Rethinking the Municipal Court System: How to Move Money from Police and Courts to Services that Make Our Communities Safe and Prosperous

Rethinking the Municipal Court System: How to Move Money from Police and Courts to Services that Make Our Communities Safe and Prosperous

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Thursday, Jul. 14 10:00 AM (Eastern)

Ends: Thursday, Jul. 14 11:15 AM (Eastern)

In low-income, Black communities disenfranchised by the criminal legal system, millions of dollars are spent each year on courts and police that could be invested into public services to meet basic needs of the community and combat inequity. What if we could empower community members to envision how they would like resources to be spent to promote genuine public safety? What would it look like to hold political officials accountable to these community-led visions? Join grass roots St. Louis organizers as we chart a path to redirect resources from traditional policing and court models into public services that meet basic needs of the community and address root causes of crime.


Thomas Harvey

Thomas B. Harvey is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of ArchCity Defenders, a non-profit civil rights law firm providing holistic legal advocacy to the poor and homeless in the St. Louis region and beyond. ArchCity Defenders uses direct services, impact litigation, and advocacy through policy and public relations as its primary tools to promote racial justice and protect civil and human rights. ArchCity Defenders works closely with local organizers and activists in support of their intersectional work and has been very active in protest representation.
Thomas is the lead author of ArchCity’s paper on the systemic abuses in St. Louis County’s municipal court system published in August of 2014 that brought context to underlying factors in the protests following the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson. The paper served as the template for the Department of Justice’s findings in Ferguson in March of 2015 and has sparked a national conversation about the way police and local courts worked in concert to criminalize Black lives and generate revenue, violated the clear mandates of the United States Constitution, and destroyed the public’s confidence in the legal system and government. Thomas also served on the organizing committee for the historic Law4BlackLives convening in Harlem’s Riverside Cathedral, he is active in the representation of Ferguson protesters, as well as litigation and advocacy directed at reducing systemic racism through the elimination of cash bail, debtors’ prisons, revenue-based policing, and unconstitutional court practices in Ferguson and throughout the St. Louis region.

my website


Kennard Williams

Born and raised in St. Louis, Mo, Kennard Williams is a community organizer with MORE (Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment), a social justice organization focused on climate, economy, and justice reform. Kennard works on MORE’s Decarcerate STL campaign, a campaign focused on ending mass incarceration in the St. Louis area.