Community Control

Our current system of governance was not designed for Black, working class, or other oppressed people to be able to participate meaningfully in making decisions about our communities. This system empowers the voices of white folks and wealthy people with access and control over capital- which means that marginalized communities are treated as sites for exploitation and economic speculation.

“We believe in the self-determination of Black people and other marginalized communities. We believe that nothing about us without us is for us, and therefore advocate that our communities seek out opportunities to build a city that values direct participatory democracy.”

-CCJ Points of Unity

Creating a truly democratic city requires institutions that embody popular oversight and hold real decision making power; community-based infrastructure for education, organizing, and action around intervening in day-to-day governance; and broadly building the independent political power and organization of our people to govern ourselves.

Building on our experience here in Chattanooga and following the leadership and example of folks throughout the Movement for Black Lives and Southern Movement Assembly, we are advancing two concrete models for transforming power relations- Community Control of the Police and Participatory Budgeting -and a general orientation to how we do our organizing- building independent political power.

Community Control of the Police

We demand an effective Civilian Oversight Board of Chattanooga Police and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department.

As Chattanooga’s history and recent events make clear, the police are not willing or capable of policing themselves. The existing “Citizen Administrative Review Committee,” which city officials claim creates democratic oversight, has no real power outside of offering advisory opinions on the investigations done by police Internal Affairs.

To be effective, this civilian oversight body must have the power to:

  • determine budgets, policies, and procedures
  • hire, fire, and discipline officers
  • do independent investigation (including subpoena power)

Participatory Budgeting

For years now, CCJ along with community members and organizations all over the city have been demanding a break from the practice of neo-liberal policy that constantly cuts funding for community programs and services while consistently prioritizing policing, criminalization, and social control. We demand community control over City resources through participatory budgeting.

Through Spring and Summer of 2017, CCJ will be educating, agitating, and organizing to intervene in the city’s budgeting process. We aim to:

  • Force broad transparency and public participation
  • Cause divestment from policing and surveillance
  • Build investment in community-based resources and solutions.

Independent Political Power

Because the systems we live under were not built for Black, working class, and other oppressed people to make the decisions that affect their lives, we believe it takes work for communities to be able to speak for themselves. We are building infrastructure to do:

  • broad popular education on State violence, the Chattanooga budget, and the priorities and actions of city leaders;
  • agitation around the harmful systems of criminalization, mass-suveillance, and gentrification – and promoting community-based solutions to poverty and safety;
  • organizing to engage communities in building democratic bodies and practices for setting priorities, budgets, and policies in the city – these include:

CHA Peoples’ Agenda: Public Safety Demands

From our networks:

Movement for Black Lives

Community Control

We demand a world where those most impacted in our communities control the laws, institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us – from our schools to our local budgets, economies, police departments, and our land – while recognizing that the rights and histories of our Indigenous family must also be respected. This includes:

  1. Direct democratic community control of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, ensuring that communities most harmed by destructive policing have the power to hire and fire officers, determine disciplinary action, control budgets and policies, and subpoena relevant agency information.
  2. An end to the privatization of education and real community control by parents, students and community members of schools including democratic school boards and community control of curriculum, hiring, firing and discipline policies.
  3. Participatory budgeting at the local, state and federal level.

Southern Movement Assembly

Peoples’ Democracy Initiative for Power

Creating genuine democratic practices is at the heart of the Southern Movement Assembly.

In 2017, As civic & public infrastructure is systematically dismantled, communities are coordinating grassroots democratic spaces and governance practices to exercise power.

While we continue to challenge legal barriers to political participation, expand civic engagement beyond the vote, organize voter education and mobilization campaigns to include communities that are most marginalized, we will also practice local and neighborhood assemblies that deepen our public and civic engagement year-round.