In the Pushback season finale, former Philadelphia police officer and whistleblower Rochelle Bilal shares her views on the Thin Blue Line, the legacy of Frank Rizzo, white supremacy in policing, and why she ventured into law enforcement despite negative experiences with police growing up. Bilal is president of the local chapter of the Guardian Civic League, an organization that advocates for African-American officers, sometimes at odds with the city’s powerful police union, the Fraternal Order of Police. (The FOP endorsed Trump for president; the Guardian Civic League proclaimed him “an outrageous bigot.”) Bilal opens up about all that, and much more. Also: A look back at the season from our hosts.
Rochelle Bilal, president of the Guardian Civic League
Anti-poverty advocate Cheri Honkala has been fighting more than just hunger and homelessness in North Philadelphia. She’s been battling the Democratic party machine. After being defeated in a controversial special election this spring, one that was called to fill a vacant seat in Harrisburg for Pennsylvania’s 197th House District, Honkala became a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the local Democratic party. She’s been a critic of the party’s tactics for years. Honkala, a 2012 vice presidential nominee for the Green Party and founder of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, wants the results voided and a new election called. Honkala discusses her up-front-and-personal experiences with voter fraud, her personal experiences with debt and poverty, along with memories of the presidential campaign trail in this latest episode of Pushback.
Cheri Honkala — anti-poverty advocate and 2012 vice presidential nominee for Green Party
Larry Krasner, the Democratic nominee for district attorney of Philadelphia, has a higher profile today than he’s ever had. The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Nation are just a handful of the national media outlets that have profiled the longtime criminal defense attorney who has sued the City of Philadelphia and its police department more than 70 times. Despite the coverage, who Krasner is and what informs his unique brand of justice — the backstory of an unlikely political heavyweight, should he prevail on November 7th general election — has largely flown under the radar. At least until now. In the latest episode of Pushback, Krasner is profiled in his most human form. (He showed up wearing A Tribe Called Quest–inspired socks).
Larry Krasner — Democratic Nominee for District Attorney of Philadelphia
In recognition of Black Music Month, we bring you a conversation about message music — protest music, socially conscious music, whatever you want to call it — and the roots of Philadelphia-raised rapper ARSIN. After an upbringing in a rough neighborhood known as The Bottom — where, by his count, 45 friends of his friends have been killed — ARSIN has become a notable anti-violence lyricist and activist, who, in his latest single “For the Camera,” goes as far as to call himself “a product of the marches.” On this episode, in addition to sampling some of ARSIN’s music, we discuss what is (and isn’t) a protest song, why cursing and rap need not coexist, and which artists inspire ARSIN today.
ARSIN (born Vinte Clemons) — rapper and activist
George Soros tried but failed to get Keir Bradford-Grey to run for district attorney in Philadelphia earlier this year. It turns out she had unfinished business as the chief defender of the Philadelphia Defenders Association, the organization responsible for representing criminal defendants who can’t afford a lawyer.
Now, Bradford-Grey — a self-described activist — has been monitoring and pushing against drug enforcement in the city of Philadelphia while championing progressive policies like diversionary programs. Also on the podcast is an emotional and in-depth interview with Anthony Hirschbuhl, a black Philadelphian who was arrested at age 15 for possessing a nickel bag of marijuana and who, as a result of his arrest, has only been able to get his life on track recently, more than a decade later.
Guests (in order of appearance):
Anthony Hirschbuhl, re-entry activist
Keir Bradford-Grey, chief defender of the Philadelphia Defenders Association
Co-facilitators of the Temple University class “Marijuana in the News,” Chris Goldstein and Linn Washington discuss the ways in which the media fails to cover weed in an equitable way, why Pennsylvania shouldn’t sell weed in state stores, why former U.S. President Barack Obama is Exhibit A for the misinformation put forth about marijuana, and what exactly happened at that “pot raid” back in April, when a weed party in Philly was busted by police. How can we police, regulate, and redefine marijuana use in order to improve justice?
Chris Goldstein, marijuana activist and author of Philly420 blog
Linn Washington, professor of journalism at Temple University
On any given day in Philadelphia, you’re likely to hear Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif — whose 26-year-old cousin, Brandon Tate-Brown, was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014 — on the radio. At the same time, you may flip on television news to see him condemning the latest reports of police violence and racism in our region, speaking on everything from the inequities of stop-and-frisk numbers to discrimination in the Gayborhood. Khalif might be Philadelphia’s version of Deray McKesson, Shaun King and Jamal Green — activists who’ve emerged from the Black Lives Matter movement as memorable personalities on whom the news media often relies for commentary.
Some in the activist community have labeled him an opportunist – a common charge leveled at popular black activists throughout history – and say that his Black Lives Matter Movement Pennsylvania branding is too close in name to Black Lives Matter Philly, a sanctioned chapter under the national network, thus causing people and news organizations – like Breitbart, who ran a story about the Philly chapter using an image of Khalif – to become confused.
Guests (in order of appearance):
Asa Khalif, head of Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania
The 2017 movie “I Am Not Your Negro,” about the life and times of James Baldwin, received nationwide acclaim. But it was hardly an anomaly in its presentation of black intellectualism to a mainstream audience. From the memoirs of Barack Obama to the essays of Ta-Nehisi Coates, there’s been a renaissance of popular interest in black thought. But how do we define a “black intellectual”? How does 21st-century media help or hurt black thought leaders? And how do we fix the problematic tendency to think of black intellectualism as a male-dominated sport?
Guests (in order of appearance):
Gregory Walker, First Vice Chair, Fifth Ward Democratic Executive Committee, and Managing Executive Director, The Brothers Network
Shahmar Beasley, president of the Drexel College Democrats
Carlo Campbell, actor/musician/performer
Dr. Nyasha Junior, professor of religion at Temple University
Andrea Lawful-Sanders, CEO of C.A.P.E.S
Ernest Owens, award-winning journalist and columnist
From safety pins to protests, acts of solidarity have been all over the news in the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency. But how exactly does one stand in solidarity? What does the term even mean? And how can solidarity endure? In this episode, Flood and Malcolm speak with Mayor Jim Kenney, Villanova professor Sally Scholz, and social-justice organizers Erika Almiron (executive director of Juntos) and Rev. Gregory Holston (executive director of P.O.W.E.R) on these topics and more.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney
Villanova professor Sally Scholz
Erika Almiron (executive director of Juntos)
Rev. Gregory Holston (executive director of P.O.W.E.R)