For quite some time the Black Lives Matter movement has been criticized for having no leadership, organization or concrete list of demands. Most recently as several members met with presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, Clinton adamantly advised the group that they should have a plan for engaging officials and demanding specific actions. Black Lives Matter has taken the position that they have always had clear demands but have admitted that perhaps they weren’t as accessible to people outside the movement. In response they released Campaign Zero.
Campaign Zero focuses around addressing the issues with law enforcement and the way that current policies and practices have negatively and grossly affected the lives of Black people. Campaign Zero demands 10 policy solutions to address these concerns:
1. End Broken Windows Policing
2. Community Oversight
3. Limit Use of Force
4. Independently Investigate and Prosecute
5. Community Representation
6. Police Body Cams
8. End For-Profit Policing
10. Fair Police Union Contracts
Campaign Zero provides a broad abstract template for addressing these issues. This is mostly due to the “leaderless” philosophy of the movement. Local chapters will have to go into this template and put the meat on the bones according to their respective state policies. I wonder if perhaps the campaign’s launch was rushed because of the increasing criticism and demands for a concrete plan from the movement; however, it seems to be a good start.
The biggest obstacle that will be faced by the implementation of Campaign Zero will be negotiations and further criticism. When Clinton told members that they needed a plan she was speaking from a traditional political perspective wherein if you cannot articulate your needs in a certain way, they will be disregarded. In some ways the demands for a formal plan from the movement can be seen as an attempt to get Black Lives Matter to play the old game by the old rules when what they are about is playing by their own rules and changing the game. By drawing the group into the old game, which has already been mastered by those who make the rules, the politicians and nay sayers that have criticized the movement will be effectively positioned to attack, dismember and discredit the group and steal the momentum that they have been gaining.
One of the things that I have most admired about the group is their stubborn conviction to do things their way. They have showed the country that there is another way to speak out and to advocate for justice. One that doesn’t always include the political correctness that often stifles genuine expression and critique. The creation of Campaign Zero does not by any means represent a giving in to the pitfall of the old ways but it does bring the group closer to that risk and that is something the group will have watch out for in the days following the launch of Campaign Zero.
Campaign Zero is ambitious and idealistic and exactly what the country needs. It represents a non-compromising list of goals that are both achievable and realistic. Most of the things on the list are not new ideas but simply ones that have died on the vine in the past. This makes the goals of Campaign Zero all the more reasonable.
I am hoping that the next step for Black Lives Matter in their Campaign Zero is to have the local chapters take ownership of the template, tailor it specifically to their communities and take it before their city officials with all the passion and determination that they have already been presenting. If they do that quickly, now while they have the country’s attention, I think they will make some progress towards the things on that list. America is listening and waiting and I have no doubt that Black Lives Matter will speak. What will come of the conversation is what we’re all waiting to see.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man