A Day In The Life
Providing Essential Legal Services in the Community Justice Unit
Supervising Attorney Anthony Posada and Community Organizer Victor Dempsey of the Community Justice Unit (CJU) passionately work within New York’s neighborhoods to fight gun violence and provide legal access and support.
Growing up with his father incarcerated, Anthony Posada has a unique perspective on the role our justice system plays in communities. As Supervising Attorney of the Community Justice Unit (CJU), Anthony spends his days coordinating efforts to encourage positive interactions between local community members and our city’s justice system.
The CJU was founded to provide essential legal services to members of “Cure Violence” Programs, New York City’s approach to curbing gun violence by viewing it as a public safety issue. Anthony leads the CJU in providing Know Your Rights events for immigrants, educating youth groups on the school-to-prison pipeline, advocating against NYPD’s secretive gang database, and more. Looking back on his life, he sees that you can’t just serve individual clients, but that “the community needs to be serviced.” As Anthony puts it, “at the end of the day, each case is a person who is going to return to their family and their community.”
At the end of the day, each case is a person who is going to return to their family and their community.
Community Organizer Victor Dempsey’s journey to The Legal Aid Society is similarly motivated by personal experience. After growing up in foster care, Victor joined a gang and spent time in jail for an attempted robbery conviction. At 21, Victor was released, and since then he’s turned his life around. “I was embarrassed about my past,” he explains. Now, as a Community Organizer, Victor is a role model for the clients he works with. Using his personal experience within the system, Victor works with young people across city, offering them a path towards a better future. “It’s a breath of fresh air; knowing my past and knowing where I am today, and being able to communicate my story with the youth.”
It’s a breath of fresh air; knowing my past and knowing where I am today, and being able to communicate my story with the youth.
Victor and Anthony—along with the rest of the CJU team—impact the lives of New Yorkers across our city. In just one day, the variety of neighborhoods and clients Victor works with is breathtaking: helping clients get fingerprinted so they can seal their criminal records; working with the family of Saheed Vassell, a mentally ill black man who was killed by NYPD officers in April; coordinating workshops to help grassroots community organizations incorporate themselves as non-profits; planning community engagement training sessions for attorneys at some of the city’s most prestigious law firms; and much more.
For Victor, even with all of the tasks he takes on, he never loses sight of what is important. “It’s bigger than the individual projects,” Victor states. “It’s about going to communities to ask them: What do you need? How can we service you?”
A contribution to The Legal Aid Society is about more than money.
Every donation helps us offer essential legal services to thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers, helping people buy food, pay rent, and care for themselves and their families.