Who is Penn Community for Justice?

Penn Community for Justice
5 min readSep 12, 2020


Dear Community:

There have been some questions as to who Penn Community for Justice (PCJ) is and what we stand for. Let us tell you!

Who We Are

We are a racially and socioeconomically diverse group of Penn staff, alumni, students and Philadelphia residents.

What We Stand For

  • We organize to demand that Penn defund and eventually disband Penn Police and make Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs) to the Education Equity Fund in support of Philadelphia public schools.
  • We believe in multifaceted, intersectional activism that implores a wide array of tactics and allows a multitude of voices to be heard. We are firmly committed to using our bodies and minds to reach these goals and hold Penn and the city of Philadelphia accountable.
  • We aim to exude empathy, collaboration and shared leadership. We strive to foster an organizing environment where people of all backgrounds and experience levels can feel safe, encouraged and free from judgement.

What We’ve Accomplished

In just three months since our inception, we have

  • Grown an online forum of 3500+ members.
  • Co-organized four direct actions targeting Penn Police, University City Police, police brutality and demanding Penn Pay PILOTs with a wide range of community partners
  • Worked with Philly Jobs with Justice to lobby the City of Philadelphia and the UPENN Board of Trustees to create a meaningful PILOTs agreement
  • Initiated research, writing and creative projects related to PILOTs, campus police and gentrification perpetuated by universities in West Philadelphia [publications coming soon].
  • Created an online email campaign to demand accountability from Penn Police for their participation in the 52nd St. police attack on May 31st.
  • Participated in and organized panels, talks and teach-ins related to these subjects.
  • Are working with the NAACP and Drexel Lawyering Clinic on a civil case and a UN Human Rights Commission submission to demand justice from the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) for the 52nd St. police attack.
  • Participants in the Community Accountability and Advisory Council of the City Controller’s Office in an effort to audit the PPD’s response to uprisings in 2020.
  • Gave testimony at the Penn Public Safety Review and Outreach Initiative on the cause of abolishing Penn Police. We chose to give testimony in order to break through the echo-chamber and present abolitionist ideas to hundreds of viewers who may not have otherwise encountered them. We are proud of our statements and we invite you to view PCJ members Amelia Carter and Kaitlin Best’s testimony here (19mn30s) and here (starting at 1h 40m).
  • And much more!

A Way Forward: Uprooting Supremacist Thinking in Organizing Communities

Equally important to movement work as protest is the new challenge of creating organizing spaces people want to be a part of. After years of “call-out” and “cancel” culture, many of us are walking on eggshells afraid to make a false move or be found disposable. Too many bright beautiful minds shudder at the thought of participating in activism for that reason and have vowed to “stay out of it”. We feel you! We’ve been there and we agree — things can get pretty sour. The virtue signalling and social policing is exhausting and can create a hostile organizing environment.

In our short time as an organization, we have learned it is imperative to make as much space as possible for anyone willing to stand beside us in this fight, for we know we will be crushed by the hubris of attempting to face it alone. This requires us to challenge internalized carceral thinking which aims to control others through punishment, judgment and isolation when opinions or approaches vary. Superiority, elitism, gatekeeping and exclusion have no place in the movement we are building. It is necessary to heal this inherited toxic culture as these habits are what bind us to the very systems of oppression we seek to destroy.

The issues we face are large and many of us are hurting, grieving, barely surviving. This is why we are making the effort to foster organizing spaces built in compassion, respect and empathy during this time of malignant crisis. We know that love and vulnerability are the only superpowers strong enough to topple these destructive systems which have rooted themselves inside of all of us. We aim to start there. We are working to lead with that.

If you feel like our words are speaking to you and want to join our work, click here to sign up to be a member and click here to learn more about our demands. If you don’t have the capacity to to organize with us right now, sign up for our email list to stay in the loop and jump in whenever you are able.

Thank you for taking a moment to get to know us a bit better! If you have any questions or want to collaborate in the future reach out at PennCommunity4Justice@gmail.com.


Penn Community for Justice

To learn more about our work here are some references about what we have done so far:

Social Media

  1. Penn Community for Justice Facebook Group/Community Forum
  2. Penn Community for Justice Page
  3. Penn Community for Justice Instagram

Penn Community for Justice Media Features & Collaborations:

  1. ‘Fire Rush, defund UPPD, pay PILOTs’: Over 100 gather to protest Penn Police violence (The Daily Pennsylvanian)
  2. Penn, Drexel students call on universities to disband police departments (The Daily Pennsylvanian)
  3. Marchers push Drexel, Penn to dissolve private police forces by 2025 (WHYY)
  4. Penn, Drexel officers’ presence on 52nd Street renews calls to defund campus police (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  5. Protesters Demand University Of Pennsylvania, Drexel Dissolve Private Police Departments (CBS Philly)
  6. Philly police actions on 52nd Street under investigation, but distrust of cops keeps some witnesses silent (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  7. Protesters call for Drexel, Penn to dissolve campus police forces by 2025 (Philly Voice)
  8. Video: Protesters Demand Penn, Drexel Dissolve Private Police Departments (MSN)
  9. Faculty, alumni pressure Penn to make payments to support Philly schools in push for ‘racial and economic justice’ (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  10. Video: Inside Look: Protests on Drexel’s Campus (Drexel University Television)
  11. Video: University of Pennsylvania students and staff protest campus police involvement in West Philly (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  12. How 52nd Street became a target for Philadelphia Police (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  13. Besieged, then betrayed (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  14. Hundreds march in Center City against police brutality in response to Jacob Blake shooting (The Daily Pennsylvanian)

Past Penn Community for Justice Events

  1. Protest UPenn’s Assault on West Philadelphia — July 24, 2020
  2. Rally to demand PILOTs from David Cohen! — July 31, 2020
  3. March on University City — August 9, 2020
  4. New Student Preceptorial: Penn in the Wake of BLM- August 25, 2020
  5. Justice for Jacob Blake September 4, 2020
  6. PCJ New Member Orientation Public September 8, 2020
  7. Protest Trump’s Philly Townhall September 15, 2020

Many more events to come! Like our page on Facebook to get connected with our calendar.



Penn Community for Justice

A group of UPENN and Philadelphia community members who are committed to fighting for racial and economic justice. Join here: https://tinyurl.com/PCJpledge