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Black Lives Matter Demands have Virtually Nothing to do with the Police by Daniel Bier

On August 1, the “Movement for Black Lives” (an umbrella organization for about 50 groups associated with the Black Lives Matter movement) released a list of demands going into the general election campaign. The New York Times reports,

The list of six platform demands is aimed at furthering their goals as the presidential campaign heads into the homestretch. … As part of the effort, the groups are demanding, among other things, reparations for what they say are past and continuing harms to African-Americans, an end to the death penalty, legislation to acknowledge the effects of slavery, as well as investments in education initiatives, mental health services and jobs programs.

If that sounds like a sprawling and unfocused wish list, that’s not the half of it.

The “six” demands actually contain 38 bullet points, most containing several different policies, including such pressing concerns as: forgiving student loans; restoring Glass-Steagall’s ban on affiliations between investment and commercial banks; ending the privatization of natural resources; ending charter schools; “reparations” for “food apartheid”; more universal-y universal health care; a “progressive restructuring of the tax code”; “radical and sustainable redistribution of wealth”; net neutrality; banning super PACs; public financing of elections; blocking the Trans Pacific Partnership; and, who could forget, “divestment from industrial multinational use of fossil fuels and investment in community-based sustainable energy solutions.”

Out of well over a hundred demands, only a handful are related to policing — including one demanding a ban (!) on police body cameras.

If you ever worry about your movement drifting off message, this is the apotheosis of that problem.

Demand Everything, Get Nothing

There are a number of demands about other aspects of criminal justice, but even where they are laudable, they are often unrealistic (abolishing all juvenile detention centers), counterproductive (abolishing money bail), marginal (ending the “privatization of police, prisons, jails, probation, parole, food, phone” and “all other criminal justice related services”), tangential (abolishing the death penalty), or just strange (a new constitutional amendment that guarantees “freedom from unwarranted search, seizure or arrest”).

Some demands were important, on message, and somewhat feasible. They call for decriminalizing drugs and prostitution, expunging drug and prostitution records, demilitarizing police, and establishing civilian oversight agencies for police.

But the trouble is that these urgent and critical reforms are buried under an avalanche of irrelevant policies, vague platitudes, and demands for free stuff — lots of free stuff: free daycare, free Internet, free health care, free elder care, free “high quality food,” a guaranteed minimum income, free college, ad infinitum.

For the most part, the demands read like recycled Bernie Sanders campaign literature — a hodgepodge of left-wing gripes about everything from climate change and Uber to banking and trade policy.

“Freedom Fighters and Political Prisoners”

The platform also calls for the release of “political prisoners” and the removal of “legitimate freedom fighters” from the FBI’s list of terrorist fugitives. Who are these persecuted heroes? The document refers to several former members of the Black Liberation Army, including:

  • Assata Shakur (aka Joanne Chesimard), convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper in 1973, who escaped prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba, where she still lives;
  • Kamau Sadiki (aka Freddie Hilton), captured in 2001 and sentenced to life in prison for the 1971 ambush murder of an Atlanta police officer;
  • Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim (aka Anthony Bottom), currently serving life sentences for killing two cops in New York in 1971, who also pled guilty to manslaughter charges in the killing of another cop in San Francisco;
  • Jamil Abdullah al-Amin (aka H. Rap Brown), former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and one-time Minister of Justice for the Black Panther Party, currently serving life in prison for the 2000 murder of a Georgia sheriff’s deputy.

The platform doesn’t try to exonerate any of these figures, but simply declares them “freedom fighters,” and further insists that law enforcement “cease all current investigations and cold cases into former activists.”

These demands, perhaps more than anything else in the platform, do Black Lives Matter a grave disservice, especially in the wake of the Dallas sniper attack. Praising cop killers will not alleviate fears that Black Lives Matter supports killing cops.

When in an Emergency, Act Urgently 

Contrast the “Movement for Black Lives” demands with the agenda of “Campaign Zero,” another group founded by Black Lives Matter activists to reduce police killings. Last August, they presented a list of ten specific, sensible police reforms. As Radley Balko commented then:

Critics and police organizations have portrayed Black Lives Matter as radical, anti-police, and anti-white. But the policies Campaign Zero is pushing are none of those things. Instead, they’re practical, well-thought out, and in most cases, achievable. Most will also directly benefit everyone — not just black people.

In most cases, the policies Campaign Zero is suggesting are already in place in one or more police departments across the country… It makes it more difficult for police groups to portray those proposals as “anti-cop.” But it also makes it easier to pitch those ideas to policymakers and the public. They’ve already been field-tested. As a set, these policies are more a list of “best practices” than revolutionary reform.

A few of the proposals will be a tougher sell, but even those are far short of world-shaking. There are no calls to disarm the police. No calls to abolish law enforcement agencies. No demands that police unions be prohibited. This isn’t a fervid manifesto. It’s a serious effort to solve a problem.

So what does Campaign Zero want? Here’s their list:

  1. End Broken-Windows Policing
  2. Community Oversight
  3. Limit Use of Force
  4. Independent Investigations and Prosecutions
  5. Community Representation
  6. Body Cams/Film the Police
  7. End Policing for Profit
  8. Training
  9. Demilitarization
  10. Fair Police Union Contracts

(Read more about these here and here.)

Each of these policies has additional components, of course, and some will be harder to achieve than others. But all of them fit together as a coherent agenda, pointing towards a specific goal: reducing the number of violent police encounters.

By limiting unnecessary stops, ensuring transparency and accountability, and reining in use of force and military tactics, Campaign Zero hopes to improve community-police relations and stop violent encounters before they start. Their reforms are realistic and focused on the most crucial points: union contracts, use-of-force policies, public transparency, police training, independent oversight, and policies that treat citizens like cash registers and incentivize a lot of low-level harassment.

“Its practicality is undoubtedly born of urgency,” Balko writes. “There’s no time for wild-eyed ideology when people are dying.”

And that’s really the issue here: people are dying — over 1,300 last year alone — most “justifiable,” but surely not all necessary. If this is a crisis worth stopping traffic over, it deserves to be treated as an emergency, not as a façade for a refurbished Occupy Wall Street manifesto. It is incumbent on everyone to take it seriously and address it seriously. Campaign Zero does, and if you’re looking to understand what Black Lives Matter is all about, check out their proposals — and leave the Glass-Steagall debate for a different time.

Daniel Bier

Daniel Bier

Daniel Bier is the editor of FEE.org. He writes on issues relating to science, civil liberties, and economic freedom.

RELATED ARTICLE: Jewish groups shocked after Black Lives Matter releases manifesto accusing Israel of ‘genocide’

VIDEO: Unhyphenated American Nails Black Lives Matter

Lloyd Marcus The Unhyphenated American, Nails Black Lives Matter in this exclusive video. Please share it on your social media sites.

According to Black Lives Matter Exposed:

According to the BLM website, “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”

Patrisse Cullors, one of the three founders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement, married black, transgender immigrant Janaya Khan earlier this year, but her Facebook page states that she is “in an open relationship with Harriet Tubman.”

[ … ]

On her official bio on her website, the ending statement is bold: “Patrisse will continue to create, organize and shut it down until all Black lives matter.” As the nationwide protests, that have resulted in the closure of federal highways and numerous arrests that have taken place since the incident in Dallas, one can take that statement seriously.

Read more.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of Lloyd Marcus at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. was taken by Harriet Baldwin.

Are Law Enforcement Officers Above the Law?

Few people will write an article that even comes close to being critical of our U.S. law enforcement officers. Americans are due a non biased review of why law enforcement officers (LEO) are either treated with enormous respect or in many cases are despised by the people they are sworn to serve.

I can effectively write on this issue because my background includes serving almost two decades as a U.S. Federal Agent. I had the opportunity to work with dozens of law enforcement agencies around America.  This included local, state and federal agencies. I am happy to give our LEO a pat on the back when they do as they have been sworn to do, or write a critical article for the one’s who have forgotten they are not above any U.S. law.

In America the media and politicians have groomed us to always put LEO on a throne above all other professions aside from our military personnel.  LEO are not owed any higher allegiance to their careers than a plumber, factory worker, insurance salesman, athlete, or doctor.  People who apply for LEO positions do so because this career is very stable and the pay covers their bills and provides for their families. The popular belief is that LEO enter law enforcement to ‘serve’ the people.  This is so far from the truth that no further explanation is needed. For the vast majority it is for a paycheck and for many it feeds their ego’s.

The LEO who enter law enforcement to feed their adrenaline and ego are the one’s who believe they are one step ahead of other Americans.  The one’s who do this job for a paycheck are the honest officers and they serve the people because that is what they are paid to do.  These officers are the LEO that show respect to all Americans regardless of their wealth status, race, or religion.

The LEO who show disrespect for the people they serve are the one’s who believe some laws apply to them, but not all laws.  A few examples:  In a busy city it is more likely you will see a police officer in his/her patrol car breaking traffic laws than you will see from citizens. There are some officers who strongly believe it is their job to let citizens know they have the absolute power to make or ruin a person’s day, and in some cases have been known to alter the truth and evidence.

There are LEO who believe they are not subject to the laws of assault and battery. In most states, an assault/battery is committed when one person: 1) tries to or does physically strike another, or 2) acts in a threatening manner to put another in fear of immediate harm. Many states declare that a more serious or “aggravated” assault/battery occurs when one: 1) tries to or does cause severe injury to another, or 2) causes injury through use of a deadly weapon. Throughout America an assault by a police officer on a suspect or prisoner in a jail or prison happens much more regularly than ever reported by the media.

Technology has started to bring many assault cases by police officers into the limelight.  Seldom in our past history does a person making a complaint about officer abuse were shown even the courtesy of listening to them.  Today with cameras on every corner and many officers being required to wear body cameras the truth is being revealed.  Do you think most police officers are in favor of having to wear a body camera? No.  Even officers who are not inclined to assault a person often berate suspects to the point of the suspect admitting to crimes he/she did not commit.  In spousal or child abuse experts have shown emotional abuse of the innocent person is often worse than physical abuse.  The same applies in law enforcement.

There are two famous words every law enforcement officer is quickly taught in the academy and throughout their career. ‘Stop Resisting’ Often you will hear these two words being shouted even while a suspect may be docile. They are safety words for the officers. Without cameras it is hard to contradict an officers testimony if he/she testify they shouted this command ten times!

In conclusion citizens and police officers must be taught that mutual respect and courtesy must be shown at all times to one another.  Of course there are citizens who are serious troublemakers and deserve to be put through the legal system, but there are indeed LEO who abuse their authority.  An LEO is not above the law in America.  If you have ever been pulled over or had the police respond to your home/business on a criminal complaint, you likely did not have a pleasant experience.  These encounters of course should not be fun, but they should not be used by an ego cop to demean a person who has not been convicted of a crime.

Respect is an earned reward and not given out due to intimidation.  

An LEO doesn’t and should not believe since he/she  was hired by a police department that they automatically have earned respect from the people they serve.  If a plumber is hired by a company does he/she automatically earn the respect of the customers he serves?  Of course not.  It is only when the plumber treats the customer with courtesy and completes the job as he is being paid to, will he begin to progress in his career and earn respect from the person he/she serves.