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!