From Bridget Eileen (Rivera) @travelingNun
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.
Abolishing the police isn’t about establishing some kind of free-for-all anarchy where everybody polices themselves and you just hope that nobody decides to police themselves into robbing you or killing you.
Abolishing the police is about the end of policing as we know it. It’s about recognizing that the role policing plays in our society is not a role that it should have ever been given or that we should allow it to continue to have.
It’s about recognizing that we have taken almost every single one of our country’s most pressing social issues and handed them over to the police to fix with guns and handcuffs and charges and prison.
Our cities face a housing crisis. So instead of figuring out a way to provide affordable housing, which seriously shouldn’t be that complicated for the richest country in the world to figure out, we criminalize homelessness and send in the police to make arrests.
Drugs are destroying people’s lives in this country. So instead of providing access to treatment and recovery support and helping people escape addiction, we criminalize and send the police. Unless they’re white… in that case, they need treatment and recovery.
Our public education system is failing communities of color and students in poverty. So instead of funding schools better, paying teachers more, and reducing classroom size, we send the police to patrol public school entryways and hallways and funnel kids into juvie.
We live in a country where millions of hard working people don’t make a living wage and thus resort to desperate measures to feed their families. But instead of addressing rampant wealth inequalities and fixing the issues that cause them, we send the police.
We live in a country where 1 mistake could get you branded as a felon & permanently relegated to an underclass where you can’t find work, can’t vote, & where police control every aspect of your life & if you mess up even once by, say, forgetting to “call in” you go back to jail.
Abolishing the police is about recognizing that if we took away from the police every single public issue that they should have never been given to fix in the first place, the police would literally have nothing to do because we’ve turned them into “social workers” with guns.
It’s about recognizing that we don’t know what a healthy police force looks like because we can’t imagine a world where we actually take care of our social ills instead of policing them.
It’s about recognizing that we’ve used the police as a cover for rampant racial and economic inequalities that our country is unwilling to fix and that the ones who have paid the price for this most dearly are black people, whose communities are policed into oblivion.
It’s about recognizing that policing in this country as we know it must end because it’s wrong and unjust and untenable in a free society. It’s about recognizing that this country needs to stop hiding behind the police and finally take action to fix our social ills.
It’s not about establishing some kind of unrealistic utopia where everybody just magically gets along. A just and free society will still have people who break the law, who kill, who steal.
But police in that society will be SO different from everything that we assume needs to be true about police today that we might not even recognize them as “police” because our concept of policing is so twisted and wrong and messed up.
Abolishing the police is about recognizing that every single effort at police reform has only ever resulted in reinventing the same oppressions all over again. It’s about recognizing that maybe we just need to start over with a clean slate.
And finally, abolishing the police is NOT about hating cops. Any police officer whose taken time to honestly & critically reflect upon his own frustrations with his own job knows that this country expects police to be social workers with guns and that this is wrong.
You don’t have to agree with #AbolishThePolice but at least give it enough respect to understand what it means. And if you do support abolishing the police, educate yourself on why this is reasonable and what that could look like so you can represent the movement well.
I’d suggest starting with this book by Alex Vitale, The End of Policing. It’s worth a read.