While we’ve been making this issue of Slingshot, it’s seemed like every day there has been a new video of the police killing an unarmed black man. Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte and Alfred Olango in El Cajon — just this week. The institutional racism that disregards the lives of black people and puts them at risk merely for being in public, for driving, for walking down the street — which sees every black person as a violent threat — has reached a boiling point. This is not about rogue police — this is about a rogue society that permits this to continue. Resistance is possible: now is the time for us to stand up.
In Oakland, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (BPP) in 1966 which was initially a response to out-of-control police violence against the black community. Things haven’t changed much in 50 years. The BPP published a Ten Point Program in each issue of their newspaper which is still inspiring.
This summer, people associated with the Black Lives Matter movement introduced Campaign Zero, a 10 point campaign to end police violence. The two 10 point documents — separated by 50 years — are interesting to compare. So here’s a copy of the BPP 10 points (edited slightly for length) and excerpts from the Campaign Zero 10 points which are too long to publish in full but are available on-line.
We can live in a world where the police don’t kill people by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.
1. End Broke Window Policing
A decades-long focus on policing minor crimes and activities – a practice called Broken Windows policing has led to the criminalization and over-policing of communities of color and excessive force in otherwise harmless situations. In 2014, police killed at least 287 people who were involved in minor offenses and harmless activities like sleeping in parks, possessing drugs, looking “suspicious” or having a mental health crisis. These activities are often symptoms of underlying issues of drug addiction, homelessness, and mental illness which should be treated by healthcare professionals and social workers rather than the police.
End Policing of Minor “Broken Windows” Offenses
The following activities do not threaten public safety and are often used to police black bodies. Decriminalize these activities or de-prioritize their enforcement:
• Consumption of Alcohol on Streets
• Marijuana Possession
• Disorderly Conduct
• Disturbing the Peace (including Loud Music)
• Bicycling on the Sidewalk
End Profiling and “Stop-and-Frisk”…
Establish Alternative Approaches to Mental Health Crises
Mental health crises should not be excuses for heavy-handed police interventions and are best handled by mental health professionals. Establish and fund Mental Health Response Teams to respond to crisis situations. These approaches have been proven to reduce police use of force in these situations by nearly 40 percent and should include: . . .
2. Community Oversight
Police usually investigate and decide what, if any, consequences their fellow officers should face in cases of police misconduct. Under this system, fewer than 1 in every 12 complaints of police misconduct nationwide results in some kind of disciplinary action against the officer(s) responsible. Communities need an urgent way to ensure police officers are held accountable for police violence.
Establish effective civilian oversight structures
Establish an all-civilian oversight structure with discipline power that includes a Police Commission and Civilian Complaints Office with the following powers:. . .
Remove barriers to reporting police misconduct…
3. Limit Use of Force
Police should have the skills and cultural competence to protect and serve our communities without killing people – just as police do in England, Germany, Japan and other developed countries. In 2014, police killed at least 253 unarmed people and 91 people who were stopped for mere traffic violations. The following policy solutions can restrict the police from using excessive force in everyday interactions with civilians.
Establish standards and reporting of police use of deadly force . . .
Revise and strengthen local police department use of force policies . . .
End traffic-related police killings and dangerous high-speed police chases . . .
Monitor how police use force and proactively hold officers accountable for excessive force . . .
4. Independently investigate and prosecute
Local prosecutors rely on local police departments to gather the evidence and testimony they need to successfully prosecute criminals. This makes it hard for them to investigate and prosecute the same police officers in cases of police violence. These cases should not rely on the police to investigate themselves and should not be prosecuted by someone who has an incentive to protect the police officers involved.
Lower the standard of proof for Department of Justice civil rights investigations of police officers . . .
Use federal funds to encourage independent investigations and prosecutions . . .
Establish a permanent Special Prosecutor’s Office at the State level for cases of police violence . . .
Require independent investigations of all cases where police kill or seriously injure civilians. . .
5. Community Representation
While white men represent less than one third of the U.S. population, they comprise about two thirds of U.S. police officers. The police should reflect and be responsive to the cultural, racial and gender diversity of the communities they are supposed to serve.
Increase the number of police officers who reflect the communities they serve. . .
Use community feedback to inform police department policies and practices. . .
6. Body Cams / film the police
While they are not a cure-all, body cameras and cell phone video have illuminated cases of police violence and have shown to be important tools for holding officers accountable. Nearly every case where a police officer has been charged with a crime for killing a civilian this year has relied on video evidence showing the officer’s actions.
Body cameras Require the use of body cameras – in addition to dashboard cameras – and establish policies governing their use to…
The current training regime for police officers fails to effectively teach them how to interact with our communities in a way that protects and preserves life. For example, police recruits spend 58 hours learning how to shoot firearms and only 8 hours learning how to de-escalate situations. An intensive training regime is needed to help police officers learn the behaviors and skills to interact appropriately with communities.
Invest in Rigorous and Sustained Training…
Intentionally consider ‘unconscious’ or ‘implicit’ racial bias…
8. End for-profit policing
Police should be working to keep people safe, not contributing to a system that profits from stopping, searching, ticketing, arresting and incarcerating people.
End police department quotas for tickets and arrests . . .
Limit fines and fees for low-income people . .
The events in Ferguson have introduced the nation to the ways that local police departments can misuse military weaponry to intimidate and repress communities. In 2014, militarized SWAT teams killed at least 38 people. The following policies limit police departments from obtaining or using these weapons on our streets.
End the Federal Government’s 1033 Program Providing Military Weaponry to Local Police Departments . . .
Establish Local Restrictions to Prevent Police Departments from Purchasing or Using Military Weaponry. . .
10. Fair Police union Contracts
Police unions have used their influence to establish unfair protections for police officers in their contracts with local, state and federal government and in statewide Law Enforcement Officers’ Bills of Rights. These provisions create one set of rules for police and another for civilians, and make it difficult for Police Chiefs or civilian oversight structures to punish police officers who are unfit to serve. Learn more about how police union contracts help officers avoid accountability here.
Remove barriers to effective misconduct investigations and civilian oversight . . .
Keep officers’ disciplinary history accessible to police departments and the public . . .
Ensure officers do not get paid after they kill or seriously injure a civilian . . .
For the full document: joincampaignzero.org