Resource Guide and Toolkit on building global coalitions and implementing community-based strategies to ensure Black people everywhere can live free, be safe, and prosper
Speakers from Nigeria, South Africa, and the United States provide a global context on the magnitude of this moment. They also share strategies and tactics on dismantling current systems and structures that threaten black lives.
Run Time: 1 hr, 46 min
Andre M. Perry (US) - Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution
Monifa Bandele (US) - Policy Table Leader, Movement for Black Lives
Nomsa Mazwai (South Africa) - Social Activist, Fulbright Scholar, Founder, #Funkitimwalking
Yemi Adamolekun (Nigeria) - Executive Dir., Enough is Enough
Guided by community organizers from around the world, attendees participated in small interactive roundtable discussions where they strategized on how we can inform policy and practice to ensure our safety and prosperity as Black people. Collectively we re-imagined how a more equitable world best serves the interest of Black people. The outcome were Action Steps that can be employed in communities globally to redefine our relationship with the police and address the systematic injustices we experience. Our hopes is that the action steps below can serve as a diverse offering of ideas, approaches and practices, as well as a conversation starter on how we can collaborate across borders and build coalitions
- Reevaluate the role and purpose of police. A new modus operandi for the police needs to be agreed upon, establishing a platform for community-oriented policing is important. We must have the discussion and debate around whether the police as they currently function should cease to exist. Perhaps it’s the time for non-state actors to come into that space and begin to provide policing solutions.
- Educating the public – Citizens need to be appropriately educated on their civic rights, and how to effectively use it to protect themselves. This must reach the grassroots where most of the abuses happen unreported. There is a need for the general population to understand first what their rights are, and then what the law provides for the police to operate within societies. In some countries, you have such repressive laws that allow police to arrest people without a warrant, for example, in Nigeria, and then to also detain you if they so wish. There’s a need for the public to know where their rights start and stop, and also the limitations of police authority.
- Amendment of Police Policy – A lot of countries still operate the regime policing model, and must move away from it, towards a tripartite model (like in the UK) or a Board/Commission model (like in Canada). There is a real need to decolonize the police system, and make it work for all peoples regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or culture. We need to begin to recruit people with better education, with better enlightenment to join the police. Continuing to recruit people only because they do not have jobs and the police becomes a last resort only creates a system where thugs and now armed by the state and can be used by the state.
- Monitoring the Police – There needs to be a system for monitoring the Police and holding the police accountable. M&E of the police must adopt a digital system for accountability and transparency to provide checks and balances. A system and mechanism for peer and community review of police performance and conduct.
- Increase And Build More Networks – Citizens globally need to organise better. Networks need to collaborate more, share experiences, good case practices, issues and lessons from engaging with police, to explore ways of replication based on local contexts and realities.
- Re-training and Education of Law Enforcement Officers. Law enforcement officers should receive the proper education and training with regard to deescalation techniques, negotiation tactics and the appropriate use of firearms. In addition to training, law enforcement must be provided with and abide by community established guidance on the use of force when dealing with armed and unarmed civilians and under what circumstances should force be used.
- Demand Transparency. Citizens should demand transparency with respect to law enforcement and individuals, agencies and institution designated to enforce the law. The police should not be immune to the law. The people need to demand an environment where people from the community actually get to lead the investigations on police misconduct, and they actually have the power to fire a police chief and indict an officer. This is how power can shift from the hands of decision makers and lawmakers back into the hands the people, where it belongs.
- Demilitarization of The Police. The people need to advocate for the demilitarization of the police and stop the use of brute force when dealing with civilians. Military grade equipment should not be deployed in communities. Police don’t need chemical weapons (i.e. teargas), rubber bullets, tanks, abd ATVs. Policed armed with weapons of war are not keeping communities safe nor do they ensure the well-being of citizens.
- Divesting From The Police. Taxpayers funds should be divested from the Police and invested into addressing the social conditions that cause us to believe that we need police. We should be investing more heavily into communities to address inequities as it relates to housing, food, healthcare, and education. The lack of these things are the reason for crime. Also, alternatives to the police should be explored such as community based security.
- Create a greater awareness and acknowledgement of race and privilege. We need to be critical about the way in which American culture is exported all over the world through the media and popular culture. Along with that, we need to be critical of the misrepresentation of Black people and how those views are also exported all over the world in the same vein as popular culture. It is important to look at changing how Black people are depicted and offer counter narratives. We must understand that how Black people are treated, and the violence that exists in the States is exported to and carried out in other areas of the world.
- Put measures in place to hold police accountable – Police feel that they are above the law. Impunity for police can be addressed by establishing a code of conduct and legal accountability measures to prevent the dehumanisation and brutalisation of Black people.
- Redirecting funds. Funds allocated to the police department by the government could be used for the healthcare system, for the education system and other really important systems in the country which need improvement. There are many social issues that affect Black communities and these funds can definitely be diverted to address them. Heavy police presence in Black communities has not been effective. Employing punitive measures, practices and policies to address social issues is violent, and in no way serves, protects or creates safe environments for Black people.
- Getting The Media Involved – Addressing the role of the media and using this to change the narrative around blackness and black lives. The Media is quite important, so thinking of developing a media guideline across the globe in the depictions of the likes of George Floyd, of Trayvon Martin, black people in general and how they are depicted in media and how these cases become reported is quite important. A guideline or best practices should be established to guide inform how these incidents are reported.
- Promoting the Intersectionality of all Issues – Gaining and popularising an intersectional understanding of violence against black people (class, gender, race), especially in terms of Black Lives Movement. It’s also important to raise issues of black trans lives which have been affected, black queer lives, and black woman. In South Africa in particular, looking at other African nationals, and migrants, and refugees, and how they’re treated in the country. Anti-blackness is internalized and manifests in many ways; Femicide, xenophobia, Afrophobia.
- Review all Penal Laws. What are the laws that criminalise citizens in your country? We must take a hard look at how Black people are criminalized and review the laws that are criminalizing activity that can be addressed through social services or less punitive measures such as a fine. Calling for a review of these laws is necessary because they disproportionately impact Black people. Black communities are over-policed, hence these laws that criminalize very minor activities are going to disproportionately negatively impact back people.
- Teach Citizens About How Laws Are Made (informal workshops + curriculum inclusion). We must take on the role of educating Black people about the law. How laws are made and how we can use the law to advocate for ourselves. Equally important is to educate our communities on how the government works and how, for the most part, at every level of government the people making decisions are elected. This reinforces why voting matters as well.
- Update education and school curriculum globally. Teach history accurately so there is a wider knowledge about (the contributions of) Black people. Teaching people about the history and the impact that Black people have had globally gives us as Black people a wider knowledge of self, but also allows for the wider world to start to value our lives more and to value the impact that Black people have brought to the world. So much that exists in the world is a result of the ingenuity of Black people, our stories belong in every history book and must be a part of the curriculum at all level of education.
- Extrapolate BLM Data/Initiatives, so it can be localised to other regions. It’s important to look at the entire Black Lives Matter platform and see what can work in different regions, with the understanding that not all strategies and policies put forward can work everywhere. We must apply our local lens and context to inform our individual approaches.
- SHARE. As organizations we must share our information and research widely, providing links to our networks, with a goal of normalising the language around reimagining safety.
- Create Oversight Institutions – Independent oversight institutions and advisory bodies have a unique view of government and can provide neutral, objective evaluations on policy formulation, implementation, evaluation, and outcomes. We must advocate for these bodies to be given the adequate legislative and resource frameworks to operate effectively and in certain cases for them to have civil society representation. In places with frequent abuse a community oversight board can be set up.
- Invest in Alternatives – While police forces are benefited from military-grade weapons and equipment, other institutions that serve to stabilize and develop communities are starved of resources. In some jurisdictions more and more services are being brought under the umbrella of national security. This is the time to look long and hard at all possible alternatives. The Government and other lawmakers could consider alternatives to the police such as unarmed mediation and intervention teams, restorative justice as well as deploying community patrol teams.
- Reevaluate the criteria for becoming or recruiting Police Officers – The criteria for becoming or recruiting police officers has to be considered carefully. Level of education and mental fitness are critical to the administration of powers of arrest. Community sensitivity and involvement, should also be considered, does the candidate under consideration have a history of community service. Are they a member of the community where they will ultimately serve.
- Mandatory Data Tracking, Collation, and Analysis – Tracking, collation and analysis of data on arrests, police misconduct, and community reports/complaints must be mandated and ongoing. Findings should be disseminated and published widely, this will assist in shifting public consciousness to support reform.
- Change Police Culture. This is a 3 part process. (i) Demilitarization of police departments. (ii) The deliberate development and introduction of racial sensitization programs for police that promote human rights with an emphasis on neutralizing the ubiquitous influence of white supremacy. To often the blunt end of policing is reserved for Africans whether on the continent or in the diaspora with evidence of Europeans and white adjacent people receiving preferential treatment. (iii) Discourage a culture of extra judicial killings at all cost. In many jurisdictions we see a growing popularity of the false belief that “violence promotes order.” We must reflect deeply on the fate of countries such as Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico and Columbia where this idea has taken root undermining due process and the rule of law and leading to the loss of countless innocent lives and higher levels of insecurity.