Campaign Zero


Issue Area:

Left-Wing Law Enforcement Reform



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Campaign Zero, a project of We the Protesters, is a policing policy  movement associated with the broader Black Lives Matter movement which aims to reduce police violence. The organization provides a platform to disseminate existing research to derive best practices to reduce policing-related deaths. 1

Campaign Zero was founded by DeRay Mckesson and Samuel Sinyangwe, two activists connected to Black Lives Matter, who have co-founded a dozen programs and organizations dedicated to opposing the police. 2 Campaign Zero was publicly announced by interrupting numerous political events, including a campaign rally for then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and by a manifesto sent to The Guardian detailing its policy proposals. 3

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, ActBlue Charities, a pass-through fundraising organization for left-of-center nonprofits, raised money for Campaign Zero. 4


End Broken Window Policing

Campaign Zero advocates the end of “broken window” policing tactics. First popularized by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), “broken window” theory is a strategic framework which encourages police to aggressively enforce minor laws like loitering, drug possession, and vandalism, so as to create an atmosphere of zero-tolerance to disincentivize higher-profile criminal activity, like murder. 5 Campaign Zero believes that the policy creates a hostile law enforcement atmosphere and leads to more police encounters with the potential for abuse. 6

Community Oversight

Campaign Zero advocates for the establishment of new government bureaucracies to monitor the police on behalf of civilians. Specifically, it calls for a Police Commission and Civilian Complaints Office to be established for every major police force. 7

Limit Use of Force

Campaign Zero advocates for creating new and stricter standards for when and how the police may use force with the goal of reducing the number of civilian injuries and accidental deaths. 8

Independent Investigations and Prosecutions

Campaign Zero advocates for permitting more investigations and prosecutions of police matters to be conducted by third parties. Specifically, it proposes lowering the standards to allow federal investigators to look into police abuse cases, and for each state to create its own Special Prosecutor’s Office for police matters. 9

Community Representations

Campaign Zero advocates for changing the racial composition of police departments to reflect more closely the populations in which they work. The movement’s website points out that white men are especially overrepresented in the police force and that some research shows that black police officers are less likely to kill black suspects. 10

Body Cams/Film the Police

Campaign Zero advocates for the universal use of body cameras for all police and greater regulations on their use and maintenance. It also encourages laws to permit the filming of police by third parties. 11


Campaign Zero advocates for more rigorous and standardized training for the police, including an emphasis on de-escalation and the controversial theory of “implicit bias.” 12

End For-Profit Policing

Campaign Zero advocates for eliminating or reducing any policies which create financial incentives for police work including civil asset forfeiture, ticket quotas, and petty fines. 13


Campaign Zero advocates for removing military-grade hardware from police departments by ending federal weapons grants to local police forces and establishing restrictions on purchases. 14

Fair Police Contracts

Campaign Zero advocates for reforming police union contracts to permit easier investigations into conduct and more transparency on individual police records. 15


During the organization’s early years, Campaign Zero published research on police conduct. In 2015, it released a report on the prevalence of body camera usage in America’s 30 largest cities. Of the cities, 17 had body camera policies, and only two cities had more than half of their police wear body cams. 16

In 2016, Campaign Zero released a study on the contents of police contracts and police officer “bill of rights” legislation. The study claimed that most current contracts and legislation permit an excessive degree of privacy and protection which shields police from misconduct investigations. 17

Later in 2016, Campaign Zero published a study examining the use of force in the police departments of America’s 100 largest cities. The study found that the average police department only used three out of the eight restrictions on the use of force that Campaign Zero suggests, and that the use of more of these policies was inversely correlated with deaths. As a result, by Campaign Zero’s judgment, police overuse of force is systematic in the US, with only nine of the hundred largest cities experienced no police-caused deaths over the prior year. 18 The eight restrictions on the use of force are now promoted by #8cantwait, a project of Campaign Zero. 19


DeRay Mckesson is a former Teach for America sixth-grade teacher based in New York City20 and a former Democratic mayoral candidate for the city of Baltimore. 21

Samuel Sinyangwe is a data scientist who primarily studies police violence. He used to work for PolicyLink, a radical left-leaning nonprofit, in PolicyLink’s Promise Neighborhoods Institute, a national network of community support systems to provide “cradle-to-career” assistance to low income individuals.

Besides Campaign Zero, Mckesson and Singyangwe have co-founded eleven organizations, projects, and movements together under We the Protesters:

  • The National Police Violence Map
  • Police Use of Force Project
  • The Names
  • Police Accountability Tool
  • Check the Police
  • Activist Toolkit: Signs
  • Activist Toolkit: Chants
  • The Demands
  • Protest Progress
  • The National Trendline
  • Stay Woke


  1. “Planning Team.” Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  2. “Our Work.” We the Protestors. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  3. Swaine, Jon; Gambino, Lauren; Laughland, Oliver. “Protesters unveil demands for stricter US policing laws as political reach grows.” Guardian. August 21, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  4. “Phi Sigma Epsilon Nu Fundraiser for Campaign Zero.” Act Blue. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  5. Sterbenz, Christina. “How New York City Became Safe Again.” Business Insider. December 2, 2014. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  6. “End Broken Window Policing.” Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  7. “Community Oversight.” Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  8. “Use of Force.” Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  9. “Independent Investigations and Prosecutions.” Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  10. “Community Representation.” Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  11. “Film the Police/Body Cams.” Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  12. “Training.” Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  13. “End For-Profit Policing.” Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  14. “Demilitarization.” Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  15. “Fair Police Contracts. Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  16. “Tracking Body Camera Implementation.” Campaign Zero. November 2, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  17. “Police Union Contracts and Police Bill of Rights Analysis.” Campaign Zero. June 2016. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  18. “Policy Analysis.” Campaign Zero. September 20, 2016. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  19. “#8cantwait.” 8cantwait. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  20. “Planning Team.” Campaign Zero. Accessed June 7, 2020.
  21. Broadwater, Luke. “DeRay Mckesson files to run in Baltimore mayoral race.” Baltimore Sun. February 3, 2016. Accessed June 7, 2020.

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