Revolution as Policy

Abolition for the People

We Can Dismantle the System at the Polls Too

Voting out those who perpetuate harm is a key part of abolition

Rukia Lumumba
Published in
6 min readOct 28, 2020


This article is part of Abolition for the People, a series brought to you by a partnership between Kaepernick Publishing and LEVEL, a Medium publication for and about the lives of Black and Brown men. The series, which comprises 30 essays and conversations over four weeks, points to the crucial conclusion that policing and prisons are not solutions for the issues and people the state deems social problems — and calls for a future that puts justice and the needs of the community first.

Imagine a society in which prisons, police, and all other institutions that inflict violence on Black people are abolished. Now imagine the money previously funding those institutions being used to create housing and mental care investments that actually prevent harm from happening in the first place.

Imagine these funds are used to create opportunities for under-resourced and under-invested communities.

Imagine these funds are used to create effective systems of accountability and strengthen voting rights so that voting is a system not anchored in anti-Blackness.

Close your eyes for 20 seconds and really visualize it.

You’ve just reimagined public safety. This is what abolition can look like.

I stand firmly in the belief that the American carceral, criminal, legal, and electoral systems are rooted in racism, patriarchy, and capitalism. These systems must be abolished in order to build a new system of justice that ensures that the basic needs of all people are met. To achieve this goal, we must engage in abolitionist visioning while participating in political processes that help us gain power and control of the resources necessary to build the new institutions that replace the harmful ones that exist today.

My father, the late mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, and human rights icon Chokwe Lumumba, once said, “Mass incarceration is a symptom of a rotting system.” I agree. The carceral and criminalizing systems represent a tremendous symptom of government-sanctioned violence and oppression.



Rukia Lumumba
Writer for

Rukia Lumumba is executive director of the People’s Advocacy Institute & co-director of the Electoral Justice Project of the Movement for Black Lives.