LBS draws our perspective on the work of police accountability from the Black radical traditions. Law enforcement and the overreaching carceral system are instruments of white supremacy’s assault on the humanity of Black people. From this analysis there are two major guiding priorities that ground our advocacy on police accountability.
The first is that we must weaken the ability of law enforcement to operate insulated from public oversight. The legacy of COINTELPRO, and the role of local law enforcement in undermining and disrupting Black social movements, in addition to its overall lack of regard for the humanity of Black people through police brutality and violation of our rights, requires that the public have mechanisms to oversee law enforcement to deter its ability to operate without pushback from the public. The ability to operate in secret is a large element of the power of law enforcement to function as a threat to the humanity of Black people. This is why LBS has prioritized legislation that allows public access to police disciplinary records.
Our second grounding principle of our work on police accountability is community control. The best deterrent of police abuse is giving the community power over the institutions that govern our lives. The call for community control is an extension of the history of Black radicals who understood that the solution to police brutality was not making pleas for white people to recognize our humanity, but to fight for the power to punish those who do harm to our community.