Reform Is Not Enough: Police Accountability & Radical Change

Jess Eagle and ERA Staff

This post was originally published in July 2020 in response to the police murder of George Floyd. Following the murder of many other Black and Brown men, women, and children since then, ERA continues to call for the following changes to American policing.

“State-sanctioned racist violent policing is part of the same systems of oppression that sanction sexual violence against women of color in workplaces and schools across our country.”

As Black and Brown communities have been saying for centuries, America’s policing, criminal punishment system, and prison industrial complex are rooted in racist attempts to continue our country’s legacy of slavery, oppression, and segregation. These systems cause daily, life-long, and intergenerational harm to people of color — especially Black women, men, and nonbinary people — their families, and communities. 

State-sanctioned racist violent policing is part of the same systems of oppression that sanction sexual violence against women of color in workplaces and schools across our country that steal their wages, make them work in unsafe conditions, deny equal educational opportunities, medical benefits, raises, and promotions, and threaten their livelihoods if they speak out against any of these injustices. These systems are inextricably linked under the same goal: to uphold the violent, oppressive forces of white supremacy and patriarchy. Gender justice is racial justice.

For many, 2020 has been a wake up call that police reforms such as banning chokeholds and requiring body cameras are not enough, especially as we’ve seen police in cities with these reforms regularly flouting them, often without consequences. That’s why Equal Rights Advocates supports the following systemic changes to America’s police and justice systems:

  1. Removing police from all schools. Reallocating that funding to additional school counselors, social workers, nurses, anti-racist and deescalation trainings for school faculty and staff, and other programs that address students’ actual needs and contribute to their academic success, safety, health, and wellbeing.
  2. Eliminating qualified immunity. Every police officer must be held accountable for their actions. We must also end qualified immunity for government officials and school officials.
  3. Reallocating funds away from the over-policing of Black and Brown people and toward programs that contribute to economic, gender, and racial justice for Black and Brown families and communities, i.e. funneling money away from police and toward schools, health and social service programs, affordable housing and child care options, and food assistance programs.
  4. Exploring radical solutions to fundamentally change our country’s deeply racist way of policing, as well as the criminal punishment system and prison industrial complex. These solutions should offer true healing, safety, and justice to those who’ve been harmed, while increasing investment in public and community programs, policies, and practices that effectively address and prevent poverty, homelessness, domestic and sexual violence, violence based on gender identity, gun violence, mental health, and addiction.

In addition to these reforms, we’re supporting the House Democrats’ George Floyd Justice in Policing Act as a first step toward change. Click here to support the bill, and read our analysis of the bill here.

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