Keynote Speaker Rev. Dr. William Barber II face emanates neon purple rays against a background of dark blue with dark teal concentric pentagonal shapes that subtly meet one another to create a cohesive pattern as they radiate out in to space. Race Forward Presents Facing Race: A National Conference.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) have launched a grassroots movement to implement “immediate and permanent solutions” to end police violence in the United States. 

In the wake of nearly two weeks of widespread protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the ACLU said in a statement published on June 5 that the ongoing battle against police brutality in communities of color has so far been largely unsuccessful. “Black people continue to be murdered and brutalized by police with near impunity. More of the same won’t fix this problem,” the statement reads. 

The ACLU states:

As we look to the future, the ACLU unites behind the profound fight that groups like Movement for Black Lives have been leading: the fight for a completely reimagined vision of the role, presence, and responsibilities of police in America.

The fight will be complex, but in practice what we want can be clearly stated: We need to fundamentally change the role of police in our society, and that role has to be smaller, more circumscribed, and less funded with taxpayer dollars. Money saved from reducing the size and scope of police departments must be reinvested into community-based services that are better suited to respond to actual community needs. Doing so will foster improved safety and health outcomes, and present opportunities in Black communities, where decades of underinvestment in everything except police has helped fuel a mass incarceration crisis.

The human justice organization is asking supporters to sign their names in support of the movement to create a new model for policing Americans. The way to achieve success in this mission, according to the ACLU, is through the implementation of a “sweeping three-part formula,” which is outlined as follows:

  • Prohibiting police from enforcing a range of non-serious offenses, including issuing fines, and making arrests for non-dangerous behaviors, eliminating many of the unnecessary interactions between the police and community members that have led to so much violence and so many deaths;
  • Reinvesting savings from the current policing budgets into alternatives to policing that will keep local communities safe and help them thrive;
  • Implementing common-sense, iron-clad legal constraints, and other protections on the rare instances in which police officers do interact with community members.

The ACLU says the core problem with modern policing is that since their inception, police departments have been “tasked with protecting power and privilege by exerting social control over Black people.” The ACLU continues: 

Built upon Jim Crow-era racist constructs, spurious social science, and sprawling legal codes, law enforcement has sought to control Black and Brown people through racialized targeting and the criminalization of Black people generally. Since inception, police in the U.S. have been empowered to act as an occupying force in low-income communities and communities of color across the country, funded by astronomical sums of taxpayer dollars.

A reimagined way of policing in the U.S. must include less police power and responsibilities, reduced budgets, and a shift to ensure “[officers] don’t come into regular, unnecessary contact with community members,” says the ACLU. This, according to the organization, is the best way to protect communities of color from police violence, to advance civil rights and to protect liberties. 

Click here to sign your name in support of the movement to divest in police, and to protect the lives of Black and Brown people.