Racial justice leaders, youth advocates and policy experts call on lawmakers to advance a community safety agenda that addresses root causes of violence and harm in their communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Movement for Black Lives, Color of Change, The Futures Institute and March for Our Lives, in partnership with the Community Safety Working Group, met with congressional lawmakers to explore policy solutions like The People’s Response Act that will create safer communities for all Americans. 

During the congressional briefing, youth organizers and Black movement leaders from across the country shared stories and presented data in support of a new approach to community safety that prevents harm, responds to crises and stops violence without increasing dependence on policing and prisons. 

Youth activists with March for Our Lives and Students Deserve who are leading powerful violence prevention efforts in their communities discussed new school programs that have already saved countless lives, and urged lawmakers to replicate these solutions nationally. 

“The impact will be hundreds of thousands of young people who were never cared for receiving the nurture that all children deserve,” said Amir Casimir, a youth organizer with Students Deserve. “I remember almost getting expelled for having a barbecue lighter at school. Rather than being threatened with voluntary probation and/or arrest, a young student like myself would be afforded counseling, or intervention, or even just respect or understanding of the circumstance.”

Recent data supports Amir and his peers’ calls for alternative crisis responses. Dr. Cathy Cohen and Dr. Kumar Ramanathan with GenForward Research at the University of Chicago explored findings from the Perspectives on Community Safety from Black America report, which analyzes data from a comprehensive survey of Black Americans on experiences with and perspectives on alternatives to policing and incarceration. The data suggests consistent and robust support for alternatives to policing and incarceration among Black communities in the United States, especially when presented with specific solutions that prioritize mental health and violence prevention. 

To realize their shared vision for community safety, leaders with the Movement for Black Lives called on Congress to advance a federal legislative agenda that would increase federal investments in people and communities, not policing and prisons: the Community Safety Agenda. With landmark legislation including The Mental Health Justice Act, The Break The Cycle of Violence Act, and The People’s Response Act, passing the Community Safety Agenda would be a critical first step to transforming public safety for all. 

“Our communities are not just demanding bold action from their elected officials, we are already developing community-based programs that keep us safe, from 911 alternatives to mental health services,” said Dr. Amara Enyia, Director for Policy and Research at the Movement for Black Lives.” We know that these solutions work, and we know that we can do more to defend Black lives. Congress has an opportunity to make a historic investment in our survival and safety by passing the People’s Response Act.” 

The People’s Response Act is the first BREATHE-inspired bill introduced in Congress that would advance a health-centered approach to public safety. The bill, which would make critical investments in policing alternatives that center violence prevention and mental health, has earned support from more than 70 advocacy organizations and several House Democrats, including Reps. Cori Bush (MO-01), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), and Katie Porter (CA-47), Lloyd Doggett, Lloyd (TX-37), Valerie Foushee (NC-4), Jonathan Jackson, (IL-1) and Robert Garcia (CA-42). 

“We have to listen to folks who are on the ground and doing the work. We are all that we have all too often,” said Jillian Burford, Policy Organizer with Harriet’s Wildest Dreams. “This funding would be life-changing. It could help us in our schools, churches, and recreation centers. D.C. has a very unique identity of statelessness and would benefit from having the full support of the federal government to keep our folks safe.”

For more information about the Community Safety Agenda, or to schedule interviews with The Movement for Black Lives, please contact

The Movement for Black Lives is a national network of more than 150 leaders and organizations creating a broad political home for Black people to learn, organize and take action. M4BL includes activists, organizers, academics, lawyers, educators, health workers, artists and more, all unified in a radical vision for Black liberation and working for equity, justice and healing.