Spontaneous protests don’t normally have formal lists of demands, and that’s right and good. Nonetheless I was thinking about some things that the current protest movement in America could demand. For a while the idea of “no demands!” was very popular on the left, but these days the strategy of not making clear demands has been co-opted- and is simply used by the liberal intelligentsia to “write in” their own toothless interpretation of what the protest is about, so there is, I think, a virtue in being clear. As an exercise in getting people to think about the possibilities around demands, I came up with a sample list.
In coming up with them I observed a few rules, mostly to keep it from spiraling into a general laundry list of everything wrong with America. Inclusions had to be directly related to the subject matter of the protests, and also had to be things which the capitalist state could, at least in theory- grant. Also, no symbolic or vague demands. I’m putting this out there not because it’s authoritative- I’ve got no clue what I’m talking about- but to get people talking. There is a real power in having a clear program, even if much of it seems unattainable at first.
1. No prosecutions for anyone arrested during the riots, absolutely no exceptions. Doesn’t matter if they just broke a window or if they sent a cop to hospital.
2. Abolish qualified immunity.
3. Abolish cash bail.
4. Any cop who covers over their badge, turns off their body camera etc. to be immediately fired.
5. Investigations of the police to be totally independent of the police.
6. Make police officers having sex with anyone they have under arrest illegal and a form of statutory rape in the 35 states it currently isn’t illegal.
7. Votes for the formerly incarcerated
8. Abolish civil asset forfeiture (or restrict it so much as to almost nothing like the current system).
9. Abolish all three strikes laws and mandatory carceral sentences and minimums.
10. Release a laundry list of people currently incarcerated who obviously shouldn’t be.
11. Abolish sovereign immunity
12. Retrospective compensation for anyone who previously didn’t get it due to qualified immunity, plus retrospective compensation for people subject to all kinds of common injustices- like people denied wrongful imprisonment compensation, people imprisoned frivolously (e.g., Crystal Mason) etc.
13. A national register of cops who have been fired for disciplinary reasons, and a law against anyone rehiring them into a police, security or military role.
14. Back pay for prison slave labor.
15. Votes for the currently incarcerated
16. Every single prisoner (and jail inmate) in the country to have their incarceration status reviewed, with a presumption in favor of non-incarceration.
17. A constituent assembly to rewrite the US constitution in such a way as to make it an actual functioning democracy where riots wouldn’t be required to achieve even the most basic things. That could include things like proportional representation, multi-member electorates etc. which are much harder to gerrymander- no more equal representation for tiny states in the senate, instant runoff voting, no felon disenfranchisement etc.