Black Lives Matter activists are pressuring Democrats to embrace the BREATHE Act, which includes a section requiring a “roadmap for prison abolition.”
“The BREATHE Act is a legislative love letter to Black people,” BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors wrote in an op-ed for Teen Vogue on Thursday.
Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts announced the act in July, but it has not been brought before Congress.
Cullors, who has written a letter to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris requesting a meeting, told The Hollywood Reporter she is requesting that the new administration work to pass the BREATHE Act within the first 100 days.
A summary of the act calls for the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services to create a plan that “provides for full decarceration of federal detention facilities within 10 years” and “enacts a moratorium on all new federal prison, jail, immigrant and youth detention construction.
“‘We need to radically reimagine our concept of justice and safety. For too long, we have addressed harm with reciprocal harm,” Cullors wrote in her op-ed.
In addition, the BREATHE Act would create a commission to study reparations, give voting rights to undocumented immigrants, decriminalize all drug offenses, end cooperation with immigration authorities, pilot programs for universal basic income, among other sweeping changes.
In making her pitch for a meeting with the forthcoming administration, Cullors said that Black people had “saved the United States.” She said that the Black Lives Matter global network had direct voter engagement with over 60 million people.
“What is abundantly clear is Black voters tipped the scales in favor of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, especially in Rust Belt battleground states. It’s a testament to our communities that the same people who have been treated the worst by our democracy still showed up to save it,” she wrote in her op-ed.