WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Activist organizations aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement on Monday issued a collective policy platform that calls for numerous changes to law enforcement, criminal justice and social systems — days ahead of the two-year anniversary of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.
The Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of various civil rights advocacy groups, published the agenda on its website Monday. Titled, “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice,” it includes six main demands and 40 priorities moving forward.
“Black humanity and dignity requires Black political will and power,” the platform statement begins. “Despite constant exploitation and perpetual oppression, Black people have bravely and brilliantly been the driving force pushing the United States towards the ideals it articulates but has never achieved.”
The six core demands are: End the War on Black People, Reparations, Invest-Divest, Economic Justice, Community Control and Political Power.
“Together, we demand an end to the wars against Black people. We demand that the government repair the harms that have been done to Black communities in the form of reparations and targeted long-term investments. We also demand a de-funding of the systems and institutions that criminalize and cage us,” the agenda states. “This document articulates our vision of a fundamentally different world.”
“We reject false solutions and believe we can achieve a complete transformation of the current systems, which place profit over people and make it impossible for many of us to breathe,” it adds, referring to the web-viral catchphrase sparked by the 2014 choking death of Eric Garner in New York City, which occurred about a month before Brown’s death.
Part of the movement’s demand for reparations includes free access to all U.S. colleges and universities and forgiveness for all student debt for black Americans, as the platform says educational disparity is a major contributing factor to societal disadvantages.
The agenda also calls for numerous other changes — including fair access to political positions of power, an end to capital punishment, opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and the full decriminalization of certain offenses, including minor narcotics distribution and prostitution.
“Decriminalization would ensure that individuals who use, possess, or sell drugs or trade sex are not subject to arrest, detention or conviction,” the platform states.
The Movement for Black Lives, established after the controversial death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, represents nearly 30 member organizations and 36 endorsing organizations.
Monday’s platform adds uniformity to the chapter-based movement, which has operated for four years in somewhat of an unsystematic manner without centralized leadership. It also comes at a politically active time in the United States, as many citizens monitor and participate in the run-up to the November presidential election.
Activists and protesters have acted regularly under the Black Lives Matter umbrella, often in response to incidents or events central to their cause — such as the Ferguson shooting, Garner’s death, the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore last year, and this summer’s controversial deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philandro Castile in Minnesota.
“There can be no liberation for all Black people if we do not center and fight for those who have been marginalized,” the platform states. “It is our hope that by working together to create and amplify a shared agenda, we can continue to move towards a world in which the full humanity and dignity of all people is recognized.”
A number of supporting organizations applauded the new platform Monday.