It is not possible to reform the police.

ACRE publishes the open letter in response to 8 Can’t Wait and other Democratic led police reform proposals, in collaboration with grassroots organizers and organizations (full signers list included) across the United States working for racial justice. At this critical moment in the Movement for Black Lives as well as the broad work of advancing justice, human rights and a multiracial democracy in the U.S., political clarity and developing rigorous movement strategy are key to our success.

Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

Dear Movement —

It is not possible to reform the police.

We are in a moment of crisis and met with the opportunity for transformation. The brutal police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many other Black lives have sparked an uprising against racist police violence. At the heart of these uprisings have been calls to arrest, prosecute, defund, and abolish the police. As organizers and organizations with large platforms, and bases of individuals and their families locally and nationally, we have a responsibility to put forth and support the most transformative solutions we can imagine.

It is with this conviction that we raise our concerns with the proposed protocols proposed by Campaign Zero in “8 Can’t Wait, a set of eight protocols recommended to reduce police violence by 72%. As members of a growing movement that aims to radically rethink the very idea of policing, we believe it is critical for our movement to engage in comradely debates on the best ways to do this. It should not be considered radical or out of reach to have a world where we can live freely without being killed by the state. This historic moment is calling on us to end police violence, not simply reduce it by a percentage as “8 Can’t Wait” has suggested.

When we imagine what safety means, police and prisons are not in our vision. We think of our families, our neighborhoods, schools, housing, food, and the breath of fresh air that comes with having control over our lives and having our needs met. Under our current failing system, public safety is equated with police and prisons, despite the centuries of racist violence and trauma that these institutions have brought into our lives and sustained. While these issues have primarily impacted Black, Afrolatinx, non-Black Latinx, Indigenous, Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities, and poor communities, the issues of policing and prisons impact us all because it is a sustaining force of racial capitalism.

Organizers around the U.S. are demanding that their local city administrations defund and disband the police. We support that demand and see it as a step towards the abolition of police. We stand against narrowly focused reformist demands that seek to use this moment for solutions that only get us a part of the way towards this goal. Demands and recommendations such as better police training to de-escalate and avoid shooting, better reporting post-incident, and stronger use of force policies have not proven to eliminate police killings or hold police accountable for their violence after the fact.

As the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign graphics show, in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Minneapolis, for example, four or more of the eight recommended protocols are already in place, yet these cities continue to report high rates of racist and violent police misconduct. After Mike Brown’s murder in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 many of us demanded body cameras and were supportive of that response to police violence. We quickly saw that body cameras did not make a difference and could not make a difference if the broader narrative around public safety was still supportive of policing.

As we enter this new phase of the Black Lives Matter Movement, we need demands that advance our struggle and move us closer to abolition, not ones that can be used by the state to give cover to the violence inherent in the system of policing. Even as we watch uprisings across the country, police continue to kill people across the country. We do not want the police to “exhaust all other means before shooting” because those means are also violent and deadly. We want the police disarmed like many other countries already have. We cannot in good conscience endorse a platform that would allow 28% of police violence to continue.

Transforming and, ultimately, abolishing policing today means we need to go beyond the policies that are already in place and failing. Transformative means we need to activate a radical imagination for a world beyond what we’ve seen in the past and continue to see today. A world where police end the war on Black people. A world where communities are in control of our lives, our health, our needs, and our futures.

Police violence is a tangible result of the insidious nature of racial capitalism. Law enforcement is used to control communities of color and poor people in order to maintain the status quo and protect the interests of the wealthy elites and those in power. Any demand made against policing in the U.S., and around the globe, must shift power out of the hands of the wealthy and the muscle of law enforcement — that includes federal, state, and local law enforcement, ICE, and private police — and into the hands of the historically oppressed. The issue is systemic and we will continue to push a systemic solution. Abolishing the police is our goal. Defunding, disarming, and disbanding are the means. No police violence is acceptable, and we stand firmly committed to defunding and abolishing the police.

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Signed,

Organizations

The Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE)
UBUNTU Research and Evaluation
Gangland Political Party (GPP)
Alliance for Educational Justice
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)
Freedom, Inc.
Equity and Transformation (EAT)
Freedom, Inc.
Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism
Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC)
Black Visions Collective
Black Lives Matter Louisville
Southerners On New Ground
MPower Change
BYP100
Black Lives Matter Inland Empire
The BlackOUT Collective
Resource Generation
Revolve Impact
Liberation House
Essie Justice Group
Frontline Wellness Network
Revolve Impact
JusticeLA
La Defensa
Partners for Dignity & Rights
Flint Rising
Poder In Action
Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project (BLMP)
ZEAL
Public Health Justice Collective
Resist. Reimagine. Rebuild. (R3 Coalition)
Fair World Project
Fund for Democratic Communities
TESA Collective
Law for Black Lives
Dignity & Power NOW
MPD150

Individuals

Maurice BP-Weeks
Alyxandra Goodwin
Tracey Corder
Akua G.
Brianna Gibson
Shawn Sebastian
Anshantia Oso
Tara Raghuveer
Ben Ishibashi
Dmitri Holtzman
Maurice Mitchell
Cherrell Brown
Divya Sundaram
Phillip Agnew
Montague Simmons
Dr. Monique Liston
Shavonda Sisson
Jonathan Stith
Andrea Ritchie
Erin Heaney
Jasson Perez
Richard Wallace
James Hayes
Leslie Mac
Christina Novaton
Daniel Aldana Cohen
Angela Lang
Keisha Robinson
Rick Banks
Renata Pumarol
Cazembe Jackson
Kandace Montgomery
Charlene A. Carruthers
Sister Alison McCrary, SFCC, Esq.
Kelcey Duggan
Saqib Bhatti
Lauren Mateo
Leigh Friedman
Chanelle Helm
Chris Love
Philip McHarris
Mary Hooks
Nafisah Ula
Lena K. Gardner
Lauren Jacobs
Katrina L. Rogers
Denzel Caldwell
Kifah Shah
Paige Ingram
Lau Barrios
Lydia Pelot-Hobbs
Yana Ludwig
Tyger Caygill-Walsh
Lauren Jacobs
Della Duncan
Sarah Treuhaft
Ameca Reali
Broderick Dunlap
Chinyere Tutashinda
Yahya Alazrak
Jonathan Lykes
Liz Sutton
Gina Clayton-Johnson
Ivette Alé
Eunisses Hernandez
Kelly Baker
Peter Sabonis
Lena K. Gardner
Nayyirah Shariff
Christine Mitchell
Viridiana Hernandez
Rachel Berkowitz
Helen Forsythe
Mike de la Rocha
Joshua Sankara
Amber Akemi Piatt
Jessica Quiason
Jae Hyun Shim
Amy Tran
Amy Livingston
Anna Canning
Arianna Nason
Marnie Thompson
Kyra Brown
Peter VanKoughnett
Luke Amphlett
Ricardo Levins Morales
Lex Steppling
Tony Williams
Molly Glasgow
Addison Turner
Reema Ahmad
Mariana M.
Kim Flores
Erika Thi Patterson

8 Can’t Wait Critique and Abolition Study Resources

1. 8 to Abolitionhttp://8toabolition.com

2. 8 can’t wait is based on faulty data sciencehttps://medium.com/@8cantwait.faulty/8cantwait-is-based-on-faulty-data-science-a4e0b85fae40

3. Critical Resistance — https://twitter.com/c_resistance/status/1268712313634209794?s=21

4. Jenny J Lee (crediting other abolitionists)https://www.instagram.com/p/CA_-_vgDukS/?igshid=1a1t1gssmta9m

5. Petition to recall 8 Can’t Wait: https://campaigns.organizefor.org/petitions/recall-8cantwait

6. Dignity and Power Now Statement — https://twitter.com/powerdignity/status/1268735286646726656?s=21

7. Youth Justice Coalition (in LA) https://twitter.com/youthjusticela/status/1269082828358074368?s=21

8. LA CAN Network (statement and sign on letter)https://cangress.org

9. Movement 4 Black Liveshttps://medium.com/@m4blcomms/defunding-police-what-it-takes-to-end-police-violence-bb164a70e89b

10. BYP100 Demands

  • National database of police shootings and use of force broken down by demographics
  • Defund and abolish ICE and agencies performing similar functions.
  • Defund police, particularly the Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) program and prioritizing deep investment in community health, education, housing, etc.
  • Eliminate federal programs that allocate military equipment to law enforcement — completely end the 1033 program, which has transferred more than $7 billion dollars worth of military grade equipment
  • End the qualified immunity doctrine that prevents police from being held legally accountable
  • Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants, especially for drug searches
  • prohibit all maneuvers such as neck holds, chokehold and similar use of excessive force
  • *end the practice of paid administrative leave for cops under investigation and stop re-hiring cops in other jurisdictions after they have been fired.

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