Abolition vs. Reform
Writer: Aditya Joshi
Editor: Ayaan Parikh, Reeya Kamath
Everyone must agree that the Black Lives Matter movement is an issue regarding human rights, not politics. With any issue, however, there comes a variety of approaches. In the status quo, there are two principal perspectives: the first is based around police reform, and the other is based around the abolition of the police.
Advocates for reform have gathered around the phrase, “8 Can’t Wait”, which represents eight demands that must be met right now to re-write and improve upon policies that uphold systemic racism in Law Enforcement. These eight demands include the following according to the official website for the campaign: ban choke holds and strangleholds, require de-escalation, require warning before shooting, require exhausting all alternatives before shooting, mandate a duty to intervene, ban shooting at moving vehicles, require the use of force continuum, and finally require comprehensive reporting. These demands come at a time when the country seems to unite behind the fact that Black people are being unfairly targeted by police across the nation -- and something needs to change Some cities across the nation have already adopted a portion (and in a few cases, all) of the “8 Can’t Wait” policies. Wichita requires warning before shooting, uses the force continuum, and also requires comprehensive reporting, but we still have a long way to go before all more measures are taken. Some argue that justice cannot be served until the City and the police force work together to implement all eight of these policies.
Although reform may seem very far fetched, some argue that even reform is not enough. The basis of this argument arises from the fact that police reform has happened in the past many times, yet we still find ourselves in situations where Black people are murdered by police officers. While methodology is debated within the Abolitionist community, most (including Project Justice ICT) agree that the first step in dismantling our corrupt policing system is to defund police departments. Then, the money typically spent on police budgets could be re-invested into community wellness programs -- like affordable housing, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, etc…”. Although abolishing the police may seem unattainable today, many American activists of our past thought the same in their time. Abolishing slavery seemed radical until 1865, achieving civil rights felt impossible until 1964, and having a Black POTUS was unimaginable until 2008. Still, the road ahead to justice is long and winding, but persistence and dedication will allow us to continue the work of previous revolutionaries and spur positive change for all Americans.
Gabrielle hopes to educate people on systemic racism to create awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement, spearhead the campaign to defund the Wichita Police Department, and also to organize effective local protests. They have been able to do this through protests, demonstrations, and vigils, some of which have had attendees including Mayor Whipple and many City Council members. To take immediate action in support of the BLM movement, first commit to voting out corrupt and unjust local officials. Next, make sure to educate yourself and those around you, while supporting protests and demonstrations like those that Project Justice ICT organizes. Together we can make a change!