A Vibrant Power Meeting with Community Members and Elected Officials

Community members gather around tables to dialogue with elected officials

Over 100 people packed into Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in West Philly on Saturday for a town hall meeting with progressive elected officials and movement candidates. Hosted by Straight Ahead, Amistad Movement Power, and Free the Ballot, this Power Meeting was an occasion for community members to dialogue with elected officials about the issues that matter most to them.

We were delighted to have City Councilmember Kendra Brooks in attendance, along with candidate for PA Attorney General, Keir Bradford-Grey, candidates for the PA State Senate, Senator Nikil Saval and Senator Sharif Street, and candidates for PA State House, Cass Green and Rep. Chris Rabb.

It was moving to hear candidates share how their loved one’s experiences with the law made them want to be a part of shaping the law and how it’s applied today. Keir Bradford-Grey said, “I saw people talk to my dad like he was nothing. So I thought, “If I ever get a chance to go to college, I want to be a lawyer to use the law to create opportunities for my community.” She said she had seen the law used as a sword, so she became a lawyer to use it for justice for the people.

Similarly, Cass Green shared about her experience helping formerly incarcerated family members transition back home. She credits relationships with incarcerated loved ones who have turned their lives around with having a transformative impact on her personally and politically.

Senator Sharif Street gave an impassioned speech about the urgent need for us to stand against Act 40, which strips Philadelphia’s twice-elected District Attorney of jurisdictional authority over crimes that occur on SEPTA properties, which could include the vast majority of Philadelphia. By stripping our democratically elected District Attorney of jurisdictional authority over crimes that occur in Philadelphia—and no other county—the state legislature is normalizing the erasure of votes between elections. It is an attack on our democracy and specifically the Black and Brown voters in Philadelphia who elected our DA twice.

The meeting ended on an inspiring note when a community member asked what steps we can take to motivate elected officials to end long-term and lifetime parole supervision. Rep. Chris Rabb said, “Let me remind you of what y’all did in the summer of 2020: tens of thousands of people in the streets inspired a number of elected officials to shut down the House of Representatives and introduce some significant bills. Every time you show up in Harrisburg, it makes a difference.”

We are going to carry that energy into canvassing for progressive candidates for the Pennsylvania Primary election on April 23rd and to push back against rightwing extremists in the general election in November.