To achieve lasting reform at police departments, Campaign Zero suggests we take a close look at the fine print of law enforcement contacts and revise language that could unfairly shield cops and perpetuate brutality.
To that end, the advocacy group has joined with ad agency Wieden + Kennedy for "Nix the 6," a multimedia initiative that challenges police union pacts and officers' "bill of rights" agreements for perpetuating the following:
• Short expiration dates on complaints
• Limited oversight and discipline of officers
• The erasure of misconduct records
• The use of public funds to defend misconduct cases
• Preferential access to evidence for implicated officers
• Preferential interrogation procedures
This video focuses on those six areas of concern by presenting excerpts from actual contracts:
Meanwhile, bold billboards make the case on the streets of Chicago:
Exceedingly direct in its approach, the campaign packs a punch by presenting contract language that seems woefully misguided. Why does California expunge police misconduct records after a year? Why would Arlington Heights, Illinois, give cops 48 hours before questioning? Why should punishment for officers in Portland, Ore., be meted out in way "least likely to embarrass" them?
It's all right there in black and white, and it really makes you think. Of course, police unions argue that contracts and bills of rights afford their members necessary protections as they risk their lives serving the public every day. But for many observers, it's tough to understand why cops seem to get special treatment when they stand accused of committing crimes in the line of duty.
"In the wake of this spring's renewed focus on Black Lives Matter, people at W+K New York raised their hands asking if the agency could make supporting meaningful work that addresses systemic injustice a bigger part of day-to-day agency life," says Liz Lee, planning director at the agency. "The idea was born out of a discussion with the Campaign Zero team, which did the research to uncover and decode these police union contracts. They told us, 'When you read them, the clauses just speak for themselves.' It's an immediate reaction to ask, 'Why are they written this way?' when they're so clearly problematic."
W+K worked with YouGov and Kira Systems to develop and refine a data-first appeal, driving traffic to nixthe6.org.
"It was important to Campaign Zero that we made this equally approachable to people just getting involved with police violence activism and also to those already deeply engaged in the cause," says Lee. "We always brought it back to, 'How can we make this speak to my aunt? How can we break it down so that person gets that it's affecting them in their backyard?' "
While reviewing successful creative from activists on social media, "it struck us that we were seeing a lot of 'explainer' videos and other content take off, perhaps because they're providing the type of resources and explanation people are looking for, that have been missing from other sources," Lee adds.
Launched just before a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back, leaving the 29-year-old African American father of three paralyzed from the waist down, the work feels agonizingly of the moment.
"Kenosha has a police officer bill of rights that provides an extra layer that makes accountability for officers even more difficult," notes Campaign Zero co-founder DeRay McKesson. "This is exactly why we started 'Nix the 6.' "