During a criminal procedure class at Loyola Law School, Zakiya Glass’s professor asked the students whether it was reasonable for a police officer to suspect—and to stop—someone who was running. Glass was shocked when the majority of the students said ‘Yes.’
“Reasonable suspicion is incredibly suggestive,” she said. “You see a white person running and you don’t think anything of it, but you see a black man jogging and think he needs to be stopped.”
Glass immediately thought of the time she was waiting for her father to return to the car when suddenly police helicopters began to circle the area. Her father, sensing something dangerous might be happening, began running back to her. But a Black security guard stopped him and reminded him that the police officers circling the sky above might get the wrong idea if they saw a Black man running.
“The idea that you should be thinking about that when your first thought is to protect your child—I’m fairly certain that most white parents have never had to make that consideration,” she said. As a Black woman, she understood intimately the importance of the application—and not just the letter—of the law.
Glass, a partner in the Los Angeles and Orange County Offices of Harrington, Foxx, Dubrow & Canter, graduated from law school in 2004, and has focused on general liability defense litigation since 2006.
She first learned about NLSLA when she served on the board of the Langston Bar Association, which collaborated with the organization on some its criminal records expungement work. NLSLA Human Resources Director Elizabeth Brown, a close friend, convinced Glass that NLSLA would be a good fit.
“The law is about knowledge and access,” Glass said. “Historically that knowledge and access has often been used by people in power to protect their interests and oppress others. But it can also be used to advocate for the oppressed and effect change.”