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Movement for Black Lives Launches National Campaign Advancing Non-Police Safety Responses to Emergencies

Black leaders in 20 cities across the country will organize for non-police crisis responses to emergencies in service to building safer, healthier communities.
Today, the Movement for Black Lives launched the 2024 People’s Response Campaign: Emergencies in Better Hands, a national campaign aimed at advancing public safety solutions that center the needs and experiences of Black communities by treating community safety as a public health issue.  

Through local organizing initiatives such as the Dream Defender’s Healing and Justice Center, federal policy, and voter engagement, the People’s Response Campaign seeks to end a growing epidemic of police violence against Black and Brown people in crisis by establishing non-carceral mental health responses that Black Americans strongly support. 

The Perspectives on Community Safety from Black America report M4BL released in partnership with GenForward at the University of Chicago, which analyzes data from a comprehensive survey of Black Americans on experiences with policing and perspectives on alternatives to policing and incarceration, found consistent and robust support for alternatives to policing and incarceration among Black communities in the United States, especially when presented with specific solutions that prioritize mental health and violence prevention.  

According to the report, nine in 10 Black Americans would call a mental health crisis center instead of the police, if available in their community. Eighty-six percent expressed support for creating a new agency of first responders that specialize in de-escalation and mental health support. Nearly 68 percent of Black Americans support reinvesting part of their community’s police budgets toward crucial areas, such as health care, education, and housing, while 55 percent support reallocating entire police budgets toward such investments.

“For too long, our people have been forced to turn to police for safety during moments of crisis, only for those encounters to become deadly. A system that meets people in need of care with violence is broken and it’s time for something new,” said Celeste Faison, co-Executive Director for the Movement for Black Lives. “The People’s Response Campaign is a critical shift away from overreliance on policing and incarceration toward a new public safety approach that ensures every community feels safe.” 

This campaign is powered by the People’s Response Campaign Fellows, individuals from 20 Black-led organizations across the country who are building local support for alternative public safety solutions, and leading powerful electoral justice efforts in their communities. The Movement for Black Lives will collaborate with each organization to develop campaigns in their municipalities and counties for community-led safety responses that invest in people’s mental health and wellness while creating real solutions for safety away from policing, jails, and prisons. They will also drive support for the People’s Response Act, the first BREATHE-inspired bill introduced in Congress that would advance a health-centered approach to public safety. 

“We have the power to keep ourselves safe,” said Megan Castillo with Black Lives Matter LA. “With this new partnership, we can develop community-led responses that will have a direct impact on Black lives. We look forward to uplifting the aspirations and experiences of our people to build a better future.”

With a pivotal election fast approaching, this campaign will also focus on building the movement’s electoral power by advancing state ballot initiatives aligned with the Vision for Black Lives, and creating voter engagement strategies that will encourage Black voters to make their voices heard at the ballot box. 

“Our communities are energized and inspired to reimagine public safety in every corner of our country,” said Rukia Lumumba, Director of the Movement for Black Lives’ Electoral Justice Project. “This year, we have the opportunity to build on this momentum and demand a people’s response to public safety at the ballot box. Across this nation we have seen alternatives to police that keep us safe. We have seen community-based programs like credible messengers, violence interrupters and community response hotlines save lives, prevent deaths and stop violence. Yet, we see police violence on the rise with cop cities being created in over 50 cities, escalating police violence against students and professors, increased funding for weapons, and decreased funding for hospitals, healthcare and mental health services. Our work at this moment is critical. We must demand an investment in community led and driven public safety services that prevent violence, care for our loved ones and heal our communities. Now is the time to organize in our communities and at the polls for a people’s response to public safety. ” 

For more information on the People’s Response Campaign, or to schedule interviews with The Movement for Black Lives or the campaign fellows, please contact The Movement for Black Lives is a national network of more than 150 leaders and organizations creating a broad political home for Black people to learn, organize and take action. M4BL includes activists, organizers, academics, lawyers, educators, health workers, artists and more, all unified in a radical vision for Black liberation and working for equity, justice and healing.
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