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Burning Spear News

Black is Back Coalition: Black Community Control of Police in Philly!

Jan 1, 2019
Diop Olugbala

For those who have been following the work of the Black is Back Coalition towards black community control of the police in Philadelphia, you may be familiar with Darrell Clarke, the city council president and district representative for much of north Philly; arguably the city’s largest black district (population-wise). 

Historically, Clarke has been a staunch opponent of Black is Back’s “Black Community Control of Police” (BCCP) initiative.

In February 2016 and again in September 2017, we intervened in city council meetings, calling on them to place our BCCP ordinance on the city council agenda so that it may be voted on to be on the 2019 ballot general elections in November. 

The first time, Clarke refused to respond to the demand openly and called for a meeting with Black is Back, which we attended and left within 10 minutes after it was clear that he was unwilling to support BCCP. He actually said that. 

In 2016, Clarke called the police to arrest us and drug us out of city council chambers. 

Shortly after, Clarke put forth a proposal for the establishment of a so-called “civilian review board” that would “oversee police activity.”

This proposal was actually adopted by city council, however, such a board has no power to hire, fire, train and discipline, as BCCP is calling for; nor is this board representative of the oppressed communities that experience police occupation. 

BCCP is calling for the establishment of a BCCP commission independent of the government, although democratically elected by the residents within black community police districts—those districts where the population is at least 40 percent black (whether Spanish or English-speaking).

This commission would function on a block, neighborhood and district-wide level. It’s main task must be to:  

A. Police the police 


B. Liberate resources and wealth expropriated from the black community by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), city government and all foreign petty and capitalist merchants—and redirect those resources to feed, clothe and house, while facilitating economic development for the black community. 

This article refers to a new proposal from Clarke for implementation of a new class of police officers whose task would be primarily to document traffic violations. 

The concept is an assault on the idea of black self-determination and will only serve to deepen the exploitation of black workers in Philadelphia through trumped up traffic fines. 

Moreover, it is evidence that it is possible for city council to introduce reforms within the police department and to actually support and implement BCCP—if it wanted to. 

The fact that city council has thus far been unwilling to support BCCP is evidence of the fact that they are opposed to genuine political power in the hands of black workers, independent of the Democratic party and the will of the white capitalist ruling class. 

Nonetheless, Black is Back is working at neck-breaking speed to not only win the struggle for the adoption of the BCCP ordinance on a democratic and public policy level, but on a genuinely independent level where we have successfully constructed a BCCP commission based on the workers, serving as the hammer and the fist through which the black community may crush the military occupation while constructing economic development through the seizure of our stolen resources.

This work must occur around the world—wherever African workers are confronted with colonial exploitation at the point of the pigs’ assault rifle. 

From Freetown to Philly!

Black community Control of Police!

All Power to the African Working Class!



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