Defund the Police, One Year Later Speaker Bios


Lisa Butner is a Detective Lieutenant with the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) assigned as the Cadet Program Coordinator, which involves the development and implementation of a Cadet Program designed to increase the level of Diversity within the sworn uniformed branch of the MSP.  She has three Masters Degrees, two from Suffolk University in Public Administration and Crime and Justice Studies and one from the University of Massachusetts (Lowell) in Criminal Justice. Over the course of her 39 year career, DLT. Butner has worked for three police agencies (Harvard University Police Department, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police) and has worked in a variety of assignments including the drug unit as an undercover officer, homicide unit, auto theft unit, the recruitment and diversity unit, the traffic programs unit, and a sensitive crime unit. 

Sean K. Ellis was born July 11, 1974, in Boston, MA to Mary Ellis and the late John Ellis. Sean and his family lived in Roslindale, MA, and later relocated to Boston’s Dorchester area of Massachusetts. Sean was a student at Needham Public School System, a high-performing, predominantly white school in the suburbs. He was afforded this opportunity through a voluntary school integration program ran by Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity. Sean would later transfer to Dorchester High School where he obtained his high school diploma in 1991. After graduating high school, Sean planned to attend an auto mechanics program, but his late cousin Tracy Brown was encouraging him to think bigger and attend college.

On October 5, 1993, nineteen-year-old Sean was charged as a co-venturer in the robbery and murder of a Boston Police Detective. In September 1995 after the third jury trial, he was wrongfully convicted of these charges and spent over twenty years in prison. During his time in prison, Sean dedicated his time to earn a certification as a paralegal while proclaiming his innocence. On May 5, 2015, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball overturned his convictions ruling “justice was not done“.

On June 3, 2015, Sean was released from prison on a $50,000 bail as he awaited Trial 4. Suffolk County prosecutor offered him a guilty plea for time served to avoid a fourth trial. Sean declined! As the wait continued, Sean frequently spoke at local forums and national conferences in San Diego, CA, Memphis, TN, and Atlanta, GA to share his story and inspire others.  After three years, Suffolk County prosecutors scheduled his fourth trial for October 2018 and then re-scheduled it to September 9, 2019. On December 17, 2018, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts dropped the robbery and murder charges against him.

Now in his mid-40’s, Sean is reclaiming his life and is a staunch advocate of criminal justice and prison reform. He has since co-founded the Exoneree Network and is involved with the NAACP, Violence in Boston, The Ministry of Justice, Massachusetts Community Action Network, and Essex County Community Organizing. Sean also serves as a trustee on the board of the New England Innocence Project. Sean’s recently released NETFLIX Docu-Series, Trial 4 has elevated his voice internationally as he continues to speak about his experiences with racism and injustice within the criminal justice system. A system that kept him behind bars for nearly 22 years for a crime he DID NOT COMMIT!

Zach Norris is the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, author of Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment, and co-founder of Restore Oakland, a community advocacy and training center that will empower Bay Area community members to transform local economic and justice systems and make a safe and secure future possible for themselves and for their families. Zach is also a co-founder of Justice for Families, a national alliance of family-driven organizations working to end our nation’s youth incarceration epidemic.

Zach helped build California’s first statewide network for families of incarcerated youth which led the effort to close five youth prisons in the state, passed legislation to enable families to stay in contact with their loved ones, and defeated Prop 6—a destructive and ineffective criminal justice ballot measure.

Defund Fear, released in 2020 (formerly titled We Keep Us Safe), has been praised by Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, and Kirkus Reviews.

In addition to being a Harvard graduate and NYU-educated attorney, Zach is also a graduate of the Labor Community Strategy Center’s National School for Strategic Organizing in Los Angeles, California, and was a 2011 Soros Justice Fellow. He is a former board member at Witness for Peace, Just Cause Oakland, and Justice for Families. Zach was a recipient of the American Constitution Society’s David Carliner Public Interest Award in 2015 and is a member of the 2016 class of the Levi Strauss Foundation’s Pioneers of Justice.

Zach is a loving husband and dedicated father of two bright daughters, whom he is raising in his hometown of Oakland, California.

Edwin Raymond is a child of Haitian immigrants, born, raised, and currently still residing in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn. He joined the New York City Police Department in 2008 to work from the inside to remedy some of the injustices he faced as a young man. Raymond is currently serving as an active NYPD Lieutenant and is running for New York City Council District 40 for teachers that need more resources, for hospitals that need more funding, and for communities that need more opportunities, not over-policing. Raymond is dedicated to addressing issues of over-policing, improving schools, increasing affordable housing, supporting small businesses, and making quality healthcare accessible. As an NYPD officer, he knows what needs to change so that our police force is accountable to all New Yorkers and that starts with increased oversight from the City Council.

Dedicating his early life to activism, in 2014, he, along with his childhood friend, co-founded PLOT (Preparing Leaders of Tomorrow) which serves vulnerable youth by offering them mentors, resources, and support. A year later, he became an advocate for “Raise the Age,” an initiative that reformed the practice of automatically charging teenagers as adults no matter how minor the offense they committed. Raymond has always sought out ways to advocate and strengthen the communities that he has been a part of and he seeks to continue that work in the 40th District.

Raymond is also a subject of the Emmy award-winning Hulu original documentary Crime + Punishment that chronicled Raymond along with 11 NYPD officers, who blew the whistle on arrest quotas and racism within the NYPD. Raymond is no stranger to speaking truth to power and is determined to be a voice for the people of Council District 40.