The bold bill could change the face of the criminal justice system in the United States.
In recent months, the country has been ravaged by protests, riots, and violent killings at the hands of police. On Tuesday, the Movement for Black Lives announced the latest phase of their efforts, the BREATHE Act.
The bill could dramatically alter the criminal justice system. It’s currently endorsed by Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). One component of the BREATHE Act seeks to defund the police by divesting federal dollars from incarceration and policing. Another section addresses closing federal prisons and immigration detention centers. The Cut reports the bill will also work to ban police departments from using surveillance and military-grade weapons, and instead will reallocate funds to social-welfare, health-care, and education.
Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, Freddie Gray, Elijah McClain, Atatiana Jefferson, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and many others have been victims of the state in recent years. The “people-powered bill” calls for a collective vision of public safety that invests in Black Americans and “dismantles the systems killing [them],” said Gina Clayton-Johnson, one of the bill’s creators and founder of the Essie Justice Group during a live-streamed announcement event. She added, “We crafted this bill to be big, because we know the solution needs to be as big as the 400-year-old problem itself.”
The BREATHE Act is being heralded as a modern-day Civil Rights Act that could abolish the criminal-legal system. It was created by the Movement for Black Lives made up of 150 organizations founded in 2014, it comes directly from its policy table. On the official website, it acknowledges the system has harmed and failed to protect Black communities. The legislation might be met with adversity, but it could shape a new narrative for new ideas for dismantling white supremacy and the criminalization of Black Americans.
For more on the BREATHE Act, head to the bill’s official site. Take a look at the unveiling below.
Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind @robyn_mowatt.