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(Un)F*ck the Police: What Real Reform Might Look Like

This week, democracy-ish asks: What might a post-police world look like? How can we ensure public safety while radically reimagining the status quo?

  • In the wake of global protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd, we’re hearing calls for systemic change in law enforcement that range from targeted reforms to defunding to abolition.

  • What does it really mean to “defund” the police, and what might our lives look like without their ubiquitous presence?

  • Why the f*&# was Nancy Pelosi kneeling on the Capitol floor wearing the attire of Ghanaian royalty?

Toure and Danielle are mixing it up with an episode dedicated to discussing the way forward for American policing.

As we enter the third week of protests that stretch from America’s biggest cities to small towns in the heartland and capitals overseas, the calls for change are loud –– but not entirely clear.

“Are we reforming? Or are we completely starting over?” Toure asks.

We covered 8Can’tWait on the show last week. That’s one set of suggestions that can go a long way toward reducing police violence. But we’ve also seen the Minneapolis City Council completely disband its police department.

And we’re hearing nationwide calls to “defund” the police. What does that really mean? How can we prevent chaos in the streets? How can we prevent a Purge-style dystopia from happening IRL if the police aren’t there to save us??

Well, if you’re reading this while Black or Brown, you already see the flaw in this question. You’re living in a dystopia already.

So we want to imagine something new. Toure and Danielle have some ideas.

Episode Highlights –– Imagine a Post-Police World

We can’t fix ‘broken windows’ with guns

When we ask whether –– or at least how much –– we need the police, race has to be part of the conversation.

“Dude, do you need to be holding a gun in order to pull somebody over who has a broken taillight or rolled through a stop sign?” Danielle asks.

“The response is always, what if the other person has a gun? Police enter into a dangerous job. They don't know who's doing what, when. But the assumption is that Black people are always up to no good.”

That’s the “broken windows” philosophy at work, says Toure: “Any small deviations ... could lead to catching a mass murderer. Hop over a turnstile? Stop a major crime.”

This leads to the idea that every citizen is potentially a horrific criminal, which is just not true. And talk of abolition leads to pearl-clutching notions that without the police, we’ll be living through The Purge.

Cue the creepy emergency broadcast.

Reimagining the police state

“I think that language is really important,” Danielle says. “Police don't need to be reformed. We need a system that is completely and totally reimagined from its current state.”

She agrees with recent, widespread calls to defund the police, pointing out that state, local and federal governments have been defunding public education and health care for ages. And yet, the NYPD budget is $6 billion.

When she saw that figure, “I almost threw up in my mouth,” Danielle says. “Why is the NYPD budget as big as a small nation’s? I don't know why they need the latest and greatest in toy soldier gear.”

Meanwhile, the majority of kids in New York City don’t have laptops, which put a wrench into plans for distance learning during the pandemic.

“It's important to start thinking about what we actually need the police for,” Toure adds. “They have an expanded role because of ballooned budgets … But we're not using police in ways that serve our communities best.”

Don’t just ban chokeholds — take their guns away