Solomon Jones leads ‘Demanding Justice’ panel on how to achieve justice in the legal system

March 15, 2023
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Types : In the News

The Inquirer contributing columnist and author hosted a panel discussion with lawyers Michael Coard and Keir Bradford-Grey and reparations proponent Rashaun Williams in Germantown on Saturday.

Whether police practices such as stop-and-frisk create safer communities and how Black people can become court watchers and jury members were topics on the table at a panel discussion on criminal justice at the Center in the Park in Germantown’s Vernon Park last Saturday.

The panel discussion, “Demanding Justice: The Plan for Criminal Justice Reform,” was presented by Solomon Jones, a contributing columnist at The Inquirer and a WURD Radio host, who also announced the release of the paperback version of his 2021 book, Ten Lives, Ten Demands: Life-and-Death Stories, and a Black Activist’s Blueprint for Racial Justice.

Keir Bradford-Grey, the former chief defender of the city’s Defender Association, said that people have accepted stop-and-frisk as a tactic that police should use because “people are saying this is a model that is being done to protect us.”

“First of all, stop-and-frisk has never gone anywhere,” she said. ” It’s always been a tool available to police, and it’s never had the impact that it was was sold as having.”

Police use stop-and-frisk to detain and pat down someone to search for weapons, either on the street, or in a car stop, if police believe they may have just committed a crime, or are about to commit a crime.

As chief defender, she said, her office established an office of police accountability and researched how stop-and-frisk was being used.

“What we found [was] that when [police] stopped 309,000 people, 70% of the people they stopped were Black. And of those 70%, they found something [illegal] like 0.17% of the time. So that means 99.83% of the time, they were stopping otherwise law-abiding citizens.”

“In fact, [stop-and-frisk] has done more to alienate communities from helping to solve crime than bringing us closer to public safety,” said Bradford-Grey, who is now a partner with the Center City firm Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP.