“There is no ‘reforming’ this system—the time is now to divest from deadly policing and invest in a vision of public safety that protects us all.”– Movement for Black Lives, 4/20/21
With millions of people here and around the world, we are holding George Floyd’s family and community in our hearts, and feeling some relief that Derek Chauvin was not able to kill with impunity as the vast majority of police in this country have always done. As so many have pointed out, a conviction does not equal justice – justice would mean that George Floyd would still be with us, be raising his daughter, be with his loved ones, go to the corner store without fearing for his life.
One murderous cop behind bars does not outweigh the certainty that true justice will require the end of a violent, white supremacist system of policing designed to control Black and Brown people in every aspect of their lives. As long as policing exists, Black, Brown, and Indigenous people will continue to be surveilled, targeted and live in fear – abolition is the only way this will end.
As the media reporting on the trial were assuring us that Chauvin was just a bad apple in an otherwise fair system, Daunte Wright was killed in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just a few miles from where George Floyd was murdered; 13-year old Adam Toledo was killed by Chicago police while his hands were in the air; high school student Anthony Thompson, Jr. was killed by police in his high school in Knoxville; moments before the verdict came in Tuesday, 15-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by police in Columbus, Ohio; that morning Mario Gonzalez was killed by police in Alameda, California, and Wednesday morning, police shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr in the small town of Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
We don’t need more evidence than this to be clear that the system of policing is beyond reform, that our visions of justice are bigger than anything that this system can meet.
It was the power of Black struggle, the power of the uprisings that made Chauvin’s conviction possible, not the ability of a racist legal system to correct itself. It was the difficult day-to-day work of grassroots organizing, policy work and coalition building by Black organizers with an abolitionist vision that made that verdict not only possible but necessary.
For those of us who are white who want a world based on justice, this is the time to throw down harder than ever in the struggle against white supremacy. We can have hard conversations with our family members about why we don’t call the police. We can speak up when we see anti-Blackness playing out in our schools and workplaces. We can follow the lead of Black organizers and be part of building a society where the death of Black people is no longer considered normal, where Black life is held as precious.
We can support the work of local Black organizers to defund the police and demand that those funds be redirected to meet the needs of the Black community. For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area we look to the work of Anti Police-Terror Project and Black Organizing Project to get cops out of school, defund police and invest in services that keep communities safe, and to reimagine public safety. We can come to the table with humility and a commitment to accountability. We can stand on the front lines with Black people as if the world we want depends on it, because it does.
Demand support for the BREATHE Act, bold Federal legislation supporting a community-led vision of health and safety for Black communities
Support Black-led organizations in Minneapolis and across Minnesota:
The Daunte Wright Senior Memorial Fund
Justice For Mario and Gonzalez Family
Learn more about abolition:
Read “We Do This ‘Till We Free Us” by Mariame Kaba
Many resources have been assembled to support taking action for abolition:
Critical Resistance Toolkit to abolish policing
SURJ’s: “Defund the Police Toolkit” that has basic information about the history of policing and practical resources to support you and your community in learning and action.