Our platform supports community review boards, opposed to police department's very own internal affairs review boards. We also support body cameras, increase in sanctions, and hiring from within the community.
To deal with this issue, our platform must look at the context through which people of color, whom we now often refer to as African-Americans, first became citizens of this country. Their ancestors were taken against their volition from their home land, and brought to this nation exclusively to be chattel slaves on the old pre-Civil War plantations. They had no civil rights, and weren’t even considered full human beings, subjected at every moment to the whims of the families who owned them. Their children were born into slavery for many generations, and were raised and conditioned to view their situation as the natural order of things. They were denied knowledge of their native culture, and forced to absorb the values and beliefs of their masters. They were bought and sold like commodities or livestock, often callously separated from family members in the process of being sold.
Finally, groups of Northern whites became enlightened enough in their thinking that they rejected the common narrative and became Abolitionists. Following the Civil War, all black people were freed from the obsolete plantation system of the South to become wage workers for the burgeoning factory economy that was an earmark of the Industrial Revolution. However, the freed African-Americans subsequently spent several more generations as second class citizens, only later winning the right to suffrage and dealing with long-lasting bigotry and segregation that was legally permitted until the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
The relationship between the police and all minority groups has never been good, because minorities have long been favored targets of law enforcement for a variety of reasons. Because of the late start that African-Americans had in acclimating themselves into the national economy as wage workers, they still suffer from a disproportionate amount of the poverty and involuntary unemployment that plagues the American labor class in general. This disproportionate degree of poverty and economic marginalization has resulted in many African-Americans being confined to life in festering ghettos which routinely place police officers in contact with impoverished and understandably desperate black residents who are treated like ideal targets rather than citizens to be protected.
To make things worse, arrest quotas imposed upon police officers in order to acquire promotions by many departments across the country only exacerbates the problem. And of course, many police officers simply harbor the same biases and prejudices against minorities as common citizens, thus encouraging them to unfairly target these minority groups as a way of venting their own hatred. Law enforcement jobs grant someone a position of power that is easy for the wrong type of person to abuse, and minority groups who are disenfranchised are often perceived as easy, as well as tempting, targets by police officers. Having more minorities join the police forces has balanced things out to an extent, but recent incidents have shown that the problems of racial targeting and police brutality persist despite all of the civil rights progress made over the past few generations.
This campaign’s platform hopes to deal with that in a few important ways. One of them is simple: to initiate social programs that will greatly alleviate poverty and unemployment, and hopefully eliminate them altogether. These programs are largely described in our section on Economic Justice. We believe that economic justice will beget more justice on the streets and in the courts by eliminating the impoverished conditions that are the root cause of most people who turning to crime. We must provide livable salaries to people, and not make honest work less lucrative than the prospect of turning to crime.
Alleviating the disproportionate numbers of poverty experienced by racial minorities and eliminating the tendencies towards gentrification in our cities and towns will decrease the marginalization of African-Americans and Hispanics that so often cause them to become easy targets for law enforcement officers. This type of economic improvement for all members of the labor class, and the lessening of the boundaries between the labor and owning classes, will decrease crime and all of the psychological problems that tend to come with poverty, segregation, and alienation from each other. The more that people of all racial and ethnic groups, as well as other minority groups (including sexual minorities and youths) get to know each other as people, the more we will grow to care for and respect each other, thus ending the ease of racial targeting and the unjust treatment of the labor class in general.
This elimination of poverty, and therefore accompanying decrease in crime and psychological problems, will have a greatly beneficial effect on law enforcement and those who work as officers of the law. The decrease in crime will mean they will be less overburdened in their jobs, and thus under less temper-inducing stress when patrolling the streets. This will result in less rash decisions by officers based on anger and stress.
Officers of the law will also be made more accountable to their local communities, and we believe that the communities they serve should have a strong say in who is watching over them. This will compel police officers to use better judgment and keep whatever personal biases they may have in check when deciding to target a civilian for censure. The improved social conditions will result in considerably less reasons for police to feel the need, let alone have actual reason, to resort to force. The elimination of arrest quotas will act as a further disincentive for police to make arrests for petty reasons or trump up charges upon people they are justified in arresting simply for personal benefit.
By making police accountable to their communities, we intend to rectify the situation where it’s the sole discretion of an internal affairs department and superior officers within the same department to decide when a police officer deserves a reprimand, removal, or even charges pressed against them for acts of brutality and unjust racial targeting. There is more than enough evidence to make it clear that police officers accused of such offenses are far too often granted uncalled for leniency and forgiveness when left to entities within the department itself to pass judgment. This all too often causes huge conflicts between the community and the law enforcement agents who are assigned to look over their safety. If a community cannot trust their assigned protectors, then the integrity and effectiveness of these agents are compromised.
Hence, we must create community councils comprised of regular citizens who routinely monitor and have actual power to investigate, censure, and if necessary, remove law enforcement officers who are known to abuse their positions of power. This can be conducted by interviewing witnesses and ultimately coming to a conclusion based upon consensus once all evidence and testimony are weighed and considered. The community under the watch of a law enforcement department must be given a great deal of power to police the officers in turn, otherwise they end up at the mercy of their departments rather than under their protection.
A Manley administration further intends to eliminate privatized prisons as part of our policy to end all businesses that profit off of other people’s misfortune. This will effectively eliminate the incentive for lawmakers to pass stricter and harsher laws for lesser and lesser offenses, and thereby end the disproportionate incarceration of young black men that is a serious problem in America. The fact that American courts put more people in prison than any other nation, and the fact that the majority of people who are incarcerated are black males, are serious problems that require a heavy overhaul of the criminal justice system.
Finally, an Elijah Manley administration will end the destructive War On Drugs once and for all, and will fund humane recovery centers that will treat those afflicted with addiction as sufferers of a medical illness, not as criminals to be arrested and punished. Ending the criminalization of drugs for both medicinal and recreation will allow them to be legally sold in regulated amounts, and eliminate the proliferation of an extremely dangerous criminal class similar to that which arose during the era of alcohol prohibition. Prohibition of such substances are a proven failure that need to be given up once and for all. The end of drug prohibition will end the dangerous domino effect of greater powers being granted to police officers, a huge amount of resources wasted on abusive agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and a further incentive for law enforcement officers to disproportionately target racial minorities. We believe that the incentive for people to resort to drugs as an escape is directly connected to conditions of poverty and economic insecurity, and ending these social problems will greatly reduce the demand and self-destructive abuse of drugs without having to punish people for using them.
All of the above will serve to improve race relations by bolstering the security of all labor in America, and eliminating any incentives – either financial or personal – for police officers to abuse their positions and dis-proportionally target people based on race.