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Ten Policy Solutions Suggested by the Movement for Black Lives

Monday, August 24, 2015 By Kevin Mathews, Care2 | Op-Ed
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Like most activist movements, Black Lives Matter has faced a barrage of criticism for not clearly articulating its goals. In her meeting with some of the group's members, even Hillary Clinton called on them to give her advice on specific real-world policy that could lead to positive change.

You want realistic policy changes? Well now you've got it. Four members aligned with BLM have just released a new website, Campaign Zero, with incredibly specific examples of how to end police violence, which is more often than not aimed at people of color.

Here are the 10 big changes they've suggested to make a difference. I've summarized the policy changes in brief, but please visit the Campaign Zero site for more detailed analysis and explanations:

1. End Broken Windows Policing

Most cases where police kill civilians begin when officers are pursuing minor crimes like loitering, marijuana possession or disturbing the peace, so Campaign Zero seeks to decriminalize or deemphasize these activities. Ending stop-and-frisk activities would help to stop police from profiling black civilians as often, too.

2. Community Oversight

When an incident happens, it's generally left up to the police to police themselves and determine if they're to blame in the situation. It's no wonder that officers are rarely held accountable. The activists call for the creation of a Civilian Complaints Office where civilians would get to hear the details of relevant cases to determine culpability and punishments along with the police department.

3. Limit Use of Force

The police killed 268 unarmed people in 2014; one-third of these incidents occurred following traffic violations. Gunfire should not be the go-to option in non-violent situations, so Campaign Zero wants police departments' force policies to be revised and the creation of a national database that archives when police use excessive force.

4. Independently Investigate & Prosecute

Since DAs rely on the police's own evidence to determine whether to prosecute an officer, this involves an unreasonable conflict of interest. To solve this problem, Campaign Zero wants to see a lower standard of proof to get the Department of Justice involved, an increase in funds available for independent investigations and a Special Prosecutor's Office in each state specifically to look at police brutality.

5. Community Representation

As the website points out, white men comprise less than one-third of the U.S. population, but total two-thirds of the U.S.'s police population. To fix this problem, Campaign Zero calls on communities to hire officers who are more reflective of the communities they serve and facilitate community forums to accept feedback from citizens on how to improve local police departments.

6. Body Cameras/Film the Police

To hold officers accountable, require them to wear body cameras during all interactions with civilians and allow that footage to be available to families and perhaps the public when a situation calls for it. Additionally, officers should be instructed not to obstruct a civilian's right to film the police.

7. Training

Hours of firearm training well exceed other forms of training, so it's no wonder police turn to their guns to resolve a problem so often. Increase the training hours (and make this training ongoing) for officers to learn how to deescalate situations and deal with people of different backgrounds. Additionally, use tests to determine an officer's unconscious racial biases and factor that into the hiring process before sending them into Black communities.

8. End For-Profit Policing

Minority populations are often the target of quotas or fines that aren't applied evenly to Caucasians. To fix this, end evaluating officers' performances based on quotas of how many tickets they issue or arrests they make. Furthermore, stop issuing fines that are slaps on the wrist for people with money, but can cripple a family living in poverty.

9. Demilitarization

When you give police military weapons, they inevitably start acting more like soldiers than peacekeepers. Campaign Zero advocates that the government stop giving police departments surplus military weaponry.

10. Fair Police Union Contracts

Existing police union contracts often leave police officers next to untouchable when they break laws and wrongfully hurt civilians. By making appropriate compromises, new union contracts can protect officers' rights without protecting the bad apples' dangerous behaviors.

The site does not consider its list of policy changes complete at this point. The activists invite other concerned citizens to contribute other ideas that the movement could adopt in calling for real change. Campaign Zero will also track whether 2016 presidential candidates are incorporating the site's ideas into their own campaign pledges to give voters a sense of which candidates are willing to address the problems.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Kevin Mathews

Kevin Mathews is a contributor to Care2.com.


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Ten Policy Solutions Suggested by the Movement for Black Lives

Monday, August 24, 2015 By Kevin Mathews, Care2 | Op-Ed
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

Like most activist movements, Black Lives Matter has faced a barrage of criticism for not clearly articulating its goals. In her meeting with some of the group's members, even Hillary Clinton called on them to give her advice on specific real-world policy that could lead to positive change.

You want realistic policy changes? Well now you've got it. Four members aligned with BLM have just released a new website, Campaign Zero, with incredibly specific examples of how to end police violence, which is more often than not aimed at people of color.

Here are the 10 big changes they've suggested to make a difference. I've summarized the policy changes in brief, but please visit the Campaign Zero site for more detailed analysis and explanations:

1. End Broken Windows Policing

Most cases where police kill civilians begin when officers are pursuing minor crimes like loitering, marijuana possession or disturbing the peace, so Campaign Zero seeks to decriminalize or deemphasize these activities. Ending stop-and-frisk activities would help to stop police from profiling black civilians as often, too.

2. Community Oversight

When an incident happens, it's generally left up to the police to police themselves and determine if they're to blame in the situation. It's no wonder that officers are rarely held accountable. The activists call for the creation of a Civilian Complaints Office where civilians would get to hear the details of relevant cases to determine culpability and punishments along with the police department.

3. Limit Use of Force

The police killed 268 unarmed people in 2014; one-third of these incidents occurred following traffic violations. Gunfire should not be the go-to option in non-violent situations, so Campaign Zero wants police departments' force policies to be revised and the creation of a national database that archives when police use excessive force.

4. Independently Investigate & Prosecute

Since DAs rely on the police's own evidence to determine whether to prosecute an officer, this involves an unreasonable conflict of interest. To solve this problem, Campaign Zero wants to see a lower standard of proof to get the Department of Justice involved, an increase in funds available for independent investigations and a Special Prosecutor's Office in each state specifically to look at police brutality.

5. Community Representation

As the website points out, white men comprise less than one-third of the U.S. population, but total two-thirds of the U.S.'s police population. To fix this problem, Campaign Zero calls on communities to hire officers who are more reflective of the communities they serve and facilitate community forums to accept feedback from citizens on how to improve local police departments.

6. Body Cameras/Film the Police

To hold officers accountable, require them to wear body cameras during all interactions with civilians and allow that footage to be available to families and perhaps the public when a situation calls for it. Additionally, officers should be instructed not to obstruct a civilian's right to film the police.

7. Training

Hours of firearm training well exceed other forms of training, so it's no wonder police turn to their guns to resolve a problem so often. Increase the training hours (and make this training ongoing) for officers to learn how to deescalate situations and deal with people of different backgrounds. Additionally, use tests to determine an officer's unconscious racial biases and factor that into the hiring process before sending them into Black communities.

8. End For-Profit Policing

Minority populations are often the target of quotas or fines that aren't applied evenly to Caucasians. To fix this, end evaluating officers' performances based on quotas of how many tickets they issue or arrests they make. Furthermore, stop issuing fines that are slaps on the wrist for people with money, but can cripple a family living in poverty.

9. Demilitarization

When you give police military weapons, they inevitably start acting more like soldiers than peacekeepers. Campaign Zero advocates that the government stop giving police departments surplus military weaponry.

10. Fair Police Union Contracts

Existing police union contracts often leave police officers next to untouchable when they break laws and wrongfully hurt civilians. By making appropriate compromises, new union contracts can protect officers' rights without protecting the bad apples' dangerous behaviors.

The site does not consider its list of policy changes complete at this point. The activists invite other concerned citizens to contribute other ideas that the movement could adopt in calling for real change. Campaign Zero will also track whether 2016 presidential candidates are incorporating the site's ideas into their own campaign pledges to give voters a sense of which candidates are willing to address the problems.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Kevin Mathews

Kevin Mathews is a contributor to Care2.com.


Hide Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus