In this time of mourning, rage and national reckoning with the legacies and realities of racist police violence – resources for connection, deeper engagement and different forms of action are flooding through the widening cracks of this broken system. Here is a partial compilation, from quick click actions to concrete alternatives to political education to visionary policy solutions. Please circulate and share with others.
We want an end to the war being waged on Black people, in all its forms.
A brief history reviewing the foundations of racism and classism built into policing the US, specifically focusing on the evolution of slave patrols and night watches. Part of the White Noise Collective Series – Exploring the Role of the “White Woman” within Systems of Violence and White Supremacy.
How, besides protesting, can we actually make sure no more black people are killed, beaten or tortured by the police? And how can we promote justice and equity in law enforcement more generally?
What if we had a system of community care and safety organized around the values of dignity, wellbeing, safety, restoration and love?
What if we thought about the application of care before we thought about the use of force?
What if care was the central organizing principle for the way we generate community safety?
To create communities of care and safety we need to move simultaneously to end racialized and gendered inequality. The anti-black/anti-human violence at the heart of our police and military is there to defend and maintain our system of economic inequality. Ending violence and inequality must happen together.
We need to send the police home and start over. These institutions can not be incrementally reformed. They need to be disarmed and disbanded. Community needs to take charge of community safety.
What do we do when the real solution is clear but seems impossible?
We turn to movements make the impossible possible.
In one place.
Then in many.
Below is a preliminary list of readings and resources grounded in the vision needed at this time.
We can live in a world where the police don’t kill people
by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.
So many white folks are wondering what they can do when police violence and state sanctioned murder happens. I hear my white friends say, “I KNOW THIS WRONG… but what do I do?” Because white folks have spent so much time not seeing a problem and being fully integrated in a system that perpetuates violence through white supremacy it can be startling when they wake up. Now you are woke (even if only a little) and you are wondering how to balance the utter pain and disgust of the system you’ve existed (and thrived!) in while trying to figure out what the actual fuck to do. You were raised in that system and that system didn’t exactly give you a primer on how to dismantle it.
Sympathy is being removed from the situation and experiencing discomfort while experiencing protection. EMPATHY, however, is about connecting to that suffering through your humanity and experiencing it to a degree. This form of active empathy is an exchange of power.
So, you understand that the police force in the U.S. upholds a system of racialized violence and white supremacy. You know that, when police get involved, black people, people of color, queer & trans people, sex workers, women, and immigrants are usually in more danger, even if they are the victims of the crime being reported. You know that police violently escalate peaceful interactions and murder black people with impunity every single day in this country.
But, your neighbor is setting off fireworks at 3am, or there’s intimate partner violence happening outside your window, or you see someone hit their child in public… What do you do? What do you do instead of calling the police? How do you keep yourself safe without seeking protection from a system that is predicated upon the surveillance and extermination of others?
We start by shifting our perspective. We start by learning about the racist history of the police. We start by saying, an alternative to this system should exist. We start by pausing before we dial 911. We start by making different choices where we can. We start by getting to know our neighbors and asking them to be a part of this process.
Below is an in-progress list of resources on alternatives to policing, which range from the theoretical to the practical. It’s my intention to eventually synthesize best practices from all of the below resources and include that write-up here.
A theoretical starting place from Taj James of Movement Strategy Center:
“White people. I love you! You are stretching in this moment to try to figure out what you can do and how to do more. I have an idea:
In addition to talking with other white folks about how heartbroken you are about the latest round of murders of Black people by the police. In addition to getting your family to share how they feel and declare their solidarity and linked fate by putting up a #BlackLivesMatter sign in their window at home or at work. In addition to supporting Black-led direct action and policy campaigns. In addition to making large donations to organizations who are a part of the Movement for Black Lives and to the families of those who have lost loved ones. In addition to doing the basic, hard and essential work of reconnecting white people to their lost humanity and our shared humanity, what if the next step might be to say:
“White friends and family, I think we are better off without the police. I think we might be safer, happier, healthier if there were no police. In addition to fewer Black people being killed by those police our life would be much better. I am starting to think we are better off without them. That we don’t need them. That if we shut them all down today and transferred all the resources they control to communities to set up systems of community safety and accountability we would all be much happier.”
What we need is structured and dramatic transition from an old system that does not work to a new system that does. My gut is that when white people are able to say “Having no police is better than what we have now” that will reflect the willingness and courage needed to make a fundamental transition from an old system to a new one.
An utter, fundamental and unequivocal rejection of the system we have is necessary to create the political will for a JUST TRANSITION to what we need.
I invite you to explore this possibility to start discussing it with other white people. I have a feeling that until white people, a lot of white people, are clear that we don’t need the police, that the system we have is not reformable and we are better off with no police than the ones we have now, then the murder of Black life by the police will not end and will likely escalate as the movement to hold those systems accountable produces more fear and backlash from the people in those systems that are feeling their unquestioned power and authority to dominate and control challenged.
The police exist to protect white people and respond to white fear. That is their core function. That is what white supremacy means in practical terms. So until white people say “We don’t need you, we don’t want you killing for us anymore, we are going to stop paying you to kill for us, you’re fired.” Then the killing will likely continue and escalate.
Anyone up for the challenge? Let me know. Try it out and see what kinds of conversations it generates.