Good morning, friends.
Yesterday, I posted a piece called Might We Consider Abolition? with slides from @conflicttransformation on Instagram. As I said in that piece, 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?
I know this is a new idea for many people. I’m still learning and growing in these questions myself.
I think two areas of concern often rise to the surface pretty immediately when people (especially white people) first encounter the concept of abolition from policing:
— How could this possibly work? What if — (insert a lot of scenarios)
— What are you saying about my loved one who works in law enforcement? What will happen to that person if — (insert a lot of scenarios)
Let me first echo the words of my friend, mentor, and colleague Dwight Wilson who has done a great deal of work to try to increase police oversight by the community: “We can do this peacefully and we can do it with love. Do not bring hatred to my table. I neither consume it nor pass it on to poison others.”
I am not interested in demonizing any individuals. We spend a lot of time trying to justify ourselves and our loved ones as good people. I do this sometimes too. As I’ve posted here recently, one form of racism in my own life and practice is my attempt to be One of the ‘Good Whites’. (If this sentence or link title upsets you, please read it first to understand what I’m saying and what kind of harm my mindset can do).
As I heard someone share this week, what point do we ask,
What do we need to do for society to be good?
Isn’t that the most pressing question?
In light of all these questions, I’d like to share this Twitter thread from Bridget Eileen (@travelingnun):
It begins with,
“Do you or somebody you know think that #AbolishThePolice is unrealistic? It might be because you haven’t taken the time to understand what it means, the reasons for it, and why it actually makes a lot of sense. [Thread]”
And this is being considered in practice. The Minneapolis City Council is considering measures to disband the Minneapolis Police Department (see this article). Council member Steve Fletcher says, “Several of us on the council are working on finding out what it would take to disband the Minneapolis Police Department and start fresh with a community-oriented, nonviolent public safety and outreach capacity.”
This piece is the second of a two-part series. You can read the other post here:
Might We Consider Abolition?
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 linked in the post, Might We Consider Abolition? . She has deep concerns about how they are being used and talked about in some circles. Sh 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.