The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) is pushing forward sweeping policy demands to protect the lives and interests of Black communities across the nation in the wake of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know, like in all other crisis [sic], that Black people will be hit hardest. We often suffer the worst because of the state’s failure to protect us and oftentimes the states targeting of us—like during Hurricane Katrina and many other atrocities,” the coalition’s website stated.
The demands, as listed on the coalition’s website include, “Free the Vote,” “Healthcare Not Warfare” and “Free Em All.” M4BL painstakingly laid out actions that the federal, state and local governments could take to address the issues laid out.
M4BL’s demands cover issues ranging from the impact the pandemic is bound to have on the 2020 elections to the ongoing crisis in jails and prisons across the nation, where social distancing isn’t an option, especially in a system which is already overcrowded and rife with healthcare issues.
As a result, M4BL has called for providing a nationwide emergency vote by mail process to ensure everyone’s voting rights are protected, as well as extending voter registration deadlines for all elections, among other solutions.
To address the issue of the spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons, the coalition has suggested reducing the number of incarcerated people through commutations, especially for the incarcerated who are elderly or pregnant or who are battling illnesses or have compromised immune systems.
M4BL has also suggested putting a stop to any new sentences and new arrests for minor offenses such as traffic fines and releasing those held on probation and probation technical violations, as well as immigration-related arrests.
Additionally, the coalition tackled the use of emergency powers, stating that “state and federal governments misuse resources and militarize response” against Black communities.
The demands for policy change include ensuring that emergency powers are not used to increase surveillance, policing or the criminalization of people or communities, as well as suspending arrests for minor offenses.
The coalition is also pushing for the amendment of the Stafford Act to be “mandatory based on independent criteria that prioritizes the preservation of life and no longer at the President’s discretion.”
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