Since the killing of Michael Brown Jr. a little over a year in Ferguson, Missouri, the #blacklivesmatter movement has made huge gains in visibility and has sparked nationwide protests against police brutality. In light of the protests and unrest in Ferguson and all over the country, the Department of Justice investigated the Ferguson police department, finding egregious racist practices of the department toward black residents and revealing a pattern of systemic racial discrimination. Since then many changes have taken place in leadership positions in Ferguson, an attempt to eliminate the racist practices and and foster a more sanguine relationship between the police force and the population. A new police chief, city manager, and municipal judge have replaced the old– black leadership is on the rise. Though there have been notable changes made in Ferguson to rectify decades of systematic oppression, the question of “How much has really changed?” still hangs in the balance. Changes in leadership may show a better reflection of the city’s demographics, but identity politics do not necessarily lead to the extreme changes in policy that are imperative to ensuring equality. After the recent shooting death of Mansur Ball-Bey– who reportedly pointed a gun at police officers while fleeing a residence– on the one-year anniversary of Kaijeme Powell’s killing, protests have surged again. Police accounts of the shooting are currently being challenged by some eyewitnesses, who claimed that Ball-Bey was unarmed and was shot while running away. A recent autopsy showed that Ball-Bey died from a single gunshot wound to the back.
Despite such wide recognition and demands for systematic change by the #blacklivesmatter movement to curb the violence inflicted upon communities of color, the frequency of shootings by police have not been on the decrease in 2015. So far, 746 people have been killed by the police in 2015. Of those killings, 41% of the victims were black or brown. Some criticisms of the movement in the past year include unclear leadership and demands. Many say, “what good are protests if there is no concrete plan that leads to change?” Contrary to those beliefs, leaders of the movement have begun to emerge during this past year– leaders with a plan.
Campaign Zero is a recently launched website documenting the problem (police brutality and excessive shootings in the United States, especially in communities of color) and providing a myriad of detailed policy solutions to combat every aspect of the US criminal justice system that sanctions this violence against its citizens. Based on extensive “research, data, and human rights principles,” Campaign Zero lists in detail each necessary policy change in ten categories that will achieve the goal. Some of these policy changes include ending police department quotas for tickets and arrests, ending stop-and-frisk and broken-windows policing, and revising and strengthening the local police department’s use of force policies. Closely following the upcoming 2016 presidential elections, Campaign Zero also charts each presidential candidate and whether or not they have addressed any aspect of the Campaign Zero’s policy solutions and/or provided their own, and stated whether they were harmful or helpful to the end goal of eliminating police brutality.
One year after Ferguson, Missouri sparked months of passionate protests and calls for dismantling the system, many things have changed, and many more still need to. Campaign Zero’s calls for action with the policy solutions to support it bring us one step closer to the equality we seek.