POLICY PLATFORM

The Black Community Watchline (BCW) launched its free and confidential support line for Black people experiencing anti-Black racial violence and bias on September 9, 2020. This date marks the 281st anniversary of the Stono Rebellion--just one of the 250 uprisings of enslaved people documented in the British colonies that would become the United States. In 2020, Black people and their co-conspirators continue to rise up against state-sanctioned anti-Black violence and to insist that the United States live up to its professed ideals. It is against the backdrop of a long history of struggle and resilience that BCW was established to respond to and document anti-Black violence and abuse in Middlesex County, New Jersey, and, most importantly, to advocate for antiracist policies and practices. BCW stands in solidarity with communities of color and other marginalized groups that experience oppression and police violence. BCW advocates for policies that support the most vulnerable among us. It is in this spirit that BCW shares its policy platform and calls on concerned state and local leaders to implement policies that address racial inequities and begin to dismantle white supremacy.

 

  • Support transparency in law enforcement disciplinary records. Transparency is essential to ensure officers with a record of excessive use of force and anti-Black violence are held accountable. NJ S2656 requires access to law enforcement disciplinary records as government records. BCW calls for the disciplinary records of law enforcement officers to be open to the communities that officers are paid to protect and serve.

 

  • Support the ban on use of deadly force. NJ A2562 defines choke holds as a form of deadly force, which is not to be used by New Jersey officers in making an arrest or preventing an escape. A law enforcement officer knowingly placing pressure on a person’s throat, windpipe, or carotid artery, thereby hindering or preventing that person’s ability to breathe, or interfering with the flow of blood from the person’s heart to the brain, constitutes deadly force. BCW calls for a ban on deadly use of force when making arrests.

 

  • Support the Restorative Justice in Communities Pilot Program Bill. NJ A-4663/S2924 would establish a two-year pilot program to develop enhanced reentry wraparound services and innovative restorative and transformative justice care systems in four target cities: Camden, Newark, Paterson and Trenton. The program will include community-based reentry services and restorative justice hubs – emphasizing psychological and emotional safety and healing for youth, their families and their communities. BCW supports policies and practices grounded in restorative justice.

 

  • Create and enable civilian review boards. Law enforcement agencies charged with protecting and serving communities should be accountable to the communities they serve. Civil review boards can play an important role in reigning in abuse of power by law enforcement. BCW supports the implementation of civilian review boards with full subpoena power, authority to conduct independent investigations and the authority to conduct parallel investigations.

  • Eliminate exclusionary zoning ordinances. Through exclusionary zoning, municipal governments use zoning ordinances that limit the supply of housing, which increases housing desirability, raises the price of residential access and ultimately excludes low-income people. This practice acts as a form of redlining, which creates homogenous white communities, fueling not only racist residential segregation, but also racist educational segregation. BCW calls for the elimination of exclusionary zoning ordinances.

  • Improve the health of our democracy. Our democracy cannot function and express the will of the people unless voting is easy and accessible. BCW calls for an end to voter suppression, the expansion of voting rights and a reduction of the influence of money in elections. 

 

 

  • End the militarized “War on Drugs.” Black New Jerseyans are disproportionately arrested for low-level possession of marijuana, despite similar usage rates. In 2013, Black New Jerseyans were three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white. These findings are alarming, especially when we consider that they result in loss of jobs, drivers’ license suspensions, a criminal record for at least three years, fines and fees, and potential consequences for one’s immigration status, financial aid eligibility, and access to public housing. BCW calls for an end to the “war on drugs.”

Find your state assemblyperson or senator to tell them you support any of the specific New Jersey legislation listed above.

BCW envisions a nation that is transformed by antiracist policies and practices and lives up to its ideals of liberty and justice for all. This policy platform calls on New Jersey state leaders and legislators to take meaningful antiracist action toward this vision. Our commitment to the liberation of all Black people, and to the liberation of other people of color and marginalized groups, means we are continuing the work of our ancestors and fighting for our collective freedom because it is our duty.

Do you know where your local and state leaders stand? 

1. Find out if your local leaders support any of these policies. 

2. Thank them if they do, and if they don’t, let them know why you--as one of their constituents--want them to.

© 2020 Black Community Watchline

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