Proposed Freddie Gray Justice bill would disband police 'jump out boys,' empower citizens
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Following the not-guilty outcome in Officer Caesar Goodson's trial, a group of community activists say they're disappointed but empowered to push forward with their proposed "Freddie Gray Justice Bill." The bill takes a radical swing at empowering citizens and allowing them to "remove" police who repeatedly violate citizens' rights.
The Peoples Power Assembly reacted with outrage and disappointment, saying in a statement, "We think that it along with the previous verdicts sends a message to the people of Baltimore that there continues to be a double standard in justice and that police can act with impunity in our community."
Spokesman Rev. CD Witherspoon elaborated saying, "There are two standards of justice, one for wealthy white communities like Roland Park and another for communities like Sandtown and Cherry Hill. Rendering a not guilty verdict sends an egregious message to Baltimore city police that police terror will be tolerated without accountability on the part of the system."
Organizer Sharon Black called the judicial system "riddled with systemic racism and bias against Black, Brown and poor people. The only reason that charges were even brought in this case was the courageous actions of youth in the street that focused the world's attention on police terror in our city."
To address the issue, activists have drafted the "Freddie Gray Justice Bill" to empower overlooked communities with the "ability to remove police departments and use the resources to enable community-organized self-policing and self-defense."
The bill seeks to "divest in police spending, and invest in communities," demilitarize the police department, add more school, recreation and community health/crisis centers to provide jobs and services for residents, disband a special police unit known as the "jump out boys" which the activist group claim has been "responsible for more police shootings and abuse than all other units," hold quarterly meetings allowing people to testify on police-involved abuse and ultimately, give citizens a vote on police policies and on the "removal of police who continually violate people's rights."
Below is a general outline of the bill proposal. To learn more, click here.
FREDDIE GRAY JUSTICE BILL
We will be calling on political representatives and leaders to introduce a comprehensive Freddie Gray Justice Bill that will empower Black, Brown and poor communities with the ability to remove police departments and use the resources to enable community-organized self-policing and self-defense.
As a first step in this process we call for:
DIVEST IN POLICE SPENDING - INVEST IN OUR COMMUNITIES
The city's present budget priorities are skewed in the favor of more police repression and propping up billionaires like Kevin Plank. Baltimore City recently proposed $451 million for police and only $220 million for schools. Plank sunk close to a million in refurbishing and modernizing the Western District police station in Freddie Gray's neighborhood and nothing on repairing housing in Gilmor Homes.
Like the movement to divest in money spent on South African apartheid; we call for a divestment in police and repression - this includes demilitarizing the police department.
Our bill will call for increased school, recreation and community health/crisis centers to provide both jobs and services to Baltimore residents.
Baltimore City is already one of the top 5 cities in the country to have the largest number of police per person proving that more police and repression do little to make our neighborhoods safe. The real deterrent to crime is to build healthy, viable communities with jobs at a livable wage where youth are cherished and people have real power over their daily lives.
Capitalism itself is a criminal system that spawns anti-social acts and turns people's anger inward and at each other rather than the real causes. How can we say to young people to value life when our own government and military use drones to drop bombs on innocent people and someone like Trump who spews anti-immigrant hate and racism becomes a top presidential contender? Instead of fighting each other we need to call for a battle against racism and injustice.
DISARM AND DISBAND RACIST POLICE
The Baltimore City Police Department has acted as an occupation army in our communities. As a first step, we call for the immediate withdrawal and disbandment of the special police unit commonly referred to as the "jump out boys" that have been responsible for more police shootings and abuse than all other units.
FULL COMMUNITY CONTROL
As an immediate first step in that direction, we call on the City to hold quarterly "Peoples Assemblies" to allow people to testify on police abuses and relations in the community with immunity from reprisals. The people will have the right to vote at these assemblies on police policies and on the removal of police who continually violate people's rights.