Birthed from protest against the ongoing issue of police brutality, Black Lives Matter has grown to become an international movement aimed at drawing attention to the mistreatment and violence against Black bodies at the hands of police.
In the face of recent criticism over its heavy focus on police violence, BLM, along with 60 other organizations affiliated with the movement, has issued a fresh set of demands calling for slavery reparations, criminal justice reform, and an end to the death penalty, among other things.
The new policy platform, titled “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice,” was released Monday by the Movement for Black Lives. The agenda’s unveiling comes on the heels of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, during which Black Lives Matter protesters were seemingly absent.
“We seek radical transformation, not reactionary reform,” said Michaela Brown, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Bloc, one of the movement’s partner organizations. “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.”
According to Buzzfeed, other organizations affiliated with the movement include the Alliance for Educational Justice, BIG: Blacks in Green, the Black Leadership Organizing Collaborative, Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), The BlackOut Collective, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota, and many more.
The new policy paper details six demands and offers nearly 40 “comprehensive and visionary” recommendations to address them. These new requests go far beyond past demands that solely focused on police killings of Black Americans; an end to mass incarceration and deportation, added rights for trans people under current civil rights protections, and sweeping reforms to the U.S. education policy are a few of the other demands outlined in the agenda, the publication reports.
But with demands also come suggested solutions. For instance, to tackle criminal justice reform, organizers of the new policy recommended an end to the militarized police presence often seen at demonstrations in cities like Ferguson, Missouri, and the retroactive decriminalization and immediate release of all citizens convicted on drug charges, sex work-related offenses, and/or youth offenses, according to ABC News.
At the top of the list of demands is the push for a bill that would create a commission solely dedicated to studying reparations for the descendants of enslaved Black Americans.
“In recent years we have taken to the streets, launched massive campaigns, and impacted elections, but our elected leaders have failed to address the legitimate demands of our Movement. We can no longer wait,” a release from the Movement for Black Bodies read.
“We also stand with descendants of African people all over the world in an ongoing call and struggle for reparations for the historic and continuing harms of colonialism and slavery,” it continued. “We also recognize and honor the rights and struggle of our Indigenous family for land and self-determination.”
There’s a strong case for reparations today, considering that the institution of slavery created the economic basis for modern capitalism and transformed the U.S. into one of the wealthiest nations in the world, Atlanta Black Star reports. But a 2016 Fusion Issues survey found that 62 percent of millennials said they were opposed to the government providing reparations to African-Americans for slavery, while 32 percent supported the measure. When broken down along racial lines however, 62 percent of African-Americans and 40 percent of Latinos said they supported reparations, while a mere 21 percent of whites expressed favor.
According to movement organizers, a website featuring action items for leaders at the local, state, and federal levels is currently up and running. The “action toolkit” also includes a step-by-step guide on how groups can design powerful movements for action in their own community.
“If you’ve been marching in the streets or been on the sidelines, this is your opportunity to join the movement for justice, and make sure today is different than yesterday,” the document reads. “We can create a future where Black children live in peace and not under a police state. We will honor those we’ve lost by fighting for the world we can build together, the world we know is possible, the world we deserve.”