Over the next few months we’ll be highlighting some of the groups that are working with Oakland Alliance to take power for the people in the 2016 elections. First up: Black Organizing Project, or BOP. BOP has been instrumental in our early organizing efforts and played a leadership role in our November electoral strategy forum. In their own words:
The Black Organizing Project is a Black member-led organization working for racial, social, and economic justice through grassroots organizing and community building. We work for meaningful policy change and develop Black leaders in the Bay Area. Most of all we believe in transformative leadership that challenges us to think of new alternatives that allow us to dream of a world free of state violence. Our campaign focus has been on the criminalization and mass incarceration of Black people, specifically as it relates to the school to prison pipeline. We believe that the presence of police does not equal safety. We have always been committed to removing police from schools, and have won several reforms that limit the power and role of police in schools which include:
- A Police Complaint Policy and Procedure that allows students, parents, teachers and community members to report any complaints against the Oakland School Police Department.
- A Memorandum of Understanding between the Oakland Police department and OUSD that limits the role of Oakland Police that were placed in school OUSD the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant.
- A school board policy that defines the role of administration vs police in matters of school discipline and requires parent concept before questioning any Oakland Student by police.
- Elimination of willful defiance, a policy that disproportionately suspends Black boys and girls, criminalizing things as simple as questioning a teacher.
- Redistribution of over 2 million dollars to be invested in restorative justice, prevention and mentoring programs.
Last year we demanded a cap on the police budget and were met with tremendous opposition. We will continue to pursue the goal of police divestment but it must be led by Black parents and students, even if that takes time. BOP is committed to organizing those most impacted. Funding should be invested in initiatives and programs that bring dignity to people, rather than those that criminalize as a way to control. If you want to help us these are ways you can support our work:
- Help with monitoring the implementation of the policies we have won in the last 3 years and,
- Put police removal from school campuses on the table to our school board candidates. Challenge our candidates to put real investment and value in alternatives that do not rely on policing but rather preventative programs that address the needs and lives of OUSD students, particularly Black children.
If you are interested in getting involved you can learn more about us on our website: blackorganizingproject.org or contact Organizing Director Reggie Harris Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.