Why Black Lives Matters Is Taking on Police Unions

Emmanuel, Adeshina
Date Written:  2016-07-22
Publisher:  In These Times
Year Published:  2016
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX19837

Black Lives Matter argues that the police associations have to be challenged head-on because of their power in preventing change.



As evidence, activists point to the outsized role that police unions often play in national politics, as well as a special set of protections, granted to officers through union contracts and state “police officer bill of rights” laws, that may help insulate them from accountability. The fact that police are empowered to use deadly force on the job makes them different from teachers or firefighers—and their unions' success in securing far-reaching contract provisions that effectively block public oversight puts them in a different category from other beleagued public-sector unions.


According to BYP100 member Jewel Cadet, a 28-year-old Brooklyn native, the action had two goals: to demand the firing of a cop recently involved in the shooting of an unarmed black motorist and to draw broader attention to the ways that unions cover up police crimes. In addition to contract protections that critics say create a web of obstacles to executing timely, effective and thorough investigations, police unions sometimes disseminate information that is false or misleading.
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