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Black Lives Matter Publishes First Official List Of Demands And Solutions

Anti-Police Brutality Protestors Rally At New York's City Hall

Over the course of its young life, the Black Lives Matter movement has been beset on all sides by people wanting to know precisely what it wanted, and how it hoped to achieve it. Now the diffuse, “leaderful” grassroots movement has responded by publishing its first concrete list of demands.

Worked on by some 30 BLM-affiliated organizations nationwide (and signed by an additional 50), the Movement For Black Lives’ first official platformcontains six primary demands that will help bring about racial justice for African-Americans (what follows is a brief summary; click each heading to read it in full):

1.) End the war on black people: this concerns mass incarceration, police violence, over-policing, and capital punishment, which have become known as BLM’s signature issues.

2.) Reparations: this would take the form of various government programs for black people, including free public college education and a guaranteed minimum income.

3.) Invest-divest: a major re-allocation of funds from the military, police and carceral system to human-oriented services like healthcare, transformative justice, and education. Also: an end to the war on drugs, and the war on sex workers.

4.) Economic justice: a re-structuring of the economy to make things more equitable for black people and other marginalized groups via redistributionist policies, progressive tax codes, environmental protections, the return of the Glass-Steagall Act, an end to the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, expanded labor protections, and support of black alternative institutions that serve community needs.

5.) Community control of police forces and other local institutions like education.

6.) Political power: This includes voting rights, the right to protest, the release of political prisoners, full access to technology, and funding for black institutions of higher learning.

 

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Each demand contains a detailed list of solutions and concrete steps that can be taken to achieve them, complete with proposed legislation and model legislation, where applicable. The demands take into account the needs of women, LGBT people, un-documented immigrants, sex workers, and otherwise extra-marginalized people of color throughout.

On the sweeping (yet detailed) nature of these demands, M4BL Policy Table Leadership team member Thenjiwe McHarris tells Fusion: “If we also believe in a radically different world where policy matters, we have to push ourselves for transformative demands. As opposed to the reactionary reforms that don’t address root causes to the issue.”

While the demands are centered on the black experience, M4BL crucially makes a point of being an inclusive movement fighting for the liberation of all oppressed people.

Via Law4BlackLives.org:

“We are a collective that centers and is rooted in Black communities, but we recognize that because we have a shared struggle with nonblack oppressed people – including our Brown and Indigenous siblings – collective liberation will be a product of all of our work.”

In releasing a collectively created list of demands and solutions, Black Lives Matter may yet achieve what Occupy Wall Street could not: Targeted policy victories, and the demystification of the movement among the American mainstream.

For a deep, informed, and only slightly out-of-date discussion of how BLM fits into the history of black liberation movements and the fight for racial and economic justice in the US, check out the June 2 episode of Doug Henwood’s “Behind the News” podcast featuring Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, on how BLM might become a transformative movement.

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