Reimaging Public Safety with The People's Response Act - Black Lives Matter

Reimaging Public Safety with The People’s Response Act

We are proud to support Congresswoman Cori Bush, a long-time activist for the safety of Black lives with the re-introduction of the People’s Response Act.

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 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 Foundation.

We support the following core components of this legislation: 

  • 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 the People’s Response Act

It’s time to reimagine public safety. Cori Bush’s People’s Response Act gets us closer to our vision.

The People’s Response Act leverages innovative, health-based strategies to transform public safety as we know it, and invests in the support our communities need to thrive. Put simply, the People’s Response Act invests in what we know keeps us safe: Safe communities are resourced communities.

Passing the People’s Response Act would create a federal unit to fund professionally trained first responders, a grant program to fund community-based organizations and their approaches to crisis situations, and a federal body at the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee other non-punitive approaches to public safety.

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Take Action Today

Black Lives Matter supports the People’s Response Act and encourages organizations to co-sponsor the legislation.