The idea of defunding and abolishing the police is rooted in the rich history of the Black freedom struggle. From Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois to Angela Davis and Mariame Kaba, abolition has always been about more than tearing down existing, oppressive structures. Abolition, at its core, has always been about building up new, truly democratic structures to replace those old structures that were never designed to affirm Black lives.
We find ourselves living in a special moment in history. As we continue to say their names — George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others — out of the embers of this tragedy, a new hope rises. Across the country we are seeing the spirit of abolition democracy, that once guided Harriet Tubman in the direction of freedom, alive again across the world in the summer of 2020. I am filled with hope that we are on the verge of great change, the kind of change that future generations will proudly look back on.
Let them say that in 2020, there were people who came together, against all odds, to abolish a system that did not affirm Black lives.
Let them say that in 2020, this nation committed itself like never before to recognizing that, as Angela Davis once said, “Safety safeguarded by violence is not really safety.” And that instead of police, we invested in unarmed mediation and intervention teams, restorative justice, and preventive measures such as education and mental health.
Let them say that those same people, who lived in 2020, built something new, something greater that, as Frederick Douglass once said, “flowed like a river, our foundation the everlasting rocks.”