Protest personalities: Jody Dodd

    Jody Dodd of the Up Against the Law legal collective. (Dana DiFilippo/WHYY)

    Jody Dodd of the Up Against the Law legal collective. (Dana DiFilippo/WHYY)

    City officials expect as many as 50,000 protesters a day to hit Philadelphia’s streets and a demonstration zone at FDR Park, across from the Democratic National Convention taking place at Wells Fargo Center.

    Each day, we’ll profile a protest leader to give you a peek at the personalities behind the chants and signs.

    Want to participate in or watch a protest march? Or would you prefer to dodge protests — and the traffic congestion they could cause — altogether? The DNC Action Committee has a protest master schedule online.

    Cause

    Free-speech rights. She’s a founder and trainer with the Up Against the Law legal collective.

    Strategy

    Holds “Know Your Rights” trainings to teach activists what to do when encountering cops. The collective also has a hotline for protesters in trouble and will connect them with pro bono civil-rights attorneys. Collective members will act as “legal observers” during the DNC, watching police and others during protests for potential civil rights problems.

    Age

    58

    Home base

    South Philadelphia

    Day job

    Office manager/legal worker at Krasner and Long, a criminal defense and civil rights firm in Center City.

    Bet you didn’t know

    She’s a longtime social activist with a history of fighting for nuclear disarmament. “I had just given birth to my second child [in the 1980s] when I heard Ronald Reagan say we could win a nuclear war. That flipped me out. I didn’t know too much about nuclear power then, but I knew from Hiroshima and Nagasaki that there was no such thing as a winner there. I thought: ‘What world have I brought my children into?’ I felt a sense of responsibility to educate myself about this,” she said.

    Education turned into activism, and Dodd spent the next decade protesting outside of nuclear weapon facilities nationally, activism that got her arrested “about 20” times. She became such an expert that she delivered a paper on nuclear proliferation in 2005 at the United Nations in Geneva as a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

    During the Republican National Convention here in 2000, she worked as a legal observer during protests. And when Occupy activists set up at Dilworth Plaza in 2011, she formed the Occupy Philadelphia legal collective to help activists overcome resulting legal troubles. She reformed that as the Up Against the Law legal collective for the DNC.

    In her words

    “One of the root causes of injustice and inequality in this country is our criminal justice system. I’m someone who believes in the idea of building a beloved community. I cannot close a blind eye to where I see inequality and harm being done. If you look at the history of social movements for change, all the changes that have happened in this country, from civil rights to women’s rights to the end of wars, happened because people took to the streets, lifted their voices, and demanded change. Yet I hear rhetoric from politicians that people should be locked up for speaking out. That disturbs me. You have a presidential candidate right now who thinks it’s perfectly fine to exclude media from covering his events. If we don’t exert our rights, then we lose them.”

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