“We can live in a world where the police don’t kill people by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.” So reads the hopeful, matter-of-fact vision statement of Campaign Zero, a momentous, sweeping initiative focused intently on ending police violence in the United States. Organized by four social justice leaders from around the country who established We the Protesters in the wake of the 2014 Michael Brown shooting and subsequent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, Campaign Zero recently unveiled a comprehensive website outlining strategies and solutions for changing policing policies on the federal, state, and local levels.
The initiative focuses on three main thrusts: interventions to stop draconian policing measures and seizure of assets from unconvicted civilians, interactions to decrease use of force and militarization of the police force while increasing anti-bias training and minority representation among police officers, and accountability measures such as body and police cruiser cameras, as well as community oversight, increased awareness of citizen rights, and independent investigations into harmful acts by police, leading to prosecutions. Campaign Zero presents detailed solutions for changing official law enforcement policies via legislative action in cities, counties, states, and nationally, plus strategies that can be implemented immediately by police agencies to end aggressive encounters with civilians and dismantle unfair protections for corrupt officers, and begin to build trust between the officers and the communities of color they are paid to serve.
We can live in a world where the police don’t kill people by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.
“I think what’s important is that folks who look at the website understand that not only are there solutions to this but a whole range of solutions need to happen in order for us to end police violence,” says Samuel Sinyangwe, the Orlando-raised, San Francisco-based policy analyst and data scientist who planned Campaign Zero alongside educators, activists, and social justice organizers Johnetta Elzie and Brittany Packnett of Saint Louis, and Baltimore native DeRay Mckesson. “I think Campaign Zero, as the site exists right now, is a great start, and as we continue to build and grow, as we continue to get insights and feedback from folks all across the country, we’re hopeful about really presenting these solutions, learning about more solutions, continuing to add to this basic knowledge about what we need to do as a country to move forward and have a world where people aren’t being killed by police,” Sinyangwe says.
According to research compiled by MappingPoliceViolence.org, over a thousand people are killed by police each year, almost sixty per cent of whom did not have a gun or were involved in minor situations or mental health crises that did not warrant so brutal a use of force as to result in death. Campaign Zero’s policy solutions are a direct and urgent answer to these dire statistics. Sinyangwe sees some momentum among policymakers, as well as everyday citizens: “Twenty four states have passed legislation related to police accountability. Much of those things are included in Campaign Zero, so what we’re hoping to see is more comprehensive action on all of these policy areas at the local, state, and federal level.”
Over a thousand people are killed by police each year, almost sixty per cent of whom did not have a gun or were involved in minor situations or mental health crises that did not warrant so brutal a use of force as to result in death.
With libertarians and other right-leaning groups arguing for less government intrusion, Sinyangwe thinks that Campaign Zero is something members of the public on both sides of the political divide can support. “I think this really is an issue that transcends partisanship because frankly what we’re talking about is the ability of government to intervene in people’s lives in the most extreme ways up to and until they take somebody’s life. That is something that is just as much a conservative issue as it is a progressive issue and something that we can all get behind to stop.”
Find out more about Campaign Zero at joincampaignzero.org.