The 8 Can’t Wait project has begun circulating on social media in response to the wave of protesting currently overtaking the U.S. Below is a graphic that details what the campaign is telling citizens to ask of their mayors and police departments.
While all of this might look very promising, I find it to be a lukewarm response to the police violence that has plagued this country for hundreds of years. As a result, I have created my own version of 8 Can’t Wait — 8 action items that I feel would do more to decrease police violence than these more moderate requests.
- A national registry of killer cops. Many police officers who have been disciplined and even get fired from their jobs for excessive force complaints still manage to get rehired at other departments in other cities. Shahid Buttar, Nancy Pelosi’s progressive challenger for Congress, champions the concept of a national registry that makes it impossible for cops with violent track records to continue to work on the force.
- A two-strike policy of excessive force. After the first strike, the officer would lose their pension. After the second strike, the officer would lose their job. And if either strike involved murder, the officer would be suspended immediately and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
- Related to the above: a 15-year minimum sentence for cops convicted of killing civilians.
- Budget caps for police departments. Most police departments in major cities have bloated budgets that allow for excessive militarization and shield their officers from discipline when they are accused of misconduct. Los Angeles City Council is currently debating the city’s budget and while a small cut has been made to the allocation for LAPD, there’s a lot more work that needs to be done (Angelenos, click here for a link to the People’s Budget LA and more info on how we can get our elected officials to cut the police budget further). I don’t know how much should be spent on policing, but it definitely shouldn’t involve the word “billion.”
- Ammunition caps. We want to reduce the amount of weaponry that cops have altogether, and for the weapons that they do still have, there should be a limit on their ammunition. Breonna Taylor was shot 8 times, and she was unarmed, in her home. Even if someone is actively shooting at a cop, they should be trained to use their weapon as efficiently and safely as possible.
- The elimination of cash bail. Cash bail criminalizes poverty and essentially makes crime legal for the wealthy. For days we have banded together to donate to bail funds, and it’s amazing that we’ve been helping get protestors out of jail. But unfortunately, paying bail still props up a broken system of capitalist oppression.
- Civilian review boards for the police that, wait for it, actually have power. If enough citizens feel that a particular officer is a danger to the community, we vote them out. We demand budget transparency and have a seat at the table when discussing what it’s used for. And as citizens we would have some of our own functioning as a bridge between civilians and police.
- The decriminalization of nonviolent offenses. Instead of handcuffing people who aren’t a danger to others and throwing them in jail to traumatize them further, officers — or better yet, non-police community members trained in de-escalation — defuse situations where such expertise is necessary, and get people actual help.
As time has passed and I learn more about police abolition, I become more in favor of defunding police departments and reallocating their resources to community programs that would do a better job at protecting and serving. However, because police abolition is a radical concept that only recently has entered mainstream dialogue, my personal 8 Can’t Wait offers a more assertive response to police violence than the current set. If you want actual centrism, you can’t negotiate with the right from the middle. You have to ask for everything you want. We don’t want to get killed 72% less. We want to stop being killed by the cops.