Black Lives Matter is fighting against a New Jersey bill seeking to teach young children the best way to interact with law enforcement officers.
The bill, Assembly bill A-1114, already unanimously passed the New Jersey Assembly, Heat Street reported Tuesday. The bill, which forces schools to teach kids how to deal with officers, is similar to “The Talk” black parents usually give their children on how to avoid bad confrontations with the police.
Black Lives Matter New Jersey is rallying against the measure, saying it would just provide an excuse for more police brutality. Rather than trying to hold police officers accountable, the bill shifts the blame on citizens, a BLM organizer said.
“This bill is clearly designed to create a scapegoat for police brutality, and that scapegoat is New Jersey’s children,” BLM New Jersey organizer Alexis Miller said. “It does nothing to address the laws already in place that protect the immense power of police departments. Students … children are expected to master the idea of respectability politics in order to protect themselves from officers.”
The group even launched a petition calling on state senators to vote against the bill and various activists protested outside the Statehouse Friday.
“We want the public to really look at this bill and see it for what it is,”Akin Olla, an organizer for the Tubman-Hampton Collective, said, according to Philly.com. “If it does nothing beyond a civics lesson [about making] the streets safer for everyone, it’s pointless.”
The bill has been updated since it was first introduced in 2016. Previously, it only focused on how children should act around police officers. The American Civil Liberties Union helped add a part that teaches students about their rights, how officers should act around them and complaint filing.
“The bill has come a long way in its current form from where it was,” said Portia Allen-Kyle, a ACLU New Jersey lawyer. “As it stands now, we feel that there is an opportunity here to really empower students and educate them about their rights.”
The Democrat assemblywoman who co-sponsored the bill said she is just trying to help children.
“Look, I’m just trying to save lives,” said Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver.
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