If you’ve been paying attention to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization and movement over the last year, it will come as no surprise that BLM associated activist Sean King has released a long list of demands for a potential incoming Biden administration. The Grassroots Law Project, an arm of King’s The Action political action committee (PAC), outlined the demands for Biden on its website, Biden Justice Demands. They fall under a few general categories: impacting local police departments, immigration, legal system reforms, and budget. Here are some of the demands that stood out.
Local Police Departments
Sean King’s organization is asking a Biden administration to “Make an immediate public commitment to bring justice to every police brutality case that came before the DOJ during the Trump administration including the cases of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many more.” In other words, they want a specific outcome – for the police involved in those cases to be prosecuted and convicted. The group also seeks to go back to Obama-era consent decree policies with local law enforcement and expand their use. Consent decrees were used by the Obama administration to bring the federal government into local policing at every level of detail. Tied to the increase of the federal government’s role in local policing, they demand the DOJ Criminal Division be “drastically” expanded to prosecute police and prison guard misconduct and hate crimes.
The Grassroots Law Project is still asking for the “dismantling” of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They are also demanding the end of returning asylum seekers to Mexico, fully repealing the “Muslim ban,” and increasing immigration amnesty. The group wants a Biden Administration to end the prosecution of first-time illegal entry cases and “narrow the reasons for deportation, limiting it to only those cases where the individual poses a serious risk to the community’s physical safety.”
Legal System and Prison Reform
One demand seeks to appoint current, and former public defenders and civil rights attorneys are appointed to multiple positions, including federal judges, US Attorneys, and even the Attorney General. They want major changes in sentencing and commuting sentences. Some of these include granting pardons to all people in federal prison incarcerated on drug charges and to consider granting pardons to anyone who has served ten years in custody, no matter their sentence. They also want commutations to time served for anyone in federal prison over the age of 55.
Citing a “growing standard of cities across the country,” the group demands the end federal drug possession case prosecutions. They want to change the age a person can be tried as an adult from the age of 18 to 21 and use drug courts and mental health courts as a substitute to prosecution. As other groups on the left demand more federal gun control laws, King’s organization wants to, “End federal prosecutions of gun possession cases where the most serious charge is possession of a single weapon; allow states to handle them. The federal government charges these cases federally only to increase the minimum required punishment.”
The Grassroots Law Project wants a Biden administration to “prioritize change to the criminal legal system”. To do this, they propose grants to local jurisdictions and states to invest in: alternatives to policing including unarmed first responders, alternatives to incarceration including restorative justice, and systems to track and make public all criminal justice data including police contacts and arrests. They are also demanding, “Fully fund the federal departments, staffs, and programs that will be tasked throughout the government with conviction integrity review, police and prosecutor accountability.” Finally, they want the ending of grants to local police departments to create specialized units and for the federal government to stop giving resources and local police under 1033 agreements.