#SayHerName: Fighting Violence Against Black Women, Girls & Femmes
In 2015, BYP100 hosted our first National Day of Action to End State Violence Against Black Women & Girls. More than 22 cities participated in direct actions lifting up names of Black women, with an emphasis on young, queer, trans and femmes, victims of police violence.
#SayHerName was an intervention in the dominant narratives about who is impacted by police brutality and state violence, more broadly. We told a story that uncovered the stories of Black women, girls, and femmes that too often get erased, overlooked, and left out of traditional narratives about state violence that solely include men and boys.
This national effort was launched out of the work our Chicago chapter contributed to alongside the family of Rekia Boyd, a young Black woman shot and killed by off-duty Chicago Police Department officer Dante Servin in 2012. After monthly protests that drew increasing public pressure for over a year, Servin ultimately resigned just days before the hearing that would determine whether he would be fired. The years-long fight for justice for Rekia Boyd that preceded BYP100’s work in Chicago served as a critical fight for justice and just one of many examples that remind us that Black women, girls & femmes are impacted by the same types of violence as Black men and boys, on top of various forms of gender-based violence.
Building Black Futures
America’s economic system has systematically failed Black communities for whole lifetimes with discriminatory policies; investment in policing, surveillance, incarceration; and chronic underinvestment in our livelihood. The Agenda to Build Black Futures, BYP100’s 2nd public policy agenda, is a set of economic goals and structural changes that could improve the lives of Black people living in America. We envision a more economically just society that values the lives and well-being of ALL Black people, including women, queer, and transgender folks, the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated as well as those who languish in the bottom 1% of the economic hierarchy. Within the frame of the Agenda to Build Black Futures, BYP100 has launched, partnered on, and inspired campaigns across the country to bring us closer to an economic system that is just, equitable, and supports the future of Black communities. Read the full agenda at agendatobuildblackfutures.org.
As a part of the Movement for Black Lives, BYP100 contributed to the Vision for Black Lives platform, which outlines policies that would improve the lives of Black people and move us closer to a just world in six key areas, and can be found at https://policy.m4bl.org/platform/.
In 2017, BYP100 collaborated with the Center for Popular Democracy & Law for Black Lives to publish the Freedom to Thrive report, which outlines racial disparities, policing landscapes, and budgets in 12 jurisdictions across the country. The report dives deep into how these specific local areas are impacted by the ongoing divestment from what Black communities need and investment in systems that harm us as described in the Agenda to Build Black Futures & Vision for Black Lives. The Freedom to Thrive: Reimagining Safety & Security in Our Communities report can be found at https://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Freedom%20To%20Thrive%2C%20Higher%20Res%20Version.pdf
#StopTheCops: Confronting Police Power
As an abolitionist organization that seeks to dismantle current systems of policing, incarceration, and punishment, BYP100 has always been committed to directly confronting police power. We know that the dominant systems in our society are held in place by institutions with a lot more resources than us who are invested in keeping those systems intact. Therefore, we also know that we must confront powerful institutions and undermine the power of police organizations, political organizations that lobby for legislation that expands the police state, and so on.
Stop The Cops Worldwide: IACP Shutdown
In October 2014, BYP100 led a mass direct action on International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference being hosted in Chicago. Over a dozen local groups came together to protest this organization and its perpetuation of global systems of policing, surveillance, occupation, and violence. Hundreds marched in the streets, close to 100 activists participated in civil disobedience, and over 60 people were arrested after obstructing access to the entrance of the conference.
IACP is an organization that facilitates the collaboration between Israeli military forces and U.S. police departments. It is an organization that has spread technology used to surveil and control people who live in certain neighborhoods. In collaboration with groups like Assata’s Daughters, Organized Communities Against Deportation, and We Charge Genocide, BYP100 protested this event and organization as part of a broader fight to take resources away from systems of policing and incarceration and to invest those resources in Black communities. We want to #StopTheCops and #FundBlackFutures.
#FreedomNow: Stop the FOP!
Following the police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castile in Minnesota, as well as the shooting of five police officers in Dallas during a protest, July 2016, marked a moment of heated national attention and debate on police violence and what the resistance to it should and should not look like. BYP100’s response was the recenter the conversation and redirect the heat towards the organizations that work to protect police power at any cost. In a national day of action under the banner of #FreedomNow, BYP100 members across the country participated in actions that targeted police unions, organizations that work hard ensure that police officers who commit acts of violence are able to evade accountability, that new police officers are hired, and that budgets increase. In NYC, BYP100 members blocked the lobby and entrance to the city’s police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. In Washington D.C, members locked down and closed business for the day at the Fraternal Order of Police Legislative Office. BYP100 members in Detroit locked down at the Detroit Police Department precinct on the birthday of Aiyana Jones, the Black girl who was only seven years old when killed by DPD in a raid on her family’s home in 2010. Members in Durham took action at the Durham Police Department headquarters in protest of the city’s plan to construct a new $81 million headquarters facility.
Fighting ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Legislation
Part of the backlash to the growing Black youth-led movement against police violence and policing includes the push for malicious legislation to protect police officers who harm others and punish those who protest them. So-called ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bills were introduced in at least 14 states, with the first being introduced in Louisiana. This type of legislation would classify police officers as a group targeted by hate crimes and further escalate how protesters get charged and prosecuted protesters on trumped-up charges, scenarios in which police officers are always favored over other people. BYP100’s New Orleans chapter fought hard against the passage of this bill, emphasizing that the intent behind it was to infringe on freedom of speech and intimidate those who might speak out against or protest the police. Similarly, our Chicago chapter fought a city ordinance of the same vein as a part of a coalition that ran a campaign called The Bluest Lie.
Holding Elected Officials Accountable & Claiming Our Power
Since our inception, BYP100 has always employed multiple strategies for building power on multiple terrains. One of these terrains has been that of voter engagement and holding elected officials accountable. BYP100’s approach to voter engagement has always been about lifting up our issues instead of lifting up candidates. We know where we stand on our issues and voter engagement has always been about informing other Black people and encouraging them to vote in a way that supports the issues that will improve the lives of our communities.
During the 2014 midterm elections, BYP100 led a three-state GOTV program in Illinois, Michigan, and North Carolina through which our teams engaged nearly 10,000 young Black registered voters on the issues that matter to us. By the 2016 election season, our voter engagement program had expanded to a program that supported ten fellows across ten states and touched a total of 48,000 mostly young, Black people. Our 2016 election efforts on the ground were paired with communications efforts to frame the conversation more about the issues at stake and on the table and less about the candidates and their personalities. #ReparationsForPresident #VoteBlack
In addition to voter engagement, we have participated in efforts to hold elected officials accountable. BYP100 Chicago joined a city-wide coalition including groups like Assata’s Daughters, Fearless Leading by the Youth (F.L.Y.), and Black Lives Matter: Chicago to successfully defeat the Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez. The campaign used multiple tactics including traditional door knocking and outreach activities, as well as creative direct actions and political education that drew widespread attention to Alvarez’s role in the criminalization of Black Chicagoans and in the cover-up of the police murder of Laquan McDonald. Due to this grassroots organizing work, Alvarez failed to be reelected and local organizers proved that the people do have the power and ability to ‘fire’ elected officials who do not serve us.
More Local Fights to Improve the Lives of Black People
Fight for $15
BYP100 has been a proud partner and supporter of the Fight For 15 campaign since 2014 and believe in the campaign’s vision for a world where all workers are paid at least $15/hour, are represented by a union, and can live with basic dignity and safety. During the national campaign’s large mobilizations in April 2015, BYP100 mobilized close to a thousand young Black activists in Illinois, Louisiana and New York during the national Fight for 15 strikes. Our core messages of “Racial Justice is Economic Justice” and “#BlackWorkMatters” shifted the national narrative and campaign strategy and is now being used by local and national Fight for 15 efforts. Having since organized many more actions, press conferences, op-eds, and BYP100 members speaking at hearings and town halls, we continue committed to a world where workers are paid at least $15/hour and have essential labor rights and are proud to have contributed to the Fight for 15 victory in NY state. More about our #BlackWorkMatters work can be seen here https://vimeo.com/124835182
#DecriminalizeBlack: Marijuana Decriminalization
Identifying low-level marijuana possession as one of the leading causes of arrests and a major way that the city is set up to profile and criminalize Black Chicagoans who are disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession, BYP100’s Chicago chapter’s first campaign launched in 2014 was aimed at decriminalizing marijuana. Collecting over a thousand petition signatures, hosting political education events on the issue across the city’s South and West sides, and leading actions on the Chicago Police Department headquarters, BYP100 members worked hard in service of a vision where no one could get arrested in Chicago for petty marijuana possession. Ultimately statewide decriminalization of marijuana passed in Illinois in July 2016 due to the collaboration of partners across the city and state. Governor Rauner signed legislation decriminalizing marijuana possession, which is now considered a civil rather than criminal violation. Police are prevented from criminally charging people arrested for possessing less than ten grams of the substance. This victory is significant because evidence showed that despite similar legislation on a city level, Chicago police still had the discretion to make arrests and were targeting and profiling young Black people.