The 2018 Charter Amendment for a strengthened police commission is back for 2020.
Please join a short-term “push,” over the next two months, to get the amendment on the ballot. Community members will meet for an hour on Sunday afternoon September 15 to get organized for action.
This push will not require you to go door-to-door or get signatures on petitions. It will not require raising money.
All that is necessary is for you to talk to people you already know, in your organization, congregation, union, club, or family and friends, and persuade them to write the city council and mayor to vote the measure onto the 2020 ballot.
Please join us for a brief discussion
At this meeting we will give an overview of the proposed ballot initiative and share suggested talking points for Council outreach. We’ll leave plenty of time for questions and answers.
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- We came very close to getting the charter amendment on the city ballot last summer, but at the last minute the city council did not take up the issue. This failure was bound up with the extended meet-and-confer process, and the intense counter-attack by those who prefer the status quo of ineffective civilian oversight.
- A year later the meet and confer process appears to be winding down. A number of Council members have promised to put a version of the amendment on next year’s ballot. This is the version crafted by Mayor Arreguin and Councilmember Harrison. It is the tamest of all the versions bruited about last year, but still stronger than the current toothless Police Review Commission (PRC). The main advance is that it would remove community oversight from the domain of the City Manager, resolving a clear conflict of interest as the CM is the leader of the police force as well as overseeing the PRC. Also, it provides the PRC confidential access to internal department data as necessary to fulfill its role.
- Any initiative drive has two phases. The first one, qualifying for the ballot, is critical. If Council votes the amendment onto the November 2020 ballot this fall, they will ensure that the public has a chance to vote for police accountability. A coalition of community groups that has been working on this issue, the Racism and Criminal Justice Reform (RCJR) group, is not taking anything for granted. We are planning a fall drive to inundate Council members with messages demanding they strengthen civilian oversight of the police.
Who is organizing this push?
- The RCJR is a coalition of organizations and individuals with a long history of anti-racist and police accountability work. It includes members of Indivisible Berkeley, the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, and local chapters of the NAACP and the ACLU, among others. Alongside the charter amendment campaign, we are involved with the ongoing campaign for the City of Berkeley to take swift and effective action to overcome racial disparities in policing.
What is our immediate objective?
- RCJR has a very realizable goal of organizing five hundred or more Berkeleyans to write or call Council in the next two months. A thousand messages would be overwhelmingly effective. We need to contact all nine Council members including the mayor, taking no one for granted. Their promises aside, we know that political leaders are subject to pressure from all sides. We must deluge the Council members to ensure they remember their promises. Phone calls, emails, letters, office visits, council meeting comments, all help get the message across.
Thanks for your participation in this historic campaign. Always remember that this is a simple matter of justice. Public safety requires the trust of the community, and a certain knowledge that policing is done impartially. This moderate initiative will enhance public accountability and improve the policing experience for everyone involved.
Contact RCJR at: