Communities around the world reacted to the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, and calls for police reforms echoed from different communities. Campaigns such as 8cantwait offered harm reduction strategies for local police, and many localities picked up this gauntlet. But the Black Lives Matter movement is more of a tsunami than a wave and the idea of police reform, while laudable, is no longer sufficient to address the historical roots of violence embedded in the institution of policing in our country. Campaign Zero offers an example of this swift change. Below is a quote taken from their website.
As protests grow, and the violence of policing splashes across the internet, the television screens and in our streets, we are now hearing DEFUND the POLICE. The conversation has shifted and many people wanting to support the growing movement are asking the question – “what does defunding the police mean?”
Defunding police is about investing in our community. We are divesting from a violent system and investing in our community to keep us safe. Defunding the police means we don’t overly rely on the police. We build services and reduce the need for police. It’s about public safety not the enforcement of law. As I heard recently- community safety is not about law and order – it’s about peace and justice. The 8can’twait campaign issued an example of their shift in their campaign. Note that the strategy calls for the eventual abolishment of policing as we know it, and replacing a violent system with a model that promotes community well-being. I encourage you to watch the clip with Trevor Noah. The speakers can discuss this more aptly than I. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVW2eaCyC5c
Below is a graphic from the 8cantwait campaign that clearly illustrates the difference in strategies.
And here is the original campaign below.
El Cerrito Police Chief Paul Keith released a letter today (June 10th) on how the city’s policies were meeting the standards of this graphic above. https://www.el-cerrito.org/DocumentCenter/View/14317/ECPD-Letter-regarding-8cantwait- On the surface, you might say that the policies are fairly in line. I urge you to link to the manual and read from page 44 about use of force. https://www.el-cerrito.org/1391/Policies As long as “qualified immunity” exists, as long as a police officers can say “I was under threat”, and get away with murder, all those bans on choke holds and use of force are not enforceable- if they were, George Floyd would be alive as well as many others.
We are at a moment in time when our pressure, our voices, our sustained efforts can make a difference. We cannot be complacent. We cannot be complicit. Just last week we said – End White Silence. The time is now! Please join us tomorrow June 11th at 5:30 p.m We will assemble at the El Cerrito Plaza BART Parking Lot and travel through the neighborhoods with our message: Invest in Communities – Not Police
Amazing graphical representation of explaining reform vs. abolition-
A comprehensive report on the current state of policing and how it can be transformed
The Broken Policing System (YouTube Video) with Hasan Minhaj https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km4uCOAzrbM
Short articles on what it means to defund the police-