Reform: What is it good for?

By Tyler Paz

As we approach the one-year date of the Minneapolis and George Floyd rebellion, Derek Chauvin has been convicted on all three counts.

During the month long trial, police departments across the country have continued to kill at least three people a day. About ~10 miles from the site of Chauvin’s trial, the Minneapolis Police Department had shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year old African-American man. Chauvin’s guilty verdict has led many to believe that “justice was served” in regards to George Floyd. On the night of April 20th, the day of the jury’s decision, a Columbus police officer had shot and killed 16-year old Ma’Khia Bryant. On a day where politicians gave speeches about it was “a new day in the US”, yet again another police officer had murdered a teenager. Where do we go from here? There seems to be two views on this: police reform and police abolition.

Reform is define as making changes in order to improve it. Of course, lets improve police. Some common examples of police reform are body cameras, requiring more training, increasing the budget of police departments nationwide, and my favorite, painting Black Lives Matter on city streets. A common link among all of these reforms is the premise of throwing money at the problem, hoping it will fix itself. Such reforms tend to strengthen police power and oversight. What reformers tend to ignore is that the police are a tool for the ruling class to keep the white supremacist status quo.

Another way to solve America’s policing issue is the route of abolition. Abolition is the action or act of officially ending or stopping something. Police abolition, in particular, advocates replacing the current policing system with other forms of public safety. Abolitionists believe that the system of policing is inherently flawed and cannot and will not be able to be reformed. I’m sure we’re all aware of the phrase “Defund the Police”, which to some, is a pathway towards the abolishment of police. By taking money (thus power) away from the police and reinvesting it towards our communities, abolitionists argue that this will eliminate the need for the police, as people’s basic needs will be met. The NYPD has a budget of $6 billion, imagine what that money could do for schools, mental illness, parks, libraries, literally anything else would be a better use for the money.

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