Image description: An image from Amber Hughson’s piece below. In the middle it says “But Actually Imagine Transformative Alternatives to Policing.” This title is surrounded by her flyers. You can read image descriptions for those flyers here.
I want to share this post today from Amber Hughson, a friend of mine. She is the creator of the Alternatives to Policing flyers that have gone quite viral over the last few weeks. I have shared these flyers on this blog. I have also seen them shared by friends all across the country.
But Amber has deep concerns about how these flyers are being used and talked about in some circles, and she wants us to do what the title below says… actually imagine transformative alternatives to policing.
She asks us to do this and also share her piece below if we’ve shared these flyers. I’m also pulling these two quotes. The first speaks to the context of the creation of these flyers. The second is a call for us to act upon these flyers in particular ways.
“I was (and am) exhausted by the comments of ‘well-meaning’ liberals that visions of a world without policing and incarceration are ‘utopian’ and ‘unrealistic’ and ‘idealistic.’ These words were weaponized against Black, immigrant, trans, and poor organizers and survivors who detailed their experiences of having been targeted by policing and offered concrete policy changes that would affirm and protect their lives. In particular, Mayor Christopher Taylor (as well as City Council and recently fired City Administrator Howard Lazarus) have waged an insidious campaign to gaslight Black community members and organizers. In response to extensive incidents of harm from policing in Ann Arbor, Taylor responds in total defense of police actions — he cannot imagine a world in which he does not feel threatened by his own constituents to the point of requiring armed guards. He openly names white supremacy and racism as historic national problems, but tells community members and organizers that these same issues are not present in Ann Arbor and certainly not in the AAPD. Taylor absolves his officers and himself of wrongdoing while standing in a ‘safe’ (for who?) pleasantly white-dominant City which has gentrified historic Black neighborhoods. He, alongside most of Ann Arbor, willfully denies a connection between the hoarding of wealth in Ann Arbor and the extensive violence of policing and incarceration in neighboring Ypsilanti. We watched as community members stood by the mayor time and time again. Organizers were emotionally exhausted. Black organizers told me they were too traumatized to return to the work.”
“Do what no one can do alone. Sit down with these flyers and have conversations, rather than simply sharing them. Question the words that I chose like ’employee’ or ‘urgent responder’ or ‘crisis intervention team.’ Question the race neutral language and images. Push the boundaries of who could and should fill these roles and who could and should have the power to shape them. Push the boundaries of how rigid these roles would be regulated and imagine them being flexible to shifting conditions. Imagine the kinds of transformative changes that would be required in your specific context for Indigenous, Black, trans, immigrant, poor, and disabled people most impacted by policing to actually make the decisions of how land, wealth, food, shelter, and healthcare are distributed in a world without police.”
Please have a read: