By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams
On Friday, activists with the country’s growing racial justice movement unveiled a new campaign to end police violence, bridging protester demands with data and policy to create structural solutions to the crisis that has gripped national attention for more than a year.
Launched as an online manifesto with an interactive website, Campaign Zero proposes new federal, state, and local laws that would address police violence and reform the criminal justice system—including demilitarizing law enforcement, increasing community oversight, limiting use-of-force, and requiring independent investigation and prosecution of police violence cases.
“More than one thousand people are killed by police every year in America,” the group states on its website. “Nearly sixty percent of victims did not have a gun or were involved in activities that should not require police intervention such as harmless ‘quality of life’ behaviors or mental health crises.”
The action plan also incorporates recommendations by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing as well as those of research organizations like the Center for Popular Democracy. The architects behind Campaign Zero characterized it as a project that will continue to develop over time as new solutions emerge and more supporters come on board.
The four creators of the new campaign and authors of the manifesto—Samuel Sinyangwe, Brittany Packnett, Johnetta Elzie, and DeRay McKesson—are co-founders of We The Protesters, which as the Guardian notes is “a prominent section of a wider protest movement that is frequently referred to, in general terms, as Black Lives Matter.”
“This is just the beginning,” they wrote in a statement accompanying the launch.
In the year that has passed since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, police have killed at least 1,083 Americans—an average of nearly three people per day, according to figures compiled by VICE News. Even that figure, released August 9, quickly became outdated.
The policy recommendations also call for an end the controversial practice of “broken windows” policing—a tactic that involves cracking down on petty infractions as a means to prevent more serious crime. The chokehold death of Eric Garner, who was targeted by police for allegedly selling loose cigarettes, heightened criticism of the policy, which Columbia law professor Patricia J. Williams said “has intimidated, dispossessed and humiliated millions of innocent people” for two decades.
Campaign Zero launches just as new reports highlight the lack of training and culture of aggression that permeates law enforcement agencies throughout the country. Addressing that issue in another policy demand, Campaign Zero states, “An intensive training regime is needed to help police officers learn the behaviors and skills to interact appropriately with communities.”
The group points to the recent successful overhaul of policing tactics in Richmond, California, a city which reduced its crime rate by 33 percent through community policing.
“We must end police violence so we can live and feel safe in this country,” Campaign Zero states.
Campaign Zero also introduces strategies for charting presidential candidates’ policy positions on such issues. Racial justice activists have recently engaged with the campaigns of candidates including Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and Jeb Bush to demand action plans on addressing police brutality and criminal justice reform.
“Right now, the country is awake,” organizers stated. “We must continue to leverage this awakening for substantive change. We have an opportunity to change the way that issues in blackness are prioritized in political spaces and an opportunity to redefine how the political process interacts with our communities.”
“America is finally waking up to this very necessary and critical conversation about race, equity, and preserving the life and dignity of all citizens,” Packnett told the Guardian on Friday.
Added McKesson, “This is a blueprint for ending police violence.”
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