Annie Rios: How to reclaim power and use the law to our advantage

The executive director of Uprise Theater urges underserved communities to use their legal rights

Annie Rios

Annie Rios, an experienced litigator, activist, and human rights attorney, presents at the Social Justice Conference. Zoom screenshot

Katia Pechenkina, News Editor

Uprise Theater, founded by Annie Rios, focuses on educating and empowering people with their legal rights through theater and any kind of artistic expression that will lead people to understand their rights better. 

It was part of the Re-envisioning the Law for Social Justice session during the first day of San Diego City College’s Annual Social Justice and Education Conference.

Rios, an experienced litigator, activist, and human rights attorney talked about what legal systems could look like if communities reclaimed power and used the law to their advantage.

“That’s what my legal career has been about,” Rios said.

She spoke passionately about the future of the social justice movement and humanity, noting the limits our system has now are not permanent and that a new world will be possible. 

As an attorney, Rios has to interact with the legal system even though it’s a broken one so she can “create new justice that hasn’t been seen yet.”

She emphasized the need to use the knowledge of the legal system in order “to actually be ready to attack.”

“Law is meant to be fair,” Rios said. “Law is a beautiful thing, but it is the access to that law, to the humanization, that we need.”

Rios, a Southeast San Diego native and first-generation college student, was able to see the discrepancy that exists for people of color, women and underrepresented communities. This is what inspired her to become an attorney in the first place. 

“We see ourselves reflected in clients that we want to represent, I see myself and I see my mom in every immigrant,” Rios said.