“Why do we accept forms of security that are rooted in violence?” – Angela Davis, Lecture at University of Chicago November 2016
When I first learned of prison abolition it was from Angela Davis during a lecture she gave at my college campus in 2009. The concept of prison abolition seemed so large and out of reach and it wasn’t something I put much thought into until this year, but a defeatist attitude isn’t what abolished slavery – so who am I to doubt the possibilities of abolition?
We are products of our environment, and in Angela Davis’ new book Freedom Is A Constant Struggle the scholar activist makes direct connections between learned and socialized violence between individuals and the violent nature of the state. Unfortunately, we cannot disconnect ourselves from the institutions which we live under and if that is the case I would rather my connection be one of respect and love for people and community as opposed to punitive justice and contention.
Incremental criminal justice reform is still a strategy for improving the lives of marginalized groups in America, however it cannot be the end goal if we want true transformation of our oppressive systems.
Reasons to abolish the police:
- Police departments are inherently violent and reinforce discrimination and oppression of marginalized groups
- They are wasting your tax dollars on their own misconduct and mistreatment of our communities
- The school-to-prison pipeline along with the loss and decrease in civil and human rights are held in place with the help of law enforcement
How to begin supporting police abolition:
- Research and support efforts in your city to defund the police – and if those efforts aren’t already established how can you step up to make that campaign a reality?
- Know what’s in your local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) contract. The FOP contract is where your local police departments salaries, benefits, and legal actions are outlined. Negotiated with the city, these contracts make room for a lot of the things that residents probably wouldn’t agree with had they known from the start.
- Learn about restorative justice practices. Can you advocate for them in your local schools? How can you implement these into your daily work or life and relationships?
- Do your research and know your rights.
- Do your part in imagining a world where there aren’t prisons and law enforcement. It is possible.
Read up on the possibility and resources for police abolition:
- Abolish the police? Organizers say it’s less crazy than it sounds.
- Movement for Black Lives Policy Platform: End the War on Black People, Invest – Divest, Community Control
- Are Prisons Obsolete? By Angela Davis
- The Radicalism of Black Lives Matter
- Campaign Zero
The call for prison abolition is also shouted with the call for police abolition which I easily have made room for in my own ideology and I encourage more folks to do the same.