About Amistad Law Project

What We Do Mission Staff

Founded in October 2014, Amistad Law Project (ALP) advocates for the recognition of the human rights of all people and believes in the intersection of movements against systemic oppression.

Our name was suggested by Robert “Saleem” Holbrook, a writer and human rights advocate from Philadelphia who was released in February 2018 after serving 27 years of a death by incarceration sentence in Pennsylvania after being sentenced as a teenager.

In 1839, slave traders kidnapped a large number of Africans from their home in Sierra Leone. Fifty-three people were purchased and placed upon the Caribbean-bound slave ship, La Amistad. On July 1, 1839, the abductees rose up and defeated their captors in the famous Amistad Rebellion. They were later taken to the United States, tried in court, and acquitted. You can read more about the story of the Amistad Rebellion here

Amistad also means “friendship” in Spanish. We are inspired in our work by this legacy of resistance as well as a strong connection to our community.

ALP consists of attorneys, activists, and organizers. We are prison abolitionists who view the prison industrial complex as directly related to the massive divestment from our communities the things that make them safe and strong. We believe that good public education, affordable health care, healthy and affordable food, safe and affordable housing, and the ability to care for our families, no matter what they look like, are human rights.

What We Do

We represent people incarcerated in Pennsylvania's prisons in lawsuits and advocacy efforts, especially when the human rights violations are widespread or would impact a large number of people.

Mission

Amistad Law Project is a West Philadelphia-based public interest law center. Our mission is to fight for the human rights of people in our community by providing free and low-cost legal services to Philadelphians and those incarcerated in Pennsylvania’s prisons. Additionally, we advocate for laws and policies that reflect our vision for a new justice paradigm and organize events and activities to educate the public on their rights and the law.

 

Staff

Executive Director | Legal Lead

Ashley Henderson (they/them/theirs), also known as Kris, is a co-founder of Amistad Law Project, organizer, and attorney licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2009 with a BS in Chemical Engineering and from Temple Law School in 2012. They are a founding member of the Coaltion to Abolish Death By Incarceration.

Policy Lead

Deneekie "Nikki" Grant (she/her/hers) is an attorney, organizer, and co-founder of Amistad Law Project. She is licenced to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Nikki is also a founding member of the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration (CADBI). Nikki graduated from the University of Florida in 2008 with a BA in Political Science and from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2012

Organizing Lead

Sean Damon (he/him/his) is a legal worker and organizer with twenty years of experience in union, community and social movement organizing. He is a co-founding member of the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration.

Communicator Lead

Kempis Songster (he/him/his), also known as Ghani, is a legal worker, organizer, and powerful public speaker. He served 30 years of a death by incarceration sentence in Pennsylvania after being sentenced as a child. Ghani is a founding member of Right 2 Redemption and the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration. He also is on the Board of Directors for the Abolitionist Law Center.

Policy Advisor

Robert "Saleem" Holbrook (he/him/his) is an organizer, legal worker, and long-time human rights activist. Saleem is a co-founder of the Human Rights Coalition and Amistad Law Project. He works as a Paralegal and Community Organizer for the Abolitionist Law Center and is a member and advisor for the Youth Arts and Self-Empowerment Project, as well as 1Hood United.