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Philly Stands Up: Inside the politics and poetics of transformative justice and community accountability in sexual assault situations

Philly Stands Up: Inside the politics and poetics of transformative justice and community accountability in sexual assault situations Esteban Kelly describes the journey of Philly Stands Up and Philly's Pissed, two groups that emerged in response to sexual assaults within Philadelphia's anarcho-punk community. - Courtesy: Noura Kamal

Philly’s Pissed and Philly Stands Up emerged in response to a series of sexual assaults that consumed the anarcho-punk community during a summertime festival in Philadelphia in 2004. Both arose as expressions of a community grounded in a “do-it-yourself” anarchist politics, accustomed to political organizing in times of need, particularly crisis. Though our community differs from those earlier days, Philly Stands Up has gleaned important lessons from nearly one decade of on-the-ground work responding to sexual assault situations and directly engaging people who have caused harm. Our organization resists dichotomous approaches to this work, balancing national organizing with local education and community-based anti-violence work. This article is an account of our journey, organizational transformations, lessons learned and the politics developed through this vital organizing.

Roots and radicals

Philly’s Pissed (Pissed) and Philly Stands Up (PSU) started as volunteer collectives consisting almost entirely of white, cis-gendered,* mostly heterosexual but also queer, punk-affiliated anarchists in their early 20s to late 30s. When a series of high-profile sexual assaults devastated the punk community of West Philly in the summer of 2004, some community members decided that they had had enough. West Philly punks who were survivors and bystanders to sexual assault that summer and throughout their lives were “pissed,” and they got organized.

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