“They’d tear this motherfucker up if they really loved you…”
Before Philando Castile died last night, the pain and anger at Alton Sterling’s death – at that point, still the most recent in the long, long, long list of police killings of African-Americans – was palpable. The words from roommates, friends, coworkers: there is no reform that can fix this. The system must be completely overhauled, the police must be stripped of their power, their property. The system of injustice in this country serves none but white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy.
Body cams, dash cams, even eyewitnesses and social media spreading brutal images – hard as we try, there is nothing that can tweak this system into something humane. Calls for reform, calls for prosecution will go nowhere. No one will be spared. There will be a next time. The crushing weight of despair sets in knowing that the system will neither hold accountable those responsible nor make sure this is the last time this happens.
So, what then? Can we propose new tactics? Can we rethink our strategy? Can it be time to abandon the focus on reform that will not come? Abandon the state-oriented solutions that will never ever actually end this genocide? I hope so. I hope that not only does this movement continue to build and grow but to take on a truly abolitionist stance and action. The abolition of police and prisons must be what we seek regardless of the long road we will have to travel to get there.
This is not a small proposal; this is not a small undertaking – to replace the police with something that actually brings safety to our communities. Yet, this is the both urgent and long-term work. But we must begin by recognizing that demands for reform must stop being the focus.
When we demand, we inherently create a dynamic in which we are entrenching the power structure from which we are asking for scraps that they will decide whether or not to give us. WE must MAKE the world we want. We must create safety for our communities and at the crux of that is dismantling the police. They cannot be made better. They – in the context in which they exist – will never keep us safe; they are a threat to our safety. We know this. So let our actions reflect that.
And, yes, as I wrote above, this is a huge undertaking. To build a movement and set a course that actually seeks this out – action beyond rhetoric. All the more reason to start now, under that premise. This state does not belong to us, it will never be a part of our liberation. We must create the world that is ours and where our liberation is what we build each day with our own organizations and our own institutions; so that each one of us doesn’t just survive but thrives.
Black Lives Matter. Rest In Power: Philando Castile and all murdered by the hands of the lynch mob in blue.
“… I’ll tear this motherfucker up since I really love you.” – The Coup, Underdogs
A database kept by The Guardian of police killings in the US. Well over 500 already in 2016: