Staff attorney in the Atlanta Judicial Circuit Public Defender Office; and Te’iva Bell, Assistant Public Defender, Harris County, Texas Public Defender Office. 

Behind the scenes, Patricia Lee from San Francisco Public Defender’s Office  provided content specific to California. Members of Legal Aid’s Attorneys of Color Caucus helped with fine tuning our language and revising the slideshow drafted by yours truly.

While NAPD members were speaking and discussing the slides, MOBB United members added commentary via chat. Mothers typed: “Wow. Seeing this makes it real,” and “I want her for a lawyer!” Among the enthusiastic feedback, there were sobering comments. One mother lamented, “that’s a lot for my untrained 18 year old son to carry,” upon listening to all the factors to consider before deciding whether to consent to a search or exercise one’s rights. 

The 90|PLUS| MOBB United members who participated in the presentation appreciated having the opportunity to speak with public defenders and hear concrete advice. An attorney from Texas summed up our message with, “Live now, litigate later.”

If you're interested in developing future trainings or doing other work on behalf of racial justice, consider joining NAPD's Racial Justice Committee by emailing Ernie Lewis