A Dual Project

An excerpt from a recent DemocracyNow interview with Mariam Kaba. #LentenAbolition

I always tell people that when we talk about prison-industrial complex abolition, we’re talking about a dual project. We’re talking about, on the one hand, a project that is about dismantling death-making institutions, like policing and prisons and surveillance, and creating life-affirming ones, putting resources and investing in the things we know do keep people safe — housing, healthcare, schooling, all kinds of other things, you know, living wages…

In terms of the people on the ground, I do want to point out — you had a conversation earlier with Congressman Jones about the George Floyd Justice Act. And I think if you talk to people who have been on the streets all last year, basically, half the year, and continue to be struggling now in their communities, they would tell you that that bill, which is really just a set of procedural reforms, is woefully, woefully insufficient. And I also keep thinking about the cruel irony of naming a bill after — a police reform, supposedly, bill, after someone who was killed by the police, and then to include a whole set of so-called procedural reforms that would not have prevented that person’s death. So, you know, this particular offering that they’re making, supposedly, in Congress wouldn’t have kept George Floyd alive. And I think that’s just cruel irony. And I really recommend that people take a look at Derecka Purnell’s yesterday great column that she wrote about this very issue.

So, in terms of the grassroots, organizers, since May of 2020, since George Floyd’s killing, have actually worked to secure divestment of nearly a billion dollars from police departments around the country. And they’ve secured investments of at least almost $200 million in communities, towards the things I mentioned are life-affirming and life-giving institutions. They have done things like over 25 cities canceled contracts with local police departments who are operating in schools, which also has saved an additional almost $40 million to be invested in student, family and community supports and restorative justice.

So, people aren’t sitting back and doing nothing. In fact, this past week, a new website just launched called DefundPolice.org. And I’d like to really point people who are interested in the idea of defunding the police to go to that website and find a map of all the different places around the country that are organizing still, because the demand is still defund, to abolish. So, I think that people really should pay attention to that and see that.

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