Chicago native, April Preyer, is an expert in U.S. criminal law. With 22 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney, Preyer has worked for prestigious institutions, started a legal practice, and advocated for civil rights and immigration.
Devoting her life to criminal defense and police reform is impactful, but future policies don’t help young people of color today. To help family and friends stay in the know, Preyer posted short-form legal videos on Facebook. Her third video, “4 Things Not to Do if Stopped by Police” garnered 1.2 million views in 24 hours. She recalls the moment saying, “that’s when I realized I was onto something.” Not long after viral success, she created JustUs Junkie, a legal educational platform that uses videos and workshops to simplify legal jargon.
Total views for content soared to over 2.5 million, but Preyer wasn’t reaching teens and young adults who landed in her office. In need of a method to teach and entertain, she came up with a board game.
Trials & Triumph Board Game teaches seven essential rules of police encounters. The game then exposes players to 54 real-life scenarios, which reiterate the rules. After seeing themselves or friends in situations throughout the course of the game, players learn what to do. Though entertaining, this game is practice for real police encounters.
“Trials & Triumph returns the power to the people. Our youth need real-life tools they can use in the next 10 minutes, which is what my game provides,” said Preyer.
To stop children from being abused and exploited by police, Preyer highlights the need for legal education. “You can't teach what you don't know. If something happens, instead of asking for a parent, kids should ask to speak with a lawyer,” says Preyer.
Continuing, she reveals, “parents and guardians mean well, but they give children poor legal advice”. The former law professor mentions how common it is to hear adults say, “tell the truth” or “tell them what they want to hear”. Unfortunately, this type of advice lands too many black and brown people behind bars.
Preyer confidently states, “there is power in prevention. I developed a board game to prevent teens from getting caught up in criminal court.”
Preyer then emphasizes the importance of learning from our nation's history of false confessions, like the Exonerated Five (formerly Central Park Five) and the Jon Burge torture victims. Her interactive board game “teaches players their Constitutional rights, how to interact with police safely, and how to avoid criminal courts.”
Sadly, research has shown increasing police training doesn’t reduce the use of force by law enforcement. Preyer states, “people who feel powerless respond in desperate ways. They run. They panic. They become paralyzed with fear.” She continues, saying, “Trials & Triumph gives civilians confidence to safely assert their rights and strategies to make all police encounters uneventful.”
After seeing countless, preventable police encounters with kids and teens, April Preyer found ways to provide accurate advice to those who need it most. The experienced legal professional devolved life-changing solutions to solve a 200- year-long problem for black and brown youth.