Community Party Trayvon Martin Act Bill Language

Written by Mary Sanders.

Introduction ~ It’s time to take action to stop racial profiling and police containment in Black and Brown communities here in Connecticut.  Every 28 hours a Black person is killed somewhere by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes like George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn, according to a Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report . http://www.operationghettostorm.org/ . The veracity of the MXGM report has been disputed. See the Resources section below for a Washington Post editorial on the report, including a rebuttal by the report’s author. Trayvon was shot and killed after being confronted on the street by Zimmerman, an armed neighborhood watch leader. Dunn shot Jordan Davis during an argument about loud music.  Former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle murdered Oscar Grant in 2009. See: http://sfbayview.com/2009/oscar-grant-young-father-and-peacemaker-executed-by-bart-police. Police in the United States kill at a rate of 70 times more than police in all other ‘first world’ nations.http://thefreethoughtproject.com/police-kill-citizens-70-times-rate-first-world-nations/   CP’s Trayvon Martin Act is aimed at addressing this public safety crisis.

The Trayvon Martin Act calls for the creation of a legislative task force on police misconduct and includes some of CP’s original racial profiling bill language. The CT legislature passed some of our provisions in 2012 and they were scheduled to go in effect July 1, 2013. Our traffic stop receipt language was repealed in favor of a version emphasizing electronic data collection and analysis, instead of a copy of the mandated “Traffic Stop Report” going to the motorist.  We believe this copy is the only way for motorists to know how their race is being represented and is a proven factor in undetected biased policing.  We sat in on testimony of dozens of motorists of color from around the state who were stopped, harassed, given tickets with race recorded as White, and heard of many other biased law enforcement actions.

Problem: Drivers do not get a copy of the Stop Report which has allowed some officers to lie about the race of the people they stop.  Some victims of profiling may not complain because they don’t know officers are covering up the profiled stops. As we mentioned previously our traffic stop language was passed by lawmakers in 2012 but was repealed due to pressure by the police before it was scheduled to become law in 2013.

Add to current law:  1) “Traffic Stop Reports are to be filled out in duplicate so that each motorist receives a copy of the completed form from the officer, in addition to any ticket or summons if one is issued.  2) The copy of the report should be given to the driver as well as the information on filing complaints if motorists believe they have been profiled.  3) If the reports are entered into an electronic data collection system a copy will be immediately available to the detained driver.”

Problem:  Drivers and their passengers are being asked for I.D’s. and questioned about their immigration status even when they are clearly not involved in criminal activity.

Add to current law: “ 1) The driver shall only be asked for a: Driver’s License, the Vehicle Registration and Proof of Insurance and no other identification or questions about immigration status;  2) Passengers shall not be asked for any identification or questions about their immigration status unless they are being arrested for criminal activity.”

Problem:   Men of color are stopped and frisked or worse in every corner of our state; community residents have reported to us that if they dare challenge police officers in their neighborhood, they are often thrown to the ground, cuffed and arrested, then charged with resisting arrest. This happens to our teenagers in schools as well as on our streets.  Many have been beaten or shot by police or others with “authority”, often fatally as the MXGM report shows.

Add to current law:  “1)  Create a Legislative Task Force which would serve in the following capacities: a) investigate complaints of misconduct of state or local police officials,  b) provide training and oversight to public school guards, university and transportation police,  c) provide training and oversight of neighborhood watch organizations and properly screen and monitor persons functioning in these roles;  2) the Task Force will reserve spots for urban lawmakers whose constituents are disproportionately affected by these issues;  3) the Task Force will conduct monthly public hearings around the state, days and evenings, which would also be broadcast by the Connecticut Network for television or online viewing;  4) the Task Force will create a process whereby people could file formal complaints about profiling and harassment by police or other law enforcement authorities through their legislators’ offices or CHRO.”  5) Body cameras will be mandatory for all municipal patrol officers. 6) Elected, independent, community based investigators will probe all complaints regarding excessive use of force, resulting in injury or death.

The Community Party supports the demands of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, which are listed in their racial justice plan.

National Demands for Racial Justice

Preliminary Demands
  1. We call for the elimination of the Police Bill of Rights and the numerous civil service rules and judicial policies and procedures that give the police anonymity, freedom from having their behavior recorded and virtual immunity from accountability and prosecution.
  2. End to the various polices of containment such as racial profiling, stop and frisk, gang injunctions, secure communities, etc.
  3. End the “War on Drugs” and all of its related laws, policies and programs
  4. Enact democratically elected “Police Control Boards”, with the power to fire, subpoena, and indict police officers for human rights violations
  5. Demilitarization of domestic law enforcement, including eliminating the use of Drones and various surveillance operations and institutions.
  6. The redirection of military funding to social programs, such as public education, housing, health care, public transportation, and grassroots-controlled programs to prevent domestic and intra-communal violence.
  7. Legislate and enact a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice that will make the United States government compliant with all the norms and standards of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on all levels
Suggested Strategies, Tactics, and Targets.
Boycott
  1. Boycott Black Friday and all Major Commercial Stores and Outlets until the government meets the aforementioned demands on a municipal, state, and federal level.
  2. Boycott various Missouri based businesses.
Divestment
We call on all unions, churches, investment groups, and all the various forces of civil society to divest from any Missouri state bond holdings until the aforementioned demands are meet.
Proposed Demands and Campaigns in Depth (from Let Your Motto Be Resistance found at http://mxgm.org/let-your-motto-be-resistance-a-handbook-on-organizing-new-afrikan-and-oppressed-communities-for-self-defense/)
  • Police Control Boards – Grassroots Police Control Board’s are intended to serve as directly elected oversight and disciplinary committees on a city or municipal level. They have the power to monitor and reform policies and to discipline, fire, subpoena and prosecute police or other law enforcement agencies operating within their jurisdiction. Campaigns to institute Police Control Boards are designed to avoid the pitfalls of Citizen Review Boards. Over the last 50 years various movements and communities have demanded Citizen Review Boards that have been taken over by Mayors and other local officials. Mayors have appointed their own political cronies to protect the police and the status quo. We propose that our movement organize electoral campaigns or referendums that transform the Charters of Cities and Counties to establish Police Control Boards via the limited democratic means that presently exist. Electoral campaigns for Police Control Boards become vehicles for extensive outreach and education to move our base and shape public opinion. Campaigns of this nature will require grassroots fundraising to retain the integrity of the initiative and pay for media ads, etc.  They will also require forming alliances with various forces in the city or region that share similar interests and the development of a comprehensive strategy that builds enough power to institute this structural reform.
  • Anti-Containment Campaigns – These campaigns focus on stopping local, statewide, and national policies and programs that repress and displace our communities like racial profiling, check points, stop and frisk, weed and seed, gang injunctions, drug war policies, three strikes and zero-tolerance policies, etc. In addition to stopping these reactionary policies, we should also engage in proactive campaigns, like those that seek to abolish prisons.
  • Anti-Surveillance Campaigns – These campaigns should focus on forcing the state to become transparent about its extensive surveillance infrastructure and operations, and organizing campaigns that demand that they be wholly dismantled. These campaigns can start with initiatives that publically expose the methods and tactics used by various government agencies to monitor our social activities. We must also develop and effectively utilize a national database that exposes the undercover agents and provocateurs used by the government to infiltrate, disrupt, and discredit our social movements (this must be done through extensive factual documentation and not innuendo which can be and is very destructive to our movements).
  • Demilitarization Campaigns – These campaigns should focus on ending the military weapons and tactics used by domestic law enforcement.  Law enforcement agencies throughout the US empire have enhanced their military capacities since the 1960’s, primarily focused on containing and repressing the national liberation and progressive social movements. For their arsenals they have acquired and incorporated military assault rifles, tanks, combat ready helicopters, grenades, hollow point bullets, camera and satellite integrate surveillance systems, infrared equipment, and sonic and microwave crowd control equipment, etc. Tactically, they incorporated various strategies of counterinsurgency and pacification, including envelopment tactics that surround communities, check-points that control traffic in and out of a community, “weed and seed” programs that deliberately divide communities, gang injunctions that criminalize social relationships and customs (youth fashions, informal associations, etc.), “stop and frisk” tactics that allow for illegal searches and seizures on a massive scale, and initiatives like “Operation Ghetto Storm” intentionally designed to terrorize oppressed communities.  These campaigns are intended to heighten the contradictions between the people and the state (i.e. the government) and put the questions of institutional racism, national oppression, and US imperialism at the center of public debate within the empire.
  • Anti-Drone Campaigns – The introduction of surveillance and military drones over US held territories marks a critical new phase in the development of the repressive capacities of the US government. In order to preserve any notion of democratic space, we must launch local campaigns to resist the use of drones at the local and municipal levels and join or start campaigns that challenge their legitimacy and utilization throughout the empire.
  • Prisoner Defense Campaigns – These campaigns should focus on defending a) our political prisoners, prisoners of war, and political exiles from ongoing prosecution and violations of international law, b) our prisoners from unjust prosecution and human rights abuses, and c) community members from entrapment, false imprisonment, and false prosecution. These campaigns should employ every means of struggle we have available to us, but should rely first and foremost on methods of mass struggle, rather than legalistic methods that appeal to the enemy’s courts rather than the people.
  • Truth and Reconciliation Initiatives – Dr. Mutulu Shakur and other New Afrikan political prisoners, prisoners of war, and political exiles are demanding that the US government commit to a process of Truth and Reconciliation similar to that employed in post-Apartheid Azania (South Africa) to address the governments human rights violations during the COINTELPRO era and provide amnesty for the political prisoners, prisoners of war, and political exiles whom the US government transgressed against during this era. These Truth and Reconciliation campaigns can and should be launched on a local and regional level, following the model of organizers in Omaha, Nebraska regarding the Defense of the Omaha 2, which have targeted the role of local police forces in collaboration with the FBI in infiltrating organizations like the Black Panther Party and the Revolutionary Action Movement, and setting these organizations up via provocateur actions. These campaigns are essential to holding the US government accountable and fortifying the will and confidence of the people in their right and ability to successfully resist. On the Federal level people should link with and support the Truth and Commission organizing process being driven by Dr. Mutulu Shakur.
  • National Plan of Action for Racial Justice and Self-Determination – This campaign should be focused on building a movement with enough strength and power to force the Federal government to implement broad social reform program based on international law to combat institutional racism and it various manifestations and legacies in the US empire. The National Plan of Action for Racial Justice and Self-Determination is an outgrowth of the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa and the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA), and calls on the Federal government to commit to a transformative program of action to combat inequality caused by the legacies of colonialism, genocide, enslavement, and economic exploitation.  In addition to campaigning for this demand on Federal level, we should also demand that city, county and state governments pass similar measures that respect, protect, and fulfill the full human rights of oppressed and exploited peoples.

Resources

Washington Post editorial on MXGM Operation Ghetto Storm Report. Includes a rebuttal by the report’s author:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/12/24/the-viral-claim-that-a-black-person-is-killed-by-police-every-28-hours/?tid=pm_politics_popnfront

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