With the recent news about police-involved shootings around the country, a lot of U.S. citizens are angry, but aren’t quite sure how to channel it.
Former Baltimore mayoral candidate DeRay Mckesson teamed up with fellow activists from St. Louis and Orlando to create a resource for people who want to take action. The website, Campaign Zero, aggregates research, data, and policy—and provides a way for people to get involved.
Campaign Zero proposes “a comprehensive package of urgent policy solutions—informed by data, research, and human rights principles—that can change the way police serve our communities,” the website says.
This past year, police brutality and police-involved shootings have been at the forefront of national conversation. As of today, there have been 566 per-capita killings this year by police in the U.S., and eight of those happened in Maryland. This week’s events—deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana, Philando Castile in Minnesota, and four Dallas police officers—are evidence that we still have significant problems to work through as a nation.
Here in Baltimore, the trials of the officers involved in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray are still ongoing with no convictions to date. Local activists are still pushing for justice and demanding changes in the way police brutality cases are being handled.
Mckesson, recently named interim chief officer of human capital for Baltimore City Public Schools, took to Twitter following the news of the killings, writing, “I’m not sure what to say anymore that I've not already said, that others haven't already said. In these moments, we must organize.”
His website features solutions to 10 problems that major U.S. cities face—like better training for law enforcement and limitations on use of force to de-escalate situations. This interactive website also allows citizens in any state to enter their zip code to find their representatives, identify their stance on different policies, and provides channels of communication.
“Protest is not the solution,” Mckesson wrote on Twitter. “It helps create space for the solution. It is the act of telling the truth in public and of building power.”
Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis released a statement earlier this afternoon expressing his thoughts on the recent shooting of the Dallas police officers.
“Activists and protesters share the same concerns and do not wish to be associated with violence,” Davis said. “It is more important now than ever that we promote lines of communication as we work together for the greater good.”
There is a protest scheduled tonight at 6 p.m. at McKeldin Square hosted by The People’s Power Assembly.
[Update: DeRay Mckesson was arrested during a demonstration in Baton Rouge this past weekend. He spent 16 hours in jail and was released Sunday afternoon. According to The New York Times, the Baton Rouge authorities documented that Mckesson ignored a police officer's order to stay out of the road and was charged with obstruction of a highway of commerce. Mckesson said he believed that his arrest was unlawful, vowing to continue to peacefully protest, saying that police "intentionally created a context of conflict, and I’ll never be afraid to tell the truth."]