The Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLM) has proudly served as one of the 13 community and civil rights organizations co-sponsoring AB 392, The California Act to Save Lives, a bill authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) to address police brutality and violence by updating California’s deadly use-of-force law. BLM has worked closely with the lawmaker and coalition partners to ensure that the legislation responds to and aligns with our communities and families impacted by police violence. BLM and its chapters, including BLMLA, worked to build momentum around the bill, especially within communities of color. BLMLA chapter lead, Melina Abdullah, states, “We knew that it would be an uphill battle, especially with police associations opposing the bill. Unfortunately, in efforts to get law enforcement to lift their opposition, the bill was so significantly amended that it is no longer the kind of meaningful legislation we can support”. As a result, BLM has withdrawn as a co-sponsor of the bill.
BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors states, “While BLM applauds the lawmakers, the organizations, and, especially, the families of those killed by police who have worked to move policy forward and help to change the culture of policing in California, we now have deep concerns with the amendments taken to the bill.”
The bill was initially written to do three things: 1) change the police use-of-force standard from “reasonable” to “necessary,” 2) require de-escalation by police officers, and 3) hold officers who violate these criminally liable. Amendments to the bill significantly weaken all three of these provisions, and, by virtually all analyses, provides the greatest guidance during litigation or after someone has been killed by police, instead of working to prevent police killings and the devaluation of human life within our communities, which was our intention. In addition to the amendments to the bill, the tethering together of AB 392 and SB 230, introduced by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) and supported by police associations, calls for increased budget allocation for law enforcement. This is in direct contradiction with BLM’s call for divestment from police and investment in local communities.
Unfortunately, as now written, AB 392 does not provide the kind of substantive change that we imagined when the process began. While we are aware that AB 392 will likely pass without us, we feel compelled to take a strong stance consistent with our commitment to our communities to ensure police accountability and divestment from the police. Despite different approaches with some of our partners, we look forward to continuing our work together. We deeply appreciate the vision, leadership, and courage of Assemblymember Weber and hope to work together on other efforts.