16 Wins We’ve Seen As Black Lives Matter Protests Continue To Apply Pressure
Amid all of the protests happening around the country, our voices have been heard and changes have been made.
by Blavity Team
June 08, 2020 at 5:55 pm
While many have discouraged protests, have questioned what marches will do and have uttered “All lives matter,” our voices are being heard, and our actions are creating change. From larger scale reform to minor victories, the protests are working. Our demand for change is being received.
We’ve compiled a list of wins we've seen in response to the last few weeks.
1. Minneapolis Police Department will be dismantled
The Minneapolis City Council has voted to dismantle the police department, as Blavity previously reported. In a veto-proof, 9 out of 13 majority vote, the council has promised to create a “new transformative model for cultivating safety.”
While the process will take some time, Councilman Phillipe Cunningham said there “will be intentional transition and investments and policies.”
2. Democrats propose police reform bill
The Congressional Black Caucus and House Democrats have proposed a bill that will reform policing policies. The bill focuses on holding law enforcement accountable for misconduct, making it easier to prosecute officers and increasing transparency in departments by creating a National Police Misconduct Registry, reports CBS News.
Under the bill, the standard of prosecution will be changed from “willfulness” to “recklessness” for police misconduct in the federal criminal statute.
"The world is watching the birth of a new movement in our country," Congresswoman Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said. "A profession where you have the power to kill should be a profession that requires highly trained officers who are accountable to the public."
3. New York Police Department budget will be reallocated into the community
Following the announcement of a number of police reforms, de Blasio said he will take funding from the police department and reinvest it into youth and social services, reassign enforcement for street vendors to a civilian agency instead of the NYPD and add community ambassadors as liaisons between the department and constituents.
“People did not protest for the sake of protest. They protest to achieve change, and now we must deliver that change,” he said.
He said details of the $6 billion NYPD annual budget still have to be worked out but ensured that his focus is on the younger generation.
4. Budget cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced his commitment to cutting the Los Angeles Police Department budget and reallocating $100 million to $150 million of it to communities of color, reports Deadline. He said the money will be reinvested into education, jobs and healing.
The funding will be redirected “now, not years from now,” he said.
Garcetti also placed a temporary ban on adding people to the city's gang database and emphasized the heightened importance of discipline against officers. A Civil and Human Rights Commission with an Office of Racial Equity will be established in the city to help officials “apply an equity lens to everything we do.”
5. Breonna's Law is being heard by the Louisville Metro Council
The ordinance, titled “Breonna’s Law,” is now being considered by the full council and states that "no-knock" warrants can only be used when there is an "imminent threat of harm or death” and in cases of murder, hostage-taking, kidnapping, terrorism and human and sexual trafficking.
6. Dallas Police Department implements "duty to intervene" policy
Dallas Police Chief Reneé Hall announced the implementation of a "duty to intervene” policy for all officers, reports NPR. The new mandate requires officers to intervene when a colleague is using excessive force.
"Millions watched a Minneapolis police officer suffocate Mr. George Floyd to death by applying pressure with his knee on the victim's neck for nearly nine minutes," the Dallas Police Department said. "Had the officer's partners intervened, the outcome might have been different."
These steps aim to prevent another death at the hands of officers similar to that of Floyd.
7. Voter registration surges
In the wake of protests and the killing of Floyd, there has been a surge of people registering to vote, volunteering and donating to Democratic organizations, reports CNBC.
Rock The Vote, Mi Familia Vota and When We All Vote, an organization supported by Michelle Obama, are leading the efforts. The rise in registration has been in large part due to younger voters and is expected to help Biden find victory over President Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential race.
8. Statues of racist politicians and leaders are being removed
Protesters around the world have been attempting, and in some cases succeeding, to take down statues of racist politicians. The city of Philadelphia had to push up its plans to remove a statue of its former mayor and police commissioner, Frank Rizzo, after protesters painted it, set it on fire and tried to remove it themselves, as Blavity previously reported.
Confederate monuments will also be taken down in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Richmond, Virginia, reports ABC News. Statues of Confederacy soldiers were also removed in Alexandria, Virginia, and Birmingham, Alabama.
9. Confederate flags have been banned by the Marine Corps
The Marine Corps announced an official order that will ban all items featuring a Confederate flag from public areas and workspaces, reports Military.com. Confederate flags are not to be shown on bases, including in the form of a t-shirt, bumper sticker, mug or poster.
Commandant Gen. David Berger first announced the plan in February.
"Things that divide us are not good," Berger said. "When on government property, we have to think as a unit and how to build a team, a cohesive team."
Commanders now have the authority to “take reasonable, necessary, and lawful measures to maintain law and order, and to protect installation personnel and property."
10. Oakland schools have defunded their school police force
With the passing of the George Floyd Resolution to Eliminate Oakland Schools Police Department, the police presence is being removed from Oakland schools after six decades, Mercury News reports. The Oakland Unified School District will be redirecting the $2.5 million in annual spending toward other school programs.
Statistics show Black students were overpoliced within the district, with Black residents representing just 26% of the population, but being the targets of 73% of arrests. Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell will spend the months between August and December drafting a proposal for a new safety plan.
11. A Wisconsin school district will remove police from schools
While Gloria Reyes, a former police officer and current Madison Metropolitan School District Board president, previously voiced disapproval for the push to remove police from schools, demands from activists and a teachers union led the board to terminate its contract with the Madison Police Department, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.
12. Seattle labor union issues ultimatum to police union: reform or be removed
The King County Labor Federation gave the Seattle Police Officers Guild one final opportunity to reform itself, Crosscut reports. Members of the largest labor union in the country demanded that the police union adopt a “Black lives matter” approach to training and disciplining officers.
The labor union allowed the Seattle Police Officers Guild until June 17 to show steps taken toward reform and subsequently voted on that day to expel the officers' guild from the union, Crosscut reported.
13. California prosecutors launch campaign to block DAs from accepting police union money
District Attorneys Chesa Boudin, Diana Becton and Tori Verber Salazar and former DA George Gascon have all cited the national reaction to Floyd’s killing as the inspiration for their effort to close the revolving door between prosecutors and police, Mercury News reports.
The attorneys have asked the California State Bar to explicitly prohibit DAs from taking donations from police unions, a practice that has been normalized even amid DAs investigating police departments in response to killings.
14. Tulsa mayor agrees not to renew 'Live PD' contract
Mayor G.T. Bynum has agreed to discontinue the city’s contract with Live PD, a television show that broadcasts local policing, often leaving residents feeling humiliated and criminalized, Tulsa World reports. The mayor sat down with organizers and residents on June 1 to announce his decision, also stating that he would work toward opening an office of independent monitoring of Tulsa police. Additionally, Bynum vowed to sit down with the Crutcher family, who have filed a lawsuit against the city for the 2016 killing of Terence Crutcher by Tulsa police.
15. Portland mayor ends program placing armed officers in schools
Mayor Ted Wheeler announced that he would end the school resource officer program that places armed police in Portland schools, OPB reports. Wheeler’s June 4 announcement came on the heels of Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero’s decision to remove resource officers from schools in the Portland Public Schools district. Forming a community task force including PPS students and providing transparent data on student discipline are among the superintendent’s proposed changes to the district, according to OPB.
16. There's a bipartisan push to shut down a Pentagon program transferring military weaponry to local law enforcement departments
Police departments’ use of rubber bullets and pepper spray on peaceful protestors and journalists has gained bipartisan attention, The New York Times reports. Republicans and Democrats in Congress are pushing to put an end to the Pentagon program that funnels military-grade weapons into civilian police departments.
“It is clear that many police departments are being outfitted as if they are going to war, and it is not working in terms of maintaining the peace,” Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii said.
Schatz added an amendment to the defense policy bill that would shut down the Pentagon program entirely.
While some of these wins are big steps, some are also extremely minor. They should all be celebrated, but it needs to be acknowledged that there is still work to be done.
The Black Lives Matter movement needs to be supported until Black lives are truly valued and equal. In order to ensure the work is continued and minor wins are turned into major victories, continue to sign petitions, donate to organizations, email your elected officials and vote. Significant work still needs to be done, so the momentum must persist.