On Tuesday (July 7), Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley introduced The Breathe Act, presented in partnership by the Movement for Black Lives. The announcement arrived during a virtual press conference hosted by Marc Lamont Hill, which featured Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors, Rep. Tlaib, the mothers of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and more, as well as a short performance by John Legend.
According to Movement for Black Lives, The Breathe Act proposes “a radical reimagining of public safety, community care and how we spend money as a society.” The legislature includes divesting federal funds from incarceration and policing systems, investing in new community safety initiates that protect Black lives, allocating funds for sustainable and equitable communities and holding politicians accountable to “enhance the self-determination of all Black communities.”
The proposed bill would also abolish the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, reduce the Department of Defense budget, end mandatory minimum prison sentencing and life sentences, eliminate discriminatory surveillance technology and more.
“We stand on the shoulders of giants and there has been 400 years of work that Black people have done to try to get us closer to freedom,” Cullors said, per the Philadelphia Enquirer. “This moment is a watershed moment. I think this moment calls for structural change and transformative change in ways that we haven’t seen in a very long time. We see this opportunity to push for the BREATHE Act as a part of what we’re calling the modern-day civil rights act.”
The legislation also notes that The Breathe Act is being proposed in honor of “the lives of those stolen by police and state-sanctioned violence — Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Natasha McKenna, George Floyd, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Elijah McClain, Pearlie Golden, Kayla Moore, Freddie Gray, Atatiana Jefferson, Oscar Grant and far too many more.”
The Movement for Black Lives is a coalition of over 150 organizations. Watch Rep. Tlaib, Cullors and more unveil the proposed bill below.