Abolition for the People

Why Arguments Against Abolition Inevitably Fail

For centuries, people have been unwilling to grasp the concept that only by undoing the foundation can we build a new future

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.

Just as we hear calls today for more humane policing, people then called for a more humane slavery.

Educators, organizers, artists, athletes, intellectuals — everyday people — can play a major role in introducing ways of imagining the future that are not tethered to the notion that only the police can be effective guarantors of safety and that prisons alone can assure the security of people who populate the “free” world. Anti-racist feminists have long argued that relying on conventional policing and carceral strategies exacerbates gender violence rather than eliminating it. But carceral feminism, a notion that calls for the build-up of police and prisons, still dominates the mainstream. Though some education activists have challenged carceral feminism by demanding the removal of police from schools and an end to the school to prison pipeline, we have not yet achieved a consensus in understanding that a police presence in public schools corrupts the educational process. Police are so deeply entrenched in public schools in Black and Brown communities that their oppressive modes of discipline infect learning itself.

Angela Davis is a scholar, activist, writer, and Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz.