Archive for February, 2016

Policy Proposals for Black Lives Matter

The media coverage and online conversation around the Black Lives Matter movement has included substantial discussion of specific shootings, the general problem of police violence, the character of protests events, and even the remarks of activists at several college campuses. However, after reading many articles and having many conversations on the topic, it was, for a long time, unclear to me what specific policy proposals that allies of the movement should advocate. Anyone else seeking clarity on this topic should look to the policy platform of Campaign Zero.

Campaign Zero (as in, zero police killings) is an initiative aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement (writ large) and growing out of the Ferguson protests. It is not connected to the official #BlackLivesMatter (of the hashtag and website) organization, but it is the most prominent source of policy proposals that I have found related to the movement. It also has political recognition, as representatives of Campaign Zero, along with other leaders of Black Lives Matter, have met with President Obama and with the Sanders and Clinton campaigns.

Campaign Zero identifies 10 strategies to reduce police violence, each having one or more specific policies. Some of these include:

  • End Policing of Minor “Broken Windows” Offenses, such as trespassing and marijuana possession
  • End Profiling and “Stop-and-Frisk” tactics
  • Establish Alternative Approaches to Mental Health Crises, e.g. Mental Health Response Teams
  • Require the use of body cameras by police
  • End the Federal Government’s 1033 Program Providing Military Weaponry to Local Police Departments
  • Establish a permanent Special Prosecutor’s Office at the State level for cases of police violence

The full list is worth reading. These are reasonable and actionable policies that we can bring not only to the national primary campaign, but also to our local races, where many of them would be implemented. We can judge candidates based on their support of these policies and nudge them to do so. The Campaign Zero website summarizes the presidential candidates’ positions on each policy (Sanders currently shows a substantial edge over Clinton).

Overall, these policies are well-grounded in research and supported by data. I am especially impressed by the way the Campaign team solicits policy ideas, and posts and responds thoughtfully to criticism, including making changes to the platform.

The policies proposed are all focused on policing and criminal justice. This is by design, as the team feels a narrow focus is most effective. The implicit assumption is that police violence is not merely a symptom of socioeconomic problems, i.e. one that is best solved by education and social welfare, but an additional and distinct problem that requires its own initiative. The data seem to bare this out.

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