by the Abolitionist Law Center
This verdict is a testament to the political force of the masses, of colonized peoples, in the face of state-sanctioned terror. It’s about making it known to all cops trembling in their boots, “You are not welcome here.”
But our challenge is not to pursue the conviction of one racist cop. Our challenge is to carry out the total dissolution of police and racial capitalism – to manifest the unfinished project of absolute freedom, to sustain and live out Abolition.
As you read this, the National Guard has set up checkpoints across US cities. State legislation has been proposed around the country – and signed into law in the case of Florida – to criminalize Black grief, Black Power and allyship; to make it legal for white supremacists to use their vehicles as weapons to run over and kill protesters; to make it illegal for local governments to defund their police departments; to ultimately make Black protest a felony and deprive bail to those charged.
In the same week that Daunte Wright was murdered by Officer Potter, in the same week the Chicago Police released body cam footage of the killing of seventh grader Adam Toledo, the Biden-Harris administration chose to abandon their campaign pledge to create a police oversight commission.
In Brooklyn Center, Minn., hundreds of community members have been rounded up by the police and detained for days without charges, without ability to post bail, without access to lawyers. Journalists have been corralled, lined up, photographed and driven miles from protests, unable to document the scenes of resistance to ongoing police terror.
This is not hyperbolic, this is America. Moments before the jury declared Chauvin guilty of all charges for the murder of George Floyd, Columbus, Ohio, police lynched 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant. Her death and the deaths of so many others are a brutal reminder that our current system will never deliver us justice and that anything resembling such is a mere scrap intended only for extending the life span of our apartheid policing system.
We do not want nicer slave patrols. We seek the demise of police in their entirety.
We are reminded that police will continue to occupy the entrance to the prison-industrial complex. They will continue to serve white supremacy and capitalism. We have no tears for Chauvin and other agents of the state who are fearful of conviction. They should be.
Politicians and police apologists of the professional managerial class will continue to co-opt righteous Black Rebellion and capitalize on Black death, neutralizing the struggle for self-determination. They will call for “peace,” “calm” and “independent investigations” – and funnel millions of dollars into task forces, trainings, superficial restructuring and PR stunts.
Just as they did in 2020, they are working to humanize a racist, fascist system and those who wear its shiny badge and form its thin blue line. Almost one year since the George Floyd Rebellion, we maintain our position: Abolition is our only way out. Abolish the police.
We do not seek a more “diverse” and “inclusive” techno-police state that will continue to openly hunt and slaughter Black, Brown and Indigenous people, maim and kidnap protestors, medics and journalists, and surveil and brutalize sex workers, immigrants and community members who are disabled, queer, trans or houseless.
We do not want nicer slave patrols. We seek the demise of police in their entirety. We know that “justice” will never be fully realized from the colonizer’s courtroom, that the verdicts from every previous trial have not stopped cops from killing with impunity. Our governments encourage them to do so.
Would Chauvin’s guilty verdict have been possible without the threat of another rebellion hanging over the proceedings? Would the prosecutor have put on the same kind of case? Would the police chief’s testimony have been completely different – would he even have testified at all?
These questions undoubtedly suggest that Black rebellion and year-long, sustained organizing by Black and Brown militants and allies forced the state to make a concession. But at what cost?
Our friends and family members and thousands of people were brutalized by the state during last summer’s rebellions and protests. They have been surveilled and kidnapped by the FBI, they have been placed on house arrest or are in prison, they are facing charges and living with permanent brain injuries, maimed bodies and PTSD. Several community members have been killed by white supremacist vigilantes who openly coordinate with police.
We are living in the outgrowths of chattel slavery, in apartheid cities.
People who have led the fight for Black liberation during its sharpest inflections have sustained incredible harms in doing so. It is our duty as abolitionists to support them, learn from them and build with them. They are not forgotten.
We are living in the outgrowths of chattel slavery, in apartheid cities – but state terror and racial capitalism is not our fate. Our mentors and ancestors have reminded us of this time and time again: From the burning of the plantations to the hunger strikes of the prison cells, from the Amistad mutiny and swamps of the Maroons, from the armed cop watches and unconditional sharing of food, medicine, shelter, knowledge, love and power that have defined abolitionist projects since the beginning. We have been here before.
And we have kept our promise to fight for the safety and freedom of victims and survivors of police terror. We have kept our promise to meaningfully advance the movements to defund and abolish the police. We are committed to everlasting solidarity.
Since the George Floyd Rebellion, we have fought for protesters and bystanders in East Liberty, Pittsburgh, and for Black activists and residents of West Philadelphia. We have revealed the development and maintenance of racial apartheid in Allegheny County, Penn., analyzing arrests by police and the use of cash bail by judges.
We have organized with community groups, seeking the urgent release of all Black political prisoners, the abolition of the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police), and permanent removal of all statues and symbols of state violence. We have published a report on the war on Black Pittsburgh, financed by bloated police budgets and normalized through excessive force, traumatization and incarceration of Black residents – especially Black children.
We’ve been part of countless panels and community forums and have offered alternatives to policing and punishment. We have hosted transformative justice workshops and teach-ins and issued recommendations to lawmakers who seek unconditional pre-trial freedom for our community members who have endured the violence of arrest and detainment. We are building out the visions of collective care, safety and harm reduction with our partners at the Alliance for Police Accountability and 1Hood.
We are actualizing abolition in real-time – with you , our friends and family members, our community members, those on the inside and the outside. We do this, when so much seems so impossible. In the words of Mariame Kaba, “We do this ‘til we free us.”
The Abolitionist Law Center is a public interest law firm inspired by the struggle of political and politicized prisoners, and organized for the purpose of abolishing class and race based mass incarceration in the United States. Find them online www.abolitionistlawcenter.org and follow them on Instagram and Twitter @abolitionistlc and on Facebook @AbolitionistLawCenter. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.