With thousands filling the streets to protest the death of George Floyd after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his throat for more than eight minutes, now is the moment to demand the police reforms needed to stop the killings of mostly black men, racial justice activists say.
From Campaign Zero's #8CantWait to Color of Change's #WinningJustice to the NAACP's #WeAreDoneDying, groups are putting forward specific changes that have long been advocated to stop abusive police practices.
“It’s time to stop watching and take action,” the NAACP tweeted.
Democrats in the House are preparing what is being characterized as ambitious changes to the way law enforcement operates. Rep. Val Demings, Democrat of Florida and a former Orlando police chief, and Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden are both calling for a national ban on chokeholds. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo wants national standards on the release of police officers’ body-cam videos.
Former President Barack Obama, in an address online on Wednesday and in contrast to President Donald Trump, who would crush the protests with greater military force, urged every mayor in the country to review use-of-force policies.
His administration produced “Task Force on 21st Century Policing,” which recommends ways to strengthen trust with the community and promote better relationships while fighting crime. Reform has to happen at the local level in more than 19,000 American municipalities, he said.
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“At some point, protests start to dwindle in size,” Obama said. “And it's very important for us to take the momentum that has been created as a society, as a country, and say, ‘Let's use this to finally have an impact.’”
Here is what activists say is needed:
Campaign Zero, a platform for research-based solutions to police brutality in America, says data proves that these eight policies, which could be implemented immediately, can decrease police violence by 72%.
A co-founder, DeRay Mckesson, told NBCLX that since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, when promised changes were not made, “We have had a failure of local leaders to be courageous in standing up against the police. They have not cut budgets, they have not cut responsibilities and they certainly have not increased any type of accountability.”
Here are the group’s demands:
- Ban choke holds and strangleholds
- Require de-escalation
- Require warning before shooting
- Exhaust all other means before shooting
- Duty to intervene
- Ban shooting at moving vehicles
- Require use of force continuum
- Require comprehensive reporting
You can see which policies your city has enacted and how each one can make a difference. Read The Use of Force Study here.
The NAACP’s police reform campaign makes demands similar to #8CantWait.
“We do not have the full right to live in this country,” it says. “You can change this.”
It wants the United Nations to classify the mistreatment of black people in the United States as a human rights violation and is calling for zero tolerance in prosecuting police officers who kill unarmed, non-violent and non-resisting individuals during an arrest.
- Ban knee holds and choke holds
- Implement levels of force escalation
- Provide transparency for police misconduct and disciplinary records
- Establish citizens review boards
Color of Change says it designs campaigns to end practices that unfairly hold black people back and champions solutions for moving forward. #WinningJustice is meant to end mass incarceration.
“If we can get prosecutors across the country to changes these six practices, we can transform our criminal justice system,” the group says.
Here are the six demands:
- End money bail
- Treat kids like kids
- Stop unnecessary prosecutions
- End the secrecy
- Stop anti-immigrant prosecutions
- Hold police accountable
Read here to learn about prosecutors in your area, and for information on other campaigns including State of Emergency: End the War on Black People” that would increase accountability for officers with records of misconduct, invest in healthy communities not policing and make other changes to police forces.