On Monday, more than 60 organizations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement released a series of policy demands, including free access to higher education, reparations and an end to capital punishment. According to the New York Times, these demands come on the heels of the second anniversary of Michael Brown’s death and after both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
“Our grievances and solutions extend beyond the police killing of our people; state violence includes failing schools that criminalize our children, dwindling earning opportunities, wars on our trans and queer family that deny them of their humanity, and so much more,” Montague Simmons of Organization for Black Struggle and the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table, said in a statement. “That’s why we united, with a renewed energy and purpose, to put forth a shared vision of the world we want to live in.”
The plan, titled “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice” offers up six core demands and 40 policy priorities, NBC News noted. They include:
- Ending the War on Black People: This includes abolishing the death penalty, mass surveillance in communities of color, the privatization of police, violence against all Blacks (including Black trans, queer and gender nonconforming people) and using a past criminal history as a means to seek a job, housing, license and voting rights.
- Reparations: To address the past and current harms that slavery, Jim Crow and mass incarceration have done to the Black community, BLM is seeking reparations for the wealth extracted from our communities, guaranteed livable income and free access and open admissions to public community colleges, universities and technical schools, to name a few.
- Invest-Divest: Instead of federal, state and local monies being invested into prisons, police, surveillance and exploitative corporations, BLM would rather see that invested into long-term safety strategies such as education, local restorative justice services, employment programs and universal health care.
- Economic Justice: This is calling for Black communities to have real collective ownership of wealth in the U.S. This could be achieved with restructuring tax codes, creating federal and state job programs that specifically target the most economically marginalized Black people, breaking up large banks and ensuring better protection for workers.
- Community Control: This would include end of the privatization of education and making sure communities have the power to hire and fire officers, determine disciplinary action, control budgets and policies, and subpoena relevant agency information when needed.
- Political Power: To ensure that real democracy can be achieved for all Black people, BLM wants for all political prisoners to be released, eliminating Super Pacs that fund candidates, ensuring election protection, early registration at the age of 16, full access to technology and the Internet and increased funding to HBCU’s.
Marbre Stahly-Butts, who is part of the leadership team of the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table, told the Times that neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump have truly made strides to address these issues in their prospective campaigns.
“On both sides of aisle, the candidates have really failed to address the demands and the concerns of our people. So this was less about this specific political moment and this election, and more about how do we actually start to plant and cultivate the seeds of transformation of this country that go beyond individual candidates,” she said.
This plan also shows a sign of an evolution for the movement, which has been criticized in the past for not having a clear concise platform of how they want to usher in change. And now as the election continues, it’s about using these ideals to further hold the nation’s politicians accountable, Michaela Brown, communications director of Baltimore Bloc, stressed.
“We seek radical transformation, not reactionary reform. As the 2016 election continues, this platform provides us with a way to intervene with an agenda that resists state and corporate power, an opportunity to implement policies that truly value the safety and humanity of black lives, and an overall means to hold elected leaders accountable,” she said in statement.
We hope all these leaders are paying close attention.
Read the Movement for Black Lives’ policy demands in its entirety here.