15 June 2020

The New York Times Opinion: “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police”

I’ve been advocating the abolition of the police for years. Regardless of your view on police power — whether you want to get rid of the police or simply to make them less violent — here’s an immediate demand we can all make: Cut the number of police in half and cut their budget in half. Fewer police officers equals fewer opportunities for them to brutalize and kill people. The idea is gaining traction in Minneapolis, Dallas, Los Angeles and other cities.

People like me who want to abolish prisons and police, however, have a vision of a different society, built on cooperation instead of individualism, on mutual aid instead of self-preservation. What would the country look like if it had billions of extra dollars to spend on housing, food and education for all? This change in society wouldn’t happen immediately, but the protests show that many people are ready to embrace a different vision of safety and justice.

Mariame Kaba

As an outsider, I’m certain I know too little about this issue and the massive protests happening all over the United States, but advocating to abolish the police is an extreme position that I don’t think will serve anyone and will lead to more anarchy. Hope that social cooperation can fully replace a public police force is a naive solution to put forth when Americans cannot respect basic social distancing measures to combat an epidemic, or wear masks without devolving into never-ending quarrel.

My sense is the issue that should be tackled first is gun ownership, which is already causing numerous deaths each year – and fuels the militarization of police practices. Going into any tense situation – even handing out parking tickets, which is basically the only thing they do according to the author of this opinion piece – US police offices can reasonably expect to confront armed opponents, unlike in many other countries, so they ask for arms and more equipment to be at least on par with the people they should be policing. Social problems are inherently connected, so forcefully reducing the role of the police will only exacerbate other issues, from gun and domestic violence to drug trafficking and traffic accidents.

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