Session Type(s): Panel
Starts: Thursday, Aug. 18 4:00 PM (Eastern)
Ends: Thursday, Aug. 18 5:00 PM (Eastern)
In 2020, after the tragic murder of George Floyd, there was a national demand to defund the police. We heard this reemerge after police officers sat outside of a school in Texas while children were being murdered. But what does it really mean to defund the police and why make such a demand? When we hear “Defund the Police,” one of the things we hear is “They are not the answer.” Join us as we explore alternative responses to public health issues such as homelessness, mental health, drug use/abuse, and violence—and why it is necessary to remove police from these situations.
Brandi Fisher is the founder and president of the Alliance for Police Accountability(APA), an organization dedicated to criminal justice reconstruction founded in March 2010. Miss Fisher personifies love for community, is a strong voice for justice and teaches us how to be fearless in the face of opposition while never compromising principles to please others for self gain. In 2017, she spearheaded organizing the very diverse Woodland Hills School District who successfully ran a campaign to replace four school board members and the principal, as a result of students being abused by staff and school police. In 2018, as a result of the uproar in the community regarding the response to the Tree of Life shooting compared to the response to tragedies in the Black community, Ms. Fisher convened a group of leaders within the Jewish and Black communities to address the disparity with the Pittsburgh City administration. She also worked with PA Governor Wolf to successfully veto a bill that would have allowed the identity of officers involved in use of force incidents to be kept secret. She takes joy in bridging the gaps that exist between political officials, community members and institutions. Under her leadership, APA’s advocacy has resulted in financial awards of over $5.5 million dollars for individuals and families. Miss Fisher also assists in writing and introducing policies and legislation such as the decriminalization of marijuana in the city of Pittsburgh, to the most recent ballot initiatives to ban No knock warrants in the city of Pittsburgh and extremely restrict solitary confinement in the Allegheny County Jail. Both of these initiatives passed in the May 2021 election.
Ronna Davis-Moore is the CEO Founder & Director of Za’kiyah House Housing, which provides housing for returning residents, experiencing homelessness and drug use/abuse. Ronna studied social work at Allegheny County Community College and in 2004 received her Associate Degree in Social Work and a Certificate in Drug and Alcohol Counseling. She received her Bachelor in Social Work from Chatham College in 2007, and in 2012 her Master Degree in Leadership from Geneva College. Ronna is a returning citizen whose desire is to reach back and pull others through the same tunnels that she has once traveled herself. With that dedication, Ronna has worked in the Social Service Field for over 16 years, as a Social Worker at The Salvation Army, an addiction specialist at Tadiso Inc. and a MAT trained therapist for Three Rivers Youth, Adaptive Behavioral Services and Recovery United. Ronna has led the
work of Za’kiyah House, supervised staff and volunteers, and provided direct case work, since its inception six years ago.
Robert Saleem Holbrook (he/him) is the Executive Director of the Abolitionist Law Center, a law project dedicated to ending race and class based discrimination in the criminal justice system and all forms of state violence. Prior to being named Executive Director of ALC he was its Director of Community Organizing responsible for expanding ALC into Philadelphia. He also led ALC’s campaigns against Death By Incarceration (Life Without Parole), Solitary Confinement and State Violence. He has worked with the Center for Constitutional Rights to end Death By Incarceration sentences in the United States and the National Unlock The Box Campaign to End Solitary Confinement. He is a co-founder of the Human Rights Coalition, an organization with chapters in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that is composed of family members of prisoners. HRC advocates on behalf of the civil and human rights of prisoners. He is also a co-founder of the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration in Pennsylvania, an advocacy group fighting to end Life without Parole Sentences. He sits on the advisory boards of the Amistad Law Project and Youth Arts and Empowerment Project. While incarcerated, Saleem wrote extensively on prison abuse, social injustice, state violence and juveniles charged and sentenced as adults. His writings were featured in Truthout, The Appeal, San Francisco Bay View, and Solitary Watch. He was released from prison in 2018 after spending over two decades incarcerated for an offense he was convicted of as a child offender.
A 3rd generation Philadelphian, Council Member Thomas grew up in Northwest Philadelphia. Growing up life was about education and basketball and decades later his passions remain; his city, education and basketball. Isaiah has committed his life to building a brighter future for all Philadelphians and knows that education, opportunity and teamwork are the way to get there
Throughout his career, Isaiah has worked in the non-profit, public and private sectors in positions that impact the important issues our city faces. Including the creation of his non-profit organization, The Thomas & Woods Foundation, which provides free summer programs for
youth 6-16 years old.
Isaiah Thomas is proud to be the highest voter-getter of the newly elected Council members and has brought that enthusiasm with him throughout his first term. With the introduction of historic legislation like the Driving Equality Bill, as well as the Black Worker Matter package and Local Procurement Bill, he has shown his passion for addressing the real issues of Philadelphia Citizens.
A proud graduate of Philadelphia public schools, Isaiah has a BA from Penn State Abington and a masters of education from Lincoln University. Isaiah lives in Oak Lane with his wife Klissa and sons, Isaiah Jr., and newborn Issac.
Jasiri X is the first independent hip-hop artist to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate, which he received from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2016. Still, he remains rooted in the Pittsburgh based organization he founded, 1Hood Media, which teaches youth of color how to analyze and create media for themselves. His critically acclaimed album Black Liberation Theology (2015) has been recognized as a soundtrack for today’s civil rights movement. He has performed his music from the Smithsonian to the Apollo Theater and has discussed his views on hip-hop, race, and politics at leading institutions across the nation, including Harvard University, the University of Chicago, NYU, Yale, and Stanford, among others. In 2017 he received the Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship to start the 1Hood Artivist Academy. Jasiri is also a recipient of the USA Cummings Fellowship in Music, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Fellowship and the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
Other sessions: Why We're Winning: How Black-Led Progressive Organizations are Changing the Face of Western PA Politics, Off Campus: Winning Progressives’ Most Important Generation, All Eyes on PA: How Progressives are Building Power to Win in the Keystone State