Meanwhile, other parts of the movement are organizing larger national actions. Woodard Henderson, together with the SEIU, the Fight for $ 15 advocacy and other unions, struck a black life strike on Monday, with thousands of workers in over 25 cities leaving their jobs.
Jessica Byrd, a strategist with Three Point Strategies and a leader in the Movement for Black Lives, wakes up at 4am most days to prepare for the online Black National Convention on August 28, which targets 4 million black people in involve the whole country. Prior to the convention, about 1,000 black activists will meet virtually to set a 100-day agenda for a potential Joe Biden government to be unveiled at the national meeting.
“We have a new election cycle where we are a central force, while in 2016 there were headlines saying the black movement didn’t care about elections,” said Byrd, who oversees the Electoral Justice Project for the Movement for Black Lives, who launched in 2017.
Federal lawmakers have already responded to the dramatic change in public attitudes towards Black Lives Matter, with the democracy-led house passing a sweeping bill for police reform in late June. Although several senior lawmakers have rejected the push from the police, activists see the bill as just a starting point. They countered with their own piece of legislation: The Breathe Act, which aims to expand and disable federal agencies and programs that invest in law enforcement.
“We wanted to be clear that we could speak for ourselves,” said Woodard Henderson. “That we could write our own federal law that includes the policy requirements we have imposed.”
The bill is yet to be formally submitted by a legislator in Congress, but first-term representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) And Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) Took part in its rollout to the Movement for Black Lives. Pressley, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and activists of the Movement for Black Lives are in constant talks about the proposal.
“I am grateful for the leadership of M4BL and am ready to work with them to fight for structural change, be accountable and move towards justice and healing,” said Pressley in a statement to POLITICO.
But other national policy drivers emerging from the movement have sparked disagreement.
One of the most famous policy plans to emerge from the Black Lives Matter movement is the ‘8 Can’t Wait’ proposals from the racial justice group Campaign Zero. The package includes “restrictive use of force policies” for local police forces – including banning chokeholds, mandating escalation and pre-shooting warning – which the group claimed would reduce murders.
Deray Mckesson, co-founder of Campaign Zero, said the platform was intended to “normalize” police reform policies. “If the police are to exist tomorrow, they should have much less power tomorrow,” he said GQ.
But the release of “8 Can’t Wait” in early June received much criticism from a number of activists who believed that the proposals did not go far enough in an environment where calls for “police scams” were increasingly accepted. Within a week, Campaign Zero co-founder Brittany Packnett Cunningham announced her departure of the organization in response to the backlash. Campaign Zero has one apology on his website, saying that his campaign “inadvertently detracted from the efforts of fellow organizers who invested in paradigmatic shifts that may be new at the moment.”