WE ARE ABOLITIONISTS. Solidarity in the Struggle to End Police Terror and State Violence

“I may be doomed to the stake and the fire, or to the scaffold tree, but it is not in me to falter if I can promote the work of emancipation.”

  • Divert police funding to those in chronic poverty: Staffing for law enforcement makes up the largest single piece of most municipal and county budgets in Pennsylvania, and the majority of that money should be directed immediately to the relief of the over 1.5 million Pennsylvanians living in poverty. In Philadelphia, the most overpoliced and over-incarcerated part of the commonwealth, police staffing takes up a third of the payroll budget, in addition to millions of dollars spent on equipment, facilities, vehicles, etc; as much as possible of that money needs to go to the 400,000 Philadelphia residents — a quarter of the city’s population — living in chronic poverty.
  • Politically isolate and marginalize the Fraternal Order of Police, on the way to dissolving it entirely: The Fraternal Order of Police has a consistent and unequivocal history of using all its power to defend police brutality, including rampant sexual assault and domestic violence, and increase the capacity of the police to intimidate and control. Police unions are recent inventions that were established and gained power only in the mass policing and mass incarceration era, and, while they pose as unions, they serve primarily as political lobbies and ideological defenders of maximal police and incarceration power. We challenge their legitimacy in total, and as a first step, we demand that FOP locals be dissolved and their labor negotiating merged into the larger civil unions of Pennsylvania, until a time when the police are disbanded. We call on our labor allies to support us in disbanding a lobby that disguises its advocacy for terror of Black and Brown communities under the guise of a union, or else be held accountable for being on the wrong side of both labor history and that of the collective humanity of this state.
  • Make police contracts transparent and protect communities: contracts entered into with FOP locals must be negotiated in public, and negotiations must center stakeholders from impacted communities and their community control boards. There must be no tolerance for provisions protecting police for brutality, and no loopholes allowing reinstatements (or transfers) to police found to have engaged in direct violence. Furthermore, no labor contract or any other agreement negotiated with police needs to be honored absolutely; if police continue to act with wanton disregard for the lives and well-being of the people they are supposed to serve, the cities, counties, and community control boards, must suspend or dissolve those agreements.
  • Reduce police power by mass de-criminalization: Police power is granted by political authorities, and it can — and must — be taken away by political authorities. Local and county officials must reduce their jurisdiction greatly by decriminalizing possession of controlled substances and sex work, prohibit arrests for disorderly conduct, prohibit incarceration for misdemeanor offenses, and abolish probation. Arrests on these charges are overwhelmingly directed at the poor and minorities, and ending them would greatly cut down on law enforcement funding and activity. In turn, this would free up public funds to support programs and services in poor Black and brown communities.
  • Establish community control boards with full oversight: Community-based police control boards must be implemented throughout Pennsylvania: their members must come entirely from communities targeted by policing, and they must have full power to hire and fire officers, control city or county policing budgets, and oversee the entirety of law enforcement operations. Civilian police review boards in the past consistently have been deprived of efficacy due to the influence of police unions, politicians, and other entities and ideas invested in police-prison power. To prevent that, all members must have no stake in or financial ties to the police-prison complex (including anyone holding political office of any sort), and a majority of people on any board must have direct experience being targeted by police violence.
  • Provide amnesty, debt forgiveness, and expungement to all protestors: All charges brought against anybody for protesting or demonstrating in any manner must be dropped. Outstanding debt from court costs, fines, and fees must also be forgiven, and any criminal record resulting from those arrests must be expunged in toto

“When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.”

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ALC is a nonprofit law firm fighting to protect prisoners, and a community organizing project aiming to build a world without prisons. abolitionistlawcenter.org

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Abolitionist Law Center

ALC is a nonprofit law firm fighting to protect prisoners, and a community organizing project aiming to build a world without prisons. abolitionistlawcenter.org