Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Campaign Zero: A Path to Ending Police Violence and A Local Opportunity to Influence the Direction of Law Enforcement

Heartbreak and anger over police violence has given rise to public activism. Marches, rallies and non-violent civil disobedience have been on the streets and in the news. These are powerful and important interventions in a society that wants to go about its business as usual as the death tolls rise. 

Some of the activists involved in Black Lives Matter, including DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie, have been involved in a much less publicized but equally important project. They put together a detailed set of policy recommendations to address the problem of police violence which is presented in a state of the art website.

"Campaign ZERO was developed with contributions from activists, protesters and researchers across the nation. This data-informed platform presents comprehensive solutions to end police violence in America. It integrates community demands and policy recommendations from research organizations and the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Together, we will win."

 The Campaign Zero website, which is updated often, is vast, detailed and comprehensive. It includes local and national solutions. And it offers points of entry for regular folks to help make these changes become reality.

Most recently Campaign Zero rolled out its Legislation Visualization & Take Action Tool. In an interview with online Paper Mag, DeRay Mckesson says of the project:
"It's important that people understand the laws that are in progress," activist DeRay Mckesson explained. "[It's been a goal] since the [Black Lives Matter] movement was started."
 Speaking to Mckesson over the phone, he explained that while the tool had been in the works and scheduled, it "became more urgent in light of recent events" -- namely the shooting deaths of 37-year-old Alton Sterling on Tuesday and 32-year-old Philando Castile a day later.
Here in Tompkins County we have an opportunity to have input on a possible consolidation of law enforcement departments. The Legislature has commissioned a study to explore what that could look like. Though we missed the July 5th window to comment on the proposed study, there will be other opportunities to be involved.

Could this be an opening to put Tompkins County law enforcement on the Campaign Zero path?