Every police officer and business owner should watch this Ignite Philly 18 talk - Generocity Philly

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Oct. 18, 2016 12:54 pm

Every police officer and business owner should watch this Ignite Philly 18 talk

"How much do you value someone else's personal history?" asked Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity founder Mike Lee.

Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity founder Mike Lee.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

When Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity Executive Director Mike Lee gets pulled over, police don’t ask him if he founded a legal aid organization. They look to see if he has a criminal history.

Criminal history, said Lee during his Ignite Philly 18 presentation last month, is not personal history — it’s “how the government remembers its actions against you.” Yet, criminal records enforce the idea that “a person’s character can be reduced to a piece of paper.”

But criminal history has a direct impact on the way people with convictions perceive themselves and their personal identity — especially when having a criminal record prevents them from finding gainful employment.

“How much do you value someone else’s personal history?” asked Lee. “When do you use your digression to not look at what a piece of paper might say, but look in someone’s eyes? But most importantly, how can we challenge power and not look crazy?”

Lee’s answer? Democracy. There’s power in numbers.

“We give our consent to be governed. We create what laws govern us,” he said. “And we have the ability to make laws that work for us.”

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