Public Defender Gives Legal Rights Workshop for the Homeless

KYRWhen you live on the streets, interactions with police come with the territory. So it’s important to know your rights.  That’s why, in this first entry in the Public Defender’s column for The Bridge, we wanted to start things off with a rundown of your constitutional rights during an encounter with law enforcement.

The Shelby County Public Defender’s Office teamed up with Homeless Organizing for Power & Equality (H.O.P.E.) for a Know Your Rights Workshop on Saturday, August 31st, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Parish on 700 Poplar.  The KYR Workshop informed those who attended about their rights at three stages of police interaction: when you are approached, detained, and arrested by police.

“This workshop was important because it targeted an area where Memphians are constantly affected by police harassment, on Poplar just east of the Downtown core,” says Isaac Kimes, a Memphis lawyer and board member with the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center.  The Mid-South Peace & Justice Center has sponsored H.O.P.E. and its efforts to organize the homeless community in Memphis since 2011.

“We were able to help educate more than 40 people about their constitutional rights during an encounter with law enforcement,” says Josh Spickler, Director of the Defender’s Resource Network for the Law Offices of the Shelby County Public Defender.  “It gave these men and women a chance to have a dialogue with a public defender and furthered our mission to serve this city and all its citizens, including those experiencing homelessness.”

The_Bridge_Street_Newspaper_LogoYou can read the rest of the column and learn more about your rights if questioned by law enforcement in the October issue of The Bridge — Memphis’ first newspaper that features articles, stories and art by people experiencing homelessness in our city.

You may see a Bridge vendor selling the newspaper for $1.00.  Buy one.  These trained and certified vendors live on the streets and are working to earn money and skills.

We are proud to partner with this publication and will provide information monthly about legal issues pertaining to those experiencing homelessness.