By Phil Shiver
Former professional NFL quarterback turned social justice activist Colin Kaepernick has launched a new project aimed at building a utopian police-less and prison-less future.
What are the details?
In "Abolition for the People," Kaepernick teamed up with Medium publication, LEVEL, to publish "30 stories from organizers, political prisoners, scholars, and advocates" over the next month with the goal of furthering the pursuit of "abolition" for minority individuals.
Reforms such as "use-of-force policies, body cameras, more training, and police accountability" simply won't cut it, Kaepernick argues in an essay introducing the project. In fact, he says, reforming the white supremacist institutions of police and prisons ultimately only serves to commend them.
Instead, project creators say: "The only answer is abolition, a full dismantling of the carceral state and the institutions that support it."
After all, Kaepernick writes, "The central intent of policing is to surveil, terrorize, capture, and kill marginalized populations, specifically Black folks." As for prisons, they only exist to "isolate, regulate, and surveil" black and brown people. "Prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings," he says, borrowing from writer Angela Davis.
Sure enough, only once society rids itself of these terroristic morally corrupt systems, will it be "safer, healthier, and truly free."
It should be noted that found nowhere in the essays so far is any explanation of how exactly a little utopia-destroying thing called crime will be monitored and controlled. Kaepernick and his fellow writers seem to believe that crime and criminals will simply vanish when police and prison systems are dismantled.
All Kaepernick musters on the topic is this: To be clear, the abolition of these institutions is not the absence of accountability but rather the establishment of transformative and restorative processes that are not rooted in punitive practices. By abolishing policing and prisons, not only can we eliminate white supremacist establishments, but we can create space for budgets to be reinvested directly into communities to address mental health needs, homelessness and houselessness, access to education, and job creation as well as community-based methods of accountability.
Again and again in the essays, "crimes" are reinterpreted as mistakes and "criminals" as unfortunate souls who only want to be loved. People are inherently good and never do bad things, right?
"If our children mess up, and sometimes even if they don't, they go to prison," writes one essayist. "If their children mess up in ways our children can't even imagine, they become presidents of companies, politicians, and president of the United States."
Kaepernick adds that "prisons do not contain a 'criminal population' running rampant but rather a population that society has repeatedly failed." Translation: Criminals have not failed society, but society has failed "criminals."
The people within society who mess up shouldn't be punished, Kaepernick argues, they should be helped to do better.
No word yet on what justice the activists would seek for the racist police officers who have killed in the line of duty. Perhaps all they deserve is a mental health evaluation and counseling.
Author: Phil Shiver