FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 20, 2016
BYP 100: Dominique Hazzard, firstname.lastname@example.org 301-755-3861
Black Lives Matter DMV: April Goggans, email@example.com 202-250-4541
Washington, DC- Organizers from Black Lives Matter DMV, BYP100 DC, and Baltimore BLOC interrupted a panel at the US Conference of Mayors winter conference. The panel featured USCM President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel, USCM Vice President New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and the Police Chief of St. Lous discussing “Reducing Violence and Strengthening Policy/Community Trust.” The organizers released the letter below.
LETTER TO THE UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF MAYORS ON THE OCCASION OF YOUR 84TH WINTER MEETING IN WASHINGTON D.C.
To the United States Conference of Mayors:
We are a united, decentralized, collaborative movement of Black organizations and Black people across the country working for the liberation of all Black people. We are the Movement for Black Lives.
As DC organizers we stand in solidarity with Black people in Chicago who are organizing against the administration of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. Rahm Emmanuel has covered up the murder of Laquan McDonald for political gain, gutted Chicago public schools, dismantled city mental health infrastructure, authorized a city budget where 40% of public services funds are spent on policing, and recently pushed for an expansion of the city’s policing budget to further arm CPD officers.
The presence of Mayor Emmanuel on a panel about Reducing Violence and Strengthening Policy/Community Trust is horrifically audacious. It is slap in the face to the Black people who have survived years of documented police torture in Chicago, currently live under police terror, and have seen repeated cuts to areas that are critical to violence reduction and strong communities, such as education and community health.
Yet, Rahm Emmanuel does not stand alone as a United States mayor who advances white supremacy and state violence while refusing to be accountable to Black people. Chicago is just one example of a crisis of leadership across the nation. The President of your Conference, Stephanie Rollins-Blake is Mayor of Baltimore, which has repeatedly failed to hold officers accountable for the deaths of residents. In Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti has refused to fire the police chief responsible for the highest number of police killings in the nation. Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit supports the city investing $265 million in the construction of a new hockey stadium as part of a “resurgence” that Black Detroiters are not benefitting from. And here in DC, our own Mayor Muriel Bowser has chosen to push a regressive crime bill instead of initiatives that will truly increase the security of Black people in DC such as deeply affordable housing and vigorously prosecuting wage theft. We attach to this letter the unanswered Movement for Black Lives demands from a sample of U.S. cities.
We implore you, the mayors of this nation’s cities, to divest from policing and other forms of state violence and invest in Black communities and building Black futures. That is the way to reduce violence. That is strong policy. That is the path to community trust.
We will be here until you do.
Black Lives Matter DMV, BYP100 DC, and Baltimore BLOC
We need a clear commitment to divest from the police and invest in the futures of Black Chicagoans.
- We demand a participatory city budget in which the public has the power to defund the Chicago Police Department and invest those dollars and resources in Black futures by setting a living wage with union representation with protections against discrimination of Trans workers regardless of education or experience, fully funding healthcare including but not limited to full access to reproductive health care, social services, neighborhood public schools, sustainable economic development projects as they see fit.
- We demand an immediate end to the criminalization of Black people for minor possession of marijuana and other petty crimes.
- We demand the immediate firing of all officers who have contributed to the deaths of Black Chicagoans.
- We demand a fully independent civilian police accountability council with hiring, firing, subpoena and budgeting power. The creation of a Police Accountability Task force appointed by Mayor Emanuel is insufficient and undemocratic.
- We demand that the Fraternal Order of the Police’s request to erase all records of police misconduct as far as 2011, be denied.
- We demand the immediate removal of all city monuments to white supremacists.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, We Demand:
- That the 4 Baltimore Police officers who attempted to murder Keith Davis Jr. are suspended without pay.
- That Baltimore Police officer Lane Eskins, 1 of the 4 who attempted to murder Keith Davis, Jr., be taken off active duty, like are officers are supposed to be when they are under investigation.
- The suspension of the officer who allowed Lane Eskins to continue working.
- We demand that the council refuse to provide any municipal services to federal
buildings until the District is granted statehood while we live in a nation that refuses to grant the District statehood, thereby denying D.C. residents their right to congressional representation.
- We demand quality housing for every person in DC, especially for low-income residents. Housing is a human right, not an opportunity to exploit and profit. We demand that the council stop the displacement of Black and low income residents by passing comprehensive housing reform, increasing yearly dedicated funding to the Housing Production Trust Fund and both unit and voucher based Local Rent Subsidy Programs. We demand the District rehabilitate every Public Housing Unit owned by the city and invest city resources into creating new Public Housing Projects with supportive services spread throughout all wards of the city. We demand the district must revamp inclusionary zoning to insure that deeply affordable housing and public housing are consistently being built in every ward of the city by ensuring that the Office of Zoning as strong public oversight and accountability.
We demand that the city prioritize funding housing options across the continuum of housing for residents between 0%-30% area median incomes. We demand the council pass a tenant bill of rights that strengthens and expands rent control, strengthens language access to housing services, protects against and proactively tests for poor housing conditions including mold, bed bugs and other infestations and establishes harsher penalties for noncompliant landlords including, but not limited to, forfeiture of land for the establishment of limited equity cooperates.
We demand that the tragic disappearance of Relisha Rudd, the deplorable conditions in local homeless shelters and the inaction of the council enabled both not be forgotten and that the DC council work with families in shelters to find suitable housing solutions for them on a timeline established by the families themselves.
We demand an end to political and social compromises that force homeless families and individuals strip people of their dignity like not allowing private bathrooms or year round access to shelters.We demand that the city either develop all the land in its possession into housing or social services geared towards empowering low or no income residents, community designed green space, or sell off land at market value to fund social welfare programs or public infrastructure.
- We demand decent, dignified, and sustainable work or occupation for everyone who wants it. We demand full access for returning citizens to all forms of housing, jobs, education including financial aid, and privacy as well as decriminalization, demilitarization, and prison abolition. We demand full funding of a technology apprentice program for Black workers. We demand full funding of a worker cooperative pilot in 2016.We want a guaranteed income for all, living wages, a federal jobs program, and freedom from discrimination for all workers.
- We demand that the labor of Black transgender and cisgender women (unseen and seen, unpaid and paid) to be valued and supported, not criminalized and marginalized. We demand the council pass a comprehensive worker’s bill of rights that ensures a living wage, creates a public works program to guarantee full employment, increases protections for undocumented workers, abolishes the tipped minimum wage, ensures proactive enforcement of wage theft and anti-discrimination laws and ensures all workers (regardless of legal status) have access to paid family leave, predictable hours and protections against retaliation for organizing. We demand that the labor of Black transgender and cisgender women (unseen and seen, unpaid and paid) to be valued and supported, not criminalized and marginalized. We want investments in Black communities that promote economic sustainability and eliminate the displacement of our people.
- We demand justice for the November 1, 2015 murder of Alonzo Smith. We demand justice for the October 12, 2015 physical assault of Jason Goolsby. We demand justice for April 26, 2011 murder of Ralphael Briscoe. We demand the District budget defund the police and invest those dollars and resources in Black futures. We demand the removal of police and “school resource officers” from all DC schools, and the abolition of out-of-school suspensions. We demand the funding of healing and restorative alternatives inside of education spaces.We demand the immediate transformation of the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services into a truly rehabilitative space that does not criminalize youth, affirms their value, provides them emotional support to deal with present trauma that does not further traumatize them. We demand that a plan is put in place to fully disarm the Metropolitan Police Department by 2020.
We demand an end to all profit from so-called “criminal justice” punishment – both public and private. We demand an end to the psychological warfare and the trauma induced by police brutality including, jump-outs, “All Hands On Deck” weekends, and fabricated charges of assaults on police officers. We demand the council fully implement the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act of 2014 and work with advocates and survivors to take the necessary steps to end sexual assault including ending the rape kit back log by the end of the 2018.
Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles has repeatedly attempted to engage Mayor Garcetti around issues of state violence and the patterns of abuse suffered by Black people in Los Angeles, especially at the hands of LAPD. The following items stem from the demands provided to the mayor when we met in July 2015.
- Fire Chief Beck based on his complete unwillingness to discipline officers who brutalize and kill our people, his leadership of the police department with the highest number of police killings in the nation (21 killed so far this year), and his continued undermining of civilian oversight, especially illustrated by his message to officers following the Commission’s findings that LAPD officers Villegas and Wampler were “out of policy” in the killing of Ezell Ford.
- Work in partnership with the Los Angeles City Council to develop a reparations policy based loosely on the policy passed earlier this year in the City of Chicago which would provide financial, mental health, educational, and other resources to those who have been brutalized by the police and to the families of those who have been killed.
- Hold Police Commission meetings that are open and accessible to the community rather than continuing the current practice of closed meetings that are inaccessible and allow for continued back-room decision making, which have recently been made even more problematic and undemocratic with the passage of the new “rules of decorum.”
- Appoint real community advocates to key Commission seats rather than to campaign donors and political supporters. Solicit, seriously consider, and respond to community nominations as opposed to the way in which the community nomination of Aqeela Sherrills, a globally recognized expert on public safety, was ignored and Matt Johnson was appointed to the Police Commission without community dialogue or engagement.
- Adhere to the quarterly Town Hall meeting structure with the Black community negotiated in July. 1) meeting dates scheduled 2) Black community groups convene a public meeting to generate a community-driven agenda, 3) Town Hall held in accordance with that agenda and structure.