More Than 200 Academics, Elected Officials, and Advocates Sign Open Letter to Local Government, Law Enforcement Groups Demanding Sweeping Police Reforms

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A group of more than 200 academics, elected officials, and justice advocates on Friday sent open letters to the nation’s leading local government and law enforcement groups demanding action on a set of policy proposals designed to ensure that the United States is a place “where all people feel safe.” The signers include Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and New York state Senator Julia Salazar. They are joined by Thea Sebastian of Civil Rights Corps, Zach Norris, executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Jody Armour, professor at the USC Gould School of Law, Alex Vitale, a Brooklyn College professor and author of The End of Policing, Dr. Melina Abdullah, professor of Pan African Studies at California State University Los Angeles and Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter-LA, David Johns of the National Black Justice Coalition, Liyah Brown of the Texas Civil Rights Project, and Kumar Rao of the Center for Popular Democracy.

The letters outline a set of concrete policies that fall along four areas: reprioritizing local budgets away from police and toward services that bolster the health and security of communities, investing in non-law enforcement responses to crime and public safety, halting the militarization of police, and curtailing the power of police unions. The letter has been sent to the National Mayors Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, the National Sheriff Association, and the National Association of Counties.

“The last several weeks and months have once again laid bare the unacceptable problems in policing and our criminal legal system,” said signer Daniel Medwed, University Distinguished Professor of Law and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University. “We are still experiencing extraordinary police violence against Black people.” 

In 2014, the police killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked protests across the country, helping to turn Black Lives Matter into a global rallying call for police reform. Yet nearly six years later, many of those reforms have yet to materialize. The signers of the open letter say it’s no longer enough to demand incremental progress on reform, and are instead demanding a broader rethinking about what safety and justice in America should look like, and what role policing should play in it.

“This is a time when we need to ask ourselves what public safety means and whether our laws and our budgets reflect those priorities,” the letter reads. “Any clear-eyed assessment will produce a resounding no in response.”

The letters are available below:

Letter to US Conference of Mayors

Letter to Major Cities Chiefs Association

Letter to National Sheriffs’ Association

Letter to National Association of Counties