by Kimberli Quito
After the murder of George Floyd and the outbreak of police violence, nationwide protests have been demanding for defunding the police department or abolishing it completely. The protests had plenty to do with abolishing the system that took the life of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. However, many have considered the slogan of abolishing the police as extremist and it has caused quite a controversy. The same system that is apparently meant to protect civilians is the same system that is disproportionately killing black people.
The police will never hold themselves accountable for their actions because in order to do so, they’ll have to begin with arresting themselves. The slogan of abolishing the police aims to diminish violence by dissolving the police department entirely. It aims to abolish institutions such as ICE, which stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, that has participated in human rights violations, police, and prisons. All these institutions will never be capable of holding themselves responsible since their very existence is injustice. It’s impossible to appeal to the morality of such a depraved system that there is no other alternative than to overthrow it. Overthrowing the system will then provide an opportunity to address the root of violence.
Abolishing the system calls for the reduction of state armed forces of communities. It calls for eradicating state violence through the funding of support systems and programs that maintain communities safe. It calls to abolish the system that is solely a reminder of the horrid history of slavery that took place in this country for centuries. To diminish state violence one must dissolve the same system that serves as a remembrance of slavery and tackle the origin of violence.
Society should spend money and time reducing the root causes of violence instead of funding the police. This is possible by reallocating funding ceaselessly from a corrupt system to other government organizations that are subsidized by the local municipality. The extermination of this system can improve psychological well-being, vagrancy, and addiction.
In 8 to Abolition Is Advocating to Abolish Police to Keep Us All Safe by Leila Raven, Mon Mohapatra and Rachel Kuo, it’s mentioned that in “New York City, more city funding is directed toward policing than housing and health care...An environmental impact assessment...found that, based on 2017 data, New York City spent over $200,000 per incarcerated person, but only $14,500 per student through the Department of Education.”
Policing and imprisonment reproduce violence and harm which causes increased funding for law enforcement while support systems and other programs aren’t exactly being funded to the same extent. Petitioning for the cutting of police department budgets and reinvesting the money in health and other non police safety programs can address the root of violence. It also ties to the millions of low-level arrests in the U.S every year that occur in the poorest and most marginalized communities. School police aren't necessary; what’s necessary are counselors and restorative justice programs.
The movement of abolishing the police originated in the late 60s and early 70s by the Black Panthers which was originally a Black Power political organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. Policing historically never really functioned in the interests of communities of color. Therefore, victories would be considered getting police out of schools, or creating alternatives to using the police to deal with homelessness and other issues.
Police aren’t needed in situations involving homelessness and in fact many fear that calling police would make it worse for victims due to lack of support programs. Reducing policing is connected with the decriminalization of sex work, drugs, homelessness and even mental illness. One must address the foundation of violence as opposed to contributing to an everlasting pattern of violence through the reliance on police, jails and prisons.
Policing is among the remnants of slavery. It’s functioning the way it was always intended to function. Policing never worked in light of a legitimate concern for black communities hence it’s ignorant to assume that they will now. In How I Became a Police Abolitionist by Derecka Purnell, it’s revealed that “policing...tailored in America to suppress slave revolts, catch runaways, and repress labor organizing. After slavery, police imprisoned Black people and immigrants...During the Jim Crow era, cops enforced segregation and joined lynch mobs...During the civil-rights movement, police beat...Black preachers, activists, and students who marched for equality.”
The police system is a reminder of the effects of slavery that still target black communities. It’s a system that stems from slave patrols who would prevent slave rebellions, catch enslaved people who attempted to escape, and prevent the association of workers united as one. Even after slavery was abolished, cops played a significant role in imprisoning black people and immigrants in systems of forced penal labor for plantation and business owners. They enforced segregation and joined lynch mobs. They beat activists, preachers and students during the civil rights movement who marched for the right to be treated as equal.
Nothing has changed considering the outbreaks of savagery exhibited by police towards serene protestors. The use of excessive force and the use of tear gas against peaceful protestors are exclusively a reiteration of what occurred during the civil rights movement. One cannot reform a system that was created for the demise of black people. The system isn’t broken, it’s only doing what it is designed to do.
Opponents argue that police are essential for the safety and security of communities. However, how are they expected to provide communities with solace and security when they are the culprits for the murders of innumerable black people? As opposed to mainstream belief, police aren’t exactly successful with regards to solving crime. Furthermore, 9 out 10 calls are of nonviolent encounters and police often contribute to the escalation of violence.
In What does ‘defund the police' mean and does it have merit? by Rashawn Ray, it’s reported how approximately “38% of murders, 66% of rapes, 70% of robberies, and 47% of aggravated assaults go uncleared every year...over 90% of people stopped by the police were not committing any crime and did not have any contraband or weapons on them. Overwhelmingly, the people stopped were Black and Latino, and physical force was used half the time.”
Police aren’t quite successful when it comes to solving violent crime which explains why a large percentage of these crimes go unsolved. The NYPD stop and frisk program revealed that over 90% of the people stopped by police weren’t committing a crime and didn’t have weapons on them. Predictably, the people stopped were mostly black or Latino, clearly pointing out the racial bias within the system. It’s difficult to reform a system that is fixated on harassing black and brown communities instead of solving cases of murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. The stop and frisk program is a prime example of the bigoted undercurrents of the policing system.
Their fixation on marginalized communities within society then causes an overwhelmingly huge amount of these violent cases to then go unsolved. Millions of low level arrests occur in the United States every year, which are mostly considered petty crime. They’re considered harassment upon poor and marginalized communities which explains the resentment about the policing within those areas. Physical force was used half the time against the people that were stopped which once again is expected as the police department has a history of taking advantage of their power to inflict harm on black and brown communities.
There is no reforming a system that is solely doing what it has been designed to do since the times of slavery. There is no reforming a system that exhibits brutality against black communities the same way it did during the civil rights era. There is no reforming a system that perpetuates harm upon racial minorities due to present racial bias.
The police system never functioned in favor of racial minorities. The police are incapable of unraveling and solving crime. They’re useless when it comes to crime because policing was never engrossed on the solace and security of society. It was always centered on inflicting harm upon communities of color. To overlook that policing is among the remnants of slavery is to completely disregard the racial oppression that the police contribute towards black communities. Subsidizing to a system that contributes to an everlasting cycle of state savagery will only contribute to more deaths.