The nationwide push led by Black Lives Matter to defund the police is part of a larger radical agenda spelled out on the group’s own manifesto that openly seeks no less than a revolution to topple the U.S. capitalist system and its replacement with a socialist-style government replete with universal income, collective ownership, and the redistribution of wealth.
Amid BLM’s role in the protest movement spotlighting serious and legitimate questions about George Floyd’s death, it is instructive to review the BLM umbrella charter, which also demands the abolishment of Voter ID laws that protect against voter fraud and supports the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement targeting Israel. It wants a lifetime of free education for “all Black people (including undocumented and currently and formerly incarcerated people).”
“Black people will never achieve liberation under the current racialized capitalist system. … The white supremacist, imperialistic, patriarchal systems needs not reform but radical transformation. … We must remake the current U.S. political system in order to create a real democracy where Black people and all marginalized people can effectively exercise full political power.” reads the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) Vision for Black Lives Policy Platform
After a year-long process of convening local and national groups and only three months before the 2016 elections, the M4BL group released its radical platform which states: “We recognize that some of the demands in this document will not happen today. But we also recognize that they are necessary for our liberation.”
The platform lays out “six core planks” concerning criminal justice, reparations, investment and divestment, economic justice, community control, and political power. Arguing that “Black people will never achieve liberation under the current global racialized capitalist system,” some of the platform’s radical demands include (below are exact quotes):
- Remaking of the current U.S. political system in order to create a real democracy where Black people and all marginalized people can effectively exercise full political power
- An end to white supremacy, imperialism and capitalism
- Democratic control over how resources are preserved, used and distributed and do so while honoring and respecting the rights of our Indigenous family
- Direct democratic community control of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, ensuring that communities most harmed by destructive policing have the power to hire and fire officers, determine disciplinary action, control budgets and policies, and subpoena relevant agency information
The platform advocates including the immediate release of “all political prisoners,” eliminating the bail system, and restoration of voting capabilities for not only released convicted felons by criminals who are inside prison.
On the economy, the charter reads like a communist treatise, calling for a “Universal Basic Income,” universal healthcare, collective ownership of property, reparations for slavery, and a “progressive restructuring of tax codes ensure a radical and sustainable redistribution of wealth.”
The charter wants to slash military spending by 50%, end all U.S. aid to Israel and support legislation promoting the BDS Movement against the Jewish state.
The platform is expected to be implemented over a five-year span called Project 2024: Black Power Rising, which the group claims it can achieve through strategies such as capturing clear electoral victories; recruiting electoral strategists; challenging the existence of the electoral college; engaging in local races that position them to govern; targeting congressional races to shift the balance of power federally; advising key elected officials to advance their agenda; and identifying, recruiting, and training candidates.
The group also claims it intends to align the political left across issues centered on racism and become its leading force using such Saul Alinsky-style community organizing tactics “building and engaging majorities ready to organize, resist, vote, and build alternatives.”
The charter platform ideas have been gaining momentum relatively quickly in recent days.
In a recent op-ed in USA Today, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden echoed some of the movement’s demands despite claiming to be against completely defunding the police.
Under the title “We must urgently root out systemic racism, from policing to housing to opportunity,” Biden claims that “racism has been a fixture in our society for hundreds of years,” and states his intention to undo systemic economic racism.
“From the moment I launched my campaign, I have said that we are in the battle for the soul of this nation. We know the nation we want to be. Now we have to deliver on this moment to achieve fundamental changes that address racial inequalities and white supremacy in our country. We need to root out systemic racism across our laws and institutions, and we need to make sure black Americans have a real shot to get ahead.”
Biden spoke of institutional violence and daily injustices warranting the directing of resources to actively undo the negative effect systemic racism has had on opportunities for black Americans. He goes on to support investing in historically underfunded and historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. He also states that the abuse of police power must be addressed (though he does not support defunding police). “I’m ready to do that work, starting on Day One,” he concluded.
Biden & Sanders unity task forces
Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders recently unveiled Unity Task Forces in an attempt to bridge policy divides and seek agreements between the two Democratic camps. The task forces, which were first announced last month as Sanders endorsed Biden, are to serve as a symbol of unity between Sanders and Biden and an attempt to avoid a replay of the 2016 general election, when divisions in the party were on full display.
The task forces intend to meet in advance of August’s Democratic convention to create recommendations for the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Committee as well as for the Biden campaign.
The panels will explore possible policy initiatives in six areas: climate change, criminal justice reform, economy, education, healthcare, and immigration. Many of the policy initiatives closely resemble M4BL’s demands.
Sanders commended Biden for working together and unifying the party “in a transformational and progressive direction.” Sanders also stressed that “the Democratic Party must think big, act boldly, and fight to change the direction of this country….”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive firebrand , was named as a co-chair on the climate change panel. Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday addressed the controversy over the widespread call to defund the police, warning the message should not be repackaged “to make it palatable for largely affluent, white suburban ‘swing’ voters.”
She also claimed that “to defund means that Black & Brown communities are asking for the same budget priorities that White communities have already created for themselves.”
Reuters spoke with members of the unity task force. Several people serving on “unity” task forces set up by Biden and Sanders told Reuters that they support shifting funding from policing to community services. “Everyone recognizes the centuries of systemic oppression and white supremacy and the fundamental failure of the criminal justice system,” said Linn County, Iowa, Supervisor Stacey Walker, a member of Biden’s criminal justice policy task force though not claiming to speak on its behalf. “If that doesn’t open up a new political opportunity for sweeping reform, then I don’t know what will.”
Varshini Prakash, executive director of the environmental group Sunrise Movement and a member of Biden’s task force on climate change said it was less important for Biden to carry a “cardboard sign saying ‘Defund the Police'” and more important for him to “articulate a real transformational vision.. .beyond policing and incarceration.”
In another move to utilize current events to make radical changes this coming election, Rev. Al Sharpton recently announced a Washington rally which is planned for Aug. 28, the anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “It gives you a push into November, not in a partisan way [but in terms of] protecting the vote, because we’ve got to educate people on mail-in voting. We’ve got to educate people in terms of turnout,” Sharpton said. “In order to change laws, you’ve got to impact lawmakers and they get elected in November.” He claimed that George Floyd’s family members will lead the march.
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