Abolishing the Police

Discussion extracted from the George Floyd thread

Abolish forum admins!

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Maybe already posted but CBA to wade through hundreds of overnight posts…

The movement to defund the police is gaining significant support across America, including from elected leaders, as protests over the killing of George Floyd sweep the nation.

For years, activists have pushed US cities and states to cut law enforcement budgets amid a dramatic rise in spending on police and prisons while funding for vital social services have shrunk or disappeared altogether.

Government officials have long dismissed the idea as a leftist fantasy, but the recent unrest and massive budget shortfalls from the Covid-19 crisis appear to have inspired more mainstream recognition of the central arguments behind defunding.

“To see legislators who aren’t even necessarily on the left supporting at least a significant decrease in New York police department [NYPD] funding is really very encouraging,” Julia Salazar, a New York state senator and Democratic socialist, told the Guardian on Tuesday. “It feels a little bit surreal.”

Floyd’s death on camera in Minneapolis, advocates say, was a powerful demonstration that police reform efforts of the last half-decade have failed to stop racist policing and killings. Meanwhile, the striking visuals of enormous, militarized and at times violent police forces responding to peaceful protests have led some politicians to question whether police really need this much money and firepower.

Meanwhile, unemployment is surging amid the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, with housing and healthcare crises worsening. Many governments have been making painful cuts to services and expect to see tax revenue fall even further in the coming year. But police budgets have not been affected, and some mayors are even seeking to expand law enforcement funding.

A snapshot of some of city budget debates that have escalated this week:

Defunding, said activist Jeralynn Blueford, is the logical response from leaders in this moment of unprecedented unrest. “If police had been serious about reform and policy change, then guess what? People would not be this angry.”

Blueford’s son was killed by Oakland police in 2012 and she’s been fighting for reforms since. “We allowed you to kill our children, and you said this was going to change, and you reneged on it. If we keep funding them, it gives them the green light to continue ”.

If police had been serious about reform and policy change, then guess what? People would not be this angry

Jeralynn Blueford

Community groups advocating for defunding have put forward differing strategies, some merely opposing police budget increases, others advocating mass reductions, and some fighting for full defunding as a step toward abolishing police forces. Some initiatives are tied to the fight to close prisons. All are pushing for a reinvestment of those dollars in services.

Amid the protests, some local leaders with budgeting powers have started proposing modest cuts to policing. The most substantial change so far, has come in Minneapolis where the school board on Tuesday voted to end its contract with the police department. The University of Minnesota has also pledged to stop working with police.

“People have been fighting for years to get cops out of schools, and now it’s happening overnight,” said Tony Williams, a member of MPD150, an abolition group whose literature on building a “police-free future” has spread on social media in recent days. One elected Minneapolis ward member said this week that the city’s police department was “irredeemably beyond reform”, the kind of remark that would until recently have been unthinkable to organizers.

“This is unprecedented in our movement, but it is a natural consequence of where we’ve been over the last five years,” Williams said, rattling off high-profile killings by police that have failed to lead to substantive reforms.

Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles mayor, addressed the broader protests in a speech late Wednesday night and said he was now working to make cuts of up to $150m to the police budget and reinvest funds in black communities, though specifics of his plans were unclear.

His move comes after a coalition convened by Black Lives Matter LA pushed for what it called a “people’s budget”, which encouraged the city to spend only 5.7% of its general fund on law enforcement, and 44% on universal aid and crisis management.

“In moments of crisis, people want services and resources that go directly to help people rather than police that surveil, brutalize and kill us,” said Melina Abdullah, the BLM LA co-founder, adding that Garcetti’s proposed cut was “minimal” and that officials “need to go much further”.

Even though many US police departments’ duties are responding to non-violent, non-emergency calls, departments have expanded their military-style arsenal in recent years. US police kill more people in days than many other countries do in years.

Senator Salazar in New York said the Covid-19 devastation is motivating lawmakers normally sympathetic to the NYPD to rethink the budget: “Every senate office … has been fielding an unfathomable number of unemployment claims. We’ve been thinking every day about how social services and the public safety net are failing people. Having come out of a bleak state budget process, it’s very frustrating to hear that $6bn figure for the NYPD.”

We’ve been thinking every day about how social services and the public safety net are failing people

Julia Salazar

The city councilmember who chairs the committee that oversees the budget called for significant NYPD cuts this week. Although she doesn’t control NYPD financing as a state lawmaker, Salazar said she could envision police immediately losing $1bn from its budget just for current police functions that have nothing to do with law enforcement and crime, such as responding to mental health calls and other social services.

Kamau Walton, a Philadelphia-based member of Critical Resistance, a long-running US abolition group, said the absurdity of increased police spending in this moment was visible to many. Walton lives across from a recreation center and library that has been closed due to Covid, and said houseless people now gather outside, because they have nowhere else to go.

The city, however, is further cutting housing and homelessness services and seems to lack a summer plan for these communities who have lost programs, resources and jobs, they said. “At a drop of a dime, they can find money for uber-militarized tanks and fly helicopters all over the city and shoot rubber bullets, but we can’t put people in houses?”

Kelly Lytle Hernández, a UCLA historian and recent MacArthur recipient, said this could be a pivotal moment for the US: “We’ve created over the last 30 to 40 years a sense that our safety and wellbeing always comes from investing more and more in police.”

This week, it seems there is increasing recognition of this failure, she said, adding, “Defunding the police is the first step in a much broader historical transformation that I’m hoping you’re seeing broad-based support for on the streets today.”

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JFC, I’d read that people wanted to reallocate $100-150 million of the LAPD budget but I assumed that meant they were taking away half the police funding or something, not less than 10%.

And LAPD is like a model of what the result of police reform accomplishes. There have been consent decrees and commissions and community policing reforms and it has all had some positive impact, but it’s gone as far as that sort of thing can go. The problems are deeper than that and you can’t train police to be better, you have to stop training them to be bad - and that training is just generally the way they operate. It’s the whole West Wingish Liberal fantasy world where you can give a group of people tremendous power and they’ll just look out for the common good as long as those people are properly selected and educated.

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What else do we expect at this point? Most Dem politicians are literally the same deep down as the Republicans when it comes to anything meaningful. They put different window dressing on it sure but 90%+ of the Dem politicians are on the side of the police here. Just like they are mostly on the side of their corporate masters over the interests of their constituency.

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Unfortunately most of the Dem people too. In my neighborhood protest several of the people apparently felt like they had to say some things about how lucky we are with our police force. One of the same people literally said she swooned listening to Obama’s recent speech.

Fuck them too.

And the police in my small city are shitty by any standard. Routinely harass people for walking while Black. Rousted me in front of my house for being outside at midnight. A few years ago three of their cops were drinking for 7 hours and then did a hit and run and then covered it up and it had to be investigated by the county.

The key is we can’t just cut police budgets and not provide people with resources they need. If you believe crime is linked to economic distress, then cutting policing without shifting that money to expand UI, grants in poor communities, food assistance, etc is going to lead to problems.

Also it’s going to be a bumpy transition. Crime will probably go up before it goes down.

I’m not sure most Americans have any stomach for that whatsoever, so we better not fuck it up or we’ll create a whole new generation of law and order voters.

These charts break down the difference between reformist reforms which continue or expand the reach of policing, and abolitionist steps that work to chip away and reduce its overall impact. As we struggle to decrease the power of policing there are also positive and pro-active investments we can make in community health and well-being

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Right off the bat I disagree. They’re against body cameras? I think we should be requiring every cop to have a body camera on at all times, make it illegal to turn them off, and encode it as a factor that leads to easier convictions and higher sentencing in the commission of violent felonies.

Meanwhile, cut the budget. Make the police departments get rid of other shit they don’t need in order to pay for the body cameras.

I would love to see a law banning cops fired for excessive force from getting hired elsewhere, and also seeing them made personally financially responsible for settlements. First they should be liable, then the police departments budget should be liable, then the city.

Doing all that, feels like we’d have enough brutality on tape from this week to bankrupt pretty much every police department in the country and maybe 25% of cops themselves.

I also think community policing is good, but obviously you need good people doing it. A lot of people here want to abolish the police. I’m sure some of you understand this, but that’s impossible. What is possible is putting laws in place that lead to the collapse of a few major police forces, thus forcing them to be rebuilt from scratch, and giving a big old wakeup call to the police forces around the country that they’re going to be next if they don’t get their shit together.

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Bruh. Lots of people want them to hurt those people. Lots of people you know. Some of them are vocal about it, some of them hide it like they do when they say the n word, but the brutality makes many people happy.

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I am sorry but some to these are just stupid along the lines of

  1. Call a neighbour
  2. ???
  3. Profit

You can call it a beautiful vision but that’s all it is. Wouldn’t it be nice? fantasies are not going to be the solution to real problems.

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The chart isn’t saying cops shouldn’t have body cameras; it’s showing reforms that expand policing vs reforms that reduce the role of policing in our lives and its violence. They have a ton of resources about this, and have made their workshops available for free

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None for nothing, it seems like other countries have managed to have police forces that are somewhat accountable and demilitarized.

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Well, if modernist witch, a senior editor @bandcamp, says it it obviously must be true. I stand corrected.

God damn it stop trying to reform the police into an institution that doesn’t protect the rich over the poor, whites over people of color, property over lives. It is not going to happen. That is not what police are anymore and it is never going back to that.

Stop greeting every idea for change with the equivalent to “but how are you going to pay for it?”

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