July 10, 2016
Black Lives Matter (BLM), the activist group that campaigns agasint police brutality and racial injutice, have just come out with their plan to help fix the issues that plague police forces up and down the country.
Their plan – “Campaign Zero” – focuses on 10 points where they would like the law to change. They believe that these changes will help stop racial profiling and lessen the dangers everyday citizens face when dealing with the police.
To get an idea of what they are asking for we thought we’d provide a breakdown of their plan:
- End “broken windows” policing, which aggressively polices minor crimes in an attempt to stop larger ones.
“Broken windows” policing is the idea that vigorously enforcing small crimes (like vandalism) will prevent larger crimes from happening. This law has allowed police to increase “stop and frisks”, which BLM claims enables racial stereotyping. They argue that Black men and women are unfairly targeted by police using this law as an excuse, and that this policy ultimately led to the death of Eric Garner (remember the guy that was choked to death after he was caught selling loose cigarettes). This is their first point in their plan, and probably the most controversial.
- Use community oversight for misconduct rather than having the police department decide what consequences officers should face.
Rather than the police deciding how an officer is punished after they’ve committed a crime (like when an officer who caused a death is ‘punished’ by being put on paid leave for six months), they want an independent group to review all cases and dole out the punishments. Since, you know, the police department might be a tad on biased.
- Make standards for reporting police use of deadly force.
A lot of reports of police using deadly force aren’t released to the public. This skews the statistics when it comes down to who died by police hands and it leaves the public in the dark about how the police operate. BLM want to standardize the reporting methods and make the whole process more transparent.
- Independently investigate and prosecute police misconduct.
Much like point two, BLM doesn’t want the police investigating crimes committed by the police since it’s proven to be a recipe for trouble. Instead, they want an independently run government body to investigate whether or not an officer has violated the law. The short version: if a cop shoots someone, someone other than the cops should look into the case to see if that shooting was lawful.
- Have the racial makeup of police departments reflect the communities they serve.
This one is simple enough to ask for, harder to carry out in practice. BLM want the police force to be racially representative of the areas they protect. If a community is 50% Black, 30% Hispanic, and 20% White, they want to see a police force that reflects those demographics. Hypothetically, for every two White officers they’d hire, they’d also hire five Black officers and three Hispanic officers.
- Require officers to wear body cameras.
This policy has already been implemented in several different police forces across the country – and with great success in some cases. However, the debate starts when it comes down to when and why an officer can turn the camera off. For example, you wouldn’t want people watching you when you went for a piss, would you?
- Provide more training for police officers.
More training is never a bad thing. Many supporters of BLM believe that a lot of the issues between police officers and citizens have been instigated by rookie cops that are a little too eager to prove themselves in the field, and they feel a little extra training could help that out.
- End for-profit policing practices.
This is a biggie. As of now, the police can legally take any money or property that they “believe” is in some way linked to a crime, and they can use that money and property as they see fit, even if you’re never convicted of that crime. It’s called Civil Forfeiture and the police in many areas have used this “right” to fund their own agencies and precincts. This is a major issue, and many people from different walks of life see it as legalized robbery. For more information check out John Oliver’s take on it, as he explains it far more eloquently than I ever could.
- End the police use of military equipment.
BLM argues that the police should be working with the community to provide peaceful resolutions to society’s issues and that the use of military equipment shows an intent to abuse their power over citizens. It drives home the Us vs Them mentality. Big guns and body armour = scared citizens. Open dialogue and transparency = happy citizens.
- Implement police union contracts that hold officers accountable for misconduct.
So, police unions have a history of protecting police (shocking, I know). Police officers accused of misconduct are no exception, but other members are oftendiscouraged by their unions to speak out against those accused. This can delay convictions and stop valuable information or evidence from coming to light which prevents real justice. While the police need unions to protect their rights, BLM argue that the unions should play their part in weeding out the bad apples. If not, the abuse of power will continue because the bad officers know they can get away with it.