Signal’s logo Credit – Lam Yik/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ama Russell and Evamelo Oleita had never been to a protest before June. But as demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality began to spread across the U.S. earlier this year, the two 17 year-olds from Michigan, both of whom are Black, were inspired to organize one of their own.
Seeking practical help, Oleita reached out to Michigan Liberation, a local civil rights group. The activist who replied told her to download the messaging app Signal. “They were saying that to be safe, they were using Signal now,” Oleita tells TIME. It turned out to be useful advice. “I think Signal became the most important tool for protesting for us,” she says.
Within a month, Oleita and Russell had arranged a nonviolent overnight occupation at a detention center on the outskirts of Detroit, in protest against a