What’s Next after the Marches?

Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Columnist | 12/22/2014, 6:28 a.m.
We’ve seen it before: The injustice, the reactions, the non-stop talking and tweeting after yet another headline grabbing tragedy. We’ve ...

We’ve seen it before: The injustice, the reactions, the non-stop talking and tweeting after yet another headline grabbing tragedy. We’ve seen the hours of commentary, the “think pieces,” the marches, the online petitions and the panels.


Lauren Victoria Burke

But what exactly should people be doing? Where should the energy go and what should be pushed for? We’ve heard the generalities: The need for “better education” for example, but let’s talk specifics on what would get results on the issue of the moment: Police brutality.

  • Single issue. Single push. What do the best advocacy organizations do? How do they win? Does the NRA focus on 20 issues at the same time? No. The winning actors on the political stage win because they focus on one or two issues and push until they win.

In the case of police brutality, a push for independent counsels has come up as a solution to deal with police that get away with murder. It didn’t get that way by accident. The strength and focus of the police unions brought us to the point we’re at now.

Several officials have pointed out that activists need to put pressure on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to appoint an independent prosecutor in the case of NYPD Office Daniel Pantaleo killing Eric Garner. In many states the governor can appoint one. In other states the legislature must change state law.

  • Votes and Money. The two languages people in power understand are money and votes. If an advocacy group begins to show they are a threat to power, they will win the attention of elected officials. What’s needed is a PAC on police brutality. One that has a grassroots fundraising strategy like we’ve recently seen with MAYDAY PAC.

In Ferguson, voter registration and voting has been pointed out as obvious points of focus. Just as the the Tea Party successfully elected their candidates who are now in Congress, voting and money were joined to win those elections. On the other side, Police unions have leveraged power over politicians for years.

  • “Organize, Organize. Organize.” The best most effective political advocacy organizations strategize and organize. Ever notices that the NRA doesn’t have marches? What they do have is very targeted focus.

“The success of the Civil Rights movement has taught us when tragedy occurs: don’t agonize organize,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told The Root. “What we have seen spontaneously is that young people across the country have begun to organize in protest to the epidemic of police brutality. We need to take that organization and translate it into legislative action.”

But what legislative action?

Jeffries pointed out that funding for community policing programs have been cut. On Dec. 1, President Obama called for Congress to appropriate $253 million for police training and body cameras.

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) is pushing the Transparency in Policing Act that would provide federal funding for body cameras. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) has a bill that would put the reigns on Pentagon program 1033, the programs allows the Department of Defense to give civilian police surplus war gear for free, including armored vehicles, drones and grenade launchers. Rep. Bobby Scott’s (D-Va.) legislation that requires police to report deaths in police custody to the Department of Justice will be signed into law this week after finding new energy during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations.