The American police force is founded upon racism, anti-Blackness and white supremacy.
From 2013-2023, police killed 2,807 Black people.
Some of their names are:
Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Daunte Wright, Mak’hia Bryant, Khalil Azad, Tyre Nichols, Keenan Anderson, Sandra Bland, Rayshard Books, Tamir Rice, Botham Jean, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Atatiana Jefferson and Yvette Smith.
Black people do not need police reform; they need police abolition.
Police departments evolved from slave patrols – groups of white men tasked with enforcing racist laws related to slavery in the South. They controlled and monitored enslaved people by eliminating slave uprisings and riots and returning enslaved individuals to their owners, among other tactics.
“They relentlessly and systematically enforced Black codes, strictly local and state laws that regulated and restricted access to labor, wages, voting rights, and general freedoms for formerly enslaved people,” according to the NAACP.
An institution so deeply rooted in white supremacy cannot be reformed.
Critics of abolishing the police draw on the false ideology that police prevent crime. Police presence has never prevented crime. Police are a response to crime, not a preventative tactic.
In 2017, the U.S. spent $115 billion on policing. Spending that much, it should be among the world's safest countries with minimal crime.
There are plenty of alternatives to the police, an organization that cannot eliminate crime when it was not created to do so.
Alternatives to policing will help prevent crime and push this country closer to Black liberation. One alternative is mental health crisis teams. Police are not trained to handle mental health crises – altercations which often result in the death of the person struggling. Crisis teams would connect individuals with mental health professionals better equipped to support them.
Other alternatives include community mediation and diversion programs.
Community mediation involves community engagement members in conflict resolution through dialogue and negotiation.
Diversion programs help redirect individuals charged with minor offenses away from the criminal justice system and into community-based programs, working to remedy behavior and minimize criminal involvement.
We need to start thinking of the police as an institution. Not all officers have committed murder, but they all work for the same white supremacist institution.
“Police, the literal progeny of slave catchers, meant harm to our community ... No isolated acts of decency could wholly change an organization that became an institution that was created not to protect but to catch, control, and kill us (Black people)” Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Black Lives Matter movement co-founder, wrote in her book When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.
All police support an anti-Black institution. One cannot be pro-Black and pro-police – those positions are mutually exclusive.
All cops are bad.
By JOSHUA WEEKS
Image courtesy of Reuters