Abolish the Police
The summer of 2020 saw perhaps the largest collective uprising in the United States. Sparked by the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd, this summer-long uprising catapulted an important question into the public imaginary: is modern day policing reformable? Or do we need to move beyond it entirely?
Most of the thousands of people who poured out into the streets last summer understood that the murder of George Floyd was not just an isolated incident — not just the actions of a single rogue cop — a "bad apple." They understood that the entire institution of policing was responsible, that despite the years of reform, police continue to kill about a thousand people every year, they continue to terrorize Black, Brown, and poor communities, and they do this, overwhelmingly, with zero accountability. For the first time since the institution of policing was shoe-horned into societies, people, in very large numbers, were saying, “No. We’re done with reform. It’s not a few bad apples — the entire barrel is rotten.”
In this episode, we explore the current establishment backlash against the abolish/defund movement, and ask the questions: what does more cops on our streets actually mean? What is the history and function of policing? How is it inextricably intertwined with racism and capitalism? Whose interests do the police really serve? Is it even possible to reform this institution? And if not, what should take its place?
and co-host of Upfront on KPFA
Alex Vitale – Professor of sociology, coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College,
and author of The End of Policing published by Verso Books
Kay Gabriel – Teacher and organizer with the #DefundNYPD campaign
D'atra Jackson – National Director of BYP 100
John – Part of the Working Class History Project
Sen. Sydney Kamlager – State Senator for California's 30th Senate District
Upstream theme music by Robert
Many thanks to Phil Wrigglesworth for the cover art.