The People’s Response Act represents a wholesale shift toward health-based approaches to keep Black people safe.
Washington, D.C. — Last week, Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01), along with Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jan Schakowsky (IL-06), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), families impacted by state-sanctioned violence, Shalomyah Bowers (Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation Board Member), and movement leaders reintroduced the People’s Response Act, seminal legislation that would push forward an inclusive, holistic, and health-centered approach to public safety by creating a public safety division within the United States Department of Human Health and Services — because communities and experts agree that public safety is a matter of public health. Not only is public safety a matter of public health, approaching public safety through a lens that is guided and steeped in community is the type of legislation that will ultimately help save Black lives across the country. The People’s Response Act removes power from the hands of law enforcement who disproportionately police, oppress, and murder Black people nationwide.
“In 2020, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others shed light on the consistent failures of our current public safety model to protect Black lives and communities. From mental health crises to substance use, the current public safety system prioritizes retribution and criminalization in situations where care should and must be valued,” said Shalomyah Bowers, a board member for the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.
Growing into the largest racial and social justice movement in history, Black Lives Matter’s vision of Black liberation has resonated with communities across the country. Using this event to move us toward a transformative moment, Black Lives Matter supports the People’s Response Act and encourages organizations to co-sponsor the legislation. As Black Lives Matter continues to grow and push for an abolitionist approach to public safety, we are proud to support Congresswoman Cori Bush, a long-time activist for the safety of Black lives.
Beatrice X Johnson, co-founder of the Love Not Blood Campaign and Families United For4 Justice Network, said, “As an organization that unfortunately has a database of over 800 people that have been impacted by the loss of a loved one due to state-sanctioned and vigilante violence, we are united in our support of The People’s Response Act because we want to see an increase in qualified professional approaches to community safety and welfare. It is time that we save lives and begin to practice loyalty to humanity.”
The core components of this legislation are as followed:
- Create a Division on Community Safety within HHS to fund, conduct, and coordinate research, technical assistance, and grant programs related to non-carceral, health-centered investments in public safety;
- Launch a federal first responders unit to support states and local governments with emergency health crises;
- Promote alternative approaches to public safety, including coordination of research and policies that are being implemented across HHS and other agencies to center health-based and non-carceral responses throughout the federal government;
- Provide $11 billion in grant funding to state and local governments, as well as community-based organizations, to fully fund public safety and improve crisis response; and
- Establish a $2.5 billion First Responder Hiring Grant to create thousands of jobs and provide funding to state, local, and tribal governments, as well as community organizations, to hire emergency first responders such as licensed social workers, mental health counselors, substance use counselors, and peer support specialists, to improve crisis response and increase non-carceral, health-based approaches to public safety.
About Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation
Our mission is to work inside and outside of the system to heal the past, re-imagine the present, and invest in the future of Black lives through policy change, education, healing justice, and a commitment to the arts. Our vision is to imagine a world where Black people across the diaspora thrive, experience joy, and are not defined by their struggles.