“Prison abolition is two things: It’s the complete and utter dismantling of prison and policing and surveillance as they currently exist within our culture. And it’s also the building up of new ways of intersecting and new ways of relating with each other.”
– Ruth Wilson Gilmore
The call to #defundthepolice, is part of the movement to abolish the anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, racist and colonial carceral systems of jails and prisons. It is a call to dismantle the systems and symbols of systemic racism and white supremacy in our society.
A call once dismissed as too radical, is now being adopted in cities across North America. The defund movement moves beyond police reform, to completely rethinking the way that policing operates systemically, and calls for eventual abolition: a world without police or prisons, and one that is based on systems of safety and community accountability
As the historian Robin Kelley explains, we are living in the midst of upheaval and immense pain but also tremendous possibility.
Defunding the police is a movement that is gaining traction because there is a recognition that:
• Policing is anti-Black and anti-Indigenous in its culture and deployment is responsible for egregious acts of violence, harassment and terror towards Black, Indigenous and racialized communities
• Policing and prison culture don’t make communities safe
• Policing budgets have ballooned in recent decades resulting in the active defunding of housing, mental health support systems, education, youth programs, education, healthcare, childcare and labour protections
• Police are not trained or qualified to address the vast majority of concerns that are currently under their purview such as mental health crises.
Transformative Justice Resources
Defunding The Police
• Defunding the Police – A discussion on reprioritizing city investments as we build a just Toronto By Progress Toronto / June 2020
• Progress Toronto and Urban Alliance on Race Relations co-hosted a conversation with Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder and Vice Chair of the Black Legal Action Centre Sandy Hudson (bio), lawyer, professor, author, advocate and Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University Dr. Pamela Palmater (bio), writer and community organizer with Education Not Incarceration Phillip Dwight Morgan (bio), and Executive Director of Black Creek Community Health Centre Cheryl Prescod (bio). The conversation was moderated by Toronto Star Digital Producer Angelyn Francis (bio). Before the panel began, Co-Founder of No More Silence Audrey Huntley (bio), joined us to share a few words.
Abolish Policing, Not Just the Police By Haymarket Books / July 2 2020
• Abolitionist organizer Mariame Kaba talks with journalists Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law, authors of the forthcoming book Prison By Any Other Name for a discussion of the urgent need to use this moment for transformative change.
• We Must Defund the Police, It’s the Only Option, Sandy Hudson
• What does ‘defund the police’ mean? The rallying cry sweeping the US – explained, Julia Sudbury
• Reform or Abolition? Using Popular Mobilizations to Dismantle the ‘Prison-Industrial Complex, Julia Sudbury
Interview with Ruth Wilson Gibson
• Thoughts of Liberation by Christina Battle, Dionne Brand, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Chantal Gibson, El Jones, Anique Jordan, Robyn Maynard, Charmaine Nelson, Christina Sharpe and Kara Springer
• Historian Keish Blain
• CORONAVIRUS DISCRIMINATES AGAINST BLACK LIVES THROUGH SURVEILLANCE, POLICING AND THE ABSENCE OF HEALTH DATA by Beverly Bain, OmiSoore Dryden and Rinaldo Walcott
• Statement of Black Artists For Freedom
• A collective call to cultural institutions to, among other demands, break their ties to the police, resource Black creators, advocate or Black people and imagine Black Freedom.
“On September 22, 2016, Springer erected an eight-foot-by-thirty-foot black sign with the words “white people. do something” painted in large, bold, uncapitalized white letters in the courtyard of Philadelphia’s Tyler School of Art. Entitled A Small Matter of Engineering, Part II, it faced the educational institution, where she was in the process of completing her MFA. The large sign was accompanied, indoors, by A Small Matter of Engineering, Part I: a magnified photograph of broken plaster. Both works could be viewed together when walking down one of the school’s windowed hallways.”
• Syrus Marcus Ware speaks at TEDx :
“If activists are the soldiers, then artists are the street medics.” Ware’s talk spans art from the renaissance to today, showing how art has always and will continue to support those fighting for a more just society.
• Change Everything Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition by Ruth Wilson Gilmore
• Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California by Ruth Wilson Gilmore
• Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea Ritchie
• Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution and Imprisonment by Angela J. Davis, Bryan Stevenson, Marc Mauer, Bruce Western And Jeremy Travis
• Beyond Survival: Strategies and Survival from the Transformative Justice Movement, ed. Ejeris Dixon & Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
• The CR10 Publications Collective,Abolition NOW! Ten Years of Strategy and Struggle Against the Prison Industrial Complex.
• Until We Are Free- Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada Edited by Sandy Hudson, Rodney Diverlus and Syrus • Marcus Ware
• A useful resource guide, Medium
• Reimagining Justice: A Primer on Defunding the Police and Prison Abolition
To better understand the arguments for ‘defunding the police’ and abolishing prisons, explore this list of essential reading curated by UW’s Megan Ming Francis.
• Transformative Justice: A Brief Description
An overview of the political and social strategy that can be used as an alternative to policing, written by Mia Mingus for Transform Justice.
• Abolition Cannot Wait: Visions for Transformation and Radical World-Buildin
As a vision for transformation, 8 to Abolition offers one resource for people to build from and incorporate tangible abolitionist demands into local organizing efforts around municipal, state, and federal policies (6/2020).