Sharpton’s 12/13 March: No Anti-Police Militarization Demand?

Sharpton’s 12/13 March: No Anti-Police Militarization Demand?

Where’s the Police Militarization Issue? A look at the demands from NAN President Al Sharpton and Urban League President Mark Morial reveals a major issue is missing: Militarization of civilian police and Pentagon program 1033.  To be clear, it wasn’t police militarization that killed Eric Garner and Mike Brown but…

… the police militarization issue is connected to other issues that should be huge flashing neon red flags for civil rights organization — young or old.  We’re talking military weapons being given to civilian police with no oversight, accountability or training. Anyone who watched 15 seconds from a Ferguson livefeed over the last 100 days should be clear that the police militarization issue needs attention.  It’s a safe bet that Sharpton and Morial, as usual, are dancing militaryaround any criticism or possible point of disagreement with President Obama.  Leaving out 1033 indicates that same ‘ol dance of never asking the President for anything that we’ve seen for 6 years.  The 100% focus on Congress in the Dec. 13 demands is standard for old civil rights orgs..

In an interview with Democracy Now after meeting with the President, Ashley Yates of Millennium Activists United, said, “We laid on the table what we’ve said from day one: That 1033 as a program needs to be abolished. There’s no reason that our local law enforcement should have military weapons and especially in the way in which they’ve been using them.  They were given those weapons in order to fight terrorism.”

There’s currently a debate going on regarding old vs. new leadership and there should be.  The police brutality issue has been around too long in part because the advocacy strategy to fight it has failed.  A look at the demands made by young leaders shows detail and demands broken down by local and national objectives. See:


The demands of Ferguson Action are here.
The demands of Hands Up United are here.
The demands of Black Lives Matter are here.


military6We already see a key difference between old civil rights leadership and the young leaders that have emerged after the murder of Michael Brown. The new young leaders have no problem challenging and making demands of President Obama.  Though the Administration — specifically AG Holder — has taken several actions related to Ferguson, there are times in any policy when activists must make a choice between being buddies with the White House and the best policy for the Black community.   It’s rare but it happens (see: Parent PLUS, extending the Bush Tax cuts, cuts to community block grants, cuts to summer Pell Grants…).  Focusing on this point of leadership strategy is no small issue because the way activists focus their energy and who they focus it on is the whole ballgame.

Much of what is in the list of demands from NAN and NUL are state and local issues — not federal (see: 2, 4, 5, 6 on the NUL demand list).  Some of what is asked for in the NUL+NAN demands has already been included in legislation. 

Pentagon Program 1033. Last week, Sen. Rand Paul told me he believed that President Obama can end Pentagon Program 1033 by executive order.  On December 1, the White House surprised reporters and made it clear they aren’t against the program, saying that only 4% of material transferred from DoD to civilian police are weapons.  Problem is: That 4% represents 78,000 military items.

With crime way down across the country, what is the argument for more police power?  How many major city police departments can argue they might be the subject of a terrorist attack? 

Let’s look at the National Urban League 10-Point-Plan for Police Reform sent out tonight days before the march on Saturday, December 13:
1. Widespread use of body cameras and dashboard cameras.
17Morial2. Broken Windows Reform and Implementation of 21st Century Community Policing Models
3. Review and Revision of Police Use of Deadly Force Policies
4. Comprehensive Retraining of All Police Officers
5. Comprehensive review and strengthening of police hiring standards
6. Appointment of special prosecutors to investigate police misconduct
7. Mandatory, uniform FBI reporting and audit of lethal force incidents involving all law enforcement
8. Creation and Audit of National Database of Citizen Complaints against Police
9. Revision of National Police Accreditation System for Mandatory Use by Law Enforcement to be eligible for federal funds
10. National Comprehensive Anti-Racial Profiling LawNow let’s look at the National Action Network’s demands for December 13th:1. We are calling on Congress to have hearings on police misconduct and brutality that will lead to legislation.
2. We are calling on Congress to enact legislation to to address the jurisdictional threshold regarding when the Department of Justice can investigate or prosecute cases of police misconduct.
3. We are calling on Congress to appropriate additional funding for DOJ to fund a designated division to address police misconduct and brutality.
4. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Civil Rights movement was enforced by Congress through legislation with the drafting and passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1965.  We are calling on the current Congress to do what Congress has done in the past.
5. We are calling on concrete actions by Congress that extend beyond this current Administration.………………………………….RELATED: How Police Unions Stopped Congress from Militarization Reform