Demand DC's Core Four

Demand DC's Core Four

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Demand DC’s Core Four:
1. Police-Free DC Schools
2. End Qualified Immunity
3. Establish a New DC Public Safety Department 
4. Make Election Days A DC Holiday

Thank you for your interest in our petition! This petition will accompany our event happening on August 1—visit DemandDC.com for more info!—and is one step of many to make these demands a reality. 

The Palm Collective and our 65+ grassroots partners believe in the power of Collective Action to bring about the necessary changes to create meaningful racial justice. After meetings with several DC-based organizations, stakeholders, and community leaders, we developed these four action items as demands for Mayor Bowser, the DC Council, and other local officials. We believe these steps will lead to a safer DC for all, not just those in power.

We acknowledge that some of the deadlines for government changes have already passed, and we believe it is never too late to use the power of collective action to shift the collective consciousness and advocate for change.

This is just the beginning.

1. DCPS Divest from MPD/Local Law Enforcement (Disrupt School-to-Prison Pipeline) — In D.C., 92% of school-based arrests are of Black youth, while Black girls are 30 times more likely to be arrested by school police than their white peers [1]. There are also nearly double the amount of police and security officers in our schools as there are mental health professionals, leading 74% of Black youth to not receive the mental health support they need [2]. We ask that D.C. Public Schools divest from Metropolitan Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies to re-invest their current $20 million dollar budget back into counselors, social workers, violence interrupters, and other individuals who are able to support student wellbeing [3]. As of July 15, the D.C. Board of Education passed the Police-Free Schools resolution, SR20-10 [4]. This will help disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and over-reliance on police in public schools [5]. We now ask that the D.C. Council and Mayor Bowser move to implement these changes to make D.C. Public and Charter Schools safer for all of its students.

2. End Qualified Immunity (MPD Accountability) — As outlined in D.C. Code § 7–531.09, Qualified Immunity is a judicially created doctrine that shields government officials—including law enforcement—from being held liable for constitutional violations—such as the right to be free from excessive police force—for money damages under law so long as the officials “have acted in good faith” [6, 7]. For example, in the case of George Floyd, a previous officer would have had to be charged with the same facts of kneeling on somebody’s neck for 8 minutes for them to be indicted. This makes it impossible to hold law enforcement accountable in most police brutality cases. D.C. could follow in the footsteps of Colorado by passing legislation similar to the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act (SB20-217), which allows plaintiffs to bypass one of the biggest barriers to holding government agents accountable [8].

3. Establish a New Public Safety Department (Mental Health) — We propose the creation of a new public safety division that could dispatch unarmed personnel to 911 calls related to homelessness, inebriation, addiction, and behavioral health [9]. D.C. could follow Albuquerque in creating an alternative to the police and fire departments—a city that has a similar population to us [10, 11]. In the time it takes to develop a new department, a Behavioral Health Response Team of medics and behavioral health counselors could respond to calls that do not necessarily require police intervention—similar to the CAHOOTS program established in Eugene, OR [12]. These moves could relieve the stress on the city’s police and decrease the likelihood of emergency calls turned lethal by inappropriate behavior by law enforcement [13].

4. Make Primary Election Day A District Holiday (Voters Rights) — We applaud our local officials for recognizing the importance of Automatic Voter Registration, which was made a reality in 2018 and for being on the brink of allowing inmates to vote from prison [14, 15]. However, due to inflexible job schedules, limited polling stations, and other voter suppression strategies, voting in our modern democracy is often a privilege not enjoyed by all. This measure could increase the amount of D.C. residents who are able to fully participate in our governing systems and give people an opportunity to celebrate democracy.

Made in collaboration with: Good Projects DC, Bartenders Against Racism, Concerned Citizens, Until Freedom United DC, Fuel the People, Occupy DC, Black Onyx Movement, The Freedom Neighborhood, BLMH Coop, Freedom Riders DC, BLM Coalition, The CEP DC, Speak Up DC, DC Freedom Fighters, DC Teens Action, Capital Pride, Pride @ Harvard Business School, Marymount University, Howard Law School Student Bar Association, STAAND, March on Maryland, Our Revolution DC, Migration Matters, Compelled2Act, Earl’s First Amendment Grill, Continue to Serve, DC The Movement, The Nolita Project, Long Live Gogo the Movement and several others. 

Sources:
[1] https://osse.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/osse/publication/attachments/2019%20STAR%20Brief%2012.18.19.pdf
[2] https://www.dcfpi.org/all/dc-students-deserve-empathy-and-greater-mental-health-support-not-policing-and-punishment/
[3] https://dccouncil.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/dcps_Part1.pdf
[4] https://twitter.com/DCSBOE/status/1283609172911828992?s=20
[5] https://www.aclu.org/issues/juvenile-justice/school-prison-pipeline/cops-and-no-counselors
[6] https://code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/code/sections/7-531.09.html#:~:text=%C2%A7%207%E2%80%93531.09.-,Qualified%20immunity.,have%20acted%20in%20good%20faith
[7] https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-qualified-immunity-and-what-does-it-have-do-police-reform
[8] https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicksibilla/2020/06/21/colorado-passes-landmark-law-against-qualified-immunity-creates-new-way-to-protect-civil-rights/#418906c2378a
[9] https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/05/us/cahoots-replace-police-mental-health-trnd/index.html
[10] https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/06/15/wake-calls-defund-police-albuquerque-creates-an-alternative-department/
[11] https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/albuquerque-nm-population
[12] https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/05/us/cahoots-replace-police-mental-health-trnd/index.html
[13] https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/10/us/tulsa-police-fatal-shooting-oklahoma/index.html
[14] https://dmv.dc.gov/release/automatic-voter-registration-begins-dc-dmv-june-26-2018
[15] https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-prison-voting/2020/07/08/2683bd1e-c11d-11ea-b4f6-cb39cd8940fb_story.html