Enough is Enough: We Demand Quality Policing Now

The Organization for Black Struggle 

Originally post on obs-onthemove.org, December 3, 2014.

Today American justice has failed yet again. Our legal system has denied justice to the family of Eric Garner less than forty-eight hours after President Barack Obama met with African-American activists calling for an end to police brutality and murder. Fifty years after the Civil Rights Movement we are still in pursuit of justice. We are still confronting what Dr. King called, the triple evils of militarism, racism and capitalism.

Instead of using his presidential powers to transform a culture of injustice into one of real justice, President Obama has offered us a measly $263 million dollars worth of timid, half-hearted, half-measures.

The President promises us 50,000 body cameras as if dozens of police executions have not played out live on video all across the nation. We have witnessed a police culture so steeped in racism that video footage alone is not enough to deter it. Eric Garner died on camera, and even with this evidence, he was denied justice.

The President promises us community policing, as if he cannot grasp the reality that police are recruited, trained, deployed and advanced within a racist police culture that would rather kill citizens, than serve them. This militarized police culture values property more than human lives. It does not build community or protect citizens. Instead it treats us as threats to be policed and targets to be eliminated.

The President promises us that the Department of Justice will be more stringent in their oversight of programs like the 1033 Program that grant billions of dollars to defense contractors and aim military weapons at civilians. It is as if President Obama does not understand that he should be eliminating such weapons from American streets. These deadly weapons do not belong in our communities. They are the point where militarism, capitalism and racism all come together. These programs militarize our police, who then turn around and repress black and brown communities, and anyone else who expresses their First Amendment Rights.

We call on the President to embrace our Quality Policing Initiative, which will transform police culture in this country so that the First and Fourth Amendment rights of citizens are protected. Do not waste our tax dollars on weak reforms that support a racist, militarized police culture, which would rather protect property than serve people.

The Quality Policing Initiative demands reciprocal, professional, accountable and cooperative policing in five areas of policing:

(1)     Recruitment: who is on the force;

(2)     Training: what non-violent skillsets do officers possess;

(3)     Deployment: how officers interact with the communities whose rights they protect;

(4)     Accountability: what happens to an officer who abuses their power or makes a mistake in the course of their duties and;

(5)     Advancement: how an officer is rewarded for protecting rights and not advanced for failing to do so.

The broad outlines of the Quality Policing Initiative include:

  • Residency Requirements and rigorously enforced Affirmative Action hiring protocols to create racial and gender parity so that the police reflect the population they are policing.
  • Conflict Resolution and Threat Progression Training: So that police officers know how to deescalate a situation instead of having to use violent or deadly force.
  • Demilitarizing All Police Forces: Withdraw from the DOD 1033 program and end the use of the Forfeiture/Seizure Program to buy military grade gear.
  • Stopping the Use of Police as Collection Agents: Remove ticket quotas and fees and fines as primary mechanisms to fund municipal governments.
  • Implementation of field contact cards: Track every interaction, every officer has with every citizen, and record the reason for the interaction, the race of both parties, the location and results, so that we will have a pattern of practice for every police department in the country.  
  • An Early Warning System Database on Police Behavior:  A system that identifies officers who are overly aggressive and/or suspect in the use of their authority before they become a threat to the community.
  • Media Accountability System: Body and Dash cameras, with recorded data controlled by a Citizen’s Review Board and shared with the community and police simultaneously. 
  • A Citizen’s Review Board: A local entity with subpoena, investigatory and prosecutorial powers. The Board should also have a role in developing police policies and setting standards that impact all five areas of policing power.

We call on the President to use the power of the Department of Justice to partner with the National Bar Association and other civil rights and policing reform entities to investigate the patterns and practices of police forces and where needed monitor, disband, and reconstitute them as outlined in our Quality Policing Initiative.

We call on the President to use the power of the Department of Justice to compel every police municipality to comply with the National Bar Association—the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges—which has filed open records requests for any and all information about the following:

1. The number of individuals who have been killed.

2. The number of individuals who have been racially profiled.

3. The number of individuals who have been wrongfully arrested.

4. The number of individuals who have been injured while pursued or in police custody.

5. Any and all background information on officers involved in the incidents.

6. Comprehensive data from crime scenes, including “video and photographic evidence related to any alleged and/or proven misconduct by current or former employees.”

This moment demands that we continue to resist until justice is done! We call on the President to act NOW, tomorrow is too late!

June 26, 2020

Strike Watch: Workers refuse to relent for Black lives, as COVID-19 workplace dangers expand

If there is an image that encapsulates the continued expansion of worker-led direct action in the last few weeks, it is Angela Davis on Juneteenth. With her fist raised high and face mask tight, Dr. Davis stood strong out of a roof of a car moving through a massive strike linking dockworkers and community to shutter the Port of Oakland for 8-plus hours. Led by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) shipping and transport workers, 29 ports were shut down as tens of thousands came together, and drew connections by featuring speakers such as fired Amazon warehouse worker Chris Smalls between the racial violence of police and that of powerful corporations.

Payday Report tracked more than 500 strikes from the first protest for George Floyd at the end of May to a nationwide day of action on Juneteenth. In Minneapolis in the days after the murder of George Floyd, workers showed solidarity in ways ranging from unionized bus drivers refusing to transport police to direct action by teachers to remove police from schools. Journalists also have confronted racism in their institutions, such as the 300-plus sickout at the New York Times to challenge Arkansas Tom Cotton’s op-ed calling for military action against protestors. Workers, small businesses and community collaborated on a Washington State-wide day of action where dozens of businesses shut down and employees skipped work to support of Black Lives Matter and confront white supremacy. 

Unions are also taking strong stances on the efforts to divest and defund from police (see our NFG resource for funders here) and invest in real community need and safety, including a wide ranging set of locals in the Bay Area supporting this call directly. Locals like UNITE HERE Local 11 in Los Angeles have confronted recent police killings such as the murder of 18-year old Andres Guardado (whose father is a union member) by the LA Sherriff Department (LASD) in Compton. The local joined street protests and signing on to BLM and abolitionist-led calls for a #PeoplesBudgetLA and a Care First budget defunding the LASD.

Using one’s workplace power to support anti-racism has also morphed among professional class workers “at home.” Dozens of scientific institutions, from journals to university departments, also #ShutDownSTEM to force reflection on entrenched racism in the US and support for Black lives.  #Sharethemic days where white women-identified influencers ceded space to Black women anti-racist leaders like #metoo founder Tarana Burke also offered new ways to consider not only walking out, but handing over resources, space and power.

Like the ongoing strikes responding to COVID-19, workers are exposing the hypocrisy of the endless barrage of corporate statements professing #BLM while taking actions that are quite literally killing their Black and brown workers. Under the cover of slick marketing, trillion-dollar companies like Amazon and Whole Foods are cutting back low-wage worker hazard pay and other protections (won by protests), even as COVID-19 cases spike in their worksites, and even seeing BLM masks banned on the job.

Global Essential Organizing in the Age of COVID-19

As COVID-19 cases (and unemployment claims) continue their ascent in the US, and other regions of the world see dangerous resurgences, mostly Black-, Latinx- and API- (including and especially migrant)-led worker organizing for basic protections has not let up either. The latest waves of strikes organized by Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) among dozens of apple picking and packing sites in Washington state’s Yakima Valley saw a significant victory with a signed collective agreement for safety and hazard pay among dozens of different apple picking workers earlier this month.

Mosty-migrant meatpacking workers globally – from Germany’s hinterlands to Hyrum, Utah – continue to demonstrate n the face of outbreaks in plants. Unionized nurses represented by National Nurses United and different SEIU affiliates are striking nationwide against the large US corporate hospital chain HCA Healthcare for still failing to provide Personal Protective Equipment (while cutting staff) starting Friday, June 26. Disney workers, meanwhile, attempt to stave off a disaster at their multi-billion dollar company seeks to re-open its theme parks in July.

Months of essential worker strikes are becoming entwined in an even broader sea of actions for Black lives and calling, in many cases, for police and prison abolition. Angela Davis reflected in an interview on the same day as the Juneteenth strike: “Activists who are truly committed to changing the world should recognize that the work that we often do that receives no public recognition can eventually matter.” The power reflected in ongoing strikes has been built at the grassroots through base building and other work for numerous years. Dr. Davis’ words are in many ways a call to action for philanthropy: how will funders fully recognize and support the immediate and long-term building necessary for worker-led organizing and power? And as major institutions like universities look inward, will foundations reflect on their own perpetuation of racism and corporate power - from external investments to internal practices?

FJE’s Strike Watch is a regular blog and media series dedicated to providing insight on the ways in which grassroots movements build worker power through direct action. Our ultimate goal: inform philanthropic action to support worker-led power building and organizing and help bridge conversations among funders, community and research partners. We are grateful and acknowledge the many journalists and organizations that produce the content we link to regularly, and to all our participants in first-hand interviews. Questions on the content or ideas for future content? Reach out to robert@nfg.org

Photo Credit: Yalonda M. James / The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Photo Credit: Yalonda M. James / The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

June 25, 2020

$50million for M4BL - See You There

Dear Donors, Funders, and Resource Mobilizers: 

The Movement for Black Lives mounted a significant SixNineteen Juneteenth weekend of actions in a matter of weeks. Virtually, over 185,000 people viewed M4BL-TV to celebrate, mourn, and learn. Over 650 in person and online actions took place in cities and communities across the nation, and globally. For context on the strategy behind this weekend of action we recommend the first episode of the People's Action Podcast The Next MoveMaking Meaning with Maurice Mitchell

We are deeply moved by Black Leadership and now we are getting closer to a world where defunding police and building new visions of community safety, infrastructure, and recovery are not just possible, but are inevitable.  This month alone, we’ve seen:

·  A veto-proof majority in the Minneapolis City Council pledged to take steps to eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a community alternative.

·  The mayor of Los Angeles announced that the city’s police budget would be cut by $100-150 million to reinvest it in programs to create better conditions for Black residents,

·  The public perception of policing and racism has shifted dramatically, with 54 percent of Americans supporting the uprisings.

·  And dozens more victories listed here.

We asked you to meet the courage of M4BL’s Juneteenth action by moving resources with integrity and speed. We asked you all to resource our movements working to Defend Black Lives by breaking the rules: give more than 5% from your endowments, trust Black leadership, and remove habitual philanthropic red tape. We responded to M4BL’s call to philanthropy and stated that $50M is the floor, and it is more than possible if we are prepared to fund the Movement for Black Lives like we want them to win. Your commitments so far is the proof point - you were listening! We are grateful for the ways you have shown your solidarity so far. 

Our first goal was to raise half of it by the end of June - $25M. We need your support and solidarity over these next seven days and beyond.  

In 14 days we have raised $18M in commitments, pledges and cash on hand. We have $7M to raise in 7 days and a week to make our first goal.  Solidaire Network and Resource Generation have both pledged to organize their members, and we’ve had contributions come in from the $10,000 to $5M range. Some of you have even pledged for 10 years, demonstrating your commitment not just to the moment but to the long term movement that’s needed to win. 

As a reminder, here are the four ways we need you to show up for Black lives: 

  1. FIRST: COMMIT. If you haven’t done so yet, complete this survey with your own pledge today.
  2. SECOND: ORGANIZE. We need you to organize your institutions, boards, friends, family, funder affinity groups -- the communities you can and have organized to move resources.
  3. THIRD: GIVE. We ask that you make a generous one-time donation and a sustainable recurring donation to M4BL and its ecosystem here.
  4. FOURTH: FOLLOW THROUGH. Get ready to share with us what you are prepared to do, and what philanthropic “rules” you are prepared to break to Defend Black Lives today.

In struggle, 

Funders for Justice and our donor-organizing partners for the Movement for Black Lives 

Find More By:

News type: