Campaign Zero: Black Lives Matter activists release police reform platform

Last week, Good Magazine released video of Hillary Clinton’s meeting with Black Lives Matter activists, revealing more than many expected as to Clinton’s line of thinking on race relations and police reform. For instance, when pressed on whose responsibility it was to change America’s culture of anti-black violence, Clinton, visibly frustrated, suggested a cooler, pragmatic, political approach:

Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way system operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But, at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems to create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them.

This came after repeatedly suggesting to the activists that if they wanted to succeed in their movement to end police brutality, they’d have to put forward a policy platform. If their appeal is simply to end racism, she argued, it’ll be easy for politicians (like her) to write #BlackLivesMatter on Facebook and otherwise ignore them.

Last Friday, the movement produced that platform, launching Campaign Zero and outlining ten policy proposals that, if implemented, would dramatically reduce the number of Americans killed by the police every year. And there’s massive room for improvement; America’s police have killed at least 763 civilians so far this year, an unacceptably high number.

Here’s what they want:

End Broken Windows Policing

Pioneered by Rudy Giuliani in New York City, broken windows policing assumes that if you aggressively police low-level offenses like loitering and playing loud music disturbing the peace, law and order will trickle up. Not only has that theory not worked out in practice, but it has directly contributed to both exploding prison populations and numerous deaths. Eric Garner, for instance, was choked to death after being confronted by Staten Island police for selling loose cigarettes.

Establish Civilian Oversight

Black Lives Matter, via Gerry Lauzon / Flickr

Black Lives Matter, via Gerry Lauzon / Flickr

Participatory mechanisms that establish a direct citizen check on governmental procedures can be an effective way to produce meaningful reform when government responsiveness is lacking. This can be as true for policing as it can be for budgeting. Modeled after a similar effort in Chicago that ultimately stalled, in large part due to lack of institutional support, Campaign Zero has called for citizen oversight of and input in police policy. This plank on their platform also calls for the establishment of Civilian Complaints Offices, which would receive and investigate claims made against the police instead of the police departments themselves.

Limit Use of Force

This one is pretty self-explanatory: Police departments currently have wide latitude to justify use of force, and Campaign Zero wants stricter standards on when force is justified. Additionally, the campaign calls for a clearer set of reporting standards in cases when force is used, as the data on such cases is unacceptably (and perhaps intentionally) spotty.

Independent Investigations and Prosecutions

Prosecuting the police is paradoxically tricky, the classic “who’s watching the watchers?” problem. To address this, Campaign Zero calls for the establishment of a permanent Special Prosecutor’s Office, lower standards for Department of Justice investigations (which currently require proof that officers “willfully” deprived citizens’ rights) and a mandatory inquiry into any case in which a civilian is killed or seriously injured — either before or after being taken into custody.


Police forces should be, when possible, representative of the communities they serve. It’s a simple enough concept that is almost never followed. While it’s unreasonable to expect perfect representation in a profession that may not attract a representative sample of the population, Campaign Zero calls on police forces to at least come up with a plan to increase the number of officers from underrepresented communities.

Body Cameras/Film the Police

Having police interactions on film doesn’t prevent violence, but if recent cases are any indication it is necessary if one hopes to successfully prosecute officers who use force unjustifiably. To this end, Campaign Zero calls for increased use body cameras and for police to be prohibited from taking and/or destroying cell phones or other recording devices that belong to people who are filming them.


It can be cliche to respond to a problem with “training” and “education,” but all too often police officers go through their training with no mention of implicit and subconscious biases, which practically everyone holds. To this end, Campaign Zero calls for all officers to go through implicit bias and shoot/don’t shoot testing, and to have that testing play a factor in the hiring and promotion processes. It also calls for more rigorous and comprehensive training across the board in order to iron out inconsistencies in training across police departments.

End For-Profit Policing

There are a series of inane injustices baked into our policing system that, while individually minor, can add up to be a significant burden on communities. From ticketing quotas to cycles of fines and fees to civil forfeiture, police forces often act more as a collection agency than a protection force. For instance, Missouri recently passed a bill lowering the percent of revenue a municipality can collect from traffic tickets to 12.5 percent…down from 30. And you can draw a straight line between police departments pressured to produce nearly a third of their city’s budget in tickets for minor offenses, along with the associated court fees, and the aggressive tactics against low-level offenses that lead to unnecessary deaths, like that of Michael Brown.


Your local police department doesn’t need military equipment and armored vehicles. It isn’t going to war. But what if...No, stop. It doesn’t need it. End of story.

Fair Police Union Contracts

This one’s tricky. To the extent that suspect policing practices, oversight and prosecution are the result of restrictions written into union contracts, the Left has become divided over whether the police should, as a representation of state power, be entitled to the same collective bargaining rights that we feel others deserve on a more fundamental level. Campaign Zero calls for the elimination of a number of individually ridiculous line items that exist in various police union contracts — from a mandatory 48 hour waiting period before questioning officers suspected of improperly using force to preventing offending officers’ names from being released to the public to allowing officers’ records of misconduct to be hidden or expunged — but it’s hard to see how you eliminate these obviously bad provisions from union contracts without either writing a list of banned provisions (which can be worked around) or severely limiting police officers’ right to collectively bargain in the first place.

Given the extent to which the police have become an occupying force, and given the extent to which the pendulum needs to swing, maybe that’s a trade we’re willing to make.

In any case, political candidates now have a frame of reference against which they can compare their police reform platforms. Hillary Clinton challenged Black Lives Matter to produce a plan, and they did.

Now that they have, will she sign on to it?

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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44 Responses to “Campaign Zero: Black Lives Matter activists release police reform platform”

  1. nofauxnews says:

    I never said nor implied that there was ANY excuse for police brutality, just that black on black crime takes more lives by a factor of ten if not much more, and that it is a situation the can only be resolved from within the community.

  2. pm61 says:

    Who said they’re blaming the police for the ills of the inner city? The police are responsible for doing their jobs and BLM is trying to make sure they behave professionally and not criminally. You can deflect all day and it doesn’t change anything. “But black on black crime” is not an acceptable excuse for police brutality. Period.

  3. nofauxnews says:

    I simply asked if the “Black Lives Matter” movement was capable of introspection as well as blaming police for the ills of the inner city.

  4. pm61 says:

    It is not necessary to solve the problem of inner-city crime before requiring police to act with professionalism. And it is possible to care about both issues simultaneously. To claim otherwise is just distraction.

  5. nofauxnews says:

    There have always been poor minority neighborhoods; there has NOT always been a slaughter of young black men by other young black men. The culture has changed. I lived in a predominantly minority neighborhood in the inner city for over a decade. My black friends felt they were more at risk walking on the street there than I did. Respect for others is taught. The solution has to come from within the community, it can not be imposed upon the community.

    I am not saying that there is not a policing problem in many communities, but in most cities young minority men killing other young minority men is a bigger problem by a factor of ten. If they show no respect for others within their own community, how do they expect others to respect them?

  6. pm61 says:

    In what way do they not seem to matter? In my community, whenever there is a homicide in one of our poor neighborhoods, there are vigils, prayer meetings, and calls for peace. Crime is caused by poverty, and you will never change the violence of poor neighborhoods until the young people in them have some hope. And you are certainly never going to teach respect for the law when the police come into these neighborhoods and murder people or steal from them, or just harass them with impunity. I bet we could cut crime in half tomorrow if we made college free and started a youth jobs program. But there’s never enough money for that. There’s millions for a failed war on drugs, billions for military hardware, millions for prisons, but never enough for the things would really make a change. And even when money is allocated, by the time it goes thru corrupt local govt agencies, most of it gets skimmed. So you want a couple dozen young black people to fix all that? They’re putting a finger in the dike, that’s all.

  7. nofauxnews says:

    But why do black lives seem to matter so little to the black community that is slaughtering them? Seems like they need the message just as much if not more than the police.

  8. pm61 says:

    Oh, do those armed black men work for you? If so, please tell them to stop. However, in case you forgot, the police work for us. We can tell them what to do. Their job is catch the real criminals, not BE the criminals. Does that help?

  9. White&Blue says:

    Ah I see. That makes sense. Thanks for the clarification.

  10. Midge Baker says:

    White people aren’t the enemy: Why social justice demands a rainbow coalition of minorities & poor

    Hey you people on Twitter…

    It’s time to start #POORLivesMatter

  11. Midge Baker says:

    White people aren’t the enemy: Why social justice demands a rainbow coalition of minorities & poor

    Hey you people on Twitter…

    It’s time to start #POORLivesMatter

  12. Rational says:

    The sentences are not “lengthy” any lengthy sentence is life for one joint, or 5 years for challenging the blue gangbangers arbitrary and caprious use of governmental authority, or death by blue executioner because of cigarettes or just plain meanness by the blue clad thug.

  13. Rational says:

    To begin with superior authority. remember the police are public servants and the help has been getting out of hand.
    Subpoena, access to all records, authority to iniate criminal proceeding, authority to have drug testing carried out on command, authority to fire any officer, authority to override any promotions or demotions, complete and unabridged oversight authority that cannot be challenged by any legal authority.

  14. White&Blue says:

    Training the police properly is a good thing, but also closing any legal loopholes related to compensation. Just the other day I saw your Doctors tv-show.(We are a couple of seasons behind yours) Apparently a family was injured when their house was raided by a swat team. They were looking for a relative of the family who was suspected of being involved with drug dealing. The house was raided during the night, and the family’s son was injured when a flashbang was thrown in to his crib. The father also suffered injuries (I don’t recall what) which prevented him from working. The police however refused to compensate for their injuries or medical bills (over 1 million $), using a loophole in the law. (I don’t remember if it was state or city law or whatever. So it’s existence might be the fault of politicians rather than the police. Naturally using the loophole is the fault of the police and a really d**k move for a lack of better words.)

    The incident implied a lack of training and situational awareness from the police. The family had been living in the house for several months (it was their relatives) and the police surely would have seen the children playing outside during their monitoring. It would have been easy to see that the suspect wouldn’t have been staying in the house. Or equally easy to send a patrol car to question the family about the relative. The raid itself implied lack of training as well. I can maybe understand the swat-team. Meaning that I’ve heard that dealers tend to be armed in the US so a simple patrol car might not be the safest way to arrest a dealer. Of course, sending an armed swat team to the obviously wrong house kinda nullifies that fact.

    Using the flashbang was also an error. A former FBI agent noted that the flashbang was used the wrong way: they are supposed to be rolled on the ground, not thrown. This implies that the officer using it wasn’t aware of it’s proper usage. The person carrying the grenade also makes the call whether to use it or not. With all the gear the swat seems to be carrying, it would’ve been easy to see that there was a crib in the room and using the grenade could endanger the child.

    I’m not starting the blame game, but the incident does show that the police needs more accountability and better training. Or perhaps they need people who listen during the training and don’t just join the force so they can kill people. That’s another important thing: doing psychological tests and making sure that members of the police are sane people who know their training and use their weapons as last resort only. And of course making sure that politicians don’t give the police a license to do whatever they want. We see a lot of police reality tv from the US and the officers in those shows have shown responsibility and skill when handling situations. So I’m sure there are decent police officers in the US. You just need more of them. And sorry for the long-winding post. I get over-excited sometimes.

  15. White&Blue says:

    What kind of legal powers should civilians have over the police, considering the lengthy jail sentence? Not challenging you, just asking for clarification. :)

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  17. Rational says:

    A couple of add ons.
    1) Civilian has legal powers over police. Refusal to cooperate is a criminial offense with mandatory 2 years in jail.
    No Prosecutorial or judicial exceptions allowed. No probation. Jail in Medieum or violent offenders prison No club fed for a cop who doesn’t cooperate fully and immediately.

    2) Mandate “Smart” weapons for all police. No more excuse of “they were going after my weapon” as an excuse to commit murder. This includes Tasers, Shotguns, rifles etc. If a cop is ever found with a non smart gun even off duty 2 years jail Mandatory if he is in uniform on duty or at station house/ prison crime site 5 years

    3) Drug testing for all officers. Steriods and other behavior or rage inducing drugs being primary aim. Marijuana is not tested for in states where legal unless there is suggestion that it may have been an immediate contributing factor. After any incidence where any violence has occurred the test will be taken immediately at the scene of the event.

    4) Strict enforcement of police regulations. i.e. If a police report is found to be inaccurate or misleading perjury charges MUST be prosecuted. “Broken Windows” enforcement is applied to the police in the station house and while on duty.

    5) National database of Officers with all reports of misbehavior, dismissaals etc. This database must be available to the public. This way we can see if the police are saving money by hiring the dregs of society ( the dregs of the dregs)

    6) Personal liability of each officer for any payments made because of the police misbehavior.

    7) Police pension fund be segragated from other municipal/state pensions and any settlements because of police misbehavior is withdrawn from that fund. Legally estopped from any “emergency” or other exceptional payments to cover short fall resulting from payments if fund goes to zero or negative the police know it is only their bad behavior, and/or willingness to turn a blind eye to bad behavior, that put them on a catfood diet.

  18. BeccaM says:

    My ‘suggestion’ is the police stop abusing the laws for the purpose of persecution, rather than law enforcement.

    You want a concrete example? Here’s one:

    Reporters in a McDonalds in Ferguson MO. Cops decide to order the reporters out. The managers at that McDs claim the NEVER asked the reporters to leave nor did they ask the cops to kick them out. Nevertheless, the Ferguson PD has decided to charge these reporters with trespassing. The order to leave that was disobeyed? Came from the cops, who had no real legal right to order the reporters to go. This is what I’m referring to.

    Here are some more police abuses under the same conditions:

    Seriously, I recommend you read the ACLU post at the second link, so perhaps you have some clue as to why trespass law abuse by law enforcement really is a ‘thing.’

  19. Crystal says:

    So your suggestion would be maybe that they can only mess with someone for trespassing if the property owner makes a call into the police? My point is I guess, that if a homeowner calls and says someone is trespassing on their property or a business owner, the police would still have the right to arrest or ticket someone who actually IS trespassing. That would be the difference between my supporting this policy change, that property owners are still protected in the case that they do call police for someone trespassing.

  20. BeccaM says:

    See my comment below. It’s HOW the cops have been enforcing these laws that’s the problem.

    As an example, suppose you gave some schoolkids permission to cross your property as a shortcut between home and school. How’d you like it if you woke up one morning to find a cop car in your driveway and a bunch of these kids spread-eagle on the ground because the cops decided they were trespassing on your property. Or say you owned a convenience store, and the cops were arresting people for trespassing who’d just done legitimate business in your store.

    This is the kind of shit that’s been happening. It’s not the laws, it’s the vindictive persecution of a targeted minority under the color of these laws, most often absent any kind of citizen call or complaint.

  21. Crystal says:

    So how would they differentiate is the question. They cannot completely do away with some of these laws, there are times when they are necessary. How could they control it fairly? It seems a little difficult giving that the cop would be the one to differentiate and to most people that is the problem, the cop being left up to make those decisions.

  22. BeccaM says:

    Indeed. Also, another common habit reported is where the police will get a signed statement from a store owner (pressured into giving it, really) allowing the police to enforce no-loitering or trespassing. And then what happens is the cops decide that a given person walking out of that store after doing legitimate business is ‘trespassing’ — and then arrest them without cause. Or the individuals will be standing on a public sidewalk, but again the cops will claim they were trespassing, loitering, or another favorite ‘disobeying an order to disperse’ (as if there is no right for peaceable assembly in public).

    The public drunkenness charges are also often bogus, as they require no particular proof or BAC testing to issue the citation. Or, you can be sitting on your own front porch with a bottle of beer…and have a cop write you up because technically you’re ‘in public’.

    Most of the abuses boil down to vindictive prosecution of non-existent or petty crimes, purely as an exercise of power and “authoritah” (as Eric Cartman would say).

  23. 2karmanot says:

    Approach….I’m saving up for a kevlar vest that covers my back, just in case my cane is mistaken for an offensive weapon.

  24. nofauxnews says:

    ONE unarmed civilian killed by police is too many, and this certainly seems a viable response to Ms. Clinton’s challenge. Just one question; are they also bringing their Black Lives Matter crusade to the black community? Armed black men kill many more unarmed black men than the police do. Do those lives not matter as much?

  25. nicho says:

    My approach? I don’t have an approach.

  26. Indigo says:

    There again, that’s not the whole story. But let me shift the energy of this conversation to ask, How does your approach help resolve the issues of police and community that beset us today?

  27. MoonDragon says:

    There is and there is trespassing. A bunch of people sitting uninvited on lawn furniture in someone’s yard, drinking, smoking, and playing music is different than taking a short cut through a parking lot or walking through the hall of an apartment building to get out of the wind, or even using an apartment laundry facility. They can all, technically be trespassing. The first might warrant an arrest. The others could be handled with tickets and reasonable fines.

  28. MoonDragon says:

    I would add one more recommendation: better recruitment and screening of applicants. My big fear in all of this is that each and every one of the suggestions will either directly, or indirectly, cost money. Money comes from taxes. Taxes are derived, for the most part, from people who live in neighborhoods that aren’t subjected to systematically bad policing. These people also raise a stink when governing bodies attempt to raise those taxes.

    I live in a municipality that abuts a college town. The attractive nuisance that is the university, is responsible for most of the need for policing. Neighborhood activists (who live in very nice houses with big yards and beautiful landscaping, are working furiously to figure out a way to make people who don’t live in the town (i. e. students and visitors who come for university related functions) to pay extra for the police services with such things as hotel, restaurant, and poured drink taxes.

    A strategy to convince people that the extra money is worth it The recommendations in the article put forth a clear approach. The people with the money to pay for this have to be pushed to say whether they think these are good ideas and how they are willing to pay for them. And it should all be public and loud if they balk at the prospect.

  29. Crystal says:

    The one that I read last week that was in more detail also stated that they did not want people arrested for minor offenses such as loitering and disturbing the peace but it also included in that list, public drunkeness and trespassing. Most of the media is leaving that out. I have a hard time believing anyone is going to vote to pass something that includes no arrests for trespassing. So you can come on my property and I cannot call the police on you?

  30. BeccaM says:

    It’s a good proposal. Clear, succinct, and not the usual kitchen sink approach, and most importantly proposes relatively concrete actions.

    In my opinion, the biggest single things are (1) training police to be police, not an occupying army that seems to presume every routine encounter is a life & death situation for the cop (even though increasingly it’s been going the other direction) and (2) accountability. Most of all, accountability.

    To this end, I think civilian oversight on policy is a good start. And if police want to win back the trust of the people, there needs to be zero tolerance when law enforcement officers break the law. The “good” cops have to realize that when they cover up a bad cop’s wrongdoing, they’re not only no longer good cops, they’re also accomplices in felony crimes.

    But y’know, sometimes I think the creeping militarization and Stasi-ization of America’s police isn’t a bug but a feature. After all, it’s the underclasses and minorities who are consistently on the receiving end of the worst abuses. A white woman driving a Benz in Beverly Hills or a white guy in a Brooks Brothers suit in Miami doesn’t have to worry that a random traffic stop will turn lethal. The 1% never see the cops in riot gear…unless it’s the cops’ backs, grenade launchers and sniper rifles pointed at the rest of us, and protecting the assets of the 1%.

  31. nicho says:

    I don’t think I’m twisting it that much. In the south, especially, the first “police forces” were slave patrols.

  32. 2karmanot says:

    Hillary: “change some systems to create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them.”
    WHO DESERVE TO HAVE THEM……..and those who don’t deserve opportunities? Who exactly are ‘those’ p[people Hills?

  33. Hue-Man says:

    In 2012, B.C. set up an Independent Investigations Office

    “…to conduct investigations into officer-related incidents of death or
    serious harm in order to determine whether or not an officer may have
    committed an offence. The IIO is established in the [provincial] Ministry of Justice
    and is under the command and direction of the Chief Civilian Director.
    The Chief Civilian Director cannot ever have served as a police officer.”

    Prior to that, Police Force A would investigate an incident that involved a police officer from Police Force B. There is no “independence” when Police Force A knows that Police Force B may be investigating one of their incidents in the future.

    If you have an interest in how it works – admittedly after only 3 years – check out the Annual Report for 2014-2015. It includes operational items like nature of incidents and response time to incidents as well as budgets ($8 million).

    It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially in a province larger than Texas with a population of only 4.4 million.

  34. Indigo says:

    I do realize that’s one of the elements in setting up a police force. You’d be twisting and turning evidence and history to say it’s the only one. Sometimes, though, and nowdays it seems, that’s the leading one. I admit that. But that’s not the whole story.

  35. emjayay says:


  36. nicho says:

    I’m outraged over the policy and training that are teaching the police to arm themselves as if going to war and acting out brutalist and sadistic attacks on the public in the name of “defending” property and peace.

    You do realize that this is why police forces were set up in the first place – to defend the One Percent against the rest of us. It was never to “serve and protect” the public.

  37. nicho says:

    Broken Windows is good — in theory. Like so many other things.

    Back when I was a kid, there were “loitering” laws on the books. Massachusetts also had an offense on the books — which went back to Colonial times — of “being abroad in the nighttime without being able to give a good account of yourself.”

    They were very similar to the Broken Windows laws. Cops — back when cops were walking beats — knew when someone was up to no good, even if the person hadn’t actually done anything illegal. They knew when someone was casing some place for a break-in etc. The cops could bring the guy in on one of those charges — which would usually be dismissed, but would get the guy off the street before something happened.

    All of a sudden, however, the arrests started to follow a pattern. Most, if not all, of the people brought in on those charges were people of color. And the laws were overturned. I think the same thing is happening with the Broken Windows laws.

    It’s very similar to people having sex in a car. If it’s two white kids, the cop just raps on the window and tells them to move along. If they’re two gay guys or two people of color — gay or straight — they’re arrested for public indecency.

  38. Hue-Man says:

    Civilian oversight is a no-brainer. Making it work, given institutional resistance to change, is another matter. In B.C., each Police Board OWNS and OPERATES the city/municipal police force including civilian workers and, as such, sets budgets.

    “Under British Columbia’s Police Act, the [Police] Board consists of the Mayor as Chair; one person appointed by the municipal council; and up to seven people appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council [Provincial Premier].

    Board members are chosen to reflect the demographics of the community. They are people who have demonstrated that they can act in the community’s best interest. Each Board member is appointed for a term of up to four years. They may be re-appointed, but cannot serve for more than six consecutive years.”

  39. emjayay says:

    Broken Windows policing is not the same thing as stop and frisk. It is more about making everyday urban life feel under control and safe, creating an environment that is not stressful to residents and not appearing to be open to any kind of crime to those so inclined. It is all about now it is implemented.

  40. Indigo says:

    Good! Those are suggestions that can be discussed and implemented. I would lead with Training and Demilitarization. In fact, I see those as one complex knot of behavior. The police training today does not lead to peaceful behavior in difficult situations. It leads to massive displays of brutality suitable for occupying a hostile nation during war time. I’m outraged over the policy and training that are teaching the police to arm themselves as if going to war and acting out brutalist and sadistic attacks on the public in the name of “defending” property and peace. Okay, that’s what I’m seeing on the television machine when the evening propaganda news is broadcasting on the standard stations (ABC, NBC, CBS). If that’s not what the police are trained to do in their training sessions, why in the hell are they doing it?

  41. nicho says:

    BTW, Jon — that link you have for Campaign Zero doesn’t work for me.

    I think this is a better one

  42. nicho says:

    I don’t agree that OWS “fizzled.” It had no agenda,. So it couldn’t “fizzle.” It was to raise consciousness — and it did that. More and more people are now aware of the One Percent vs 99 Percent problem than they were before. That will lay a foundation for further action and already is.

    All revolutions have been preceded by “movements” that could be considered to have “fizzled,” but without those movements, the revolution never would have taken place.

  43. nicho says:

    I think it’s a good and worthwhile agenda. I’m glad they have a clear idea of what they want. They were pretty broad and vague before.

    However, there are only 2 items out of 10 that the president could do anything about — independent investigations and demilitarization. The rest are all in the hands of local authorities — unless the president is going to nationalize the nation’s police forces.

  44. Doug105 says:

    Good was afraid it would fizzle out like OWS without ever having a stated agenda.

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