Police abolition movement

The police abolition movement is a political movement, largely in the United States, that advocates replacing policing with other systems of public safety.[1] Police abolitionists believe that policing, as a system, is inherently flawed and cannot be reformed—a view that rejects the ideology of police reformists.[2][3] While reformists seek to address the ways in which policing occurs, abolitionists seek to transform policing altogether through a process of disbanding, disempowering, and disarming the police.[4] Abolitionists argue that the institution of policing is deeply rooted in a history of white supremacy and settler colonialism and that it is inseparable from a pre-existing racial capitalist order, and thus believe a reformist approach to policing will always fail.[5][6][7][8]

"Abolish the police" sign on an NYPD vehicle during the George Floyd protests

Police abolition is a process that requires communities to create alternatives to policing. This process involves the deconstruction of the preconceived understandings of policing and resisting co-option by reformists. It also involves engaging in and supporting practices that reduce police power and legitimacy, such as defunding the police.[4][9][10]

In the George Floyd protests, Black Lives Matter and other activists used the phrase "defund the police." The defunding movement advocates reducing police department budgets or the delegation of certain police responsibilities to other organizations.[11][12][13][14] Some activists have proposed the diversion of police funds to social services, such as youth or housing services.[2][15][16] Liberal advocates for defunding the police rarely call for outright abolition of police.[17]

Police abolition has been criticized by many sociologists, criminologists, journalists, and politicians.[18][19][20][21]