"The murders of unarmed people in our communities has reached epidemic numbers."
This is the warning that kicks off a national call (via video) from the Dream Defenders—the group that grabbed the national media spotlight last year when its members launched protests against Stand Your Ground Laws, including by occupying the office of Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Now, to honor the lives of Mike Brown, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, and others across the country who have fallen victim to deadly violence at police hands, they are calling for a national campaign—Hands Up, Don't Shoot. "We are prisoners of a war being waged on communities of color and the poor," states the campaign website. "We are filled to the brim with frustration, passion and anger as we stand on the frontlines. Police are literally killing our communities and we must take action."
The Dream Defenders are demanding, in their own words:
1. Obama: "Do the right thing." Go to Ferguson and meet with local black and brown youth.
2. Eric Holder: Meet with local black and brown youth across the country who are dealing with "zero tolerance" and "broken windows" policing.
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3. Ensure transparency, accountability, and safety of our communities by requiring front-facing cameras on police departments with records of racial disparity in stops, arrests, killings, and excessive force complaints.
4. Cops need consequences too. Police officers who discharge their weapon on an unarmed person should be suspended without pay pending further investigation, and their name and policing histories should be made available to the public.
5. Tanks and tear gas don't ever belong in our communities. America should not be going to war with its citizens. Demilitarize all police departments.
6. Police should be representative of the communities they are tasked to protect and serve and community members should have real power in citizen review boards.
What does it take to work towards these goals? Watch this video to find out.