Co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Cullors, addressed the Democratic National Convention’s party platform committee Monday and excoriated Democratic party leaders over their platform’s lack of solutions to racial injustice and inequality and demanded radical “sea changes” be made ahead of the August nominating event.
Axios reports that Cullors gave a “searing message” to Democrats who, thus far, have resisted the urge to endorse defunding, dismantling, or otherwise marginalizing law enforcement in any official way, and cited the late Rep. John Lewis, who was honored at the United States Capitol Monday, as an inspiration for the party.
“Without the sea changes our movement recommended for the 2020 Democratic platform, any claims to allyship and solidarity with our work to fight for Black liberation are for naught,” Cullors told the panel. “Without making the necessary recommitments and revisions, can any of you here truly stand up and say, ‘My party is the party of principles?’”
Cullors and others, Axios notes, are pushing a radical party reformation agenda called the “BREATHE Act,” which demands not only a full defunding of law enforcement but the elimination of the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, and most federal prison programs.
The proposal calls for an end to life sentences, timeline to close all federal prisons, and a plan to repeal “federal laws that criminalize human movement and border entry.” It demands that states repeal all existing juvenile offenses, that police be stripped of search and surveillance powers, and removing police from most community posts, including from schools.
The BREATHE Act wants the Department of Justice and Department of Defense largely defunded and that money redirected to “community” programs addressing poverty, to fund free health care (including free abortion services), and to address climate change.
The measure also demands reparations.
The DNC’s platform committee did not respond favorably to Cullors’ agenda and refused to consider her proposals.
“In a call after her remarks, Cullors told Axios she had proposed ‘about 10′ amendments spanning criminal justice, reforms to the legal system, policing, education, the environment, and reparations. All of her amendments were rejected without a vote.”
Cullors later told the outlet that she and others are playing the long game, and believe that they can eventually push Democrats to embrace some of their agenda items, particularly if presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden takes the White House in November.
DNC platform talks have been oddly contentious, particularly for a party that insists its working on bringing warring factions — progressives and moderates — together on an agenda the full contingent of delegates can support. On Monday, nearly 400 delegates affiliated with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said they would resist plans to moderate the party’s platform and could vote against the committee’s document if Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan is not included in the final product.