The Movement for Black Lives seeks more than police reforms. Many Black leaders within this movement are calling for abolition from the system of policing altogether. How might we dream other models for public safety? What if we could imagine something different — something more safe and non-militarized? Something that honors material and social needs? Something that is trauma-informed? Something that is restorative rather than punitive? Something that is transformative and liberating?
Today, I want to share these images and questions from @conflicttransformation on Instagram. (Image Descriptions at the bottom of this post).
Does this seem impossible in your thinking? Let’s imagine…
Six Ideas of a Cop-Free World by José Martín
The Answer to Police Violence Is Not ‘Reform.’ It’s Defunding. Here’s Why by Alex S. Vitale
Image 1: Black text on a periwinkle background reads, “You are experiencing a mental health crisis & afraid imagine… …you call +311 & a first responder trained in mental health comes to your door. 1 hour later, you are in a safe place with your consent, with plans for follow up care. isn’t that public safety?”
Image 2: Black text on an orange background reads, “Some folks are sleeping on benches in the park. Imagine… …a city employee comes by & checks in to see if they need a place to sleep, food, water, or health care. An hour later, those who want a different place to sleep have one. Isn’t that public safety?”
Image 3: Black text on a pinkish purple background reads: “You are experiencing intimate partner violence. Imagine… …texting a number & a trauma informed crisis intervention specialist meets you in a safe place. An hour later you are working together to make a plan that will keep you safe long term. isn’t that public safety?”
Image 4: Black text on a yellow background reads, “Someone is behaving erratically and is in harms way. Imagine… texting a number & an an unarmed urgent responder trained in behavioral and mental health comes within 5 minutes. An hour later that person is safe & getting the support they need. Isn’t that public safety?
Image 5: Black text on a blue background reads “Incidents of gun violence are rising in the neighborhood. Imagine… …a trauma informed crisis intervention team works with community activists to disarm and deescalate conflicts. People doing harm are connected to services that address the underlying problem. Isn’t that public safety?”
This post is the first of a two-part series. You can read the other post here:
Might We Consider Abolition? (In Practice, Part II)
An important addendum (added 6/20/20)
I’d like to link to a piece by Amber Hughson, entitled But Actually Imagine Transformative Alternatives to Policing.
Amber Hughson is the creator of these flyers, and she has deep concerns about how they are being used and talked about in some circles. She wants us to do what the title to her piece says… actually imagine transformative alternatives to policing.
She asks us to do this and also share her piece if we’ve shared her flyers. I’m doing that here and in other places too.