Community Control

We demand a world where those most impacted in our communities control the laws, institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us – from our schools to our local budgets, economies, police departments, and our land – while recognizing that the rights and histories of our Indigenous family must also be respected. This includes:

  1. Direct democratic community control of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, ensuring that communities most harmed by destructive policing have the power to hire and fire officers, determine disciplinary action, control budgets and policies, and subpoena relevant agency information.
  2. An end to the privatization of education and real community control by parents, students and community members of schools including democratic school boards and community control of curriculum, hiring, firing and discipline policies.
  3. Participatory budgeting at the local, state and federal level.

Democratic Community Control of Local, State, and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, Ensuring That Communities Most Harmed by Destructive Policing Have the Power to Hire and Fire Officers, Determine Disciplinary Action, Control Budgets and Policies, and Subpoena Relevant Agency Information

What is the problem?

  • Across the country, there are more 200 entities involved in direct oversight of local law enforcement agencies. However, despite national trends in the disproportionate impact of lethal force, excessive force, sexual assault and misconduct by law enforcement on the Black community — in conjunction with the lack of discipline of officers or effective measures to deter these force incidents — there remains no national standards for powers and features of civilian oversight of law enforcement.
  • Sexual assault is the second most commonly reported form of police misconduct, but the majority of departments have no policy or measures in place to prevent, detect or ensure accountability for this form of police violence disproportionately affecting Black women, cis and trans, gender nonconforming, and queer people. Accountability for police sexual harassment, assault, and violence is usually solely the responsibility of police departments and prosecutors, preventing many survivors from coming forward or obtaining justice.
  • In 30 states, state law in fact makes it impossible to change the contractual bargaining power to hire and terminate police.
  • These functions and powers should apply to civilian oversight entities overseeing law enforcement practices in the both patrol and custody settings including local jails, hold cells, and detention centers.
  • Lack of empowered civilian oversight with the above features creates significant roadblocks to law enforcement transparency and accountability and prevents any means for communities most impacted by lethal force, excessive force and misconduct to effectively reduce other types of violence .
  • Federal law enforcement agencies also inflict violence, and have almost no accountability to the most impacted communities.
  • Restorative justice and other community based safety measures across the country are being used by communities who aspire for real community safety and reject police violence as being capable of ever delivering safety.

 

What does this solution do?

  • By requiring all civilian oversight agencies to retain the power to hire and fire officers, determine disciplinary action in cases of misconduct related to excessive and lethal force, determine the funding of agencies, set and enforce policies, and retain concrete means of retrieving information — such as subpoena power — from law enforcement and third parties as it pertains to circumstances involving excessive, sexual and lethal force; communities will be able significantly to reduce the number of Black people impacted by police violence.

 

Federal Action:

  • Target: Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Process: The DOJ could incentivize the adoption of civilian oversight boards at the State and local level by including meaningful and clearly defined community oversight as part of its evaluation metrics for grant applications. In 2015, the federal government gave $163 million to police departments across the country, through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

 

  • Target: Legislative or Executive
  • Process: In order to incentivize the adoption of civilian oversight boards at the state and local levels, the House and Senate would have to amend the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005 to include community control as a component in calculating formula-based Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program funding. Last year, the federal government awarded more than $300 million in JAG funding.
  • Process: In order to create civilian oversight boards at the federal level, the House and Senate would have to pass legislation doing so.

 

State Action:

  • Target: Legislative
  • Process: Require all states to adjust state laws and statutes, including Peace Officer Bills of Rights, that limit the power of external agencies to law enforcement documentation, or restrict the powers of external entities to make disciplinary, budgetary, and hiring and firing decisions. These changes should apply to agencies involved in patrol and custody operations.

 

Local Action:

  • Target: Legislative
  • Process: Local city and county governments should amend their respective charters to grant external civilian oversight bodies to make disciplinary, budgetary, hiring and firing decisions. Charter’s should also be changed to grant external entities the ability to subpoena law enforcement agencies and third parties for data and documentation relevant to issues of excessive and lethal force. These changes should apply to agencies involved in patrol and custody operations.

How does this solution address the specific needs of some of the most marginalized Black people?

 

  • According to a 2012 study by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 48 percent of LGBTQ survivors of violence reported incidents of police misconduct when reporting to the police. According to the same study later conducted in 2014, of the survivors who interacted with the police and experienced hostility and police misconduct, 57.38 percent reported being unjustly arrested by the police

 

  • Federal policies incentivize local law enforcement’s collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with no oversight of how these collaborations impact rates of misconduct against undocumented communities.
  • According to a 2013 study by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, trans people were 3.32 times more likely to experience police violence. Trans people of color were 2.46 times more likely to experience physical violence by the police. Trans women were 2.9 times more likely to experience police violence.
  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) has investigated multiple jurisdictions across the country for use of force and abuse of people with mental health conditions in both patrol and custody operations.
  • Practices of gentrification and displacement increase law enforcement interactions amongst homeless communities and increase the likelihood of incidents of excessive and lethal force.
  • Lack of effective measures to deal with homelessness result in jails being used as de facto housing. There is very little effective oversight of law enforcement agencies involved in custody operations despite patterns of excessive and lethal force/lethal conditions in custody across the country.
  • A recent DOJ investigation exposed the practices of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department whereby deputies were targeting recipients of Section 8 housing, causing them to lose their housing support.
  • In 2010, a study by the Cato Institute found sexual misconduct to be the second most common complaint against law enforcement. 52 percent of these cases involved a minor.

 

Model Legislation

 

Resources:

  • Black Community Control Over the Police

 

Organizations Currently Working on Policy:

  • Dignity and Power Now (LA)
  • Communities United for Police Reform (NYC)
  • Freedom, Inc. (Madison, WI)
  • Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (Chicago, IL)

 

Authors & Contributors of this Policy Overview

  • Mya Hunter, Spirit House
  • Mark-Anthony Johnson, Dignity and Power Now
  • M Adams, Freedom, Inc.
  • Andrea J. Ritchie, Soros Justice Fellow
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An End to the Privatization of Education and Real Community Control by Parents, Students and Community Members of Schools Including Democratic School Boards and Community Control of Curriculum, Hiring/Firing, and Discipline Policies

 

What is the problem

  • Sixty years since Brown v. Board of Education, the school-to-prison pipeline continues to play in role in denying Black people their human right to an education and privatization strips Black people of the right to self-determine the kind of education their children receive. This systematic attack is coordinated by an international education privatization agenda, bankrolled by billionaire philanthropists such as Bill and Melinda Gates, the Walton Family, and Eli and Edythe Broad, and aided by the departments of Education at the federal, state, and local level. Inequitable funding at the school district, local and state level leave most public schools — where poor communities of color are the majority — unable to provide adequate and high quality education for all students, criminalizing and targeting Black students through racist zero-tolerance discipline policies. The cutting of key staff such as teachers, counselors and nurses, and the inability to provide learning resources such as textbooks and science equipment, leave Black school districts unable to ensure their students graduate on time, college and career ready, and leave them vulnerable for privatization and education profiteers. Using mayoral control and state takeover, they impose their experimental, market-based approach to school reform. Key stakeholders, such as parents, teachers, and students are left out of the decision making process.Their concerns and needs are ignored by those appointed to run the school districts — individuals who are more accountable to the institutional leaders who have appointed them than t to the communities they are tasked to serve. This leaves room for corporations, lobbyists, and big philanthropy to play influential roles on education policy at the local, state, and federal level where their money can buy access into a cash-strapped system. Their aims are to undermine Black democracy and self-determination, destroy organized labor, and decolor education curriculum, while they simultaneously  overemphasize  Standardized Testing, and use school closures to disproportionately disrupt access to education in Black communities.   

 

What does this solution do?

  • Build an international movement of people of African descent to force nations to ratify and recognize education as human right, and end privatization.
  • Guarantee public education is protected by federal government
  • End state takeovers and mayoral control of public education while building new democratic structures, such as people’s assemblies, that prepare parents to govern again.
  • All states should have Full Funding Formulas that adequately weigh the needs of all districts in the state.
  • Federal funds can only go to districts that have elected school boards.
  • Place a moratorium on charter schools and school closures.
  • Increase federal funding for schools, forcing federal government to help out states and pay for a bigger chunk than they currently  do.
  • Repeal the “convert-charter-close” model and offer what was the fifth option at the time, community led transformation, which was articulated as sustainable school transformation; it calls for a community-based model of school transformation.
  • End corporate backed market reformer programs such as Teach For America and the Broad Superintendents Academy.
  • Eliminate the privately backed lobby from all levels of the federal Department of Education.
  • Put a moratorium on all out-of-school suspensions.
  • Shut down all juvenile detention centers.
  • Remove police from schools and replace them with positive alternatives to discipline and safety.

 

Federal Action:

  • Eliminate the privately-backed lobby from all levels of the federal Department of Education.
  • Put a moratorium on school closures.
  • Put a moratorium on all out of school suspensions.
  • Increase federal spending on education with no requirements of closures and charterization.
  • End Race to the Top funding.

 

State Action:

  • It will be difficult to say until we understand the impact of new Every Student Achieves  legislation on our education system.
  • Full Funding Formulas that adequately weigh the needs of all districts in all states.
  • Put a moratorium on school closures.
  • Put a moratorium on all out-of-school suspensions.
  • Shut down all juvenile detention centers.
  • Remove police from schools and replace them with positive alternatives to discipline and safety.
  • Return Local Control of schools back to their districts through the creation of elected school boards.
  • Debt of elimination of Black municipalities.

 

Local Action:

  • It will be difficult to say until we understand the impact of new Every Student Achieves  legislation on our education system.
  • Create Community Schools that have wrap-around services for students and community members as a turnaround model instead of closing schools or charterization.
  • Create and implement elected school boards.

How does this solution address the specific needs of some of the most marginalized Black people?

  • The education crises plaguing most of our public school districts are the result of corporate-controlled, state-sanctioned and federally-funded attacks to reverse Brown v. Board of Education, and create a desuetude discrimination and educational apartheid that must be challenged and overthrown. State governments are abdicating their civic responsibility of preparing all Black children for full and first class citizenship. First, by criminalizing Blacks students through the school-to-prison pipeline, then stripping their parents of the democratic control of their schools. Finally, we must stop closing their schools and selling them to corporate school reformers to be made into test subjects of experimental, market-based education reforms. Budget cuts, standardized tests, and rabid charter expansion places Black students in buildings that are falling apart, creates unhealthy learning environments (physically and emotionally), and robs them of the futures graduating unprepared for college, career or community. These same students, instead, are subject to increased police violence, disproportionate suspensions and expulsions, and are likely to  be pushed out of school all together. Generations of Black students are sent out into the world, unprepared for the realities of a shrinking job market, increasing gentrification of the neighborhoods, and the high costs of higher education.

Resources:

 

Organizations Currently Working on Policy:

  • Alliance for Educational Justice
  • Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools
  • Journey for Justice

 

Authors & Contributors of this Policy Overview

  • Jonathan Stith, Alliance for Educational Justice
  • Hiram Rivera, Philadelphia Student Union
  • Chinyere Tutashinda, Center for Media Justice
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Participatory Budgeting at the Local, State, & Federal Level

What is the problem?

  • Current public budget and revenue policy and processes are not designed to ensure racial and economic justice and human rights for Black communities.
  • There is a lack of community control over budget and revenue decisions, and a lack of a values based framework for justice against which to make budget and revenue decisions.  
  • As a result, revenue measures are often inequitable, placing greater burdens on Black people, and public spending fails to meet the fundamental needs of Black communities.   

What does this solution do?

  • We put forward a new approach to public budgets and revenues in order to ensure that resources are raised equitably and follow the needs and fulfil the full human rights of Black communities.
  • To achieve this, we need to integrate human rights into participatory budgeting models.
  • This requires flipping the way budgets are developed by starting with assessing people’s fundamental needs – prioritizing the needs of communities suffering from injustice – and then raising revenue in an equitable way to fund needs-based budgets. This process must be fully participatory, transparent and accountable.  

Federal Action:

  • The targets are the Executive branch (in particular agencies who can lead an assessment of needs) as well as Congress, which must adopt a needs-based budget.  
  • The process involves education, advocacy and organizing to shift existing federal policy toward participatory human rights budgeting processes.
  • Funding measures may include a large-scale federal affordable housing program, with implementation devolved to local communities who should determine the goals for community and economic development in their neighborhoods. Similarly, public education and health care funding streams should be prioritized based on the needs of Black and other disadvantaged communities and enable community control over local spending decisions. Control over local resources should also be seen as a form of reparations.
  • All federal budget and revenue  decisions should be guided by and assessed within a human rights framework, with a particular emphasis on racial and other forms of equity, that prioritizes the needs of the most marginalized.

State Action:

  • State budgets should be directed at meeting fundamental needs and advancing equity. To meet these goals, the budget process has to start with a statewide participatory needs assessment, aided by a current services budget, followed by the development of needs-based spending initiatives and a participatory decision-making process about equitable taxes to fund the needs-based budget.
  • To achieve that, states have to adopt rights-based budgeting principles, reverse their budget process to start with needs, not revenue estimates, and set up and support participatory processes and community controlled assemblies or similar bodies.
  • This new budget framework should be passed into state law and define equity as a key goal and prioritize people with the greatest needs. This law should state that the purpose of budget and revenue policy is to meet the fundamental needs and rights of communities, with a particular focus on Black communities. It should create participatory processes modeled on successful participatory budgeting experiences around the globe, in particular in Brazil. These processes should be designed around meeting the agreed goals of equity and justice.

Local Action:

  • Participatory human rights budgeting is easily implemented at the local level, by giving control over local resources to local communities based on the principle of racial and economic equity.  
  • Legislation for rights-based participatory budgeting processes should be passed by all localities, based on redefining racial and other forms of equity as a key goal and purposes of public budget and revenue policy.
  • The legislation should define racial and other forms of equity as a key goal and prioritize those with the greatest needs. The legislation should identify meeting the full range of human rights for communities, with a particular focus on Black communities, as the purpose for public budgets and revenue decisions. It should also create processes modeled on successful participatory budgeting experiences around the globe and in the United States, in particular in Brazil.
  • These processes should be designed around meeting the previously named goals.  There will be different challenges and needs depending on the locality, but the basic framework should remain the same.

How does this solution address the specific needs of some of the most marginalized Black people?

  • Revenue and budget decisions impact everyone and are a key driver of racial oppression as well as a range of intersectional oppressions. To ensure an intersectional approach, representation from specific populations of people differently situated such as youth, elderly, queer, gender nonconforming, formerly and currently incarcerated, and others should be required by statute, and equity metrics should include all these specific populations.

Model Legislation

  • There are many models of  participatory budgeting at the local level, but these do not include decisions on entire public budgets, nor decisions on revenue. There is no practice yet of integrating human rights and participatory budgeting. Human rights budgeting at state level has received some attention in Vermont. NESRI and the Participatory Budgeting Project could, among other groups, help create a integrated model of participatory and human rights budgeting.

Resources:

Organizations Currently Working on Policy:

  • Participatory Budgeting Project
  • Democracy Collaborative
  • NESRI

Authors & Contributors of this Policy Overview

  • Cathy Albisa, National Economic & Social Rights Initiative
  • Anja Rudiger, National Economic & Social Rights Initiative
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